A Fresh Look at Spiritual Warfare

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testingofaithSpiritual warfare is a part of every Christian’s life and an integral part of a balanced relationship with God. It is not some “special revelation” meant for a few especially gifted people. Nor is it a formula or a set of complicated, extra-biblical rituals that resemble role-playing games.

The new Christian is born into the battle. We do not choose the battle but must learn to do battle. Jesus tells us (John 15:18-19) the world hates you because it hated me first and you are not of the world.

Jesus taught us that whatever we ask the Father in Jesus’ name He will give it to us. The name of Jesus is powerful to the believer but it is hated by the unbeliever.  His name is the first line of defense in battle. We are empowered by the Holy Ghost. In the book of Acts, we are taught we shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon us. Power has been given to the believer to cast out devils, heal the sick, even raise the dead. There will be signs and wonders that follow the believers. These signs and wonders do get the world’s attention.

Note those who would seek to gain this power for self-serving reasons apart from the cross are in grave spiritual danger. The power of God cannot be bought or sold. In the book of Acts, the Apostles were given power to lay hands on people, and the Holy Ghost was poured out upon them. Simon, who had been a sorcerer, offered money, thinking he could buy the power of God. Peter rebuked him for this. It is also recorded a certain group of Jews who were exorcists tried to cast out devils in name of Jesus, and the evil spirit answered, “Jesus, I know and Paul I know but who are you?” The man who was possessed by the evil spirit leaped upon them and prevailed against them.

Jesus had some instructions, both warning and encouraging believers in how they must fight to win the battle with our enemy “who goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” He admonished, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and rulers of the darkness , spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Knowing we face a formidable enemy, we need to also know that greater is He that in us than he that is in the world. God would not leave us unprotected, so we are taught how to withstand the attacks of the devil. We are to put on the whole armor of God.
roman soldiers
While we are standing in battle, we are to surround ourselves with truth. The breastplate of protection is His righteousness. Our feet are equipped with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, our shield is faith that will put out the fiery darts of the wicked. The helmet we wear is Salvation. We fight the battle with the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

Jesus demonstrated this example when He was tempted of the devil three times after He had finished fasting for forty days in the wilderness. Each time He was tempted, He responded by quoting the written Word of God.

We will face opposition as we strive to walk with our Lord Jesus. We have to be determined to stand and contend for the faith—while keeping ourselves in the love of God and always looking to the mercy of our Lord Jesus for eternal life. We will receive eternal life after our battles here are won. There are battles ahead, but we are not alone. He has not left us comfortless. God is able to keep us from falling and present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

Dear Father In Heaven, we love you, you are mighty and full of grace and mercy. Please set our hearts on fire for you. We ask you would make us vessels of honor that we could fulfill your will for our lives. We ask you to grant us strength for the battle. Let us be quick to discern the attack of the enemy and remember as we draw near to you the devil must flee. We thank you that because of your obedience unto death the devil is a defeated foe. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen

Bio:
Marsha Graham lives in Kalispell, MT. She is married and has four grown sons. She works full in time as a Claims Processor. Marsha was born again at 14 years old and has never looked back. Her greatest joy has been following Christ and raising her family. For several years she participated in a pro-life group and wrote articles in support of life which were published under the editorial page in the newspaper.
[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true”]New Christians are born into a spiritual war. We do not choose the battle but must learn to fight it.[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis]A Fresh Look @ Spiritual Warfare by Marsha Graham. “We do not choose the battle.”[/tweetthis]

 

Journey to Web Surfer

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I recently shared a testimony that I encourage you to go check out. Here is a preview.

In the spring of 2011, I excitedly began work on the first novel of a new sci-fi series. While still writing the first few chapters, my husband decided to go to a last-minute, Saturday seminar about twenty minutes away from where we lived. I’d been looking forward to a relaxing day at home with him and asked that we skip this one, but he insisted, so off we went, with a device with directions on it in my hand.

We never arrived.

Instead, I “woke up” from strange dreams about five hours later, in the ER, to the face of my worried, devastated husband, with the human version of the cone of shame around my neck and an egg-sized lump on the right front side of my head. It became apparent I’d been in altered state of consciousness and asking the same questions repeatedly: what happened (passenger-side collision, I was the passenger), is the car okay (no, we had to replace it), whether I’d made my deadlines on editing projects I was also working on at the time (yes, the day before the accident).

Big expensive, scary tests followed, with me softly singing “Jesus, Jesus How I trust thee” while still half out of it to self-comfort. Turned out I had a “mild” concussion. I’d hate to taste severe.

When we got me home, I like a total addict was back on my computer within the first twenty-four hours practically, wanting to go right back to work on my passion.

It turned out there was a reason I hadn’t asked about my writing project. My novel had flown totally out of my head. All I had was what little had been down already.

