Category Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Be Faithful Unto Death so that You Get the Crown of Life

We are continuing to examine and reflect on the letters Yeshua sent through John in Revelation to the seven churches of Asia. They were written for a specific audience long ago, but have broad applicability for us as well. Let us test our walk and our church against these encouragements and rebukes.

Message to Smyrna

      8“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:

      9‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’

Once again, Yeshua introduces the letter with a reminder that He is one with the Father, He is the first and the last. Further, He reminds them that He is the one who died and was raised. He is not unaware of the struggles they are experiencing… tribulation, poverty, and false teaching.

Yeshua warns them that they are about to suffer difficulty so that they will be tested. He encourages them to be faithful unto death so that they would receive the crown of life from Yeshua. We should likewise take heed when we experience hardship and testing.

It would appear the second death may appear to those who are cast into hell in separation from YHWH. Those who are faithful in life, will not be hurt by the second death.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Believe Every Spirit, But Rather Test Them

Scripture continually warns us to test our understanding of God’s instruction to ensure we are not deceived. We go back to the Torah and the writings of the prophets to validate truth. It has not changed. More recently, but entirely consistent with the first, we can also test our understanding with the record of the New Testament, recognizing that if our understanding of the New Testament implies inconsistency with the Old Testament then we are in error. In fact, the New Testament builds on the Old like the framework of a house is built upon the foundation. Without a good foundation, the rest will not stand.

1 John warns us to test every spirit… not to believe every spirit. We are again warned that there are many false prophets… many. They speak as from the world and the world listens. Those who know God will listen to us, who truly follow Christ. Thus, do not be surprised if the majority of people will not follow someone who teaches and proclaims truth. On the other hand, if someone claims Christ in name and teaches a compromised doctrine that seems palatable or comfortable to the world, then many will follow him.

Keep in mind that the very idea of a false prophet implies that they present themselves as if representing God. The same is true today. Perhaps they do not claim to be prophets today, but rather pastors and bishops. The point is that the false teaching is not something that “those unbelievers” are presenting, but rather will come from what appears to be within the church, within the body of Christ.

1 John 4:1-6

Testing the Spirits

     1Beloved, 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. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Reflecting further, this is not simply referring to false prophets. It seems to be deliberate in choosing the word “spirit”. I would need to study further, but it seems to imply that Satan will attempt to influence us and deceive us even in sending his messengers to seemingly deliver or confirm the (wrong) word of God to us. We must stay focused on the true Spirit, which is always aligned with the Word, to ensure we are not led astray.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Christ Is Our Advocate, Let Us Walk As He Walked

I find it interesting that John refers to his audience as “my little children”. I assume this is in relation to his role being a bit like a father to them in teaching and guiding them. It may imply that they are not mature in Christ yet. Many Christians to some degree understand the concept that Christ is our advocate, but let us be sure not to skip over the details. Read carefully and I will highlight some key themes on the other side of the scripture.

1 John 2:1-14

Christ Is Our Advocate

      1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

      3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

      7Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

      12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

We are to stop sinning. We do not use Christ’s sacrifice as an excuse to go on sinning. However, if we do sin, we can be forgiven through Christ. (Read more on The Message of the Cross.)

If we are to know him, we follow his commandments. We walk as he walked. We do not go our own way or the way of the culture around us, no matter how much they claim to follow Christ. We can compare the actions of the church to his commandments and how Christ walked and know if they are liars or followers of Christ. We are to use discernment, not simply accept everything that is told us by someone claiming to speak YHWH’s word. The Bible is our most reliable source. Read it. Study it. Test everything. Pray for enlightenment and discernment. Pray for boldness and courage to follow the word of YHWH even when other Christians around us do not understand. Just for clarity, Yeshua walked as a Jewish Rabbi, who obeyed the law of YHWH. He did not simply pick and choose which commands he would obey and which he would not. He did not only obey the ten commandments, but also the entirety of the law including such things as celebrating YHWH’s appointed times laid out in Leviticus 23 (and elsewhere) such as Passover, Unleavened  Bread, Tabernacles, etc. (Read more on Understanding the Law – What Does It Mean Today?)

