Spiritual Warfare:  Gearing Up for Battle

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Time for Us to Gear Up for Battle

For some time now, we have been involved in a rather rigorous training program, a Spiritual Boot Camp of sorts, designed to prepare us—as followers of Jesus Christ—for service as soldiers in the Army of God.  As part of this training, we have…

Our Uniforms and Their Maintenance

Having completed these preliminaries, the time has come for us to suit-up in our uniforms and learn about the weapons we will be carrying with us into battle.  Unlike the heavy duty combat attire worn by most soldiers—designed to camouflage both a soldier’s person and location (as well as any dirt that he might pick up along the way)—the uniforms we will be wearing are robes of purest white, made of the finest linen, and designed to call attention to our holy lifestyles and identify us as saints set apart for service to our Lord and Savior.  According to Revelation 19:7-8, this is what we, as the Bride of Christ, will be wearing to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb…

…for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And, according to Revelation 19:14, it is what we will be wearing when we accompany our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, on His return to earth to crush His enemies at the Second Coming

And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

Our Uniforms are Meant to Shine as Lights in the Darkness

These Kingdom-Issued Spiritual Robes are what each of us receives when we come to Christ for Salvation—robes that were purchased for us by Him through His sacrificial death on the Cross, and given to us to replace the filthy, sin-saturated civilian clothes we are wearing when we are first saved.  We find a wonderful illustration of this in the spiritual re-outfitting of Joshua, Israel’s high priest, in Zechariah 3:1-4…

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”

Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.  And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’

Like the new garments given to Joshua, our robes, when first issued, are spotless and bright white; however, because we are still living in bodies of flesh and in a corrupted world system, it doesn’t take long for them, too, to become soiled by sin.  This, of course, brings us to the matter of maintenance; for, as Soldiers of God, we need to understand that once we have been issued our uniforms, we must make every effort to see that they remain in the same pristine condition as when we first received them.

Fortunately, we have not been left on our own in this endeavor; for, from the moment we are born into the Family of God, we are placed under the supervision of our very own Drill Instructor/Inspector General—the Holy Spirit—who comes to live within us 24/7 for the rest of our lives, in order to train us in the righteous ways of God, to empower us to live obediently to His commands, and to call attention to any violations of God’s uniform code of conduct.  When such violations do occur, and our uniforms become soiled and tattered due to sin, He is there to inspect us, to convict us of our need to repent, and to assist us in carrying our dirty laundry to the Cross of Christ where it can be cleansed in the Blood of the Lamb.  We can be assured of this because of the promise of God that…

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Putting on the Mind of Christ

Developing a Missional Mindset

In His capacity as our DI, the Spirit of God works tirelessly to transform us from the raw recruits we once were into the seasoned soldiers we need to be; those who are trained and fully equipped to meet any challenge that might eventually be faced on the battlefield.  However, just providing us with uniforms and then helping us to keep them clean isn’t enough to make us into this kind of soldier.  To really prepare us for service in the army of our King, along with a change of clothing, we must also undergo a change of mentality—one in which we replace our old carnal, self-centered, civilian ways of thinking with new spiritual, selfless, and mission-oriented mindsets.  In other words, it is essential that we learn how to…

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).

What does it mean to be renewed in the spirit of our minds?  Well, it means that we…

  1. Put on the mind of Christ…

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:3-8).

We must have a mind of humility, servanthood, and obedience and, like Christ, we must be willing to give our lives in service to God our Father.

  1. Learn to live in submission…

First, to God…

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)

Then, to Earthly Rulers…

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people (1 Peter 2:13-15).

And, to others…

…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

We should be living as one “under authority,” respecting whatever authority structure God has placed over us—like the Roman centurion, who told an impressed Jesus in Matthew 8:9…

For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.

  1. Like Jesus, be prepared to suffer…

[For] Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2).

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

  1. Train ourselves in godliness…

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

Our Spiritual Dogtags

We do this as we study our Training Manual in Righteousness, the Bible… 

[For] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

We do this by learning to Communicate and stay in contact with our Father and Commander-in-Chief through Prayer…

I call to God, and the LORD will save me.  Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.  He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.  God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old…because they do not change and do not fear God (Psalm 55:16-19).

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.  But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12).

And, we do this as we Dedicate our Lives and Wills to the Purposes of God through Worship…

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).

