“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.” ~ Sun Tzu, Author of “The Art of War”
Whether it is widely acknowledged & accepted or not, the fact is, we are engaged in spiritual warfare on a daily basis. We are not fighting for the victory that Christ already won for us, but the Bible exhorts us to occupy until His return. We are to enforce His victory through faith in the finished work of the cross. We have been commissioned to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and the mission is to turn every creature from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to the power of God.
Did you know that the enemy of your soul has strategies and schemes? (Ephesians 6:11) As the war hero quoted above reminds us, the strategy of war is to avoid what is strong, and to strike at what is weak. The devil knows this strategy all too well, and unfortunately many Christians that don’t strengthen themselves spiritually become the weak targets that the enemy looks to strike at. Even the strongest of believers have areas of inherent weakness where they must shore up their defenses so as not to get caught in a trap.
Many Christians get uncomfortable talking about the devil, and others deny that a devil even exists; however, denying that gravity is a reality won’t stop it from affecting you when you step over the ledge of a building. In the same way, denying the reality of the devil won’t stop you from becoming the target of his strategies & schemes! In order to do what we have been commissioned to do, and to lay hold of the promises of God that Jesus died for us to have, we MUST know our enemy, and we MUST become spiritually strong by exercising our faith in God’s word on a daily basis.
Let’s begin this study by first looking at knowing our enemy:
“…so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.” ~ 2 Corinthians 2:11
According to this scripture, Satan can actually gain an advantage over us when we are ignorant of his devices; it’s like giving him free ammunition. I know that you don’t want any enemy of yours getting free ammunition to shoot you with! Neither do I! One way we can find out about his devices, schemes, tactics and plans is by understanding some things about his nature and how he operates. The nature of our adversary is outlined in John 10:10:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” ~ John 10:10a
Three words in this verse describe the nature of the thief by outlining what it is that he comes to do: steal, kill & destroy. I want to look at each of these words, not to instill fear in your heart, but to ignite faith in you to lay hold of the things God has promised you, and encourage you to NOT LET GO!
1. Steal (klepto) – this word communicates the idea of a bandit, a pick pocket, a thief that is so cunning and so strategic, he will take from you and you won’t even know you’ve been stolen from.
When I was younger I stayed in Guatemala for several weeks, and during that time I remember walking through the market with a friend. As we looked around at the trinkets and souvenirs there was a point that his Passport was stolen right out of his pocket, and he was unaware until he reach in and realized it was gone!
This is the kind of thief we are dealing with. He is subtle, crafty and he prefers that you don’t even acknowledge his existence! He attempts to steal the joy that strengthens you, the peace Jesus gave you, the love the Holy Spirit poured out in your heart, the passion in your marriage, the prosperity God blessed you with, the health Jesus purchased for you with every stripe laid on His back! DON’T LET HIM STEAL FROM YOU!! Realize that your enemy is not flesh and blood – when feelings of sadness, fear, doubt, worry, unforgiveness, sickness and the like begin to creep in with subtlety, grab that pick pocket’s hands and say, “No! You will not take what God has given me! It’s mine!”
I like to imitate my two year old. He says, “No! Dats mines!” That’s how we have to talk to the devil!
2. Kill (thuo) – to sacrifice in a religious way
The killing that is spoken of here does not imply murder; it carries the meaning of sacrifice. Jesus used this word to describe the work of the thief. Whatever he has been unsuccessful in stealing from you, he will try to convince you to sacrifice. His aim is to get you to give up that which God has already blessed you with. Now listen to me closely: it is in the season of waiting that he is most successful with this strategy.
The Bible teaches us to follow after the example of those who through faith and patience have inherited the promises. (Hebrews 6:12) Faith requires a season of waiting while we do not yet see! It is during this wait that our faith is tested, and our enemy will create circumstances, use people’s words, plant seeds of doubt, bring us thoughts contrary to God’s word – he will strike, and strike, and strike, attempting to wear us down so that we finally let go of the promise, and SACRIFICE what we were believing God for! This is why the Holy Spirit exhorts us:
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” ~ Galatians 6:9
There is a two letter word in that verse that Satan exploits to his advantage: IF. We will reap at the right time IF we don’t give up! SO DON’T GIVE UP! Don’t let the thief convince you to kill, cut off, abort, or sacrifice the promises and dreams God has placed inside of you! Be strong. Be courageous. Hold on until your faith becomes sight! The harvest IS GUARANTEED if we just don’t lose heart.
