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Spiritual Paralysis

Spiritual Paralysis

Words of Faith 4-9-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 5

     [17] One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. [18] Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. [19] When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

   [20] When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."

   [21] The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

   [22] Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? [23] Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? [24] But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." [25] Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. [26] Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."


     This is one of those favorite texts to act out at Vacation Bible School. We can picture the calamity of the friends digging through a sod roof and lowering their friend down to Jesus to be healed. What a wonderful message of friendship. But is there more to this text?

     Luke tells us that there was a man who was "paralyzed". The Greek word Luke chose is PARALUO, which means to be limp, loose, or melted. He had no way to get to Jesus. But that leaves many questions still unanswered.

     We know that this man was paralyzed, but we do not know how severely and we do not know the cause of his paralysis. But the solution was very clear! This man had friends willing to bring him to Jesus. He was forgiven and set free.

     Is there more to this than one healing story? We know people are healed of physical paralysis, but there are also people who are not healed of physical paralysis, yet are free in Jesus.  Perhaps this image of paralysis has a broader meaning for us like leprosy did. What if this story is about physical healing but also about something bigger?  

     Medical sources categorize different type of physical "paralysis"-- the loss of voluntary movement in a part of the human body. Paralysis may result from injury, poisoning, infection, hemorrhage, occluded blood vessels, tumors or a congenital deficiency in motor nerve development. Paralysis is sometime permanent and sometimes temporary. If the underlying cause is removed and the nerve cells are not severely damaged voluntary movement is restored. The same is true with a "spiritual paralysis".

     With spiritual paralysis we get stuck. We find we have lost voluntary movement. We just cannot get anywhere spiritually. We are limp. We cannot seem to move on in our lives. We know that God is there but we can't seem to "get anything going" with Him. We know that life is there to be lived but we can't seem to get on with it.  

         The causes of this kind of spiritual paralysis are similar to the causes of physical paralysis-- injury, poisoning, infection, damaged circulation, tumors, or congenital deficiency. If you are stuck in your walk with God you can't move one or get to where God wants you and these are the probable causes.

       1) INJURY bruises or breaks the nerve path in the body. We sometime sustain injuries to the spirit and soul that break our communication with God. The injuries may come from people, from the enemy, from an accident or something that just went wrong. The injury leaves one unable to move. We are stuck. There is only one solution and that is healing. Jesus is our healer but we may need friends to help.

       2) POISONING comes from toxic substances. There are many things that are poisonous to our spirit and soul. We actually have a tolerance to many poisonous things but they can reach a toxic level. There are some habits, behaviors or practices that grow to toxic levels in our lives. Vitamins are a wonderful thing but if you take too man they become poisonous. Tylenol is a great pain reliever but in large overdose it can kill you. Even good things can become toxic in excess. Conversation is a wonderful thing but if you talk incessantly and gossip about other people that is toxic. Christian television is a tremendous thing but if you never turn it off and listen to God, it may get toxic. The Internet is a wonderful thing but if you spend 100 hours a week on it, it is toxic. Television is great tool for communication but it can be very toxic. Religion can get very toxic if it is not balances and nourishing. Answer: Get rid of the poison and drink lots of water to flush the toxin out. Jesus is the living water.

       3) INFECTION is when a foreign organism-- an enemy-- attacks the nerves. Viruses or bacteria infect us physically. It is not a matter of exceeding moderation. The difference here is that there is no moderate level of an infection agent. There is no moderate level or tolerable level of a paralyzing bacteria. Infection agents grow out of control and spread systemically. There are certain infections that must be dealt with swiftly and with as strong a medicine as possible. You get immunity only when the infecting organism is dead and we experience victory over the infection. Jesus will help us overcome the infection and find victory.

     4) A STROKE can be either a hemorrhage or a clot. When there is a clot something obstructs the Spirit of God in your life and you will be paralyzed. What is this? A clot is usually related to pride. Pride can cause what is essentially a spiritual stroke. Pride blocks what God wants to do in your life. So many times I have prayed with a person who confessed the only thing standing in the way was Self-- pride.  

     There can also be a hemorrhage. A spiritual hemorrhage is seen in a person who pours themselves out spiritually without normal circulation. They have a burst spiritual vessel. Some people hemorrhage spiritually and just bleed everywhere as they lose strength and they become paralyzed or stuck.

     What is source of the hemorrhage? It can be pride, or perfectionism, or it can be a false guilt. This is the pride that refuses to yield to God's sovereignty and trust that He will get it all done. We hemorrhage when we run ahead of God and exhaust ourselves with good causes. We hemorrhage spiritually when we try to make everyone happy. We hemorrhage spiritually when we don't listen to the Spirit of God and we try to BE GOD. We hemorrhage spiritually when we refuse to observe Sabbath-rest. Jesus was God but still he withdrew to lonely places to be nourished by the Father. Trusting Jesus can heal this, too.

     5) A TUMOR is a tissue that starts normal and good but then grows out of control and out of proportion to its functions. Whether malignant or benign, a tumor is dangerous and can kill.

     Heresy is sometimes defined as "truth out of balance". Sometimes our focus on one part of the Christian life grows far out of balance, and like a tumor, it threatens the whole. We get stuck. It might be a particular spiritual gift or expression of the spirit that grows out of balance. If we give everything to the poor but have not love, we are out of balance. If we lose ourselves in worship but never study the Word, we are out of balance. If we celebrate God's grace but never develop any discipline, we are out of balance.

       The same is true in churches. A church that lets its building become an idol is out of balance. A church that ministers to the poor but neglects of the body, or vice versa, is out of balance. A church that has all worship but no teaching, or all teaching and no worship is out of balance. A church with all mercy but no holiness is out of balance. A ministry that communicates forgiveness without resulting repentance and accountability is out of balance. If God is heard as all love but no judgment or all holiness but no grace, there is a tumor. Tumors must be shrunk or removed so that balance is restored. Answer? Jesus can do that.

       6) CONGENITAL DEFICIENCY in babies is rare but some are born with a motor nerve development deficiency where the nerve path simply did not develop correctly. This is not even uncommon in the life of the spirit. We are ALL born with a congenital deficiency. We are dead in our trespasses and sin. We must be BORN AGAIN. We may struggle and struggle for years not realizing that the cause of this paralysis is foundational, we are not born again. We are all born with this paralysis and need the birth of the Spirit.

      Where are you today? Have you had an injury in the Spirit? Have you been exposed to spiritual poisons? Is there an infection that is attaching you? A blockage or a hemorrhage due to pride? A part of your spiritual life that is growing out of balance? Or maybe a congenital defect, you need to be born again.

       This man needed to get to Jesus. We may need others to help us get there, just as he did. We cannot do it alone. A friend, a small group or a counselor. You may need to ask for help from a trusted friend, a pastor, a small group or a prayer team.

       How did Jesus respond to the paralyzed man? Jesus FORGAVE the Man. We must receive forgiveness. Pride must no longer block the way. We start by receiving forgiveness. Then Jesus told the man to GET UP and the man GOT UP. We must GET UP by faith and step out of the paralysis.


     Father God, thank You for pursuing me. Show the if there is any paralysis in any area of my life that You want to deal with. Show me if I need friends to help me get there. Forgive me of my sin. I want to rise up and walk with You. In Jesus' name.