Breaking The Chains Of Spiritual Paralysis (Sermon)


It was almost 18 years ago that I had my terrible accident that brought me literally to my knees.  I was in the New York Hospital emergency room on 71st Street close to death, paralyzed on my right side, and awaiting emergency surgery, when, all of a sudden, a young stranger, another patient in the hospital, saw me in my distress and led me to Jesus to be healed–first of my spiritual need and then of my temporal and physical needs.

For the next six months I experienced life as a paralytic.  I could not walk, and, at one point, was in danger of having my right leg amputated because of ongoing infections.  I was at the mercy of my doctors and nurses for a full month of intensive care in the hospital, and then, for the next five months, the van drivers, physical therapists, friends, and my family, without whom, I might never have recovered.   I had never been so dependent in my adult life, but it was the fact that Jesus was in my life that I could receive the healing of my spirit, mind, and body. It was as if Jesus said to me, “Son, your sins are forgiven. Take up your mat and go home.” And I did! Hallelujah!

Sadly, one of my ongoing challenges since those days of recovery is a profound fear of paralysis; of not being able to physically move, of being trapped in my body, but still being able to think and see the world around me.  In fact, I had that sense of dread even last night as I was preparing for sleep.  I prayed to Jesus to deliver me and He did once again.  Nevertheless, I have developed a deep-seated fear of paralysis and I now have mild form of claustrophobia.  In some ways I have an emotional paralysis, that without Jesus healing me of my spiritual paralysis I would not be able to deal with at all.   Do you feel that you are sometimes emotionally, mentally, or relationally paralyzed?  I am sure many of you do.

You see, we are all completely spiritually paralyzed before we are set free by Jesus. The Bible says that we are dead in our trespasses, and that we need to have our spirits revived to live a life that is meaningful and connected to the life-giving grace of God.  And until we are healed of our spiritual paralysis, and only then, can we really deal with all the other paralyses we may have.

Now, physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual paralysis are not modern phenomena.  These issues are often addressed in Scripture, and I believe those myriad stories are there to help us to see our need for Christ and His healing touch. Let’s look at the story of “The Healing of the Paralytic” in

Mark 2:1-12

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Prayer of Illumination

Four Life Altering Effects Occur When We Realize Our True Fallen Spiritual Condition

  1. Two weeks ago at our Christian Day Camp on the closing day I preached the Gospel to my group of twelve 12 year old boys.  I shouted in my Army voice:  “I have some Good News for you today.” The boys and the counselors were all soon rapt in an attentive stare.
    1. I shouted to the boys with great dramatic effect, “I have some good news!  You are all dreadful sinners!”  I let those words linger in the air.  The boys looked perplexed as they were used to my calmer voice in the previous bible study sessions.  One boy bravely said, “Pastor Paul, that’s not good news.”
    2. Ignoring him, I then shouted, “And though you may not think you are a dreadful sinner, because you think you’re better than the kid next to you, you are indeed a dreadful sinner!  And you are going to live in an eternity separated from God in hell because of even one sin!”  Again, I stopped in a long rest.  The boys were even more confused and scared, and the boy who spoke before said, “Pastor Paul, that’s not good news.”  “Yeah, I know,” I said more gently; “But the Good News is that God has made a way for you in Jesus.  He has a gift for you of eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and a new way of living.  That is good news. Jesus is the good news.”
    3. A few minutes later, after telling them the good news of salvation in Christ, four of the twelve boys committed their lives to Christ. Amen!
    4. You see, there are four life altering effects which occur when we come to realize the truth of our fallen spiritual condition.
  2. First, we realize that sin is the disease that causes our spiritual paralysis; it is not the world, our upbringing, our poverty, our lack of education or lack of opportunity. It is our sinful condition.
  3. Second, we intrinsically understand that sin must be dealt with before we can truly be healed of physical, emotional, or relational paralysis.  The spiritual is the connection to the rest of who we are.  As John Stott said, we are not a body with a soul, we are soul wrapped up in a body.
  4. Third, we see that sin can only be forgiven by God!  We cannot earn our way to God.  We cannot offset our bad deeds by good deeds.  We need divine pardon.
  5. And, fourth, we know that because Jesus forgives sin He must be God.
  6. Isn’t it amazing that the Pharisees understood number 3, but couldn’t put it together, after Jesus healed the paralytic, that Jesus was indeed God in the flesh.
  7. All of Jesus preaching, all of his teaching, all of his miracles, and all of his actions point to the reality of Him being the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, the Savior, the King of the Universe, God in the flesh! God incarnate!
  8. So, Jesus is the only one who can set us free and break the chains of all our paralyses.
  9. When Jesus began His ministry, He proclaimed that the “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed…” (Luke 4:18).  Jesus came to release the oppressed of the chains of sin and bondage in their lives!
  10. And that’s why Jesus can say, “I have come that they might have life and life in the full” (John 10:10).  Freedom in Christ!  Freedom in Jesus!