…for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (Corinthians 6:20).

Therefore…let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29).

We Must Remember Who Our Real Enemies Are

The Weapons in Our Armory 

Now that we have addressed the matter of our uniforms and their maintenance, and our mental attitudes have been reoriented from individualistic, self-seeking, and opportunistic ones to those that are more team-spirited, selfless, and completely dedicated to God’s mission in the world, we can move on to an introduction to the weapons that we will be carrying with us into battle.

The first thing we need to know about these weapons is that they, like the warfare we will be engaged in, are spiritual, not fleshly, in nature.  We need to remember that we are not battling flesh and blood people, or warring against the physical, cultural, or religious structures that we’ve identified in our previous exercises, but against the evil spirits who are working in and through these to accomplish the will and work of Satan.  As the Apostle Paul explains in Ephesians 6:12…

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 

Our real enemies, then, are the powers of Satan who are…

…organized in a hierarchy of ruler/principalities (archai), authorities (exousia), powers (dunamis), and spiritual forces of evil (kosmokratoras).  It is reasonable to assume the authority structure here is arranged in descending order.  Daniel 10:13 and 20 unveil the identity of the archai as high level satanic princes set over nations and regions of the earth.

The word exousia carries a connotation of both supernatural and natural government.  In the Apostle’s understanding, there were supernatural forces that ‘stood behind’ human structures…

Presumably, the dunamis operate within countries and cultures to influence certain aspects of life.

The kosmokratoras are the many types of evil spirits that commonly afflict people, e.g., spirits of deception, divination, lust, rebellions, fear, and infirmity.  These, generally, are the evil powers confronted and cast out in most deliverance sessions.  Even among them there is ranking, the weaker spirits subservient to the stronger ones…

These insidious powers continue to work through human governments, religions, and powerful personalities to keep people in bondage to legalism, social ideology, and moral compromise.  Their role is to pollute the minds and pervert the wills of people, diverting them from redemption, holding them hostage to the father of lies.[1] 

Powerful spiritual enemies such as these require powerful spiritual weapons to ensure their defeat—the kind of weapons which can only be provided by our All-Powerful Lord…

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the fleshbut have divine power to destroy [enemy] strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete (2 Cor. 10: 3-6).

We Are Never Out of His Line of Sight

Our Defensive Weapons

As for the weapons themselves, these fall into one of two categories—they are either defensive or offensive in nature.  In Ephesians 6:10-12, Paul describes those in the defensive category by comparing them to the armor worn by the Roman soldiers in his day.  During his many imprisonments, when he was either chained to or guarded by one soldier after another, he had countless opportunities to study these warriors up close, and plenty of time to reflect on the parallels between Rome’s mighty fighting machine and the kind of warriors we should be for Christ.  Given this insight, Paul’s instructions to us are to… 

  1. …be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might…

Here, at the outset, Paul admonishes us to remember just where our strength for the battle comes from—it comes from the Lord.  This is so important for us to keep in mind because, on our own, most of us don’t even have the strength to deal with enemies that we can see—much less take on enemy forces that we cannot see.  Fortunately for us, the Lord is not at the same disadvantage that we are.  Not only is He All-Powerful but He sees everything—and, according to 2 Chronicles 16:9…

…the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

In fact, He has made the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him far above all rule and authority and power and dominion available to us, so that we can…

…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy (Colossians 1:10-11); and,

…to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

  1. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm…

Being fully assured of having the strength we need to fight, we can now put on the armor that will protect us from our enemies.  And, armed with the knowledge that every need of ours will be supplied by our Commander-in-Chief, we can, with confidence…

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

The Belt of Truth

  1. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth…

As strange as it may seem, the very first piece of armor we are told to put on is the Belt.  That’s because, while seeming to be the least important piece of equipment in our arsenal, it is actually the most important.  Although it is nearly invisible when the rest of the armor is put on, this piece is so important because, like the Belt worn by the Roman soldier…

  • It secures the soldier’s robe and keeps it from flapping around in battle;
  • The soldier’s shield and lance are attached to it when they are not in use;
  • The soldier’s breastplate is attached to it and held in place by it; and,
  • The sheath containing the soldier’s sword is also attached to it.[2]

Unlike the Roman soldier’s belt, though, our belt is not just any old piece of leather.  Paul refers to it as the Belt of Truth because Truth, for us, is the foundational piece of our spiritual armor—Truth, for us, is none other than Jesus Christ.  Not only is He the One who holds everything in life together but He is the One who gives us eternal life and brings us into the Family of God in the first place.  As soldiers in the Army of God, we know the Truth that…

…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1)…

…[and that] the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

We know that He is…

…the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him] (John 14:6).

