Posts Tagged enemy

Friend or Enemy

James 4: 4              NIV

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

On a recent trip out of town I visited a YMCA in that city. Of course, many of you know the YMCA is a Christian organization. This particular Y says of its mission: “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.” A noble mission statement, you would agree. You know, as well, that I am a fan of the YMCA organization and its mission. Ivey Ministries, in fact, has donated to the Y and I have personally too. It is a great organization which is helping many people.

Even the Y, though, is vulnerable to the wiles of the world. Each of us is susceptible to becoming so friendly with the world that we become enemies of God. On this day I rode a bicycle spin class. The instructor gave each song title as it began to play. Imagine my surprise when she announced the song playing as, “Summer of the Occult.” Really? I said, “What?” So, she repeated it. Yep, that’s what she said alright. I just knew I misheard her. After class I approached her and mentioned that, in my humble opinion, songs of the occult are not appropriate for a Christian organization. She immediately looked threatened and began walking away but answered me saying, “Well, it’s just music.” Of course, that is not a sufficient answer. That is called friendship with the enemy which puts us at enmity with God, or hostile to God.

You know, for the first time in my life I had a very clear picture of what it must have been like in the story of the Gadarene demoniacs from Matthew 8. Verse 29 reads, “And they cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?’” That woman could not get away from me fast enough. The spirit behind that song selection could sense the Spirit in me and it wanted no part of Jesus’ Spirit.

We need to exercise caution in our lives because that easily could have been you or me. For all I know, that instructor may love Jesus intensely. This is not a criticism of her or the YMCA but if this is happening in a declared Christian organization, don’t you think it can happen other places too? Our homes and our churches are not even immune.

The problem is that we fall in love with the things of the world, such as the world’s music. We may say to ourselves, like the instructor said to me, “It’s only music.” Well, first of all, few things have the power to move our spirits more than music which is exactly why this is problematic. As it is, we use worldly music at the Y for our classes but occult music goes too far. It makes me wonder, though, if we have tolerated or befriended too much of the world’s music.

For some of us it isn’t music but rather television shows and movies. Their very themes fly in the face of holiness and godliness, but we enjoy them. So, bit by bit we sequester our Christianity to give lee way to the things of the world. We court the world and its many enticements, but the price is very high. Look at today’s verse from the Passion translation, “You have become spiritual adulterers who are having an affair, an unholy relationship with the world. Don’t you know that flirting with the world’s values places you at odds with God? Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy!”

This is a big problem which, I think, needs attention brought to it. Our Christianity is often more worldly than holy. Just a little of this or a bit of that and the next thing you know, we are more heathen than Christian. It is a challenge. We live in this world but we are not to be a part of it. We are supposed to be sanctified, which means set apart. We shouldn’t look like, sound like or sing like the world.

I do not want you to react in fear over this, however. This is a call to faith, prayer, and devotion. It is a caution too. We should pay attention to ourselves, our churches and our church programs, especially youth programs. Most of us want to be cool but at what price? I hear pastors saying things that make my skin crawl. It is not that they are bad people. They have just been enticed by the world. Guard yourself. Guard your family and home and guard your church and all its programs. Pray for your workplace and your workout place. Pray for the stores you frequent and every place you go. All these places need the presence of God in them.

The enemy is on the move and we are fools if we don’t understand that. He is infiltrating our Christian sanctuaries. We must awaken and get our heads out of the sand. We have floated around too long in the comfort of worldly pleasures. Now we are about to pay the price and a very high price at that if we don’t awaken and become the vigilant force we were always meant to be. The time for fat, cultural Christianity is at end. Take up your sword, which is the Word of God, and stand for your God. And by all means, push back. Don’t just tolerate this heathen infiltration of your life and organizations. Pray but also do not be afraid to speak up. Even if you are the only person willing to stand, stand just the same. Write to me and I will support you. You are not alone.

Friends of the world are enemies of God. We are forced to choose. Don’t tell me your choice. Show me!

Targeted

2 Samuel 17: 2

And I will come upon him while he is weary and exhausted and will terrify him so that all the people who are with him will flee. Then I will strike down the king alone.

What does this have to do with our present day existence, you may ask. I have found this to be an instructive verse for daily life.

