Soul Ties

I’m convinced that one of the weapons in the realm of spiritual things – both for good and for trouble – is the issue of soul ties. As usual, this weapon was invented by God, was designed by God, and was absconded by the enemy.

Soul ties are pretty complicated to explain: it’s when two people’s souls are tied together. Please indulge me for a moment.

Soul ties start in the beginning. “In the beginning, God…,” and God is Father, son and Holy Spirit who are tied together. Shortly after that, he shared it with us: “…and they shall become one flesh.” Adam and Eve, when they came together, were connected by God, and were one person, in one of those strange, you-can’t-see-it way.

And God had a plan for soul ties:

Malachi 2:15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.

So God’s plan for tying souls together is to create godly offspring: to make more kids. Kids like himself.

So the enemy hijacked the plan:

Corinthians 6:16-17 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”

The enemy takes the same link between people, and he’s bringing his own children from the union. He’s using sex to tie people together in slavery.

Soul ties exist between guys who work together sometimes.

1 Samuel 18:1: Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David , and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

Here’s a soul tie that appears to be a good one, and it has nothing to do with sex. It’s a couple of guys working together in an authority-based environment (in this case, the army). You can be tied with your boss, or with an employee, or with a pastor or a teacher.

Philippians 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Paul talks about unity among Christians brings us to the place “of one mind.” This doesn’t mean we agree on stuff; that’s the phrase before, “of one accord.” There’s a tying of souls that happens when we are in unity.

OK. Enough background.

I believe that there are a bunch of inappropriate soul ties among believers. We build relationships in the church that we’re serving – we build soul ties – and then we move on to another church. We build relationships – some of them become soul ties – and then we move. We have soul ties from our pre-Christian days and from relationships since then.

Many years ago, I had a soul tie with a very weird friend; after a while, we drifted apart. Later, I got married, and years later, my bride & I learned about soul ties. One night, ten years after I’d last seen my weird friend, my wife & I were in someone’s guest room, sleeping in twin beds across the room from each other. I couldn’t sleep, so I was thinking and praying, and God showed me the soul tie with my weird friend and told me to renounce it. Beneath my breath, inaudibly, I renounced the soul tie from that relationship. Instantly, my wife – with whom I have a wonderful soul tie – woke up, sat up in bed, and blurted, “What was that? Something just lifted off of me! What was it?”

So here's what it is:

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

God has given us a weapon to divide the soul, to divide my soul from the soul of my weird friend. The soul tie that I had with them clearly affected my wife through the soul tie I had with her. God has given you and me a tool to cut the ties that should be cut and to leave the ties that should be left.

And every soul tie, whether active or not, is a channel that brings stuff into your soul from somebody else’s soul. It’s like we have sixty-eleven IV tubes plugged into our arms, our legs, into every vein on our body; and every IV tube has stuff pouring into our lives from sixty-eleven different sources, with different motives, with different kinds of resources to pour into us. Some of them are fine. One or two may be good, but the majority are filling us with garbage.

So many of us in the Body of Christ have dozens of soul ties that need to be broken off. Let me encourage you to find some folks to walk with you through the process of cutting the ties that bind you.


The Failure of Thomas is Among Us

The apostle Thomas has become famous. We call him Doubting Thomas. There. That’s a good tidy label. Now we’re done with him, right?

No, we’re not done with him. In fact, I believe that Thomas’s sin is one of the most prevalent sins in the church today, and one of the most dangerous if we want to move on with Christ.

The heart of Thomas’s famous sin was that he didn’t believe the testimony of the other apostles about the resurrection of Jesus. His position was, “If I don’t see it, then I don’t believe it.” We can’t pick on Thomas exclusively; the rest of the apostles had just done the same thing: not believing Mary when she told them about meeting Jesus in the garden. And then they refused believe the boys who had met Him on the road to Emmaus.

That’s where a whole lot of the church is. “Sorry, I haven’t seen what you see. I don’t believe it.” We might be talking about Bible truth or moral conduct or the work of the Holy Spirit ; the issue is that we don't believe what someone else has seen, but we ourselves have not (yet) seen.