And, we know the saving Truth that God wants everyone else to know is…

…there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time (1 Tim 2:5-6).

Ours is One of Righteousness

  1. And having put on the breastplate of righteousness…

The breastplate worn by a typical Roman soldier was made of either bronze or brass and was the shiniest and most beautiful piece of equipment he owned.  It covered the area of the body from his neck to nearly his knees and protected all of his vital organs, especially his heart.  It consisted of two sections of metal—one going down the back and the other going down the front—which were held together at the shoulders and attached to the belt at the waist.[3]  No doubt, when Paul saw this breastplate, he was reminded of an image of protection similar to the one afforded to us by the Righteousness of God, and made available to us through Christ…

…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe (Romans 3:22).

When we come face-to-face with the Truth that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life—and the only mediator between God and men—and we put our faith in Him for Salvation, we are immediately made righteous in the sight of God and empowered to live righteously by the Spirit of God who comes to live within us.  These are the two aspects of Righteousness—one Positional and one Practical—that we need to take into consideration here.  John MacArthur explains them in this way…

Basically, God’s gift of salvation in Christ brings a believer into a position of righteousness. God imputes the perfect righteousness of His Son to the believer, and thereby declares him righteous positionally.  But as you know full well, believers still have sin in their lives — Christians are not practically righteous, 100 percent of the time. However, it is on the basis of our positional righteousness, that we are exhorted to strive for practical righteousness in our daily lives.

Positionally…

As a Christian you are: spiritually alive unto God, dead to sin, forgiven, declared righteous, a child of God, God’s possession, an heir of God, blessed with all spiritual blessings, a citizen of heaven, a servant of God, free from the Law, crucified to the world, a light in the world, victorious over Satan, cleansed from sin, declared holy and blameless, set free in Christ from the power of sin, secure in Christ, granted peace and rest, and led by the Holy Spirit…

Positionally, you cannot increase or decrease in the favor of God. As a genuine Christian, nothing you do, or fail to do, can change to the slightest degree your perfect standing before God — for ‘in Him you have been made complete’ (Colossians 2:10).

But…

…that completeness does not mean that when you understand your position you will remain as you are—no, you will see changes in your life. The New Testament continually emphasizes your identity as a believer and urges you understand and apply your spiritual resources. As you continue to mature in Christ, you will not only come to a greater understanding of who you are, but you’ll also rely more consistently on your resources — those granted to you as a result of your position in Christ — to handle the practical aspects of Christian living. [4]

Because of our Positional Righteousness, we can pray with expectation…

Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me (Ps. 5:8); and,

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me (Ps. 71:2)!

And, as we maintain our Practical Righteousness, we can trust God’s promise that…

Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked (Prov. 13:6).

Our Shoes are for Carrying the Gospel of Peace

  1. …and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace

Although they might seem relatively insignificant, especially when compared to his massive and beautiful breastplate, the shoes worn by a Roman soldier were critical pieces of his equipment.  Like the breastplate, they, too, consisted of two parts—the greave, which was a piece of metal—a sort of shin plate—extending from the knee to the ankle; and, the shoe itself, which was made of leather with long, dangerous spikes on the bottom of the shoe.[5]  Not only did these shoes enable him to stand firm while engaging in hand-to hand combat with an enemy but, because of the spikes, they could also be used as weapons to maim or even kill his opponent.  When properly shod, the Roman soldier was prepared for whatever the war threw at him—he was ready to march to the next battlefield and ready to fight when he arrived there.

The spiritual parallel for us is this:  having put on the belt of truth—that is, having put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14), and having been covered by our breastplate of righteousness—both the positional and the practical or personal, we are ready to put on our shoes and take the gospel (the good news) of peace with us wherever we go.  Being so shod, we are equipped for both the march and any enemies we may meet along the way; remembering…

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’ (Isaiah 52:7).

