Keys of Spiritual Warfare

26033-thinkstockphotos-100176797-1200w-tnMy first introduction to the subject of spiritual warfare was around 1990. The church we were members of at the time held a conference called Resolving Spiritual Conflicts. Little did I know at the time that God would use that seminar to open my eyes to the reality of the spirit world, and the forces of darkness that occupy it. Because I didn’t grow up in church, I had no prior understanding of these things whatsoever.

Over the next several years, my understanding grew as I studied and read books on the subject, went through several phases of inner healing and deliverance, taught and ministered to women in addiction recovery, in church, in support groups, went through extensive training, and used all of this in my own ministry for over 10 years. It certainly wasn’t something I would have chosen to do, but it was part of God’s assignment for me and He gave me the grace I needed. Below are a few nuggets that may be helpful for those who haven’t gone down this same road. Far too many believers are still bound up, including pastors and leaders, and need to be free to be effective witnesses for the Kingdom.

Since the beginning, the enemy’s strategy against man has been to call into question God’s Word and His nature. This is clearly seen in his conversation with Adam and Eve in the Garden. In Genesis 3:1-5, the enemy questions what God said, and then lies about why He said it, implying that 1) He didn’t really mean what He said, and 2) He is trying to keep something from you. In other words, God’s Word can’t be trusted and He is stingy and withholding good things. We know our ancestors believed the lie, and to this day, many still believe these same lies. I was once one of them.

Satan’s greatest weapon against us is deception, for the nature of deception is that you don’t know you are deceived. In order to get free from deception, you must trust someone else (who is telling you that you’re deceived), more than you trust yourself. Not many are willing to do that. But there is another weapon he used before they got to the stage of deception, and that is temptation. We see this in verse 6 – “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Here, we see the three most common ways the enemy tempts us, 1) the lust of the eyes, 2) the lust of the flesh, and 3) the pride of life. This same strategy is seen in Jesus’ encounter during His forty day fast in the desert. It is also mentioned in 1 John 2:16. If we can learn to recognize these three types of temptation, we can resist them, and he has to flee. (James 4:7)

The third weapon the enemy uses against us is accusation, for his name means “accuser” (see Rev. 12:9). He is said to accuse God’s people day and night, before God’s throne. (Rev. 12:10) Unfortunately, he also works through God’s people to accuse each other. He first deceives us into believing that other Christians are the enemy, then uses us as his pawns to bring strife and division to the body through false accusations. We must learn to discern and confront this in ourselves if we are to bring in the great harvest of souls God is longing for!

Not only does he continually attempt to stir up dissension in the body, but also in our relationship with God. As stated earlier, he deceives us into believing lies about the nature of our heavenly Father. He looks for every opportunity, especially in our sufferings and trials, to malign His character. If we believe God is angry, disappointed, fed up or disgusted with us, or that we’ve sinned one too many times, we will not draw near to Him. If we believe God judges us when we sin, that He withholds from us because He is stingy, that He is displeased with us in our weakness and immaturity, we will not learn to trust Him. If we believe we must adhere to a set of rules, perform our perceived religious duties, such as fasting, prayer, worship, etc., or act super spiritual all the time, we will become religious and self-righteous, like the leaders in Jesus’ day.

The devil will even twist Scripture to achieve his purposes, just as he tried with Jesus in the wilderness. He disguises himself as an angel of light, often in the form of a “prophet” or “teacher,” or other leader that will lead us astray. He is able to perform false signs and wonders, deceiving many who flock to see such things. One key to discerning true supernatural activity, prophetic words, dreams, visions, or other revelations is this – does it lead you to worship Jesus in a deeper way, or does it cause you to follow after man?  Does it cause you to go harder after God, or lead you to pursue greater knowledge? We must use wisdom and discernment to recognize the difference.

There is much more that can be said, but these are basic truths, keys to help you get free and stay free from the bondage of the enemy. May the Lord continue to teach us His ways, so that we can walk in truth and the freedom He paid such a high price to give us!

 

 

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The Single, Most Important Thing in Our Lives

107023_sun_burst1The nature of God is a topic I keep coming back to again and again. Over my years of knowing Him, He is constantly revealing more of Himself to me, and to all who are searching for a greater understanding of Him. It is His express will and great desire for us to know Him. It is the very reason He created us, to enter into an intimate relationship with Him. To prove it, He put His Holy Spirit within us in order to reveal Himself to us.

Paul, inspired by His Spirit, knew this and penned this prayer which is one of my favorites, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” This is one prayer that will ALWAYS be answered if prayed in sincerity of heart.

The Spirit reveals Jesus and the Father to us in several ways.

