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SPIRITUAL HOUSE CLEANING
By ALICE SMITH & EDDIE SMITH
RegalCopyright © 2003 Alice and Eddie Smith
All right reserved.
The woman's voice on the other end of the line sounded eerie and mystical. She had sought help from a Christian psychiatric hospital that had referred her to us. This divorced woman and her eight-year-old daughter lived alone, trapped in a world of darkness. The small girl's father was a Unitarian pastor; but prior to that he had been an African witch doctor in a tribe known as the Leopard People. The now-abandoned single mom had extensive knowledge of the occult; and although she testified to having been recently born again, torment still lived inside the walls of her home.
At her request, we visited her home. Cats fearfully scurried from under our feet as our small prayer team approached the apartment door. When the attractive woman opened the door, we were introduced to an atmosphere that almost took our breath away-it felt electric with evil.
Once inside, two large cats cowering near the refrigerator hissed at us, then disappeared within seconds. The electrical power began to flash off and on until we commanded it to stop. To the right of the front door was a 10-foot bookcase filled with religious, heathen and occult books. After we had been invited to sit down we began to discuss her problems.
She explained that her daughter was being harassed in the night by nightmares and apparitions. The child would awaken to see ghosts in her room. (The ghosts actually were demons appearing in the forms of an old African-aboriginal man and woman.) The concerned mother stated that at times the child would leap on top of the dressers and move about like a leopard. This precious little girl would sometimes wake in the morning with humanlike bite marks and claw scratches in the middle of her back. One night, the frightened girl awakened her mother several times, complaining that the flies had bitten her. Each time her mother turned on the lights and searched the room but found nothing. The next morning when she opened the window shades, she found a mound of dead flies piled on her daughter's windowsill. This did not surprise us-we know that Satan is sometimes spoken of as Beelzebub, the lord of the flies (see Matt. 12:24-32; Mark 3:22).
It was clear that the enemy had been given authority to operate in this home. As we prayed and asked God for wisdom and discernment, we waited for the Holy Spirit's direction. At times the demonic reality was almost palpable. Spiritual impressions from the Lord (i.e. "the word of knowledge" [1 Cor. 12:8]) came to our team members as we cleansed the atmosphere with prayer. All at once, as though the team were acting on the same inspiration, we stared at the wall of books-her huge library on the occult. We explained to the young mother that the books and the artwork were acting as bait for the demons. (As flies are attracted to dung, demons are attracted to darkness.) Her library was an open invitation that attracted demonic spirits and gave them legal right to defile her home and harass her and her child. These books were like a welcome mat to the unseen demonic world, communicating that they had the woman's permission to stay. Such items and artifacts may seem harmless, yet hold significance to satanic spirits.
We urgently appealed to the mother that she discard the books, even offering to help her get rid of them. She refused. She lamented about the money she had invested in the books. We begged her for the sake of her daughter to spiritually clean the house, but she turned a deaf ear to us. Sadly, we were unable to go any further. We lovingly explained that we had no authority to help her because of her unwillingness to remove the ungodly books. Our insight as to why the child was harassed involved the occult materials and her mother's unhealthy attachment to them. These occult materials were also symbols of contracts the mother had made with the enemy.
We need only look to C. Peter Wagner's account of the power of idols in the ancient city of Athens to see why this woman's attachment to her library served as a welcoming gesture to the devil.
The only place in the Bible where we find the phrase "given over to idols" (from the Greek kateidolos) is where Luke describes Athens in Acts 17:16. Athens was the idol capital of the ancient world, possibly comparable to Kyoto, Japan, today. The literature of that day describes Athens as a forest of idols in which it is easier to find a god than a human being. Certain streets had so many idols that pedestrian traffic was difficult. One observer estimated that Athens contained more idols than the rest of Greece combined!