Many of us live in cultures that are rushed and hectic. That can pose a problem. First, it is hard to hear the leading of God when hurried and stressed. God speaks to our inner quiet. He does not shout into the chaos. That is why He told us to be still and experience Him as God (Psalm 46: 10).

The other issue, of course, is that our chaotic lifestyle paints bull’s eye targets on our foreheads and hearts. I noticed many years ago that when I was tired, weary and exhausted I was susceptible to attacks. If you don’t think your enemy is looking for opportunities to bother you, you are deceived. The enemy is always looking for someone he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). So, don’t volunteer to be his chow. When you are exhausted, you look like prey. And, you probably actually are. Your defenses go down.

The answer, of course, is to take time to rest your spirit, especially. Take that quiet walk with Jesus and let him give you the refreshing waters that he offered the Samaritan woman. Let him rejuvenate you in body, mind and spirit. He can restore you but only you can set the appointment with him. If “busy” is a word you use often to describe yourself, then you need a check-up from the neck up, as a friend of mine says. Change your priorities. Say no to some events or even to some people. Let’s be honest, as uncomfortable as that can be, we have none the less, grown very adept at saying “No,” to Christ. It makes me wonder, sometimes, why we call ourselves Christians since he seems to be rather low on our priority list. If you will put him back in first position, he will guide you in setting your priorities and he will give you strength for the things you need to do.

Please hear this with your heart. If you are too busy to slow down and spend some time with Jesus in the resting and restoration of your soul, then you are too busy, period. Shall we go so far as to say that busyness is a sin? I know it is a problem in my life and one I have to battle constantly. Sometimes I need to just kick back. Other times I have to get up an hour earlier so that I have time for things that need doing.

Don’t weary yourself with much doing and don’t train your children to do the same thing. Your spirit, your soul and your body need rest. Go to a yoga class, spend time sitting in your garden or take a walk along the water and pray. Make it a priority to care for your triune self. Guard against busyness and overworking yourself. Word hard when you work but then take time to allow Jesus to restore you. It is really important that you do. Otherwise, you become a target.

Withstanding the Storms

Ephesians 6: 11 – 12

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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.

Do you want to be able to stand against the storms of life? Do you want to be able to remain firm when all around you the tempest rages? Well then, the first thing you need to understand is that the fight is against the devil and his gang.

There are two problems I see with people distinguishing their enemy. First, they do not know who their enemy is because they do not have a realization of the devil. There are many people in our society who do not even believe there is a devil much less that he is at work in this world all of the time. And even though this scripture is about as plain as it can be; even though the Bible clearly tells us that our problem is the spiritual forces at work, many Christians are just as misled as the rest. This works very well for Satan because if we don’t even acknowledge his presence then we cannot fight against him. So, he just wanders around uninhibited. That is a real problem.

Second, people generally focus on the people who seem to be the cause of their trouble instead of penetrating the sheath and recognizing that it is the devil’s crew behind the scene that is manipulating the whole mess.

If you are going to win against the schemes of the devil, you first have to recognize who your enemy is. Once you have done that, we have some answers about how to deal with his shenanigans. Verse 11 tells us that putting on the armor of God will give you the ability to stand against him. What is the armor of God? Verses 14 – 17 hold that answer: truth, righteousness, preparation in the gospel, faith, and salvation. You must put on truth and wear it like wearing a pair of pants. Wear righteousness as your shirt. Your shoes are the time you spend in the word. Faith is your shield. It completely encompasses you and everything you are. Faith is in everything you say and do. Finally, salvation, the precious blood of Jesus, is your hat. It crowns you and covers all. It is the top and everything else is beneath the saving grace. You wear these pieces of armor as part of yourself. Any piece you leave off, though, leaves you exposed. Do not leave truth out of your wardrobe. Don’t forget to put on your shoes of the Word. Every piece is important, and they will guard you and help you.

Battle Plan

2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17, 20

Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf. Put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.

This is just one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I wish for you to go to the 20th chapter of Chronicles and read the entire story for yourself so you can receive the richness of this event and its telling. Jehoshaphat, King of Judah was faced with the invading armies of three nations: the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Meunites. It was reported to him that a “great multitude” was coming against him. He sought God in this crisis and God answered him telling him, through the prophet Jahaziel, to stand and watch his enemies destroyed before his eyes. Jehoshaphat set those who sang to the Lord and those who praised Him before the army. The text then reads, “And when they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed.” Jehoshaphat’s army never lifted a finger. The enemy was completely and thoroughly routed on their behalf by the might hand of the Lord.

