Monthly Archives: August 2013

Standing Firm (Part 9)

Watch out for those fiery darts!

What consumes your thinking? What are the issues, dreams, or fantasies running laps like a track star in your head right now? Are they wholesome or destructive, good or evil, productive or worthless? You are the sentry who stands guard at the entrance to your mind. Whatever you allow to squeeze in has your permission to be there. It is your mind after all.

The mind is the battlefield on which spiritual warfare is first waged. It is the first line of defense. Therefore it is very important to learn how to defend it and wage warfare from a mind set on Christ.

The enemy’s favorite tactic is to launch a fiery dart (a thought that opens one up to temptation, elicits a wrong emotion, or spurs a bad idea or action). In ancient warfare, arrows were dipped in boiling pitch and set afire. They were designed to set anything they touched aflame. When a fiery dart hit, the burning tar would splatter, throwing tiny droplets of liquid fire everywhere, creating multiple fires and panic. This is what the devil wants to do in our mind. If he can set it ablaze with a thought, he will simply stand back and watch us burn.

His goal is to entice us to conform (to be pressed into a mold) to the world’s belief system (his own personal system in disguise) rather than God’s. Consequently, he will tempt us with was is exciting, popular, satisfying, or intriguing. He will present good and normal things that are legitimate needs, but his goal is tempt you into satisfying those things illegitimately. Temptation is a trap he presents, but you have to jump in it for it to be successful.

The devil cannot make you do anything. All he can do is pitch the bait and stir up your thought life. He needs a partner to be successful. That is why it is so important to protect your mind. What you spend time things about for long periods you will eventually do.

You cannot stop the thoughts from coming. They are like arrows being shot at you by the enemy. But, you can decide which ones you will allow to cross the threshold and remain. We are to take every thought captive. That is, to stop it at the entrance of our mind and question its value. You would never let a stranger in your home without asking a ton of questions and verifying the information. Don’t allow the strange thoughts the enemy sends knocking entry either.

Shut the doors of your mind and install some screens on your thinking. Look hard at what you allow to enter through your sense gates. If you don’t want Satan to build a vacation resort in your head for him and his demons, then don’t be deceived by those invitations he sends through the mail to your mind. Deal with it like you do junk mail—throw it in the garbage in Jesus name!

Standing Firm (Part 8)

The Battlefield

In spiritual warfare it is essential for every soldier to know and understand the battlefield on which they will be fighting. You must understand the terrain if you want to be victorious. This battlefield is not a desert, on a mountain range, or in a jungle. This battlefield is your mind.

This battlefield is under relentless attack from the devil. It is here he wages his warfare so that he might influence or control (not a great deal of difference between the two) us. He knows that what we think eventually becomes what we do. What we believe we eventually become.

The apostle Paul warns us about this battlefield when he tells us in Ephesians 6:11 to “put on the full armor of God, that you might be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. The word he uses is methodia and it can be translated plans, craftiness, wiles, methods strategies, or schemes. In other words, it is his modus operandi—his M.O. The root of this word is odos and it means “a roadway” (Exodus means the way or road out).

The enemy uses the same M.O. on each of us. His plan is to construct a road way—a highway—into your mind, gain a foothold, develop supply depots, and establish strongholds. He uses the road way to supply and strengthen his strongholds from which he will influence or control your thoughts. These strongholds are nothing more than fortresses of sinful or wrong belief, and as they grow, his ability to control what you think increases.

He is after your mind, not necessarily your brain. Your brain stores information, but your mind is who you are. It is a part of your soul, which is the storehouse house of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and memories. If he can control the mind he wins!

In warfare, if you control an opponent’s head you control the fight. And if all else fails, you cut your opponent’s head off so that he is no longer a threat. That’s not a warm fuzzy, but it is reality and many of God’s sons and daughters are either under the influence of the enemy’s remote mind control or decapitated posing no threat.

The devil attacks through the sense gates (taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell), through the emotion gates (how we feel—our experiences), and the rational gate (what we think). All three of these gates are very vulnerable unless we are very, very careful. They are also incredibly easy to manipulate. That’s why Scripture tells us to flee—to run for our lives when it comes to sin. That’s why we are told to test everything by the standard of truth contained in the Word of God. We cannot trust our emotions and experiences one hundred percent of the time, but we can trust what God tells us in the Bible every time. That’s why the early church was so insistent on clear biblical teaching and practical doctrine. That’s why they were so adamantly against false teachers and teachings.

If a spiritual warrior understands what the Bible teaches then that warrior can defend his or her mind rather easily against a lie. If a spiritual warrior is unfamiliar with Scripture, the mind is a fertile field for manipulation and a lie is easily engrained as truth. Where falsehoods reign the enemy will always rule.

What’s on your mind? What do you think about?  Do you know the terrain of your mind? Are there wilderness or desolate places you refuse to revisit for some reason? If so, don’t be surprised if you when you do look you find an enemy flag flying above a stronghold that has been constructed there. If so, you may be on remote control and not even know it. Or worse…

Standing Firm (Part 7)

The Victory Parade!

