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01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 1    Categories: You Asked (Text Files)      Tags:

(Due to Dr. Smith's traveling schedule there has not been as many "you asked" questions going out as normal.  If you have questions that you would like to be considered pleases submit them to [email protected].) 
You asked.
"I am not in complete agreement with you concerning the idea of us being able to have what you have coined "Maintenance-free victory."  Recently I had a difficult experience in my life and I noticed that I felt my old fears (emotion that I had felt earlier in a ministry session where I believed I had found complete peace) returning and I asked the Lord what He wanted me to know.  He took me back immediately to a memory I had had some months before in which he had held me in his arms and had said, "Fear not for I am with you.  Be not afraid for I am thy God."  I was struck that he had already healed that part of my life and  he simply reinforced the Truth he had already spoken as I had to apply it in a setting where fear had ruled for so many years.  My life of freedom is so new in relationship to that old system that I find I have to do daily "Maintenance."  The past appears easier, not because it was pleasant, but because it is familiar. I have to work to renew my mind to live in the present and I have to choose Joy.  I believe that "Maintenance Free" clearly does not mean that I am completely free of the affects of the past.  But I am free of the power of the past.  I do need to choose daily to live by the Truth that God has brought to my life.   And, as is true in the Walk of Faith in general, that takes work and diligence and constant "renewing of my mind."  I would have to tell anyone receiving ministry that they are not free to go wily nilly on their way without another thought of the past.  They must commit to a life of discipleship and diligence to remain "maintenance free."  In that sense,  they must exercise daily maintenance.  Paul exhorts us to "put off your old self" and "to be made new in the attitude of your minds."  That is work, Maintenance of the best kind.
Ed's response:


I appreciate your comments and questions concerning the phrase I coined "maintenance-free victory."  At the end of my response in this email  I have enclosed a section taken from the new revised Basic Seminar Manual that will help bring more clarity.    I agree with your suggesting that we need to continually seek the Lord, choose to follow him regardless of the pain, choose joy and grow in the knowledge of Him and all the things that we are commanded to do in Scripture.  All of this plays a vital part of the total "package" of Christian growth, mind renewal, ultimate sanctification and maturity.  I also believe that we face daily  the possibility of embracing new false thinking.  With this being said we need to combat this reality by "setting our mind on the things above" (Col. 3) and "looking to Jesus..." (Heb. 12)  However, if we are feeling fear, anxiety, abandoned, angry, frustrated, hopeless, helpless etc. then it is most likely due to the lies we harbor.  We will feel what we believe.  If you felt fear stir up in the situation that you described, you may want to follow it to its possible lie-based source. 


When I say "maintenance-free" I am not suggesting a single session or two and we have no struggles or pain or work to do.  What  I am suggesting (and I will expound more in the conclusion of this response) is that when we find truth and peace, where there was lies and pain, then in this SPECIFIC place we will not need to do anything to maintain this renewal.  However, (as may be so in your case) it is not uncommon for a person to have to return to a memory where he has already visited and expose more falsehood that was not made evident the first time around.  I have watched this play out many times in my own life.  Nevertheless, each time I revisit the same memory that still contains residual emotional duress, there has always been additional lie-based thinking present.


This has been my personal experience for the last ten years of ministry that if I have reoccurring emotional pain in any of my memories it is not due to me needing to do something more (like choose joy, meditate, think on heavenly things, etc.)  but rather discover the lie that is still present but yet not exposed and renewed.  The old saying "where there is smoke.." holds true.  In the same way where there is pain there is belief.  I tend to feel whatever I believe.  If I am fearful then there is a harbored belief somewhere producing this fear.  If I am feeling alone there is an abandonment belief somewhere.  Some make the mistake by making the emotion the focus of their attention.  They try to do something to make the pain go away.  Some people deny it, others suppress it, while others try to override it with thinking happy thoughts.  However, the focus needs to be in discerning what the belief is that is at the root of the feeling. I have had to go back to many of the same memories more than once (sometimes many times) because of additional residual pain that surfaces.  However, in every case where I did this I found there was other lies that I had yet not dealt with.  I would encourage you to follow what may appear to be an "old" pain and see if there is not a lie-based thought at its source.  What follows is a few paragraphs taken from the new revised seminar manual (2005 edition) where I talk about maintenance-free victory. 