  1. Through His Word – Jesus is the Word made flesh, the exact representation of the Father. We can look at how Jesus lived and responded to those around Him and see the heart of the Father. In fact, if we are taught, or observe some who claim to know Him but treat others harshly, with anger, impatience, manipulation, condemnation, condescension, etc., we can know that they do not truly know Him.
  2. Through His body – Each believer is given a unique facet of God’s glory to reflect to the world, not one of us is the same. When we look for Jesus in His people, we will see a greater measure of who He is.
  3. Experiences – God often encounters us in His manifest presence, where we tangibly feel Him, in our bodies, in our emotions, and in our spirits. David cried out, “My soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Ps. 63:1) Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:17-19, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  To know His love which surpasses knowledge can be translated as, “to know, by experience, this love that surpasses mere head knowledge.”  We may have tons of head knowledge, even from the Scriptures, but it will never take the place of experiential knowledge – we need them both.

Knowing Him requires spending personal, quality time with Him, just as we would do with a friend. You can’t know someone you never spend time with, talking with, and sharing life together with. Therefore, no one can do this for you. No one can develop intimacy in your relationship with Jesus but you. No one can lay hands on you and impart their history with God to you. You must develop your own.

How we view the nature of God is the single, most important thing in our lives. How we see Him and what we believe about Him determines and affects how we relate to Him, to others, and to ourselves.

If we see and/or believe Him to be angry, judgmental, harsh, and exacting, we will be afraid to come close to Him, be unable to fully trust Him, feel we can never measure up or satisfy Him. None of these attitudes will help develop intimacy in our relationship with Him, in fact, it will do the exact opposite, driving a wedge between us and Him.

Likewise, this unbiblical view will cause us to treat others the way we feel He is treating us. We will be harsh, angry, impatient, and judgmental toward others, alienating ourselves from the body we are meant to be a part of. In addition, we will misrepresent Him to others, destroying or greatly damaging our witness for Him.

We can only know our true identity through knowing our Father. The more we know Him, the greater our security in who He has called us to be will become. We will no longer doubt His love for us, nor fear His discipline. We will no longer question His faithfulness or feel He has abandoned us. Instead, we will revel and bloom in knowing and experiencing His great love and passion for us. We will be able to enter into His rest, no longer striving for His acceptance or approval.

Seeking out the nature of God is the greatest adventure of our lives. It will be our endless pursuit throughout eternity, for He is inexhaustible and without limit. In fact, a billion years from now, we will be no closer to reaching the end of Him than we were when we first began. Selah…(pause and calmly think about that)!

 

The Jealous Nature of God

God has many different attributes that make up His character. One that we don’t hear The-Lion-of-Judahor talk about very much is His jealousy. Because we don’t fully know Him as He truly is, we think in terms of human jealousy, which seems to conflict with the other attributes of His nature. Human jealousy is rooted in insecurity, greed, and covetousness, none of which characterize our Lord. The jealousy God feels toward us is much different.

In Exodus 34:14, God says to Moses, Do not worship any other god,for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” He does not only declare His nature as jealous, but even goes so far as to say Jealous is His name! According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, the word, “qanna,” translated as jealous, could also be interpreted to mean “zealous” or filled with righteous zeal. “In man’s relation to God, the act of zeal is more positively viewed as the act of the advancement of God and His glory over against substitutes.” In other words, God is a lover who will tolerate no other lovers (aka idols) in our lives. He means to have us as His very own possession.

This is good and bad news, in a sense. Good, in that He will not leave us alone. He promises to care for our needs and to never forsake us. He has made a way for us to know Him and live with Him forever – that’s good news! The bad news is, if we are determined to live in sin, we will find ourselves in direct opposition to Him. He opposes the proud (those bent and insistent on doing it their way) but gives grace to the humble (those who submit to His leadership). He will do all that is necessary to burn up all that hinders love in us. In actuality, this is good news, too, for it means He will deliver us from every bondage that hinders our relationship with Him, as long as we are willing.

We will see the ultimate consummation of His jealous zeal when He returns for a bride made ready for Him. This depiction is given for us in Revelation 19. At that time, He will return to the earth to judge His enemies, those who war against Him, and those that have persecuted His bride. He will make every wrong thing right as the Righteous Judge and King of all the earth, and justice will fully prevail. His eyes of blazing fire speak of His righteous anger toward those who have worshiped the beast, as well as His passion to deliver His bride once and for all. He will stop at nothing to see to it that His plans and purposes are fulfilled upon the earth – that His kingdom WILL come and His will WILL be done even as it is in heaven! I don’t know about you, but I am glad our God is a jealous, zealous God.