Strident Spirit of the Willful

“Strident Spirit” describes a person’s determination to have their way on some issue or other. We are all prone to this level of self-will and determination at times, often over specific areas where we feel the need to take a stand.

If people believe they have been taken advantage of or hurt in some way, either by a person or situation, they can make an inner resolve about the person or process. Their resolve is basically that they will not allow themselves to be vulnerable again.

Rebellion Against God

The problem with our strident spirit is that it is rebellion against God. When we take our lives into our own hands and demand certain realities for ourselves, we take the place of God in our own lives.

A simple example is where a person says to God, “I will serve You where ever You send me, but I will not go to the jungles of Africa!” Or, “I will show hospitality to anyone, except that person who offended me!” Whenever we rule God out of some decision or option we withhold God’s right in our life.

We need to undo this inner resolve which offends God, and thus become free of our Strident Spirit.

If you are given to hard attitudes toward a person or situation, then you very likely have a strident spirit associated driving your will. You need to find God’s grace and humble yourself before Him.

Realise you are in rebellion against God and humble yourself under His authority.

Spiritual Slavery

We are warned that what we give ourselves to will rule us. And so, when a person gives their will to serve their feelings of resentment, independence, self-preservation, or whatever, the will comes under the power of a strident spirit which will frustrate the person’s future attempts to yield their will, even to God.

So this is not just a matter of personal strength of will, but a spiritual battle against an evil force which has claimed victory over your will. You must make it a priority to be free from the Strident Spirit, so you can fully yield your life to God.

The best way to do that is to die to your self-will, allowing God to ask what He will, and being determined to obey Him and trust Him. Once the strident spirit is broken, you will have much greater internal liberty to worship and serve God. You will be free from a terrible slavery.

The Pastor’s Wife

Imagine a pastor’s wife who feels offended by the women in the congregation because of their excessive expectations of her. They want her to take part in programs and activities which she is not interested in.

The pastor’s wife refuses to meet their expectations, so the women complain to the church leaders. Those leaders then speak with the pastor asking him to encourage his wife to fit in with the program.

The pastor decides not to ask his wife to help the ladies, even though he thinks it is the right thing for her to do. He is aware of her strident and self-assertive nature and knows how upset she already is about the women asking for her help. He decides not to make his demand of her, since he does not want to further strain his relationship with his wife.

The Wrong Spirit in Control

Now there is no resolution. The women are unhappy. The pastor is caught in the middle. The wife is determined to hold her ground. The church leaders are embarrassed about the predicament.

So, who is ruling this situation? The most powerful spirit operating in this mess is a strident spirit, not the Spirit of God. The wife’s determination is being exalted over the whole situation.

Imagine, then, the Lord speaking to the pastor’s wife in a dream. He reminds her that He called her to serve Him and that she agreed to do so as a little child. He reminds her that her entire ministry is a gift from Him. He then points out to her that her heart is now not controlled by His love and grace, but by her own determination. He asks her if she would yield her will and do whatever HE asked her to do.

The wife agrees that she wants to give glory to God and honour Him. She agrees that she will obey Him. God gives her only one instruction, “Submit to your husband”.

The Challenge of Submission

When the wife wakes she struggles with the challenge to submit to her husband, because she does not trust him to always be sensitive to her needs and wishes. However, she realises that submission to her husband comes at a cost. It is a penalty to her own will, and requires her to yield her heart to God and to trust Him to protect her from the husband’s thoughtlessness and failings, and his own weakness of will.

When the wife tells the husband that she wants to submit to him and will do whatever he asks, she is aware of many areas where she has been a difficult wife and is not sure what he will ask her to do.

The husband asks her to fit in with the request of the women in the church, as an act of devotion to him. The wife is shocked. She has clearly refused to do what the women ask. She would refuse her husband under normal circumstances, just as she has refused the women. But this is now different. She is now being asked to submit her will to God.

Bow to God

The wife’s submission to her husband is not a losing of her will to the man, but losing her will to God, since God asked her to submit to the husband. And now, when she submits to the request of the women, as an act of submission to her husband’s request, that too is an act of submission to God.

The wife’s strident spirit is broken when she yields her will to God. Whatever pain, shame, or personal struggle she has to work through to fit in with the women’s program is the pain of submission to God. She does it all as an act of worship to Him.

For all of us who struggle to yield our will at times, this example points to an important principle. When we take charge of our will to stand against people or situations which we object to we must be careful to still be yielding our will to God. If God has directed us to take a stand, like Elijah against the prophets of Baal, then we are in the will of God. If it is our own spirit that has risen on our own behalf, then we must put that aside and bow the knee to God.

Biblical Examples

Jesus Christ gave us the example of His own life. When people mocked Him, He did not reply. The Apostle Peter described this example from Jesus.

“Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously” 1Peter 2:23

Jesus did not access His own wilful reactions, demands or determined actions, but yielded His life to do the will of God.

We also know of Moses as the meekest man that ever lived (Numbers 12:3), having yielded his life to God. And wives are instructed to adorn themselves in a meek and gentle spirit.

