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The Lord is telling me that, we will be doing a series of deliverance messages, which will deal with examples of life situations. We are going to be talking about them and trying to get some understanding about how evil spirits operate in the living soul that died. This is the message of this series. The Lord is doing something very unusual here.
I have never heard of using literature (our last message dealt with one of Scott Fitzgerald's works) as the foundation for preaching. I explained to you what makes great literature great, is not the writing skills of the author, but his ability to look deep into the heart of man, and to understand human nature. That is what makes a novelist great, his ability to look into and understand human nature, so that what he writes about can be enjoyed by all generations, because human nature never changes.
I have heard of this kind of preaching done about characters from the Bible. I have heard preachers take an account out of the history books of the Bible and preach on the personality characteristics of the Bible characters involved, but I have never heard a preacher preach from literature and apply it to the spiritual principles that the Lord teach in the Scripture. But, apparently, this is what He is telling me to do.
I resisted doing message # 67, More About Soul Ties, when the Lord had told me to preach on Scott Fitzgerald's play, Tender Is The Night. I resisted until the last minute, because I wasn't sure that it was God. And today, the Lord tells me, I am to preach about the characters in a novel by Tolstoy called, Anna Karenina.
Tolstoy is not alive today. He was a member of the Russian Aristocracy before the Russian Revolution, so he goes back to the eighteenth and nineteenth century. He has an intense insight into human nature. Tonight we are going to study the concept of romantic love, how valid it is, under what circumstances it is valid, and under what circumstances it can be destructive to a human being, that is trying to live a Godly life.
I am going to briefly sketch the story of this woman, Anna Karenina, and then we will talk about what we see operating in her soul and in her mind, how destruction came upon her and how it could have been avoided if she had obeyed the Lord and the principles of Almighty God. I hope to leave you with a deeper understanding of romantic love.
I am not against romantic love. I believe that it is a wonderful thing. It is probably the dream of every human being that ever lived, but what I am suggesting to you is that it is only valid within certain parameters and guidelines set out by the Lord. The whole point of what I am preaching is that if anyone tries to gain the fruit, or to reap the fruit, of romantic love, apart from the parameters outlined by Almighty God, disaster is sure to fall, if not on the present generation, it will fall on future generations. To the best of my knowledge, my personal knowledge, the judgments for engaging in romantic love outside of what is acceptable to God, falls within the same generation.
What I am suggesting to you is that romantic love cannot survive without the other complementary necessities of life. You cannot (as they used to tell us) live on love.
It is just wonderful if a young man and a young woman fall in love, but if the man does not have a job, or if he is on drugs, if the woman has tendencies towards adultery, if there is unfaithfulness, if there is irresponsibility, what I am suggesting to you is that the romantic love is going to dissolve as rapidly as water going down your washing machine's drain. If you fulfill all of the requirements of Almighty God, if love does manage to bloom within the parameters of marriage, where both parties are fulfilling their responsibility to the other and to their children, well, then, you are, indeed, a very blessed person. If love does not bloom, or if it blooms and it dies within the parameters of a Godly marriage, in most instances, you are still left with something of substance. I know, however, that there are other circumstances which may cause a marriage to fail on all fronts.
We are talking about romantic love now. You can be left with a home, you can be left with children with the potential for grandchildren, family life and acceptability in society. I know in this hour in our society, it is very acceptable to live with somebody and not be married, but we are living in a very corrupt society, and even then you shall reap what you sow. In societies where this is not acceptable, if you have laid hold of romantic love without the boundaries laid down by God, and that romantic love diminishes, you may find yourself facing social disapproval, without any children, or the problems of having illegitimate children. You may also find yourself with financial problems and all kinds of grief.
What I have just said above is to introduce you to the sad heroine of our story, Anna Karenina. Before I go on to tell you about Anna, I want to mention that I saw an actor on a talk show program recently, who ex-girlfriend was suing him for millions of dollars. She claimed that she lived with him for six years, bore his child, that he told her they were married in the eyes of God, but they never married legally, and then he left her. She was trying to get his millions and she failed.
The actor was on the Phil Donahue Show, and I was very surprised in this permissive society as to how many people stood up in the audience and said to the actor's his girlfriend, "You are a foolish young woman, that you did not make the man marry you. You took your chances and made your choices. You lived with him, you bore him a child outside of wedlock, and now you have no legal rights. Now, you are reaping what you sowed." I was shocked to hear all of these people telling her that in this promiscuous society. The woman looked like she was going to cry on the TV program. What is more, she looked like a very nice young woman.
