Saturday, March 25, 2017

STAND on Who God is NOT--Spiritual Warfare, VI

Satan’s greatest weapon is to assassinate God’s character, and make you doubt His integrity.  If Satan can make you doubt God’s fundamental honesty, then the words that fall from His lips are questionable. If the words God has uttered are suspect, then His Word is suspect. Satan always tries to make God less of who He is.  Belittling God and His Word is first nature to him.  For God’s Word is Who God is and vice versa.  God speaks from His character, and His character directs what He says. 
Satan’s character is also represented by what he says, and what he says emanates from his character. 

Let’s look at Satan’s tactics in Genesis 3:1-13.  Satan has not changed throughout the ages as to how he operates with human beings.  His interactions with human beings started on this very note of questioning what God says and therefore Who He is.

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.
   And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Let’s walk back into the Garden to the scene of the crime.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.
And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Snakes are subtle.  They slither into place stealthily. They hide. They strike with lightning speed. They are deadly. They blend in and then seem to materialize out of nowhere as they start moving.  Is it any wonder that Satan choose a snake to hide in and talk to Eve through?  The snake piqued Eve’s curiosity. Right out of the gate, Satan comes swinging.  He questions what God said.  God said that Adam could “freely eat” of all the trees but one.  So, right off, Satan twists what God said. 
Satan also goes after Eve. Adam got his information straight from God Himself; Adam told Eve.  So, should Eve have verified what she heard from Adam by asking God Himself?  Yes. Adam was sincere in what he said.  Perhaps he didn’t quote to Eve everything exactly as God has said. Sometimes we are wrong just enough to trip someone up, including ourselves.  This is why we must individually pursue the Word and not rely on others for what it says.

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

Eve is quoting this portion right:  “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat…” (Gen. 2:16)  Obviously Adam told her and she remembered what he said.  But up to a point.  Did Adam review God’s words with Eve periodically?  To review God’s Word means to renew His Word in our hearts.  Psalm 119:10-11 says, "With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."  That’s good advice but it is rarely followed.

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

God originally says in Genesis 2:17: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."  

She got most of what God had said correct.  But, she adds to God’s words, “nor shall you touch it.”  Where is that in God’s instructions?  Did she get that from Adam, or is she being overly confident in what she thinks she knows?  But that error opens a door into which Satan slithers.  If she is overly confident, that is pride. Pride says, I got this. Satan, whose own fall was due to pride, is truly like a pit viper.  Pit vipers have an infrared sensor on top of their heads, so they can sense heat coming from prey.  Satan senses pride wherever he goes, and zeroes in on Eve’s statement. 

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Satan is calling God a liar.  God did indeed say that death would be the result of eating from that one tree; Satan immediately pounces on the last few words of Eve’s, which were the last few words of God’s.  The last were the most important, so in satanic logic, they must be made null and void.  Satan is saying this prohibition is not true.

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Then Satan “reveals” the “real” reason that God prohibited the eating of the fruit:  not death, but equality.  In other words, only God wants to be God and thus He is selfishly guarding this position for Himself.  He wants no competition in the divine realm.  According to this satanic logic, that is why He put a good scare into Adam and Eve by saying they would die if they ate that fruit. Adam and Eve don’t know what death is (death is the result of sin, and they have not sinned yet) but they need to trust God’s words and obey.  Why? Because He loves and treasures them. But Satan insinuates that God isn’t looking out for them but is concealing something that they deserve.  Satan says that death won’t happen, but the knowledge of good and evil will be theirs, and it will make them like God. 
Adam and Eve don’t know what good or evil is any more than they know what death is, but now Eve is wondering about God’s motive.  She may be thinking:  Why is God not letting us be like Him?  Why, if He loves us, has He not allowed us all the fruit in the garden?  If He is good, everything here is good.  Knowing this good and evil thing must be good, too.  Why is He not letting us have this good thing? The poison is slowly but surely working.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Satan has stopped talking.  But Eve has not stopped thinking.  Just the mere thought that Eve is “missing out” on something is intriguing to her.  Why?  Go back to pride:  If you believe that you are smart, nice, kind, or brilliant enough to have it all, and then you find out that something is missing, well, just take it!  Eve may be thinking:  If God is holding out on you, then you deserve to know because you are, well, YOU!   God made it clear to Adam:  The Garden is yours to tend and keep; one tree is forbidden; death will come if you are disobedient and life will continue if you are obedient.  God presented Adam both paths and their consequences.  Adam relayed this to Eve but the suggestion that she was missing something (that she thought she deserved) made her look harder at the tree and its fruit. Perhaps she is pondering: It looks tasty, looks pretty and promises wisdom.  How could something so right be so wrong? Satan has shifted her attention from God’s word to her contemplation of the forbidden object.  Her focus is on the immediate, tangible object at hand; not on some spoken prohibition given to her husband by Someone whose words are now suspect anyway.  She grabs a bite, hands it off to Adam and nothing immediately happens, except laughter from the tree.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Yes, their eyes are opened, but not to a whole new world of divine knowledge.  They see each other as naked, and what once caused pleasure and delight now causes shame.  The world looks different.  No longer is it a garden filled with God’s presence and wonder; now, it is too spacious.  God could happen upon them at any moment; shame drives them to hide. Somehow, like a small child, we think if we close our eyes or go into the dark, the world can’t see us.  We run from the very One Who longs to forgive our sin and reunite with us.  He wants His light to be always shining in our hearts.
Adam and Eve’s world is no longer centered on God and His fellowship, abundance and love.  They hid thinking:  If He can’t see us and our shame, we are safe. But the darkness is never safe.  That is where the snake hides.

