Warfare against the world, the devil, and the FLESH – part 2
Last Friday we shared how and why our Lord calls us to change and grow more and more into the likeness of Christ and here are some of your comments: to bring Him glory as we yield to God's desire to use us more and more for His purposes; out of our love and gratitude for all He has done for us; the fear of the Lord- both the negative aspect of His discipline now and loss of eternal rewards, and the positive aspect of temporal and eternal blessings/rewards for obedience now and forever; tired of being lied to and defeated by the enemy; our desire to better care for and serve our family and friends.
As I thought about this I remembered a quote by C. S. Lewis: "If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." Jesus never asks us to sacrifice or give up anything (our mud pies) without promising us something far better and ultimately infinite joy as seen here in Matthew 5:10-12 (I use the Amplified translation for the emphasis on the joy of sacrificial obedience): "Blessed and happy and enviably fortunate and spiritually prosperous (in the state in which the born-again child of God enjoys and finds satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of his outward conditions) are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake (for being and doing right), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! 11Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of your outward conditions) are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely on My account.12Be glad and supremely joyful, for your reward in heaven is great (strong and intense), for in this same way people persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matt. 5:10-12)
So, one of our main prayers should be: Lord please show me my "mud pies" and give me the grace to give them up for the superior joy of knowing and doing Your will, which is good, pleasing (to me) and perfect. (See Romans 12:1-2) (See Andy Stanley's sermon on Mark 8:27-38 called Trading Up at: http://northpoint.org/messages/trading-up.)
But – this is where the battle begins. The world, the devil, and the flesh (our old sinful, selfish nature that lies to us on the inside) these three enemies will try to deceive us into remaining self-centered, temporally minded (get it now and keep it now) and even worse – cheat, lie, steal and kill to have it my way!! That is, unless we fight against them with God's weapons of warfare seen especially in Ephesians 6:10-20. God's truth (at our fingertips – in our hearts); walking in God's righteousness by the power of the Holy Spirit; which leads to the peace of God (not just peace with God- salvation) but a supernatural peace that comes from absolute trust and confidence in the goodness and power of God; living by faith and not sight- seeing the ultimate and eternal Reality in the midst of the temporary reality of trials and suffering which means I know God will produce glory for Him and for me as I trust and obey; the helmet of salvation (no sloppy thinking allowed- i.e., believing lies- 2 Cor 10:3-5); and the sword of the Spirit – knowing and using God's Word in the moment of temptation – Matt. 4; and praying in the Spirit (praying according to God's Word by the power of the Spirit).
Getting the garbage out and keeping it out all the time: garbage attracts flies, insects and rats so we must keep our house clean and cleansed (regularly) to keep them out. Because we all have sinned and been sinned against we have wounds (Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted) and pockets of rebellion in our souls (Rom. 7) This is our soul garbage and unless we clean it out regularly we will attract demons (e.g., see Eph 4:26-27) which will lie to us, influence our thinking and even oppress us. This is where we will have to make a significant investment of time and mental and emotional work. I recommend reading three key books from the ministry of Freedom in Christ by Dr. Neil Anderson. (*See Dr. Anderson's comments at the end of this teaching regarding his critics who say he over emphasizes the role of demons in the life of a believer.) As I mentioned last week and included in my teaching on spiritual warfare based on Ken Boa's book Conformed to His Image, demons can both influence and oppress believers (Matthew 16:22-23; Acts 5:3; Romans 15:22; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 11:3; Ephesians 4:26-27; 1 Timothy 5:14-15; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Timothy 4:1-3). But they cannot possess a believer because at our deepest level our spirit is sealed by the Holy Spirit. Here are Dr. Anderson's three books and in order of reading: 1) Victory Over the Darkness; 2) Steps to Freedom and 3) The Bondage Breaker. http://www.freedominchrist.com/ (see on-line store).
Here are the seven key areas of spiritual warfare Dr. Anderson addresses in Steps to Freedom. 1) Counterfeit versus Real; deals with past or present involvement with cult, occult or false religions. 2) Deception versus Truth; deals with lies and deception from the world, the devil and the flesh that we may believe about God, others or ourselves. 3) Bitterness versus Forgiveness; deals with un-forgiveness we hold toward anyone and how Satan uses un-forgiveness to keep us in bondage. 4) Rebellion versus Submission; anti-authority toward God, government, parents, teachers/coaches, employers, and church leaders. 5) Pride versus Humility; confidence wrongly placed in self versus properly placed in God and God alone and giving Him all the glory. 6) Bondage versus Freedom; besetting sins/addictions. As Anderson states: the only relationship we can have with sin is as its slave. 7) Curses versus Blessings; generational sins passed down by modeling and demonic spirits.
*Should You Focus So Much On Demons?
