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For eighteen years this woman came to church bent over. Crippled.
She had been faithful, loved the Lord, a “daughter of Abraham.” I guess you could say she was “saved.”
Eighteen years is a long time. Everybody had accepted her condition. I suppose in a way, she had learned to live with it. I’m sure she wished everyday that she could stand straight, but had realized that nothing could be done.
But this was no ordinary crippling. She had been crippled “by a spirit.” It doesn’t say its was an “evil spirit,” it was just a “spirit.”
Most of us would assume that eighteen years previous she was just walking along one day and this “spirit” just came upon her and jumped on her to afflict her. She was just an innocent woman, minding her own business when this “spirit” comes along and bends her over.
But that’s not the way it happens. Spirits just don’t attack us unawares. The movie “The Exorcist” would lead you to believe this can happen to just anyone.
But spirits cannot go where they are not invited. Somewhere along the line, we are confronted with decision about an attitude, or a principle of faith that we just cannot accept. God usually is trying to teach us something about living our lives for Him that will improve our servanthood, and draw us closer to Him. But what happens is we have a preset line of thought about this particular subject, and we just can’t give it up. Maybe it is something we have been taught all our lives, and we have taken it for the gospel truth, but the problem is that it doesn’t square with scripture, and we just can’t adjust to the new light that God is showing us.
Or maybe it is a preconceived set of notions about life, or the church, or view of ourselves that we cherish, but has no basis in the truth. God is trying take us to a new plane of living, but we refuse to go.
So we stay where we are, trying to stop change and live on a plane of unreality that leaves us open to “spirits.”
And these “spirits can cripple us. They limit our effectiveness. This daughter of Abraham continued to love the Lord, but by allowing this spirit to coexist with her, she limited her ability to function in life, and limit her effectiveness in the Kingdom.
Here are some of the spirits that can cripple us.
I. A LEGALISTIC SPIRIT
Jesus said: " `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)
The basis of our Christian experience is love. Out of love comes the commandments. But the tendency, as time passes, we grow cold in our relationship to God. Love fades, but the commandments remain. Every action of ourselves and others is not interpreted in the light of love, but in the light of the law. And that is exactly what Jesus preached against.
This spirit of legalism is a crippling spirit, for it saps us of the love, tenderness, patience and gentleness that we need to not only get along with others but to minister to them
II. AN UNFORGIVING SPIRIT
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