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

They hear God’s voice.  Despite trying to hide from one another (using fig leaves) and from God (in the shadows under the trees) they could still hear God. God will never stop calling us.  If He has to walk right up to the very gates of hell looking for us, He will. 

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

“Where are you?”  God knows.  Adam knows.  The “where” is not just a location but a state of the heart. God immediately knows the fellowship is now broken.  Death has already started because sin has started.  Adam and Eve’s praise has turned to fear. Breaking the law means (even if we get away with it at first) we are always looking over our shoulder.  Or hiding. 

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Why would Adam’s nakedness be a cause to hide?  The Word says, "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled." (Titus 1:15)  Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matt. 5:8)  Their hearts ruined by rebellion, Adam and Eve’s eyes are now capable of seeing darkness. Before their rebellion, all they beheld was light: God’s face, their own innocence and the sunlight streaming into the garden. The darkness now crowded out the light and they hid where they felt comfortable:  in the darkness, away from God, and unable to see each other.  Fear—that drawing back when someone feels shame—left the garden silent and empty. God knows why His children have withdrawn.  He wants them to say out loud why they are absent.  Adam’s words portray the state of his heart: "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."
(Luke 6:45)

And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

God does not condemn His children.  He knows the answers to the questions before He even begins.  He wants Adam to connect his actions to the results.  Adam’s actions replaced innocence with insinuation, freedom with fear, and communion with condemnation. God looks for Adam, even though He knows the state he is in.  He still does the same today.

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

Pride says: I got this! Pride also says: If I don’t got this, it’s your fault! Adam’s pride is showing. He took the apple and ate it, despite hearing the prohibition from God Himself, he thought the satanic logic told to him by Eve had merit. Then, when caught, he denies any responsibility. Pride is rebellion against God’s loving character. God (despite the lies Satan tells) has only our good in mind: "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."  (Matt. 7:9-12) God treats us with love and expects us to do the same to Him and to each other. 

 Adam is truly now on the Dark Side. He is ungrateful (“The woman whom thou gavest to be with me”); he denies personal responsibility (“she gave me of the tree”); and he denies having any choice in the matter (“and I did eat.”)

And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

God lovingly confronts Eve.  She is on the Dark Side as well.  She denies any personal responsibility (“The serpent beguiled [deceived] me”) and she denies having any choice in the matter (“and I did eat”).  So sad for her and her children.

Satan is a liar.  Thus, any claim he makes about God is false. Here are some verses to S.T.A.N.D. on (Spiritually Trained And Not Defeated) and declare what God is not: 

God is not insincere in what He says, for He is Truth, Light and true to His Word: 
  • But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13 NIV)  
  • I am the Way, the Truth and the Life… (John 14:6)  
  • This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
God is not inconsistent:  
  • Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  (James 1:17)
  • I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. (John 8:26)
God is not vague about what He desires for us and the consequences when we choose to obey or disobey:  See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish...So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him… (Deut. 30:15-20)


God does not lie:
  • Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  (Prov. 30:5)
  • God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?  (Num. 23:19)
  •  And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent. (1 Sam. 15:29)
  •  To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. (Ps. 92:15)
  • For I am the Lord, I change not… (Mal. 3:6)
  • Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. (Rom. 3:4)
  • In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began... (Titus 1:2)
  • [I]t is impossible for God to lie... (Heb. 6:18)
God does not withhold things that would benefit you:
  • For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.  (Ps. 84:11) 
  • Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  (James 1:17)
God does not hate you:  I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jer. 31:3 NIV)