3. Destroy (apollymi) – to annihilate, to trash, to destroy
One Bible scholar sums up the nature of the thief in this way:
“The thief wants to get his hands into every good thing in your life, in fact this pick pocket is looking for every way to wiggle himself so deeply into your personal affairs that he can walk away with everything you hold precious and dear. And that’s not all! When he is finished stealing all your goods and possessions, he’ll take his plans to rob you blind to the next level. He’ll create conditions and situations so horrible that you’ll see no way to solve the problem except to sacrifice whatever remains from his previous attacks. The goal of this thief is to totally waste and devastate your life. If nothing stops him, he’ll leave you insolvent, cleaned out and flat broke in every area of your life. Make no mistake, the enemy’s ultimate aim is to annihilate you.”
Now remember what I said when we started: Let the awareness of the nature of your enemy ignite faith in you to never let that sorry rascal get away with stealing from you ever again! Don’t give him any place, or any access. Don’t allow him to take from you. Fight the good fight of faith!
You know, sometimes the nature of people is to let themselves get pushed around a little here and there until they get so fed up with the situation that they say, ENOUGH! Maybe that is where you are at with certain circumstances in your life right now. Let’s agree together as touching this thing, that when the enemy tries to steal, kill, or destroy us the Holy Spirit will sound the alarm in our hearts, and stir up the “fight” in us so that we stand and keep on standing until we see the victory come to pass. Amen?
I encourage you this week to use your fighting words in prayer, and to reclaim any ground that you have allowed the enemy to set foot on. Then, set your face like flint and stand until you see God’s promise come to pass!
YOU are uniquely designed for a God-given purpose & destiny. There is no doubt about it. There is no other person exactly like you in this universe. So why do we compare ourselves, belittle our gifts, talents and abilities, and come to the conclusion that what we have to offer would be insignificant or trivial at best?
I have been pondering many things in these last weeks as God continues to draw my family deeper into His plan and purpose for our lives, and for His kingdom. The Holy Spirit has helped me to see that I have allowed small thinking, insecurities, and even pride to keep me from fully developing the potential that He has placed within me. Perhaps you have had thoughts brought to your mind that go something like this:
“Why would you do that? There are thousands of (fill in the blank) out there already – how is yours, or how are you any different?”
“Why would you share (fill in the blank)? Your voice will just be lost in a sea of rhetoric – it really won’t make any difference one way or another.”
“How is this little thing you are doing going to make any impact on anything? Nobody’s going to listen to you anyway, and nobody really cares.”
“That’s a dumb idea. Do you really think that would produce anything beneficial in a million years? You’ll look like a fool.”
My friends, there is an enemy, Satan, that seeks to steal, kill and destroy your life. If he can’t get you to quit, he will seek to render you powerless by convincing you of the LIE that you are insignificant, that what you have to offer the body of Christ is of no value – or of very little value, and that your voice, your gifts, your talents, your dreams are better off remaining small, limited and underdeveloped; after all, it is the safer path to take. No risk, no looking like a fool.
HEY! Do you know that we don’t have the luxury of thinking like this!? Consider the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25. When the master came to the servant who buried and hid what he had entrusted to him (because of fear); he did not say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” On the contrary, the words “wicked and lazy servant” were pronounced from the master!
GOD has placed something inside of us that the world needs, that the body of Christ needs! He expects us to take what He has placed within us, yield to His great grace, and allow Him to work in us and through us to effect change in our sphere of influence! He expects a multiplication of what He has entrusted to us!
Are you a musician? A writer? Are you gifted in business or sports? Are you graced in communication or administration? Has God called you to preach or pastor? Are you a visionary or a pioneer? Do you work well with your hands – building, and fixing and maintaining? Or maybe acting, dancing, painting, or creating are your thing. DO NOT hide your gift. DO NOT belittle the grace that has been placed within you. DO NOT yield to fear over what others may think; how about what GOD thinks!?
Come on people! Let’s break free from the lies that bind us, and believe the truth that makes us free! There is so much inside of you! There is so much good, so much beauty, so much talent, so much ability – so much POTENTIAL!
BELIEVE that the good work that God has begun in you, HE will be faithful to complete. Let’s be a people that reject small thinking and safe, comfortable Christianity! Let’s be a people that hear from God and take risks – that fully trust in His enabling power to carry us through every assignment He gives us! I am just so zealous inside, in this season of my life, to encourage & exhort, to draw out and cause others to believe that they are valued and that they really do MATTER!
