Friday, 16 December 2011

The Need to Fight

We all know we need to fight to keep the fullness of all that we have received from the Lord. 2 John 8 ‘Look to yourselves, that you do not loose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward’. Yet how often have we experienced passivity within the Church? We do get tired, disappointed or overwhelmed by our experiences. It can be so easy for a negative attitude to slip in regarding our understanding of the spiritual realm. The church at large is under constant attack which we all agree is increasing almost daily. No longer is it politically correct to stand up for the truth of God’s Word. Yet is the Church standing up and resisting the enemy? Despite all the pain and torment resulting from sin, generally speaking we are failing to fight against the powers enforcing it.God intended us to have a glorious freedom in the Spirit of God, but we children of God are living at a lower place that God intended for us.
It is so easy for us to adopt a negative attitude as we witness the collapse of moral standards and see increased lawlessness around us. How powerless we can feel when, for example, we read of the advancement of strategies to ‘protect us from hate crime’.
But a person with a negative attitude will never conquer and take possession of their inheritance. The Kingdom of God is established in us by force, or confrontation, not by passivity. Even if we are born into a wonderful Christian family, and do not embrace the ways of the world, we still have our old sin nature inherited through the forefathers all the way back to Adam. This inherent ability to sin (also known as iniquity) is borne in our hearts, and will take an aggressive act of our will to overcome. The devil is only moved by a power stronger than himself, be it his nature in us, or his effects in our communities. We must understand that all that God has given to us does not automatically remain in our possession - we have to fight to keep it. God’s promised land (Joshua 1.2 ‘now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites’) was to be taken by warfare - the act of destroying the enemy and all his associated abominations. Joshua’s and the Israelite’s victories over the kings of the land are recorded for us in Joshua 12.7-24. However, before victories were to be won, the people had to be circumcised (Joshua 5.2). Circumcision represented the removal of the carnal or flesh life of God’s people. It was a humbling process to be taken before God would exalt them. Similarity with us, before we win our victories in spiritual warfare, we must circumcise the desires of our flesh, being daily conformed more and more into the image of Christ Jesus. We must win victories in our own lives before we can conquer enemies in the land or in other people’s lives. We must be humbled by learning not to rely on our own understanding or intuition, but on Almighty God’s Word and the voice of His Spirit. This is our parallel to God’s command through Moses that Joshua, a man seeking God’s ways, doing God’s acts, leading God’s people, that we should not turn away from the path God directs (Joshua 1.7), and as we constantly think about what God desires from us and for us, so we will remain focused and will see success. The victories are ours as we remain obedient to our God, for it is by His power that they are won.
So whether we are looking at a personal, local or national problem, without a fight, we will not win.
When Jesus healed the sick and expelled demons, he confronted the kingdom of darkness. As we believers are part of God’s Kingdom, so we too are at war with darkness. The enemy has had several thousand years to perfect the building of his kingdom of darkness and his strongholds. He knows the nature of mankind, and exploits this to the full. As new creations in God’s Kingdom, we develop spiritual eyes to understand and discern the signs of the times and the wiles of the evil one. So we have a responsibility to both expose and confront the enemies’ camps. These are no holiday camps. This work is a responsibility upon each one of us, and it does take sustained effort. We are each personally responsible firstly for our own lives and secondly for our own families. It is not our pastor’s or best friend’s job. Neither is it something to be received effortlessly in a prayer line. It is constant hard work and valiance. Sometimes it is right to give thanks and to praise God for who He is in our lives. At other times we have to actively resist evil and lay claim to the promises of God. It may take time to be manifest, but every time there is a confrontation, the Kingdom of God wins. Furthermore, we are each personally responsible to the corporate body in an area and we need to do our little bit of exposure of and resistance to the enemies’s works. In any given area, be it highly localised or national, only God’s people, His body on earth, have the authority to confront the kingdom of darkness. This brings each of us into a corporate responsibility to do all that God our Father has asked of us. It may be just two of us agreeing on earth that God’s will in heaven be done; it may be sustained inter-Church prayer meetings. It may be action taken by the leaders. God’s ways are limitless, but we must be prepared to hear and obey His voice.
Jesus Christ broke the power of Satan over us, Colossians 1.13 ‘ He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son’. 1 John 3.8 tells us that ‘the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil’ when ‘He disarmed the rulers and authorities’ Colossians 2.15. But we have to enforce this right by dealing with the presence of the enemy. Israel failed to defeat all the enemies as they had been commanded, and they suffered because of it (eg Judges 1.19-21). Judges 2.1-4 tells us that this became a problem to the Israelites. Similarly, the church must deal with all enemies, or they will effect us. They will effect our mind, our will, our emotions, our body. They will effect the land we live upon, our communities, including our church families and our nation.
Firstly we have to accept what God has given to us. Then we must posses it as our own. Then we must obey His word with no compromise. We must submit to God and all that He has given and imparted. We must resist all that is ungodly, rejecting it and kicking it out of our lives and Church.
Ephesians 6.10-12 teaches us to put on Christ and His nature ‘be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His power’, and to oppose the onslaught of the enemy ’ Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil’. Does the Church consider this necessary, or does she fail to teach believers to stand in the defensive weapons that are the nature and Word of God? We must be living in God’s imputed breastplate of righteousness in every aspect of our lives. We must know, love and obey the belt of truth that God’s word proclaims for the rest of our effectual Christian walk rests on this. Without appropriating God’s righteousness and walking in His truth, we will not see the victories in our personal and corporate warfare.
2 Corinthians 10.3-4 tells us that ‘the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds’. Clearly we must totally rely on God’s wisdom and direction or we will be fighting in our own human strength, and at best will probably wear ourselves out.
Forgiveness must constantly be practiced in our lives ‘so that we may not be outwitted by Satan’ (2 Corinthians 2.11).
Truth - in our honesty and integrity, in our standing on the Word of God and our faith in the God we have not seen with human eyes, these truths are the basis of our deliverance from the evil one. There is no other way to be free. The devil is a liar, but sooner or later we recognise his tactics. How often he seems to go just that little bit too far, and expose himself. How often he comes to us very subtly, but leaves because he has roared like a lion. The devil is the father of lies, and we can not afford to be ignorant regarding his tactics. Jesus describes this in John 8.44 ‘the devil was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies’.
Paul encourages us that ‘we are not ignorant of his (Satan’s) designs’ (2 Corinthians 2.11). We, as a spiritual people who have put off the old carnal nature, live in a growing Godly discernment of the enemy, for it is God’s will that we should not be ignorant. For this He has given us His Word as well as life experiences. Throughout our Christian life we can expect the evil spirits to challenge us. We must expose their work by a stronger power - that of Jesus Christ. The cross is the focal point of this defeat. We must, in Jesus’ Name, destroy his works in our own lives.
There are many sick and defeated people in the body of Christ. Many have never had deliverance from the sins of the forefathers. The average Church has very little teaching on deliverance. The enemy is allowed to have his way because people do not know the difference between the presence of evil and good. In Psalm 110.2 we are told to rule in the presence of our enemies. This is never a passive calling.
We show who we are by the way we live behind closed doors, when the drawbridge of the Englishman’s castle is drawn up and bolted. Are you a warrior? Are you fighting?
Join with God and see him defeat the enemy for you. When we fight we gain the victory.
Victory is on our lips and in our lives.