“Every Christian is, in one way or another, involved in the unseen war. There are no bystanders, no spectators. It makes no difference how clearly you perceive the realities of the conflict or if you even believe in the existence of demonic spirits. Whether you participate as a combatant, a captive, or an instrument of the enemy (even an unwitting instrument), be sure of this: You are in it, and the stakes are very high.” Harry R. Jackson, Jr. (The Warrior’s Heart)
Whether you know it or not, if you are a christian or not, you are in a battle. There is no spiritually neutral ground. There are two primary mistakes when it comes to talking and thinking about spiritual things like spiritual warfare—over-emphasis and under-emphasis. Some blame every sin, every conflict, and every problem on the invisible world, on demons that need to be cast out. Car breaks down, it’s a demon. Wifi goes down, it’s the devil. Boss is unhappy with you, it’s a demon. You’re out of coffee… you get my point. Others completely ignore the spiritual world even though the Bible tells us it is real and that there is a battle going on. We have an enemy and he is messing with us sometimes but we are not powerless or victims in it, we don’t need to freak out or be afraid, because God has given us tools and Jesus came to defeat the devil and He did!
So how do we know what is battle and what is life? How do we know when we’re been attacked or just having a bad hair day?
Ephesians 6:12 says For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, the things we can see with our natural eyes, or rather the people we see with our natural eyes because I don’t know about you about many of the times when I’m in a battle behind the scenes the enemy is using people in my world to mess with me.
The battle we see with our eyes is the conflict we’re in at work, or that person that is talking behind your back, or the constant arrrghh going on at home with the kids and hubby. The battle is our fears and feelings that rise up in the midst of those conflicts – the sense of rejection and fear, the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.
In this battle the devil loves throws accelerant on the fire. You were dealing with a match sized flame and then boom he throws on a cup of petrol and those thoughts and feelings are raging out of control.
Now in this battle I cant control the reactions of people but I can control my response. I can control my thinking. Sometimes our natural reaction is to go gung ho wham bam thank you mamn but God calls us to submit to God, resist the devil and he must flee. It’s in our surrender first to the ways and will of God that empower us to resist. It’s in our dying to ourselves – our natural reactions – that honour God. It’s in surrendering to God to grow in the situation, to humble ourselves to own our part in things and to become wiser. It’s in letting God have His way in our actions and thoughts.
The heat of the battle refines our hearts and minds and makes us more like Jesus.
“Only you can decide how your fires will affect you. Will you be sanctified or scarred” – Beth Moore
In those moments when the heat is on we need to pray for God’s discernment and wisdom and draw close to Him. Many many many times in the psalms when David is in a battle – sometimes literally, and sometimes with people who were attacking his reputation and his own thoughts on the matter – he speaks about drawing close to God, finding refuge and shelter in the Lord Most High and from that place David finds strength to make the right responses and to submit to God, resist the devil and see the victory.
The war is on and what matters is that we use every situation to give glory to God and to allow God to shape us to me more like Jesus. If we have that attitude the WHAT and the WHEN and the WHERE of the battle doesn’t matter. We win on so many levels.
1 Peter 5:8 says Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…
Are you a someone?
Then you’re on the hit list.
I can tell you this – the enemy has a plan for our life and we are a target. His plan is to kill, steal and destroy. He is actively pursuing that agenda, right now in your life. He is after your present, after your future and after your heart.
So the enemy is prowling around looking for someone to devour… someone to mess with, someone to harass, someone to weaken… John 10:10 says that the devil comes to kill, steal and destroy but Jesus came to give us…. ABUNDANT LIFE.
If you’re a someone you’re a target. He will mess with your thoughts, mess with your security, mess with your peace, mess with your purity, mess with your identity. He will tempt you and deceive you and tempt you. Yip, he will tempt you. He will make you look in the mirror and hate what you see. He will make you feel worthless and hopeless. Now not every time you look in the mirror you’re going to be manipulated or messed with, but sometimes yes. And if you are unaware of the enemy and his tactics you might think that you should own those thoughts and that that is who you are. If you’re depressed and discouraged but unware of the enemies plans you might think this is how you should feel and be. He wants to ruin your relationship with your mum and dad, with your husband and wife and kids. He wants to ruin your calling and take you out by making you offended, discouraged and disillusioned.
How can you identify a spiritual attack? Here are six symptoms of an attack:
1. Lack of spiritual passion. The enemy comes to steal your tenacity for the things of God. Suddenly your prayer life seems stalled. Your commitment is tested and you can’t seem to push though. You feel as though you are just going through the motions.
