Fit and ready for spiritual battle?

I hope this post is a help and perhaps a timely reminder for us all to be aware of some of Satan’s strategies against us as Christians. We tend as believers to have differing attitudes to the spiritual realm. At one end of the spectrum, some Christians are unaware that satan is working against them and do not think about the spiritual realm and so do not recognise and resist him, whereas at the other end, some blame satan when anything at all goes wrong and by doing so give too much credence and focus on him. This can mean that we do not take responsibility for our own actions (we just blame satan) and we do not discern rightly between good and evil. Our eyes should always be on God who is all powerful and Christ Jesus who is raised up and seated in the highest place of authority and power and be filled with His Holy Spirit. Beware of looking for the devil in everything as this takes our focus from God which is not a healthy place to be but also let us not be ignorant of satan so that he has influence in our lives.

1 Chronicles ch 7 v 11  “ All these the sons of Jediael, by the heads of their fathers, mighty men of valour, were seventeen thousand and two hundred soldiers, fit to go out for war and battle”.

These verses in the Old Testament talk about these soldiers of Israel who could be called upon at any time to go out to war. They kept themselves fit and prepared.

As Christians we don’t sometimes think we are soldiers in a spiritual battle but:

Consider these Questions:

Q. As a Christian do I recognise that I have a spiritual enemy?

Q. Am I bold (as a lion), fit (prepared) and ready to deal with any attacks against me?

Recognise the enemy

Who is working against me?

When you become a Christian and are redeemed, you have a restored relationship with Father God through Jesus. You move from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. You have an inheritance in Christ, restored relationship and the promise of spending eternity with God. Satan hates you because of this. Satan and his demons actively work against the Saints of God looking for ways to deceive, hinder, confuse, silence and rob us. Satan’s strategy is to work under cover as much as possible in a hidden way so that he can do the most damage.   He doesn’t want to be discovered and will always try to work undetected. He certainly does not want his influence to be exposed.

A Christian who understands and applies the finished work of the Cross of Christ, Jesus’ resurrection victory and the position and authority that they have in Christ is a threat to Satan’s kingdom and plans.   When we start to live out our faith, pray, read the Bible, stand up for God’s truth, justice, righteousness, witness to others etc. then satan wants to hinder us as much as possible. When you actively start to move against his kingdom by praying against his strategies, pulling down strongholds, casting out demons etc. then he is going to fight back. That is when we need to know that we are like those OT soldiers and fit and ready for the battle and prepared in God. The battle always belongs to God and He teaches us when and how to engage. How to defend ourselves and the weapons of our warfare to enable us to do so.

Knowing satans strategy;

It’s important to understand some of satan’s main strategy against us. The Apostle Paul says:

 2 Corinthians 2: 11 “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his strategies.”

Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Wiles = Schemings. Satan is a schemer who is extremely devious and very subtle.

Ephesians 6:10 tells us to stand strong in the Lord relying on His might and power and resist satan. We put on (our responsibility) our spiritual armour of the belt of truth, helmet of salvation, shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the gospel of peace and sword of the Spirit (Scripture/Gods Word) are our protection against those attacks and schemes. We are to use our spiritual armour, pray and when we have done all, stand firm on the rock and foundation of our faith, Christ Jesus our hope and ever present help.

Traps

1 Timothy 3: 7 “lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

We must be careful to avoid any traps which satan would set for us. Traps can take various forms in our lives and our weaknesses are often open to being exploited. We all have them. It could be pride, desires of our flesh, unforgiveness, fear, strife, disunity and the lure of knowledge and power, these are just some of those traps to be avoided.

1 Peter 5:8. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour”

As we read and meditate on Scripture we gain an understanding of how satan works so that we will not be ignorant (uneducated) of his strategies.   Ignorance is certainly not bliss when it comes to these things. God wants us to have understanding and be wise. The Bible is our sword and God expects us to know how to use it, to appropriate the finished work of the Cross of Jesus, His victory and His resurrection. There is a verse in Hosea which says “My people perish for lack of knowledge”.   Satan is a legalist. He is looking for a way into our lives and will manipulate anything to his advantage. He is a liar and deceiver.