To Protect Against the Flaming Arrows of the Enemy

  1. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…

So far, in the donning of our spiritual armor, we have put on…

  • our Belt of Truth—the Truth being Jesus Christ, whom we also know to be the Word of God;
  • our Breastplate of Righteousness—our Positions of Righteousness with God and our Practices of Right Living made possible through our relationship with Christ; and,
  • our heavy-duty Shoes—which enable us to take the Gospel of Peace–the good news about Jesus–across some rough and rugged spiritual terrain to those in need of it.

Before we march out, though, Paul tells us that we must take up our Shields of Faith to protect us against any enemy missiles that may be launched at us as we proceed.  Since we’ve already exercised Faith in coming to Christ for Salvation…

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)…

By Faith, we have been made Righteous and live Righteously…

’my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls (Hebrews 10:38-39)…

And, it is with Faith that we launch out with the Gospel of Peace…

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…(Philippians 1:27)…

…what Faith could Paul be referring to here, when he tells us to take up the Shield of Faith?  Since Faith is…

…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)…

I think he is referring the assurance we need that—before going into battle…

If God is for us, who can be against us?…[assurance] that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

…and the conviction that…

…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8: 31, 37-39).

If…

….everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4)…

…where does this Faith come from?  Well, according to Romans 10:17, it comes from the Word of God, for…

…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).

To help illustrate why Paul chose this particular piece of equipment to represent the protection afforded to us by Faith, we need to take a closer look at the shield used by the Roman soldiers in his day.

A Roman legionnaire usually possessed two shields—a small round one made of metal that was highly decorated, and only worn when he needed to dress to impress; and, a large rectangular one, sized and shaped very much like a door that, when used properly, would cover just about every part of his body. It was this shield that he used in combat and the one that Paul was referring to in this instruction.

This type of shield was usually formed by taking at least six layers of animal skin and laying them on top of a piece of wood.  These were then tanned and woven together to created a nearly impenetrable surface.  In order to keep the leather on the shields from becoming dried out and brittle over time, a regular application of oil was needed—something which became an important part of a soldier’s daily routine.  In addition to this, prior to going out into battle, a soldier would immerse his shield in water until it was completely saturated.  In this way, be could prevent his shield from catching on fire when it was struck by the enemy’s flaming arrows.[6]

I am sure that when Paul learned how the soldiers cared for and used their shields, it put him in mind of the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit and the Water of the Word he mentioned at another time in Ephesians 5:25.  It is through our saturation in the Water of the Word of God, applied to us daily by the Holy Spirit, that we receive the Faith needed to move out onto the battlefield with confidence, laying claim to the victory that Christ has already won for us.  We can do this because we know that…

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him (Proverbs 30:5).

The Helmet of Salvation

  1. …and take the helmet of salvation…

As for the helmet of the Roman warrior, it too was made of bronze, with pieces of armor attached to the sides to protect his cheeks and jaw.  It was often decorated with elaborate engravings and usually had a plume made from either feathers or horsehair standing straight up from the top of the helmet—so it was quite impressive to behold.  Because the helmet was so heavy, the inside of it was lined with a cushiony substance which protected the head.[7]  A wise soldier wouldn’t dare go into battle without it because he surely would have lost his head to an enemy’s battleaxe or sword.

Paul tells us that we, too, have a helmet for the protection of our heads—in our case, our minds—that is found in our Salvation.  When we come to Christ for Salvation, we come to a personal Knowledge of the Truth, something which we had never known before.  That’s because…

…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:20-25).

Just as the Truth is in Jesus, the Truth is now in us, and given that, we are to live as people of the Truth.  In our former civilian lives, all we knew were the lies that the enemy wanted us to believe; but now, as people of the Truth, our minds must be renewed so that we think like Jesus—and, when we start thinking like Jesus, we will start acting like Jesus.  So, in putting on our Helmet of Salvation, what we’re doing is protecting our minds from the lies, accusations, and false guilt that the enemy hurls at us in an attempt to render the “command centers” of our minds inoperable.

But, having…

…been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Pet. 1:23)…

…we can protect our minds from the devil’s onslaught by filling them with the very same Word of God.  As we do, we will learn more about who we are in Christ and become more confident and secure in our identity as the Children of God.  Our “heads” will then be as protected as a Roman’s soldier’s was in his helmet, and the enemy will be denied the access to our mind that he has long been scheming to get.

