The soul attitude of dependency is about recognizing that we can do nothing apart from God, nor can we gain anything without His help. When it comes to trying to improve ourselves in some way—perhaps by overcoming a psychological problem or curing a physical ailment—it can be easy to start crediting other people and products for the help we’re getting while entirely discounting God’s role in the process. You friend hooks you up with a brilliant medical doctor and finally you get a proper diagnosis for your allergic reactions. When the doctor prescribes you medicine that really works, who are you crediting for your success? The friend? The doctor? The pills? There’s nothing wrong with appreciating the instruments that God works through, but when you stop there and start acting like God had nothing to do with helping you, that’s when problems arise.
Now when you care about pleasing God, demons would love to get you to stop caring. If that’s not going to work, then they try to turn your good soul attitudes into a detriment by conning you into applying them in wrong ways. A classic way they do this is by trying to chase you into an extreme version of one or more of the four essential attitudes. For example, revering God is a good thing. But focusing only on how terrifying God’s power can be until you’re scared to do anything but cower in a corner is not good. Submission is a good thing. But taking things to such extremes that you start playing the role of the worthless servant who does nothing but perpetually grovel in God’s Presence is not good. Dependency is a good thing. But turning dependency into a rule that means you can’t ever go out and try anything or act on some human’s suggestion is not good.
The world is full of different religions and philosophies. Many of those groups promote physical rituals that they claim are beneficial. In real life, many of these routines are taking advantage of basic principles that God has set up. For example, if you do some gentle physical stretches, you’re very likely to feel better. Not because you are causing some magical liquid to roll about in your veins, or because you’re becoming “one” with the universe, but because you’re limbering up your joints and increasing your internal blood flow. Moderate exercise is good for the body for physical reasons. Because your mind, body and soul all feel interdependent on each other, when your body feels better from a session of exercise, your mind and soul will share in its joy.
God created all that is, and He is the One who wrote the rules for what benefits what. Perhaps you come across a set of stretches that helps your body feel limber, and as a result, cheers up your mind and soul. Perhaps you found the set of exercises being suggested on a religious site in which folks were really doing the exercises for the purpose of pleasing supernatural beings other than God. Is it offensive to God for you to borrow from demon worshipers or God haters or atheists? If a doctor personally hates God, does that mean he can’t ever be giving good advice to his patients? If a spiritual teacher believes humans are divine beings who simply need to awaken “the power within,” does that mean that nothing that teacher says will have any value?
In real life, both wisdom and foolishness are spoken by God haters and God followers alike. God is the Source of all wisdom, and He speaks through everyone, not just the humans who personally respect Him. Meanwhile, demons are very good at conning sincere God seekers into saying and doing all kinds of stupid things. So the fact that someone sincerely loves God does not mean everything that person says will be wise. The fact that someone worships demons doesn’t mean everything they say will be stupid. God gives all humans some understanding of truth. A man can take the glory for the wisdom God has given him, and he can even try to turn that wisdom into a product that he can use to make money. People do this all the time: using the wisdom of God for their own gain while refusing to acknowledge Him as their Source. But so what? You’re not responsible for what other people are doing with God. You are only responsible for you, and you can choose to thank God for all of the help He brings you, regardless of the channel He brings it through.
You come across a site where people are talking about how much they hate God, yet one line of text jumps out at you as extremely helpful to a current stress you’re having. Should you refuse to apply that kernel of insight because it came from a source that dishonors God? Or should you sit around praising the spiritual rebels and credit them for coming up with that wisdom all on their own? No, you should thank God for the insight He just gave you and marvel at how skilled He is at working through any source.
If you remember these three principles, you will be freed up to explore many avenues of potential help without getting into trouble with God:
1. GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
God is the Source of all the wisdom and help you receive in life. While it’s classy to thank the doctor who helped you, in your soul, you should be saying, “God, I know it’s really You who helped me through this man. Thank You.”
There are a lot of humans in this world who are sincerely trying to make a positive difference. Encouraging them in their efforts is a good thing. Fawning over them and talking as if they are the source of their own brilliance while you tell yourself that you couldn’t have possibly found a solution without them is when you’re going too far. An axe is good for a lot of things, but it’s useless until a man picks it up and puts it to work. In the same way, humans and things are incapable of helping you on their own—it is God working through His own creations that brings you the help you need.
2. SUBMIT TO GOD’S METHODS
God is the One who decides what form His help will come in. Sometimes He requires us to take medication or go through procedures or do some kind of therapy before we can receive the help we want. We rarely get the instant cure that we’d like. Often He requires that we go through some steps that He could easily have us skip. What matters is that we honor Him with our obedience without telling Him how He ought to help us.
While you’re letting God choose His methods, remember that He’s a big fan of variation and change. Today He might help you with a certain medication, only to have that same medication fail a year from now when the same problem resurfaces. Be open to God changing the delivery system that His help comes through. Don’t view failed attempts as a sign that you were doing it wrong or that God is angry with you. Often God has us try many different things before we hit upon a solution that works. While this roundabout style seems like a waste of time to us, to God there are positive lessons to be learned from it all. “You have to point me to the effective solution right away,” is a form of trying to dictate to God how He must work with you. God refuses to be led by us, so this kind of attitude won’t take you anywhere good. Instead, a far better attitude is to say, “God, help me grow closer to You as I look for a solution to this problem I’m having.”