I’ve seen Thomas’s sin often when judging other believers. Recently, I had reason to be involved in an online conversation with some self-appointed judges of America’s theology. I know: futile conversation, and mostly it was, but it illustrated this disease: “Unless what you’re teaching lines up with my beliefs, I won’t accept it, even when it’s supported scripturally.” I once spoke with a man about an area of moral weakness. “Everybody tells me I have blind spots, but I just don’t see it,” he replied with a straight face.

How many times have we seen this when God does something new or unusual: Someone we know experiences something new and unfamiliar (gold dust, laughter, shaking, or just a new understanding of an old passage of scripture), and many believers shout “Oh, that can’t be God!” Wait! Your brother, your sister, have just told you what they experienced and you don’t believe it? Or perhaps a father among us declares a new truth that we haven’t known before, and we reject it as unfamiliar. I’m not talking about receiving heretical doctrine from people who would compromise the gospel of Christ: in fact, that is about the only thing we’re to judge and reject. We, on the other hand, have taken the example of the Bereans to a completely unhealthy, intellectual extreme that takes us into the realm of rebellion and isolation more than it protects us.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen pastors declaring a Biblical truth to their people, and the people won’t see the truth they’re being taught. We join in the self-sufficient sin of Thomas: “If I don’t see it for myself, I won’t believe it.” It happened in the Book of Acts, when Peter was out jail. It happened when the boys on the Emmaus Road reported home, and in that context, Jesus chews out the apostles for not believing someone else’s experience: “He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.” (Mark 16:14)

And that’s the heart of the issue: we won’t believe someone else’s word, someone else’s experience. Put into spiritual language, we won’t believe or receive the testimony of our brothers and sisters. And judging from his reaction in Mark 16, that’s not acceptable to God! Sure, there are screwballs trying to hoax us (think of the emails you’ve received from Nigerian princesses) but God has equipped us to avoid being hoaxed.

There are at least two reasons why this kind of Thomas-type fear is inappropriate:

1) God has made us to be a community, not a bunch of isolated individuals. “We are members of one another,” is how the NT says it. That means that I’m not complete without you, and I cannot hear all that God is saying to me by myself. I need you to hear some of it.

2) God has given us a tool – a weapon, if you will - to be able to distinguish the truth from the lie. It’s called discernment, and He requires us to use it. Discernment is a gift of the Spirit; it is not a gift of a suspicious mind. It requires exercise, but with this gift, we are able to discern good from evil, truth from the lie. This is not about “I know and understand;” this is about hearing the echo of truth from the Spirit of God about whom Jesus said, “He will guide you into all truth.” The capacity for discernment is His responsibility, not ours: He expects us to recognize the truth when we’re faced with it, even when it’s weird, and He equips us for that work from His Spirit.

A pair of brief testimonies of my own: recently, I was faced with a tough decision. I had difficulty seeing through all the emotional clutter to understand the direction God was pointing; both the “where” and the “when” of the issue were beyond me. So I asked a handful of folks with whom I have a covenant relationship. They were unanimous in their counsel: this is the direction and now is the time. I still didn’t see God’s direction myself, but I trusted their counsel, and made the decision. In hindsight, they were completely accurate, and had I not listened, I would have made a very bad decision, which would have hurt both me and my family.

Second: some years ago, I was faced with some very unusual people, who were behaving very strangely in church, in their “renewal service.” Their behavior – which I am omitting intentionally, as it is not the point – set off every alarm in my mind, but my spirit was at peace in the midst of it: I concluded that this – as strange as it was – was God. The next several months proved it right: my mind had missed this one, but my spirit had recognized His spirit in this.

So here’s the bottom line: God has equipped us to discern the truth from the untrue, and He requires us to exercise it: with that equipment, He expects us to receive the testimony of our brethren: if they have experienced something in God, if they give us their testimony, we are expected to receive it: when they grow, we are to grow with them! Yes, we discern, and yes, we throw out the garbage (and there’s plenty of that!), but we must receive the truth when our brothers and sisters share it with us, even if we don’t see it ourselves.

Naked in the Streets

Nakedness isn’t about what I have. It’s about what I don’t have.

When I’m naked, as in “naked and unashamed,” I am without clothes. If I’m using “naked” as a metaphor – and I am – then I’m writing the absence of the things for which “being clothed” is a metaphor. I’m also writing about the absence of the things for which “being armored” is a metaphor.

Some time ago, God showed me a series of weird pictures about self protection. Clothes are a layer of protection, though not generally from great big bad things. A t-shirt and shorts protect me from a cool breeze, from embarrassment, from abrasions and scrapes.

