What I want to begin studying with you is what I am going to refer to as the Rules of Engagement.
You understand what I mean in purely secular terms. They are the military directives that govern the circumstances under which ground, naval & air forces will engage in warfare, including the treatment of civilians & the taking of prisoners. That various armies & governments do not abide by these common agreements does not negate them, which is why people can be tried & punished for *war crimes* even though they may have committed such crimes while engaged in battle & acting under orders.
Unfortunately far too many Christians fail to grasp that when we were transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light, we actually changed armies. In any warfare this is considered an act of treason. Many fail to grasp that they were in anyone's army at any time at all so they are poorly prepared when they find themselves thrown into the midst of a battlefield. Some of us understand the armour of Ephesians 6 is not metaphorical but expend our energy engaging in battles that deplete our strength. We may fail to maintain our armour or our equipment & far too often, despite our prayers, despite our faith, despite doing everything we can & then taking our stand against the enemy, nothing changes. We do not get breakthrough. We do not see that which we prayed for come to pass.
Paul, instructing Timothy, makes it abundantly clear that like it or lump it we are soldiers:
The soldiers Paul had in mind were Roman soldiers: men who could march 20 miles a day with full packs, then at the end of a days march build a bridge & set up camp complete with ditch & a spiked wall; soldiers who spent most of their time in training. This training not only taught a soldier how to use the equipment provided, it taught a soldier how to engage the enemy & fight as part of a well disciplined team. So you can see that the first things required of us are training & discipline because Paul has already pointed out we have been enlisted & there will be hardship.
We covered a lot of this when we looked @ Ephesians 6 & I do not want to go over old ground but we have talked before about how the bible works on multiple levels: we can read it as a straightforward account of history; we can read it metaphorically; we can read it prophetically. For the next little while I want us to study it as a legal document.
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.
When man first fell from his glorious estate God issued a declaration of war against the enemy. Peace has never been declared, & as in any war, although the victory may have been won, there are last minute skirmishes. This is where we are. ... thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ [1 Cor. 15:57] & 2 Corinthians 2:14 talks about Christ's triumphal procession. The tense indicates it is an ongoing, continual state of things. In Roman times the Victorious Commander led his army through the streets with all his defeated foes put on display. It was a celebration. So we know the victory is already ours. Why then are we often so defeated?
I would suggest to you that satan brings the charge of treason against us & his accusations are based on legalities within scripture. We know from Job 2:1~6 that satan has access to God in heaven. We also know that he is the accuser. In Zechariah 3:1~2 we are given the picture of the high priest, Joshua, standing before the angel of the Lord & on his right hand, satan, to accuse him. In Revelation 12:10 he is called the accuser of the brethren & he operates day & night. Understand that satan doesn't like losing people & so he fights tooth & nail to ensure we never become the warriors God intends for us to be, for then he would be defeated a 2nd time ~ & at the hands of mortal men.
Now, we know we are not to come into agreement with satan. We are not to be the accuser of our brethren; that is satan's job. We are to agree with the word of God for that word is Truth & Life [John 17:17 & Proverbs 4:22]
We also understand that there are times when we can operate in Christ's authority because he has given us that authority: over demons [Luke 9:1], all the power of the enemy [Luke 10:19], healing [Luke 9:1], authority to announce the forgiveness of sins through Jesus [John 20:23] & to move mountains [Matt. 17:20]. We have authority over our families, over our businesses, our communities BUT... we do not have authority over other people! Each person of the age of accountability is responsible for themselves. If we try to exert authority over other people we are operating in witchcraft for we are attempting to over~ride their God~given free will. So when we go to pray for our loved ones who do not know Christ, don't want to know Christ & are in active rebellion against Christ we run up against this conflict. We cannot over~ride their free will. We need to understand they are actually standing in agreement with satan about themselves & their lives & satan has the legal right to hold them in bondage because they have, in fact, given him the legal right to do so! The only person with the legal authority to break this legal stranglehold is Christ.
The first thing I want to examine in how we break this dead lock is 3 different dimensions to prayer. Again, depending on the subject under discussion prayer can be looked @ in different ways so understand that I do not believe these are the only aspects of prayer but we are looking at breaking a legal hold so we are looking @ prayer from that viewpoint. See if we try & engage the enemy & assert our authority when we have no legal right to do so we will fail.
When we approach God for our own needs & fellowship we approach Him as Father [Luke 11:12]. In the Lord's prayer we come into agreement with what God has already declared. In Luke 11:5~6 we have the story of a man waking a friend late @ night to meet the needs of another friend. This is intercession & in intersession we approach God as a friend who can help when we can do nothing ourselves. When we pray for our communities, the bereaved, the hurting we pray as to a friend who can help. But in Luke 18:1~8 we have the story of the unjust judge which teaches us to persist in prayer to get verdicts in our favour & on our behalf. In this third type of prayer we operate within a judicial system.
1 Peter 5:8 talks about the devil, our adversary, in the Greek antidikos, which according to Strong's means: properly, a prosecuting attorney arguing a case-at-law; an "opponent at law" . In other words satan prowls around looking for those against whom he can bring a legal case. In Revelation12:10 the word for accuser is katēgōr, a non standard Greek word, used just this once & also meaning accuser. In context I would also understand this as a legal position.
In Revelation 12:11 we are given 3 keys for dealing with these accusations:
The blood of the Lamb
The word of our testimony
not loving our lives until death.
We will consider these 3 things in the coming weeks & how we are meant to apply them to our lives in order to see satan's strongholds cast down & broken legally so that we can stand in a legal position & take hold of that which has been promised.