There is a great work to be done in these last days. God needs all hands on deck. Forget what others think. Forget about your reputation. Forget about being a people pleaser. Forget about comparison. BE YOU! Beautiful, uniquely designed, uniquely graced, uniquely gifted, amazing, fearfully and wonderfully made YOU! Be the best version of yourself you can be right now, and like pure gold, you will continue to be more and more refined with each season that you walk through.
I, for one, am tired of allowing the enemy to keep me from doing what God has called me to do. I choose to allow the grace of God to permeate and invade my life, to fill me and enable me to do and be all that God has destined for me. Let the chips fall where they may; and listen, it’s about other people! Get over yourself and get into God. This has never been about you. It has never been about me. It’s about people – especially those that don’t know Him.
So shine your light dear one. Be bold. Be brave. Take risks. At the end of your days it won’t be the things you stepped out in faith to do that cause regret, it will be the things you never even tried to do – the potential you never developed, the lives you were too afraid to impact. Choose to live a life worthy of your salvation.
I love you. I believe in you. I pray this has blessed you and planted a good seed in your heart that bears fruit in time to come.
So I have been in hibernation the last few weeks because I ran smack dab into the middle of God’s love, and I haven’t wanted to do anything but soak up what He was so eagerly waiting to pour out on me! I am telling you my friends, when you get a revelation of how much God loves you, you will never be the same!
I have been walking with the Lord for about 15 years now, and I have known in times past the love that God has for me. I have seen His mercy and grace in my life, and I have received so many beautiful truths that have made me more and more free. Yet Paul prayed in Ephesians that we would know the width, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge! God’s love for us is so fierce, so passionate, so unfailing, and so unwilling to quit on us that it is almost incomprehensible!
The Apostle John said that there is no fear in love, but that perfect love actually casts out fear. When you, as a child of God, begin to KNOW the love that God has for you, you will become one of the most confident, secure and stable people in the world. You will also be empowered to do the one thing Christ commanded us to do: love others as He has loved us. What God has freely given you, you can freely give to others, and it is by THIS LOVE that all men will know that we are His disciples.
What does our broken, hurt, pain-filled world need so desperately from us as Christians? They need to see Christ in us. The Christ that ate with tax collectors and sinners. The Christ that loved a broken woman who was caught in the “very act” of adultery. The Christ that knew about the messy, dirty, ungodly lives people were trapped in, and invaded their world with a love that compelled them to be near Him, to listen to what He had to say.
Let me ask you this: Have you ever seen what was broken in someone else’s life and tried to fix it by teaching them what was wrong, and how it could be made right? Have you delivered this wisdom to people uninvited? Have you ever judged the lives of others, and held them to the standards you hold yourself to – even though you KNOW GOD and they don’t? Friends, God has given me a revelation that the one thing that people are longing for more than anything is HIS LOVE. How will they know His love except through His people? When we try to “fix people” with our good intentions we often end up driving them further away from God, and further away from the one thing that can really change them.
As I have been sitting in God’s presence and simply remembering that He is my Father and I am His child – I have cried many tears thinking of how easily we can be removed from the simplicity that is in Christ. Without my performance, without my self-effort, without all of the things I have done in service to Him – God chose to love me, accept me, call me His child, heal me, bless me, and deliver me from everything that was harming me. When my babies get up in the morning and I see their sleepy faces, and hug them, and hold them, God whispers, “That’s how much I love you. That’s how I look at you. That’s how much I love to be near you.” It is almost too much to handle as He unfolds His heart – I just have to lift my hands and say, “God, you love me. You love me. You love me. Thank you for this love.”
And do you know what is happening? I see people who are lost, and instead of passing judgment, I think, “They need to know this love! Do they know how much God loves them, or are they drowning in condemnation, shame and guilt – thinking that His love is only for ‘good people’ that go to church and make all of the right choices?” If people could know the love that God has for them, and BELIEVE it – they would be forever changed!
How about you? Do you believe in the love God has for you? Do you fall into the trap of performance to try to earn what was freely given to you at the cross? Do you beat yourself up with condemnation when you feel you fall short of what a Christian is supposed to be like? Short on faith. Short on study & prayer. Short on church attendance. Faith & prayer & church attendance are good and right, but they don’t earn you any points with God. They don’t make Him love you more or love you less.
When you stop trying to qualify for God’s love, you will free others from having to qualify for your love. When you realize you did not, and can not do anything to earn God’s love, you won’t expect others to earn yours. When you receive it as a free gift, you can give it as a free gift. You can then truly love others as Christ has loved you.
I encourage you and challenge you to spend time with God this week – just to let Him love you!
