As I have shifted my focus towards sharing my knowledge about spiritual warfare, I am encouraged by the number of people and readers who have responded favorably. Even more than that, I am reassured by the honesty and courage of those who have told me they know this is where the Holy Spirit is taking them, but they're not quite sure what to make of it, or where to start in gaining a Biblical foundation on the subject. I'm so happy that they are willing to take that first step and to be honest about their need for more wisdom and experience!
Once that truth is realized, I think it is important to take a good look at why Christians have been reluctant to accept this premise and what has been missing from the Church's message to believers. Frankly, I'm pretty much convinced that the dispensationalist teaching of the Age of Grace has convinced Christians if we have faith in Jesus as our Savior then we live in kind of a bubble of security. This man-made philosophy is a religious interpretation of time periods, fostered by a 19th Century Bible teacher, John Nelson Darby, and then popularized by Cyrus Scofield's Reference Bible (another 19th Century theologian).
I could write an entire post on Dispensationalism and why I do not subscribe to it, but I want to just briefly mention it here as a means of explaining why we have been unable to focus on the reality of the spiritual realm's interaction with the physical world, and why our own power and authority have been unrecognizable. In short, Wikipedia gives a well-informed definition of Dispensationalism: this philosophy considers Biblical history as divided deliberately by God into defined periods (or ages), to each of which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles. The typical seven-dispensation scheme lists the periods as follows: the "Ages" of Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and the Millennial Kingdom. As you can guess, those who believe that God has divided history into specific time periods, see the Age of Grace as existing from the cross to the Second Coming. It will end with the wrath of God, culminating in the Great Tribulation. Some use the terms Age of Grace or the Church Age for this dispensation.
The reason that I do not subscribe to this philosophy is because nowhere do I find evidence of God deliberately stating that He will act a certain way within a determined time period or age. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Now, if a man wants to say he can see some distinctions about God's attributes throughout history, that's one thing. But I point out this philosophy to you because it greatly colors how we Christians view our relationship with God, and our position and purpose within His Kingdom.
We modern Christians tend to think that Grace is ours because it has come by salvation through faith in Jesus. But Salvation has always been by the grace of God, received by faith. Abraham experienced it: And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness. The people in the Old Testament, before Jesus’ death and resurrection still had to trust in the Lord—a trust they showed in offering the sacrifices. The Old Testament worshiper, by sacrificing an animal, was saying, “I trust God will save me despite the fact that I am sinful.” Christians take the same approach today, spiritually, but the practice is different. Instead of offering repeated sacrifices for sins, we trust in the one-time sacrifice of Christ. But because we have been convinced of a man-made philosophy that we live in the Age of Grace, we are just waiting here on earth for the Second Coming. Any difficulties in our lives or our relationship with the Lord are explained away as "times of testing" or "God growing our faith by teaching us perseverance and reliance on Him". Sadly, this leaves many Christians in a perpetual state of defeat; beaten down by the Enemy who takes advantage of our spiritual ignorance.
If we think that our only way to deal with destructive issues is to rely on God's grace (which is very real and available), then we attribute the attacks upon our lives as coming from the visible and physical world -- our boss, our lack of money, family members ... anything and anyone, but the real perpetrator. If we could come to know and understand that there is something we can't see; powers and forces working in the spiritual realm that are manipulating and controlling our physical existence, we might come to the truth of who the real enemy is!
The truth is, we not only underestimate the power of our spiritual enemies, but our own God-given power found in God who lives in us, the Holy Spirit. And we have been given authority by Jesus to use that power to live in victory! What is especially sad to me is that we don't really know how to believe in God for our deliverance and healing, even though Scripture repeatedly tells us that Jesus is our Deliverer and one of the names of God is Jehovah Rapha, "the God who heals". It is because the Church, itself, doesn't teach this reality in any kind of definitive or tangible instruction. Have you ever heard your pastor preach that you can be physically healed through the power of Jesus, just as Jairus' daughter was?
Because we don't know how to embrace this Biblical truth the devil spins a doctrinal lie that convinces us we are being faithful when we continue to stay in our suffering, relying on God's grace to get us through. We come to believe that our endurance and perseverance begets character and faith. But I do not believe that it is God's desire to have us live this way! He takes no pleasure in watching us suffer through unwarranted guilt, or unforgiveness, or bitterness, or pride. He wants us living in the victory that His Son died for!
If we Christians could only understand that it is within our power and authority to bind those attacks from the Enemy; that through prayer and petition, we can partner with heavenly forces to take the fight directly to the source of our sufferings. Instead of letting the devil whisper his lies of deception and blame, which point to earthly foes and take our eyes off our spiritual power, we need to re-focus our spirits on trusting God to pull back the curtain so we can see what is really attacking us. And then by asking Him to re-create in us a new mind, we can "see" in our spirits the way He is able to take all those hindrances of pride, unforgiveness, anger, etc. and destroy them, placing the Cross between us and the spiritual forces of evil that come to steal, kill, and destroy.
But the most important thing is that they now know that the Enemy has no power or control over them. We each have authority to approach Jesus in our spirits and to partner with Him to use His power to defeat any demon or spiritual force of wickedness that attempts to put a barrier between us and God.
God's Kingdom is anywhere God is, so that means it is on this earth. We are His children, designed to rule and reign in the righteousness wrought by Jesus. As co-heirs of the Kingdom, God can use us to rule with Him and Jesus. BUT, the Enemy will rule with man, too, if he can. Our existence on this earth is a partnership, whether for good or evil. But we can't do it alone, and we can't do it under our own power. Church, it is time to understand the truth about who we are, and what we can accomplish for our Father's Kingdom. Let's deny the devil the weapons of Doubt and Unbelief; let us join with Jesus to get ourselves free and then combine forces with Him and the power of God to free our fellow Christians. Let's be bold and trust God for who He says He is ... our Deliverer, our Healer, our Shield, and the Horn (Strength, Power) of our Salvation. Let's live like we truly believe Him!
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the [true] knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,"
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