If the Light is in us, we are to love our brother. I think it would be interesting to study further who is my brother, but at a quick review, I will suggest it is the words of Yeshua himself who can clarify best.

Matthew 12:46-50

    46While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” 48But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Note that this does not imply we consider everyone living as a brother. We consider those who do the will of the Father as brothers.

Through Christ we can be forgiven and overcome the evil one. In this statement, let us remember there remains an evil one who comes against us. Only through Christ will we find victory. Read more on Spiritual Warfare.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Serve YHWH Willingly And With Humility

Reading the closing of 1 Peter, I am reminded that these letters were not written to us, but if we seek to understand the context under which they were written, we can certainly glean much wisdom from them.

The elders are called in 1 Peter 5 to shepherd the flock of YHWH, not because they “have to” but rather voluntarily… not for personal gain, but to fulfill the will of YHWH… not to be haughty and look down on those you lead, but to provide example of godly living.  We are reminded that although we are not to act just for personal gain, Yeshua will reward us when he returns. We are to be humble rather than proud.

There is much more to pay attention to in this chapter, so pay close attention as you read.

1 Peter 5

Serve God Willingly

      1Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

      6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

      12Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! 13She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. 14Greet one another with a kiss of love.
Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Spiritual Warfare – The Battle Is Real

The most basic rule of warfare is perhaps that if you don’t realize or accept there is an enemy moving against you, you will most probably lose. If you don’t fight back with an effective strategy, you will lose even if you take on the enemy. If you don’t properly identify your enemy, you will develop the wrong strategy.

In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul provides us important guidance about the reality of spiritual warfare.  Too often Christians dismiss spiritual warfare and focus only on the things we can see and touch. This leaves us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. If we do not recognize the true enemy, we will struggle to win against him.

Ephesians 6:10-18

      10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Some key points upon which to reflect:

  • Our strength comes from the Lord, not ourselves
  • The devil is real and he has strategies he uses to lie, cheat and destroy. He will use more than one strategy against us.
  • Warfare does not always take place in physical world, sometimes it is in the spiritual world. Consider the book of Job.
  • Just putting on one or two pieces of the armor of God is not enough, we need to put on all of them.
  • Prayer and a relationship with Jesus is necessary! Jesus tells us to pray daily and to pray specifically to not let us yield to temptation, and to be rescued from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13
  • We are to stay alert and pray for others in addition to ourselves. Pray for those preach the gospel that they would preach boldly!

Let’s explore what it really means to put on the full armor of God.

Truth can simply be defined as the real facts about something.  Surprisingly the world today proposes that truth is relative when it comes to God or how we live… “True for you but not for me”, etc. This is no more accurate than saying “If I do not believe in gravity, I will not fall off a ladder.” Gravity is true whether or not I believe in or accept it. God lovingly and in great detail shares truth in the Bible and reveals it in the world around us. There is absolute truth.

Righteousness is characterized by living consistently with God’s standards of morality, justice, virtue, etc. As God’s standard is Himself, it is a lofty bar. We will never achieve it to perfection but He is the standard and reference point none the less. We should keep our eyes on Jesus and seek help from the Holy Spirit to keep changing to be more like Him.

The peace that comes from knowing the good news is not a promise that we will avoid conflicts and trials, but rather an affirmation that when we have relationship with Jesus Christ we know He is with us in this life and that we have eternal life on the other side of this world. We can have peace through the mightiest storms.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1. In this context Paul reminds us that we must trust in God even when we are under attack by Satan. Just because we can not recognize how God is working in the situation does not mean that He is not there. We can be confident He is with us.

Salvation is deliverance from sin and its consequences, which is death. It is not enough to know or acknowledge Jesus Christ. Even Satan and his demons due that. By asking and accepting Jesus into our  lives and repenting from our sinful ways we receive salvation through grace.

The sword of the spirit, or word of God, is what Jesus Himself used to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11. We must know the word of God before the attack comes just as a soldier must train and be prepared before he goes to battle.

To be effective we must understand and use all of this equipment daily. It ceases to become “something we do” and becomes “how we do everything” in our lives.