God does not wound you like an earthly father can: 
Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them in My arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of a man,
with bonds of love,
And I became to them as one who lifts
the yoke from their jaws;
And I bent down and fed them. (Hosea 11:3-4)

God does not ignore your suffering:
Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. (Is. 40:27-31)

God does not tempt you:  
  • No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  (1 Cor. 10:13)
  • Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.  (James 1:12-15)
God does not allow you to bear your burdens alone:  Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30)

God does not punish you:  
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust. (Ps. 103:10-14)

God does not discipline you out of anger: 
  • I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.  (Rev. 3:19) 
  • Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:7-11)
God does not delight in the death of those who disobey Him:  Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? (Ez. 18:23)

God does not hold yesterday with its failures against you: It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lam. 3:22-3)

Done. God’s character is illustrated by what He says and does. Satan’s character is illustrated by what he says and does. The lies about God are just that: lies. Stand on His Word, not Satan’s accusations.  I rest my case.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stand On Who You Are Not--Spiritual Warfare V

Now you need to know who you are not.  The enemy will try to convince you of all sorts of lies in order to give you what I call, “spiritual vertigo.”  Have you ever had vertigo?  The room spins, you are sick to your stomach and all because of fluid in the middle ear. Satan wants that same condition in you by whispering lies into your ear.  You feel disoriented, unsure if you can stand.  Then that sickening feeling kicks in that maybe, just maybe, God’s Word is a lie:  Is this “Christ in me” thing not as powerful as everyone claims?  Is it a lie?  Could I have been deceived? 

Well, that last part is true.  Deception begins with perception.  If you begin to perceive in any way that God’s Word is not the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth so help you, God, then you do start to wonder. Those who wonder too long wander.  Wandering off the ground given to you by Christ will make you vulnerable to any suggestion that Satan whispers in your ear.  Romans 8:1-16 provides powerful blows to Satan’s vertiginous designs on you.  Let’s begin.

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God...                                            
Here we go.  Ready?

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  You are no longer condemned by your sin and shame.  It has been removed.  You have been granted clemency, a reprieve from your death sentence.  Sin and death were taken care of by Christ’s death on the Cross.  So, you are walking off of Death Row, and nothing and no one can take you back to that cell.  Who is leading you out?  The Spirit.  Follow after Him.  Walk in Him.  His path takes you to freedom. 

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
How was the law of our flesh overridden?  Our flesh is a law unto itself, always first in line to sin and raise a fist of unbelief at God.  Only a new law can override an old one.  Jesus overrode “The Law of Sin and Death” with “The Law of Christ’s Life in Me.”  

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  When I read the words of God, I quickly realize that I am a sinner.  What’s even more disturbing is, having been told what I should not do, then that’s all I want to do!  If you doubt me, just tell a toddler, “Don’t touch that!”  He will figure out some way to touch it, even if it’s dangerous to him. For a moment, think about a courtroom.  God’s words are the prosecuting attorney.  The attorney reads the charges against me:  Without Christ living in you, you cannot do what a holy God demands. It’s true. I am condemned before the righteousness of God because of my flesh and all of its desires. So I cry out to the court, Help me! What should I do? Jesus then walks in as my Defense, and silences the court.  His voice, spoken to my heart, says, Only in Me can you please Me.  New wine (My Life in you) and a new wineskin (your heart made new) can satisfy what I demand. It is my sin that is condemned.  I walk out of the courtroom, free from shame and condemnation because of Christ. The prisoner exchange is complete: His life for mine. His life in mine. My old sin nature is dead and now it is Christ Who lives in me: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  Now, not only do I want to do what the Lord asks of me, I can do what the Lord asks of me.  How?  I am empowered by His Spirit.  Like walking in deep snow, I will place my feet only in His footprints because He goes before me. I can follow the Spirit not because I am suddenly “good” or have good intentions but the very thing that held be back—my sinful nature, my flesh—is now subject to a much more powerful force:  A heart made new in Him, empowered and sustained by Him.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  My heart made new in Him means I don’t want to follow me. I want to follow Him. I am no longer shackled to my flesh; I have been set free. Yes, the flesh calls my name, but His voice drowns out its call.  I can choose.  Prisoners have no choice; their chains do not allow it.  But because I am free in Him, I am free to choose.  I choose Life, because I choose Jesus.
  
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  The endgame of Satan is my death.  The endgame of my flesh is my death.  The world’s endgame is my death. I choose Life.  The result?  Peace. Know Him, know peace. No Him, no peace. 

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  My mind has to come under His loving reign.  Otherwise, it is at war with God. If my mind, immersed in my sinful nature, is not transformed and made captive to the mind of Christ, I am at war with God.  War is not peace nor freedom.  His work in me is the work of: "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5)

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  Our flesh cannot ever please Him.  That is why His Son came: "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8)  Wow. God deserves my best. My flesh cannot deliver; only Christ in me can. 

