The following true story will probably shock some of you. It happened only yesterday. The dynamics of it, and the lessons emphasized (relearned, that is) were so real, that I really must share it with you. Please listen. It’s a good one. And it happened at my own expense – an expense which I later regained about two minutes later. It demonstrates clearly how a person who is attempting to walk in the spirit can lose faith instantly by allowing doubt to enter in and by failing to respond in faith.
My wife and I were discussing the days events as the day was coming to the close. I felt a very sweet presence of the Holy Spirit between us. I was so happy for this presence. We had just come back from a “successful” day at a Wednesday church event. And no doubt about it – we had been blessed. Our whole family had been blessed, in fact. We were walking in the spirit. And that came about through obedience. Thank God for obedience! Obedience leads to peace, and righteousness, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We were enjoying that sweet, sweet, presence.
My wife and I were discussing the days events. We talked about a variety of things. And it was sweet indeed! Do you know who gives this type of sweetness? It is none other than the Holy Ghost – God himself. If you’re not enjoying a sweetness in your relationship with your spouse – and I know what it means to be disobedient and not be enjoying his sweet sweet presence – well, let me just say that if you’re not enjoying a sweetness, it’s because you need to move on over to God’s side! (Note, it’s not us who needs to “get him” to move on over to our side! A common misconception! We’re HIS servants … not the other way around!)
Well, here is what happened. During our conversation, we discussed the fact that it would be nice if we could take a picture of our daughter with our new camera and then print it out with our printer. You know what happened? The first thought that came into my mind was, “Those printer cartridges are expensive!” It was none other than a feeling of doubt! Who was I doubting? Now remember, we were enjoying the sweet sweet presence of God’s Holy Spirit. Do you think that sweet sweet presence continued after that doubt came into my mind? Let me tell you, I have a predisposition towards doubting in this area! God has been working on me for some time to get me to trust him FULLY in the area of my finances and my needs, and this was one more test. Well, here is what happened. I played with the doubt! Instead of taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5) I pondered something like, “I can’t print a picture with our printer because we can’t afford a printer cartridge.” Let’s be honest! We can afford it! But in my mind I said that we couldn’t.
Now what do you think happened to that sweet sweet presence of the Holy Spirit that I was talking about? It vanished just as quickly as it came! All of a sudden I became aggressive and was no longer able to even love my wife from my heart, for the enemy of our souls, Satan, was beginning to play havoc with my emotions! Now who do you think let him do that? God, of course! Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired [to have] you, that he may sift [you] as wheat.” (Luke 22:31) And Jesus permitted Satan to “sift” Simon, too! That means that Satan was allowed a certain degree of access to Simon’s heart – in order to torment him just enough so that he would be brought to repentance!  Like it or not, life is like that sometimes.
I will never forget the story of Shishak in the Bible. He was an enemy of God’s people. But God deliberately used him in order to afflict God’s people (who were in rebellion against God) so that they would know the difference between serving God and serving the enemy. The idea here is, “If you think it’s hard to serve God, serving the enemy is much worse! God is the better choice!” We often think that’s not true. And that’s where doubt comes from. Our doubt says quite clearly, “I believe God’s way is not the best way. My way is better. I will not trust God but doubt him.” That’s a clear invitation to put yourself in the hands of the enemy. AND IT REALLY HAPPENS. Sometimes, like it was with myself in this particular instance, it is IMMEDIATELY obvious that we have opened the door for the enemy. At other times, the enemy might gradually creep in. One thing is for certain. If you are not enjoying the sweet sweet presence of the Holy Spirit, THE ENEMY HAS CREPT IN AND IT’S NOT GOD’S FAULT!
Now to impress the point, please read 2 Chronicles 12:5-8. “Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and [to] the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak. Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The LORD [is] righteous. And when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; [therefore] I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.”
Notice how in this passage God does not immediately remove the enemy, even AFTER his people have humbled themselves, SO THEY WILL NOT BE TEMPTED TO FORGET THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SERVING GOD AND SERVING THE ENEMY! Are you enslaved right now? First, HUMBLE YOURSELF! Second, I have discovered that, sometimes, just like we learn in this passage, the enemy does not immediately disappear in our lives but is allowed to stay there until the time of testing is complete. Friends, that could take years! If we go on rebelling, he certainly is NOT going to leave, either! The best bet is to PERSEVERE IN FAITH, until the enemy goes. Remember, James 4:7 does not only say to resist the devil, it also says we must submit to God! They must both be working together! Resisting the devil, in fact, is sometimes incredibly easy when we are in submission to God. It is usually not the hard part, at any rate!
Well, my thoughts were a pile of confusion after that thought came to me. The sweet sweet presence of God’s Holy Sprit had vanished, and something was clearly wrong. God gave us our emotions for a reason. While we shouldn’t be led by them, sometimes they clearly reveal a spiritual problem in our lives. I tell you my friends, AS SOON AS YOU KNOW YOU HAVE LOST THE SWEETNESS OF GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT, it’s time to hide your face and pray … and I don’t care if that’s hiding your face in the corner of a room while everyone wonders what you’re doing, or that means sticking your head to the ground where you find it easier to communicate with God … just DO IT! I tell you, God will speak to you QUICKLY AND DIRECTLY concerning the area that needs attention. I did it, and IMMEDIATELY God spoke to me and said, “You doubted that I could provide for your needs.” Ugh. That was bad news! But it was GOOD NEWS that God spoke to me! I REPENTED AND THE SWEETNESS IMMEDIATELY CAME BACK! PRAISE GOD, I WAS MOVING UNDER THE ANOINTING AGAIN! And friends, that’s the way it should be ALL THE TIME!
Are in bondage today? Repent, and find favor once again!
 Note the Bible says that it is the goodness of God that leads a man to repentance (Romans 2:4). However, we often don’t appreciate God’s goodness until we have been exposed to Satan’s badness. Hence it is that we must understand that the full effect of Romans 2:4 is had when we are able to compare the good with the bad. Thus it is that God uses the enemy to lead us to repentance, as per the case with Shishak, “Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know (i.e. be able to compare the difference between) my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” (2 Chronicles 12:8)