The Two Battles We Face in Life

saint-georgeLast week, I wrote about the basic truths, or keys, of spiritual warfare. If you didn’t see it, you can read it here. Today I want to expand upon these truths so that we can learn not only how to get free, but also, how to stay free. These are the two battles we must deal with throughout our lives – getting free from bondage, and staying free. Then we can walk in victory and the abundant life Jesus died to give us. Both battles require several things: 1) we must first recognize our need, 2) we must be willing to get help from trusted friends and/or leaders, 3) we must realize that we have to do things differently than we did before, and 4) we must be determined to persevere and not give up. Getting and staying free requires work, but if we are willing to do our part, God will always be faithful to help us in our weakness.

In my twenty plus years of ministering to people in bondage, I have often seen those who come for ministry expecting a quick fix. Our human nature, or flesh, wants to get out of pain as quickly and easily as possible. Unfortunately, God didn’t set it up to work that way. He works through process, and we must learn what that process looks like and how to cooperate with Him in it. The whole point of the process is to conform us into the image of Christ. That is always His will for everyone. This is why it’s impossible to by pass or cut short the process; He simply won’t allow it. He is fully committed to completing the good work He began in us. Therefore, it would be to our benefit to learn to cooperate with Him.

The greatest challenge in these battles, I have found, both in my own life, and in the lives of those I’ve ministered to, is changing the way we think. If we don’t learn to do this, we will never get free. Jesus’ predominant message when He walked the earth was “Repent!” To repent means, to change the way we think. Most, if not all of our problems, stem from this one issue. We do not think the way that God thinks. (Is. 55:8-9) We are not even close! To truly repent, we must learn to renew our minds.

There are three areas we need to renew our minds in – 1) our thoughts about God, 2) our thoughts about ourselves, and 3) our thoughts about others. This goes along with our ability, (by God’s grace), to fulfill the greatest commandment – to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. When we renew our minds to the truth of who God is, we will see ourselves as He sees us, and we will see others as He sees them. This must happen before we can love anyone. To know God is to love Him; to love God, is to love ourselves the way that He does, which then enables us to love others as He does.

Think about how different the Church would be if we all had our minds renewed! This is precisely why the enemy’s greatest weapon against us is deception. For when our thinking is distorted by lies, we are unable to love God, ourselves, or anyone else. Love is our greatest weapon;  without love, as Paul said, we are nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2) Having an unrenewed mind is like looking through a window that is severely cracked. Everything on the outside looks skewed and awry; we cannot see anything clearly. This is our hardest and most important battle, and God won’t do it for us. If we are willing to put forth the effort, He will certainly help us!

One of the most effective ways I’ve found to renew the mind is simple, but it does require time, effort, and patience. First, we must recognize and break agreement with the lies that we have believed, and receive the truth, as God reveals them to us. We must meditate on the truths every day for 30 – 60 days, until they become real in our heart, not just in our head. Head knowledge will never change us; it must be experiential, revelation knowledge that Holy Spirit reveals to our spirit. This comes from daily meditation. Meditation is simply thinking about, pondering, contemplating, “chewing on,” praying over, repeating the truths until they become second nature to us. It is similar to a cow chewing on its cud. The cow eats, regurgitates, and chews its food several times before finally digesting it. We must do this mentally, which requires disciplining and training our minds, literally.

We can do this as part of our quiet time each day, picking a Scripture verse, and journaling our thoughts and what God reveals to us. I won’t go into detail here about how to do that, but if you want to know more, you can read an article I wrote about this here. Learning to renew our minds is one part of the battle to get free. It is also a life-long habit we must practice to win the battle to stay free. It is God’s command to us (Rom. 12:2), and He never commands us to do anything He doesn’t give us the grace to do. We can do all things through His strength!

 

 

 

 

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Finding Freedom from the Fear of Man

imagesProverbs 29:25 says, Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”  The word “fear” literally means, fear; extreme anxiety; anxious care; quaking or trembling. The fear of man is also known as the fear of what people think. When we fear man, we fear what others think, say or believe about us. We fear their judgment and rejection. We fear upsetting or offending them. The fear of man is basically a spirit of control that we empower by believing its lies.

The above verse confirms this by saying this fear “will prove to be a snare.” The word “snare” means a noose or snare used for trapping animals; a hook for the nose; a trap. When we give place to the fear of man, we become ensnared, trapped and in bondage to this controlling spirit. It manifests itself through insecurity, intimidation, manipulation, cowardice, rejection, and potentially paralyzing fear when dealing with others. We give other people the power to control what we say, do, feel, think and believe. When we fear people, we become people pleasers. But we cannot please people and God at the same time. Paul made this clear in Galations 1:10, Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” 

The good news is, that like every other form of bondage, God has made it possible to get free from people pleasing and the fear of man. It isn’t by rebuking these spirits or doing deliverance, though those may be of some benefit. Freedom will come when we receive the revelation of our true identity in Christ. When we become confident and secure in His love and affirmation, we no longer look to people to meet those needs. The truth of God’s love and passion for us as His beloved sons and daughters will set us free from the enemy’s lies. As Solomon so wisely put it, our trust in the Lord will keep us safe from the fear of man.

Our trust, or faith, in His goodness and grace toward us will give us the assurance we need, and cause us to rejoice in what He says is true of us. His word, His love, His desire, and His many promises, instill the confidence in our hearts that we all need and long for. Truthfully, no matter what we do, or don’t do, say, or don’t say, people are going to believe what they want, whether it is true or not. We cannot control that, nor should we let them control us by giving them power over us. God, who is Truth, knows the ultimate, perfect truth about us. He has seen us at our very worst, and still, He chose us anyway! Unlike people who are fickle and may love us one minute and hate us the next, His opinion of us never changes. He is always with us and for us and really, in light of that, nothing else matters!

 

The Liberating Power of Truth

truthbreakchainsIn a society where almost anything goes, truth is becoming increasingly offensive. Only the truth seekers are willing to embrace truth, even when it hurts, as it often does. Paul foretold of this time in Romans 1:18-32. In this sobering passage, he states that suppression of the truth leads to utter depravity and wickedness of every kind. In other words, ignoring or refusing to accept truth leads to demonic bondage and ultimately, destruction.

In stark contrast, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) The teaching He referred to was His word. He is the word made flesh. He is the way, the truth and the life. Truth is not a set of rules or a standard of morality, it is a Person. This should help those of us who are truth seekers to better understand why the rejection of truth has become an epidemic. Jesus and His disciples were also rejected, and He told us the world hated Him and would therefore hate us as well. 

Already we are seeing increased hostility directed against those who are bold enough to speak the truth, especially in a public forum. I believe this animosity will become greater and even more violent in the coming days. As believers and truth seekers, we must prepare our hearts, our spirits and souls, for the troubles many will face. We must know what, and who we believe, and why. We must know God’s word and His truth, for He is the Rock upon which we stand through the storms. We cannot look to our pastors, spouses, friends or leaders to be there to help us. We have the greatest Helper – Holy Spirit. He has promised to never leave us and to give us the words to say when we are confronted by opposition.

Holy Spirit can remind us of the things Jesus said, but He cannot renew our minds, or read and meditate upon Scripture for us. That is our part and only we can do it. Jesus forewarned His disciples of His impending death and resurrection. He did this, not to frighten them, but to inform them so they could prepare, as much as they knew how, to face those challenges. May the Scriptures I’ve mentioned here, along with many others, do the same for us. May God give us the grace to seek to know, live, and speak the truth every day of our lives. He will be faithful to His promise that those who seek, will indeed find what they are looking for.  As we choose to love the truth, we will have nothing to fear.