Category Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Am I Hearing From Jesus? or Satan?

As Jesus’ followers we must learn over time to recognize the voice of our shepherd and distinguish it from the voice of the evil one, Satan. God allows Satan to tempt and lie to us.

Satan wants to separate us from God. God wants us to study and know God through His word so as to easily recognize when Satan is at work and choose instead to honor God and reject Satan’s lies.

Satan was allowed to tempt Eve in the Garden of Eden. She choose to trust Satan instead of God, with grave consequences.  Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus knew and trusted the word of God and thus recognized the lies and deceit… the trap Satan was trying to lure him into.

Satan continues today to try to trick and deceive people in an effort to separate them from God. Sadly, he is very successful because people are not prepared as Jesus was with a strong foundation of understanding God’s word as truth.

There are key differences, or tells, that can help us distinguish between God’s voice and that of Satan.

  • God speaks clearly and directly about the truth of what is good and what is wrong. There is not much “gray” area. Satan lies and rationalizes why wrong behavior is really acceptable.
  • God’s will never contradicts what He has already revealed to us in His holy scriptures. Satan’s lies contradict or twist scripture out of context. They are easier to spot for those who have taken the time to study and know God’s word.
  • God calls us to admit we are sinful, repent wholeheartedly and change our behavior in pursuit of a holy standard. Satan tells us the Bible is wrong or inaccurate or no longer applies. He tells us that we are like many others or better than most, we are good enough, we don’t need to change our behavior.
  • God’s path is typically harder, takes longer… it requires discipline and conviction. People will mock you and try to stop you. Satan’s path is easy and comfortable. People do not mock you. You blend in with the world.
  • God warns us that there are negative consequences to our sin. Satan tries to convince us there are no negative consequences.
  • God leads us to have a humble spirit, knowing who we are in Christ and giving glory to Him. Satan fills us with pride, focusing our thoughts on how good we are by ourselves.
  • God cares not only about “what we do” but also cares about “how we do it” and “why”. Satan says “the ends justify the means”.  Satan suggests you can act in a way that is against God’s word so long as you have a good cause.
  • God provided a way through Jesus Christ to atone for our sins and reconcile with God. Satan tells us we do not need God…that we are good enough on our own.

As followers of Christ we must acknowledge that Satan is real and is working to trap us and lead us into sin and away from God. Then we must study God’s word and focus on developing a relationship with Him through consistent prayer. We must listen carefully and test what we hear to ensure it lines up with God’s will and character. Only by doing this can we live the life that God wants for us.

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Jesus Heals and Casts Out Demons

We often face hardship in this world including sickness, and yes… demon possession, though many today reject that concept. However, scripture is clear… it differentiates between Jesus’ healing of sickness and His casting out of demons. Jesus demonstrates His power through a series of miracles in Matthew 8:1-17.

Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy.[a] This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer[b] came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant[c] lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”

Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”

But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! 11 And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. 12 But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.

14 When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. 15 But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him.

16 That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. 17 This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said,

“He took our sicknesses
    and removed our diseases.”[d]

Jesus makes no promise of healing everyone physically in this world. We live in a fallen world based on our own sin nature. Sometimes it may even serve God’s bigger plan to allow sickness or death in some circumstances for the furthering of His kingdom. God allowed Satan to torment Job, a faithful servant of God’s,  with physical illness and pain… not to mention a long list of other suffering.

In most of the examples above… people who had demons or were ill sought out Jesus. They came to him humbly and in faith that He could and would heal them. It is clear that neither illness nor demons are a difficult problem for Jesus to solve.

Unfortunately quite a few pastors twist this scripture and others like it. They would have you believe if you come to Jesus with faith you are guaranteed a healing and if you are not healed then you failed in your faith. Though a lack of faith may certainly block you from receiving healing from Jesus, the fact that you were not healed does not always mean you did not have enough faith or that God did not hear your prayers. Sometimes He wants us to glorify Him even in our illness or suffering. Sometimes it is just a result of a fallen world and He has chosen not to intervene to provide healing. We may never know why He chooses not to intervene at times, but we are to trust God as His followers.

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What is the full armor of God?

In a recent post we reviewed Paul’s guidance about the reality of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-18 [NLT].  Now we will comment a little deeper with regards to what it really means to put on the full armor of God.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word 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 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 [NLT]. 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.

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Put on God’s armor to stand firm against the devil

In Ephesians 6:10-18 [NLT] 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.

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against 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.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

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.

I will come back again in a future post to expand in more detail on each component of the full armor of God.

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