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Theophostic Prayer and Sanctification

Critic’s concern: Is Smith promoting a view of sanctification that is unbiblical. In Healing Life’s Deepest Hurts it says, “True spiritual living is the effortless outflow of ‘Christ in me’ that occurs as I am able to walk in perfect peace as a result of my mind being renewed to match my inner righteousness” (p.181)?  

Ed Smith’s response:  Here is an example of peripheral theology that is non-essential for applying the principles of Theophostic Prayer Ministry.  Theophostic Prayer is an application and systematic means of helping people to look to Christ for freedom.  My comment from the Healing Life’s Hurts book is a statement of my perspective of what happens in a person’s life when they know truth and freedom.  Actually I believe that I could not be more biblical by saying true Christian living is all about Christ and none about me. This is not about passivity but about surrender and relying in faith on His power and not my own. All I am saying is what the Apostle Paul declared when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and 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. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (Gal. 2:20-21).  

  Most of my adult life I promoted controlled behavior as the sign of spiritual maturity and failed to understand the fruit of the Holy Spirit called self control. There is a vast difference between self control (a fruit of the Holy Spirit) and controlled behavior (a fruit of my self effort.) For most of my life I had thought self control was “myself” controlling “my self.” Controlled behavior is the same thing that every other world religion is based upon; keeping the “law” or performance-based spirituality. Christianity is based upon living by “by faith in the Son of God”. This does not mean that I do not struggle with the pull of fleshly temptation and the lure of sin, but I have been given the tools and the power to walk in His victory as I choose to get out of myself and allow Him to be my victory. Here again, this is all up for debate and not an essential teaching of this ministry.


  Critic’s concern: In contrast to this perspective, the Bible often speaks to the active effort we must expend to maintain a quality life in Christ. Consider: Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 10:33; 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Cor. 7:1; 8:21; Gal. 6:5; Phil. 2:12; 4:8; Col. 2:29; 1 Thes. 1:3; 4:4; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Jn. 3:18; 1 Pet. 1:13; 4:19; Hebr. 10:36; 12:12,14.  

Ed Smith’s response: Let’s look at the verses that you have listed here you say are in contrast to this perspective:  

  Romans 14:19 :“So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” This is a wonderful verse that would summarize the purpose of Theophostic Prayer. In the session we are seeking to expose all lies that hinder the person from knowing peace and which cause him or her trouble in relationship hindering the building up of one another.  

  1 Cor. 10:33  “…just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.” This is a statement of self giving so that others may benefit. I have never in all my years of church ministry witnessed so many lay people so willingly become a part of a service of helping others find truth and freedom. I am watching a team of about 25 people in my local church give up hours every week ministering to the hurting that come for help. There is evidence of much self giving going on.  

  1 Cor. 9:24-27: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

First let me say that I understand that the context of this verse is about spiritual discipline which Theophostic Prayer does not try to replace. I am very clear about this in the training. However, in light of that, people have to use strong self-control to make the choice to be willing to own the pain in their lives and choose to go to the painful places they have buried and tried to not remember. I have watched countless scores of people agonize to choose to look at the painful places. They are choosing to “run in a way that you may win” as they look at and focus on the lie-based beliefs that have caused them such emotional turmoil. In doing this they are reaping great reward of peace and freedom.  


  2 Cor. 7:1: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Holiness resides in the courts of truth. Apart from the truth we cannot know holiness. Paul began by saying, “having these promises…”He began with truth. The promises are truth. When truth is established we are able to move into the rest of the command to cleanse ourselves. I believe that a process such as TPM can be a part of the overall process of sanctification. I know that as I practice following the emotions that stir up in me and seek the lies that are usually behind them I am finding that the Holy Spirit is very willing to give me His perspective. This does not replace my daily study of His Word and meditation that I spend focused upon it. TPM is a part of many things that I do “perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.”  


  2 Cor. 8:21: “…for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” Absolutely. TPM is focused on rooting out that which is contrary.  


  Gal. 6:1 “for each one must bear his own load…” In Theophostic Prayer we say there are no victims. No one is seen as a victim that needs to be rescued. Every person is expected to be responsible for the pain in their life and be willing to own this pain and identify the lies that they believe. Every person must bear his or her own and not make excuses for where they are in life. The moment we make the other person the reason that we do not have joy and peace we become a slave to that person. We have surrendered all the power.  


  Phil. 2:12: “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” This is a verse that we often use to describe doing TPM.TPM is an intentional effort to cooperate with God in the process of mind renewal. The individual learns to reframe the trials of life not as something to just endure and get through but rather as a divine appointment of exposure. We have discovered that when the fire comes whatever we believe will be exposed through our emotional response to the heat. If we have fear, anxiety, stress, hopelessness and despair there is a lie-based reason. None of these emotions have any biblical support and therefore are coming from something other than truth.  