["It's not that we are focusing on demons as much as we are bringing light to the truth. We believe we are moving the Church toward a more biblical worldview which openly acknowledges and addresses spiritual realities. One of the major problems that has led to the ineffectiveness of the Church today is the adoption of a western worldview which ignores, on a functional level, much of what the Scriptures teach about spiritual realities. Categorizing our problems under the labels "The World," "The Flesh," and "The Devil" is a little deceiving because it tends to give the impression that they operate independently from each other. According to Genesis 1-6, if it weren't for Satan, the world and the flesh wouldn't be problems for us. Some believers point to James 1:14 as teaching that all sin is really the result of the flesh. But this interpretation ignores the rest of the Book of James, especially James 3:13-4:10, which clearly implies that all human conflict and worldliness has a demonic dimension (3:15) requiring us to resist the devil as part of the solution (4:7). Paul says our struggle is "not with flesh and blood" but against an organized, evil, spiritual empire that controls the world (see Ephesians 6:12) and which impacts every person born (see Ephesians 2:1-3). Satan is called the god of this world, and all the world is under his evil influence. To be sure, excessive preoccupation with the demonic can be a problem with some groups. The solution is found in living according to a completely biblical worldview with Scripture as our guide. As we've stated over and over, recognizing a spiritual dimension to our problems does not imply a "devil made me do it" theology. Nobody emphasizes personal responsibility for finding freedom more than we do. Every New Testament passage on spiritual struggles emphasizes our personal responsibility to resist and stand firm (Ephesians 6:10-12; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8,9). But we must take seriously the spiritual dimension of our struggles if we are to win in the battle against the flesh and the world. The focus of our ministry is Christ, not the devil. We instruct people not to call up, name or deal directly with the demonic in counseling sessions. We don't want demons to manifest; we want to manifest the presence of God. Wanting to do all things decently and in order, we teach pastors, missionaries, counselors and laypeople to maintain control and work only with the counselee."] Note: Dr. Anderson's books are recommended by Dr. Wayne Grudem, a well-known and highly respected theologian, author and professor. ["Grudem holds a BA from Harvard University, a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. In 2001, Grudem became Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. Prior to that, he had taught for 20 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he was chairman of the department of Biblical and Systematic Theology. Grudem served on the committee overseeing the English Standard Version translation of the Bible, and from 2005 to 2008 he served as General Editor for the 2.1 million-word ESV Study Bible (which was named "2009 Christian Book of the Year" by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association). In 1999 he was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Grudem]
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. What "mud pies" have you given up in the past for the superior joy of knowing and doing God's will?
2. Discuss the weapons of warfare seen in Ephesians 6:10-20 and my comments on each of them. How are you using these in your life and battle against the three enemies?
3. Share the "soul garbage" God has cleaned out in your life for a testimony to Him and the freedom it has brought you.
4. Have you been set free from any of the seven areas of spiritual warfare listed above? If so, please testify how God did this for you.
Free Webinar – The next Freedom From Addictive Behaviors Basic Webinar begins Tuesday, January 10 at 8:00PM EDT/ To register, go to https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/515257435 See below for more information. For more information on the subjects covered in the Conference Webinar click livepage.apple.com
Mike Quarles teaches the conference and is the Director of Grace Walk Recovery Ministries and has co-authored with his wife Julia and Dr. Neil Anderson four books on freedom from addiction. The conference begins with Mike sharing his testimony of how he found freedom from addiction. The conference presents the foundational key to freedom which is to understand your identity in Christ and receive your freedom as a result of Christ's finished work on the cross. This seems to be a truth that has been hidden from the Christian community. Mike had been a Christian for 18 years, was a seminary graduate and a former pastor. But he found himself hopelessly addicted to alcohol. He attended hundreds of A. A. meetings and had five different sponsors. He saw numerous counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, He tried all the Christian disciplines, a Christian 12 Step group, an accountability group, group therapy, public confession and the drug antabuse. He was called before the Church Discipline Committee for being a drunk and went through secular treatment center and a Christian treatment center, but nothing helped. Finally he learned the transforming truth that he was a child of God who was in Christ and Christ was in him and that as a new creation he was dead to sin and freed from it. It was only then that he was able to experience the truth that "If Christ sets you free, you are free indeed" (John 8:36). The Conference clearly presents the truth that a person who understands who they are in Christ will not engage in self-destructive behavior as a lifestyle, but will understand and experience the truth that "It was for freedom that Christ set you free" (Gal. 5:1). Conference Topics are:
1.The Strange Odyssey of a Legalistic Preacher Who Became a Drunk, Discovered Grace and Was Set Free
2. The Problem of Addictive Behaviors
3. The Price of Freedom
4. God's Answer for Addictive Behaviors
5. Strongholds of Addictive Behaviors
7. How to Walk Free and Stay Free
8. The Basics of Freedom
Email Mike at [email protected] if you have an interest.