by Levi Keidel
God Makes Me To Triumph
I cannot be a person of Jesus and give my obedience to the devil. So long as I live in the devil's kingdom and refuse to obey his rules, he will persecute me. The Christian who has no war within himself has made a truce with the devil. The Christian who is loyal to Jesus will be fighting against the authority of the devil to the day of his death.
A person who has been ruled by demons of sin cannot renounce their authority in a single day. Each one of us is different. The devil knows the places where a person is weak. To bring that person into bondage, the devil will send into war those demons which will be able to overthrow that person at his weak places. I cannot reveal to you your weak places; but among mine were anger, pride, and lust for women. It is my desire to share with you my wisdom on how to subdue the demons which the devil sends to war against us.
I have not won all my battles. There would be little help in my relating to you the many times I have failed. But I have now fought this war in my body for many years. I have learned to tie myself to certain rules which give me power to control these troublesome demons. I am no longer under their authority. I have learned to be master of myself, and so am truly a person of freedom. Did not Jesus promise us in John 8:32 that His truth would set us free?
Because we are in these human bodies and have been placed upon this earth, we see and feel everything around us. We say that these things are real. But we must understand that now we are not talking about matters of this earth. We are talking about matters of the Spirit.
It is also necessary to understand that matters of the Spirit are just as real as those we can look at. Jesus compared them with the wind; we cannot see it, but there is no person who doubts that it is real (John 3:7-8). If we work together with the rules of the wind, it will help us gain the things we need. When the village needs meat, hunters set fire to the grass in the direction from which the wind is coming; the wind sends the fire across the prairie, and drives from it all the animals. As is true with the wind, so it is true with matters of God's Spirit.
We can lay hold on these truths and make them work for us only because we see them with our spiritual eyes. Paul prays that our eyes to perceive spiritual things be unblinded, that we comprehend matters of the Spirit (Ephesians 1:18). Unless the eyes of your heart are open to recognize that these things are real and are to be trusted in, the meaning of the words which follow will be concealed in fog.
If we want to subdue the demons which keep troubling us, we must submit ourselves to three truths of the Spirit.
First, when I gave myself to Jesus, the old Maweja was slain. Like Jesus, he was nailed onto the cross and died there. I have no debt to the old Maweja. His affairs came to an end. A new person has replaced the old one inside this body. The life that I have now, I have because of the faith I keep fixed into Jesus, who loved me, who gave Himself for me, and who is now living inside of me.54
Second, because I have given myself to Jesus and He has made me His person, it is no longer mine to do what I wish, or what my friend wishes, or what the devil wishes; it is mine to do only what God wants, whether it pleases me to do it or not.
Every person has the power to surrender himself to a master of his choice; but from the moment he pledges allegiance to his master, he must truly surrender himself to that master by obeying him in all things. If he is still heeding the voice of another authority, the one he has chosen is not truly his master.
Jesus said that a person cannot serve two masters.55 He said that if I keep trying to hold onto my own life, I will lose it; but if I surrender it for His sake, I will find it.56 The person who remains at enmity toward the desires of his body will keep it unto eternal life.57 The earth and all its lusts will perish; but the person who does God's will shall live forever.58 For this reason, I do not do whatever my body wants. I keep bruising and beating my body so that it knows who its master is. I keep disciplining myself to always do what pleases my Master.59
Look at the example Jesus left us. When He was in Gethsemane it was shown Him what great suffering lay ahead. He said, ”Father, please take this cup away from me; but let Your will be done.”60 In other words, Jesus did not do what His body wanted; He did what His Father wanted.
That is why I say we cannot do what we want. We are indebted to do what God wants. What I choose to do cannot be for my own happiness. It must be what will glorify Christ in my body. When God sees that we are giving Him this kind of obedience, then He can accord to us power we need to win in our battle with sin.
If a chief knows that his subjects are truly loyal; if he knows that they try to do whatever he asks of them, whether it pleases them or not, he can lead them into battle with great courage. But the enemy will triumph at that point where a warrior has weak loyalty, where he is giving attention to another master. And so, at that place where my obedience is weak, at that same place my power is escaping, and there the enemy will defeat me.
Third, because I have given the whole of myself to Jesus, He has made me His property. He has put me inside of Himself, so that whatever matter hits me really falls upon Him. Because the old Maweja died, and a new person with Jesus was raised to life, I try to not let my mind get snared in the temptations and testings of earthly affairs. I discipline it to fix itself upon matters of the heavenly kingdom.61
Drunkenness, pride, immorality, gluttony, anger, the worship of false gods, and such matters are the works of our fleshbodies. The Bible says that if we train our minds to follow matters of the Spirit, the power of such things will be destroyed.62 I do not destroy their power; I do not have strength to destroy it. Christ who is living inside my body does it with His power.