The Bible exhorts us to give him no place in our lives. Ephesians 4: 27 “Neither give place to the devil.” If satan gets a foothold in our lives it can soon develop into a stronghold if we do not submit to God and resist satan. If we yield to his influence instead of resisting him and submitting to God then he will bring us into bondage in one form or another. Sometimes we become so immune to the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the hardening of our hearts that we don’t realise what trouble we are in.

Some of Satan’s strategies:

IdentitySatan will attack our identity in Christ and introduce doubt about God’s word and promises to us who are His children who are loved by Him just as he did to Adam and Eve. My friend pointed out this to me recently. When Jesus was baptised, God said “This is My son in whom I am well pleased“. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness he first tried to cast doubt on Jesus’ identity by saying “If you are the Son of God”. How subtle and crafty is that. Jesus knew He was God’s son but He avoided satan’s trap by not seeking to prove it by miraculous power and signs and being disobedient to God. Beware of attacks on your identity as a child of God. Know your identity in Christ. Your position in Christ and your authority in Christ.

Mark 1:13 “And he (Jesus) was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan

Temptation – Satan will try and tempt all of us. Jesus knew how to deal with satan’s temptation. He knew the truth, God’s Word and used the Word to rebuke Satan. Jesus did not give in to temptation. We recognise temptation and ask ourselves -Will giving in to this temptation be obedient to God or disobedient. Jesus who empathises with our weaknesses and was tempted just like us, but did not give in, intercedes for us before Gods throne and will help us overcome temptation.

Be aware that satan knows our weak areas. The bible shows us that temptation can come through the lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes (we see it we want it) and being tempted to do things independently of God – Pride.

Satan knew King David’s weakness – women. David saw Bathsheba bathing (lust of the eyes), wanted her and gave into the lust of the flesh.   It didn’t stop there however – he manipulated the situation so that her husband was killed in battle.   A really wicked thing to do. However, after the prophet Nathan confronted him David confessed his sin and was forgiven. David could write Psalm 32 about the joy of forgiveness because he experienced the incredible mercy of God. God will always give us a way out of temptation and will strengthen us that we can resist.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

As the Bible shows us when temptation comes, which it surely will, find that escape route and get out of there quickly. Escape temptation whilst you can and have the opportunity. Avoid putting yourself in those tempting circumstances especially if you are still struggling with weakness in an area and will find it very difficult. If you have truly overcome the temptation then you may be to do it but still be wise.

Accusation – When we fall, which we inevitably do, satan is right there to accuse us and hit us when we are down.   Accusation is always from the enemy and never from the Holy Spirit who brings conviction of sin, not accusation. Satan will hit you with thoughts such as “Call yourself a Christian doing something like that” “How can you be effective for God after what you’ve done” or he’ll just bombard you with negative thoughts about yourself.   He is the master of discouragement.

Revelation 12: 10 “for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”

Don’t give in to those accusations. You will end up distancing yourself from others because of shame, will try and hide from God and will spiral downwards. Confess your sins, repent and be restored.

Deception – I think this is his greatest strategy against us. Right at the beginning, he deceived Adam & Eve. He distorted the truth and deceived them into disobeying God’s commands. Satan and his demons are liars and the root of deception and falseness. Jesus warns us against being deceived.

Jesus said of satan in John 8:44 “ He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it”

 Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world”

 Satan will seek to deceive us into believing his lies. We need to be aware of the following:

 Self-deception. Neil Anderson who wrote “The Bondage Breaker “ uses the following examples from scripture.

We deceive ourselves when:

a) We hear the Word of God but don’t do it – James 1:22;

b) We say we have no sin – 1 John 1:8 – Keep short accounts with God, Confess our sins as we are convicted by the Holy Spirit;

c) We think we are something we’re not – Rom 12:3 – we are warned not to think too highly of ourselves, be humble;

d) We think we are wise in this age– 1 Cor 3, 18-19 – we need to always rely on God and not our own understanding;

e) We don’t bridle our tongues – James 1:26 – gossiping is a no-no. How often do we fall into that subtle trap!

f) We think that we won’t reap what we sow – Galatians 6:7. God is not mocked.

g) We think that we can continually keep in with the wrong company and not be corrupted- 1 Corinthians 15:33. Bad company corrupts.