I hope that this helps. 


Ed Smith


What is meant by Maintenance-Free Victory?

Taken from the Theophostic Prayer Ministry Basic Seminar Manual

Copyright Ed M. Smith 2005


In my writings, I sometimes use the phrases "maintenance-free victory" and "effortless victory".  Some people have reacted to these terms in that they thought I was teaching perfectionism of the believer (as in personal performance and behavior) or the absence of any struggle in the Christian life.   To be clear, I do not think that we will ever attain perfected behavior through self-effort or through any manner in this life.  I do not believe that having a single Theophostic Prayer Ministry will relieve a person of ALL of his or her struggles.  Mind renewal is a life long journey.  Lies are dispelled one by one, memory by memory.  However, I believe there is a victory that every believer can know that is fully empowered by the indwelling presence of Christ that is free of self-striving and is accomplished through resting in Him in specific areas where true renewal has occurred.  This victory is realized moment by moment in the specific areas of renewal that God accomplishes in the believer's life.


I also believe that we are what the Bible says we are in Christ; "holy and beloved" (Colossians 3:12), the "righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21) and a "new creation in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17), yet with the capacity to choose to sin or to conversely walk in truth (through the abiding presence of Christ to empower us).  With this said, I also believe that we can know victory that requires no effort in specific areas of our Christian walk as we come to experientially know and embrace truth and allow Christ to live His life through us in these specific places.  In these specific places of victory, I believe we can live maintenance-free in Christ empowered victory.  Merely fighting against sin, controlling behavior, and diligently making an effort to overcome may not result in this level of victory, since victory dependent on struggle is continually dependent on waging the fight.  I might call this battle-dependent victory "present victory" or "moment-by-moment victory" in that we are not succumbing to the present temptation but we are wrestling with its draw on us.  This too is victory but with the necessity for struggle.  Let me be quick to say, resisting temptation, choosing to walk in obedience and truth is indeed victory in the moment and a necessity for each of us who desire to live godly lives.  Whenever a believer makes the choice to obey rather than sin he is experiencing victory even if it is through some effort or much effort.  We are called to "abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul" and as we do we walk in victory. (1 Pet. 2:11).  This obedient victory is well pleasing and will be rewarded by the Lord in eternity. I do not want the person who may have to battle every day of his life to maintain his obedience, and does so, to feel that his success is a second-class victory or not true victory at all. I believe if anything God will reward him all the more for his faithfulness under extreme and lasting pressure. If God will honor him, I would never want to discourage him by suggesting that he is not truly victorious?


However, I would suggest that there is also a victory that is effortless for the believer in the places where the Word of Christ dwells (Col. 3:16), where the Spirit of truth rules, and where the believer can actually rest.  This victory can be experienced in specific areas of life where once the vain hope for squelching emotional pain was sinful choice and behavior, driven by emotional pain and aroused by sinful temptation.


It is obvious for each of us that there are areas of sin in which other people struggle that we ourselves never give a second thought to.  For example I do not struggle today with the temptation to smoke cigarettes though many people do and I use to. Why is this?  I believe that there is a reason that I struggle in some areas but face no temptation in others.  There were areas in which I used to struggle but today give no thought.  There are some areas in which I have maintenance-free victory without any battle.  I believe that at least in many cases, this absence of temptation in particular areas of life is directly linked to resident lie-based thinking and the corresponding pain these lies produce.  Where there is emotional pain, temptation to resolve this pain through sinful behavior crouches nearby.  It is no coincidence that the Apostle Peter warns us to be alert for the "roaring lion" in the context of suffering (1 Pet. 5).  When the fire is turned up whatever we believe will become evident.  If we believe lies we will experience emotional duress to match these beliefs.  Providing a way to escape this pain is what the roaring lion does best.