My already having accepted that these things are true, when temptation comes, what do I do?
Our faith in these truths is an adequate shield to stand up against our enemy.63 When demons pick up different kinds of stones of evil and throw them at me, if my faith weakens, then these things will wound me, and leave me with their scars. If I really have faith that these things are true, then I will not be hurt by them. My ears have been taken by the Spirit. My eyes have been taken by the Spirit. My hands and feet have been taken by the Spirit. The stones are not striking me; they are striking Jesus.
When the devil comes and wants to invade a part of my life, I tell him, “I've already delivered my life over into the hands of Jesus. I have no way to take it away from Him and put it back into the path that you desire; you'll have to go talk with Him.” Then I begin bruising my body that it quit lusting after that thing, I stick myself to the words of Jesus by praying and surrendering myself to Him. So, by truly keeping myself under the lordship of Jesus, and by believing with persistence that these rules of the Spirit are true, I come to subdue the demons of sin which war against me.
When the living Christ called me to begin doing His work, whenever I saw a person playing with the name of Jesus or ruining His cause, such anger would catch me that I wanted to lay hands on him. I kept continually praying to God, “You know this thorn is aggravating me. Now You've given me the work of leadership. If I keep on acting like this, people who are weak in Jesus will say, 'Our leader still has fangs; he hasn't yet been subdued.'”
There is one path which must be followed if a person wishes to subdue any such thing. He must keep renouncing it; he must keep giving himself anew to Jesus by establishing and affirming his place inside of Jesus; and he must keep feeding himself on the kind of food that comes from heaven.64
A bird does not build its nest in a day. It perseveres day after day until the work is done. So I do not worry about the many days it might take to finish this work; Jesus said the troubles of today are sufficient to work with.65 So by prayer and surrender and obedience, I fight the war that confronts me today; and when I triumph in battle today, I know that I have progressed a little toward that time when the work will be finished.
A person who perseveres in such a course can always affirm in his heart the peace Christ has promised him, though he is in war. He can keep on growing until he is filled with the fullness of all that he needs, and is master of himself.
Let me give you some examples of how these rules of the Spirit have worked in my life.
During my first years of working as pastor, one evening I had a meeting with the elders of my church. When one of them arrived, I saw that he was drunk. Anger rose within me quickly. Then he began insulting me.
“You can't play around with us. We are mature people. You are still a child.”
I got up, seized a church bench, and lifted it into the air.
“Do you see this?” I asked him. “If I were still caught in affairs of the world, I would bust you into pieces like a church bench for insulting me like that. But I want you to understand that, when I accepted Jesus, I left behind all such affairs. But they are still inside of me here, fighting to overpower me.”
I seized his arm and took him to the door. He left by himself. At that time I still wanted to answer insults with anger.
Some years passed. One morning a young man whom I recognized arrived at my house. He was drunk and under drugs.
“The Spirit of God is upon me; the Spirit of God has seized me,” he kept saying. Then he began insulting me.
”“That kind of spirit ... did you get it from me?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied. “This is the Spirit I got from you.” He kept compounding his offenses to make me angry.
I stayed inside of Jesus and kept repeating to myself the words of Jehovah: “Who is blind like my servant? Who is deaf like the messenger I have sent?”66
This continued to noon. When I went into my house to eat, he began crying out, “You're not to eat. The Spirit is telling me. Don't touch your food. Give me the key to your car. I want to use it.”
I went outside to try and quiet him. When I got close, he slapped me hard on the side of my face, piyaaaaaaaaaa. Those eating inside the house got up and came running. My children began crying.
“Don't harm him,” I said. “He has no affair. It is not he that struck me. It is the devil who is inside of him.”
We put the man into my car. I drove him to the doctor.
“Bring him back at two o'clock,” the doctor said.
I took him to the police station.
“Lock this person up until two o'clock; if I let him loose the way he is, he may kill somebody,” I said.
“We can't put him with other prisoners; we've got nothing to bind him with,” they replied.
I drove the man to his home. His wife and children and relatives were there. “Where has he been?” they asked. “We've been hunting him all day. What's the matter with him?” I put him into their hands and told them they were responsible to keep him from harming anyone. I left.
At two o'clock I got him and took him to the clinic. The doctor began giving him injections and feeding him pills. After a time he got his good senses back and began to cry.
“Why did I strike our pastor? I was a fool. People deceived me. They said, 'Here's $60.00. We want to put pastor to the test. Go beat up on him. When he strikes you back, fall to the ground and play dead. They we'll come to rescue you. We'll beat up on pastor and plunder his house. We'll see if he can restrain himself or not.' I took dope and drank to get courage to do it.”