The Word of God

  1. …and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

In Hebrews 4:12, we are told that…

…the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart…

…and, it was the two-edged sword of the Roman soldier that Paul had in mind here.  Although a soldier usually had five swords at his disposal, not all of them were suitable for use on the battlefield; some were too big and unwieldy for hand-to-hand combat and some were too small to inflict very much damage.  But the two-edged sword was just right for this purpose; it was the sharpest, easiest to maneuver, and the most lethal weapon he had in his arsenal.

This sword was about 19 inches long and in addition to its two razor sharp blades, it had a tip which turned upward.  When it was thrust into an enemy combatant and twisted, it could virtually rip the foe’s insides apart.[8] As gruesome as the thought of this may be, it was the image Paul chose to use when describing the Word of God as the Sword of the Spirit; for, it is the one weapon capable of penetrating a person’s innermost being, separating one’s thoughts from his feelings, one’s blood from his bones, and one’s mind, will, and emotions from those of God.

Probably the best example of the effective use of the Word of God as a defensive weapon can be seen in Jesus’ use of it in His wilderness testing, recorded for us in Matthew 4:1-11…

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’  But he answered, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you, and On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’  Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Three times, Jesus was tempted by Satan to act apart from the will of God and each time He met the temptation with the spoken Word of God.  This is exactly what we should do when confronted by the devil or tempted by “…the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).”  Hindsight being what it is, if the First Adam had wielded the Word of God as faithfully and forcefully as the Second Adam, just think how different life on the earth would have been!

The use of the Sword of the Spirit is not limited to its use as a defensive capacity, however.  Unlike the other pieces of our armor, it also serves as an offensive weapon.  But, we will have to wait until our next exercise to learn more about that and our other weapons of offense–and, about how we go about Honoring the Rules of Engagement.

 

Armed and Ready for Battle

 

The Gaither Vocal Band reminds us of the faithfulness of God’s promises…

 

Original Armor Images by Rev. Yves Langevin, courtesy of www.freebibleimages.org.

Image of the soldier’s shoes from Dressed to Kill by Rick Renner.

[1] Thomas B. White, “Understanding Principalities and Powers,” in Territorial Spirits, ed. C. Peter Wagner (Chichester, England: Sovereign World Ltd., 1991), 61-62.

[2] Rick Renner, Dressed to Kill: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare and Armor (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, 2015), 261-262.

[3] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 292.

[4] John MacArthur, “How to Get in the Game,” article dated January 12, 2010, on the Grace to You website at https://www.gty.org/library/articles/a179.

[5] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 313-314.

[6] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 346-351.

[7] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 374-375.

[8] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 405-406.

Spiritual Warfare: Image Manipulation and the Media

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Replacing God’s Image with Satan’s Counterfeit

To try and put into perspective just where we are in our current series of exercises in Spiritual Warfare, let’s take a moment to recap what we accomplished during our last three workout sessions.  In…

  • Getting the Lay of the Landwe began creating a spiritual map of Satan’s kingdom, with a survey of its Celestial, Terrestrial, and Subterranean Divisions—that is, the vertical dimensions of its territory;
  • Surveying the Earth’s Political and Financial Landscapes—we turned our attention from the kingdom’s vertical dimensions to mapping out its horizontal ones, with an exploration of the Physical Structures used in keeping the residents of planet Earth in material servitude; and,
  • Evolution and Educationwe looked at some of the ways the Educational System has been used to supplant the long-held Biblical Worldview with the godless Secular One needed for the brainwashing of generations of unsuspecting teachers, students, and parents.

Since our last session was the first of two dealing with the Structures making up Satan’s Cultural Landscape, this session, as the second of the two, will deal with the Structure of Media; for, it is through this Structure that our Emotions are bombarded relentlessly in a devilish crusade to alter the way we feel about ourselves, our relationships, and the things that we value in life.  Remember, Satan’s goal in all of this is to get us to think, feel, and act in accordance with his purposes which, as we should know by now, are in direct opposition to those of God. 