Because idols themselves are only made of wood or stone or metal, some are not concerned about their presence. These idols, however, were not just any piece of wood or stone or metal. They had been carefully and intentionally crafted by human beings as forms in the visible world through which the forces of the invisible world of darkness were invited to control the lives of people, families and the city as a whole, locking the people in spiritual darkness. That's why we read that Paul's "spirit was provoked within him" (v. 16).
Yet this is not the only and perhaps not the most significant illustration of defilement. Let's look at what happened to Joshua in the Old Testament. (The following is a loose adaptation of Joshua 7; the fictional character named Elisiaph has been added to the account.)
A Piece of Cake?
"Now sir, let's not overreact," suggested Elisiaph, General Joshua's senior military adviser. "We can relax now and give the men a break. Trust me-this one is going to be a piece of cake. According to our reconnaissance, there's no reason at all for you to send the entire Israeli army to attack such a small place as Ai. ["Ai" literally means "a heap of ruin."] I suggest that a reduced force of 2,000 or 3,000 troops will be sufficient to utterly destroy the city."
So the next morning Joshua sent 3,000 troops to annihilate Ai. To their surprise, the men of Ai were ready for battle. The feisty troops of Ai killed 36 Israeli soldiers and chased the others from the gate of the city down the slope to the stone quarries. The dispirited Israeli army was forced to retreat like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs.
Joshua was stunned when he heard the news. The Israelites had only recently defeated the big city of Jericho, which now lay in smoldering ruins. How could Elisiaph have so grossly underestimated the military capability of a small town like Ai? Joshua wondered. More important-where was God? And what about the promises He had made to them? God had clearly said,
Joshua, I am giving to you the land I promised Moses. I will always be with you and I will help you as I helped him. No one will ever be able to defeat you. So be strong and courageous! Do everything Moses taught you. Never stop reading the Book of the Law he gave you. Think about what it says day and night. Obey it completely and you will be able to take this land (see Josh. 1:1-9).
Joshua called together an emergency council meeting of Israel's leaders. "Gentlemen," he said, "you will recall that Jehovah God promised us that He would never leave us and that we would never be defeated. Where do you suppose we went wrong when that handful of untrained, ragtag men disgraced our troops today? May I suggest, sirs, that we have a national emergency on our hands? And we must get to the bottom of this-now!"
So Joshua and the leaders tore their clothes and put dirt on their heads as a symbol of sorrow and repentance. They lay facedown on the ground in front of the Ark of the Covenant and cried out to God until sunset.
Then Joshua prayed:
Lord, did you bring us across the Jordan just so the Amorites could annihilate us? If we had stayed on the other side of the Jordan, none of this would have happened. Frankly, I'm speechless. It is shocking to realize that our army actually ran from their enemy today. Our people are beginning to think that You can no longer protect us. When our enemies hear of our humiliation, they are likely to become emboldened. They may even try to surround us and wipe us out.
The Lord answered Joshua:
General, get up off your face! I'm not taking prayer requests at this time. I told you that everything in Jericho belonged to me. Furthermore, I told you that I wanted the entire city to be destroyed. But instead, your people have stolen and hidden some of the booty for yourselves; and you've lied about it.
Because you've stolen stuff that was supposed to be destroyed, Israel itself has been set aside for destruction. I can't help you anymore until you do exactly what I've told you to do. And that's precisely why your army could not stand before its enemies today.
Tell the people that they'll never be able to stand against another enemy until they rid themselves of the abominable things that they've hidden. Tell them to prepare for worship. Tomorrow morning, when they gather for worship, I will identify for you the guilty tribe and point out the guilty clan and the guilty family. And I will show you the man who has stolen the forbidden things that have defiled Israel and have broken the sacred covenant I have made with you. That man, along with his wife, his sons and his daughters, must be executed by stoning. Their bodies and all of their possessions must be burned.
Early the next morning Joshua brought each tribe to the place of worship. There the Lord identified Judah as the guilty tribe and the clan of Zerah and Zabdi's family as the guilty clan and family. He showed them that Achan was the man responsible for violating Israel's contract with God.