I kept my peace. This example attracted many people. “What kind of person, slapped like that, can remain silent?” they asked. God used this incident to bring many people to give themselves to Jesus.
You will remember the time I spent a day with a young girl in a compartment on the train. I almost stumbled into sin. She was innocent. But there are women in my country with evil hearts who lay traps to seduce men.
Because of my licentious living when I was young, there has been no battle more fierce than this one. Whenever such a woman accosts me, I see her as an envoy of Satan sent personally to test me. I cannot say that I will never again fail with a woman for as long as I live. But so long as I follow the rules of the Spirit, I will not.
The battle is no longer as fierce as it once was. When such a woman comes to me now, it is my custom to reply, “You want me to go to bed with you? Another day you'll come asking me to pray for you. How will I pray for you if I've gone to bed with you? What right would I have to pray for you? How could I pray for God to help you when I need His help as badly as you, and I myself haven't yet received it?” After asking them such questions, they go on their way.
Before I went to prison, people praised me, and pride drove me to act like a crazy man. Even so today, the praise of people is a snare. Often when I speak to pastors I oversee, I tell them, “if you are competing for honor; if you want to come out ahead of everyone else in being accorded praise, listen to me. Long ago the disciples had the same desire. Jesus answered them, 'If you don't turn your hearts around and become like little children, you won't even enter into the kingdom of heaven. The one who humbles himself most as a little child, that person will surpass the greatness of all others in the kingdom of heaven' (Matthew 18:1-4).
People who live like this are not manifesting weakness. They are manifesting maturity. I saw this happen before my eyes when Christ turned my heart around in prison. I longed to prove to the prisoners that I loved them. Though my understanding was small at that time, I began serving them. After a time, my humbling myself in this manner made me a strong person among them; it drained from us the poison of wanting perpetually to do one another evil, and caused us to love one another. When humbling ourselves has power to do such amazing things, is it surprising that those with humility will be the greatest in the kingdom of God?
We who are in the Church, we need to imagine that we are in a class. When the teacher puts a test on the board, no student ever says to another, “Try hard to get a higher mark than I.” Never. Each pupil strives to put himself ahead of all the others. I tell my pastors, I tell my elders, I tell my wife, that each of us must do his own striving to have the kind of humility that will make him come out greater than all the others. Each person will win his place, in proportion to his humility.
By doing this, people show that they are strong and mature. They will not be jealous of one another. They will not be arguing with one another. Each will be growing surpassingly in his wanting to win; and all will grow together.
The eyes of the Lord wander to and fro over the whole earth, so that He can show His might toward those whose hearts are completely His.67 When He sees our desire to follow the rules of the Spirit, He will pour out His grace upon us. He has poured out His grace upon my family. Our children have learned to love Him.
When they began growing up, I explained to them why I am as a servant to their mother. My scars showed them the truth of my words. They were taught how to work. Now, many times I am on journey to oversee the work of other pastors or to do the work of evangelism. At such times, I arrange with my older children to carry the burden of work at home. One of my sons is studying in the university. When Nyembe is not busy with the smaller children, she organizes and strengthens the work of God among different groups of women here and there.
God has also poured out His grace upon my teaching of His Word. He has fulfilled my longing in prison to teach great numbers of people. I began work in the river-port city of Ilebo in June of 1956. The church grew. I was ordained as pastor. When the troubles of political independence caught us, I could not stay there.
In May of 1961 I touched my feet down at the city of Mwena Ditu in my own tribal country. When I was called to begin work in the church there, it had about seven hundred members. Along the roads leaving the city were villages with thousands of people. Many were refugees; they like me and my family, had fled fighting in other places and had returned to their tribal home country. No places of worship had yet been established among them.
In 1963 we established a church at Makota; a large number worship there. In 1968 we gave birth to a church at Tshibangu Mpata; three to four hundred people are worshipping there. Then we began Kadela, which now has two hundred members. In 1973 we bore Tshiamala where about one hundred worship. Now we are about to establish a church at Musawula with about two hundred beginning members.
All of these churches have chosen their own elders and deacons; most have their own pastors. Whenever we see a large number of people beginning to come to a church from a long distance, we say, “You people are strong and mature in your faith. Why don't we help you establish a place of worship in your home village?” Members of my own church in Mewna Ditu now number one thousand eighteen hundred.
So our joy grows, in proportion to the number of children we bear; and the Great Elder Spirit of my ancestors continues to use me in His work.
In the beginning I was a child of Tshiyamba, a son of slavery. I became caught in the slavery of sin. Then I discovered the One whose truth was hidden in my forefathers' customs. He liberated me. Now, in the end, it is my surpassing joy to live in His slavery and to see others set free.
This web site is a service of
Chapel Site: Home of David Wilkerson's
Times Square Church Pulpit Series