Now think of wearing a layer of heavier clothes: more protection, right?

Beyond that, if I’m wearing body armor, then I’m probably planning on going in harm’s way, to places where I need protection from greater weapons and greater attack than a t-shirt will provide. (Either that, or I’m trying to impress the ladies, and that’s not part of today’s conversation.)

The image I saw was actually from the ‘70s movie Rollerball: where armored men played a testosterone-charged sport with armor and spikes (I told you it was weird!). In spite of the armor, it was a remarkably bloody sport.

The next picture was modern soldiers in an Abrams M1 tank: monster gun on top, monster engine in the back, several inches of armor protecting those inside. Did you know that there are weapons specifically engineered to successfully penetrate that much armor?

This is the way He presented it to me: no matter how well armored I am, there’s always a weapon that’s powerful enough to penetrate the armor. If I’m wearing a t -shirt, then my armor can be pierced when I trip and skin my knee, or by a stray blackberry bramble. On the other hand, if my armor is in the form of an Abrams tank, then it takes an armor-piercing shell or a larger-than-average land mine to penetrate my armor.

It’s true that were I to wear the ugly Rollerball armor or the thick steel of an Abrams tank, then I’m pretty effectively protected from skinned knees and blackberry brambles. I’m also protected from machine guns, hand grenades, and drunk drivers.

So which looks like the more effective armor? First glance rather looks like the heavier the armor, the more I’m protected doesn’t it? That’s what I thought too.

And then He pointed out that I can easily survive a skinned knee; and when my t-shirt “armor” is penetrated by a blackberry bramble, sure it hurts a little, and I bleed a tiny bit, but then I go about my day. I don’t venture into land mines or armor piercing shells, because I know that the armor that I’m wearing – the t-shirt that I’m wearing – is completely insufficient of itself to protect me from that level of warfare.

On the other hand, if my armor is thick like the steel of a tank, then when (not if) the armor is pierced, I will be destroyed: I’ll be completely dead. But think about this: if there are enemies in the neighborhood that have armor piercing shells, they’re looking for a tank to shoot at. They’ll never waste those shells on a guy in shorts and a t-shirt.

In other words, the strength of my defenses will to some degree determine the strength of the attack that comes against me. And at some point, an attack will get through my personal defenses. And then what will I do?

So which is the safer place: when I’m well protected behind several inches of steel? Or when I’m wandering around in out-of-fashion gym shorts and a worn-out T-shirt?

There is an application, of course, about walking before God with our defenses down. When we armor ourselves to keep the bad guys out, we keep the good guys out, too. Our armor may be our self-sufficiency, our pride, an unwillingness to let people speak into our lives, or it may be fear of trying something new: it’s anything that protects us from the people around us; it’s anything that keeps from being “members of one another.”

Those defenses – that personal armor – has two problems: first, it seems that people with a strong defense attract stronger attacks. And second, while it keeps out things that can make me hurt, it also keeps out things that can make me better, like my brothers and sisters in Christ, or the presence of a living God.

Now let me clarify: I am not talking about the spiritual armor of Ephesians 6. I’m talking about my own armor, my own defenses. I absolutely need God’s armor, because it’s the only thing that actually cannot be overcome; there is no weapon that is forged against me that can prevail against His armor protecting me, and His armor doesn’t keep Him out of my life.

But in regards to my own defenses, the less I have, the better. Ideally, I’ll walk before God “naked and unashamed” like Adam did. Ideally, I’ll walk with “naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” I’ll live with my life open and uncovered from the eyes of the world. Naked (uh… that’s metaphorical, remember) in the streets.

But doesn’t that leave me open to attack? to being hurt by stupid people or stupid choices?

Well, yes, actually it does, all that and more: I can be wounded by stupid people, by evil people, and I can be wounded by good people in a moment of weakness, too. But the solution isn’t to develop stronger defenses. It’s to be as defenseless – in ourselves – as possible, to take the hits and be wounded, and then to learn to be healed quickly and effectively.

So I am encouraging us to be – spiritually, not physically, of course – naked in the streets: without the defenses of a hard heart, of a manipulative soul: to be open and transparent before God and before our fellow man, and to learn to heal quickly from the wounds that do come our way.