Our Future Freedom from Sin

The following was an experience that I had with our Heavenly Father in the mid-1990’s. I don’t recall having ever put this encounter into written form—in whole or in part, though I have verbally spoken of it to a very small and select group of close siblings in Christ.

I have hesitated to share it publicly because when someone speaks of a Divine encounter, there are often detractors who:

  • argue against it,
  • attribute it to an overactive imagination,
  • chide the individual for believing that God would ever speak to them extra-biblically (outside of only reading it directly within the pages of the Bible text), or
  • simply like to mock anything they themselves have not experienced.

However, there are also those who are inspired by a testimony of a Divine encounter and develop a hopeful anticipation of God working in their life too, whether or not it would be in the same dramatic form.

There are still others who insist on knowing the formula that was used to arrive at such an encounter, what works were done and can be duplicated, as if it were a reproducible science experiment.

All I know is that most (but not all) of the handful of extraordinary encounters I have had with God coincided within seasons of prayer. Most of those encounters (which I have evaluated and have had others confirm as Biblically valid) remain extremely private, unshared in any public forum.

I share the following Divine encounter in the prayerful hope that others will be blessed, encouraged, and inspired once they too consider its scriptural validity and scriptural applicability to their own walk with Christ.

The last part of this article is devoted to a Biblical Review of several aspects of this encounter. Everything in life should be prayerfully evaluated for its accordance with scripture, with the help of the Holy Spirit. It is provided in an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) format.

Thanks for reading.

· • • • ·

An Environment of Prayer

A number of years ago in the mid-1990’s I was in a church in North-Central Oregon. I was there as a guest speaker and to lead the church in prayer for a special Call to Prayer emphasis for one week.

The schedule included numerous times of prayer at the church, in the early morning, noon hour, late afternoon, and mid-evening. This was to accommodate as many people as possible, making it easier for them to choose a time to attend that fit with their personal and family schedules.

Most of the time was spent in prayer, but each session I started with a brief teaching and an emphasis on which we could focus our prayers. A brief time of corporate prayer was then followed by personal, private prayer that could follow the provided emphasis or we could venture into a direction in prayer as we individually felt was needed.

An Unexpected Divine Encounter

We were a few days into the week, and the Divine encounter I had was during the noon hour prayer time. There were only a handful of people present in the large room during this particular time slot. Having completed our brief time of teaching and group prayer, we had each found our own private place to pray.

Personally I like to either walk and pray, or lay on the carpet and pray. This particular moment I was not only laying on the floor, but I had crawled under a table that had a few chairs around it. I didn’t want to be stepped on by anyone else who might be walking-and-praying with their eyes closed most of the time.

I don’t recall what I was praying specifically, though I tend to think I was praying to receive more of the influence and presence of God in my life.

Without warning or without a crescendo, my body immediately felt like God (with all of His infinite power and glory) had walked into the room and was standing right next to me. I was so overwhelmed by His holiness, His purity, His power, His glory, His love… every one of His known attributes, and more!

At that moment I knew that if I opened my eyes, I would see God Himself, our Heavenly Father, and I would die. I knew that I was not capable of encountering anything but a fraction of the fullness of God’s manifestation. My eyes remained closed so tightly, they felt like my eyelids were forcing my eye balls into the back of my head.

An Unexpected Divine Message

God spoke to me in my mind, from His thoughts to my thoughts. He said something that astonished me: “Try to think a dirty thought.”

{ Some who are reading this may already be pulling their hair out, screaming “Anathema! Abomination! Ichibod!” But, please allow me to finish the whole story, hold your own thoughts and reactions for just a moment longer. We will finish with a Biblical Review for the validity of several aspects of this encounter. }

Now, back to the moment of when God said: “Try to think a dirty thought.”

In case you don’t know me, I’m a red-blooded human being with all of the usual hormonal, selfish, greedy, and prideful drives and thought patterns that sometimes seem to come out of nowhere, but that I sometimes entertain by pondering them instead of kicking those thoughts out like the garbage they are.

When God said, “Try to think a dirty thought,” I was so overwhelmed by the magnificence and the magnitude of His pure and holy presence that I was not going to argue with Him. The Lord must have known how easy it would be for any guy to think up some creative junk, especially me, but He still said it to me. I immediately tried to think of a dirty thought.

