My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. ENDURE HARDSHIP AS DISCIPLINE… Hebrews 12:5-7
“Is It Spiritual Warfare or Is It Discipline?”
The process of sanctification is adhering to God’s standards for us, which are laid out in the Scripture. The essence is “being holy as Jesus is holy.” The reason this is a process is because we make mistakes – WE SIN. Then in order for us to remove that barrier and move forward, we must repent. The point is that many of the difficulties and hardships that we face are due to poor decisions. Yet many Believers want to ascribe anything that occurs that is unpleasant to SPIRITUAL WARFARE.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves…” (Hebrews 12:5-6). You see, what is often mistaken as Satan’s attack may actually be discipline from our Heavenly Father. God uses discipline to get our attention and bring about necessary changes in our lives.
Another possibility is that the hardship you are facing is not discipline at all; perhaps it is a test of your faith. If your faith is not tested, it can’t be strengthened. God uses events in our lives to strengthen our faith – deepening our trust and reliance on Him.
Application: Before you ascribe a hardship or any “circumstance” to spiritual warfare, get on your knees before the Lord. The Holy Spirit will make it obvious to you if it’s warfare, rather than a testing of your faith or DISCIPLINE. Then you can deal with it appropriately.
And you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars. Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Judges 2:2
What are strongholds? They are things that, in pride, we have chosen to adhere to. These are things that we cling to even though the Lord has instructed us to remove them! Such behavior is our heritage in the flesh. The first man and first woman thought that they knew more about life than the Creator did. “They wanted to be their own boss.” We can call this inheritance the flesh. The flesh is our lives apart from God. It places confidence in self-sufficiency and human ability rather than in the total sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross and the spirit’s direction in our lives.
Our flesh inherited the desire to be independent of God. As a result, we often hold on to sins in our lives rather than submitting to God. The same thing happened to the Israelites. They were told to destroy the idols, but they didn’t. The problems that they experienced were a result of their disobedience and subsequent discipline. In other words, it was not spiritual warfare.
The collective flesh is the world. Don’t expect any positive influence from this source. In fact, it will pull you away from God. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16). The world around us promotes individualism, materialism, success in the workplace and licentiousness.
What about spiritual warfare? Well, the point is this. If you have sinful behaviors and attitudes entrenched in your character and you have not removed them – YOU HAVE COMPROMISED YOURSELF. Don’t underestimate the destructive power of sin. You will be defeated and it all comes down to pride and disobedience.
He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
For He (the Devil) is a liar and the Father of lies. John 8:44
“The Defeated Enemy”
Satan is the ruler of this world. He can influence the “flesh” directly or indirectly through the collective flesh, which is the world. The Hebrew word for “Satan” means enemy. The Greek word for “Devil” means slanderer. These names describe very well what he is about!
Because of Christ’s victory on the cross, the “lie” is Satan’s only real weapon. Through Christ, the certificate of debt (which is death) was removed. Our eternity is secure. He cannot “touch us” in an eternal sense: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God…” (Romans 8:39). He wants to lead us away from devotion to Christ and convince us that worship of ourselves, not God, is the path to life. According to James 4:7, our responsibility is to resist Satan with the truth of his defeat. Christians are not called to defeat Satan – HE HAS ALREADY BEEN DEFEATED. Look, if he can convince you that God hasn’t really defeated him, then you won’t experience victory in Christ.
What are we to do? We are to “put on” our spiritual armor (see the next two devos). God has provided us with protection against any assault.
Application: Don’t become preoccupied with battling Satan. This is a waste of time. Jesus has already won the war! Remember, fearing Satan is fearing the defeated enemy of this great spiritual war.
Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
“Spiritual Armor – Part 1”
We are commanded to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. The war has been won. We are called to resist (stand firm). How do we effectively do this? By putting on the full armor of God as we are commanded to do. This is an active thing, not passive. The Lord has provided the armor. Our calling is to put it on!
“Having girded your loins with truth…” This is our first action. Understanding the imagery, the truth is the belt into which the soldier tucks in his tunic. Truth gives us an accurate picture of reality. Satan’s lies seek to redefine reality to the soldier’s detriment. As recorded in John 17, Jesus prayed that the disciples would be “sanctified in the truth.” He went on to say (to the Father), “Your word is truth.” God is good; God is truth. He wants the best for us. Don’t believe the lie that God in some way is trying to deprive us of something. Clinging to the truth allows a believer to give his life away to God, thus allowing Him to run the show. The result is a liberated life – a life that is not spent trying to create the perfect life for ourselves.
“Put on the breastplate of righteousness…” In Christ, we have been declared righteous. (See Ephesians 4:24). When Satan accuses us, there should be no guilt. But if Satan is successful in convincing us that we are unrighteous, then we are driven by guilt. We’ll be trying to “perform our way” through life, impressing others and exhausting ourselves. Counteract this ploy by putting on the “breastplate of righteousness.”
“Shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace…” Christ has reconciled us to God the Father. God is not angry with us. His anger with our sins was taken care of by Jesus on the Cross. But, if you believe Satan’s lie and believe that God is angry with you, you won’t draw near to Him. You will never have peace.
-Belt of Truth
-The Breastplate of Righteousness
-Walk in the Shoes of Peace
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and, having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:12-13
“Spiritual Armor – Part 2”
We are in the midst of practically putting on the full armor of God. So far, we have the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and the shoes of peace. Next, let’s get a shield!
“The shield of faith” – This shield of faith refers to the overall concept that we are “in Christ” as Believers and nothing can change that! The truth is in Christ (the Belt); we are righteous in Christ (the Breastplate); we have peace in Christ (the Boots); we will spend eternity with God in Christ (the Helmet of Salvation); we have the Word of God in Christ (the Sword); we have access to God through prayer in Christ. This shield covers the whole person; it covers the other entire armor. The shield of faith encompasses all that we are in Christ. With this shield we will extinguish all the flaming missiles (lies) of the evil one. By understanding who you are in Christ, you don’t need to fear. You can stand firm.
“The helmet of salvation” – The hope of our salvation is living eternally with Jesus. The helmet is to protect your head (mind). Don’t let Satan’s lies lead you to doubt your eternal security. Otherwise, you will be fearful and insecure, totally unable to navigate the challenges of life. If he cannot get you to doubt your eternal security, he may get you to doubt the importance of eternal rewards. This leads to a person who is trying to live for the here and now: materialism, position, prestige. Remember, there is no lasting satisfaction in the world.
“Sword of the Spirit” – This is the last piece of gear. It is the Word of God as it applies to application of its principles. There are specific helps in the Word of God that can be used. Recall Jesus’ use of Scripture during His temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4).
God has given us these specific pieces of armor. We are to put these on to effectively engage in spiritual warfare. And don’t forget that through Christ we can approach God any time in prayer! Satan hates prayer because through prayer we communicate with the God of truth. He gives us everything we need to live a righteous life which is FREE OF FEAR.
#To master my will, he had to melt my heart…surrender is a crisis that develops into a process.
RUTH PAXON- RIVERS OF LIVING WATERS