Remember to heed Paul’s warning and guidance for prayer. The battle is not ours alone, but the Lord’s!

18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Spiritual Warfare – The Battle Is Real

The most basic rule of warfare is perhaps that if you don’t realize or accept there is an enemy moving against you, you will most probably lose. If you don’t fight back with an effective strategy, you will lose even if you take on the enemy. If you don’t properly identify your enemy, you will develop the wrong strategy.

In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul provides us important guidance about the reality of spiritual warfare.  Too often Christians dismiss spiritual warfare and focus only on the things we can see and touch. This leaves us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. If we do not recognize the true enemy, we will struggle to win against him.

Ephesians 6:10-18

      10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Some key points upon which to reflect:

  • Our strength comes from the Lord, not ourselves
  • The devil is real and he has strategies he uses to lie, cheat and destroy. He will use more than one strategy against us.
  • Warfare does not always take place in physical world, sometimes it is in the spiritual world. Consider the book of Job.
  • Just putting on one or two pieces of the armor of God is not enough, we need to put on all of them.
  • Prayer and a relationship with Jesus is necessary! Jesus tells us to pray daily and to pray specifically to not let us yield to temptation, and to be rescued from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13
  • We are to stay alert and pray for others in addition to ourselves. Pray for those preach the gospel that they would preach boldly!

Let’s explore what it really means to put on the full armor of God.

Truth can simply be defined as the real facts about something.  Surprisingly the world today proposes that truth is relative when it comes to God or how we live… “True for you but not for me”, etc. This is no more accurate than saying “If I do not believe in gravity, I will not fall off a ladder.” Gravity is true whether or not I believe in or accept it. God lovingly and in great detail shares truth in the Bible and reveals it in the world around us. There is absolute truth.

Righteousness is characterized by living consistently with God’s standards of morality, justice, virtue, etc. As God’s standard is Himself, it is a lofty bar. We will never achieve it to perfection but He is the standard and reference point none the less. We should keep our eyes on Jesus and seek help from the Holy Spirit to keep changing to be more like Him.

The peace that comes from knowing the good news is not a promise that we will avoid conflicts and trials, but rather an affirmation that when we have relationship with Jesus Christ we know He is with us in this life and that we have eternal life on the other side of this world. We can have peace through the mightiest storms.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1. In this context Paul reminds us that we must trust in God even when we are under attack by Satan. Just because we can not recognize how God is working in the situation does not mean that He is not there. We can be confident He is with us.

Salvation is deliverance from sin and its consequences, which is death. It is not enough to know or acknowledge Jesus Christ. Even Satan and his demons due that. By asking and accepting Jesus into our  lives and repenting from our sinful ways we receive salvation through grace.

The sword of the spirit, or word of God, is what Jesus Himself used to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11. We must know the word of God before the attack comes just as a soldier must train and be prepared before he goes to battle.

To be effective we must understand and use all of this equipment daily. It ceases to become “something we do” and becomes “how we do everything” in our lives.

Remember to heed Paul’s warning and guidance for prayer. The battle is not ours alone, but the Lord’s!

18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Choose YHWH Instead of The World

When YHWH brought the people of Israel to the promised land, He did not instruct them to make friends with the wicked people there and accept them and all their sin in hopes that everyone would just get along together. YHWH was punishing these evil people and taking the land from them, while also delivering it to His chosen people.

Numbers 33:50-56

Law of Possessing the Land

     50Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho, saying, 51“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places; 53and you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. 54‘You shall inherit the land by lot according to your families; to the larger you shall give more inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give less inheritance. Wherever the lot falls to anyone, that shall be his. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. 55‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live. 56‘And as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you.’”

YHWH instructed Moses to drive out the inhabitants and destroy all their worship places and idols for their pagan gods. He gave also a clear warning that if this was not done, there would be consequences…  including ultimately His taking the land away from Israel because they would be corrupted by blending with pagan beliefs and practices instead of following His ways.

While we are not faced with a situation where YHWH has instructed us to go take a specific land and drive out pagans, we can certainly take heed from the warning He provides in this situation.

