Tending the Garden
At creation, humans were placed in an enclosed garden and were given dominion of the earth and the assignment of tending the garden. There was at this point no barrier between YHVH and those whom He created in His image and likeness, so it is fair to assume that there was communication between YHVH and Adam and Eve. YHVH is a God of relationship. Among other things, perhaps YHVH was giving advice and guidance on how best to tend their garden home. After all, He is the Creator of all things and knows how everything best functions.
Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we are assigned another task, an additional garden to be tended, the garden of our souls. When we are born again, our spirit is perfect and sealed (John 3:6, Eph 4:30, 1 Pet 1:23), but the soul and body remain unchanged and must be renewed or improved by our deliberate cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that our bodies will be resurrected and transformed (1 Cor 15:50, 53), but what about our souls? Our souls are made up of mind, will and emotions. It is here that we must do our greatest work of yielding to the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:2, Eph 4:22-23, Col 3:1-3). Just as Satan entered the Garden of Eden with evil intent and deceit, so he sends his workers to enter the garden of our souls to wreak havoc of all sorts, especially through deceit.
Just as Adam and Eve had dominion (management) of the Garden of Eden and therefore could have ousted the intruder, hasatan, we have dominion of our souls and can yield ground either to YHVH or to His enemy. We must oust the enemy in every part of our soul garden so that YHVH is welcome to reside there with us (Rev 3:20).
The Holy Spirit walks with us each day to provide assistance. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, it is our job to remove the weeds of guilt, doubt, fear, envy, selfishness, pride, and strife. It is in these areas that we “do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do.” (Rom 7:19). We must also seek the Holy Spirit to help us identify and heal soul wounds which are deep emotional pains and injuries. It is in these areas that the enemy can sow new seeds by planting new lies.
We cannot be totally possessed by the devil when we are born again for there is at least one part of us already sealed and off limits. However, in areas of our soul where we have built false strongholds, we have created a place to welcome and harbor demons. What is a false stronghold? It is any attitude or pattern of behavior where we are still in charge or where we rely on anything or anyone other than YHVH to help us. Strongholds are built of lies and misconceptions and are places of darkness within the soul. Demons are active in encouraging us to erect strongholds, for this is a place where they can live and get a solid foothold in their work of stealing, killing and destroying (John 10:10).
If demons have infiltrated and taken possession of part of our gardens, they must be removed through deliverance. Many people avoid this step because of fear of the unknown. Also, many have seen the drama that can be involved in deliverance. It doesn’t have to be that way. Deliverance under the guidance of the Holy Spirit can be quiet, civilized and completed in a very short time. It is our duty to remove the enemy from our garden. Afternward, it is crucial that we identify and tear down the false strongholds that we have built. Thus we destroy any “homes” for the enemy and can invite the Holy Spirit to move into those areas. It is in dying to ourselves and yielding control to YHVH in every aspect of our mind, will and emotions that our soul gardens will flourish and prosper.
When we are tempted to neglect the tasks involved in tending our garden, we would be wise to read and meditate on the following Scriptures:
So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions (Matt 7:19-20)
Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire (Matt 3:10).
Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28).
Let us take seriously the tending of our soul gardens and yield good fruit so that our Father may be glorified.