There are a lot of young women today that are really victimized by our society. You know, years ago, either you were a good girl or you were a bad girl, but today there are no good girls or bad girls. Some very nice young women are just utterly deceived as to the immorality that is being taught is acceptable in the country, and they think it is wonderful to go out and live with somebody and bear a child out of wedlock. But when the judgment falls upon them, they really cannot figure out what happened to them. These young women are really victims because they were never taught that you should not do that. You should not do it because God said you should not do it. If you do choose to do it, you are putting yourself in jeopardy, and you are putting your child in jeopardy. The exact opposite of God's law is being taught in this society today.
Let me tell you about Anna Karenina. She was a young woman of the Russian Aristocracy, and in those days all marriages were arranged by the parents. She was a Countess married to a Count, a very wealthy man. All the Aristocracy in those days were very wealthy. She was a beautiful, sensitive young woman with a desire for romance, but she was married to this very stern Count. In his own way, however, he loved her very much. He was a very proper, straight man. He was hard, and he was unyielding, and he was self righteous, but in his own way, he was doing the best that he could to lead a moral life, and in his own way, he really cared for her, but had a lot of trouble expressing his emotions, so there was virtually no romantic love in the marriage whatsoever. But he provided a home for her and it child, and that her every material and social need.
Of course, they were wealthy, and they lived in a palace with many servants. She had a son, and the son had a personal tutor to educate him. She did not do any labor at all, and she had everything that she needed in life – except emotional., romantic love She had a little boy that loved her more than anything, and she loved him desperately, but she did not have this romantic love from her husband. There was a form of love in her life, however. Her little boy was just mad about her and she lived in a society where, in those days, the aristocrats traveled back and forth abroad, and had dinners with other members of their society. Her husband was in government so, as in many marriages today, he was gone a lot. He was working a lot of overtime, and his name was very important to him.
This is one thing about human nature that never ceases to amaze me, that if we have good and bad in our life, it just seems so hard for us to praise the good and diminish the bad. It just seems so hard for people, including myself, to say, when we are in that position, "Well, my husband is a little on the cold side, and he is a little pompous, but I know that he would protect me with his life and that I am very important to him. The fact that I am his wife is very important to him, and our son is very important to him, and he has provided all these wonderful things, education and a good future for our son, and I have this lovely home to live and entertain in. But he is not romantic, so let me serve God, let me find something to satisfy me emotionally, let me love my son, let me find something that is going to make up for the deficiency because if one thing is as sure as the sun rising and setting, nothing is perfect in this world."
There is no lifestyle that anybody will ever attempt to enter into that will offer everything that we need to meet every one of our needs. No lifestyle is capable of fulfilling every single human need that we have, outside of marriage to Jesus Christ. I have never yet met a person, while some are more capable than others, that are capable of glorifying the good in their lives and diminishing the bad and doing everything they can to strive to be happy. There are some people that do this by denying their true feelings, which is another road to disaster, but some people have a real problem getting their soul or their emotions under control.
God's answer to this human dilemma is to face the truth, that our emotional needs are not being satisfied by our mate, and to seek God for the ability to consciously sublimate our need into a constructive direction. Such a course of action is a conscious, mature decision to face the realities of our life, and deal with them in a positive manner. Denial of the realities of our life is the repression of our true emotions, which then go underground and cause problems for us and our loved ones in the unconscious plane.
Well, Anna went to visit her relatives. She was in St. Petersburg, and she went to visit her relatives in Moscow. In those days, if you were a man and you were in the Russian Aristocracy, either you had a career in government or you were an officer in the army. Those were pretty much the only two careers that were available to you. Well, Anna met this dashing young officer in the Russian army, and he was single. He had absolutely nothing to lose, no wife or children to lose by pursuing an involvement with a married woman. There was a young woman that was madly in love with the young officer, that wanted to marry him, but he fell in love with Anna. The brash young officer did not care about morality, and his selfishness manifested the time. The rules meant nothing to him. He did not care that Anna was married. He did not care that he would destroy her life. Nor did he care about her child or her husband. The young officer threw all of moral constraints to the wind and pursued Anna with a passion. She did try to resist. She did try to resist. She asked him to go away. She told him that it was wrong and asked him to leave, but the young officer was so bold that he followed her back to St. Petersburg.
When Anna's husband met her at the train, the young officer walked right up to Anna's husband, introduced himself and asked for permission to call at their home. That amazed me. I do not know about you, but I have seen this happen. I have seen men go after women, and they do not care what they have to do to get them. They make love to them, they lie to them, they do anything necessary to accomplish their goal. In this case, the man really loved Anna. In most cases, shortly after the man who illegitimately pursues a woman, succeeds in getting the woman to respond to him, and sometimes to give up everything for them, this kind of man is no longer satisfied, and moves on to the next woman.