Three Steps For You To Move Forward In Receiving A Healing Touch From Jesus

  1. First, Look Beyond Your Physical Needs.
    1. There is way too much focus on our physical and temporal needs.  I rue the day when the government allowed pharmaceuticals to advertise on TV.  Now, I can’t watch a commercial anymore without thinking I need that drug!  We are being convinced by the world that the most important part of life is our physical health.
    2. You know I am missing a good portion of my right upper leg.  You wouldn’t notice it now, but later when I get to the end of the day I begin to limp.  I could cry out to Jesus to heal me, to restore the lost muscle tissue, to revive the dead nerve cells.  But if I were to do that I would lose sight of the fact that Jesus has already healed me.  I am already on my way to wholeness.  I don’t need to have my muscle tissue back in this life; I am going to get it back in the life to come.
    3. Jesus warned us, “What profits a man who gets all he wants in this life, but loses his soul in the process.”
    4.  We focus way too much on the temporal.  And the reason we do so is because the temporal is so obvious; it’s always front and center; it’s always in our face.  But all our temporal needs point to a greater need, to our eternal need.
    5. Years ago as I was ministering at the altar a large man came to ask for healing.  He said he had terrible emphysema.  As a good altar minister I asked him gently if the emphysema was genetic.  No, he said he was a smoker for the past 40 years and couldn’t break the habit.  I said I understood, having smoked addictively for 15 years.  I asked him if his parents smoked and he said they did. “So, that’s why you started smoking.”  “No,” he said, “I started smoking because everyone was smoking and since my parents didn’t love me I wanted to be accepted by the kids around me. And I have been smoking ever since.”  I looked deeply into his eyes and said, “So, you don’t really need to be healed of emphysema do you?  You need to know that you are loved.  God does love you, you know.  He sent His only Son to die for you.  Imagine that, a Father who gave His Son up for you so that you could be accepted and truly loved.  Your earthly father may have shown you no love, but your heavenly Father loves you so much that He died for you.”  The man fell to his knees and wept as the healing began.
    6. Secondly, we all need to go to the only one who can heal us: Jesus the Messiah.  Don’t bring them to me to heal them.  I can’t do it.  I will only point them to Jesus.  And you can do that for yourself.  “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved!”
    7. Thirdly, surround yourself with friends who can be there to help you in your time of need. Imagine how grateful that paralytic was that he had such good friends.
      1. My wife Martha told me the story of growing up in her house, where they had unreliable means of getting to church.  Her mother would tell her to call someone up from the church to pick her up. She had no problem asking for help to get to and from church. She had no problem depending on the help of others to be brought to Jesus.  She was part of a community.
      2. We must move beyond our American prideful attitude that we can do life on our own.  We were built for relationship with God and for community with other believers.
      3. The paralytic had friends who cared about him enough to intercede for him, to break through the roof of a stranger’s home to get him the help he needed.
      4. The paralytic’s friends were undoubtedly part of the household of God.  They were part of a community that cared for one another. They were the people of God.
      5. Listen, you cannot be a Christian without being a member of the Church, the Body of Christ, the People of God.  If you want to be freed from the various paralyses of life, then you need to be connected to Jesus, who is the head of the church, and that means to be an active, participating member of the Body of Christ.  You cannot be a lone ranger Christian, it doesn’t exist.  There is no salvation outside of the Church!

Three Steps For You To Help Others Break Their Chains Of Spiritual Paralysis

  1. After you have come to understand your own freedom in Christ, you are immediately called to help others break their chains of spiritual paralysis.
  2. A few weeks ago a book came out called “I Am Second.” I haven’t read it but apparently some very egotistical and self-focused individual came to understand that God was more important, more beautiful and more deserving of his attention than he was.
  3. At our Christian Day we started each morning having the campers and the staff repeat the phrase “I Am Third!” God is first, you are second, and I am third.  Say it with me, “I am third!”  Jesus, Others, then Me!
  4. Immediately after having had our spiritual paralysis dealt with, the chains broken, we become missionaries for Christ.  We forget ourselves and live in Jesus who is seeking that one lost sheep.
  5. [STEP ONE] So we must bring the spiritually paralyzed to Jesus!
    1. Now, many of you may not know a physically paralyzed person, but you all know emotionally and spiritually paralyzed people.
    2. Your mission is to be a friend to the lost, the spiritually paralyzed.

i.If you have no non-Christian friends you have isolated yourself from the world.

ii.The adjustment you must make is to put yourself more into the world, to increase the number of friends who still do not know Jesus.  The Bible says to be not of the world, but be in the world to lead them to Christ.

  1. [STEP TWO] Next you can help them break through the barriers that are keeping them from Jesus.
    1. Many people put up smokescreens, walls they have created to keep others out.
    2. We are called to break through those walls so they can see their real need, their eternal spiritual needs.
  2. [STEP THREE] Finally, you need to believe for your friends for their salvation.
    1. We must have faith for our lost friends and family.  We must believe that God is going to heal them and save them.
    2. Look again at our memory verse, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Amazing!  Jesus saw the faith of the friends, not the faith of the paralyzed man, and Jesus, moved with compassion, forgave the sins of the sick man.
    3. Believe for your unsaved family and friends, and, if you really are believing for them, you will bring them to Jesus.


  1. Jesus is the only One who can break the chains of spiritual paralysis.   Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father, except by Me!
  2. But if you are still dealing with your own issues, go to Jesus so you can be set free, and then be enabled to go to others.
  3. Invitation to come forward for anointing with oil and prayers of deliverance from spiritual, emotional, relational, or physical paralysis.  (Healing Time)

© Paul Dordal, 2012


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