This effortless victory is most available in areas where the sinful behavior was the predictable choice of action taken in defense, such as is commonly seen in marital conflicts and other relationships.  I know that this is true in my own life and especially in my marriage and in relationship to my father.  There are places today that used to be guaranteed "landmines" of relational conflict with both my wife and my father.  Whenever certain things were spoken, actions taken or assumptions inferred I had uncontrollable emotional pain surface in my inner being.  This emotional pain was a knee-jerk reaction to the lies I believed.  This emotional duress created a major conflict in my mind concerning whether I would act out in defense (which I usually chose to do) or grit my teeth and bear it.  Sometimes I experienced "present-victory" by not choosing to act out the emotional pain, but it was always a struggle.  However, as Sharon and I have chosen to go to our own lie-based emotional pain and have found His truth, many of these places are no longer a problem in our marriage.  There is truly "effortless victory" in many places where we only knew struggle and conflict before.  Today, the relationship I have with my father appears to be conflict-free and has been for about the last five years, and I do not have to do anything to maintain it.  The only reason that I can give for this victory is that I now know experiential truth and residing peace in the "little boy" memories that once carried emotional pain.  The good news in my marriage is that we no longer even have to work at these places that were always before guaranteed trouble spots.  I have "maintenance-free victory" in these specific places. 


I believe that as you seek to allow the Lord to expose the painful places in your thinking you can have this same victory.  In the meantime, you must still choose to walk in the truth you know, resist the temptations sent your way, and choose to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light" (Col. 1:10-12).


Emotional Pain as a Motivation for Sin  


Some theologians believe that we sin only because we are sinful.  They believe that sin in the believer's life is directly motivated by his heart, since "out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders" (Matt. 15:19).  There are, however, theologians on the other side that say that the heart of the believer is new and the place where the love of God has "been poured out" (Rom. 5:5) is the dwelling place of a Holy God (Eph. 3:17) and the place from which we are able to love each other (1Peter 1:22).  This group also quotes Jesus concerning the distinction between the heart of the believer and the heart of the unbeliever: "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart" (Luke 6:45).


Rather than enter into this discussion (which is not essential for doing Theophostic Prayer Ministry), I would like to add another thought as to why people are drawn to sin.  


I believe that a notable portion of the sinful choices we make are motivated by vain attempts to manage our emotional pain.  Sin is often merely pain-managing behavior.  It is easier to act out sinfully than to address the reasons we are emotionally stirred.  We feel depressed, angry, stressed, fearful, alone, etc. so we eat when we are not hungry, pleasure ourselves with sex, entertainment, and other distractions rather than attend to the emotional pain.  I believe that, for the most part, the emotional pain in our lives is directly connected to what we believe.  As this false thinking is divinely replaced with experiential truth, our painful emotions transform into perfect peace and thereby the temptation to sin becomes much less powerful.  Do a quick evaluation of when you are most drawn to sin to see if there is not an emotion present motivating the choosing.  When our anger is aroused we strike out at others.  When we feel alone, unloved, or unappreciated, we may overeat, lust, commit adultery, or indulge in other fleshly pleasures.  We feel afraid so we withdraw, hide, procrastinate, or disobey God's calling.  A driving force behind most addictions, if not all, is emotional pain.  Most adulterous relationships are rooted in painful emotions that we are hoping someone outside our marriage can eliminate.  So, as we strive against sin, we must also address the pain factor that often motivates our sinful responses or we may remain in an endless loop of battle, controlled behavior, and perpetual defeat. 