For more see How God Rescued Web Surfer at New Authors Fellowship.

Attacked

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> I am 19 years old and was brought up as a Christian. I’ve sort of back
> slidden away from my faith since I’ve started university and working,
> and I think this has resulted in spiritual attacks. Between one and four
> nights a week, I have bad nightmares and night terrors, sometimes they
> feel like I am physically fighting with a presence. It’s really
> starting to effect me now more frustration than fear as I’m not getting
> good quality sleep. When I wake up from these nightmares I often sense
> a weird feeling in the room and have thoughts in my head such as ‘tell
> someone you are being attacked.’  I believe this is spiritual. Is there
> anything I can do to stop this and get back into my faith?

 

It does sound like you have done something that has painted a target on your
back and that Satan is happily throwing darts at it. One caution, though,
two things in general can draw us into spiritual warfare. One is sin. The
other is serving the Lord and threatening Satan’s kingdom.

In the first case, the recipe is to repent: confess your sin to God, ask him
to forgive you, and stop doing it, trusting God to graciously give you the
strength. Sometimes that’s enough, but sometimes you have to go into the
mode of the second case thereafter. The second case requries putting on the
full armor of God, grabbing your sword (standing firm on God’s word), and
fighting back. Resist in the name of the Lord, while in right relationship
with God and confident of who you are in Christ, and the devil will flee.
The more sin has weakened you, the stronger the enemy’s stronghold in your
life, and the more difficult the fight will be. Keep at it, and you will
eventually get the victory. Only complication would be if the enemy has done
physical damage and God opts not to heal it miraculously. I suspect that
won’t be the case for you, however.

The enemy has attacked me in dreams and while I was at rest on multiple
occassions. Every time I sensed a monster or person attacking me in a dream
was actually a demon, and I rebuked it to its face, telling it to leave in
the name of Jesus, I woke up at once, often with the words on my lips.

“‘Tell someone you are being attacked” sounds like the Holy Spirit. This
means a couple things. One, attacked strongly implies you are still God’s
possession, not the enemy’s possession, though the enemy will try to deceive
you into thinking otherwise to gain power over you. Two, God is fighting to
hold onto you, which is promised in God’s word. God won’t ever leave you or
forsake you, Mia. This is happening because you do have the freedom to leave
God and forsake God. He loves you and doesn’t want to lose you, however. God
will do and allow whatever is necessary to draw you back into relationship
with Him, with one huge exception. He won’t change who He is simply to
please you. A side effect of that is that God never budges one nanometer on
His stances on right and wrong.

God’s stances aren’t popular with the world. In fact, the world condemns God
as hateful. This is ignorant at best. At worst, it is the extreme arrogance
of the pot telling the potter how the potter’s creation should function. Do
you know what it does to the Lord when we are Christ’s and we don’t live
according to what Christ has taught us? Every sin we commit contributes to
the extreme pain of a member of the Trinity bearing our sins and being
alienated from God so that we can be reconciled to God. That is why love for
Christ should instill a desire to obey Christ in us. Love God first, even
when you don’t understand why God said “no” to something. It hurts our
precious Lord and Savior. If we love God, what more of a reason why do we
need?

In Christ,

Andrea Graham

 

“Haters Gonna Hate” or “Seek First the Kingdom”

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Dear Andrea,

Some fellow Christians I know and love have said critical things about Christians having their own “Christianese” language, their own books and movies,  their own methods for finding a spouse, etc. They accuse fellow believers who try to live according to the Word and defy the ways of our secular culture of living in a bubble and can be so harsh and condemning. It is hurtful and confusing when Christians say such things. What should I do?

Yours,

Gentle Reader

Dear Gentle Reader,

Christians having their own Christian culture isn’t wrong. In fact, the Bible says we are a holy nation, citizens of spiritual Israel, and we should live like it. We are called to forsake the culture of the Children of Darkness and walk as Children of the Light. The Word warns us also that the Children of Darkness sometimes falsely claim to be Christians. You can spot such wolves in sheep’s clothing and their disciples by the fact they call themselves  our brothers but openly hate us, lack the fruits of the Spirit, and walk in darkness, that is, they wallow in indisputable, textbook sins without any twinge of conscience.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing have blasphemed the Holy Ghost in their hearts and put themselves beyond redemption.  Don’t regard your friends as that sort unless you’ve heard them blaspheme the Holy Spirit with their own lips  and/or have discerned Holy Spirit confirming it as such souls are beyond help and are abusive to the citizens of Heaven. Once God exposes a wolf, maintain minimum safety clearances unless God personally directs you otherwise.

The Bible tells us to remove known wolves from the local church so they don’t poison the whole body, but we must leave them alone otherwise. Our brothers who’ve been taken captive by the enemy may look a lot like them, and we don’t want to mistakenly shoot our own brainwashed POWs.

