The Spirit of Truth
By Leanne Payne
from her newsletter archives, Fall 1990
Christian Suffering and Persecution
Frank Peretti’s novel, This Present Darkness, brings home to many the nature of suffering that accompanies spiritual warfare. Many Christians are overwhelmed at the nature of the evil and ungodliness that is today so highly energized and powerful as it takes over civic, political, and churchly structures. Just this past week, the newspapers in Illinois were carrying articles about concerned parents who were finding witchcraft and other such obscenities in school textbooks. One friend, in a chaplaincy, finds himself on a hospital staff with other chaplains who either practice sexual perversion or openly approve it in others. In some of them, there is an acknowledged and overt hatred of God, and one of the ways this is manifested is through (even as the Beast of Revelation) their blasphemies and slanders against the Name of God. This situation, a deeply entrenched one, is in a “Christian” Hospital. Unfortunately, such a situation is not rare today, and is usually “politically” protected. This chaplain is in the midst of a truly terrible warfare. He sees what the helpless and the dying are treated to, and receives against himself the bitterest hatred, derision and persecution. He is called to be a witness in that place. Two other friends, active in a Diocese full of the same, find themselves having to stand alone, often on powerful committees, where sexual perversion is not only approved, but where there is continual lobbying for the ordination of priests who are involved in it (all of this in the face of rampant HIV positive and full-blown AIDS cases among homosexual clergy who are already ordained). Christians, like my friends above, precious brothers and sisters in Christ, are called to stand, and speak the truth in the power of the spirit in the midst of demonized warfare.
In these cases, as Dr. Richard Lovelace writes, one’s authority in spiritual conflict takes “on a new significance which is much broader than individual defensive spiritual warfare. Not only can we expect to carry out offensive warfare which takes ground away from Satan in the exorcism of persons, we can also undertake, when we have liberty from God to do so, the exorcism of structures occupied by demonic forces–not only fallen structures in the church in the process of reformation and revival, but also fallen structures in society which are instruments of injustice” [See Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, pp 384. See 381-386].
Practicing the Presence of The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth
When we find ourselves in the midst of decidedly unholy situations, indeed, ones that are rife with and energized by the lies and activities of demons, it is then that — in God’s Presence and power — we stand. And it is wonderful, at all times, but especially in these hard moments, to reflect on the fact that the Holy Spirit, sent to us by Christ, is the Spirit of Truth.
In writing on the practice of the Presence of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I’ve perhaps said less in regard to specific special ways of practicing the Presence of the Spirit. But, increasingly, as in situations I’ve just mentioned, I find myself invoking the Holy Spirit, and praising Him as the Spirit of Truth. And this is what I find myself saying over and over again to precious beleaguered brethren, “Do you know that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth! Invoke His Presence! Speak His truth. It may not be accepted right now, but it will sit on the heads of these people until they acknowledge it.” True enough, there will be some who will not be converted by what they hear, but one day, even they, as the Scriptures say, will bow the knee before God and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
What a wonderful and mysterious power truth is. How it sits atop the most resistant head, and darts into the darkest heart. That head and heart may not choose to act on the truth, or to acknowledge it, it may even repress it very deeply, but once truth is spoken, there is a place in the human heart that knows it has heard truth, and it will have to wrestle with it from then on. It is the truth, and Truth Himself, that changes people, and structures, and nations.
I have a young friend who gets mixed up on what it means to be a witness. She sometimes therefore finds herself trying to “change” people — especially those she loves. We are not called to change people, to order or control their lives. We do not transgress their wills, or attempt to coerce them into personal conversions or changes. Rather, we are called to speak the truth, to be the truth, and the truth is what changes people.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for sending us such a Comforter, such an Advocate, such a Counselor and Guide, such a Holy Spirit! Come, Spirit of Truth, and move powerfully in and through us to the healing of Your World.
RECOMMENDED READING: Dynamics of Spiritual Life by Richard Lovelace, Ch. 4, the section entitled, “The Indwelling Holy Spirit,” pp 119. This portion important, for Dr. Lovelace shows very clearly there the theological misunderstandings some Christians have in regard to the Third Person of the Trinity, those that would hamper them from such a practice of the Presence as I outline above.