You wake up suddenly from a disturbing sleep, your heart is pounding, your feeling extremely vulnerable, a whole range of emotions occupy your spirit from fear to anger to hopelessness; what is this horrible and most dreadful event that you are experiencing? Most of us can immediately identify this as the result of a nightmare. Nightmares are those dreams that are condemning in nature and typically keeps one from a restful sleep.
Dreams are a common factor in life. In fact, Psychologists believe not only does everybody dream but that dreaming is necessary as our body’s natural responses to life’s varying circumstances (http://psychcentral.com/lib/9-common-questions-about-dreams-answered/0007820). Scripture even attends to the truth that in the last days [the time near the end of the church age] dreams and visions will be commonplace among both the old men and the young men alike (see Joel 2:28). So, does this mean that God intends for us to have these awful condemning nightmares? Heavens No! Nightmares act in opposition to building up faith and since they are condemning in nature, they are contrary to Scripture and our life in Christ; and continual nightmares can quickly become a bondage or setback to our ultimate purpose and destiny.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)
Nightmares are a tool in the Devil’s arsenal. I do not say that nightmares originate with the Devil, but that merely they can be something that the Devil uses to keep you down and feeling condemned. Nightmares originate with our own evil thoughts, actions, and behaviors and stem from our past, or possibly current, life circumstances. No one has ever had a “good” nightmare filled with goodness, love, and happiness; it wouldn’t be a nightmare then. Nightmare’s are evil and not meant for those who walk “according to the Spirit”.
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23)
How then can we get rid of the nightmares? I believe Ephesians 4:24-32 provides us an answer:
- Have a Right Lifestyle: “and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” As mentioned before, dreams and subsequently nightmares are natural responses to life’s circumstances. Live rightly and you will dream rightly.
- Be Truthful: “Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” Nightmares are usually more truthful with us then we are to ourselves. If we are not truthful to ourselves, then we are likely not truthful with others and therefore in bondage to our own lies. Truth ALWAYS sets us free.
- Don’t go to bed with Anger: “Be angry and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath” Anger will quickly stir up feelings of ill-will towards someone or of their ill-will towards you. Nightmares do not often include love towards others.
- Keep Yourself from Evil: “nor give place to the devil” Parents know that scary movies will give their children nightmares; yet as adults we watch, listen, and observe some of the most horrific and evil stuff that would make our ancestors roll over in their graves and then wonder where that nightmare came from. Hmmmm.
- Keep Yourself Busy: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good” Keeping one’s actions and thoughts occupied, especially on those things that are good or right, will keep himself from turning his thoughts to things of the flesh.
- Be Giving: “that he may have something to give him who has need” Giving has a natural reaction of good feeling attached to it. Going to sleep with the thought of helping someone else is a natural sleep aid.
- Be Encouraging: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Nightmares are in and of themselves negative. A positive and encouraging attitude will lend itself to positive sleep.
- Be Filled with the Spirit: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” Again, nightmares are not for those who walk in the Spirit. The greatest way to grieve the Spirit is to not walk with Him.
- Refrain from Unnecessary Arguments: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, loud quarreling and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice” This should go without explanation.
- Forgiveness: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Remember, Nightmares are condemning in nature. But, because of Christ you are no longer condemned but forgiven. If you have un-forgiveness in your heart towards someone, this may be why a condemning nightmare has attacked you.
God wants us to have dreams and visions. Dreams that will inspire us to greatness and visions that will lead us onward to our destiny. Nightmares are a distraction to the goals set before us. I pray that Body of Christ will begin to walk in greater dreams and visions than ever before and the one thing that can stop the power of our God-given dreams is fear from a nightmare.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Pastor Nathan Strom