If we choose to accept and blend with, or even normalize pagan and ungodly practices within our society, then we as His people will be corrupted and become more and more separated from Him. Ultimately, He will remove His hand of blessing and punish us as a nation, even using pagans to do so. This is what happened to Israel. Why do we not take heed it may happen to us as well if we, as a nation, reject our Father and Creator. He gave us the United States of America as a unique and powerful nation founded on freedom and founded firmly in the Christian faith.

We can already see the moral decay in our society. In particular, we can see the grossly out of control federal government taking away more and more freedom from the people and the states. Many people choose to rely on the government rather than YHWH. We see adultery and fornication abounding and normalized. The murder of the unborn is not just accepted but celebrated and funded by the government on a grand scale. Education systems and news media have been corrupted and are propaganda tools for rejecting God and all He tells us to do.

Pray for revival. Do not accept the world’s ways.  Pray for your church family around the world and for the Father to raise up community, state, and national leaders who will lead us boldly toward YHWH rather than away from Him. Then ask Him to show you what your role will be and help you to accomplish it.

If you want revival, pray for it and then act as if you are part of bringing it forward by how you live your life. Revival only comes when we actively challenge the accepted pagan practices. It comes with conflict from those who do not want to change. It requires courage and faith.

We can not create revival by our own efforts without YHWH. The battle is not one of flesh but spiritual and it is YHWH who must move in the hearts of those who do not yet know Him to bring about change.

Ephesians 6:12-13

12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

John 6:44

44“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Demon Will Attempt To Return

Jesus cast a demon out of a man and took the opportunity to teach about how Satan works in these types of attacks. Satan preys upon the sin and selfishness in our hearts and makes a place for himself. He is a strong man, guarding what he has taken. Only one who is stronger, God, can cast out Satan.

Jesus gives further warning, however, that simply casting out a demon is not sufficient. We must take the opportunity to “fill up the space” with the Holy Spirit. If we simply clear out the demon, but develop no relationship with our Lord and Savior, then we will be no better off in the end and perhaps worse. The demon will return with others and we will once again be prey to Satan’s forces.

Luke 11:14-26

      14And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed. 15But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” 16Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven. 17But He knew their thoughts and said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. 18“If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19“And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. 20“But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. 22“But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. 23“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.

      24“When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25“And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26“Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

Embrace God as the one who can disrupt and cast out Satan and his demons from your heart and life. Admit you are a sinner who cannot save himself/herself. Submit to Christ. Repent and ask forgiveness for your sins. Ask the Holy Spirit to come into your life. Declare Christ as savior. From there, build your relationship with God for the rest of your life focused on prayer, worship, and Bible study, fellowship with other believers.

Once you have the Spirit in your heart, Satan has no foothold in your life.

Learn more about Spiritual Warfare.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

How Do We Overcome Satan and Temptation?

The greatest trick the devil ever played was to convince people he does not exist. If we go about our lives unaware that there is an enemy seeking to separate us from God and others, really seeking to destroy us, we will be much more vulnerable to be defeated. This is a simple concept, but just as true for spiritual warfare as for conventional warfare. You must recognize there is a battle, then acknowledge and understand who the enemy is, in order to achieve victory.

We have some very good scriptural records of how to defend ourselves, if we only review them and learn from them.  Who better to learn from than Jesus Himself?

Luke 4:1-13

The Temptation of Jesus

     1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness 2for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. 3And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.’”

      5And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7“Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” 8Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”

      9And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here;

10for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,’

11and,
‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”

12And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”

      13When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.

Jesus did not flee the devil. He resisted the devil. At the very beginning we see perhaps the most important first step took place before this scripture begins… He was full of the Holy Spirit. We do well to seek the Lord and serve Him and be filled with the Spirit before the attack begins. This sets us up for success, while also putting us in right standing with the Lord. Jesus was not only full of the Spirit, but He was allowing Himself to be led by Spirit.