2. Confusion about purpose. During a spiritual attack there is often great confusion about spiritual direction. This is one of the chief goals of an attack, to get a believer out of destiny.
3. Lack of peace. The enemy bombards the mind with various thoughts and ongoing temptation in order to rob peace.
4. Unusually tired. A lack of energy and vitality are often the result of an extended attack. Certainly these issues can occur with natural problems, lack of sleep or health battles. In this case though, the root cause is the effect of prolonged spiritual battles.
5. Strong urge to quit assignment. Every believer is born with unique purpose. As God created a purpose for each believer, He also gave unique gifts and grace to fulfill that plan. The devil hates your destiny and will try to make you quit!
6. Drawn back towards old ways. In a long spiritual battle a person is often pulled back towards negative cycles that they broke free from. The enemy wants to enslave them once again in the same old bondages. If he can discourage them bad enough to give into sin that they were free from then he can loose shame and condemnation upon them causing them to spiral down into deeper defeat.
Jesus didn’t mean for you to live this way. He came to destroy the works devil and He did.
He came to give you abundant life, to give you a purpose and passion. He came to give you peace that goes above and beyond human explaination. He came to empower you to love Him, serve Him and follow Him, to leave behind our old ways and to live in the freedom He gives.
We have a God who has a plan – that we would have life and life abundantly, that we would know the truth and that the truth will set us free, that we would stand and overcome and that we would shine like stars in the night sky amidst the darkness of this world. We are the head, not the tail, we are victorious, not victims, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength and Colossians 2:13-15 says: God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed[d] the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
This is the position we fight from.
There is a fascinating passage in 2 Kings 6 that gives us some real insight when it comes to things that are going on behind the scenes in the spiritual realms.
The nation of Aram was always at war with Israel. Yet every time they would attack Israel, God would tell Elisha, a prophet of God in Israel, what the king of Aram’s war plans were. So Israel would win over and over again. When Aram’s king learned that Elisha was the one who was giving away his plans, he sent an army to get him. Elisha’s servant woke up and went outside one morning to see that he and Elisha were surrounded by enemy troops.
Scared, he ran back in and asked Elisha, “What are we going to do?” Then Elisha said something that must have seemed very odd to his servant: “Don’t worry. Those on our side far outnumber those against us.” I’m sure that statement must have really surprised Elisha’s servant. As far as he knew, only two people (Elisha and himself) were on their side!
So Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” (2 Kings 6:17 NLT). And so God did. The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.”
The spiritual world is real. Angels and demons are real. The enemy is real. God is real. But we want to be like Elisha and his servant Gehazi and to see that there is more power on our side than the enemies. We want to not be focused on the devils plans but on God’s great victory. We want to fix our eyes on our great God and His awesome power. We want to see the support and strength that is behind us and before us and beside us – everything that we have access to as children of God.
Who here has seen the movie Karate Kid? It’s a rite of passage. You must see that to be an adult. It’s the truth.
In the movie Daniel finds himself in a battle. He is the new kid on the block and finds himself the target for some serious bullying. He is befriended by an elderly man who, lets just say, has some skills. Daniel asks Mr Miyagi to teach him, to equip him and empower him to stand up for himself.
Before we go further, take note. We don’t stand alone, we don’t fight alone. Daniel had his Mr Miyagi. Who is the big person in your life? Who can you text and say pray for me? Who can you talk to and get a different perspective from? We are a family and we stand together. One of the tactics of the enemy is to make us feel isolated and rejected. He makes us want to keep our shame and our fears in the dark, but when we reach out and bring someone else into the picture we’re stronger. The Bible says one can put one thousand to flight but two can defeat ten thousand. That’s the odds I’m going for.
Daniel goes to Mr Miyagi for training. He is expecting him to teach him how to be a karate ninja in 4 easy steps but instead has to wax the car, paint the fence and sand the floor. It all comes together however when his mentor shows him the moves he was teaching him.
God has not left us defenceless at the mercy of whatever whims the enemy has. We are not victims but victorious. Daniel didn’t know what moves were available to him – what strategies he had access to. Sometimes we’re the same. God has equipped us with incredible tools to stand and overcome but unless we open our eyes and see what we have access to – like Elisha and Gehazi – then we can be ineffective in our resistance. Unless we are practiced with these tools we can be unsure of how to stand in the day of battle.
Here are 2 of my keys that open the door to victory and keep my eyes fixed on God, not on the battle around me.
The first is worship.
Rick Warren says “worship reinforces what matters most, reminds us of truths we forget and renews our desire to live what we believe.”
“Accomplishing the impossible is about seeing the invisible”
Worship opens our eyes to that supernatural realm, reminding our hearts that God is great and good and powerful and victorious.
