On Friday, I spoke about self-ambition disguised as vision. I see this as one of three soulish idols—something the enemy is using against God's church to keep it from striving for things they already have and abandoning what they have for things they do not want or need.
The second idol of the soul-realm is self-preservation, which the enemy disguises as wisdom. Most of us have had our fair share of rejection and betrayal. Some of us have had more than a fair share.
The old saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." In an attempt to avoid being fooled again, we often establish walls that hinder intimacy with the body of Christ but most importantly, the Trinity. These walls can appear to be wisdom. We may think we are building safe boundaries, but there is a difference between a wall and a boundary. A wall is a vow we make to protect ourselves, such as "I will never allow someone to hurt me like that again." A wall causes us to avoid people, situations and opportunities in an attempt to stay safe. A boundary empowers us to trust people and work with them without fear.
The enemy and God both use rejection as a rite of passage. God uses rejection to reveal our weak spots so we become aware and can be healed. The devil uses rejection to reveal our weak spots so we can become self-contained and powerless.
We must run into God and allow him to be our refuge rather than walking in self-preservation.
So what is self-preservation exactly?
Self-preservation is a state of isolation brought on by rejection, resulting in a strong desire and self-centered determination to maintain one's present condition. There is no delight in understanding, only expressing one's own heart (see Prov. 18:1-2). Life often teaches us it is wise to avoid people, refusing to trust our hearts to anyone; yet the Scripture teaches us differently in 1 John 1:5-7.
"God is light, and in Him is no darkness ... if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."
Based on the Greek understanding of this passage, we could also say it like this: "God is truth and in Him there is no deception ... If we walk in the truth as He walks in the truth, we have fellowship with one another and blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin."
Deception is presenting ourselves in the best possible light. In doing so, we will leave a certain truth out and manipulate situations and people to keep that truth from surfacing. We mainly do all of this on a subconscious level because we are proud. We do not want people to know who we really are because we are afraid of rejection. Most of us think our deception is actually helping our relationships because we cannot trust people with the truth.
Let me give you an example of the deception of self-preservation. When I was a young mother and pastor, I struggled with punctuality. So, if I was running late for a meeting, I would be trying to come up with an excuse that would make me look as good as I could in the situation. I told myself I didn't want to make the person feel like she wasn't important enough to me. So I sought to deceive her in order to preserve my relationship with her. It was about that time in my life that the Lord revealed this passage in 1 John to me. He told me, "People would rather have the truth, and so would I."
When I thought about it, I was just trying to protect myself from criticism. True humility is not thinking less of ourselves; it is thinking of ourselves less often. We have all experienced being deceived; we can usually tell when people are lying or keeping something from us. We all long for people to just admit when they are wrong.
Most of us would respect them and forgive them for what they did. Yet, when we need to admit wrong, it can feel so degrading, and we often resort to deception, thinking that others will not respect us if we tell the truth. We must abandon self-preservation, which comes from rejection and is generated by our pride. We must yield to the truth of God's Word and walk in truth rather that deception.
What is genuine wisdom?
Wisdom is the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience and knowledge. According to Proverbs, wisdom begins with the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11 tells us that the Spirit of the fear of the Lord is one of the names of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of the fear of the Lord empowers us to recognize sinful thoughts, feelings and beliefs that are grounded in worldly wisdom. They may appear sound because of hurtful experiences, but they are not biblical. When we walk with Holy Spirit, inviting Him to bring conviction into our lives, we learn to repent rather than make excuses for our actions. If we are walking intimately with Holy Spirit, we have more of a desire to be changed by people and situations rather than to change our situation and the people we think are the problem.
Many years ago, I was facing persecution from the church affiliation I was a part of at the time.
They were godly people but were not accepting of prophetic ministry or anyone who accepted the call to such an office. It was very difficult for me to keep my heart free from offense because no one confronted me personally, but they were quite vocal from their pulpits. I could have felt justified in using my pulpit to retaliate. But the Spirit of the fear of the Lord led me to honor my persecutors publicly—and privately when in their company. This often felt humiliating, but I am so thankful for all I learned and how that experience helped me to mature spiritually and gain authority in my calling.
It is time for the church to walk with the Spirit of the fear of the Lord so we honor God more than our own interests. God will protect us when we stop trying to do it ourselves. Self-preservation is often disguised as wisdom. We must invite the Spirit of the fear of the Lord to bring conviction and illuminate the difference for us.