Here is what we have learned about His purposes over the course of these exercises…

  • God’s purpose in creating Man was to provide Himself with a Family to love, both now and throughout eternity.
  • Before Man could qualify as a member of God’s Family, though, he first had to be like his Father in every important respect. Therefore, when God created Man, He made him in His Image and Likeness, to be a visible reflection of Him and His Character in the World, as well as the Steward or Executor of His Will upon the earth.
  • Because God is Spirit, He created Man as a Spirit Being which He then placed in the two houses He called Male and Female.  As Spirit, Man could relate to God and, in the physical houses of Male and Female, he could (re)produce the Family that God has always desired to have.
  • Because he was created first, the Man was placed in the Position of Head over God’s Creation; with the Woman being created later, to be his Companion and Helper in carrying out the Work of God in the world.
  • This arrangement, however, did not mean that the Male was superior to the Female–it was simply to provide a system of order and accountability for God’s Kingdom Work on the Earth.  For, from the beginning of their history together, Man and Woman were both…

Equal in their standing before God;
Equal in their call to the work of God; and,
Equal in their blessing by God.

  • In his Position as Head, the Man was to be an Image in the world of the Headship of God the Father; the Woman was to be an Image of the complementary Nature and Work of the Holy Spirit; while the Children produced from their union were to be living testimonies of their Love, as well as Images of the Obedience and Love of Jesus Christ to and for God His Father.
  • God’s purpose for the Human Family, then, was for it be an Image in the natural of the Family God was creating for Himself in the supernatural—a Spiritual Family that He wanted every human being to be a part of.
  • When it came to their relationship to the physical world around them, as the Sons and Daughters of God, Man and Woman were to exercise Dominion over their Father’s Creation, Imaging the Righteous Rule of God while administering His Holy Will on the Earth, just as it is already being done in heaven.

To summarize, then, God’s Purposes for Man (as male and female) was for him to provide the World with an…

Image in the flesh of the Triune God;
Image in the flesh of God’s Spiritual Family; and,
Image in the flesh of God’s Kingdom Rule.

We Were All Created to Reflect the Image of God to the World

Getting Rid of One Image…

It should be obvious to us by now that God’s Purposes for Man have everything to do with Image; and, that in every aspect of his being—in his Spirit, Soul, and Body— Man has been imprinted with the likeness of his Creator.  Just as earthly kings and emperors have, throughout most of human history, placed their images on the coins and stamps that were circulated throughout their domains, the Sovereign King of the Universe placed His Image on every human being who has ever lived, so that as they circulated throughout His Earthly Domain…

 …the earth [would] be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).

In light of this, it should come as no surprise that the destruction of the Image of God in Man—and the replacement of it with his own perverted one—has been Satan’s primary objective from the beginning of time.  Since Man’s Maintenance of the Image of God required that he maintain…

Righteousness in his Relationship with God;
Love in his Relationships with Others; and,
Authority in his Relationship to the Earth…

…Satan’s strategy for the destruction of that Image required that he find a way to…

Sever Man’s Relationship with God through Disobedience;
Replace Godly Love with Lust in Man’s Relationships; and,
Usurp Man’s Authority over the Earth.

This he accomplished in one fell swoop with his successful temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden—the consequences of which were…

  1. With Man’s disobedience came death—an immediate spiritual death or separation from God, to be followed later by physical death. This spiritual death brought with it an end to Man’s communication with God; depriving him of his ability to receive instruction from the Spirit of God on what he was to do and how he was to live, and leaving him at the mercies of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil; 
  2. Lust entered the world and into human relationships when Eve acted on her craving to have that which was forbidden; and, with this action, the drive to satisfy one’s own selfish desires became more important than doing what it right; and,
  3. When it came to Man’s Authority over the Earth, this priceless gift was forfeited by Adam when he, by succumbing to the Influence Power of his wife, abdicated his Headship and gave up the Position Power that went along with it. Consequently, Man’s Authority was given over to Satan, and God’s Order for Creation was overturned, all because…

A member of the Animal Kingdom had usurped the authority of the Woman;
The Woman had used her Powers of Persuasion to usurp the authority of the Man; and,
The Man had rejected the authority of God and His Word and given up his position of Headship in the process.

