I'm sure most of you reading this blog are familiar with Ephesians 6 and your spiritual armor. You are spiritually aware that we do not fight "flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places". And since readers of this blog come from across this country and from around the world, I wanted to bring us all together in a mutual understanding of the purpose of our spiritual armor -- as Scripture says in Ephesians 6:10, "to be strong in the power of His Might." What does that look like?
To begin with, I love the Passion Translation of this verse which reads, Now my beloved
ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be
supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the
Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of his explosive power flowing in and through you. That sure gives me the confidence to stand my ground in these times of evil! For the rebellion from the dark side is evident all around us. But this passage tells us we are infused with supernatural strength and the explosive power of Christ! So, again, I ask, "How do we walk that out?"
First and foremost, we must come to a position of obedience. We must agree that waging spiritual war is part of our assignment as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to defeat the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). It is our assignment and charge to continue that work and overcome the schemes of the Enemy to separate us from our relationship and assignments in Christ.
We see in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 another reminder that "we don’t wage a military campaign employing human weapons, using manipulation to achieve our aims. Instead, our spiritual weapons are energized with divine power to effectively dismantle the defenses behind which people hide." So, let's look at those spheres in which we've been given power and authority to tread.
1) Strongholds. Those are the "defenses" that Satan has erected in a person's life that the Aramaic translates as "rebellious castles". ChristianArmor.net has an excellent definition of "stronghold":
A stronghold is an area of darkness within our mind or personality that
causes ongoing spiritual, emotional and\or behavioral problems. We can
be genuinely born-again, and sincere in our faith, but have an ongoing
struggle with thoughts, emotions, and habits that wage war against our
relationship with Christ." It is an inward lie, suggested by the devil, that interferes with -- and eventually becomes a barrier to -- the Light of Jesus in our life.
But as children of God, we are empowered with His grace and the gospel message of victory to dismantle these strongholds. And here is what we need to understand ... in the Old Testament the word for "grace" meant "give favor". But in the New Testament, the word for grace is different and it implies God's Mercy (the free gift of forgiveness of sins) and compassion
that recognizes the misery that our sin brings us. It is God's tender
sense of our misery that displays itself in His efforts [Grace] to lessen and entirely remove our misery. God's Grace is applied; it is bestowed; it is His power to equip us for ministry. Strongholds are dismantled [pulled down; demolished] when we understand the power behind the gospel and God's grace, and that this power is in us to do what we cannot do in our human efforts.
2) Philosophies. Another sphere in which we wage spiritual war is the demolishing of arguments, opinions, theories, and philosophies. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says "We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God."
Let me give you a good example of such a philosophy that has been borne out of defiance of the true knowledge of God. It is called LaVeyan Satanism and was founded in 1966 by the American occultist and author Anton Szandor LaVey.
LaVey established LaVeyan Satanism in the U.S. state of California through the founding of his Church of Satan on Walpurgisnacht (May Day) of 1966, which he proclaimed to be "the Year One", Anno Satanas—the first year of the "Age of Satan". His ideas were heavily influenced by the ideas and writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Ayn Rand. This religion is materialist, rejecting the existence of supernatural beings, body-soul dualism, and life after death. Practitioners do not believe that Satan literally exists and do not worship him. Instead, Satan is viewed as a positive archetype representing pride, carnality, and enlightenment.
Does this sound like a "deceptive fantasy that opposes God" or an "arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God"? You bet it does! And this is an area of spiritual warfare that is becoming more prominent in our modern age. Man's pride has invented religions and philosophies and theories that try to prove his supremacy over God; that the "Most High God" is subordinate to man.
I could elaborate on the deception Satan has brought to the followers of this false religion, but I think you get the idea .. We must demolish these fantasies and philosophies and promote the Truth that is our God.
3) Rebellious Thoughts. Thoughts borne out of Satan's lying whispers result in rebellion and disobedience. The Bible tells us that we are to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." But it is important for us to understand that this constitutes a battle.
Those thoughts, if they are impure or unrighteousness, are not coming from God. They are introduced by the Enemy to cause a disruption or outright rebellion to the purpose(s) of God on your life. And I think it is important that we train ourselves to recognize the attack on our thoughts the moment that fiery dart is launched. That's when we know it is time to go into battle mode!
I've had a lot of people ask, "How do I take a thought captive?" I tell them that Jesus is our model. I believe He spent a lot of time praying and meditating on the Word, because that was His defense mechanism whenever the devil tempted Him -- whether during His 40 days in the desert, or when He was standing before a tribunal of the Sanhedrin. Scripture was always His weapon of choice! Take a look at the Bible and see how many times He said, "As it is written..." and then quoted from God's Word.
I have personally modeled my battle plan after His. The moment I recognize that I am under attack with an unholy, deceptive, or lying thought, I stop and do what He did. I proclaim [out loud], "I renounce [or deny] the lie that (for instance) I am not smart enough to qualify for a promotion at my company, and I declare the truth of the Word which says that I am being transformed by the renewal of my mind that I may discern what is the good, and perfect, and acceptable will of God [for my life]". I will then go on and declare my identity in Christ ... I am a child of God; I am a co-heir with Christ; I am God's Temple and His Spirit lives in me.
Can you see that those thoughts are spiritually taken captive as prisoners of a spiritual war in which they are judged as ungodly patterns of thought that defy God's authority and our identity. The declaration of the Word [in response to the lie in my mind] is a most effective weapon of war against such corrupted and rebellious thoughts!
Finally, 4) The arena of war, itself. This is the sphere in which we stand ready and willing to wage spiritual war to defeat the Enemy -- no matter what he throws at us. I see so many Christians that are rising up in their identities; who recognize who they belong to and what their role is in this Age. And it fills me with such hope!
They are recognizing that they have been believing the lies of the Enemy. They are seeing where the devil has manipulated events in their lives to sow such seeds of corruption as fear and anger and unforgiveness, and they see how that has damaged their relationship with Jesus. And they are willing to be delivered and set free! Once free, they are willing to get in the fight to help someone else know the One who set them free. And then the Enemy strikes back.... and they are not sure if this fight is really for them.
How enriched you are when you bear the wounds of being persecuted for doing what is right! For that is when you experience the realm of heaven’s kingdom [on earth]."
To those who are experiencing trials and tribulations because you've stepped into the arena of spiritual war, let me encourage you... it means you are valuable to the Kingdom of God, and the Enemy recognizes your worth. It means you are taking back territory from the dark side, and that is greatly pleasing to Father God! Yes, it means your life will never be the same -- the days of easy comfort and flying under the devil's radar are gone, but it also means that as you become battle-tested and victorious, the Enemy will learn you are undefeatable and will respect the power and authority you walk in. So hang in there; you are a soldier in God's Army. The Battle is His and He will lead you to victory. Remember, His power is in you ... Be Strong In The Power of His Might!
James 1:2-4 "My fellow believers, when
it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an
invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And
then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection
into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing
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