26 Sep 2016 – THRESHOLD SPIRIT
Some people think that the Bible never mentions threshold guardians. The most common one is in fact named once (in Acts 16:16) but alluded to many other times. The writers of Scripture didn’t need to name it – because the very word for a defiled threshold contains its name. Python.
How do you know whether you’re experiencing Python’s activity in your life? By the constriction of time, money or circumstance that comes your way every time you try to come into your calling.
2 Feb 2017 – TESTING OUR CHOICES
The word in Hebrew for “heel” is also the word for “if” – it basically means “choice”. Look at the words again that God spoke: “he will crush your head, and you will strike his choice.”
Every time we make a choice, Python has a right to be there. Of course most the time, our choices are too trivial to warrant its attention. And not being an omnipotent being, it picks its moments – those when we’re in the process of making choices that concern our God-given calling. It waits for the threshold times – and thus it’s a threshold guardian.
What is Python looking for in us? Well, righteousness. If we’re perfectly righteous, it’ll let us pass. And yes, it will credit faith as righteousness and still let you pass.
But it will do everything in its power to crush, squeeze, constrict, strangle that faith into the dust.
Get rid of the idea that Python can be bound. Its right to test your choices on the threshold is not usurped or illegal.
4 Apr 2017 – ACTION WHEN REALIZATION OF SUCCUMBING TO A COVENANT
Python’s ultimate goal is to get you to make a sacrifice, thereby coming into covenant with it. To do this it uses a combination of tactics:
AMBIGUITY AND SILENCE
TEMPTATION TO DIVINATION
The first thing to do if you’ve fallen for one of these tactics is to go to God and say “sorry”. The second thing to do is to ask Him what it is in you that enabled Python to succeed.
8 Aug 2016 – OPEN ARMS TO ONENESS
The episode of Lot, the angels and the men of Sodom is a story of threshold covenant violation. It contrasts sharply with the blessings of ordinary threshold covenant in the immediately previous story of Abraham, the angels and God’s visit.
The best part of a thousand years later, the people of Israel under the leadership of Moses return to the valley where Sodom had been. And what spiritual force ruled there after all that time? Baal Peor, the god of the opening or lord of the threshold. Without much doubt, this is the spirit we’d call Python.
It has an agenda – to make sure we do not cross over the threshold and come into covenant with God. It will tempt us towards any sin that compromises the possibility of that covenant. It doesn’t have to be sexual sin; it can be anything that is primarily to bring us into oneness with itself. Things as seemingly innocent as yoga exercises; colouring in certain kinds of pictures; checking out a horoscope. It is a spirit of divination, after all.
10 May 2016 – REAL OR FALSE OPENING
It took me ages to understand why when Paul and Silas were in Philippi and being trailed by a slave girl, that sometimes the word used for the spirit she had was translated “Python” and sometimes “spirit of divination”. Why was a threshold spirit like Python also the spirit of divination? It turns out it’s because divination is about opening our minds, just as Python is encountered on opening a (defiled) spiritual door. Raises a very awkward and difficult question: if Python is still constricting the doorway into our calling, how can we be sure the prophecies we’ve received about our calling are indeed prophecies and not some form of divination?
21 Feb 2017 – TEMPTATION WITH IF …
Jesus meets the spirit of Python. Forty days in the wilderness and the satan turns up. In the guise of Python.
We can tell it’s Python by the repeated “if” in the conversation. IF You are the Son of God… IF You are the Son of God… IF You will bow down and worship me…
And Jesus answers with words from Scripture. Which often leads preachers to a message about how important it is to know the Word of God. But that’s only part of it. We also have to be in intimate communion with Him.
You see, Jesus’ answer: “You shall not test the Lord your God,” isn’t the obvious answer here. Because there are several times in Scripture when God does ask people to test Him.
In fact, irony upon irony, Jesus is the embodiment of the prophecy by Isaiah about God’s answer to a king who refused to test Him.
So dealing effectively with Python can never be about a formula. The only possible way is by keeping close to Jesus.
1 Aug 2016 – FOUR IF’s
I was listening to a preacher read from Philippians 2:1 and thought, “Bit of an overkill on the ‘if’ word, Paul. What’s this fourfold emphasis thing?” Then it occurred to me: a single “if” doesn’t mean much but four must be significant. And they’d be really significant if 1 Corinthians 13 begins with four “if” statements too. Oh, yeah. Better go check.
Now the “if” in Corinthians is a reference to Python (Python Apollo, to be more specific, and the use of “if” as a symbol of divination). And Paul cast the Python spirit out of the slave girl at Philippi (Acts 16:16) so it’d be natural to write to the Philippians about it.
But that doesn’t explain why FOUR.
Still, all thresholds require a sacrifice. We know this in our spirit, if not in our head. When the threshold guardian, Python (or one of its allies), demands a sacrifice to pass over into our calling, we make one of four choices:
- to sacrifice ourselves
- to sacrifice someone else
- to sacrifice the honour of God
- to declare that the blood of Jesus is the all-sufficient sacrifice for every threshold
Of course we like to think we do the last. But most people, most of the time, choose one of the first three. And symptoms of choosing one of the first three are the constriction, wasting and backlash that prevents us getting into our calling.
21 Mar 2023 – NOT TESTED BECAUSE OF SIN
Python, the spirit of constriction, does not test you because you have sinned. Its legal rights do not stem from your personal transgressions or from generational iniquity. Certainly its legal rights can be massively reinforced by either of those aspects. However, the bottom line is that, even if you had no issues whatsoever in those areas, you’d still be confronted by Python.
Jesus was without sin but He still had several face-offs with Python. The first and most obvious of these was after He had fasted for forty days in the wilderness. So Python’s presence is not about sin, it’s about choice. It’s about being on the threshold of our calling in God, just as Jesus was as it came time for Him to begin His ministry. Python turns up when we make the choice to go forward, and not turn away.
Any attempt to bind Python is not just futile but may be dangerously counter-productive. Python has God’s permission to test our choices. “You will strike his heel,” God told the serpent in Eden. (Genesis 3:15) The word for “heel” is related to “if”, the signifier of choice. Adam and Eve had not yet sinned when they encountered Python. They’d already been living with choice, but had not yet been presented with a temptation surrounding that choice.
Now did Jesus try to bind Python when He was being tested and tempted? Did He tell Peter He would bind Python for him when He informed him that the satan had asked to sift him (and all the other disciples for that matter) as wheat to the point of overthrow?
No. And no.
We step outside the bounds of our authority when we try to limit the rights that Python has been granted by God. We do not have the authority to set aside the Word of God. “All authority” means the delegated power to uphold God’s Word, not to suppress it in favour of a desired outcome of our own choosing.