3. DON’T TRY TO COMMUNICATE WITH ANY SUPERNATURAL BEING OTHER THAN GOD
This is a basic spiritual safety principle: the real God is the only supernatural being who you should be trying to relate to. There are a lot of self-help methods which package some useful ideas with a focus on the wrong supernatural being. Meditation is a classic example here. Many groups will encourage you to focus on a spirit guide who is not God or some friendly angel or even your own divine nature while you meditate. Meditation is just a fancy term for pausing to do some focused pondering. It’s what you’re focusing on that determines how helpful the exercise will be. Instead of meditating on some random spirit or chanting some self-exalting mantras, focus on God. Ask Him to guide your meditation imagery. Meditation can be fabulous for spiritual growth. Stopping to give God our undivided attention instead of just tossing out quick comments as we multitask can help us develop the good listening skills which are so essential to spiritual development. You just can’t get far with God when all you do is talk at Him without ever giving Him a chance to respond. But that said, trying to force God to speak on your schedule is a total waste of time. As is the case with any self-help attempt, you should wait for God to inspire you before you try meditating. When the whole experience starts feeling like a chore, stop.
A lot of serious God seekers ask me specifically about yoga. There are different versions of yoga. At its heart, the form of yoga that is commonly associated with yoga pants and yoga mats is a religious ritual that is designed to achieve specific goals, all of which are supposed to lead towards a better quality of life. The infamous Kundalini is a supernatural entity who is supposedly curled up at the base of your spine. Many of the positions you contort yourself into during yoga are supposed to be trying to uncurl Kundalini and move her from the bottom of your spine into your brain.
Now Kundalini is not a real entity, she’s just a fictional character. You don’t really have a snakey goddess residing in your body.
If you’re serious about pleasing God, you should not be fussing around with other supernatural entities, real or false. You should also recognize that any physical ritual that was invented to accomplish spiritual goals is very likely to have some negative side effects. Yoga isn’t really as physically healthy as people make it out to be. While some limbering up is a good thing, humans aren’t designed to contort themselves into pretzels on a regular basis. Just because you can get your body to arch and twist in certain ways doesn’t mean you should.
People tend to get really angry when I say that yoga is a religious activity. There is so much money being made by promoting yoga as a physical health booster and it’s become such a popular socializing activity that no one wants to think about why they’re being told to call out “Kundalini!” at the end of group stretching sessions. Well, refusing to think about what you’re doing and just going with the flow is not going to help you spiritually mature. Mindlessly following the herd as they go through a bunch of rituals invented by folks with some very wrong ideas about human capabilities isn’t a smart move. I didn’t personally invent yoga. This is a concept that has been around a long time. If you doubt its religious origins, do some research, don’t just gripe at the fact that your favorite stretches have demonic ties. And once you find out how intertwined yoga actually is with demonic principles, you need to ask God what He thinks about you doing your little stretches.
Soul focus is always key in these situations. You can be mentally focused on worshiping God while you arch and twist, you can be thinking about your own innate powers, or you can be trying to coax Kundalini into sliding into your brain. It is your soul attiude that God judges you by, not by how you are stretching your body. If you feel that God is convicting you that He is not a fan of you doing yoga and you’re refusing to respect His preferences, then you’re going to be in trouble with Him because of your rotten soul attitude, not because God feels threatened by you doing certain stretches.
The fact that Kundalini is as fake as Santa Claus doesn’t mean you can’t get in trouble with God over how you respond to her. It’s hardly God-honoring to deceive trusting children into viewing some jolly fat man in a red suit as having God-like powers. When you encourage your kids to pray to Santa, teach them that Santa is all-knowing, and credit him alone for all of the toys that they receive, aren’t you elevating him as a supreme deity in their worlds? And aren’t you also teaching them to associate the concept of a God with a character who is a boundaryless pushover? How many snarky brats are getting expensive presents heaped onto their ungrateful little heads every Christmas? Is that who God is: some smiling oaf who needs animals and elves to help Him get stuff done and who only ever makes empty threats of not rewarding those who are “naughty”? Fictitious characters can be as problematic as real ones—it all depends on how you are personally choosing to respond to those characters.
So then, can you experiment with ways to improve your quality of life without offending God? Of course you can. God isn’t some negative stickler who is just looking for a reason to get in a huff. Remember that God judges you by your soul attitudes. Why you’re doing something is always more important than what you’re doing. How you’re involving God in your activities is also a key issue. You shouldn’t be trying to avoid discussing any of your activities with God. When your soul intentionally tunes God out whenever you’re doing certain things, then clearly there is an issue that needs to be addressed. God is intimately involved in every area of your life and efforts to exclude Him from certain areas are usually indicators that you’ve got some spiritual issues that need to be addressed. Often in these cases, there are false beliefs about how God views you and how He judges you that need to be corrected. Other times it is classic rebellion: you know that God is telling you not to do something and you’re doing it anyway with a “stuff You!” attitude. But sometimes we only think God is down on us about something when He’s really not, and we’re trying to push Him away out of guilt and shame. The first step in resolving all of these problems is to talk to God. Ask Him to help you please Him and follow His lead as you pursue solutions to your problems. Thank Him for any help that He brings you without losing sight of the fact that the channel He chose to work through was just a channel.
God enjoys using a wide variety of tools and methods to teach and help us. Embrace the lessons while keeping your focus on Him.
This post was written in response to a request.
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