  Phil. 4:8: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” In the Basic Seminar Manual I say, “The Apostle Paul teaches us clearly that wherever we choose to set our minds on will have impact of great magnitude. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).We have a choice about where we will focus our attention. Satan knows this well and works hard at getting us to focus on the things that fulfill the flesh, ease our pain, distract our anxiety and fulfill the lusts of our body and mind.  


  A common way that he does this is through mental creations that I call “fantasy scenarios.” If you feel stirred up by a real-life situation, you might find yourself visually playing out a “what if” story in your mind. When you set your mind on a hypothetical episode, you are actually focused on a lie. If it is not the truth, then it is a falsehood.  

  I believe that these false realities are often planted by the evil one as emotional areas are stirred up. Once the scenario is played out in your mind, and your emotions are in a whirl, you become easy prey for the demonic suggestions of the “roaring lion.” If you act in a way that is motivated by this emotion, you have taken the bait and been deceived.  


  We can choose to focus on the things of the Spirit (who is truth) and thus live in peace, or focus on the flesh (which is lie-based) and dwell in death. This area of choice or free will is the battlefield of the mind. It is here that the war is won, not in our desperate attempts to control behavior. It is important when in the midst of an emotional situation that we call to the forefront of our minds that which is true and reject that which is imaginary and not reality.  


  Ask yourself the questions, “What do I know to be the truth in this situation?” and “What do I know about what God has promised concerning this?” After finding the answers, choose to focus on this truth and resist the devil’s options. At the same time, take advantage of the trying situation to see what lie-based thinking God is exposing in you and then find His truth and peace.”  


  Col. 1:29 (you have listed 2:29 but I think you meant 1:29)..”For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” Here again this verse describes what happens in a TPM session. People strive and labor as they gradually choose to let go of the defenses they have erected to keep from feeling, remembering, knowing and owning what they have harbored. There is no question that the power and presence of Christ is in the place when this occurs. I have heard many people say concerning watching a person find truth and peace that the moment was a “holy moment.” Where two or more people meet together He really is in that place. TPM is an act of willful labor but also a dependent reliance on the power “which works mightily” in them.  


  My only point in expounding on some of these verses is to acknowledge to you that striving and labor is all a part of the Christian journey and this work is not left outside the ministry door in TPM. People often say that it is the most difficult work they have ever done. People leave sessions feeling totally physically and emotionally drained (but peaceful and with the weight lifted.).It is hard work to choose to feel the pain in your life and come clean before God.  


    Critic’s concern:  Has Smith confused our forensic status of being Holy with God in Christ with our sanctification process. Legally we are “holy,” but experientially we are usually (if ever) not. Do we not need to put forth great effort to maintain our holiness in everyday life? .


Ed Smith’s response: This is not a foundational part of TPM but is an interesting discussion. For me, the positional viewpoint you are holding nullifies the passage, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17).I believe that something actual and metamorphic occurred the day I placed my faith in Christ. I believe that He replaced a “heart of stone with a heart of flesh.” I do not believe that I just entered into a contract with God that said I was legally holy but still a worm. I believe that something occurred in my inner man that has been working itself out in me over the years producing evidence of this inner change.


You have shared a view point that is help by many theologians but that which is contrary to many others.  Good scholars are camped on both sides of the discussion.  I believe that being born again means something new literally occurred not just symbolically. We will not come to an agreement here and I honestly do not need to. This is not an essential theology of TPM. I am clear in the 2007 manual that what I believe about this (which I feel you do not yet understand) is not necessary to believe in order to do this ministry. The process of doing TPM is not about holding a particular view of sanctification.   

 Critic’s concern: Does the TPM process not over simplify change that God expects in us.  I don’t see Jesus or the apostles either modeling or teaching the TPM approach to people-helping in the Bible. Jesus expected more than truth to significantly change and heal people; he expected Christ-like relationships over time.  


   Ed Smith’s response: I have never stated that TPM is all that is needed for Christian growth and maturity. Maturity occurs over time as a person journeys with God, finds meaning in relationship in the Body of Christ, gains knowledge of Christ and learns to walk out his faith and more.

I have been clear that TPM only deals with lies that people believe and finding truth that releases them to experience transformation. The Scriptures say that change will occur (transformation) when we have our minds renewed. (Rom. 12:2) I did not say that if they commit a Bible verse to memory that something will always happen for we know this is not necessarily true. But knowing the truth at a heart level is much different than having it memorized.  

  There is no doubt that with each lie I have found freedom from I have had corresponding transformation. However, removing the lies I hold at the experiential level is not all that there is in living out the Christian life. I still am “working out my salvation” through diligent Bible study, seeking to know more about God and His character, walking relationally with Him day to day, and practicing all the disciplines of the Christian life in the context of a community of believers.



































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