This is the same power that is at work for you today. You don’t even have to lift a finger. You spend your time serving the Lord and let him fight your battles for you. The mightiest warrior of Judah that day did not even draw his sword. Jehoshaphat’s battle plan ended up being singing and praising the Lord. Wow! Can you imagine today a general directing his forces to stand with their weapons sheathed but their voices lifted to God? People would think he was crazy, at least until the battle was over. About the enemy of Judah that day the Bible says, “no one had escaped.” There was no loss of life on Judah’s side. What a wonderful report that would be to give to the people. Before hand, though, the general would look like a complete idiot. The moral of this story might be that sometimes you might appear crazy when you stand in faith but the results just cannot be beaten.

The lesson of the story is to let God fight for you. Stand firm and watch him deliver the enemy into your hands. How do you stand? Just stay resolute in faith and in speaking words of faith instead of words of doubt and struggle. Do what you are called to do and don’t be distracted by the attacks of the enemy because that is exactly what the enemy is trying to do, distract you. Let God handle the battles as you go about God’s work and you sing praises to the Holy One.

Armored

Ephesians 6: 10 – 13

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

This passage of scripture is one of the foundational scriptures regarding spiritual warfare. Peter warned us to not be unaware of our enemy, “Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour “(1 Peter 5: 8 CSB). Peter identifies our enemy as the devil as he informs us that the devil is searching for someone he can devour. The New Living Translation says that he prowls around like “a hungry lion with his mouth open” seeking someone to eat.

There are some revelations you can take from 1 Peter 5: 8. Clearly, not everyone is one whom the devil can devour. That is why he must roam around in search of someone who is vulnerable. That need not be you. You have armor to protect you.

So, where do you think the armor came from? Who forged it? Who provided it? Is this not the raiment purchased by Jesus at the cross? This answers the troubling question confronting spiritual warfare. If Jesus was victorious over the devil, why must we still engage in spiritual warfare? Jesus won the armor and forged it in the bowels of hell when he went to Hades and defeated the devil. You can be and are victorious in Christ but we are not victors in our own might and we are unwise if we try to fight the devil in our strength. This passage does not teach us to fight the devil ourselves. Look again at verse 10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” We are strong in the strength of the Lord and in him only. The battle is won when we stand firm in the strength of the Lord.

This is so important to understand. Yes, there is still an enemy. Peter warns us in this regard. “Don’t be foolish,” he might say, “be alert and aware that your enemy is the devil and that he is on the prowl, he seeks his prey.” We must be vigilant, as the King James Bible says. There is an enemy and we must still stand up to him today. He will eat your lunch if you let him but the key is that Jesus has fashioned armor of his victory which will allow you to stand firm against all of the schemes of the devil (v. 11). Understanding this nuance is the key to success in spiritual warfare. Fear not. Have no fear of the devil. Jesus has provided.

This week, I will show you just what Jesus created for you and how you may don the armor of his victory. I will explain just how you are well able to stand against the enemy without trepidation. You will not quaver but will be strong in the might of the Lord. You will understand, at a deeper level, just how strong you are in the power of Jesus’ might and you will never again fear the devil nor his bite. You are the victorious heir of Jesus’ defeat over Satan and all his little minions. The truth will set you free, so prepare yourself to shout in exultation as we discover your victory in Jesus.

Gospel Boots

Romans 8:37           (NIV)

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

In 2002, I went through a terrible time. It was months’ and months’ worth of crazy challenges. Just one of the situations I had to deal with was three car accidents in as many weeks. Then there were the big national banks whose checks to the Law Firm bounced. It went on and on like this, one thing after another. Then my pastor reminded me of Isaiah 54: 17 which reads, “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper.”

That was the beginning of my breakthrough. I needed to be reminded that Jesus had made a way for me to overcome this turmoil. I began to recall the Word to my mind and mouth. It was if a ray of light broke through the darkness and all I had to do was follow it. Then I was able to open wide the crack through which that light shown and my life resurrected out of the chaos.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I saved me but in remembering what Jesus had already done for me I was able to stand against the storms that were battering my life. I didn’t have to stand there and get battered by the storms, I had the rock and as soon as I began standing on the rock again, those storms had nothing for me and they went away. It is just as amazing and exciting looking back on it as it was then. I took quite a beating until I realized that my Father and my Jesus were well able to protect me and to defeat every weapon the enemy sent against me. I don’t know, but it seems like the devil just realized he couldn’t get at me any longer so, as he did Jesus, he left me for a more opportune time (Luke 4: 13). I am not saying I am bullet proof, I just have a clearer understanding of Jesus’ victory in my life and that I don’t have to tolerate the devil’s shenanigans. Now it is a matter of applying what I have learned.