“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands” 1Peter 3:3-5

If you have given place to self-will or a Strident Spirit, you are in rebellion against God. It is time to humble yourself and give in to God.

God Can Be Trusted

Now, you may be afraid that if you give in to God He will ask you to do things which you think are bad for you. I know of people who were sure that God would send them to the mission-field if ever they yielded their lives to Him.

Let me reassure you with the words of Jeremiah. God’s plans for you are much better than yours.

“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

If God has to do surgery on your heart and attitudes it is only to remove a deadly disease. If you jump off the operating table and run away, you take all of your toxic problems with you.

Referring back to the resistant pastor’s wife, it may be that God wanted to soften her hard heart so she would be a blessing to others. It may be that she has not learned to be a team player, and needed to learn to work with others. It may be that her pride would destroy her in the future if God did not deal with it now.

Because we trust God to be who He is, a loving and gracious Heavenly Father, we can give in to Him. If we are desperate to “save” our life, we will lose it. But if we give up our claim on our own will, we will find the life for which we were created.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” Mark 8:35

Spirit of Offence

Years ago I became victim to a ‘spirit of offence’. I had forgotten about it until a few weeks ago when I sensed that one of my ministry friends had fallen victim to the same thing. I prayed for him and then wrote him an explanation.

I am sharing my letter to him with you, since it is just possible that you too have fallen prey to a Spirit of Offence.

What I Sensed

This is what I told my friend about what I sensed happening in his life.

There has been a ‘spirit of offence’ assigned against you, which has probably been at work for many years. I suspect that it traces back to your youth or childhood, in much the same way that a spirit of rejection works. You may be able to identify experiences you have had of feeling rejected, which cause you to feel emotionally vulnerable.

Anyway, the sense that came to me was that this offence issue is not a product of life experience, but a deliberate strategy of the enemy, to entangle your life in offences. It has a double edge in that it causes you to feel offended, rejected and unable to operate with welcomed acceptance, but it also causes people to feel some undefined sense of offence toward you.

My Past Experience

A spirit of offence was at work against my ministry in New Zealand, back in 1980, which an intercessor discerned and resisted. The first I knew of it was a phone call from a young mum in my congregation. She explained to me that she had suddenly felt a very strong feeling of offence toward me.

That feeling settled onto her one afternoon and she found herself feeling offended by me and angry toward me. However, being more spiritually sensitive than some, she stopped herself from indulging the feelings which had come upon her. She demanded to answer to herself why she was feeling that way.

As she prayed about what she was feeling she realised that there was no basis to her feelings. I had not done or said anything to her or anyone else that could possibly cause such a reaction. She sought the Lord for wisdom about what was going on and what she sensed was that a Spirit of Offence had rested onto her, to cause her to reject my ministry.

She prayed against that spirit for a long time before she felt the feelings of offence lift from her. Once those feelings dissolved it became all the more clear to her that this was a spiritual attack against my ministry and was completely baseless.

Then she realised with a shock that she needed to pray for me and the congregation. She had discerned what was going on and had resisted it. But others might become completely deceived by that spirit and rise up against the work of the Lord. As an intercessor she then began praying against the work of that evil spirit. She phoned me to tell me what was going on.

Evil At Work

That spirit of offence caused people to feel offended or to take up an offence against me, for no cause. Unsuspecting people would fall prey to the feelings of offence and assume there must be substance behind them; otherwise (they thought) they would not be feeling those things.

When the intercessor encountered those feelings she was initially caught up in them, but then stopped to discern what was going on. She realised that the feelings were baseless, just as waking in a good or bad mood is completely random, not based on real circumstances.

She then resisted the feelings, praying against the spirit of offence, and the feelings lifted from her. There was no way she could then feel offence toward me. The feelings of offence were not based on substance, but were spiritually generated.

My Concern For My Friend

I advised my ministry friend that there has been a similar strategy to entangle him, and probably his family, in experiences where relationships have become strained by offence. Once one person takes up an offence they are trapped with it in their arms and it spoils the relationships around them.

I explained… “I expect that you have felt offended by the way people have treated you and responded to you at times. They may well have treated you poorly at times, because they were under this same spirit of offence creating a feeling of offence when no offence existed at all. Once the offence is taken up further offences occur, and this creates substance on a non-existent foundation.

I believe you need to become free from the offences which others have put on you, for good reasons or no reasons at all. The enemy has made ‘offence’ an Achilles heel to your ministry. It has been his master plan to entangle you and to besmirch your reputation with a cloud of indefinite negative feeling.

Claiming Victory

The Lord wants you to wear a spirit of Joy, based on the fact that you are “accepted in the beloved” and that no matter who or what stands against you it cannot separate you from the love of God. No weapon formed against you will prosper. You don’t need to take up offence, even toward those who have taken up offence against you without cause. If you do that, you will be “overcome by evil” instead of overcoming evil with good.

You need to become a man of awesome grace, giving grace to people who feel or express offence toward you. This enemy strategy has been broken, but it may still have after-shocks or ripples for some time. During that process you need to triumph in your spirit against this evil assignment.