Brethren, if you do not follow the rules that God has laid down, you are flirting with disaster. Well, the young man followed Anna to St. Petersburg. She resisted him on every turn, but he continued to make an open play for her. She was the talk of the Russian society. Everybody was gossiping. Her own husband went to her and said, "My dear, I am not accusing you of anything, but I am warning you, that there is gossip going on." A woman came to Anna's husband, and he defended Anna. What does that mean? Anna's own husband who was very aware of what was going on, was loyal to her. What is it with we women? We want romantic love.
How about looking for loyalty in a man? Anna's own husband defended her against the gossip that came to him. He went back and he warned her. He was more than fair with her. He waited, he watched, he hoped, he spoke to her about the situation, he did not rebuke her, and he did not revile her. He was frightened that he was going to lose his wife. All this because Anna's husband was capable of loyalty, capable of faithfulness, capable of providing a solid stable home life for her and their child, but was not capable of giving her romantic love. Anna was not capable of evaluating her situation and drawing the conclusion that she must remain married to her husband if she was to avoid disaster for the entire family, mostly for her son and herself.
You see, there are two ways she could have gone. She could have had all of this wonderful wisdom that we are preaching here, and she could have said, "I perceive, sir, that you have nothing to lose and I have everything to lose, my child, my husband, my social position." In those days, if you left your husband and lived in adultery you were ostracized by society. It was not like it is in America today were pretty much anything goes are, at the least, you can move to another area of the country where nobody knows you and live a normal life. Anna did not sit there and say, "I have everything to lose, sir, and you have nothing to lose. I know that you are trying to seduce me, and that makes you not a very nice man." She did not have the wherewithal to do that, neither did she have the strength to rise up and say, "The law of God calls this adultery and I, therefore, refuse you, despite what I am feeling, because the law of God calls this adultery."
Anna was a very nice woman. Everybody loved her. Her servant's testimony about her was, "Nine years I have worked in this house and never a harsh word from her." Her son adored her. She was one of the loveliest women you could hope to meet, kind, generous, and sensitive. What happened to her? She fell prey to the weakness of the flesh.
The young officer made no bones about what he wanted. He had no mercy upon Anna, because she was what he wanted. He pressured her until she rejected her moral upbringing, yielded to her emotions, and became involved with the young officer. They started having an affair, but that was not enough for him. The young officer wanted Anna to leave her husband and her son. He was not satisfied with an affair, and he literally had the nerve to enter into Anna's house and demand that she choose between him and her husband, that she break up her home, that she leave her husband, that she abandon her son and break the little boy's heart. The young officer was even angry with her when she hesitated. The ultimate selfishness, a man that had no children, that had never experienced marriage, that did not even understand for a second what he was asking her to give up, demanding that she choose.
In the previous message, More about Soul Ties, we talked about the, "tyranny of the weak." I remind you that anyone who is outside of God's Law, or manifesting in their carnal emotions, is weak. The natural man is weak from the point of view of morality. The young officer tyrannized Anna, and he pressured her, until the strength of her spiritual upbringing broke and... what did we say in the last meeting? If you yield to the tyranny of the weak, you lose whatever strength you previously had. The young officer's seduction was complete. Anna was overcome to the point that she would even give up her beloved son.
Anna went to see her husband to tell him that she could not bear him, that she could not stand him, that she had to leave him. He told her that he was a public figure, and he had been preaching for years against divorce. He believed in the sanctity of the home. He believed in the sanctity of marriage.
He was a hard man, I do not deny it. He was a hard, harsh man, and he told her that if she did this thing, she would lose all rights to her son, that he would never let her see her son. She would have to give up everything. This lovely woman admired by everybody, that would not hurt a fly, yielded to her emotions and the pressure of an ungodly man. The religious upbringing that she had received, plus the pressure of this selfish, incredibly selfish, brash young ma, n was not strong enough to overcome her own weakness.
You see, before the young officer came into Anna's life, she was adequately dealing with the situation. She was married to a very cold man, I do not deny it, but she loved her son. God did give her an outlet for love. Her life was not that terrible and she was enduring it. Then the second pressure came. You know the story about the straw that broke the camel's back. Do not forget she resisted the young officer, but he would not leave her alone. He pursued her. He hounded her and she broke. Her moral conviction was not enough. She left her husband. She left her son, and she ran away with this man who had no respect for the laws of God, or society. And the truth of the matter is that he had no respect for Anna, nor did he truly love her, according to the pure definition of "love," which does no harm to the object of our love. Anna's husband refused to give her a divorce, so she remained an adulteress for the rest of her short life.