It is a difficult paradigm to grasp in its fullness. There is a balance which must be struck between understanding that Jesus has already defeated the devil and knowing what we must do in order to live in that victory. It almost seems like it should be one or the other. If Jesus beat the devil, why do we have to fight at all? Here is an illustration that may help.

If you sue someone and win your case the Judge will enter a judgment in your favor. That judgment represents the victory. However, until the order is executed, it makes no practical impact. You have a judgment in your favor the minute the judge rules but the effect of it is not immediate. It will be of little or no value if not executed. This is the way it is with Jesus’ victory. You already have a judgment against the devil. You have an order entered in your favor against every one of his tricks, attacks or fiery missiles. However, if you do not enforce, or ask the authorities to enforce, your rights under the order then there is little practical effect.

We have the victory. Jesus already won it for us but we must hold that order up in the devil’s face and refuse him access to our lives. We have the choice whether to enforce the judgment or not. If we do not, the devil will run all over us. This is why knowing the truth is so important. Once you know that he does not have any legal authority over you, then you can push back and resist him. When you resist, he will flee as he did with Jesus and as he did even with me. You have to know your authority though. When you do, you are the overcomer Jesus gave you the right to be.

There is no demon or devil in hell that can overcome the blood of Jesus and you knowing that is the power of Christ in you. Overcoming the schemes of the devil is a partnership between you and Jesus. So, put on your armor. Shine up your gospel boots and stand against the schemes of the devil. Put him to flight because the one who is in you, already won. Yahoo!

Take Heart

Luke 10: 19

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

I have written to you recently about the authority of the church over the power of the enemy. This is a delicate and somewhat perplexing topic but by writing to you about it I hope to encourage clarity or at least inspired consideration. The problem is that as a body, we seem uncertain about our position relative to the devil. Does he have any power? Is he a defeated foe? Why is there any Biblical discussion about “the enemy” since Jesus marched into hell and took the keys from Satan?

These are all very good questions and important ones. If you actually have an enemy but are unaware that said enemy is plotting against you, then you are defenseless. If you are conscious of the enemy, is it possible to give him too much credit and subsequently fall victim to another deception, that of chasing demons? We are not naïve. We know by now, and the scriptures inform us, that there is an enemy and his name is Satan. He has been the enemy of humanity since the beginning. The real question seems to be, what power and/or influence does he wield today? The parallel question is, didn’t Jesus’ victory whip the devil forever? Good question – glad you asked.

Today’s verse encapsulates the answer. I will state it this way even though it is a bit of an overstatement, Jesus defeated the devil, but have you? What I intend to imply is that Jesus has done his part but there is still something we must do in order for his victory to be effective in our lives. Look again at today’s verse. Jesus said he has given power to us. Okay, that is easy enough to understand but why need he give power to us if he has already defeated the enemy? He said, “nothing shall by any means hurt you.” There is a huge assumption in this last statement though, the assumption being that we have employed the power he has given us.

Because of Jesus’ victory we too can stand victorious against the devil. Too many of us believe, erroneously, that Jesus’ victory gives us a free pass. That is to say, sometimes we think we do not have to do anything in order to live the triumphant life Jesus won for us. I thought the same thing as a young person. I thought being a Christian meant that I should live a, relatively, care free, trouble free life. Well, I learned better and frankly, that belief is not even scriptural. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble,” (John 16: 33). That is a clear statement of fact. However, it is not the end of the story and here is where Jesus’ triumph over Satan comes in. The end of John 16: 33 records Jesus saying, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In other words, yes, the world will bring you trouble and you will be troubled all the days of your life UNLESS you apply Jesus’ overcoming power. Jesus said being “in him” is the victory that overcomes the world. This is the key point we must come to understand. Jesus won the victory for us but it is we who must overcome using that which he has provided. In him is peace, perfect peace. So take heart and use all that Jesus won for you.

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