Saturday, 21 February 2015

Waging War Against the Enemy of Our Souls.

Have you ever noticed that it is often almost impossible to do that which you want to do, that which you know you should do, the very thing you know will help you the most?  Becoming a Christian is a bit like throwing down the gauntlet to the devil or thumbing your nose at him & not expecting any retaliation.  Not going to happen.  As Peter says, he’s on the prowl, like a hungry lion. 

Unfortunately what often happens is we get so excited that another soul has been saved that we forget to issue the warning & we forget to teach because it is in the teaching we discover God has made provision for our victory in Him.

So the first thing I want to do is look at some of the things scripture says about satan.

Isiah 14:12~ 14 "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! 13"But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 14'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'

This is a prophetic passage that works at multiple levels.  I want to be clear that we are looking at this passage as it applies to satan & not as it applies to the king of Babylon.
There are 5 I wills in this passage.  I will ascend to heaven ~ the kingdom of God.  It is an act of rebellion after he is cut down to earth; I will raise my throne above the stars of God ~ which is to claim equal rulership with God; I will sit on the mount of the assembly  ~ that is Mount Moriah, the temple mount, the very place where God has established His name; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds ~ he thinks he is superior to every other made thing; I will make myself like the most High ~ make himself a god.

Something extra is added at the beginning & it is very telling. You who have weakened the nations!   Satan is capable of weakening the nations ~ creating disorder & havoc & he does this through trade.

John 10:10 says his purpose is to steal, kill & destroy. 

John 12:31 tells us that he is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey.

2nd Corinthians 4:4 says he has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.

John 8:44 says He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

1 Peter 5:8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Now A fully grown male lion weighs as much as 225 kilos.  I mention this because a lot of that weight is going to come against our minds & must be fought from the mind’s ground.  I also mention it because as a man thinketh, so is he. Proverbs 23:7 The first battle will be waged in, with & against our minds.  This is the first assault.  If we lose here we will lose the entire battle.  There is no reason we should lose because Scripture says we have been given a *sound mind* 2Timothy 7  Luke 10:9 says we have been given power over the enemy but more than anything else we know that in every way, at every threshold, Jesus totally defeated satan at the cross.  He is a defeated enemy but he will do his utmost to convince us that that is not so because ~ he is a liar.

2nd Cor 10:5 teaches that we are to bring every thought captive to Christ & Romans 2 instructs us to renew our minds so we  need to understand properly what scripture is teaching us because that is how we will defeat all the fiery darts of the enemy.

Ephesians 6 has a very well known passage generally referred to as the Christian’s armour ~ but it is armour that will do us no good at all if we do not learn how to apply the word to our lives & use the tools we have been given.  I know that last year some of you sat under the full teaching of this under Perry Stone so use this as a refresher course to check all is in place as it should be.  And I am only going to address one aspect of the full armour today because we are discussing the enemy & we are discussing how his first assault is against the mind.

Ephesians 6:16 teaches us that the shield of faith is used to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  Well & good but let us start by identifying what exactly these fiery darts are & then we will discuss our shield of faith & how we are to use it.

Paul was writing during the Roman period & so he references things he knew in the Roman world.  The Roman soldier was a common sight throughout the empire & most people would have been familiar with the dress & equipment of those soldiers.  They would have been somewhat familiar with how warfare was waged against those

soldiers & how they defended themselves against the attacks of the enemy.  They were not some picture in a history book.
If we draw a parallel with our time we are generally aware of Isis ~ their black garb, the black headband, the black flag, the bismillah, their methods of warfare & execution & something of what they believe.

Stay with me.  I will try & go slowly & thoroughly because we are meant to be overcomers & this is one of God’s *helps*.  Paul understood that there were 3 types of arrows that could be used in battle in his day.

1.     An ordinary battle arrow with a sharp metal tip

2.   An ordinary arrow who’s metal tip had been dipped in pitch.  The pitch could be set alight.  If it hit its target it caused a small fire, causing either damage or distraction.

3.   The 3rd type of arrow was particularly nasty. The stem of the arrow would be hollowed out & filled with a combustible substance & the tip lit. When it hit its target the stem would split resulting in a sudden explosion of fire that spread quickly.  We've all seen the movie shots because it looks great on film.  These are the fiery arrows scripture talks about.

All these arrows could cause a lot of damage if they got through the defences & pierced the armour of a soldier.

