Find The Root Cause

I have long appreciated the work of Bill Gothard. Each time I've attended his seminar, I've received valuable insight. Perhaps too much knowledge has been heaped upon me because I don't know what principles to use when I minister. 

The first thing he taught, in the seminar I first attended, was the difference between surface problems and root causes. How true! Seldom does the surface problem (what is visible to others) correspond to the root problem. In ministry, if it is to have lasting value, the root cause of the problem must be discovered and removed. 

It's possible to discover the root cause of a problem through a number of different methods. Usually a great deal of training is necessary. I've had this training but I prefer to allow the Holy Spirit to tell me the root cause of problems. 

Recently, while teaching, I pointed out that if someone was sick it might be foolish to pray for them to get well. Immediate response followed my statement. "Why?" they asked. Too often, we pray for someone to get well and they get well only to become sick again. This happens when we don't deal with the root cause and happens when we don't find out what God is doing before we act. 

Dr. Edgar Jackson taught a seminar at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary about this very same thing.  He gave a number of illustrations and I will relate two. 

A man in a Chicago hospital was seriously ill with heart problems. So ill, in fact, his doctor believed he would die that very night. At eleven o'clock, the doctor visited this patient and while there, the man began to talk. Actually, he began to confess sin he had committed. He was especially distraught over an adulterous affair. The doctor just listened. The man just confessed. The patient's health returned in a matter of days. Un-confessed sin was his root cause, not a physical problem. 

Another man, an elderly Jew, lay in a New York hospital ward. Cancer had so eaten him that the tumor had exposed itself outside the skin. A child of twelve visited the hospital and asked if her grandfather was there. She didn't know his name, he was just grandpa. A nurse walked her through the wards and in the last one she found her grandpa, the elderly Jewish man. He had been rejected by his son as a burden and in the heat of argument had moved out of his son's home. Soon, the cancer appeared but still he would not call his son. The little girl got her father and grandfather together and all was made well. Forgiveness was extended and received by each. In less than a week the man went to live with his son again, completely healed of cancer. 

The medicine of forgiveness and confession works in the lives of Jew and Greek, lost or saved. But you must know what the root cause is in order to give the right medicine. 

On the particular night I was teaching this subject, God dramatically illustrated this principle. When I finished teaching I had not received any direction from the Holy Spirit for ministry except to minister to the Lord through praise. Often it is while ministering to the Lord that I receive direction for ministry to people. 

As we sang, I looked at each person but only one person was to receive ministry. As I looked, I saw her sadness. There was darkness about her. I knew her to be a person who loved the Lord, walking in His fullness. Yet, the darkness was very apparent to my spiritual eye. "Lord, what is the problem?" I asked. 

God reminded me of her smoking problem and said that tonight someone would say this was the area which needed prayer. Smoking was not the problem. He said her problem was a non-acceptance of herself as His child; that she still felt bound by the circumstances of her ancestry, the words they had spoken about her, and her own un-forgiveness toward them. He told me to ask her if God had told her to be prayed for. She responded that during the praise she felt God telling her to be ministered to that night. 

We, the entire group, began to minister to her. I first asked the Holy Spirit to tell us what to pray for and how to pray. I already knew, but part of my responsibility was to teach others to minister. The first thing stated was her smoking. A second person said they sensed darkness about her. A few other things were suggested. Finally, the one who had spoken first talked of her family and how she had been put down by them. I informed the group that this would be the direction of our ministry and prayer. 

Again, I prayed that the Holy Spirit would minister to her and through us. I laid my hand on her back and then stepped away. I saw the darkness like steel bands about her body. Very softly, I spoke to the darkness, breaking its power and telling it to come out of her. Almost immediately she began to groan and the demonization became apparent to all. It has been my experience that you don't have to talk to demons to get rid of their affliction. Simply tell them to be gone. Also get rid of their hold on the person's life. 

We continued to pray and I continued to softly command these afflicting spirits to come out. I did not sense any progress taking place, so I instructed the young lady to open her eyes. Finally, she did and as I looked into her eyes, the demonic struggle was apparent. I told her to forgive her family, not only the ones who had spoken against her but her entire family, generation upon generation. She spoke out loud, forgiving them and asking God to forgive her. In the same moment, she sighed and the demonization was gone. She was weak. She was empty. The root cause had been removed and she experienced freedom. We were half way home in ministering to this one loved by God. This is important! Don't ever leave a house empty. She later told us that during this portion of ministry she heard voices telling her not to forgive those people because she knew what would happen. They never did tell her what would happen. 

During the next portion of ministry I thought I was guiding her into an experience of relationship with our Father, but I was mistaken. As it turned out my voice was very distant to her and she could not hear me clearly. Instead of guiding her, I was relating to the others in the room what was happening to her. 

My prayer was that God would take her into the heavenly throne room, place her upon His lap, and tell her she was His daughter, allowing her to look out at the angels and wonder at her position. Not even an angel could sit in the Father's lap, but she could. She saw herself in this position! She experienced God's love. She walked, about the size of a child in comparison to angels, telling them she was God's daughter. She spoke to angels face to face. 

One person in the room saw a crown appear on her head. Neither I, nor any one else, saw any darkness about her, only light and joy and happiness. 

Guess what? She no longer smokes and has no desire to for it. Smoking was not her problem, but the Holy Spirit told us about the real problem. Now, in biblical terminology what took place? 

When God told us what the root cause was. He demonstrated what I Corinthians 12:8 calls a "word of knowledge." Because of this gift, hours, weeks and even years of analysis can be avoided in discovering root causes. 

A second way the Holy Spirit was manifested was through the gift of discerning of spirits (I Corinthians 12:10). The darkness about the person and later the bands of darkness disclosed the presence of demonization. 

The third way the Holy Spirit was manifested was through the gift of prophecy (I Corinthians 12:10).  When I related what took place in heaven this gift operated. 

Last, but certainly not least, the gift of healing (I Corinthians 12:9) was given to the young lady. She was healed of past hurts because of her confession of un-forgiveness toward her family. This led to her healing of demonic affliction. One small way this healing has demonstrated itself has been her desire to smoke. It has been removed. A precious nugget in ministry is to discover the root cause. 

--Dr. James L. Brittain

Creative Commons License
Everything on this site, unless otherwise credited, belongs to the Barnabas Foundation and is licensed under a
If you have questions about using our material, please contact us.