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  The Spirit in me is a promise from God: "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." (2 Cor. 1:21-22)  I am in Christ and His Spirit in me is my most precious possession.  I am His most precious possession. 

And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  I died with Him by giving Him my heart.  I was buried with Him by surrendering my will.  I am resurrected with Him by walking in this new life: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."(Gal. 2:20) This verse in Galatians is essential for understanding where you and I now stand in Christ!  

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  I live by His power alone: "I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms." (Eph. 1:19-20)  I will live in His power.  Once this life is over, I will hear His voice whisper my true name as I go to be with Him.  Forever.   

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. To pay my debt to Him is a simple payment plan:  Live each day in surrender and watch Him work out His will in the world through me. 

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  This flesh and this world means death.  Why do I not buy that?  It’s because I want to believe I am not all that bad.  “Did God really say?” echoes down the ages into all the ears of Adam’s children.  My response:  Yes, God did say. Yes, Jesus did pay. Yes, this is salvation’s day. Because only Jesus is the Way.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  If I am led by the Spirit of Christ, I am God’s son or daughter.  If the enemy starts mocking me, I will point and say, “I’m with JESUS.”  That is enough.

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  I sit in the waiting room with Fear.  In comes the Spirit, waving adoption papers with Abba’s signature on it, signed with the blood of His precious Son.  Fear is shown the door.  I am His and He is mine.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God..."Yeah, right" sneers the accuser. “You’re His? Prove it!” The Spirit takes my hand and off we go, dancing to the melody of the Father’s love. The worst music to Satan is the sound of shackles clanging to the floor. I do not have to prove anything.

Now, here are your key verses to S.T.A.N.D. (Spiritually Trained and Not Defeated) on to declare what you are not:

I am not condemned:  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom. 8:1)

I am not in bondage:  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17)

I am not in fear: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  (2 Tim. 1:7)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  (Deut. 31:6)

I am not without choice:  Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.  See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.  But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.  This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life… (Deut. 30:11-20)

Done.  I choose life because I choose Christ. Take that, Satan.  

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sword Practice: Who You Are in Christ Part IV

To be good at swinging your sword, you must practice.  We are going into training with Jesus to gain insight on how to wield the Sword of the Word.  Then we will look at verses which are sharp and pack a punch with the accuser.  Use these verses to strike back when Satan accuses you of being less than what the Word says you are. First, let’s look at the temptation of Jesus to gain an insight on how to use the Sword of the Word.  Luke, chapter 4:1-13, sets the scene: 

1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

Many writers have done an excellent job unpacking this portion of Scripture. I will take it purely from a lie/truth angle.  If Satan is the father of lies, a murderer and a destroyer, his goal will be to:
·         blunt your sword with his lies
·         turn your sword against you by murdering the truth
·         knock the sword from you hand and break it by destroying the integrity of God’s Word 
So, let’s break it down.  The first insinuation is “If You’re the Son of God...” (4:3). Satan is lying.  Earlier, upon receiving baptism in the Jordan from John, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and the voice of God said, "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." (Luke 3:22) 

Satan is trying to blunt the word Jesus just received from His Father and call its truth, that He is indeed the Son, into question. Satan will blunt your sword and call God’s promises into question every chance he gets.  Response?  Fight back.  Don’t shrink and think, “Maybe he’s right…”  Remember:  Satan is the father of lies, so if he speaks it, the truth is the exact opposite of what he said. Jesus fights back.  He affirms that He is indeed the Son of God and His power is not for filling men’s bellies but filling their hungry hearts with the truth: God’s very words.  Jesus stands on the truth, which will be heart and soul of His ministry.  Jesus equally stands on the truth of His Father’s declaration of who He is:  His Son. 

Next, Satan tells Jesus that all power is his to give and the only price of admission is worshipping him.  He is trying to turn Jesus’ sword of truth—the proclamation that He is God’s Son—against Him. Satan wants to take Jesus’ sword from Him and drive it back into Him.  In essence, what Satan is saying is:
Fine then.  Be the Son.  Have the power.  But it’s limited.  In Heaven, fine, but You’re not there—You are here and here it’s mine to give, not God’s.  Worship me here and I will give You what You really need:  real earth-centered power.  Not some heavenly version, all lofty and out of touch, but the real deal:  earthly power for an earthly ministry.