Now, we have identified satan as our enemy.  Paul warns us that our enemy shoots fiery darts at us so what are those darts?

These can be
1.    sudden thoughts that satan shoots into our minds.
2.    Imaginations that are not from God
3.    Unfounded accusations from the enemy

Satan is not particularly original & he tends to plough up the same ground over & over again.  Because he is so predictable it should be relatively easy to spot his attacks but because he is a deceiver believers are often deceived.

So let’s identify the most common forms of attack:
1.    Fear ~ but God says: For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline [or a sound mind]…2 Tim 1:7

2.    Lust ~  1 John 2:16 tells us For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

3.    Sudden Anger ~ But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22

4.    Mental oppression ~ And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who    were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38

6.    A feeling of condemnation ~ when God plainly says in Romans 8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

All temptation is to be resisted unless our thoughts become deeds & our deeds sin, our sin bondages.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Now we fight the enemy with the sword of the word & that is one reason why knowing what the word says is of such importance. We put the word in our mouths & speak it out to rebuke satan but our defence is our shield of faith so let’s look at how that works.

In Roman times the soldiers had 2 shields: a ceremonial shield & the shield they used in battle.  We are talking warfare so it is the battle shield I will be referring to. This was a large concave structure about 4 feet high ~ in other words nearly as big as I am. 

Now each soldier had his Individual shield, his individual protection, but the shields could also be joined together to protect the whole army.  Never forget you can join your faith to the faith of other believers for extra strength & extra protection!

Now I am going to say bluntly here I am not going to squabble with other Christians over doctrine. Paul says in  Ephesians 4:4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.…We are unified in Christ through His Spirit & as RUPERTUS MELDENIUS says so succinctly  'In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.Our enemy is not other Christians & so we need to keep our focus on where the real battle is & who the real enemy is.

When it comes to faith there are different levels of faith.

There is no faith Mark 4:40

If you are a believer though you have a measure of faith because you have saving faith & Romans 12:3 tells us God has dealt to each a measure of faith.

There is *little faith* Matt 8:26

Weak faith Romans 4:19

Strong faith Romans 4:20

And Great faith Matt 8:10

We want to build our faith & scripture tells us faith comes by hearing, & hearing by the word of God  Romans 10:17 ~ so there is another reason for knowing what the word of God says.  It builds your faith! Faith is our defensive shield so we want a good strong one that will quench all the fiery darts of the enemy!

Now a Roman shield was made by layering thin wooden strips in a wickerwork pattern covered by leather.  The problem with leather is it can become dry, cracked & brittle.  That sort of shield becomes a liability, not a protection!

Soldiers carried flasks of olive oil with which to anoint their shields keeping them battle ready.  The oil represents the Holy Spirit.  We keep our Spirits energized with the oil of the Holy Spirit.   Jude 1:20 … tells us to build ourselves up in the faith by praying in the Holy Spirit. The next question is a practical question:  how do we do this?

This is where tongues comes in.  One of the purposes of tongues is to build up our spirit.  Now I know not all of you speak in tongues.  Perhaps you don’t want this gift.  Perhaps you don’t understand it.  Perhaps it frightens you.  Perhaps you have been taught it is evil.  What do you do?  I am not going to tell anyone they must speak in tongues because scripture makes provision for all of us, wherever we are on our journey with Christ.

We have mentioned speaking forth the word of God because faith comes by hearing.  Psalm 22:3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.  There is something about praise that releases the anointing of God. So praise. And always prayer ~ all sorts of prayer.

Now I am going to say something that should be self~evident but which we often forget & then beat ourselves up over failures.  We become overcomers by overcoming.  We learn from opportunities to put into practice that which we know.  We learn from doing & doing builds up our spiritual muscles.

We become giants of faith by exercising our faith but if we never get opportunities to practice we never grow stronger & so we are to expect trials & tribulations just as Jesus Himself warned.  These are a grace of God.  He allows tests into our life just because they give us opportunities to practice & we practice diligently because we are adopted children & co~heirs with Christ & as such we are soldiers in a holy army called to wage war against all the forces of evil & following after Jesus to do as He did ~ & this is what He did….

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke 4:18/19

So we go forth to preach the gospel, heal the broken hearted, preach deliverance, the acceptable year, set at liberty, recover sight ~ & we can do all this because our shield of faith is firmly in place & the sword of the Spirit is active in our lives.

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