The devil came to Him when Jesus was weak and alone (except for the Spirit, who never leaves us while we remain in fellowship with the Lord).  Once Jesus is hungry, the devil uses the physical need to tempt Him. He brings into question if Jesus is the son of God, as if to challenge Him or dare Him to prove it. Jesus shows us we need not “prove” anything to the devil. We need not take His advice to satisfy our physical needs. Jesus instead replies with the “sword of the spirit”, the Word of God. Jesus already studied and knew the scriptures, before the encounter with the devil began. He was prepared.

For the second temptation, the devil offers Jesus the kingdoms of the world. Jesus already knows He will get these anyway, but essentially the devil offers Him a shortcut, where He would not need to go through physical death and suffering on the cross first. Jesus accepts God’s path for His life, though it is harder than the easy path the devil offers. Again, understanding of scripture in advance of encountering the devil points the way to victory… worship none but the Lord.

For the third challenge, the devil again challenges Jesus as if to prove He is the son of God and to prove that God will do what He promises. Jesus is not having any of it. Again, knowledge of the scripture points the way. Do not put the Lord to the test.

Note, even as the devil leaves, however… that he will return.

Let us follow in Christ’s example. Acknowledge there is a spiritual battle and an enemy. Study the tactics of the enemy and how Christ defeats Him. Build our relationship with the Lord now and ask for the Spirit to fill us and guide us. Study scripture. Do all this before the devil confronts you.

To learn more about spiritual warfare, read our article on Spiritual Warfare.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

 

Our Struggle Is Not Against Flesh And Blood

12For  our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 6:12)

In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul provides us important guidance about the reality of spiritual warfare.  Too often Christians dismiss spiritual warfare and focus only on the things we can see and touch. This leaves us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. If we do not recognize the true enemy, we will struggle to win against him.

     10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Some key points upon which to reflect:

  • Our strength comes from the Lord, not ourselves
  • The devil is real and he has strategies he uses to lie, cheat and destroy. He will use more than one strategy against us.
  • Warfare does not always take place in physical world, sometimes it is in the spiritual world. Don’t believe me? Read the book of Job.
  • Just putting on one or two pieces of the armor of God is not enough, we need to put on all of them.
  • Prayer and a relationship with Jesus is necessary! Jesus tells us to pray daily and to pray specifically to not let us yield to temptation, and to be rescued from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13
  • We are to stay alert and pray for others in addition to ourselves. Pray for those preach the gospel that they would preach boldly!

Let’s explore what it really means to put on the full armor of God.

Truth can simply be defined as the real facts about something.  Surprisingly the world today proposes that truth is relative when it comes to God or how we live… “True for you but not for me”, etc. This is no more accurate than saying “If I do not believe in gravity, I will not fall off a ladder.” Gravity is true whether or not I believe in or accept it. God lovingly and in great detail shares truth in the Bible and reveals it in the world around us. There is absolute truth.

Righteousness is characterized by living consistently with God’s standards of morality, justice, virtue, etc. As God’s standard is Himself, it is a lofty bar. We will never achieve it to perfection but He is the standard and reference point none the less. We should keep our eyes on Jesus and seek help from the Holy Spirit and thus keep changing to be more like Him.

The peace that comes from knowing the good news is not a promise that we will avoid conflicts and trials, but rather an affirmation that when we have relationship with Jesus Christ we know He is with us in this life and that we have eternal life on the other side of this world. We can have peace through the mightiest storms.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1. In this context Paul reminds us that we must trust in God even when we are under attack by Satan. Just because we can not recognize how God is working in the situation does not mean that He is not there. We can be confident He is with us.

Salvation is deliverance from sin and its consequences, which is death. It is not enough to know or acknowledge Jesus Christ. Even Satan and his demons due that. By asking and accepting Jesus into our  lives and repenting from our sinful ways we receive salvation through grace.

The sword of the spirit, or word of God, is what Jesus Himself used to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11. We must know the word of God before the attack comes just as a soldier must train and be prepared before he goes to battle.

To be effective we must understand and use all of this equipment daily. It ceases to become “something we do” and becomes “how we do everything” in our lives.

Remember to heed Paul’s warning and guidance for prayer. The battle is not ours alone, but the Lord’s!

      18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.