 False Prophets and Teachers. Jesus warned us about false teaching and false prophets.   We should not just believe everything we read and hear – The Bible instructs us to weigh and test things.   There is teaching all around us now – We can listen to it on social media, TV, the radio, read it in books. God’s Word is the ultimate authority and plumbline by which we should be measuring.   Any teachings, words of prophecy, wisdom, knowledge etc are to be tested against God’s Word and come under the Word of God. They are to submit to God not the other way around.

Satan will counterfeit the things of God – false miracles, false tongues, false prophecies, false gifts etc. The Bible says:

 1 Thessalonians 5:19 “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil”

 Mark 13:22 “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time”

2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who brought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute”

 Deceiving Spirits.

 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist which you have heard was coming and is now already in the world”

 1Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

 As satan is such a master of deception it is not easy for us to recognise and discern his deceit. The gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit is invaluable in this respect. I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of discernment. Neil Anderson recommends the following type of prayer to guard against and expose deception:

 “Heavenly Father, I commit myself unreservedly to your will. If I have been deceived in any way, I pray that you will open my eyes to the deception.   I command in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that all deceiving spirits depart from me and I renounce and reject all counterfeit gifts or tongues.   Lord, if it is from you, bless it and cause it to grow so that Your Body the Church may be blessed and edified through it. Amen”.

 These strategies of Satan often start with thoughts planted in our minds.

 If evil spirits can put a tempting thought in our minds, put a negative thought in our minds, deceive us into thinking something is right or harmless and

 WE DO NOT TAKE THAT THOUGHT CAPTIVE TO CHRIST THEN

 THE THOUGHT CAN BECOME AN IMAGINATION i.e WE DWELL ON IT

THEN THE IMAGINATION CAN IF WE DWELL ON IT TOO LONG BECOME A STRONGOLD AND SATAN IS EXERCISING SOME CONTROL OVER OUR THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIOUR

Half the battle is actually recognising where these thoughts are coming from. Most of the time we think these thoughts are coming from us when they’re not.   We can win this battle in and through God when we;

 2 Corinthians 10: 5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

 I think Deception is the most difficult area for us because we generally know when we’re being tempted or accused but we do not immediately recognise or come to recognise when we are being deceived. This is why the belt of truth is vital in our armour as it is the truth of God which exposes the lie.

Satan is always looking for a way in.   He is a legalist – He is looking for that gap in the hedge of protection around us which we can open up when we go astray from God’s Word and His paths of righteousness. Let us encourage each other to keep ourselves rooted in Christ, submitted to God, recognise the works of the enemy and rebuke him. The bible tells us that satan will then flee from us.

Blessings to you in Jesus name.

God is Good – His invitation

“Oh taste and see that the Lord is Good;  Blessed is the man that trusts in Him”  Psalm 34:8 

God’s invitation is open to all to come and taste and see that He is good.    He invites us to come to His banqueting table just as we are and to feast.    The Lord says that it is free to come and to partake of all His goodness.   Jesus has paid the price for us.     Other things in this life will not satisfy us but His love, grace, mercy and goodness are more than enough to satisfy our very souls.     His banner over us is love. 

The truth is that God is good.   Jesus is good.   The Holy Spirit is good.    All good things come from God above and He is good.     We declare that truth today.    Anything which teaches or tells us otherwise is a lie.   The gifts of the Holy Spirit are good.    The fruit of the Holy Spirit is good.    Anything which is not good is not of God.     The fruit which is not good is not of Him.    

I believe that the Lord is saying in this season, Come and see that I am good.   I am a good, good, God.   I give good gifts to my children.   Come and ask of me so that I might pour My gifts into you for the benefit of others.    My Spirit living and breathing through you by the power of My resurrected son, Jesus – the very breath of God.   I bring life and truth.    I am speaking in the season to bring the dry bones to life.   As the prophet spoke to the dry bones so I am sending out My Word amongst My children to proclaim that this is the day of the Lord.  Rejoice and be glad in it.  Speak to the dry places and tell them to become fruitful in the name of the Lord – that there may be rivers of living water that will flow in the deserts.   Speak to the barren places and command them to bring forth fruit.     Whatever fruit has already withered on the vine then let it die,  but I am bringing a refreshing wind says the Lord which will revive those of My children who need refreshing.    Come and taste and see that the Lord is good.   If you will seek Him with all your heart then He will not disappoint you.   Come says the Lord.  Come.   The invitation is there.      If you choose to ignore it then you will not reap the benefits of My presence or My goodness says the Lord.    Oh taste and see that the Lord is Good.   Trust in Him and be blessed as you come in and as you go out.