Surprised by Divine Freedom

I was surprised!  I was shocked!  I was elated!  When I tried to think a dirty thought… there was nothing but light and glory and peace. I still understood what He meant by a dirty thought (after all, been there, done that, way too many times) but I could not generate or even recall a single thought that did not glorify God to an extreme.

There was a sensation of a total transformation of my entire being. For the first time in my life I felt free from a heaviness in my soul, a heaviness that felt like I was carrying around a dead, rotting body on me.

Did this experience take 5 seconds or 30 minutes? I don’t know, but while it was happening I had no sense of time. And for all I knew, I had died under that table in that church in Oregon, God was welcoming me to Heaven, and He was acquainting me with my new body, mind, and soul.

The Return to the World’s Reality

Gradually the overwhelming sensation of God’s manifestation drew to a close. I realized that I was still under the table, and that it was safe to open my eyes. I looked around the room at the handful of others, and they seemed to be continuing in prayer just as they were earlier.

I soon realized that the freedom from my flesh was not meant to be a perpetual experience. Not yet, at least. But I did receive on that day a perspective that has enriched my daily walk with the Lord as I continue to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). For now, His grace covers me as I continue to wrestle with the thoughts and desires that my broken humanity inspires, even when I lose at times (though I am losing less and less, which means I am winning more and more).

· • • • ·

FAQ for Biblical Review:

Q. Does scripture teach that seeing God in His absolute full manifestation really results in a person’s physical death?

When the scriptures speak of people who saw God face to face, it is not a literal face to face. It is an encounter where God’s manifestation is reduced to a level that a human being can survive. We as humans are not sufficiently “wired” to encounter the full manifestation of God.

Moses is known as a man who spoke with God face to face, but those encounters were limited manifestations too. When Moses asked to literally see God in the fullness of His glory, he was told:

“you cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live.”

( Exodus‬ ‭33:20‬ )

God isn’t just being secretive or mysterious by hiding the full manifestation of His being from people. He is literally prolonging our life by not literally revealing His full self to us. Again, we do not have sufficient “wiring” to handle an encounter with the full magnitude of His power, holiness, and magnificence.

In my encounter in the prayer room, would I have physically died if I had opened my eyes? Part of me says no, especially after seeing the other people had no knowledge of God’s full presence having been in the room. But part of me says yes, because the encounter was localized to just me, and not beyond my personal space. I really do not know, and considering these kinds of “what if” scenarios after the fact do not really serve God’s purpose for the encounter.

Q. Is it scripturally possible for God to ever tell someone, “Try to think a dirty thought”

Scripture is very clear that God never tempts us or influences us to sin.

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.”

( James‬ ‭1:13-14‬ )‬

In this encounter that I had, let’s be clear, God first said “Try…”.  Secondly, I was in a state or condition that did not (and would not, or could not) contribute to sinning. So, in my view, God wasn’t tempting me to sin, for when He said “Try…” He knew that in my current context I wasn’t going to sin because I lacked (in that moment) the enticing evil desire where “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (v.14).

In that moment I believe I experienced the freedom that we will have after our life in this world. I can see how we will be in a constant state of glorifying God in Heaven and in the New Earth. For a moment, I experienced it! It’s real!

Q. Does scripture analogize the sensation of carrying a dead body around?

Yes. The Apostle Paul wrote about his own struggles with desires to sin and desires to be righteous, a war that was perpetual in this life.

“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

( Romans‬ ‭7:21-25‬ )‬‬‬‬‬

Many theologians and historians believe that Paul’s reference to “this body of death” is related to a real world practice of that day, a form of slow and excruciating execution of a prisoner who had a dead body tied onto their back. As time progressed the death of the dead body would infiltrate the living body and cause the slow death of the prisoner.

It was a horrible, wretched experience. Hence Paul’s statement, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

We are delivered from this dead body by Jesus Christ, a process that is finalized when we receive our new bodies in the after-life with Him.

“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

( 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:4‬ )

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#PastorsTip # GloryOfGod #EncounterWithGod #Sin #FreedomFromSin #NewBody #Heaven #AfterLife #Temptation

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