Unless Jesus sets us free, we will never overcome sin.  We are no more capable of overcoming sin after the cross than before the cross.  Our victory was and will always be Christ in us.  Some of us have been programmed into performance-based spirituality and led to believe that the "badge of spiritual maturity" goes to the one who works the hardest and thereby sins the least-at least in public.1  If victory is found in our effort and "working at it," then victory is really no different than anything that world religions offer as well.  One of the reasons people do not come to the Church for solutions is that they see how hard we have to strive to survive.  In reality, we can all find genuine mind renewal, and thus freedom from our lie-based emotional pain, and find lasting peace, if we will allow the Lord to expose our lie-based thinking and replace it with the truth of His Holy Spirit.  When this happens, we are much less prone to sin because the inner emotional pain that compelled us to seek relief through sinful behaviors is resolved.


I am not suggesting that the Christian life is without struggle-it isn't.  Nor am I suggesting perfection in the Christian life through self-effort and controlled behavior.  However, I do believe that in every area where we are deceived by lie-based thinking, we may struggle.  When our emotional pain is stirred up or is triggered, we will be faced with the problem as to what we will do to alleviate this pain.  The struggle is often directly connected to the lie-based emotional pain triggered in the moment.  I have noticed that for the most part, people are less tempted to sin when walking in peace than when they are stirred up in emotional pain.2  When the emotional pain is in our face, we have several options:  (1) We may act out the emotional pain in defense by hurting or blaming those around us because we assume they have caused our emotional pain. (2) We may turn the emotional pain inward and suppress it or medicate it, often resulting in anger, self-loathing, or inner frustration.  (3) We may act out the pain through "spiritual" performance and ministry.  This may be seen if we minister with the motive of being loved, accepted, affirmed, appreciated, included, lessening our own anxiety, etc.  Many people become involved in ministries that help people who have been hurt in the same manner as they themselves have been hurt.  Some might suggest this is compassion.  If the action of the person is motivated from a healed heart and mind then maybe it is compassion.  If the action is driven by unresolved inner pain, then it is probably not.  4) We may deal with it as sin and confess it, repent, and perform over and over.  5) We may choose to go to the true source of the emotional pain, our own lie-based thinking, and find truth from the Lord.  When we choose to find the true source of our emotional pain and receive His truth we should be able to walk in a more consistent victory with less struggle.


  • Purpose in the Struggle

Struggle in the Christian life is a very important part of God's purpose for the believer.  God allows hardship and infirmity to come into the Christian's life to motivate him or her to discern the cause (often lie-based) and find the cure (which is a relationship with God.)  I believe that God has also allowed the believer to become infested with falsehood implanted in times of injustice and pain knowing that this lie-based pain will drive the saint into the presence of Christ for healing and restoration.  I believe that this process is life long in that there is more falsehood harbored in people's minds than they will ever find freedom from in a lifetime.  I have been aggressively pursuing my renewal for the last nine years with the Theophostic process (not including the effort I put into the twenty years before using other approaches) and have discovered that I am a "land field" of deception.  The more I uncover the more I realize what a mess I have been and am.  Nevertheless, I am walking in a more consistent victory today than ever before. 


Even as we seek to expose our lie-based thinking we still must contend with the reality that we still live in a body of flesh that is earthly and driven with the propensity to sin.  This is why the Apostle Paul says  "knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin:" (Romans 6:6).  This passage reveals a process that begins with the crucifixion of our old self (an act that was completed in a specific point in time) so that our body of sin might be done away with (on going process).  Paul explains this more when he says,"if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Rom. 8:13).  However, I have experienced more power to put to death the fleshly deeds as I have come to know the Lord's truth experientially. In certain places where I used to struggle with temptation to sin but now walk in truth, I no longer have trouble.  There is a clear correlation between much of the struggles I have dealt with all my life and the places where I was deceived and harbored lie-based emotional pain.   