In Russian society, it was a pretty bad thing to be an adulteress. The "couple" (their union had no legal name) could not go to any of the social functions. The young officer, who was a soldier, had to leave his regiment, and they could not even be seen in public together... It is a similar situation to the one that we studied in, Tender Is The Night, where the man was a psychiatrist who gave up his profession. This man was a soldier, and he had to give up his profession to live with Anna and adultery, so the couple started to travel through Europe. It is the same thing that happened in Tender Is The Night. (See, message # 067, More about Soul Ties.)
Well brethren, you cannot spend your whole life traveling through Europe. Maybe if you have been working all your life, you might think, "What a wonderful thing it would be to travel through Europe for the rest of your life," but I declare to you that man was not made to travel for his entire life. We must have a purpose in our life. There must be something that we do that gives us satisfaction. It could be an intellectual pursuit. It could be raising your children. It could be serving God. We must be doing something that makes us feel worthwhile as human beings. These two people yielded to romantic love outside of the parameters ordained by God, and what happened? The same thing that happened in Tender Is The Night. Eventually, both Anna and the young officer became very discontent. Anna missed her son desperately, and was devastated when she found out her husband had told her son that she was dead. Anna longed for her son.
And the young officer missed his regiment, he missed his friends, he missed the prestige, he missed the excitement, and he missed the social aspect of the military life. What am I saying to you? You cannot live on love. Men need their job. If you are a woman that wants to raise a family, you need your children. If you are a career woman, you need your profession. You cannot be happy just loving each other. We are a pluralistic people. We have many needs, and all of those needs must be met for us to be reasonably happy. If you give up the opportunity to satisfy all those needs in a Godly way for romantic love, that romantic love will eventually turn sour.
The couple had enough money to live on. They lived in a big fancy house, but the young officer became very restless and Anna became unhappy. They started bickering. They got on each other's nerves and, because the young officer could not face Anna, he made plans to return to his regiment and go off to war behind her back.
Now, the young officer did not leave Anna for another woman. Hear what I am telling you. The officer loved Anna, but living with her and loving her without the other things that were important in life, was not enough to keep him happy as a human being. The officer needed his profession, he needed his friends, and he needed his life as a Russian nobleman. Anna needed her son, she needed respectability, she needed a social life, so what happened to their romantic love? It crumbled and disintegrated around their feet.
One night Anna told the young officer that she had taken a box at the opera, which is totally unacceptable in that society, but they went anyway. Everybody whispered and talked about them, and the young officer almost got into a duel because Anna was insulted. The young officer could have lost his life, but the man who insulted her apologized. Anna's night at the opera was destroyed. She was a fun loving woman. Having a good time was a very important part of her life that she sacrificed to live on the outskirts of society with a man who was destined to leave her completely alone. You see, the young officer was able to return to his military career, in a positive way, but for Anna to return to her husband, if it were at all possible, would have been emotionally devastating. You cannot do it, brethren. You cannot give up everything for romantic love because that romantic love will fly away like a bird, and you will be left with nothing.
However, on the other hand, Anna had a brother, and in another part of the movie it shows that her brother was a cheating husband, a promiscuously cheating husband, and his wife, Anna's sister-in-law, was thinking of leaving him, but she decided not to. As the movie comes to a climax, Anna goes to visit her brother's house and there she sees her sister-in-law with her three beautiful children, a happy bubbling household, filled with activity as you will find in family life. Her husband is there, still cheating away, and believe me, I am not advocating cheating husbands, so what am I saying to you?
Anna had to listen to her sister-in-law say, "I envy you so. You had the guts to leave your husband to go after romantic love and look at me, I am trapped in this house," while the whole time Anna's heart was breaking because her lover had just left her to go to war.
What am I saying to you? The sister-in-law had not succeeded in achieving romantic love. It had alluded her, but she had a house, and she had three beautiful children that were living in her house, and she had a husband, although he happened to be a cheating husband.
Do not read anything into my words. I am not saying that this is ideal at all. Anna's sister-in-law had a family life. She had a social life. Compared to what Anna gave up for her romantic love, the sister-in-law was a hundred times richer, but she did not know it. She just thought that what Anna did was wonderful, and that her whole life was ruined because she did not have the guts to do the same thing. She was not happy with what life had given her, three healthy children, one grandchild, a house that could accommodate visiting relatives and a social life. She was unhappy, envying someone who had rejected a Godly lifestyle to follow after a wanderlust that you will find out destroyed her entire life.
