The human body is amazing, but it can be weakened by tiny parasites, living organisms that take nutrients from it. Mosquitos draw blood and sometimes leave behind disease, viral or bacterial. Worms can live in our intestinal tract. Fleas and lice take up residence occasionally. Gross, isn’t it? We do not intentionally host parasites because we know the detrimental factor on our health. Those of us who live in developed nations are far less likely to deal with them, but the poor in places without access to clean water and good sanitation deal constantly with the debilitating effects of parasites of all kinds.
But, what of another kind of parasite, those that attach themselves to our emotions or our spirit? Are we aware of them?
A common one is bitterness, brought on by offense and a refusal to forgive. Jesus taught us to forgive as we are forgiven, to make the choice to release our offense to God, waiting for His justice. It is not an easy choice, is it? People wound us, sometimes intentionally and cruelly, more often by selfishness, thoughtlessness, and neglect. Those soul wounds can be an entry point for a terrible parasite called bitterness. It will steal our ability to love and be loved, make us cynical and mean. I can hear your objection, “But, Jerry, if I let him off the hook …” Forgiveness is letting go and leaving it with the Lord. He says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19,21, NIV)
Another common spiritual parasite is envy. Life is often unfair, at least from our limited perspective. Read the lament of the godly person written in Psalm 73. Seeing the prosperity of those who live selfishly and with no regard for the Lord, this man cries, “I’ve been stupid to play by the rules; what has it gotten me?” (Psalm 73:13, The Message) Envy clouds vision and robs us of our faith in God. We must deal with it by returning to the Presence of God and settling ourselves on His eternal promises. “You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 73:24-26, NLT)
Things like lust, greed, and selfish ambition can infest our spirit, too. When they do, they suck the life from us. But, God is greater, friend! In His grace, we can find freedom, we can curse these soul worms and discover whole life when they are cut off from us. James warns of making a home for these things. “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:14-16, NIV)
And let us not forget that we deal with real evil beings who are looking for a host. Oh, I know I’m wandering into controversial territory here. The realm of the demonic is real and we do well to acknowledge that. Balanced understanding of spiritual warfare is increasingly rare, it seems to me. Some want to blame every difficulty on a demon, chasing shadows, living in fearful superstition. Others completely ignore the reality of evil spiritual beings whose sole mission is to destroy the work of God- both in us and in the world.
A caricature of the demonic hides the truth. We tend to think of them as hideous creatures whose influence is obvious a la entertainment like The Exorcist. Truth is, Christians seldom deal with the demonic in such an overt way. But, we can be harassed by them. Christians are not ‘possessed’ but they can be deceived if they live in willful resistance to the revealed will of god The wonderful truth is that as we live in Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, we need not give them a home! Demonic parasites can be removed by faith and submission to our loving God. Paul tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:10-11, NIV)
Are you hosting a spiritual parasite? Are you allowing something to drain life from you, to rob you of your joy and peace of God? There is just one answer – Christ Jesus who gives us freedom. Tell Him of your struggle. Pray for His power to come and help you to deal with them. Live in the Spirit, inviting Him to fill you up. There is life to the full, vibrant faith, deep love, and peace that passes human understanding for us.
Here is a word from the Word. Own it in faith today. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, NIV)
Father, my desire is that beauty of Jesus
Be evident in a vibrant, whole, healthy life.
Holy Spirit, fill all my being.
I walk in a world where parasites are numerous.
Keep me, I pray.
Guard my mind and help me to deal quickly
With those thoughts and attitudes that would
Allow some parasite to attach itself to me.
Spirit of God, defend me in the presence of evil.
Help me to submit to Your leading and to be led
Out of any situation where the demons of darkness
Are harassing and seeking to establish a foothold
In my life.
I confess that I am Yours and thank You that
You are mine!
All this I pray in the Name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen