THE ARMOR OF GOD -
WHY CHRISTIANS NEED IT!
(By: Norm Rasmussen) Founder, Precious Testimonies Evangelistic Ministries
Highly Recommended Video On The Topic Of SPIRITUAL WARFARE
"Christians Are Not To Fear Satan - But They Are NOT To Be Ignorant Of His Devices Either"
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. - Ephesians 6:12-13
God tells us in the Bible that there are two spiritual kingdoms that humanity must deal with at the present time. The kingdom of light is one, and the other is the kingdom of darkness. God the Father has commissioned Jesus Christ to be the king over the kingdom of light, and Satan has been allowed to be the king over the kingdom of darkness.
These two kingdoms can also be called the kingdom of spiritual truth, and the kingdom of spiritual lies or the kingdom of spiritual deception. The kingdom of truth operates by love, peace, friendship, righteousness and honesty, and the kingdom of deception operates by hatred, fear and control, competition for power, and dishonesty. Ultimately the kingdom of darkness will become a function of eternal anguish and regret, while the kingdom of light will become a function of ever increasing joy and never-ending, mind-boggling (for us right now), God-glorifying creativity for all privileged to be there to participate in ... for all eternity.
From God's perspective, we ALL were subjects of the kingdom of darkness at birth because of the sin nature we inherited from Adam and Eve, until we grew older and chose to depart from that kingdom and be translated into the kingdom of light. Saying "Yes!" to the free gift of salvation (forgiveness for our sins) through Jesus Christ is what translates us from Satan's kingdom into Jesus's kingdom. (The Bible does not clearly mention the eternal state of infants and younger children who have died, but the general consensus among Christian theologians is that God makes special provision for those in this category and hell will not be their eternal abode).
For most people who are in the kingdom of darkness, they have no idea they are subject to Satan's authority and power. That suits Satan perfectly well. (Recommended reading: The Enemy's Power). They'll soberly and painfully figure it out quickly once they die. So to keep them blinded and deceived while they are still alive on this planet, Satan allows them to establish their own little kingdom. We can call that the kingdom of SELF. God doesn't consider that to be a kingdom, nor does Satan really, but as long as it keeps people from desiring to be translated into the kingdom of Jesus Christ ... Satan is content to let it remain, because it has worked well for him down through time. Anything Satan can use to keep people from willing to be translated into the kingdom of Jesus Christ means ultimate victory for Satan.
Thus a spiritual battle rages over the eternal destiny of souls whether people know it or not, or believe it. Which then means Christians who are devoted to God are in a spiritual battle whether they like it or not. That's because God has allowed it to be this way for a time, and anyone who is in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, Satan hates! He is filled with rage towards them, because they are the "apples of God's eye," and Satan no longer is or ever will be. If that wasn't painful enough to Satan and his demon hordes that serve him, Christians have been assigned by God to have dominion on this planet -- to be used of God to help snatch souls away from Satan's deception and control, and help them become all that God desires for them to become and do. This battle rages day in and day out. It never stops. It never will stop, until Jesus locks Satan and his demons up in hell. Just because a Christian believer may be in a season of peace and tranquility does not mean the battle isn't raging all around them. It will just be a matter of time when the devil will be allowed to make his influence greatly known to you, and when he does, God wants you to be fully informed in what to do. What does God expect of us when the devil attacks us (or our loved ones or friends?) To be wise! Wisdom to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling us to do in each instance, and courage and determination to obey as He directs.
Before launching into this topic of spiritual warfare, let's take a moment to bring balance to the issue of spiritual warfare. God has His divine protection around each of us from the moment of conception. Not only is it around each of us, but upon cities and nations. God controls what goes on around this planet. He always has; He always will. The ONLY influence Satan has on this planet and on you and I personally is what God allows him to have. Why God allows Satan such latitude - especially against us personally and our loved ones and friends - is a question we'll never fully get answers to until we're with God in heaven. Once there, I'm persuaded it will all make sense, especially in the light of how God intends to use Christians in eternity. God has His eye on eternity. Yet He too must be patient as eternity unfolds, as you and I must be patient for it to unfold. More specifically: Patient for WHAT? For what PURPOSE? To manifest His glory in a way that has never been manifested before. Difficult as this may be for you to comprehend right now, God is using Satan as an instrument to help chip away at a Masterpiece God is building for Himself: A wife to radiate His glory! That would be you and me and all others who are in Jesus Christ.
God the Father is preparing His Son a Bride - the Church (His called out ones) - to co-reign with Him in eternity, but God realizes that His Church cannot be trusted (anymore than Satan could be trusted along with a third of the angels that rebelled with him against God in former times could be trusted and thus was kicked out of heaven) to have such power until they have been refined, purged and purified of self. Selfish desire that doesn't really care what God has to say about it or not. Selfish desire that expects God to bless whatever we think is best for us, even at the expense of it offending Him and others.
Christians love to have their sins forgiven by God. Satan would love to be forgiven of his sins as well. Who wouldn't. Yet for Christians, forgiveness is just the starting point of God dealing with our sins. A change of heart to STOP wanting to sin becomes the hard part. Some of us need a bigger paddle from God on our rear-ends than others to motivate us to stop sinning. And here is where the "difficult part" comes in. God uses Satan a great deal of the time to be God's "paddle" on our rear-ends. GULP.
Yes - God could STOP evil against Christians right now, but in His wisdom, He is using evil to work for the Church's ultimate good. That will run its course and one day stop in the future. Until God stops it, we have to deal with it.
Though we can't actually prove it biblically in any iron-clad way ... I suspect God wants each of us to know how deadly sin can be and IS before entrusting us with the power He'll entrust us with in eons to come. Some believe all memory during our time here on earth will be wiped from us once we're with God. I don't believe that. I believe God will make CERTAIN we'll never forget what living was like on earth where Satan was allowed various freedoms to show us his true colors - his TRUE nature - which is to rob, steal and destroy; to make others miserable to somehow try to find a way to ease the pain and rage inside him for having lost what he once had - knowing he'll never get it back.
Think of it -- every time we have ever sinned, or will sin in the future, we PARTNER with Satan's nature and don't even realize it most of the time, nor even CARE, when we make the decision to sin. I believe God wants us never forgetting that. I believe for eternity He wants us realizing just how much we loved sinning just like Satan loves sinning against God and others ... so we can forever appreciate just how great of a Salvation He has given us in Jesus Christ.
Thus we are forced to deal with Satan whether we like it or not. And because the ravages of Satanic sin has so infected this planet, babies die before being born. Babies - people - painfully die after being born. Birth defects, sicknesses, diseases are all by-products of sin that Satan introduced to the world starting back with Adam and Eve. So indirectly because of the effects of sin, YES it is Satan who kills babies before they are born, and who kills them after they are born. War, starvation, droughts, plagues, tragic weather phenomenon, financial hardships, etc., ... are all ravages of sin and had Satan never been allowed to introduce sin to this world, the human race wouldn't be exposed to these cruel enemies to God and to you and I. But in God's infinite wisdom ... He has a PLAN. A very good plan. God could have never allowed Satan to infect the human race, but in ages to come, we'll come to understand that God's wisdom in allowing him to do so had its purpose.
Bottom line: A person can learn everything there is possible to learn about waging effective spiritual warfare against demonic spirits and use their wisdom and knowledge of waging effective spiritual warfare to help them walk in greater spiritual victory, but Satan will still be allowed to keep an upper hand when it comes to "the ravages of sin" upon the human race (until God locks him and his demons up in hell). No Christian is exempt from the ravages of sin. Most Christians will die prior to the return of Jesus Christ due to the ravages of sin. And prior to dying, most Christians are going to have their joy and peace constantly chipped away at, simply because the human race is so infected by the affects of sin. That's reality, folks.
Yet God gave spiritual weapons - spiritual disciplines may be a more appropriate description - to Christians to help keep Satan from having even GREATER INFLUENCE against them - especially those Christians who are SERIOUS about walking in obedience to Jesus Christ and saying "NO!" to disobedience (sin) ... desiring to be used of the Holy Spirit to rescue other lost souls from hell, and to help enlist them in the army of Jesus Christ THE Lord. So now let us examine these spiritual weapons - spiritual disciplines - and trust God to help us to be wiser in our need to use them, and become wiser in personally using them.
What I'm about to say from here on out is not "set in stone" as was the 10 commandments Moses held in his hands, as though it's the ONLY way to help readers come to a fuller understanding of the need to understand the importance of using spiritual weapons. Others have written, and will write on this topic no doubt far more effectively than what I'm able. How I use words may not be as helpful to you as the words someone else uses to explain what they are trying to say, so stay open to reading and hearing what other Christians have to say regarding spiritual warfare issues. Having said that ... on to some "meat."
Four of the most powerful and effective weapons God has given His disciples and warriors are:
Word: (The Bible, the Holy Scriptures - wisely interpreted and wisely obeyed);
Faith: Faith (trust) in His written (logos) Word, and faith in His rhema (spoken and/or quickened) Word ... (if the Holy Spirit imparts a specific rhema Word for a specific situation).
Prayer and Praise and Thanksgiving: (See: Ephesians 6:16-18). (Read: The wisdom of ever-engaging in Praise and Thanksgiving). (Read: The Prayer Of Faith - What Is It?)
To help people understand the importance of fasting simply for better physical health benefits, I would strongly encourage readers to view the following half hour video clip in its entirety:
Before moving on, it is crucially important for Christians to be reminded that when we sin, that usually gives Satan greater opportunity to oppress us in some way. So if you want to maximize your efforts in keeping Satan away from you - get ruthless with sin in your life! God has empowered every Christian who will persistently appropriate Philippians 4:13 to break strongholds of sin in their lives. We are deceived if we believe otherwise.
It is God’s will that Christians remain as emotionally and spiritually and physically bruised-free and victorious as possible through every attack the devil launches against them. Nevertheless, many spiritual battles have inflicted needless pain on born again believers, or will inflict needless pain, simply because Christian believers aren't aware that the devil is the one they primarily need to be waging spiritual war against during their time of struggle. Satan will do everything he can to try to get us to believe that he is not the instigator or originator of our pain. He wants us believing it is people period ... not people being influenced by the devil that is causing our pain. Or more deceptive still, he wants us believing God is the one behind it all.
How about sicknesses and diseases brought on by sources "other" than demonic powers? The question needs to be answered: Did God bring these sicknesses and diseases upon humanity, or did sin through the fall of Adam and Eve bring them upon humanity? There's not one shadow of a doubt in my mind HOW they came upon humanity. They came because of sin. If Jesus Christ truly came "to give life, and life more abundantly," as John 10:10 says that He does ... then it should not be too difficult to understand that the one who comes to "rob, steal and destroy" is the one ultimately responsible for sicknesses and diseases.
Bottom line ... he will do everything possible to try to convince the Christian believer he is not the source of their conflict. When the Christian is blinded to fact that Satan is their real source behind the conflict they are facing ... they won't seek God in how to wage effective spiritual warfare against Satan, will they?
If you are being inflicted with some sort of sickness or disease, or pain from a serious accident, you can safely assume this also is an attack from Satan. The devil will try to convince you this isn't so. If he's successful, you won't fight. His goal is to keep us from fighting him back -- to keep us from waging spiritual warfare against demonic spirits of darkness in the spirit realm through the help of God.
And how does one go about effectively waging battle against demonic spirits through the help of God when one is stricken with sickness or disease, or attacked in any number of other ways? First - make absolutely certain that if there are sin issues in your life, confess them to God, receive His forgiveness, and stop sinning! When a believer sins, it can give demonic spirits legal right to attack us. 1 Corinthians chapter 11 addresses this issue.
Are you lacking in finances? The devil will do everything in His power to try to convince you he has nothing to do with it, and God simply is stingy and unconcerned about the pain being caused by your poverty. Financial poverty in God's people probably is one of the best tools Satan has to keep us at odds with God.
This exhortation has been written to help provide some insight for those who need to learn more about understanding and utilizing the spiritual weapons that God tells us to use in Ephesians 6:10-18. After all, God would not have taken the time to tell us about these spiritual weapons in His Word and admonish us to use them if we didn’t need them. That only makes sense, doesn't it?
Before going any further, we need to make something perfectly clear. Nowhere in scripture are Christians to fear Satan and his demon helpers. Nor are they to be overly "devil conscious." Yet on the other hand, they aren't to go into a state of belief or denial that Satan can have no influence over them either. A believer's position in Christ gives that disciple of Christ all the enablement necessary to restrict Satan's influence over them as God wills ... as long as that believer is where God wants them to be - doing what God has called them to do - and they are living their lives in accordance with Truth, God's Word: believing it - properly understanding it (rightly dividing it) and properly applying it.
And if you remember nothing else as your read this writing ... A Christian's position IN Jesus Christ equips that redeemed sinner - saved by God's mercy and grace - to receive and execute more power in God if necessary for the occasion ... than all of Satan's power and all the demon's power combined!
And here is a sobering word of caution about that incredible truth: Don't ever get a "big spiritual head" over it -- just take comfort in it that God "always has your back covered as long as you are willing to walk honestly, humbly and fearfully before Him."
Going in a little different direction, you'll often hear statements from Christian writers regarding "Eternal Security" - "Once saved - always saved" issues such as the following:
"Satan can’t do anything to those who believe. He has no power over us unless we allow him that power. Why? Because we belong to Christ. We are living in Christ. We are God’s “elect”. We are completely secure when it comes to our salvation."
Sounds pretty assuring and comforting, doesn't it? Well - there is a great deal of truth in it, but to make it an ABSOLUTE assuring, fact, it is NOT the whole summation of the matter. If you read 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, you discover that a "Christian" was engaged in on-going sexual sin. The Apostle Paul orders the overseers of the church of Corinth to remove the brother from their midst, to "let Satan have at him for a season, that perhaps maybe Satan's torments might ultimately result in that the brother's spirit might be saved from hell upon his death."
Now ask yourself a very logical, reasonable question. Did this brother have any SAY in the matter? Hardly. The authority God gives to leaders of His Church when God's will is fully being obeyed transcends matters of whether Satan can attack a Christian or not. When God approves of Satan attacking you so God can get your attention, I guarantee you have no say in the matter ... until you decided to change your ways to the degree that God sees fit!
As Christians, we're not to fear Satan ... but if we walk in disobedience like this brother was ... I can assure you that you had better fear God MORE than you may have ever feared Him before, because when God removes protection to various degrees from around you as He decided to do against this individual (as God also did with Job, but for different reasons with Job) ... your pro position on "eternal security" and/or "once saved - always saved", and all of your knowledge of waging effective spiritual warfare is not going to help you one bit ... if it excludes refusing to stop being disobedient to God -- continuing in your sin/s.
Having now said that ...
Christian marriages that have disintegrated are a trophy that Satan hangs on his den wall in hell. Christian marriages are coming apart at a tragic rate for primarily two reasons: 1): Married couples don't realize how much Satan wants to destroy their marriage, and most likely will, if they don't assume it's one of Satan's highest priorities. 2): Because it is one of Satan's highest priorities, married couples must know and apply the truth of God's Word on a moment by moment basis. Christian marriages that come apart came apart because one or both couples were not living by God's Word one way or another. It is a sad state of affairs in the Body of Christ today when you can ask either divorced person of a dissolved marriage what caused the marriage to dissolve, and they usually answer, "Because my spouse did such and such." That's always the wrong answer! The answer should be, "Because Satan was effective in destroying my marriage, and this is how he accomplished it." (With the honest facts following).
A highly recommended video on this topic: Video
"Christians are not to fear the devil ... but that doesn't mean they are to remain uninformed of his devices -- uninformed of his influence in their lives, nor in the lives of others!
One of Satan's greatest strategies against born again believers is to attack in such ways that the believer isn't even aware it's the devil attacking them. Chances are very good that we won’t try to resist and fight the devil if we don’t know it’s him behind our pain. That is why the devil and his demon helpers will do all they can to try to deceive Christians into believing that he (the devil) can only “roar loud” or “bluff” at best. If they fall for the lie that the devil is now totally powerless to harm them in any way, because of the victory of the Cross, (or by any other means) … it is much easier for the devil to win victory after victory against us. Think about this: if Satan is so powerless over Christians, why is Satan so successful in destroying so many Christian marriages and ripping apart our families? Why are our children falling so quickly into rebellion to parental authority and sin? Why are politicians so blinded to how their decisions are tearing apart the very moral fabric of the nation they are called upon to serve and protect? Why are entire nations in spiritual bondage and poverty with rampart disease and in strife and war? Because Satan and his demon helpers are alive and well on planet Earth, and they aren't going away until Jesus returns and locks them up, plain and simple.
There is a subtle yet deceptive teaching in certain segments of Christianity saying that “Jesus defeated Satan at the cross ... therefore Christians NEVER have to concern ourselves about Satan or demons, because to do so will just give them power they really do not have.” That, dear reader, is a twisting of the truth. Satan attempted to defeat God’s plan to give mankind a chance to be reconciled back to God by having their sins forgiven; atoned for; to receive an imputed righteousness that is acceptable to God so that they can be in His presence and stay in His presence for all eternity -- but Satan was not successful in accomplishing his plan in doing that. Matter of fact, Satan thought that if he could destroy Jesus by killing Him, then God the Father’s plan would be rendered useless. WRONG SATAN WAS! What Satan was meaning for his evil intent, God was using Satan for mankind’s GOOD, and Satan didn’t have a CLUE of it, until it was too late!
The Lord Jesus came down upon this earth and He went against each and every enemy you and I have: Sin, Satan, death, and the grave and won the battle against every one of them. Christ won victory over all that opposed Him - all that Satan had and has to keep a person from being all that God wants them to become - so that in our identity with Jesus Christ, and His power working through us - we too are now without excuse from becoming everything God wants you and I to become. And what does God want you and I to become? To be transformed into the image and likeness of none other that Himself! To become more Christ-like, in other words.
WHAT DID JESUS DEFEAT BY HIS CRUEL DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION?
Let's explain what God the Father accomplished through Jesus Christ by His death, burial and resurrection. Jesus Christ destroyed the necessity of trying to keep Laws to atone (satisfy God's demands of payment for them) for one's sins. How did Jesus manage to do this? He obeyed every law Jews were commanded by God the Father to keep. By His obeying every law God the Father commanded the Jews to keep, this made Him the One and Only acceptable sacrifice to the Father to pay the penalty for our sins. Though I cannot prove it, I believe Satan gambled in that he was hoping Jesus Christ would sin the sin of unforgiveness against those who cruelly crucified Him on the cross. Satan found out his plan to get Jesus to sin FAILED when Jesus uttered His final recorded words just prior to dying: "Father - forgive them, for they know not what they do." (See: Luke 23:24)
Because Jesus died without sinning ... whether Satan realized it right away or sometime thereafter ... here is what Satan's loss meant to him: He now had lost the power to hold people fully in his grip by keeping them bound in sin. He lost his power grip on the Jews because now that a new way was given them to have their sins TOTALLY and COMPLETELY forgiven by the Father, and now there was no longer any need to obey Old Covenant Torah observances. Worse yet, (BETTER YET ACTUALLY!) NOW the Gentiles were given a way by the Father to have the penalty for their sins completely removed as well! Meaning - every person on planet earth - whether Jew or non-Jew could get right with God without doing ANYTHING other than BELIEVING that Jesus Christ paid full penalty for all their past, present and future sins.
And if that wasn't agonizing enough to Satan, once Pentecost had come and the fullness of the Holy Spirit was officially poured out on the Church, it was now technically possible for every born again disciple of Jesus Christ to receive sufficient power from God to say "No!" to every temptation to sin a person could be tempted with. That amount of power had never been given to mankind before.
Satan and his demon helpers will one day in the future be stripped of all their influence and be locked up in prison by God and ultimately suffer beyond comprehension forever when God says it's time for it, but that time has not yet come. The freedom that Satan and the demons had to influence humanity prior to Jesus dying on the cross was not stripped from them after Jesus resurrected from the grave. If anyone thinks it was, logically ask yourself then, WHY did the Holy Spirit give us 1 Peter 5:8-9 and Ephesians 6:10-18? – those being just two key portions of scripture revealing just how much influence demonic spirits STILL have over you and I?
What makes you and I as born again Christians righteous enough to meet God's demands that we be holy and righteous? It is the righteousness that God imputes to believers in Christ. Here is an important link explaining that truth more fully: Is it God's imputed righteousness to believers that makes us fully acceptable to God, or is it the righteousness that we try to muster up by our own efforts? Our human righteousness (our engagement in good works) will NEVER meet God's demands that a person needs to be as righteous as God is righteous to be with God for eternity. Truth of the matter is ... not ONE Christian is capable of being righteous enough in their own abilities to meet God's demands. And BECAUSE this is a fact (truth) ... God simply gave us HIS righteousness to meet His demand that we be as righteous and holy as He is.
Mormon leadership has has taught that unless you are a true-blue Mormon you may never be allowed to be in the third heaven once you die. They teach: You'll be able to reside in the second heaven, which is where Jesus is King and Lord there, but you'll never have access to the third heaven, which is where God the Father resides. Jesus can visit the third heaven, but all born again Christians won't be able to ... again ... unless you were a true-blue Mormon prior to dying. For the sake of discussion, let's say this may have been true prior to the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. But once Jesus resurrected, God's imputed righteousness was/is given all disciples of Jesus Christ who placed their trust in Him as being the ONE who not only paid full penalty for all their sins ... but was the ONLY way God's righteousness could be granted to born again Christians that they would have FULL ACCESS to the highest heaven to be with all three person's of the eternal Godhead the moment they pass from this life to the next -- and remain in the highest heaven with God the Father for all eternity. If this is how it all shook out ... would this be reason enough for Satan to have NOT allowed Jesus to die on the cross? I've got to believe it!
Stating it simply: God's wisdom made an absolute mockery of Satan's wisdom by the death, burial and resurrection of none other than God HIMSELF ... who Satan was blinded to the whole time Jesus was suffering on that old rugged cross!
The Body of Christ is God's SPIRITUAL "military - police force" on planet Earth
I'll repeat this one more time from a little different perspective, because I've heard too many Christians believe that Satan is no longer allowed to interfere with them in any way, "Because Satan is a defeated foe" and Satan loves Christians who have a twisted comprehension of his defeat. How deceived they ARE! Jesus spoiled demonic powers at the Cross and by His death and resurrection. (See: Colossians 2:15 in the original authorized King James version of the Bible). In the New King James version, instead of using the word "spoiled," it reads "disarmed." What is of great interest to me is WHY have Bible translators moved from "spoiled" to "disarmed" and then to "defeated" in various other translations? "Defeated" implies something quite different in the English language than "disarmed" to many different people.
In my New King James version, Spirit Filled Life Bible, it has this to say about Colossians 2:15 in the footnote:
The idea here is that God, through the Cross events, divested principalities and powers of their uncontested rule and authority over redeemed people who live under Christ's lordship. The fact that He made a public spectacle of them affirms that they are not annihilated, but that their authority has been curbed.
What is my point in making mention of this? My point is: Just because Jesus spoiled (or disarmed) Satan at the cross and through His subsequent death, burial and resurrection, does not mean Satan's power was completely stripped from him YET to continue to tempt, deceive and inflict suffering on God's people and further his cause of evil on this planet. It COULD have been stripped from them ... and it WILL be stripped from them one day in the future, but it hasn't been stripped from them YET. God has reasons to let it remain.
Oh yeah, folks. Satan and his demonic helpers are alive and well in the spirit realm on planet earth! God could stop Satan from having any power of people in a split second, but the Bible clearly communicates to us God isn't going to do that yet for a time. God could have stripped Satan and his demonic helpers from all power prior to Adam and Eve being created for that matter, but God let it remain yet for a season.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church of Rome, (well after the resurrection of Jesus, by the way) we can see from Romans 16:20 that Satan would not be crushed totally until a future time, which has yet to happen, as of this writing:
And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.
Some believe and teach that all legal authority over the entire human race was transferred back to God after the cross. Others believe He never lost that authority in the first place, which is what I believe. Biblical evidence? He gave authority and power to his disciples before the Cross, and corporately, to the Body of Christ (See: Luke 9:1; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:49).
Much of the power Satan has been allowed to have and use against believers is what they often-times GIVE Him ... either in their ignorance or weakened state.
Satan's most effective strategy against people is lying. His greatest ability to have influence over you and I is to trick (deceive) us into believing a lie. If you never remember no other thing from this writing ... I pray you learn this about Satan's strategies regarding mankind: Satan learned a long time ago that when God decrees something: When God declares His will in any given matter and it involves God's created beings to respond accordingly in an obedient way, Satan is totally powerless to do anything about it being accomplished as long as God's created beings obey HIS directive(s) regarding the matter.
We see Satan implement his warfare strategy at the very beginning of the Bible. He told Eve a lie as though it was fact. She didn't discern it was a lie, because she didn't do the the wisest thing she could have done before believing Satan's lie: She didn't seek a confirmation from God as to whether it was a lie or not from Him directly, which she could have ... nor did she seek confirmation from Adam, whom God would have spoken through had she simply asked Adam. Rather ... she decided on her very own that Satan (in disguised form) simply wouldn't lie to her. We don't need Paul Harvey telling us "the rest of the sad story" as to the tragic consequences of her decision.
If you want to remain free as possible from Satan's deception - his lies - you'll learn quickly to implement the wisdom of Matthew 18:16 and 2 Cor. 13:1: "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established."
To this very day, that very same warfare strategy has been the most effective means Satan has been allowed by God to use to influence the human race. God speaks a Truth - Satan does everything possible to try to persuade mankind to doubt it is the Truth. God imparts a revelation to you - Satan does everything possible to try to persuade you to doubt it. God imparts specific direction to you because you need specific direction from Him in a given matter - Satan does everything possible to get you to doubt God will do that for you, and if you press through and in fact get that directive from God - Satan will use every opportunity to try to get you to doubt God truly gave you that directive. That was the same strategy he used on Eve. He twisted the truth of God's word to Adam and Eve and they didn't discern him doing so until it was too late.
Know any "religious folk" trying to twist God's Word - the intended truth and truthfulness of God's Word - in this day and age? Rather startling, isn't it?
Lying is Satan's most effective warfare strategy. Doubt sets in when he can deceive us into believing a lie, or many lies. Once doubt sets in ... you quit desiring to obey God. That's really all Satan is after anyway ... to get each of us to disobey God's will.
Hence the serious importance in rightly discerning what God wants believers to realize and constantly do in 1 Peter 5:8-9:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
The easiest way for Satan to devour you and I to various degrees is to get us to believe his subtle lie - lies. God knows this, which is one of the greatest reasons why God has given us the Holy Bible: A means by which we can know Truth from Satan's lies.
The above scripture has five key components that should not be skipped over lightly:
1) Be sober
2) Be vigilant
3) Resist him
4) Steadfast in the faith
5) Be comforted, knowing you and I are not the only disciples of Jesus Christ being harassed by the devil.
Remember - this above scripture was written after the cross, and it is written to Christian believers. The less we know how to rightly discern and resist the devil's attacks against us, the less effective we are in the Army of God. You can click on this link for further elaboration: Who I Am In Christ.
Born again believers are now God's legal representation over the human race, with Jesus Christ as their Head Commander, and they are to be using their authority in Christ through the administration of the Holy Spirit to combat the forces of evil in this world. The Body of Christ is God's spiritual "military - police force" on planet Earth. [Two books I highly recommend every person reads to help understand "spiritual warfare" and how we are to "discern and resist demonic activity in our lives" is written by Neil T. Anderson. Brother Neil is recognized around the world as one of the most credible and balanced individuals to address these issues.
The first book to read is titled: Victory Over Darkness (ISBN: 0-8307-1375-1).
The second book to read is titled: The Bondage Breaker (ISBN: 9-780890-817872)].
So then ... exactly what WAS accomplished at the Cross? What did the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplish in respect to demonic powers, and for the human race?:
1) Satan's PLAN to stop God's plan of salvation for lost sinners was not successful. Satan believed that once Jesus was dead, it might be possible that God the Father's plan would be nullified. By Christ's sacrifice on the cross, ALL past, present and future sins of the believer were not only forgiven, but the righteous demands of a holy God were also instantly freely given to believers as well. In God's eye's, the believer was instantly made perfectly holy -- instantly qualified to be with God forever. (See: Hebrews 10:14; Colossians 2:13-15; 2 Cor. 5:21).
2) Prior to Adam and Eve sinning, there was no such thing as death, as least in the Garden of Eden. After their sin, death not only descended upon Adam and Eve, but on all their offspring as well: Spiritual death, and physical death. Death in one form or another spread to every living thing across the whole earth.
After Christ's death, burial and resurrection, Satan's weapon of soul-destroying sin and guilt was taken out of his hand. Satan was disarmed of the single weapon that can condemn us:
The guilt (and agony) of our sin.
Remember, only the Jews had a means of having their sins covered prior to the Cross. Having their sins covered did not remove the guilt from them. Few Gentiles out of the masses had any means of having them covered. We see this in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57: "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Without sin and law to condemn us, Satan is disarmed. (Regarding Salvation for the Gentiles, we can read about this in: Ephesians 3:1-12, among other places in scripture).
I so appreciate brother John Piper's perspective and insight on this topic, and would strongly encourage you to check out this writing of his: For WHOM Did Jesus Taste Death?
3) Prior to the Cross, full access into the presence of God in the highest heaven was not allowed for most souls, (it would seem that there were possible exceptions, such as Enoch and Elijah, for instance), because of man's sin. Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; (See: Matthew 27: 50-52; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
4) Prior to the Cross, The Holy Spirit was given in limited measure, and only to trusted Jewish servants of God. After the Cross, the Holy Spirit was poured out in full measure, to Jews and Gentiles alike who believed Jesus Christ was the long promised Messiah to come to earth to save mankind of their sins.
Having access to the fullness of God's Spirit, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ now received power and authority to overcome sin and do God's work like never before. Supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit as is addressed in 1 Corinthians 12 were also given to accomplish God's work unlike ever before in human history on such a grand scale. (See: Acts 10:44-45).
5) Prior to the Cross, mankind was incapable of loving God and others to the fullest extent. After the Cross, this was now possible. (See: Romans 5:5; 8:35-39).
6) To help conform individual Christian believers and the Body of Christ (The Bride of Christ) into the image of Jesus Christ, and being a vigilant warrior against evil is part of that "image or Christ-likeness." (See: Romans 8:28-29; Galatians 5:22).
If there is never any conflict in our life, we won't concern ourselves with learning how to resist much of anything, but rather, just seeking "the good life." We say: "Hey - It's God's battle! He has all power. He has twice as many angels as Satan has. (And if He doesn't, can create more!) I'm not going to concern myself with it. I'll let God handle the devil." (Satan loves believers who view spiritual conflict in such a manner. Remember - God led His people into the promise land and promised them that every inch was there's. Observe however that they had to fight to actually gain and keep possession of it much of their lives. Nothing has changed from then until now. Incredible victory was won at the cross; souls of mankind and earth itself belongs to God and God's people, (it always did belong to God!) and God says, "Now let's fight demonic forces together so we can first take the Good News of the Gospel to all peoples, then secondly, ultimately - reclaim every inch of it for the glory of God, that it might prosper in that glory like the Garden of Eden once did!"
Likewise, our "temple" is God's ground Satan wants to reclaim and possess. It belongs to God, but Satan is going to do everything he can to get you and I to work in cooperation with him to constantly try to reclaim any of it he can ... relentlessly, inch by inch. The less we fight, (resist Satan) the more ground the devil potentially gains. Yes - in part, it's true: The battle does belong to the Lord. For certain, He's the only One with the power to do anything against evil! And how God has chosen to fight His battle is to use you and I as soldiers in His army to keep reclaiming His possession -- our human temple: Spirit, Soul and Body. (See: 1 Cor. 6:19-20).
There is another dimension of victory God our Father won for us through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross that we all need to seek Him to gain full revelation of. This victory is addressed in the book of Romans, Chapter 6. Prior to the Cross, God's people were not empowered by God to overcome sin like disciples of Jesus Christ have been after Jesus Christ resurrected from the grave. God snatched power out of Satan's grasp to hold God's people from walking in greater degrees of obedience to God's Word. Talk about conquering death!
7) To reveal to Satan and all the fallen angels (for all of God's created beings, actually) that God is so wise that He can use the worst of evil to accomplish good for those the evil has been inflicted against - namely those who will inherit eternal Salvation.
8) That God's glory might increase throughout eternity, and so He can share His glory in greater ways than ever before. The glory that Satan and the fallen angels once had prior to their fall will now be given to sinners saved by grace like you and I to different degrees at a future time. For that reason alone, Satan and his demon legions are filled with rage toward God, and rage toward those of us who have received the Salvation that Jesus Christ gained for us, and offers freely to anyone who desires it. (See: 1 Cor. 2:6-8; Romans 8:30).
9) That sinners saved by grace can now freely receive God's imputed holiness - God's imputed righteousness. (See: Romans 6:22; 1 Thess. 3:11-13; Hebrews 12:10)
10) I realize this may be stretching things a bit ... but did not the Cross start the official moment in earth's time that God the Father would one day in the future present His Son with one "knock-out, gorgeous Bride" that He could enjoy throughout all eternity? (See: Revelation 19:1-10; 21:2,9,17).
If you know of anything else that was accomplished on the Cross that I've missed here, and how Jesus Christ conquered death, by all means please feel free to email me and share it with me, okay? This writing, like many others, is a work in progression, and I don't claim to have all revelation by any means on this matter, as 1 Cor. 13:9-12 addresses: My email is: email@example.com. (Keep in mind, the day is coming when I'll pass from this life into glory, and once that happens, I'll most likely not be allowed to email you back).
We have a real enemy, dear reader. One who will never be able to be loved by God again like he once was. One who will never know peace and joy like we will know peace and joy, for eternity. One who will never be forgiven like we can be forgiven. One who will never be given back any glory, because it is reserved in the future for you and I and most likely God's angels who didn't fall with Satan. Can you praise God for that?!
This bears repeating:
"Just because Jesus disarmed Satan's PLAN to try to stop God the Father's plan of salvation for mankind at the cross and from His subsequent death, burial and resurrection, does not mean Satan's power and ability was stripped from him to continue to tempt, deceive and inflict suffering on people, and to propagate his evil plans on earth."
"One of the greatest lies Satan seeks to blind Christians to is that 'They have no spiritual battle.' When Christians don't believe they are in a battle, they won't use their spiritual weapons to fight the devil with, which is exactly WHY the devil does all he can to try to keep Christians blinded to his influence over them."
God wants you and I to first recognize an attack ... then learn how to stay one step ahead of Satan's attack(s) against us as much as possible, so that when he attacks (not if he attacks), we'll have the wisdom to know it is a demonic attack, and we'll purpose to walk ever closer to the Lord in trusting Him to reveal to us how to cooperate with the Lord to defeat Satan's attack launched against us.
"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13). To grow in wisdom in how to stand against evil, we must first learn to discern Satan's tactics and strategies.
Note carefully something in the above scripture. It is not your or my armor (weaponry) we are to fight the devil with. Is is God's armor -- God's weapons -- God's power that defeats Satan and his demon soldiers. That's why we must also first go to God and get our "marching orders" -- "our warfare strategy" from Him on each and every occasion when we are coming under attack from demonic powers. To do otherwise will only cause us to walk in undue defeat, as in increased pain.
Furthermore, the more we understand our need for God's Armor and how to properly use it ... odds increase that we are able to stop and/or even avoid demonic attacks upon our lives that we would not have otherwise.
One of the devil’s grandest strategies is to try to convince people he is not real (and to believe hell is not real, for that matter). But once a person is able to believe he’s real, like the Bible clearly states, then his second strategy is to try to get them to believe he is powerless over them – especially born again Christians. Why especially born again, Spirit-sensitive, Spirit-listening, Word-knowledgeable, Word-applying people with the willingness to obey? Because the devil is no match for the Holy Spirit who equips born again, Spirit-sensitized, Word-of-God-knowledgeable soldiers of God. It is these saints that are the most threatening to the devil’s schemes … exposing his influence in the affairs of individuals and mankind and being used of the Lord to help render the devil less effective than what he could be and wants to be.
Here is something we must never forget: Satan gains great advantage when we don’t discern his involvement, and/or we don't believe that God has allowed Satan and his demon soldiers the ability to attack a born again Christian. (Or involve himself in political and legal affairs of our nation, for that matter). If Christians were never allowed to be attacked by Satan and his demon soldiers ... again - WHY did God give believers Ephesians 6:10-18 then? To keep Christians confused and in the dark about why they are suffering so much? Hardly! He gave it to us because we were going to need it to walk in any dimension of joy and peace and victory while we are here on this planet.
Allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten you with an alarming revelation of reality, if you aren’t already aware of it. One of the most favorite places the devil (demons, more appropriately stated; Satan oversees and through his chain of command assigns these demons) has to frequent is your local assembly (or your local fellowship if you will; we should not call it your “local church” … because you are your “local church”). He’s (the devil) the second to show up – he’s the second to leave (The Holy Spirit being first of course).
He (the devil/devils - or demons) sits to your right, and to your left. He sits in front of you; he sits in back. He stands close to the pulpit, and he sits on your lap. If you think he doesn’t, and the Holy Spirit and the angels of God are the only spirit beings present with you in your local assembly … have you got some painful lessons to learn, unfortunately, probably the hard way. [Of course, just because demons are allowed to visit your fellowship is no reason for you to avoid "church attendance." God simply wants us aware of the devil’s devices so we won’t give him opportunity to gain a foothold].
And what is my point in saying the above? To alert you to the fact that Satan is going to be looking for any and every opportunity he can find to have someone offend you in your local church in some way. Becoming offended by those who we would least expect to be offended by is one of Satan's most effective means of "spiritual terrorism." More people will not attend church due to past offenses than for any other reason.
Secondly, but certainly not lastly, Satan is looking to use people in your local church to pass along to you their deceptive beliefs.
Exposing the devil at his tactics will usually send him fleeing. He doesn’t like to be caught and exposed in how he functions. What's my point in making this statement? My point is that Satan uses Christians to offend or hurt us, and/or get us to believe things about God and God's Word that is not totally accurate. Christians are usually prepared to have non-believers say things to them either directly or behind their back, but when a close brother or sister in the Lord does that, it is meant by the devil to offend us and hurt us.
Offended and hurt Christians quickly can become angry Christians. Angry Christians then turn into bitter and resentful Christians, if that offense is not dealt with quickly. Satan is constantly looking for a way for believers to get offended by another believer. How believers deal with offenses is the difference between giving the devil a foothold in their lives or not. This especially applies to marriages and family situations. God reveals so much of Satan's tactics in this one little nugget of insight and warning:
"Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:26-27).
Satan is constantly looking for a way to "push our button" -- to get us angry. Anger usually starts with a small offense. That little seed of offense begins to sprout and grow into resentment. Resentment unrecognized and/or not dealt with then blossoms into bitterness. Bitterness then blossoms into slow simmering anger, which at that point gives the devil great opportunity to gain a foothold in our lives not only legally, but actually with invitation ... sadly without our discerning, usually.
[Important note: All sin gives the devil greater legal right to bring a curse against us in one way or another if we give place to sin. The frequency of giving into that sin can play a vital part in all of it. God moderates how severe that curse (judgment) might be, but nothing that I'm aware of obligates God from slowing down the effects of any curse we bring upon ourselves when we continue to give into sin. Sometimes God allows us to continue in one or more sins for a very long time before He allows the curse (judgment) of Satan to manifest fully in our lives. Other times, God may allow the curse to manifest very quickly. God determines what Satan is allowed to do and not do in our lives - always, and God always knows what is best for each of us. We must never lose sight of this truth, when seeking to understand spiritual matters].
The sooner one learns how to biblically deal quickly with an offense the more effective one will be in slamming the door in the devil's face when he comes knocking. The "lock" that keeps that door locked to the devil's entry into your house is called "the forgiveness lock." God's way of dealing with offenses are twofold. First, don't receive the offense if you can help it. But if the offense is that severe, you might need to use weapon number two, and that is let the one who offended you know about the hurt you have been caused and seek God's direction in how that offense should be dealt with, which may be to speak firmly and lovingly with the one who hurt you, and forgive them to their face. In every offense, God wants us to go to Him quickly and tell Him out loud that we forgive that person who offended us. (Out loud so that the devil can hear what you say to God, should God want the devil to hear, which He usually does)
This might be overkill for some, but I feel to reinforce something that Christians would do well to settle in their minds regarding what the devil is allowed to do or not allowed to do to them about "Satan being a defeated foe." (Click on the following link for expanded explanation of "defeated": Exposing Demonic Deception). Jesus won the most important victory at His resurrection that could ever have been won over Satan. (See: Colossians 2:15). He took the Father’s punishment [God’s wrath] for the sins of mankind on the cross and in hell and survived [rose victoriously ... as a mere man, not God (though He was also God. Until He sat down at the right hand of the Father in heaven again, I believe His full Godly deity had purposely been set aside (For possible proof-text, see: John 20:17). [When we receive the revelation that a "mere" man disarmed Satan at the Cross and subsequent death and resurrection, it gives us a glimpse of what God can do through you and I if we constantly seek to walk in obedience and sinlessness as Jesus did while here on earth].
In so doing, His death and resurrection tore down the barrier that separated mankind from God, for those found in Christ Jesus, both alive at that time, and those who had died before that time. Mankind can now have access to the throne room of God when they pray if they are in Christ Jesus. (If Jesus is not their Lord and Savior, and/or they are only using Him as a "fire insurance policy" ... they are on some very dangerous ground in assuming they are "okay" with Him). Furthermore, Jesus' sacrifice also broke the power of sin over a believer's life (See: Romans 6:6 for evidence. Important note: Any sin a born again believer commits is because they purposely choose to sin), and He legally won the right for every sinner to ask the Father’s forgiveness of every sin they’ve ever committed in the past, or will commit in the future, and receive forgiveness immediately FREE OF CHARGE, (See: 1 John 1:9), enabling them free and assured entry into heaven upon dying.
Remember however, on-going sin can have great painful consequences, especially if unconfessed and/or unrepentant of, which is a whole different issue. Yet God did not allow this unfathomable victory the Son of God won to strip Satan or his demon helpers yet of the ability to influence humans to follow or reject the truth of the New Covenant (the New Testament portion of the Holy Bible). Nor, did the victory God the Father won through Jesus Christ’s resurrection strip Satan and his demon followers of all the ability to inflict pain on born again Christian believers, nor did it strip him yet of the fact that he has great influence over most of the leaders of every nation and in many corporations, not to mention the media, schools (and the list keeps going). However, it did equip born again Christian believers with weapons they never had prior to the death of Jesus on the Cross and his subsequent resurrection, and that is what this writing addresses. God gave Christians weapons to use -- not to be sitting in a corner collecting dust -- thinking they are not needed, or that God had some blank space he needed to fill up after Ephesians Chapter 6 in the Bible.
God has all power; always has had all power, and always will have all power - but that doesn't mean he stripped Satan totally of the power he has been allowed to have ... yet.
Furthermore ... God gave Christians weapons to use -- not to be sitting in a corner collecting dust -- thinking and/or assuming they are not needed.
Keep something else in mind in all this: God has all power, always has had all power, and always will have all power. The only power Satan has ever had, or ever will have over anyone is the power God grants or permits him to have. If we miss that about God and Satan, we're missing everything! (For a more in-depth reading on this statement, I refer you to a well-respected Bible teacher on this subject: How Jesus "Defeated" Satan At The Cross). Because God has already judged Satan by decree (Satan being cast into the lake of fire to be tormented forever will be the ultimate consequence of God's judgment against him), he could enforce immediate punishment and lock Satan and his demons away and they would be totally incapable of having any further influence over you and I, if I understand this matter right, and I believe I do. Nevertheless, scripture tells us that will not happen until after the return of Jesus Christ. However, Satan will never be allowed to touch a child of God without God's explicit allowance of it. Though it may even result in intense persecution and pain and our eventual death and translation into glory ... Satan gets away with nothing with the born again Christian that God doesn't permit or allow (The entire book of Job makes this perfectly clear, as does Luke 22:31-32 and 2 Corinthians 12:7 supports this position).
[However ... I believe the devil is getting away with a lot of harassment and persecution against believers and far too many believers aren't even aware of what is really happening. This will probably change a great deal, I suspect, as anti-Christ forces increase their influence, especially against Christian believers.]
God doesn't "permit" the devil to do evil because God delights in it either. Evil grieves God more than we could possibly fathom! I believe the devil is getting away with all kinds of evil that God takes no delight in the devil getting away with, but because God has given evil men free will, God allows evil that pains Him dearly simply because Satan must work through evil men and women who either knowingly or unknowingly cooperate with him. So remember, just because God "permits" something doesn't mean He "delights" in it. (For instance, God permits the aborting of millions of babies a year, but who in their spiritual right mind would think God delights in it? I also believe the Tsunami that struck the SE Asian shorelines in late 2004 was not caused by God. I don't believe God took delight in all the devastation it caused -- all the pain it caused to both Christian believers and non-Christian believers. I believe that what Satan meant for evil, God will turn some Godly good out of it as time goes by. That's just how I see things. Others, I realize, will disagree, and that is their right).
Allow me to also say this once more, in a little different way: There is no doubt in my mind that Satan was legally and literally disarmed at the cross in all sorts of manner ... for certain - over the power of spiritual death - but he was not annihilated. (God COULD have annihilated him had He wanted; God simply chose not to, and I believe the greatest reason for it is to use Satan and demons to help conform born again believers into the image of Jesus Christ, which gets accomplished in part through trials. I believe a secondary reason is to teach Godly angels that did not get kicked out of heaven with those that did ... something that they need to NEVER be tempted to ever do again, which is to rebel against their Creator like Satan did).
God doesn't want us confusing the meanings of "disarmed" and "powerless." You can "disarm" your enemy, but that doesn't mean your enemy is forever powerless to look for an opportune time to rise again and attack you again. The only way you can dethrone your enemy of all power is to kill (annihilate) your enemy or have him locked securely away. God's Word makes it perfectly clear that no one completely dies to the point of oblivion. Hence, neither will Satan and his demon hordes ever die to the point of oblivion. They simply will at a future time be locked away where they can't influence God's people any longer like they currently can now on earth. (And of course, they'll suffer while they are locked away!)
Let's take a quick detour here before moving on. It has been stated that if the Body of Christ would come together in unity and do everything God instructed them to do, Satan's influence in the affairs of this world be essentially rendered ineffective (Matthew 18:19-20 makes this point). That may be true in theory; the problem is getting the Body of Christ to obey, which in my estimation makes it very easy for God to tell us in scripture that evil is only going to increase until Jesus returns to reign on the earth. Furthermore, even after Jesus reins on the earth for 1,000 years, Revelation 20:3 tells us that God is going to allow Satan to have influence for a season once again over certain peoples at that time, and I would guess that might also involve some disciples of Jesus Christ.
Does it make you soberly stunned that God uses Satan and his demon helpers to accomplish things in people on this planet that we're never going to fully get all understanding of until God makes it perfectly clear to us, which may not happen until we're in heaven with Him? Besides, God doesn't tell us in scripture to try to "understand it all" when it comes to Satan and his demon helpers. He does tell us to be aware that Satan has influence over us, and do as scripture and the Holy Spirit instructs to not let Satan's influence over us unduly rock our relationship with Jesus Christ nor the purpose/s we've been called to.
Moving back to our main theme ... there are some other key scriptural references in the Bible that enlightens Christians of the reality that their adversary, Satan and his demonic host, have on their list of high importance this mindset, which is to make Christians as discouraged and hurt and weak and ineffective and as dis-unified and prayerless as often as they can. Here are a few key ones:
Though I've given this scripture earlier in this writing, I'm going to give it again. It is too important to just brush off or neglect. This is what the Spirit of Jesus Christ had to say through the apostle Peter after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:
(1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV): Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. [Note: “Devour” means exactly what it implies!] Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
[Note: Most “sufferings” do not originate from God; they come from the devil, our adversary. Satan wants us to “think and believe” otherwise. If the devil can trick us into thinking God is specifically behind our suffering, we stand a good chance of growing cold towards God. When we grow cold, distant, apathetic toward the pricelessness of understanding and obeying God in His Word, we surely will not fight (resist) Satan, which is exactly what Satan wants! Because we cannot see Satan at work in the spirit realm using humans to accomplish his purposes unless God enables us, Satan wants us attacking those people attacking us and not attacking him]. Read this over again and let it sink deeply in your mind. When we are at odds with another human being, and we are not guilty of the provocation, or feeding it … invariably, there is at least one demonic being influencing that individual in the spirit realm that neither of you can see. Just because you can’t see this demonic being doesn’t mean it’s not there. Ephesians 6:11 implies this entity is indeed there.
"If you don't deal with anger quickly (and the urgency is before the sun goes down), the devil will be happy to be your alarm clock come sunrise."
I feel to repeat this so it sinks in deep: (Ephesians 4:26-27 NKJV): Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. [All sin gives the devil a potential legal foothold in a Christian’s life, as was stated earlier, especially if it is a recurring sin and/or left unconfessed to God. God is telling us here in this passage of scripture that very little will open legal doors for the devil to painfully “sift us like wheat” like crossing over the very fine line of healthy anger and striking out in vengeance or hateful and/or hostile anger toward the one attacking us. Does this give you a clue as to why, in part, God tells us to ‘pray for our enemies’ and deal with our anger before Satan can set up camp around us?
Husbands and wives … the number one key to keep your marriage intact is the wisdom to say often: “I was wrong; please forgive me, honey. I promise I’ll try to do better.” It is the most lethal weapon husbands and wives have during times of conflict, (in most cases the only weapon that will work), yet it’s the last weapon we want to use when we’ve been hurt, isn’t it? Do you suppose Satan knows that? Sure he does. He wants to do everything in his power to convince couples that it’s more important to be right than to fight to keep him out of their marriage].
(2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NKJV): For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds … [These are God’s spiritual weapons that He provides for us to use. Any weapon/s we attempt to use to fight our battles that are not God-inspired and God-given are doomed to fail. Seeking vindication and vengeance against our human oppressors without God’s specific seal of approval almost always brings more pain to us than necessary.]
One of the most often debated issues in Christian circles regarding Christian's authority and power over the devil centers around this particular passage of scripture, and let's ask God to reveal some things to us regarding it. Jesus is imparting power and authority to His twelve disciples:
Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1)
Take careful notice in this above passage of scripture - it does NOT say: “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them ALL power and authority over Satan.” Rather, it says that "God gave them power and authority over all demons (that they would be confronted by during their ministry reign, would be my interpretation of this portion of scripture. For God to have done otherwise would have made them God Himself. If God would have given all of His power and authority to the 12 disciples, they would have had the ability to shut the demons up in hell and never attack one Christian after that, which we know isn't the case. Likewise, if God would have given them all power and authority over Satan, Satan too would be locked away in hell if the 12 had been given that much authority and power). Furthermore, to assume that every person the 12 prayed for to be healed and/or be cured of their disease/s were healed doesn't follow the whole of God's Word. Jesus the man walked in the full power of God through the Holy Spirit, yet scripture records in Matthew 13:58 and Mark 6:5-6 that even He was restricted to release the fullness of that power when doubt and unbelief were as heavy upon people as is was in His hometown. If God through Jesus the man restricted His power from being fully manifest by honoring doubt and unbelief in people, then it follows in my estimation that the 12 also encountered situations where they too had God's power restricted through them when strongholds of fear, doubt and unbelief held it's death grip upon certain people desiring healing.
Regarding deliverance of demonic strongholds in and/or over someone and healing -- saying it clearly and as wisely as I know how -- you and I can (and I believe have) full power and authority granted from God as well over sickness and disease today, yet that alone will not always give the desired results obtained. Strongholds of fear, doubt and unbelief almost always need to be discerned and dealt with to see God's power fully manifest, especially with terminal diseases. Furthermore, there are times when fear, doubt and unbelief are not the sole issue/s to deal with to see one healed of a severe sickness and/or disease. Sometimes a demonic spirit/s must be cast out of that afflicted person before total healing comes. For reasons known only to God, God the Father didn't direct Jesus to spend time in His home town trying to tear down fortresses of doubt and unbelief (It may have simply taken too long. See: Mark 6:5-6 for reference). Rather, the Father moved Jesus on to more fertile ground, it would seem to me, where people were more hungry to hear the life-giving words God wanted imparted.
[Important Note Here: Should God ever allow Satan himself to manifest himself to you, you will want to use the authority God has given every born again believer and say, “The Lord commands you to be silent and leave me, Satan!” To say, “I command you to be silent and leave me” probably won’t budge Satan an inch]. What we need to realize is that sufficient power and authority Jesus gave His twelve disciples in Luke 9:1 has also been passed down to you and I. God wants us to reach out and grab hold of this passage of scripture, and realize that we have all the necessary power and authority over demons assigned to us by virtue of the Holy Spirit to accomplish every assignment, every call, every mission God gives to each of us … even though we may finish it with a lot of battle scars inflicted by demons. The apostle Paul finished his course in life with a lot of demonic battle scars, yet neither Satan nor all the demons at Satan’s disposal cold stop Paul from accomplishing God’s will during his lifetime, nor will it stop God's will for you and I ... unless we quit cooperating with God to have His will accomplished in and through us.
Before we begin examining the armor of God, I feel to say two things:
1) When a soldier is being fired upon by his enemy, one of three things normally happen.
(a) You fire back at your enemy as safely as you can.
(b) You run for the safest cover and let everyone else fire at your enemy, basically because you are paralyzed with fear.
(c) You start firing back at your own soldiers, because you are in a panicked state and you don't rightly discern who is firing at you. (This is Satan's most sought after option for you. Please never forget it).
It's the most elite, fearsome and effective fighting force Jesus has on this planet (excluding His angels, of course). As each of us daily train to be the most effective warriors for Jesus that we can be ... we are all four-star Generals, and yet we are all Privates. Jesus is the only five-star General in the universe. Though He appeared to rank as "private" for His 33 years upon this planet, He was and is the most fearsome warrior ever to shed tears and blood since all creation. Satan got a glimpse of it those 40 days when Jesus fasted in the wilderness. He got a greater glimpse of it once the Tomb Jesus was sealed in emptied.
EXAMINING THE ‘ARMOR OF GOD’
[Note: I’ve bolded key words in the following scriptures to help readers seek the Lord for wisdom and insight into all that is behind them. As God gives unction, I may add some links over time to some or all of these bolded words to give expanded understanding to those who might benefit from it]:
Ephesians 6:10-18 NKJV:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (or scheming) of the devil (Satan and his demons)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (In the spirit realm).
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
God used the Apostle Paul to write these above passages to show us how to be victorious soldiers in the Army of God (so that we can help keep our joy daily and maintain our faith, which is a full time job!). Using a Roman soldier’s armament to compare the weaponry to, the Holy Spirit tells us there are essentially seven pieces of armament. And … Christians are never to take their spiritual armor off.
Keep in mind however: WFPF (Word-Faith-Prayer-Fasting)
Seven Critical Pieces of Armor
(Click on underlined armor pieces for expanded understanding)
1) The Belt of truth (Important note: It is NO COINCIDENCE that God has placed this as the FIRST piece of armor!)
(Here is an important writing that dovetails with prayer: The Secret To Joyless Miserable Christianity)
A modern-day soldier has these basic weapons of armament (depending on where he/she might be fighting):
1) Helmet 5) Backpack 9) Shovel
2) Shirt/Trousers/Belt 6) Sleeping bag 10) Misc. survival items
3) Shoes and socks 7) Survival food 11) Rifle
4) Canteen 8) Knife 12) Bullets
Of these above basic armament items, what are the two most important items to have in the heat of the battle? A rifle that works properly, and bullets to shoot.
Likewise, for the Christian soldier, what are the two most important items to have in the heat of a spiritual battle? A spiritual rifle that works properly, and spiritual bullets to shoot.
Our spiritual rifle is FAITH in GOD and His WORD, and our spiritual bullets are Holy Spirit-directed PRAYER ... when we patiently wait and listen to what God has to say about a matter first, and then are quick to implement Matthew 21:21-22. Asking, Speaking and Believing [trusting] (and persisting) is the type of praying that unleashes the limitless power of God against demonic obstacles either in our way, or attacks directly assigned to us or others.
Concerning Fasting: An excellent teaching on fasting and prayer can be accessed by clicking: Here. Here are two more excellent writings on Fasting: Fasting: Key To Power! What Does God Do When We Fast?
There can be abuses of fasting, and I greatly appreciate the wisdom this website gives on the matter: FASTING - a spiritual discipline and devotional practice.
I feel to emphasize a particular point before proceeding. If you have been a disciple of Jesus Christ for very long, you no doubt have heard about this scripture:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. -- 2 Chronicles 7:14
In many instances, this portion of scripture is mentioned for God to heal one's nation. Though that application is appropriate, there is another application that is easy to overlook. "You land" can also be your temple - your body. Whatever is making your temple "sick" ... seek God regarding fasting along with prayer. It may just mean the difference between victory or defeat.
Before ending out this topic of wisely applying the weapons of warfare God has given us in Ephesians 6, I want to make you aware of a website that I would highly encourage you to explore. It is truly a "Godly treasure chest" of wisdom and insight in my opinion, and the following link will not only take you to it, but will give you a better understanding of how to wisely use the weapons of warfare God has given us to combat demonic influences that greatly desire to hinder our joy and peace in our relationship with God:
Knowing the wisdom of praying the blood of Jesus over our situations is also an important warfare strategy God wants us to be aware of and know when to utilize it:
Listed below are some key insights (wisdom) God has given us to DO to stay strong soldiers – fully equipped and prepared at all times to fight when the enemy is attacking us and see God give us the ultimate victory. There are surely others that could be included, I’m sure, and if God reveals them to you, please forward them to this ministry. (Keep in MIND: Our enemy would rather attack a weak enemy than a strong enemy. Stay STRONG: you will encounter fewer attacks, AND … you will be one of the FIRST God uses to minister to others, which ultimately is the highest privilege any of us have:
1. Know the Word of God (learn your spiritual contractual rights and feed your soul and spirit with God’s Word).
2. Seek God for the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
3. Rejoice always (no storm will ever take you down if your heart is fixed on praise & thanksgiving daily). Praising and thanking God in trials - and for the trials - counters our painful emotions of "feeling" betrayed by God. It holds our anger in check, and diminishes greatly bitterness, hopelessness and depression (or until the trial passes). Gratefulness is a Godly character trait that Satan has no power against. Gratefulness is a powerful weapon against the lust of our flesh. The way to God's heart is to be grateful. Great reward will come at the Judgment Seat Of Christ for those who are grateful. Grace and mercy will be showered upon those in this life who are grateful.
4. Pray without ceasing. Meaning ... don't ever stop relying on prayer, no matter how difficult things might seem at the time. Prayer involves both speaking and listening to God. God uses our prayers to energize His angels to battle evil on our behalf. Prayer puts spiritual gas in our empty tanks. When prayer alone seems to not be bringing breakthrough, strongly consider using God's weapons of fasting along with prayer.
5. Stay filled with His Spirit. (Praise and thanksgiving and being grateful at all times are vital to stay filled with the Holy Spirit). "Filled" means to be controlled. The "filling" should not be misconstrued with getting "more" of The Holy Spirit, but rather ... allowing the Holy Spirit to get more of us! (If you are having great struggles of giving into sin, and/or there are active signs of demonic activity that you can't seem to shake, you may want to seek out competent Christian counseling to help you break free from demonic assignments/strongholds over your life). If you don't have a competent Christian counselor you can speak with, you might contact the following ministry and see if God will use them to point you in the right direction. (This ministry was founded by Neil T. Anderson): http://www.ficm.org/
6. Seek, develop and use the gifts God has given, or wants to give you (They are needed).
7. Realize the battle is never yours alone (It is also God’s, His Angels, and the Church’s as well).
8. Control anger (Overt and suppressed).
9. Practice forgiveness constantly (Against God, yourself and others).
10. Strive for humility (Esteem others as more important than yourself and admit you can be wrong, but always realize you are not only "a sinner saved by grace, but a saint who occasionally sins. After all ... you are positionally seated in Christ Jesus with Him in heavenly places!).
11. Avoid dissension (Dissension gives the devil great legal ground to divide and conquer in relationships).
12. Deal quickly with sin in your life (It gives Satan legal foothold/s in us otherwise. If you haven't reminded yourself lately, Romans Chapter 6 is God's starting point in breaking strongholds of sin in our life).
13. Don’t return evil for evil (It gives Satan legal right to attack greater).
14. Don’t quench the Spirit (The trinity is NOT Father, Son & solely Holy Scriptures ... hint-hint). The Spirit, The Holy Spirit, The Holy Ghost, The Comforter, is a person ... not an "it." The Holy Spirit is fully one of the three persons of the Godhead. He is to be treated with as much respect as the Father and Jesus Christ.
15. Don’t despise prophecies (Specific direction from God through fallible human vessels. However, don't let personal prophecies run your life either. The wise have learned that a personal prophecy usually confirms what God has already been speaking to your spirit.)
16. Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord (As though God is your boss and rewarder, because He is).
17. Give honor and respect to your spiritual authorities (Obey them; heed their wisdom, but don’t let them control you [unless of course, they have no choice because you become out of control]. Let them lovingly encourage and admonish you. Accept their strong advice and/or correction as is beneficial).
18. Test all things (The person and his/her words by the Spirit and God’s Word).
19. Do the work of an evangelist (Sharing truth and hope from God’s perspective with others as God gives opportunity, which involves accurately dividing the Word of God).
20. Don’t let the devil pull you back under the Law of the Old Covenant (It will put you into major bondage! The New Covenant is where you'll receive maximized help from God.)
21. Understand how you got saved (By your trusting and God’s grace ONLY – nothing else). [“Working out your salvation daily” is the evidence of your love and obedience for God – which is commonly known as Sanctification].
22. Obey the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life (It will only reap eternal benefits).
23. Learn about nutrition (What you eat and drink may be destroying you physically). Fasting can also work in conjunction with taking care of your temple. Here is a writing on fasting I would encourage you to read: Give Your Insides A Vacation.
24. Learn the wisdom of wise physical exercise (Weakness makes weaker. Too much of the wrong kind of exercise can be detrimental as well).
25. Learn to hear the voice (or discern His voice, if you will) of the Holy Spirit as quickly as you can. (He knows every trick of Satan. He also happened to be around when "The Design Committee" created Satan).
26. Give liberally of your time, talent and treasure to the work of the Lord.
[Much conflict in the life of a person involves the lack of financial resources. If debt is not wisely managed, a legal door often gets opened for Satan to rob us of peace and a sound mind. If you are not giving at least some small percentage of finances to a local church on a consistent basis you are a part of, or an evangelistic ministry you believe in, or to needy Christian believers, you are doing yourself a great disfavor. (If you currently aren't connected to a local church, there are many worthwhile and effective ministries you can sow financial gifts to God to while you wait until God connects you to a local fellowship of some sort. Or, you can simply help others out less fortunate than you. Giving to the poor as the Holy Spirit directs [which usually connects "evangelism" with it in some manner] without expecting anything back from them [other than expectation that it will somehow result in the salvation of their soul one day] puts a twinkle in God's eye every time He thinks of you (which is always!). Nevertheless, the biblical precedent for giving to the poor was to look out for the needs of Christian believers first before helping meet the needs of the unsaved.
Keep this in mind: God has ordained that God's people use money to expand His Kingdom here on earth. Giving is "farming - investing." Farmers don't get crops unless they sow seeds, and investors in the stock (shock) market don't get an increase in their investment/s until they first deposit some money. (I am not necessarily advocating investing in the stock market, by the way. I didn't use the word "shock" just to get you to laugh. In my estimation, the "shock" market has become a "questionable" place to lay up very much eternal treasure in heaven anymore. If the practice of "shorting stocks" gets outlawed and enforced, and who is allowed to short, I might change my opinion somewhat).
Note however, that if a farmer sows seed in a bad field - no crops. If an investor sows financial seed in a bad financial investment - no profit. Likewise, there are good spiritual investments, and not so good ones, so be very careful not to get upset at God if you aren't seeing much of any return on your financial giving. There are many churches and ministries very happy to get your donations, but what is the quality of that investment? Most assuredly if you are giving finances as unto the Lord with right motives, though it be a low quality investment, surely God will reward you somehow in eternity. Nevertheless, why not seek God for wisdom in putting your finances in the best spiritual investment(s) available to you and maximize the effectiveness of your giving? [We would hope you find Precious Testimonies as a solid spiritual investment. We purpose it to always be by the Grace of God through Christ Jesus our Lord].
Yet always remember this: God determines when we will see a return on our sowing, and He also determines the quality of the harvest. For the most part, that might well not happen until we're on the other side of eternity.
27. Learn the secret of contentment with what you have -- not focusing on what you have lost, or what you don't have (and/or can't seem to get). Contentment is a fruit of gratefulness.
28. Constantly ask God to reveal your selfishness. Selfishness is the root of our conflict with God and others. When we get upset at God ... it always stems from our selfishness in some way. The big "I" constantly wants to be on the throne ... dictating to God how God should do things for us, and for those we pray for. Truly ... none of us but God knows just how big our big "I" is inside us. Much of the suffering God allows a Christian believer to go through is designed to reveal just how selfish we really still are ... which brings us to Point 27.
29. Life in Christ is about testing, trusting and always remembering that it is very temporary, in light of eternity. There are more assurances in the New Covenant Word of God that a Christian believer is going to suffer in this life than constantly staying on the mountain-top of perpetual material and emotional and physical prosperity. (Otherwise God wouldn't have given us Ephesians 6:10-18, would have He?). The "many afflictions of the righteous" come lot and parcel with being a devout follower of Jesus Christ, because demonic powers hate the Army of God. Spiritual terrorism against believers is only going to increase, saints, until Jesus returns. The Bible warns us of it, and we need to stay on the alert and always be prepared.
(Here is a valuable website that provides additional insight into employing the weapons God gives us to fight demonic harassment: Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry)
Spiritual prosperity is the mark of a mature believer in Christ. God shows us that spiritual prosperity is very attainable in this life, and God desires that we move toward it as quickly as we are able. Your spiritual well-being is God's highest concern for you -- cannot be realized completely in this life without walking in ever-increasing dimensions of "spiritual prosperity." The school of suffering is what brings it about. Philippians 4 tells us how the Apostle Paul earned his degree of "Spiritual prosperity." For us to acquire that same degree ... the path of hardship and trials is our schoolmaster. Hebrews 5:8 tells us that Jesus (the man - emphasis mine) learned obedience by the things He suffered as well. (Obviously the God side of Jesus didn't need to learn obedience, but I believe that side of Him was left in heaven anyway prior to Him coming to earth as a little infant through His mother Mary. As noted previously in this writing, I believe He didn't assume His full deity again until He ascended back to heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father).
I'll say it again, but in a little different way. The "man" side of Jesus needed to learn obedience to the Father, not the God-side of Jesus -- which for sake of discussion, I'm taking the position, was left in heaven. The "man" side of Jesus was not fully qualified to be our eternal High Priest until he proved himself to the Father and Satan that he was worthy to receive the title and position. The "man" side of Jesus proved himself in at least three ways:
1) He did only what his Father willed him to do.
2) He never sinned once.
3) He overcame everything Satan threw at him.
Here is something you may want to mediate on and pray about, because I believe that herein lies perhaps the greatest reason why God allows you and I to suffer, as Jesus was also allowed to suffer by the hand of Satan and the injustices life handed him. Revelation 1:6 states that Jesus is in the business of making you and I (born again believers) "kings and priests" ... as does Revelation 5:10 and Revelation 20:6. It is very obvious to you and I as we study the New Testament that it was Satan working through people of Jesus' day that caused most of Jesus' suffering ... not just the people who opposed him.
As every wise Bible student has learned, we must read scripture in proper context. Hebrews Chapter 5 is talking about Priesthood. Verse 10 assures us that God has given Jesus the title of the highest of high Priests. Verse 8 tells us how he earned that title -- through obedience. How did he learn that obedience? By 1) overcoming demonic opposition, 2) overcoming temptation of sin, 3) only doing that which His(The) Father willed. Should it surprise you and I that God wants us to constantly be working at the same three things ... to form in us the qualities of a "high priest" as well?
Praise God ... God is not asking us to be Jesus -- He's desiring that we ever seek to be like Jesus. Positionally, those of us who are in Christ Jesus are already fully qualified to be "kings" and "priests." However ... until our time here on earth is done, God wants us to put into practice these two titles we've been given. Jesus had to -- why would you and I be made completely exempt?
Let me say it another way. Let's say God gives you a new 1960 Cadillac. It's in mint condition. How could something that old be in such mint condition? Because it was well maintained. God wants us to start diligently maintaining our titles of "kings" and "priests" now instead of letting them become "winter-beater rust buckets, or waiting until heaven to begin putting into practice what God has already made us. Why wouldn't He?"
In all of our trials -- in all of our hardships -- in all of the suffering, unfairness, persecution, mind battles of doubt and often-times feeling forsaken by both God and man, as well as sicknesses and diseases, not to mention financial hardships (the list goes on and on) ... God is using these things to equip us to be trusted with the assignment(s) we'll be given in the ages to come. Never lose focus of that. As the faithful saying goes: "We're training for co-reigning with Jesus Christ throughout eternity -- to one degree or another!" (See: 2 Timothy 2:12 KJV)
Remember ... devout disciples are heirs of God and joint-heirs of Jesus Christ. (See: Romans 8:16-17). For Jesus Christ to fully receive the joy(s) that would be granted Him through the future ages to come ... He had to go through suffering during His stay here on earth. Though the sufferings inflicted on Him served a much greater purpose for the redemption of the fallen human race ... yet sufferings God allows in our lives are equipping us to fully appreciate the joy/s that will be granted us through the future ages to come as well, (as well as probably equip us to be trusted with the responsibilities we'll be given) ... as we serve arm and arm with the co-creator of all things: none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. Let this promise sink deep into your soul, especially if you're going through a severe trial right now:
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. -- (Romans 8:16-27)
No suffering in our lifetime is ever wasted, nor is it ever happening without God's intense scrutiny and oversight.
No suffering in our lifetime is ever wasted, nor is it ever happening without God's intense scrutiny and oversight. Whether inflicted directly from Satan, and/or consequences of our past sins or poor choices, or directly from God as chastisement and discipline ... God in His love, wisdom, power, grace and mercy is using our pain for our ultimate gain ... if we don't turn our back on Him indefinitely. That's all we have to do to attain our full inheritance from God -- don't quit Him indefinitely by "firing Him" or "divorcing Him," because of our pain, usually triggered by Satan's lie to us that God has "betrayed us," or "that God evidently can't be bothered with what is important to us."
A closing thought in this segment: Satan wants to deceive us into believing all suffering comes directly from the Father, in one form or fashion. For sake of discussion, let's say God locked up Satan and his demons this very moment, and for us to continue to learn "obedience" by the things we have to suffer to have some Christ-like qualities of "kings and priests" formed in us ... then all question would be removed as to what source the suffering was coming from. The source would be our heavenly Father. If that was the case, then we would have a heavenly Father who constantly would be trying to convince us that He loved us in one breath, while kicking us down the stairs and beating us with whips and chains in the process. Would any of us want to obey a schizophrenic Father like that? Not me!
Rather ... instead of God locking Satan and his demons out of commission so they can't affect us ... God in His wisdom is actually using Satan to help form us into "kings" and "priests" by the sufferings Satan inflicts upon us. If Satan grows in anger and rage, as it appears to me he has to be ... wouldn't you and I be angered and enraged as well if we functioned like the devil, knowing that every time we attacked that which was near and dear to God ... God was using you and I to work ultimate good in the very enemy you were attacking? Satan has got to be the most frustrated being God ever created! No wonder he delights in wiping out thousands of people as he did in the late 2004 SE Asia tsunami. Anger and rage so builds in him at times that the only way he can vent that rage is to take innocent lives, of course, when God permits him to.
[Something to think about ... God could allow Satan to allow a meteor to smash into our planet at any time and destroy millions upon millions of innocent people. God isn't "obligated" to keep disasters of that proportion from happening, however the cause. He wiped out earth's population once before (minus those on the ark with Noah) because of rebellion against Him ... and what should strike healthy fear in each of us is that He didn't even waste His time using Satan to be the one to cause it to rain 40 days and 40 nights either. God can use Satan anytime He wants to, but He certainly doesn't need Satan to get the job done].
I for one do not believe our heavenly Father takes any great personal pleasure in seeing Satan inflict his suffering on God's people. Yet our heavenly Father is so wise, as is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, that from the time Satan and a third of the angels rebelled and were kicked out of heavenly places, God chose to use Satan to work ultimate good for those who would inherit eternal salvation, rather than just lock Satan and the rest of the fallen angels away immediately. Though I can't possibly build a biblical case for it ... I think there is a very personal thing going on between God and Satan over the original rebellion that Satan instigated a long time ago. You don't rebel against God the way Satan did without paying a dear price for it. You and I can be forgiven for our rebellion against God, because Jesus the man earned and paid the price for you and I to be able to. Satan and the rest of the fallen angels don't get that option. God does have a limit to his mercy and forgiveness.
God had to take Satan's rebellion very, very personal. It had to be the greatest insult God could have been given. Yet rather than simply punish Satan and the angels that rebelled with Satan, God evidently said to Himself: I'm going to use this rebellion for My ultimate good. Why not, I have the power and wisdom to do so.
You and I who remain in Christ Jesus ... through this great Salvation we've been given freely of charge ... are part of God's unfolding plan to turn evil around for God's ultimate glory. In the streets, it can get said this way: "Just ain't no way you can get one up on The Man."
In continuation ...
Satan and his demon assistants know they will never be given what believers in and on Jesus Christ will be given in the future ages to come. Hatred by Satan and his demon followers towards God because of their sealed fate, and jealously because God is going to give Christian believers joy unspeakable throughout eternity these demonic beings will never know of, is what fuels demonic powers to do everything they can to inflict as much pain and suffering on God's people while they still can, to the degree God allows them, of course, which soberly may include up to and including painful death.
Thus ... our enemy seeks to “rob, steal and destroy” our effectiveness and usefulness, confidence, peace and joy in God. (See: John 10:10)
Jesus and The Holy Spirit, our Co-Creator and General and Captain and Squad Leader and Personal Friend and Guidance Counselor and Personal Physician . . . seeks to inspire us to keep fighting to maintain our effectiveness and usefulness, confidence, peace and joy in God at all times. (See the remainder of: John 10:10)
“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, [religiosity; practicing man-made laws] but righteousness, [right relationship with God and others, which will then help bring] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (See: Romans 14:17) Nor is it in words only, but with power. (See: 1 Corinthians 4:20; 2 Timothy 3:5)
In conclusion: Getting and keeping confidence in God … getting and keeping peace and joy … is a full-time endeavor, to maintain our effectiveness and usefulness in and through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit when (not if) God our Father desires to use us. For most believers who have determined to make a huge dent in the world for Jesus Christ during their lifetime, our corporate battles against demonic forces are only going to increase as we move closer to end times, not decrease. Scripture bears this out, though we’re certainly not to walk in perpetual sorrow or fear over it. We need to stay equipped to fight evil each day … and at the end of each day … still be standing confident in Jesus Christ so that we will be able to resist whatever attacks the devil might try to launch against us tomorrow. Make sense?
As a closing reminder … the devil is constantly trying to get us to come up with reasons why we shouldn’t be a part of a local church fellowship, or connected to a bible study or prayer group (especially a prayer group!). If we allow the devil to isolate us from other Christians in our times of need (and there will come times of need for every Christian), we have much needless pain awaiting us. There will be times when you are so discouraged, or so battle weary that you just may not have what it takes to fight for yourself. That is when you’ll need other Christians to come to your aid and battle for you to help you get through it. If you haven’t developed relationships with other Christians you can trust to go to battle for you in your time of need … you are only setting yourself up for needless pain God would rather you not have to go through. I’m sorry if you take offense at this, but I’d rather you be upset with me now than see you go through needless pain down the road.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have suggestions as to how this writing might be improved, please be encouraged to forward them to me. I'm not trying to come across as any spiritual authority regarding spiritual warfare issues. My purpose for writing and posting this on the Internet is because I've observed just too many believers getting beat up, and they just aren't aware it's the devil doing the hammering on them. You can't make the statement
"Your spiritual well-being is God's highest concern for you"
... and give false hope to babes in Christ that "utopia" is somehow going to be attained in this life now that they have turned their lives over to the Lord Jesus Christ. Truth of the matter is ... the spiritual battle will probably only intensify for them. If people aren't bluntly alerted to this, what favor are we really doing them by appearing to promise something that is not attainable in this lifetime before the return of Jesus Christ?
True -- God's greatest concern for us is our spiritual well-being. However ... we must come to realize that God views our spiritual well-being much differently than what we think He should. It's easy for us to "assume" that always having a million dollars in our bank account, a huge new home, lots of toys to fill it, perfect health, a job we love, the "perfect" local church, etc., is what we need to be spiritually healthy. True thanksgiving and contentment and motives for serving Jesus Christ and serving in ministry are tested through afflictions, almost always. It's just the way God has ordained it. My selfish flesh doesn't like it any better than yours, but I've yet to have God show up and inquire of what my selfish flesh wants. If God shows up, it has been my experience that he'll probably take His heavenly "blow-torch" to my self-serving flesh, and then see if the remaining ashes has anything valuable to tell Him in how He ought to do things.
What makes it evenly more soberly challenging for us to come to grips on ... He might just use a demon to be that "blow torch" - the same demon "blow torch" He chose to use on the Apostle Paul, to keep him humble after having taken his little vacation to the third heaven and heard words that are yet to be revealed to you and I. Yet unless someone can convince me differently, I believe God gave a little "clue" or "hint" of what the Apostle Paul heard in the third heaven in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (which seems to be my favorite scripture more often than not these days!):
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day."
(Here's the GOOD part!) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, (Uhh ... which can be our earthly lifetime for some) is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
This warrants mentioning for those who do not clearly discern the future. The most intense spiritual battle ever to be waged on this planet is yet to take place. Tribulation is assured, the Bible makes perfectly clear. God can instantly remove you and I from this tribulation, or He can help us walk through it like He did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. God is not known to be a "Get me out of the fire God" during this dispensation. History shows that He is more a "Get me through the fire God."
Are you prepared to go through whatever fire(s) of affliction God may allow ... to try your faith (reveal selfishness; purify; build Christ-like character) before you get to heaven?
What is the motto they used to teach in the Boy Scouts? Always be prepared!
Here is an excellent overview on spiritual warfare issues: Spiritual Warfare Issues
Another excellent teaching on The Armor Of God can be found at: The Armor of God Study
Here is an easy link for your convenience to some of the most well-written books on the topic of spiritual warfare: Spiritual Warfare Books
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