Self-Condemnation Disguised as Humility
The third idol of the soul-realm is self-condemnation, which means "to express complete disapproval of, to declare someone unfit for use, to sentence to a particular punishment."
Self-condemnation made me feel like I needed to sit down, shut up and wear beige. The Lord began to show me how I kept exchanging the anointing for humility. Every time a proud thought came to my mind, I would stop letting the Lord use me, telling myself I was too proud to be effective for God. It was easy for the devil to stop me from being who God wanted me to be; all he had to do was convince me I was proud for using my gifts. We have to learn to rebuke pride, but not disqualify ourselves from walking in the anointing God has chosen to place on our lives.
How do we recognize self-condemnation?
We can often think self-condemnation is conviction from God. Self-condemnation requires us to walk with inferiority, and that does not come from our Father who desires to empower us. Father has passed out gifts to us, and we are to use them as we mature in our faith, not afterwards.
Romans 12 reveals seven DNA gifts given by Father, and He requires us to use them according to our level of faith. I have a DNA gift mix of prophet and servant. For many years, I struggled with an internal battle between the very different perspectives in these two gifts. I can best describe this turmoil with a vision I had that reveals my personal struggle with self-condemnation.
In the vision, I saw my prophetic gift as a very intimidating beekeeper, powerful and scary-looking with tattoos and large muscles. Bees were swarming a young woman, and I was fearlessly hosing her off with a fire hose. She was screaming for me to stop because the water was stinging her more than the bees. But I ignored her, because I knew the water wouldn't kill her, but the bees might.
At the same time, I saw my servant gift as a refined version of myself, sitting behind a desk. My servant gift was speaking very gently to the woman as to not offend her but was having no effect on her or the bees. Yet the servant part of me felt good about the fact that I was able to remain calm in the situation, demonstrating gentleness and patience. Once the prophetic version of myself, represented by the beekeeper, freed the woman from the bees, the woman was very grateful.
However, my servant gift, represented by the refined version of myself, was disgusted by the beekeeper's behavior and sat very smug, speaking with condemnation to both the beekeeper and the girl who needed to be rescued. My servant side felt ignored by both the prophet and the girl being attacked.
I realize now that Holy Spirit brought healing and maturity to both my prophetic gift and servant gift through that tug-of-war on the inside. As iron sharpens iron, so the two different perspectives inside of me sharpened each other. Now I am both a prophet with a softer approach and a servant who isn't afraid to be bold.
So what internal conversation is going on inside of you? Are you being refined in the fire or oppressed by your imperfections?
Walk in True Humility
"You search the Scriptures, because you think in them you have eternal life. These are they who bear witness of Me [Jesus]. Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. ... Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust" (John 5:39-40, 45).
Self-condemnation is generated by the letter of the Law, while Jesus is the Spirit of the Law. As the above Scripture points out, diligently studying the Word should lead us to depend on Jesus.
However, if it leads you to feeling disapproved of, that condemnation does not come from Jesus.
It comes from Moses or, in other words, a religious view that sees the Word as laws to be kept, not a person to trust in.
True humility comes from confidence and safety in the love of Jesus. It frees us to be known for who we are, nothing more and nothing less. Arrogance and insecurity are just different expressions of a proud heart. If you walk in arrogance, you will think more highly of yourself, making excuses for failure, rendering Holy Spirit unable to move you. If you walk in insecurity, you will think less of yourself, exempting yourself in failure, again rendering Holy Spirit unable to move you.
When you are not afraid to be yourself, you will honor God in success, accept failure, remain a learner and allow Holy Spirit to move you. This is genuine humility. It is actually much easier to just be yourself, trusting Jesus to make up the difference, but first you have to get rid of self-condemnation.
I bless you to walk in genuine vision, wisdom and humility, which is the currency of heaven.
Heaven's currency produces rest in God and joyful remembrance for all God is and does. It also empowers us with resurrection power. May you encounter the Spirit of the fear of the Lord, who will expose the currency of hell and free you from the soulish idols of self-ambition, self-preservation and self-condemnation, which align you with the enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy.
As I see the tide rising and the winds of change stirring, heaven is unleashing a current of the Father's thoughts intended to sweep his bride up into the arms of her Savior. May you have ears to hear and eyes to see what the Father is saying in this hour. May your spirit be nourished with these words and your soul aligned with the currency of heaven. Be released from the turbulence of the soul-realm, resting in your identity as a Son of God and the bride of Christ.
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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