Awake, O Sleeper, And Arise From The Dead
“For anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” ~ Ephesians 5:14
A very exciting facet about our righteousness in Christ is the language defining it: It is to “awake” (1 Corinthians 15:34; Ephesians 5:14). We don’t have to spend years figuring out the nuts and bolts of the message before we can experience the liberation of it.
There is a simple heart-stirring and liberating experience that happens in a moment as we understand that our salvation means far more than we thought. The quality of this liberty increases as we grow in intimacy with God and understanding, learning to meditate on the truth, fighting for it, even as opposing thoughts and feelings may come.
Where the enemy has kept us in experiential bondage by causing us to believe we are what we are not, the truth can liberate us dramatically and swiftly from these lies. Quite like waking up from a dream.
Time and time again, I have watched people realise the things they have been battling for years have already been defeated in Christ. There has been instant freedom on so many occasions—even without ongoing counselling or constant ministry. I could share many testimonies of people being set free from many lies, and the diverse symptoms of these lies, that rise to challenge the far-reaching freedom reality the blood of Christ enables us to have. Decades of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), medicated depression, drug-induced psychosis, anxiety, panic, fear, homosexuality, addiction and many psychological issues are broken by the truth as it is elevated along with faith—not to mention the thousands of healing miracles that take place when the finished work of Jesus is exalted, and Holy Spirit honoured.
I realise some who read this may experience some of these things. We live in what secular sociologists have called an “age of anxiety.” It can take courage and some investment in the truth, but the blood of Jesus is powerful enough to break us free. I promise you I can relate to those who are experiencing these things. Telling you freedom is easier than you thought it was is not being insensitive to the tangible reality of the issues. In this article, let me share my story with you.
My Personal Awakening
Besides being addicted to pornography for years, riddled with self-consciousness and selfishness, and not knowing who I was, for a time I also suffered a variety of psychological attacks. I was travelling in India with friends once when I accidentally took a heavy hallucinogenic drug that did serious damage to my mind, resulting in a significant demonic attack against my soul. For nine hours I was tormented by demonic visions and voices. I was a Christian at this time, in my mid-twenties.
I had believed in Jesus at the age of nineteen but had never learned who I was, nor of the power and authority I had as a son. I was living in ignorance, frustration, and sin.
My Christian experience was one of unfulfilled desire. I was desperate to know God but trapped behind a thick veil of perceived incompatibility with Him. Being kept from the comfort of compatible intimacy with God because of lack of understanding, I tried to find comfort in sin instead—selfishness, drinking, lust, and arrogance. I had become incompatible with sin as a Christian though, so was more miserable than ever. For the next four months after taking the drug, I heard voices speaking of suicide, compelling me to be silent or I might die in some freak accident. I felt as though I was still lost in that drug-induced state.
The voices tormented me.
They told me constant lies about my worth and God. They declared doom over my marriage, family, and life. I had crippling panic attacks which became so bad that I physically could not move, sometimes for hours. I would lie on a bed crushed by the overwhelming feelings, heart racing, sweating, and losing my mind. I was claustrophobic to where I could not drive my car without the windows down. I couldn’t deal with tunnels or planes either.
I felt so fragile, like I was an empty soft drink can, rolling around the dance floor at a vigorous bush dance.
Things were bad. I was breaking inside and felt trapped in my mind. These constant attacks lasted over four months. I cannot truly put words to the torment I went through. Impending doom is not an overstatement of how I felt. When this started for me in India, my wife was suddenly attacked by similar symptoms all the way back in Australia. She had to move back in with her parents until I returned home. She had not even taken drugs like I had. These concurrent episodes helped us recognise the demonic dynamic to our experience, but we were stuck about how to be free from it.
The Gospel Works
In the middle of a crippling panic attack one day, months into this ordeal, I found the courage, despite the voices bullying me into silence, to call my brother, Timothy. He is a man who knows who he is and can believe it for others too, even when they do not see it. As I sobbed over the phone, telling Tim the things I was going through, his response was to quiet me down finally and speak to me immediately of the answer, rather than revelling in the problem with me and diagnosing a dead man. He said something like, “I am going to pray some things about who you really are over you. When I do, those things you have been tormented by will leave.” It sounded insane to me in my deception.
Could It Be So Simple?
Wouldn’t I need years of counselling for this mess? But I agreed, my situation having robbed me of the liberty to be proud. He prayed over me the same things I have been speaking about on this website for some time, things like:
- I am seated in heavenly places in Christ,
- I am accepted in the beloved,
- I am light with no darkness,
- I am delivered from the enemy’s grasp,
- I am pure
- I am holy
- I am one spirit with the Lord
- and so on.
Because he believed these things were still the absolute subjective truth about me as a son of God, the presence of God immediately filled the room I was in. Where God had felt so distant just a moment earlier, He was now very evident in my situation. I felt the jealousy of God toward me. I felt His violent love and desire for my freedom, as though what was happening to me was utterly illegal. The feelings, thoughts, and voices instantly vanished! The anxiety, fear, and paranoia left.
I was free!
My wife walked boldly into freedom as well during this time, as we grew in understanding. I wrote my book, ‘Awake to Righteousness’, on a small indigenous island off the east coast of the Northern Territory—Groote Eylandt. We lived in a tiny community of only one thousand people. My wife is a medical doctor and was completing a six-month, rural, medical placement there. The only way on and off the island is a rather small aeroplane, and it is very isolated there. I still never feel fear, anxiety, or panic. I never feel claustrophobic. I am a confident son, found in the faithfulness of a very good Father. I live with an unceasing experience of peace, no matter what the circumstances I find myself in. Years later, and for the rest of my life, I am still free.