…And Replacing It with Another 

Knowing now that God’s Purposes for Man have always been about his projection of a Godly Image in and throughout the World; and, given that Satan, as the master counterfeiter, has a Corrupted Image of his own that he wants Man to bear, how can we know what this Counterfeit Image looks like?  Well, all we have to do is invert God’s Image for Man to reveal the one determined for him by Satan…

The Truth vs. the Lie

As for how to go about replacing the Godly Image with his counterfeit one, Satan has that all worked out; for, even now, he is in the process of…

  • Eliminating human sexual distinctions and making society Gender-Neutral;
  • Tearing down traditional Authority structures and reducing everyone (except those who are pulling the strings behind the scenes) to the same base level for the purposes of corporate servitude;
  • Destroying the nuclear Family and replacing it with a Universal Brotherhood of Man, where everyone and everything is tolerated—with the exception of those holding to Biblical values; and,
  • Demoting Man from his divinely-ordained status of Lord over Creation to that of a mere animal within the Creation (as we discovered in our previous session, this is something that has been achieved through the teaching of Evolution).

To anyone else, such undertaking would certainly have been written off as an impossible mission long ago, however, the Prince of the Power of the Air remains completely undaunted at the prospect of its achievement.  That’s because, he has found a way to use the airwaves over which he rules as a weapon—the powerful weapon known to us as the Media.

Media—The What, the Why, and the Who 

To be sure that we have the same understanding of the term and the strategic part it plays in Satan’s offensive, we now need to identify…

What Media is;
Why it is Satan’s weapon of choice; and,
Who is manipulating the messages it conveys.

  1. The What

For our purposes, Media is defined as…

  • a plural of medium;
  • (usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, that reach or influence people widely.

As for its usage…

Media, like data, is the plural form of a word borrowed directly from Latin.  The singular, medium, early developed the meaning an intervening agency, means, or instrument’ and was first applied to newspapers two centuries ago.  In the 1920s media began to appear as a singular collective noun, sometimes with the plural medias.  This singular use is now common in the fields of mass communication and advertising, but it is not frequently found outside them…[1]

We can understand Media, then, to represent the collective agencies, means, or instruments that a sender uses to communicate a particular message to a specific receiver or group of receivers; with Communication itself being defined as…

…a process involving the sorting, selecting and sharing of symbols in such a way as to help a receiver elicit from his or her own mind a meaning similar to that contained in the mind of the communicator; and…

Mass Communication being defined as…

…a process whereby professional communicators use technological devices to share messages over some distance to influence large audiences.[2]

Since it is this Mass Communication aspect of Media that Satan has commandeered for his own evil purposes, it is essential that we learn why he has chosen it as his weapon of choice.

  1. The Why

There are at least three reasons to account for Media’s effectiveness when used as a weapon…

It’s Pervasive;
It’s Powerful; and,
It’s Personal.

It’s Pervasive

Gone Are the Days!

Throughout much of human history, if someone wanted to convey his thoughts or feelings to someone else, he had to do so in person—within shouting range of that person, at least.  Apart from the use of drum beats, smoke signals, homing pigeons, letters, or the use of runners or relays similar to the pony express, there was just no way for people to communicate with other people—especially large numbers of them—over long distances.[3]  However, this began to change after the German inventor, Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468) invented the process of movable type…

Prior to that time, most books were handwritten and very time-consuming to produce.  Because of this, reading material was scarce and limited to those in the elite culture—the clergy and nobility…Gutenberg’s invention increased the number of books and made them available for a new emerging middle class.

The development of printing, which led to the spread of literacy for the middle classes, plus the development of trade and commerce caused major cultural changes. [4]

One of these major changes was the Protestant Reformation (c. 1517-1648)…

The Reformation, led by a German monk, Martin Luther, was the first mass movement made possible by mass communication.  Print was used to mobilize people of all social classes…

Luther and his followers used mass-produced pamphlets to distribute the new religious thoughts to the masses.  They communicated with the illiterate through pictorial prints, much like present day editorial cartoons, which carried propaganda messages against the Catholic Church and the pope.

After mass communication developed, more and more people learned to read and write, especially among the middle classes.[5]

As literacy increased and more information became available to the masses, more and better ways to disseminate it became necessary.  This need was eventually met through the development, over time, of books and novels, newspapers, letter-writing and new or improved postal services, the telephone, telegraph, phonograph, photography, radio, films, television, and the internet—and the communications web which is currently encircling the globe.  In fact, this web is now so pervasive that even people living in huts in some of the most remote parts of the world, without electricity or indoor plumbing, can somehow reach or be reached by some type of the Media!