A practice of worship, a lifestyle or worship means that the going gets tough we get on our faces before God and know how to find our peace and our victory in His Presence. Wax on. Wax off.
Turn to 2 Chronicles 20 to see worship as a weapon in action.
“Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”
– As Christians we have to take our position. We don’t shrink back. We don’t cower. We rise up in the strength and grace of God, knowing that Jesus came to destroy the works of the enemy and that yes though we are in a war we have authority. Take your position. Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Submit to God, resisit the devil and He will flee. Greater is He in you than he that is in the world.
18 Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout.
20 Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”
21 After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:
“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever!”
22 At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. 23 The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. 24 So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.
Now worship hopefully will not cause that mean boss, or your spouse or whoever to fall down dead – but it does nullify the demonic powers at work behind the scenes. It also does wonders for your heart and attitude. When you have that confidence that God is with you and at work on your behalf because He is a good good Father, your mind isn’t panicked, your emotions can be settled and you can step through the situation with His wisdom.
A number of years ago Tony was made redundant. He phoned me up and told me the news. Now it wasn’t really new news, we were aware that the company he was working for weren’t doing that great and so he had been applying for jobs for about 6 months. With no joy. Not one interview. Not one bite. Now, this wasn’t our first rodeo. He had been made redundant a few years before – on the day Evangeline was born, so we laughed, at least we’re not having a baby today lol. Though part of me was like, wow, having a baby is a great distraction from the stress and uncertainity of redundancy. I had my moment, because we’re human we are totally allowed our moments. I forgot how to wax on and wax off. But then I remembered. When the going gets tough we worship. I put on a cd and hit play and the song “ill sing because you are good, Ill dance because you are good” came on and well it’s a happy clappy song and wasn’t gelling with my mood. But as the song played something rose within me and I hit repeat. I hit repeat until that truth hit my heart – God is good. God is good. God is good and the best is yet to come. And then the phone rang again. It was tony, again. He had got a job interview from a letter he had sent a few weeks ago. Seriously! Singing that song took on a new meaning! The declaration of worship had gone out and nullified the enemy who wanted to kill steal and destroy.
I love listening to podcasts. From preaching to random stuff like Ted Talks and This American Life, I love it. I was listening to one a couple of weeks ago and came across a story about a company of girl guides, the Brown Owls.
From 1942 to 1945, the 1st Chefoo Brownie Pack – The Brown Owls – was based in a Japanese concentration camp in Eastern China. After the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbour, an entire boarding school of British children was interned without their parents, along with Trappist priests, businessmen and Cuban jazz players. They sung and they worshipped. In fact as they were marched by Japanase soliders into the camp they sung the first verse of Psalm 46. God is our refuge, our refuge and our strength. And on it goes. In trouble we will not be afraid. One of the owls said in the podcast “All of these words just sung into our hearts. That sticks. It’s like you’ve got a groove sticking in the gramophone record. I am safe. I am safe. I am safe. That was just profound.” That is some serious wax on, wax off. They had a practice of worship, a lifestyle of worship and it carried them through what probably was one of the darkest times of their young lives.
Now as many of you will know I spent the week before HPC in hospital. Not really something I had planned for. Anyway by the time I got to my room on the Monday night after a day of been shuffled between nurses and drs and waiting room and feeling the worst, I was a bit of a mess. I don’t have a lot of experience with hospitals and had been told that I was spending the night and having an operation. My last operation was when I was 4 and did my finger in. Anyway, there I am, a mess. And conference is that weekend and I was in hospital. Not at work. Not with the team. Not enjoying the buzz. Not helping. I was in hospital. When I arrived my roommate introduced herself and said she was meant to have gone home, she had packed and everything, but they had told her she had to stay another night. She had broken her leg the week before and was in a cast up to her knee. We got chatting. Within 5 minutes I worked out she loved Jesus. Within 7 minutes I was asking God if she was an angel – you know angel unawares- sent to look after me, because she did. I had a drip thing in my elbow and couldn’t even put one of those glorious sexy backless gowns on – so my lovely cook island roomie helped me. She made sure the nurses looked after me and just ministered to my heart. An angel I tell you. Anyway we got talking about what had done to herself. Like I said, broken leg. She had fallen one night while outside her home the week before, and knew it was bad. But knew she had to get inside to get some help. She told me that with each step she sung “my God is able, He is my strength”. Wax on wax off. Worship supernaturally was her weapon in the very real battle she was facing right there and then.
What is the battle you face today?
It might be a health problem. It might be a family conflict. It might be a job issue. It might be a heart issue, that you’re feeling discouraged, alone, anxious and all that.