Jesus fights back.  He didn’t come to redeem kingdoms.  He came to redeem us.  He didn’t come to wield power.  He came to reveal truth.  He didn’t come to receive glory.  He came to show the glory of His Father in all He said and did.  So, Jesus realigned the sword back to its rightful position:  Worship alone is God’s.  Period. Jesus stands on the truth of His relationship to His Father: He is the Son who pleases the Father because His heart is utterly devoted to Him. 

Now, Satan ups his aggressive stance.  He is not shrinking back, for he has one last thrust to make.  If he can knock the sword altogether from Jesus’ hand, Jesus will stand there helpless and defenseless.
Why?  The Word is our offensive weapon.  Armor protects and deflects Satan’s blows.  We can take charge and thrust back with the Word.  If Satan knocks it away, by making us doubt God and His Word, all we can do is take his blows and hope for the best. Satan now quotes Scripture in a clever way.  Dare I say it, but it is in a “truthful” way.  Lies don’t have to be 100% false to be lies.  If the lie is only 10% and the rest is truth, the truth is adulterated, poisoned, rendered false.  That’s like saying your lemonade is only 10% poisoned and the rest is fine! So, in Satan’s last thrust, he seeks to knock the truth right out Jesus’ hand by using it to justify his next suggestion. 

Let’s look at the original verses Satan is using: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.  They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." (Ps. 91:11-12)

Look at verses 10 and 11 from our passage in Luke.  Not bad, Satan.  He quotes them well. But context is everything.  Without context, a text becomes a pretext to do whatever you want. By isolating the text from the surrounding verses in Psalm 91, Satan is saying:  Hey! With all that power You have, Son of God, You are allowed to do anything. Epic demonstrations of Your power will make Your ministry flourish like no other. 

But Satan’s endgame is destruction.  He wants to knock the sword from Jesus’ hand by twisting it into something dark and sinister: It’s all about You, Jesus.  Turn all the attention to You…Your power, Your abilities.  All this “honor God” stuff is fine for other people; but You’re not like them, Jesus.  You can draw all men to Yourself by what You do.  Doing the work of Your Father (sounds a bit boring if you ask me) is not going to be nearly as captivating to Your audience as Your sheer displays of power. You will be unstoppable. 

But a twisted sword is no longer a weapon.  It’s a shadow of its former self.  So, Jesus sets the verses back into their proper context by His refusal to even acknowledge Satan’s logic.  Jesus stands on these verses taken from the beginning of Psalm 91: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust."(Ps. 91:1-2)  

Jesus thrusts the sword back into Satan’s face by saying:  You want Me to take my Father’s words, which speak of truth and trust, and turn them into something dark and compromised. My Father’s words are too precious to use in that sinful and self-serving manner.  I dwell not in my own ego, my plans or my desires, but safely under the trustworthy wings of My Father.  His power is Mine, yes, but His desires and will are My only refuge. I dwell in Him, and He is absolutely worthy of My trust.  Any use of His Word to further the flesh is wrong.  Tempting God to prove Himself is not love nor trust.  End of debate, Satan.  Be gone.

Jesus stands on the truth of Who God is: God is completely trustworthy.  John joyfully declares in 1 John 1:5: "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."  Think about it for a moment.  Satan is using the same ploy with Jesus that he used in the Garden of Eden.  Satan said to Eve in that same insinuating voice: “Did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1 NIV)  So, from the very beginning, Satan tried to strike down God’s very words.  His tactics have not changed.  He is still trying to get us to doubt the truthfulness of Scripture. 

A soldier fights the enemy from a deep belief that God’s Word is just that:  God said it, and because He is Truth, His words are as well. So, to summarize this Sword Practice, you must:  Stand on His declaration of who you are: His son or daughter.  Stand on your relationship with Him, having given Him your heart. Stand in the light of Truth knowing that the enemy’s lies are a quick trip into darkness. Stand on God’s utterly reliable character, by knowing and believing His Word.

Now that Sword practice is over, go hit the shower.  Oh, wait a minute.  You’re cleansed by His Word, so you’re good.


Now, here are your key verses to S.T.A.N.D. (Spiritually Trained and Not Defeated) on:

I am a child of God in Christ:  "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…" (Rom. 8:14-16)

I am an heir in Christ:  "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." (Gal. 4:7)

I am free in Christ:  "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)

I am blameless in Christ:  "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love…" (Eph. 1:4)

I am strong in Christ:  "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy…" (Jude 24)

I am forgiven in Christ: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

I am living in Christ:  "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."  (Gal. 2:20)

I have hope in Christ:  "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28)

I can never ever be separated from Christ’s love:  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Rom. 8:35-39)

Take that, Satan. 

This is part of an ongoing series on spiritual warfare.  Remember:  to use the Word, you must know the Word. 
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