General Joshua said, "Achan, is it true? Don't try to hide anything from me. Tell me what you've done."
"Yes, sir, it's true," Achan answered reluctantly. "I'm the one who sinned against the Lord God of Israel. While we were mopping up at Jericho, I found a beautiful Babylonian robe, 200 pieces of silver and a gold bar that weighed as much as 50 pieces of gold. I wanted them for myself, so I took and hid them in a hole beneath my tent."
So Joshua immediately sent men running to Achan's tent to retrieve the silver, the gold and the robe. They brought the defiled items back and laid them before the Lord so that Joshua and the rest of the Israelites could see them.
Then everyone took Achan, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys, and sheep, his tent and everything that belonged to him, as well as the things he had stolen, to a nearby valley.
Once there, Joshua said, "Achan, you've caused us a lot of trouble. Now you are in trouble."
The people of Israel stoned Achan, his family and his animals to death. They built a fire and burned the bodies, along with all the possessions and the cursed things that Achan had stolen. They covered the ashes with a big pile of rocks. And that place is still known as Trouble Valley.
Then God stopped being angry with Israel and gave them the city of Ai (see Josh. 8:1).
Ten Lessons We Learn
from This Account 1. God's Promises to Us Are Awesome!
Our great God is a promise-keeping God. He has literally given us thousands of promises in His Word. Salvation is only the beginning of God's promises. Beyond our salvation experience there are countless treasures waiting for us to experience in Christ, because God "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). Furthermore,
We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God's own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world (2 Pet. 1:3-4, CEV).
Have you realized that once you are born again, His nature becomes part of you?
2. God's Promises Are Often Contingent upon Our Obedience
In order for us to enjoy the benefits that God has promised, we must trust Him and believe that He keeps His Word. His promises are activated by our faith. However, many of God's promises are conditional. They are contingent upon our obedience. We call them God's If/Then promises.
With regard to our salvation, He's promised that "if" we believe in our hearts and "if" we confess with our mouths, we shall be saved (see Rom. 10:9).
With regard to His forgiveness of our sins, He has promised that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
God had made covenant with Joshua and had given him promises too. He promised to give him the land He had promised Moses (see Josh. 1:1-4,15); to always be with him and to help him, as He had helped Moses (see Josh. 1:9); that he would never be defeated (see Josh. 1:5)
But with those three promises, there were three commands or conditions: be strong and courageous (see Josh. 1:6); do every thing Moses taught (see Josh. 1:7); read, meditate on and obey the Book of the Law (see Josh. 1:8).
Achan had failed to do everything God had asked of him. He had taken that which God had specifically forbidden the Israelite: to take-things that God had designated for destruction-and he had hidden the goods in a hole in the ground beneath his tent Although the Lord doesn't indicate that a demonic power was attached to the Babylonian garment, the 200 pieces of silver or the 50 gold shekels, God said these things were accursed and should be avoided. Why would God want the Israelites to avoid these things-unless they brought evil with them?
Therefore, the main idea of the biblical passages dealing with this subject is that disobedience to Yahweh brings a curse Such disobedience is inherent in the worship of alien gods (idolatry), which is in fact the worship of demons, according to the Old Testament (see Deut. 32:16-18).
3. Physical Things Sometimes Carry Spiritual Significance
Throughout Scripture we see evidence that physical things car carry spiritual significance: the lamb's blood that God had the children of Israel apply to their doorposts (see Exod. 12:7-13) the Tabernacle, its furnishings and utensils (see Exod. 26-27) water baptism (see Luke 3:21-22); the Last Supper (see Matt 26:28; 1 Cor. 11:23-25); miraculous handkerchiefs and aprons (see Acts 19:11-12); healing oil (see Jas. 5:14).
Excerpted from SPIRITUAL HOUSE CLEANING by ALICE SMITH & EDDIE SMITH Copyright © 2003 by Alice and Eddie Smith
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.