God wants you to open your eyes and see that all around you are angels – that all around you there is a way forward – that He is good and mighty and able. That He will fight on your behalf. That He will give you peace and freedom.
And if you’re not in a battle then your challenge is to wax on, wax off, to make this a lifestyle so that when the battle comes you are familiar with the weapons at your hand.
Graham Cooke says Our authority comes out of who we are in Christ, and our capacity to intimidate the enemy comes out of our intimacy with God. — Intimacy comes from worship, comes from drawing close to God.
Worship changes the atmosphere – it is your oxygen so you can navigate the mountains and high places. It is your weapon against the discouragement of the enemy. How can you be discouraged when you are so encouraged by the greatness of God?
The second tool we have, the second weapon is the Word of God which transforms us from inside out and changes the way we think.
“Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.” Tony Robbins
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, , empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Which are you filling your mind with? Which wolf are you feeding?
The voice of the enemy, in fact even sometimes your own voice will tell you that you are weak, powerless, incapable, and inadequate. It will try to make you incapable of seeing goodness. It will overwhelm you with negativity. It will try to kill steal and destroy.
When those thoughts pop into your head, your job is to ignore them. That voice comes out of your past, but it is a dead voice. Ignore it. Don’t engage with it. It belongs to a corpse!
Don’t waste your time dealing with an old voice. Instead, practice listening to the new voice.
God will remind you of your true identity in Christ: You are strong. You are powerful. You are favored. You are accepted. You are loved.
2 Corinthians 4:10 MSG says
We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
We have to take our thoughts and bring them into surrender to God’s truth. Who is telling the truth always, God or ourselves? Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee.
Spiritual growth and maturity comes with lots of small choices, lots of small moments saying yes to God, lots of behind the scenes relationship building that only you and Jesus see. Disciplining our mind is very much a wax on wax off process. We can feel that the things we’re doing aren’t important. We can feel like we’re doing things for just the sake of doing them without realizing what incredible spiritual muscles they are giving us.
Reading the Word of God.
Wax on, wax off. But in the day of battle when those thoughts come to kill steal and destroy we grab the Word of God and smash those things that come against us.
We have a choice as to which wolf we feed, what voice we listen to, what we hold in our mind on a consistent basis.
When you see things from God’s vantage point no dream is too big, nothing is impossible. When you look at your everyday circumstances though the lens of God’s perspective, everything changes. When you have a change of mind set that says God is good and the best is yet to come you come to realize that God uses each circumstance, each person who crosses your path, and each encounter you have with Him as a divine appointment. Even the messy ones. Even the battle and the fire. Each day counts, and every action and reaction matters. Let’s pay attention to how He might be working in our lives today.
Sometimes we can be like Lazarus in John 11. For those who don’t know Lazarus was one of Jesus’ friends – and he got sick and died. He was buried and then 4 days later Jesus turned up. Let’s throw it out there. Jesus has perfect timing. You might be in the middle of a battle and be crying out where are you Jesus? Show yourself. Jesus is at work, right now, even if He feels far away. He has purposed your breakthrough, He has purposed your freedom, He has purposed your healing, He has purposed your victory. Jesus turned up and stood at his tomb and said Lazarus come out! And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
We can be Christians – born again – saved, but still walk around in our graveclothes. We can walk around with stinking thinking, bad attitudes, doubt, fears.
Romans 12:2 NLT says Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
In the NKJV it says And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Renew your mind. Feed your mind with the truth of God. Feed your mind with the word of God. Take off the graveclothes.
Louie Giglio says “in the end, what we dwell on is what we become. Where we camp, is where we live and die.”
We can choose to believe the fears that come up, the lies that the enemy throws us, the feelings inside of us that are screaming at the unknown, or we can choose to believe that God was actually telling us the truth when He said that He is able to do exceedingly above all we can ask or think.
Today you have a choice.
Will you choose to believe that you are loved by God?
Will you choose to believe that you are liked by God?
Will you choose to believe you are called by God?
Will you choose to believe that God has prepared you to do amazing things and that the world needs who you are.
Will you choose to believe that you are created on purpose, with purpose?
That you are an overcomer, that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength, that nothing is impossible for those who believe.
Faith doesn’t eliminate problems or obstacles. It doesn’t remove us from the battle. It just believes God is bigger than the tallest mountain standing in your way.
When Elisha prayed that his servants eyes would be opened they saw that greater were those with them than those against them. Faith didn’t beam them to another location free of trouble but it believed that God was greater than any opposition they faced.
We need to open our eyes and see the promises of God as promises for you and me. Real promises to real people. The enemies power is rendered powerless in the presence of God’s promises.