If you make a marriage, brethren, and romantic love buds in that marriage, you are blessed. You are a blessed person, but if you have married, and the years have gone by and the romance is waning, in this society it is so easy to think about a divorce. What am I saying to you? I am saying to you that to break up a marriage because romance is gone is a big mistake. It is a big mistake, brethren. You will destroy yourself, and you will destroy your children. Do not do it.
I confess there are certain circumstances under which a divorce is permissible, and sometimes even right, such as in the case of incest. This country is inundated with men abusing their own children. In such a case, you pick up your kids and run, sister. You get your divorce, but if you have got a man that is working hard to support you, if you have got some beautiful children in your house, and you have got some lovely things there, but romantic love is gone, if your husband is working long hard hours and you are lonely, sister, that is no reason to get divorced. If you have heard that message around this nation today, you have heard a lie. It is a deception that will destroy you if you believe it. You cannot hold on to romantic love. It is like a butterfly. Enjoy it for as long as you have it, but there are other things that will endure much longer: decency, honor, respectability, commitment to your children and to your home and to your family, and to a man who might be showing his love to you through loyalty and faithfulness.
Then again, you can always pray to the Lord to renew that love in your marriage. You never know what God is going to do but, brethren. You do not throw a man or a family life away because of a lack of romantic love. You do not do it, brethren. Now as far as the cheating husband goes, that can be a real problem which we are not addressing in this message.
Now, to finish the story, Anna Karenina went to the train station to see her lover one more time before he left. As she approached the train, the military bands were playing, and there was all the excitement of men going off to war (in those days it was very exciting for men to go off to war) and she saw her lover. He was as happy as could be. He really wanted to go. He was lapping up the excitement of the moment and the adoration of all the people waving at him, and the band playing. In addition to all this, the young officer' s mother was there with a young woman that she wanted him to marry, and the young officer was flirting with the young woman. Anna's heart was broken, but she backed off, she did not let him see her. Anna gave up her son. She was forbidden to go into that house. She would never see her son again, at least until he became a man. She lost her honor, her respectability, and I do not know if she would have had enough money to live on when the young officer was gone.
As the train pulled out, Anna was so depressed she threw herself under the train and killed herself. Anna gave up everything for romantic love, and then had to watch her lover ride off to war amidst the music and the waves and the adoring looks of other women, and he pursued a life without her. This intensely selfish, immature, inexperienced young man seduced a woman who was, obviously, ill equipped to resist him, and he utterly destroyed her.
Brethren, we must guard against the seducer. In our country, in this hour, men are being seduced also. I say the same thing to the men, to leave your wife because you think she is not romantic enough, or because you might not be thrilled with your sex life, brethren, that is not a reason to get a divorce. If your wife is faithful to you, if she is honest, if she is raising your children in a Godly manner, you stick it out and fight. You pray to the Lord to enhance your marriage in the areas where you believe the relationship to be deficient but, brethren, you do not go breaking up a marriage for some silly little wanderlust like romantic love.
To do such a thing is a sign of spiritual weakness, and we must resist all spiritual weakness in our fallen soul, because the Deceiver is manifesting in great power in this nation in this hour, and he is out two destroy the family, the institution that God ordained. He is destroying the family, and he is destroying the nation. Let us get our values straight. Let us return to a sacrificial lifestyle. Work to build the family. Be a giver, do not be a taker. Look to love your mate, do not look to be loved. If you both look to bless the other, surely you will both be blessed. Selfishness brings nothing but destruction.
I am all for romantic love within the parameters of marriage. I will say it one more time. If you fall madly in love with a man, sister, and you marry him, and that love lasts for forty years, God bless you, but if it fades, as it so often does, you will be left with your children and home life and everything that you built therein. But if you choose to run off to an illegitimate situation outside of the parameters described by God, you can reap nothing but destruction, disaster and shame.
Lay hold of the truth, brethren, the truth of God's plan to live a Godly, holy life, and let us start to stamp out the tendency towards self-satisfaction and self-gratification that is in this nation today. It can do nothing for us, but can utterly destroy us off of the face of the earth, and will destroy our children and all of our descendants thereafter. We must return to a moral righteousness, a moral strength, and a life in the Spirit of God, and all these things shall be added unto you. When you seek after them yourself, when you chase after them, when you pursue after them, when you lust after them, brethren, you have started on a path that will spiral downward unto your destruction. Glory to God.