So assume they’re POWs being brainwashed into attacking their own country and pray for them to have their eyes opened and their hearts convicted that they should be Citizens of Heaven first and allow the Holy Spirit to both reveal to them and assimilate them into the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, there are three basic problems with Christians and Culture:

1) We remain so separate from the mainstream cultures of the various nations our people have dual citizenship in, we have no contact with outsiders.

This is the problem the enemy gets the above POWs focused on. He distorts it in an attempt to keep them from allowing God to fully assimilate them into the Kingdom of Heaven, a tactic that renders the victim ineffective at best.

2) We’re so assimilated into the mainstream cultures of the nations of our earthly citizenship, those who don’t have dual citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven can’t tell that we do.

All Christians who weren’t raised by parents already fairly assimilated in the Kingdom of Heaven suffer this problem at their rebirth. Even Christians raised in the Kingdom from their physical birth who remain in it have their blind spots where they’re not really in line with Kingdom ways, but think they are. None of us are off the hook here, in terms of the lesser degrees of this extreme. If we’re prone to problem 1), Satan attempts to distract us by tempting us to focus on this one. I’m afraid I have direct personal experience with that.

3) We treat outsiders like they should of course be in the know on Christians’ language, traditions, values, beliefs, and expect them to know and adhere to the rules of a Kingdom they haven’t been born into.

This is another problem Satan wants us to focus on, but he doesn’t mind if we’re guilty of it in our own way, so long as we only take issue with others’ ways of messing up here. His end goal is to get us to accept the deceitful “solutions” he offers us that again at best will neutralize us as a threat to him.

The truth is, when a non-Christian steps into a Christian’s space, they should feel like they’ve crossed over an international border and entered a foreign country, as they sort of have. The Kingdom of Heaven is wherever its citizens abide. However, we should always be kind and respectful to strangers and help them navigate our peculiar, foreign land as best as we know how.  To convince them to become citizens of Heaven and embrace life in our culture, they need to feel welcomed, but they also need to see a clear difference between our way and the way they’ve already got and be shown, through our testimonies of what God has done for us, proof that God’s way works where theirs doesn’t.

Our concepts of love and right and wrong are extremely different from our enemies’ concepts,  though, and some Children of Darkness are hardened past the point of redemption. No matter what we do, “Haters  gonna hate ” if we’re seeking first the Kingdom of God that we’re naturalized citizens of. So let us learn to rejoice and be glad when we suffer for the Kingdom’s sake, for God will reward us  greatly, and restore to us in full everything we lost for Christ’s sake.

“Suffering, a Privilege?” Or: “It’s War!”

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29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Phil 1:29-30)

The Apostle Paul tells the Philippians here that grace has not given them the privilege of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, but also to experience pain, punishment, and distress–for his sake. The privilege is to be engaged in the cosmic war, doing our divinely assigned part to advance the gospel. The more suffering we endure in our calling, as a direct result of obeying clear  instructions from the Lord, the greater of a position in the war effort we have.

Now, the riveter building warplanes has as vital a role as the soldier on the front lines, and the riveter may suffer sore muscles for his or her task to stop the forces of evil, but the soldier on the front lines has the greater glory for he (or she nowadays) bears the greatest risk.  The higher the price we pay in a godly war effort, in theory, the greater the glory.

Christianity today has become wishy-washy in some circles, all about the promises of comfort and peace and joy and forgiveness, prosperity and healing. Turning the other cheek, agreeing quickly with your adversary, avoiding conflict and being a peace-maker who is slow to judgment and quick to listen and respectful and loving to all.

That’s taking a cookie cutter to the Bible.  Our war is not against flesh and blood, but we are in a war, brothers and sisters.

Now, we should follow the rules of engagement, and the human lives around us are the territories being fought over, not the enemy, and we must stay alert. To the enemy, we are either combatants to neutralize or eliminate from the arena of war, or we are ourselves territory to seek to retake and oppress.

In this world, no suffering means we’ve either been neutralized by the enemy via deception like the cookie cutter approach to scripture, we’ve been taken captive by the enemy to do his will and haven’t manifested the bitter fruits of oppression yet,  or we’ve been given leave between battles so we can refresh and refill in preparation for a battle as great as the amount of rest we’ve been given.

Suffering means we are either hot or cold, actively doing what the Lord has called us to and facing the opposition, or a POW taken captive. It is vital we discern the source of our present suffering or its absence.

Lord, give me wisdom to discern the season I am in and ears that hear your call. Grant me a courageous heart willing to fight the good fight according to your principles, when and where you call me. Grant me eyes that see clearly who our enemy is and that perceive as you do the lives around me that are being fought over, used against what you have sent me to do, and who are fighting beside me or in other arenas of the cosmic war. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.