If you know someone who needs to remember how much He loves them, please share!
Did you know that the enemy of your soul has strategies and schemes?
This is why the Bible exhorts us to know our enemy,
“…so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.” ~ 2 Corinthians 2:11
According to this scripture, Satan can actually gain an advantage over us when we are ignorant of his devices. He has very strategic and well thought out plans that he has used with repeated success in the lives of God’s people, and in the lives of those who do not know God. In our previous Bible study, The Good Fight of Faith Part I, we learned about the nature of our enemy:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” ~ John 10:10a
In Part II we are going to look at our enemy’s battle plans. In any military operation there is always reconnaissance. This is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain vital information about enemy forces or features of the environment. As we enforce Christ’s victory and go into all the world to preach the gospel, we are invading Satan’s territory. We are going beyond the area occupied by friendly forces, and we need to know some vital information if we are to be successful in fighting the good fight of faith.
God has given us information in His word about our enemy’s battle plans and battlefields. There are three primary battlefields that Satan will operate in to carry out his mission to steal, kill & destroy:
The Battlefield of the Mind
1 Peter 1:13 urges us to “gird up the loins of [our] minds.” Other translations say to, “…prepare [them] for action.” So how do we prepare our minds for action?
“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, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Prepare your mind for action by knowing what to do with thoughts when they come. Not all thoughts that run across your pretty little mind are from God! When a thought comes, treat it like a foreigner that needs a passport to gain access! Find out where that thought came from! If it is contrary to God’s word, pull it down, cast it out, arrest it – stamp it with “ACCESS DENIED.” Just don’t open the door, let it in, entertain it, offer it some snacks and invite it to dwell there! Understand that your enemy is counting on you to do just that, but hey my friend, you are not ignorant of his devices, and I believe the next time wrong thoughts come, they are not getting past the door!
The Battlefield of the Flesh
Galatians 5:17 talks about the war that is constantly going on inside of every believer between the flesh, or carnal nature, of a man, and the spirit of a man. There never has been, and never will be a peace treaty. We must crucify our flesh daily in order to live in the beautiful freedom that comes with being led by the spirit. Your enemy knows this, and he has a mathematical formula that guarantees his success in the lives of those that have failed to gather intelligence in this area!
But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.” James 1:14-15
INNER APPETITES (of the flesh) + OUTWARD ENTICEMENT = Birth of SIN = DEATH
The only way to stop the mathematical certainty of this death equation is to remove the “plus sign.” You may have flesh, and the devil may do all he can to entice it, but if you don’t take the bait the two can never conceive that sin baby! “That’s easier said than done,” you might say, and that’s true; however, God has given us weapons and His word. I could write a whole book on this, so I’ll just touch on two things.
First, whatever you feed will get stronger. If you want a strong spirit YOU MUST feed it the word of God. If you want to quiet your flesh YOU MUST starve it. Second, DO NOT rely on human will power & sheer determination. It is only by God’s spirit in you that you can resist strong temptation. It takes the grace of God that He gladly gives to the humble. Be teachable and acknowledge that you cannot do it on your own. Here’s my equation:
LESS Prime Time TV + MORE study & prayer = a STRONG SPIRIT = a better LIFE
It really can be that simple when we become doers of the word and not hearers only.
The Battlefield of this World
“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.” 1 John 2:15-17
Part of our reconnaissance as Christians is to learn about the environment our enemy controls. The Bible tells us that Satan is the god of this world. He will use everything in our environment to distract us, lull us to sleep, or flat out persecute us. Be aware that the platforms of influence that govern this world (media, education, religion, arts & entertainment, family, politics, etc.) are the channels that will be used to sway believers to align themselves with what the world thinks/acts like/talks like rather than aligning themselves with what GOD thinks/acts like/talks like. The pull is strong my friends. That is why it is so important to guard your heart and mind, feed your spirit, SHUT OFF the channels that are feeding your flesh, watch and pray – THIS is how we begin to live by the faith that overcomes the world!
I’d love to pray for you: “Lord, I ask you to touch the heart of whoever is reading these words. Strengthen them for the battles that they are facing in their lives right now. Deposit in them your grace, your peace, and your wisdom. Help them Holy Spirit in their weakness – whatever it might be – and encourage them to keep fighting, keep believing, keep standing until they see the victory come to pass in their lives. Thank you for making them aware of how the enemy is getting in, and how he is gaining the advantage over them. I say they SHUT THE DOOR in his face today, and open the door to your spirit of power and love. I ask this in Jesus’ name.”