Positioning is everything and our position on the battlefield and every other area of the Christian life is in Christ. At the moment of salvation, every believer was placed into Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:4-7 paints this picture of security: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, in order than in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness for us in Christ Jesus” (NASB). Our position is fixed. Therefore we must war from this position to enjoy the victory Christ has already won.

Satan’s war is against us. He rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven with a third of the angelic host that become the demonic forces. He exists only because God allows it, and  God allows it to show his glorious power that is at work in us through our relationship with Jesus. Therefore, the enemy hates us and we are his mortal enemies.

In the Incarnation, God became man. Jesus took on flesh and went to war against Satan, not as God, but as a man filled with the Holy Spirit, living in total obedience to God. 1 John tells us that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. The Gospels use the language of a stronger man (Jesus) binding the strong man (Satan) and pillaging his house. Jesus came to show that Satan and his demonic forces could be defeated by a man through the power of the Holy Spirit in simple obedience to God. Jesus defeated him. He devastated and destroyed the Devil’s power. In fact, Paul puts it this way in Colossians 2:15: “When He (Jesus) had disarmed the rulers and the authorities, he made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through him.”

This amazing picture is drawn from the imagery and language of a military parade that could have been seen in Paul’s day. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he disarmed or shook the enemy off like someone taking off a garment, the same power he had battled against from his birth to his death on the cross. He stripped the enemy of his power and made a public spectacle of him. Jesus exposed the enemy like a conquering king stripping his vanquished enemies, shackling them in chains, and dragging them through the streets of his capital city in a triumphal procession as trophies of war. Jesus also took the keys of death and the grave. He plundered his house and set the captives free. This my friend is total victory.

And Ephesians 2:4-7 tells us we have been made alive with Jesus, raised up with Jesus, and seated with Jesus in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Where Jesus is we are. What Jesus has accomplished we share in. Jesus has defeated the devil and our position in Christ is a position of victory.

The key to victory is position and if we will remain seated in the heavenlies in Christ we will win every battle. The enemy wants us to come down because he cannot come up. Satan is defeated—Jesus defeated him! That means he is defeated yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Therefore fellow warrior, stand firm! Or perhaps an even more biblical metaphor might be, “Stay seated in Christ!”

Standing Firm (Part 6)

The lie of dualism!

The key to victory is position. Real estate and business people would translate this in mantra you’ve probably heard: location—location—location. Position and location are synonymous. In spiritual warfare it means understanding your position with regard to the enemy. Our position as believers is “in Christ.” Paul tells very clearly in Ephesians 6:10 to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Our position is in the Lord.

Too often the devil is given far more credit than he deserves. He has moved from what the Bible calls a rebel and a defeated foe to an almost undefeatable foe. In fact, in some circles, he has almost achieved the level of deity, that is, his power is on par with God’s. In other words, there’s a battle going on in the universe between the forces of good and evil, and who knows which way it will go. Only time will tell!

This is a heretical belief and it has a name—dualism. The devil is the author of this system of course. Anything he can do to elevate his position while creating uncertainty and fear in us is the signature of his calling card. Dualism teaches that there are two equal and opposite principles or parts, i.e. the battle of good versus evil or God versus the devil. Almost every culture and religious system is polluted with this pretentious propaganda. Judaism and Christianity alone guard the garrison of veracity when it comes to truth and reality. This philosophy is the incubator for the yin and the yang of belief of the East and the Jedi’s and Dark Side of Lucas’s Star Wars.

But the Bible does not teach that God and Satan are equal and opposing forces. Quite the contrary, the Bible teaches that God is eternal and sovereign, while the devil is a created being, a former member of the cherubim class of angelic beings created by God. In fact, God created everything, which gives him absolute authority and complete power. There is no one like God. He is omniscient (knowing all). He is omnipresent (being everywhere present at the same time). He is omnipotent (all powerful). The devil possesses none of these characteristics. He is limited in knowledge, travel, and power. Plus, he is living on borrowed time. If you doubt that read the end of the Book (Revelation 20:10).

This contest, which is really no contest at all, is really infinite versus finite—and with those odds infinite always wins 100% of the time hands down. Yet the devil wants you to believe he is on equal footing and has a 50-50 chance. He wants you to believe his armies are assaulting God’s armies and on the verge of a possible victory. He wants you to believe his power is equal or almost equal with God’s. That’s how he creates fear, doubt, and uncertainty in us. And—where fear and doubt live, faith cannot reign.

Dualism, along with centuries of superstitions and folk religion’s beliefs, tends to create a devil that is far more powerful than reality. Let me put it in the simplest terms possible—God has no enemy who is equal to him. He has no enemy who threatens him. God stands alone. To be a credible enemy one must possess the ability to be a threat and Satan certainly does not. One word from God and he would cease to exist.

You cannot compare God and the devil in the same sentence God alone is God. He stands alone and everything else in this creation whether visible or invisible, physical or spiritual bends its knee and bows its head before him as King of kings and Lord of lords.

And. . .the best part of this story—we are God’s kids. We are in Christ. It pays to know the position you hold.