The Truth Will Never Change
Regardless of what life may present, the truth will never change. It is absolute. It is a person. It is Jesus.
I promise my circumstances have not been smooth sailing, not by any stretch. In fact, currently, Christine and I are in some of the most challenging circumstances we have ever faced. But there is an anchor of truth now that will never be moved, despite what may come. When we fight to stay established in Him, the freedom and peace the truth produces can become as unchanging as the truth itself. I have learned (the hard way) that when we do not know who we are, the enemy will do his best to keep it that way. He will then take advantage of our ignorance and lead us into more death, loss, and destruction (John 10:10). I have also learned through it all that the Gospel works! I am forever grateful for the power of the cross.
The Key to Ongoing Freedom
While I experienced an amazing freedom that day when my brother prayed for me, I somehow recognised it would not keep me free. The Bible says we will “know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32, emphasis mine). It does not say you will know an experience of freedom and the experience of freedom will keep you free. To have a tangible experience when someone believes the truth for you in a situation is powerful, liberating, and life-changing. But maintaining a transformed and liberated life happens when you pursue that understanding of the truth for yourself. I delved deeply into Scripture to discover my identity in Christ and grow in relationship with the Father.
When Anxiety Came Knocking
When a strong feeling of anxiety knocked at the door of my soul some months later, I was not caught off guard.
I had built my understanding in a place of intimacy and was unwilling to be convinced otherwise. The goodness of God and the truth of my redemption had become far too real for me to give in to this lie. I had built my house on the rock of truth while there was no storm, acting on the things I found about myself. When the storm brewed, I could confront it with truth and watch the storm vanish.
Because of my pursuit of truth, I did not have to use the experience of freedom from previous months to combat an experience of bondage I was now encountering.
I fought the suggestion to give myself to anxiety again with the truth. After a couple of moments of that same familiar feeling of fear, heart rate increasing, becoming dizzy, and thoughts flying through my head questioning my freedom in Christ, I sat up and talked to the Father. I thanked Him for the incredible freedom He had given me in Christ. I thanked Him that in Christ, I was actually free from anxiety. As I meditated on the truth in a place of intimacy, it took only moments for the feeling to be exposed for its powerlessness and to flee the room!
Challenge Your Feelings
Instead of letting what I was feeling change my mind about the truth, I turned to the truth to challenge what I was feeling.
That is how the gospel works. The same goes with lust, fear, anger, self-consciousness, body image issues, anxiety, and more. We must fight to believe what the Bible says is true. These things have been removed from our lives in Christ. Any experience of them is an outside suggestion from the enemy, and from the “broadcast of sin” still on the earth. We have the power to never identify ourselves with them, being strong in the truth. (We look more practically at this later in other articles.) I pray in faith that many who read my testimony, who are dealing with similar things, will experience the same manifest reality of freedom. The truth is that powerful. The blood of Jesus is that strong. I declare rampant freedom from these issues over every reader dealing with lies.
The ‘Sinner Saved by Grace’ Mentality
I will never stop proclaiming the truth of our tangible and inherited identity in Christ. Without it, my life would honestly be a write-off. My experience of freedom is lasting because I have pursued truth and intimacy. It is not an exception to the normal Christian experience. It is one example of thousands as this awakening to righteousness shakes hearts and lives all over the world.
The Distinction Matters
If this was just a fancy new theological language to associate with or to build a community around, but then live as we did before, I would be wasting my time and would not bother.
Freedom looks like something and Jesus paid for us to have it. I desire to see manifest freedom and powerful intimacy with God cover the earth. I have not lived perfectly since my experience of freedom and growth in the truth. At times, I have had to fight to remind myself of the truth, but nonetheless, I live a life now of purity, freedom, and clarity of conscience I never thought possible. It is time for an overhaul.
Eradicate The ‘Sinner Saved By Grace”
My desire is that in my lifetime, I will see the “sinner saved by grace” oxymoron completely eradicated from the global Christian church.
It is not just a difference of opinion. It is not an alternative biblical possibility. It is 100% non-scriptural and extremely destructive. Why am I so passionate about this? Is it because I am distracted and defined by a precious intellectual theology? No. It is because there is a real war going on. Lives hang in the balance. The liberty of the human soul is at stake. The quality of our blood-bought freedom is under threat. For too long we have worn shackles of sin, shame, bondage, and confusion. The way we have identified ourselves in the church, by the very thing Jesus paid to make us free from, must be exposed. We must repent. We must move forward in the truth.
There is a harvest of souls to be won for the kingdom of light, a devil trying to stop it, and millions of powerful people in the church fully able to establish the kingdom of God on the earth.
We must recognise the identity, inheritance, and intimacy with God that is ours. We must behave like the bride we really are, destroying the works of darkness and knowing the Father in purity and truth. Decide today. Put off the “sinner saved by grace” idea once and for all. Become “dead to sinner.”
Salvation Will Invade Every Corner
Choose with me that our generation will see the truth of salvation invade every corner of the earth.
We will be righteous radicals in word and deed. We will be fundamentally known for knowing Him. We will be known for the power and love that results from the true intimacy with God that Jesus’s precious blood was shed for us to enjoy.