As I have already said, my marital "relational landmines," when stepped on, predictably blew up in conflict.  Sharon could say or do certain things and my emotional pain would come flooding out.  I tried to suppress it, deny it, capped it off, make excuses for it or at times even struggled to choose to respond in the "Christ-like" manner, and sometimes sort of succeeded through difficult obedience.  However, there were many times that once the bomb was triggered, I would predictably say the wrong thing, strike back and defend myself (sin).  However, in those areas where I have gone to my own lie-based memories and received His truth, I now have peace.  Many of these landmines are no longer present.  These predictable places of conflict just do not show up anymore.  I do not have to work at maintaining "victory" in these specific places or put any effort into it.  These places are maintenance-free.  The victory I have in these specific places is what God desires for me in all areas of my life.  This is true victory when I do not have to struggle, but rather simply walk in the power of His presence and peace.


Mark had been a Christian for many years and was raised in a Christian home.  He came to me broken and defeated because of his relationship with his father.  The relationship was continually strained even though he had done everything he knew to do from a biblical perspective.  He had sought counseling many times, had chosen to forgive his father for the hurtful things he had done, and had tried to honor him by spending quality time with him on a regular basis.  Nevertheless, whenever he was with his father for an extended period of time, he would find himself stirred up, angry, and frustrated because of the things his father would say or do.


When Mark came for ministry, we had him focus on the emotions he felt when he was around his father.  We followed these negative feelings to many memory sources.  Mark was surprised that many of his memories were of events for which he believed he had already forgiven his father.  As we searched through his memories, we discovered many lie-based beliefs at the root of the emotional pain he was feeling.  We then asked the Lord to reveal His truth to Mark, and the peace of Christ replaced the emotional pain in his memories.


Mark told me recently that it has been many years since our ministry sessions and he has had very few negative feelings toward his father since then.  The few times he did, he said, he was faithful to follow his feelings to the memories containing the remaining lies and receive additional truth and peace.  He also said the peace he feels when he is around his father requires no effort to maintain; he doesn't have to battle against the painful emotions that once prevailed.  For him, lie-free living is maintenance-free, effortless living.  Once his lies were removed, he could think differently and walk in more consistent freedom. 


Sanctification is a work of God and our willful cooperation.


Lest I be misunderstood here, I will add further clarification.  The Apostle Paul told us to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12-13).  Here we see the cooperative working that goes on between the Father and child in this divine relationship a believer has with God.  God is at work in us to will and work for His own good pleasure, but we are also participating through our willful submission to His handiwork.  As a child of God, I am called to submit to him, rest in Him, trust Him, obey Him, and follow Him, all the while knowing that "apart from Him I can do nothing" in my own strength.  For "the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20).  In the Theophostic Prayer Ministry context the process would look like this.  I live my life.  Something happens that triggers my lie-based emotional pain.   I have a choice to make.  I either deny what has been exposed, blame others, bury it or defend myself, or I will choose to submit to the God process at work within me.  If I choose to follow God, I will humble myself in the moment, take responsibility for my own exposed emotional pain and allow Him to lead me to its lie-based source.  He will provide me truth and release me of that to which I am hopelessly held captive.  All the while knowing that there is nothing I can do in my own strength to find this freedom, I can choose to open my heart to God and thus "work out my own salvation" in cooperative effort with Him.  This same process is played out in settings outside of a Theophostic Prayer Ministry session as well.  God allows or orchestrates trials to come into our lives proving or testing our faith or what we believe.  In this refinement process, the impurities of our faith/belief are exposed and surface making it possible for us to identify them.  In this moment, it is God's desire that we confess (agree with what He has exposed) our sin and false belief and allow Him to minister His love, truth and grace to our hearts and minds.  There is really no way to escape the process but we can choose to derail it.  However, freedom awaits those who choose to work in concert with what God is doing. "...For a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;" (1Peter 1:6-7).


Taken from the Theophostic Prayer Ministry Basic Seminar Manual 2005


Copyright Ed M. Smith

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  •  Adam wrote 1803 Days Ago (neutral) 

    This is a great section of the manual and a vital read for opponents of TPM who often misquote the teachings / theology / practise of TPM

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