Selfish ambition is one of the currencies of hell.
Selfish ambition is one of the currencies of hell. (Flickr )

I have been a seer and prophet for many years, long before I understood what I was seeing and how to use this gift in an honorable and edifying way in the body of Christ.

I have been in the ministry for over 30 years, preaching since I was 14 and, boy, have I made a lot of mistakes, for which I could not be more grateful. Each failure became an opportunity to see God and connect with His heart in amazing ways as He refines me in the refiner's fire.

I am only now willing to surface on a national and international platform because I made a commitment to raise my children and establish their feet firmly in their destinies before I ventured beyond my own personal ministry.

Why do I tell you this? Along the way, I often got tired of waiting, feeling left out, dismissed and devalued. Father would have to remind me He was sticking to my plan and keeping ministry low-key for me so I could raise my family. Yet, being prophetic, I have an intense need for significance. This need set me up for jealousy when other ministers were growing their churches and hanging out with God's "popular" group. It also set me up for abandonment issues, which I later discovered was called an orphan spirit.

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One vision I had described how I was feeling at the time. Jesus was seated at a beautiful dining table exquisitely decorated with elaborate trimmings and food. At the table were seated various ministry leaders with large, well-known ministries. I, however, was dressed as a servant, tending to the guests, completely unnoticed by all except Jesus. Jesus would smile and wink at me, trying to make me feel important to Him, but that just made me even madder.

At one point in the vision, I was in the kitchen prepping for the next course, and Jesus came in to hug me, telling me He appreciated what I was doing for Him, but I shrugged it off. He told me the leaders were being fed by the food I was preparing, and that made me very important to Him. I didn't really understand then, but I do now. Let me share my journey with you as I share this word from the Lord to His leaders.

May you be fed and nourished by His heart for you.

I had a vision several years ago of Satan playing the shell game with the church. He was manipulating us and robbing us of our destiny. The Lord said, "The shells are three soulish idols the enemy is using against My church to keep them striving for things they already have and abandoning what they have for things they do not want or need." He called these three soulish idols "the currency of hell."

These idols are:

1. Self-ambition disguised as vision

2. Self-preservation disguised as wisdom

3. Self-condemnation disguised as humility

I realize now that the lessons I have learned while raising my children in obscurity and the sin of which I needed to repent brought me freedom from the currency of hell. Now I need to deliver this word to God's people.

What is a Soulish Idol?

Galatians 3:3 says, "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" In other words, we can do good things, even godly things, with soul power rather than the Spirit. Paul calls this foolishness. In Ephesians 3:16, Paul urges us to "be strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man."

I have learned that I needed my self-will to be broken before I could be strengthened in my inner man or my spirit. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us not to trust in our own understanding but to acknowledge God so He can make our paths straight.

A soulish idol leads us to rely on our self, rather than Holy Spirit, who is to guide us into all truth. So what does all this look like?

For many years, I thought dying to self meant dying to my sin, until Jesus reminded me that He had already done that. Dying to self means letting go of self-effort so I can be completely controlled by the Spirit of God without getting in His way. This is what the fruit of self-control really is; it is not self-discipline or self-effort. The fruit of self-control allows self to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. That takes dying daily according to Scripture. It is about surrender, not discipline; it is about receiving, not producing; it is about rest, remembrance and restoration.

So let us explore these idols, their counterfeit work, the currency of heaven and genuine resurrection power.

Self-Ambition Disguised as Vision

Vision: A Holy Spirit-inspired and empowered ability to see the preferable future and to obey what God determines is your role in seeing that future come to pass.

The Scripture teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God and then all these things will be added unto us. Genuine vision requires us to pursue God and His ways of doing things rather than pursuing goals for achieving the vision He puts in our hearts.

Self- Ambition: A strong desire and self-centered determination to finish successfully what has been established as a goal. God is not task-oriented but relationship-oriented; He created us for relationship. The Lord spoke to me once and said, "Joy, I won't ever be impressed with your works, because I either did them Myself through you, or you did them with a heart of self-ambition."

How can I tell the difference?

1. Self-ambition will cause us to finish the vision in the flesh according to worldly standards and for personal gain.

2. Vision is energy-producing; self-ambition is energy-demanding.

3. Vision hears, obeys and leaves the outcome up to God.

4. Self-ambition may hear and obey but also takes responsibility for the outcome. The stress level will cause our hearing to go bad.

Rest defeats Self-Ambition

The good news is that our Father also has a currency, and it comes from heaven.

In heaven, there is no self-ambition, only rest. God labored for six days and then He rested.

Rest is not the lack of activity. It is not passivity. It is not laziness or ignorance. Many in the body of Christ think they are at rest, but instead they are bound in apathy, passivity and ignorance. In the movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the Shire is a good representation of a false rest from which the church is suffering. The hobbits were completely unaware of the battle going on all around them. Frodo was responsible to guard the ring and to take it back to Mordor (the fires of hell) in order to stop the war.

The ring is a good example of self-ambition. Frodo met many along the way who wanted to use the ring for good but always ended up becoming evil instead. Frodo knew the only way to end the war was to get rid of the ring altogether.

This is our battle as well; we may want to succeed through self-ambition, but it will only lead to evil. Paul says we are "acting like mere men" because of our petty envy and strife (1 Cor. 3:3c). These sins that rob us of the power of the Holy Spirit are generated by the idol of self-ambition.

Jesus says, "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).

Genuine rest is best explained by a story I once heard. A Bible translator was struggling to find a word for "believe" in the local dialect with which he was working. While he was in his office, a native friend came into the room, sat down and, in the local dialect, said, '"It feels good to put my full weight onto this chair."

At that point, the Bible translator knew He had found his word for "believe." The biblical idea of rest is to totally believe in God, putting our full weight on His power to keep us without bracing ourselves in case He doesn't come through. I know I have moved from rest to self-reliance when my adrenaline rises because of fear of failure, rejection or pain. It takes focus to get back to rest so God can direct our steps instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to life.

How Do We Rest?

There are three lies, which, if believed, will rob us of resting in the Lord:

1. I must do everything well.

2. Everything must go well.

3. Everyone must treat me well.

When we believe these lies, we will exert high levels of self-reliance to stabilize our peace, which will be constantly shifting. Aggression, depression, anxiety, fear and control issues are generated by these lies. To rest, we must break our agreement with the father of lies, who convinces us that these three lies are possible.

For part 2 of this two-part series, tune in Monday.

Joy Chickonoski is an author and conference speaker as well as the founder and executive director of Unleashed Healing Center. Joy also serves with her husband, Perry Chickonoski, as co-leaders of Real Living Ministries and as the Northeast Ohio Apostolic Leaders for the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network.

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