I suggest that you even make it a discipline to remember those who have offended you, taken up an offence, withstood you, ignored you, rejected you and the like, and those to whom you have felt barriers or taken up an offence. You then need to pray blessing on them.

Remember the command of Christ to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who despitefully use you”.

Grace Wins Out

Your ministry of grace, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, will neutralise the residue of offence. As you become abandoned in blessing others, laughing when they misunderstand or oppose you, blessing them while they are trying to curse you, the dam will burst. All the grace which is yours but which has been withheld from you will break free and pour over your life and ministry.

It will sweep you to the nations, to be welcomed and loved and appreciated. Those who have neglected you and dismissed you, withholding the honour that is your due, will have a change of heart and find themselves full hearted in appreciation for who you are and what God is doing in and through you.

Now, every word is to be confirmed by the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses, so I’m not imposing this on you as some final authority. I trust who you are in the Lord and your heart to walk closely with Him. So I simply submit this to you. I’m barracking for your ministry. I have seen in vision form what God is doing with you and I want it to come to full fruition. So I bless you in the name of the Lord and humbly submit what I have sensed, confident that you and the Lord make a great team and can sort out what to do from here, whether I’m right or wrong.

Sovereignty Attacked

Each of us has a remarkable privilege of presenting ourselves before God, independent of the demands and tyranny of our peers or oppressors. Yet this wonderful privilege is attacked and attempts are made to deny us our sovereignty, at many stages in our life. This first commentary on how our sovereignty is under attack may well be expanded on in future posts, but at this point I want to simply draw your attention to the fact that there are various forces which oppose your divinely bequeathed right to personal sovereignty.

Since we are created by God and the rights we have come from God it is logical that the first enemy to any such privilege given us by God would be from the principal evil spirit, who we know as the devil. The devil is a created angel who rebelled against God and came under God’s judgement. His activities since then have been to attack those things which God has created, especially humankind.

The devil attacks our sovereignty in a number of ways. We know from the records of his influence over mankind that he seeks to prompt people to use their sovereignty in acts of rebellion against God. This results in them coming under God’s judgement instead of God’s blessing. Temptation and deception are two key strategies used by the devil.

Another strategy is to get people to hand over their personal sovereignty to the devil. Strictly speaking it is not possible to do so, but the devil has a couple of devices which work in this direction. When a person submits to some kind of inappropriate attitude or behaviour that person becomes a slave to that thing. For example, when a person gives in to anger, they become an angry person, enslaved to angry responses. When a person gives in to lust they become a lustful person, enslaved by lustful thoughts. This does not strictly take their sovereignty from them, but it imprisons their soul and seems to them as if they have lost sovereignty. If the person was to repent and cry out to God for deliverance they still have the right to do so. They may still call upon God, as a sovereign creation, and find God’s help.

The other way of getting people to hand over their personal sovereignty comes in the form of a contract with the devil. The ancient German folktale character, Faust, is a classic case of someone who made a deal with the devil. In recent times youth attending rock concerts have been encouraged to sign themselves to the devil, in their own blood. The act of making such a commitment is a major compromise of a person’s will and results in a tremendous inner sense of slavery. While the person’s personal sovereignty is, in reality, intact, the insistent claim upon them by the devil can seem irrevocable. I have heard testimony of people who have sought Christian help to break such contracts and who have become free from the tyranny of the devil’s claim.

So, temptation, deception and intimidation are typical methods of compromising personal sovereignty. While these methods are used by the devil, they are also employed by other people who wish to assert their will over others and to deny people their rightful freedom. The carrot and the stick, used by governments and other social structures to direct people’s wills, are expressions of temptation and intimidation. Propaganda, indoctrination and deception are also widely used by regimes intent on controlling the masses. Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Dr Goebbels implemented the Big Lie theory, that the bigger the lie the more likely people are to believe it.

Fear is another tool for making people give up personal sovereignty. Fear could relate to simple avoidance of rejection by others, such as social pressure to conform in order to be accepted. Or it could relate to the immediate threat of reprisal, death or torture if compliance is not given. Totalitarian regimes often resort to abductions, murders, genocide and other atrocities to instil fear and compliance in the community.

At a more personal level, there are those who seek to enslave others, including their family, employees or people in their care. Manipulation and control may involve just one subject, such as a parent manipulating their child, or a wife manipulating her husband. In such cases the manipulator seeks to turn another person into their slave, at least within certain behaviour patterns, and so resorts to various means of control to get the other to give up their sovereignty. A similar condition is that of domination, where an assertive person will project their personality over others, simply to indulge their own pride and self-centredness. The right to personal sovereignty of those around them is impacted by their domination.

In each of the cases I have outlined, our personal right to come into God’s presence and make appeal directly to Him, remains intact. We may be in physical danger if we do so, but we have not lost the divine right to do so. This is the Divine Right of Everyone! No religious or political domination, nor sin or deal with the devil, can take from us our right to cry out to God and present ourselves before Him.