Isaiah 55 New King James Version (NKJV)

An Invitation to Abundant Life

55 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you [a]spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.
Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,
A leader and commander for the people.
Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,
And nations who do not know you shall run to you,
Because of the Lord your God,
And the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the [b]wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me [c]void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

12 “For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

 

Amen.

The Valley Gate

Nehemiah re-built The Valley Gate.       This is a difficult gate and one that we don’t generally want to go through- the valley experiences which no-one likes.    We would all (myself included) much rather stay on the mountain top and enjoy those experiences with God but I don’t believe that we can stay there forever if we are to grow, mature and move on.

The valley gate can be a necessary part of following our path to achieve what God is preparing us for.   It develops our faith and trust in God and we learn from the experience that God is faithful.    I believe that Jesus had to go through the valley gate when he went from Mt Olives through the Kidron Gate into Garden of Gethsemane and then to the Cross.   He was in agony in the garden but He yielded to God’s will to be done.   Generally, in life we will all go through valley experiences but the encouragement is that we are never alone at those times and we can get through them.   Jesus promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. He will lead us through the valley – even the valley of death.   The words of Psalm 23 encourages that God is with us and will not forsake us and will comfort us in time of difficulty and pain. 

If you are in a valley situation right now – keep going, don’t give up and ask for God’s help.  Sometimes the valley situations teach us far more than the mountain top experiences and our faith in God grows. God will show you the way through to the other side.  Humility and the valley gate in my experience can sometimes go together hand in hand.   I have had to humble myself under God’s mighty hand before I realise that I can’t handle situations on my own or with my own wisdom or little understanding.    If I submit and surrender to God and acknowledge my dependence on Him then I have felt His peace even in the most difficult of situations.

 

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The Rubbish Gate

Just as the name suggests this gate which Nehemiah rebuilt was the one used to get rid of the rubbish and dung.      I don’t know about you but even after being a Christian for over 40 years, I am still a work in progress and I still sin (even when I don’t want to or intend to) and get things wrong.       However, I don’t write myself off.   Even though I still sin, I know that the power of sin over me has been broken because of the work of Christ at the Cross.    I repent when I know I have done wrong and the Holy Spirit convicts me and I am cleansed by the power of the blood of Christ.    The rubbish is swept out of the door.   When the accuser comes to me I just point to the blood of Jesus and he has nothing on me.   The slate is wiped clean.    I don’t use the grace of Christ as a licence to sin but I rely on the grace of God in my life to convict me of sin.

If there is still rubbish in your life or you are carrying it around then I encourage you to get rid of it.   It is only choking the word of God and the fruit of the Spirit maturing in you.   If we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives then He will convict us of sin. Keeping our hearts soft and not hardened by disobedience.   What rubbish needs to be out of our lives today?  Let’s be ruthless with it and get rid of it – once and for all.  

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The Fish Gate

The fish Gate was another gate which Nehemiah rebuilt.  As followers of Christ we are called like the disciples of Jesus to be fishers of men.   We have been given the great commission to go out and make disciples. It is the mandate from Christ to His church.     If however we just put all of our efforts into catching the fish and seeing converts, but don’t disciple them properly afterwards, then we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see any growth or maturity.

Discipleship requires service, commitment, love and sacrifice.    In order to walk alongside people,  especially people who are hurting, we can need grace, patience and love in great abundance.   The Holy Spirit can help us to develop the fruit of the Spirit in discipleship and teach us how to disciple others.     We need to know the truth of the gospel ourselves in order that we can help others to mature in Christ and follow Him.    The Christian life can be one of suffering, hardship and persecution because of our faith in Jesus and preparing people for that is a key part of discipleship. 

Are the nets ready for the catch?    If there is to be a great harvest of souls then we need to get ready to disciple them.    If you are a follower of Christ then I encourage you to share your testimony and life with others who are new to the faith and disciple them.   Help them and strengthen them to grow and mature in Christ and share your experiences with them.    We all have something to offer in service to Jesus.   Is there someone that you can take under your wing today or give a supporting hand?

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