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November 14, 2017

Today we received a sobering email from our dear friend and sister in the Lord, Mia. She conveyed to us what she is going through and our hearts ached for her. Because she lives in another part of the world all we can do is stand in prayer with our sister. We feel for her because what she is experiencing is what we went through during our wilderness journey. Our empathy was given birth by having to deal with the ‘self’ nature coming at us from others just like Mia is dealing with. The ‘self’ nature is an enemy to the spirit but few understand what that looks like. Here is an inside look at the battle.

In most battles you have two opposing sides, two camps, where the world looks vastly different between the two. Yes, the rocks, trees, fields and landscape may all look the same, but how they are viewed by each side is what causes the battle. In this case you have ‘self’ on one side and spirit on the other. Both exist deep within our spirit core, but they are complete polar opposites in how they view each and every thing that happens to us. They are, in fact, at war with each other. Now the battle that happens within also will happen without when one person wants to pursue ‘self’ and another person wants to pursue spirit. Since ‘self’ and spirit are enemies, this will create friction and enmity between the two people as well. I will endeavor to explain how this plays out and what it looks like.

Let us start with examining ‘self’. ‘Self’ at its very core only cares about ‘self’, as if that’s a surprise. However, because ‘self’ comes originally from satan it has no peace. It is filled with fear, gluttony, anger, greed, lust, idolatry and all those things Paul talks about in Galatians 5:19-21. ‘Self’ knows no peace and will constantly drive those who want their ‘self’ to greater depths of evil and depravity just to appease it. The problem is that ‘self’ is never satisfied and never will be; so the person who lives for their ‘self’ nature will be restless and miserable.

In contrast to ‘self’, spirit cares deeply about God, others and the body into which it is placed. Since our spirit comes from God, it will yearn and long to return to Him; but it is also willing to suffer long in patient endurance. No sacrifice is too large; no obstacle is too big for the spirit to overcome in its pursuit of Jesus. Our spirit rests in peace because the Prince of Peace is Lord. When the spirit is in control of the person, they will be able to rest in the faith, hope and love of God; knowing that He will provide for every need.

Now a long time ago, before I ever really understood the difference between ‘self’ and spirit, God spoke to me. I was working as a government consultant at the time, and quite busy with my business. One day as I was driving in to work, God said to me, “Homer, it’s be not do.” As if I could even remotely understand what He meant by that, He then proceeded to repeat that same phrase. Many times. For many, many days. Now besides being very frustrating, it also got me to wondering why He would say that to me as I spent 20 plus hours a day slaving away, fixing my customer’s computer issues, trying to make ends meet. Despite the 10 or 15 5 minute breaks I would take each week, time would not unveil what He meant when He said, “It’s be not do.”

It took leaving my job and living a life of faith, trusting Him for our daily provision, that I began to slowly unravel the difference between the be and the do. You see, in the simplest form, to be means that we follow spirit and we are at rest as we follow Him. It does not mean we are not active; in fact, we could be very active. It means that we are simply following His lead. We do not have to come up with a plan, and then somehow make that plan happen. He has the plan and all we have to do is follow. On the other hand, the do means that we are on our own because we are following ‘self’. Remember that ‘self’ is all about singleness; being a god to oneself. In this instance to do means that we are not following God and are not trusting Him in faith to provide for us. Instead we have to rely on our own wits, strength and resources to forge our own way forward. As such, a person living by ‘self’ will run over anyone and anything that it thinks is in the way to preserve itself. Those actions will span the gamut of mild pressure right up to killing people. This is also called witchcraft.

We have a good example in Scripture of what it looks like when be and do clash. In Luke 10:38-42 we read the following. “Now while they were on their way, it occurred that Jesus entered a certain village, and a woman named Martha received and welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teaching. But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me [to lend a hand and do her part along with me]! But the Lord replied to her by saying, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; There is need of only one or but a few things. Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.” Do you see how Martha, giving way to her ‘self’ nature, is trying to pressure Jesus to put pressure on Mary, her sister, to ‘do her part’? That is exactly what the battle between ‘self’ and spirit looks like between two people. The one giving way to ‘self’ always wants the person pursuing spirit to stop worshipping God, and to start worshipping the god of ‘self’. Jesus rightly pointed out that Martha was restless and not at peace because she was following ‘self’. He put a stop to Martha’s ‘self’ fueled pressure, and told her that Mary had chosen the correct course of spirit. By doing this Jesus also gave us a model of how to graciously say no to the pressure from ‘self’ and make room for the spirit.

In the wilderness, we experienced this conflict many times, just as our dear sister Mia is experiencing it today; but we do not have the physical presence of Jesus to stop the battle. Instead we have the Holy Spirit inside of us. As we follow Jesus in spirit, we must learn how to face people who are wallowing in ‘self’, and not give in to their pressure. It is in the wilderness where we learned to be gracious, but unyielding, to those who wished us to worship ‘self’ as they did. In our particular journey, we had family members that demanded that we stop following God in faith and return home. We said no. Government demanded that we surrender our free will to their agenda to continue receiving their aid. We said no. Religion demanded, many times, that we just get a job immediately and stop following God in faith. We said no. Business said that it was the only one that would provide for us as long as we slaved away at a low paying job. We said no. We knew that we were on a journey; a journey that cost us everything and was more exhausting than any job I have ever had. We knew that if we gave in to ‘self’, we would forever be separated from the deepest union with God, and we could not fathom that. As long as He was leading, we would follow Him. We had to learn how to say ‘no’ to ‘self’ even as we said ‘yes’ to the Holy Spirit. We were committed to the be; not the do.

As long as there is ‘self’ in us, we will always place pressure on others to conform to what we want. We may be very subtle, sneaky and may not even be aware of what we are doing; but it will always be there. ‘Self’ sees the world as a fearful place where you have to kill or be killed. Pressure must be applied to get what ‘self’ wants. Spirit sees the world as a place of God’s glory where we will be cared for by our loving Father. This is the fundamental difference between ‘self’ and spirit and the cause for every battle between the two. Unless we are willing to let God deal with our ‘self’, it will remain and will wreak havoc on other’s lives as well as our own. If you choose to follow the Holy Spirit, in obedience, you will be on a collision course with ‘self’ and the pressure it brings to bear. If you stand against this pressure to worship ‘self’, you will grow stronger and you will mature in faith. Jesus will not take these trials from you; but He most certainly will walk through them with you.

The battle between ‘self’ and spirit is not an easy one; whether it is within us or from without with others. I hope and pray that you will choose spirit and be willing to face down your mortal enemy, called ‘self’.


Homer and Wanda