The Reasons for Media’s Effectiveness

It’s Powerful

As a weapon, Media is effective not only because it is pervasive but also because its powerful; In fact, it’s powerful enough to…

  • Expose people to other people, places, ideas, and products that they would never come into contact with or considered otherwise;
  • Capture the attention and imagination of millions of people with one thirty-second commercial, and making millions of dollars for its advertisers in the process;
  • Unite completely disparate groups of people around a cause by playing upon their fears or emotions;
  • Build up or tear down huge corporations, illustrious professional careers, and even governments;
  • Prompt people to re-examine what they believe and convince them to re-evaluate their value systems; and,
  • Change a society through the promotion of some practices and lifestyles, and the condemnation of others.

What gives Media the power to do all of these things is its ability to manipulate images.  As Elizabeth Thoman, in an article for the Center of Media Literacy, explains…

…the consumer culture as we know it could never have emerged without the invention of the camera and the eventual mass-production of media images it made possible.

In 1859 Oliver Wendell Holmes described photography as the most remarkable achievement of his time because it allowed human beings to separate an experience or a texture or an emotion or a likeness from a particular time and place—and still remain real, visible, and permanent.  He described it as a ‘conquest over matter’ and predicted it would alter the physics of perception, changing forever the way people would see and understand the world around them.  Holmes precisely observed that the emergence of this new technology marked the beginning of a time when the image would become more important than the object itself and would in fact make the object disposable.[6]

Today, we can attest to the accuracy of Holmes’ observation and prediction; for, anyone with a camera phone can quickly and easily record an image which they later, with the aid of computer software, can manipulate in any way that they choose.  With this newly created image—of something that never really existed—a photographer can dispose of the original and then replace what was real and true with a fantasy of his own making—which is something that those in the Media do every day.

It’s Personal

Its power, then, along with its pervasiveness, has made it possible for Media to become something that is also extremely personal.  Just think about it…

A television set is on for nearly eight hours in the average American home each day, with each occupant viewing something on television for nearly four hours daily.  The average American listens to radio over three hours each day.  Add video games, Internet browsing, DVD watching, occasional movie attendance, and roadside billboards to this equation, and it is clear that Americans are deluged with mediated messages in every waking moment.

By now, media use (and misuse) is just an accepted aspect of American culture, as people have become protoplasmic blobs being washing over by countless messages that seek to alter your political views, make you buy something, or change your values.  These narcotizing messages seek to keep you watching so that your eyeballs can be sold to advertisers.

Media usage has become more than a supplement to our American lifestyle; it has become perhaps the largest aspect of our lifestyle.  More productive pursuits like exercise, family interaction, community work, and household duties are over looked in order to keep up with American Idol or catch the big ball game on TV.  For most Americans, time spent with the media surpasses time spent at work or at sleep, and certainly surpasses interaction with friends and family.[7]

And, if you’re anything like me, the cell phone is one of the last things—along with the lights—that we turn off at night, as well as one of the first things that we check when we get up in the morning—so, it doesn’t get much more personal than that!

Today’s Media Landscape

  1. The Who

Now that we know a little about the what and the why of Media, it is time for us to learn something about the who behind it.  In other words, who are the people or groups whose pockets go deep enough to buy and control this very expensive and highly profitable global communications network, and how are they using this powerful tool to advance Satan’s agenda?

Who owns it?

Throughout much of the twentieth century, Media ownership was regulated by laws enforced by the Federal Communications Commission—laws including…

  • the 1941 National TV Ownership Rule, which prohibited broadcasters from owning television stations that could reach more 35 percent of the nation’s homes;
  • the 1970 Radio/TV Cross-Ownership Restriction, which prevented broadcasters from owning a radio and a TV station in the same market; and,
  • the 1975 Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Prohibition, which was designed to limit the ownership of a newspaper and a TV station in the same market.

However, during the Reagan administration, new laws were enacted which dramatically reduced government regulation of the Media and initiated what was soon to become an unprecedented period of consolidation for the large mass-media companies in the United States.  Whereas, in 1980, about fifty corporations were controlling nearly all of U.S. Media, today, that control has been consolidated in just a handful of Media Conglomerates[8]–with only recently, two of the largest media mergers ever to take place having been announced—these being, AT&T’s offer to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion, and the Walt Disney Company’s bid of more than $52 billion to buy out much of 21st Century Fox’s holdings.  If these deals go through, according to information gathered for National Public Radio, the major owners of digital media, with a sampling of their holdings, will be…

  • Walt Disney Company—including 21st Century Fox and its properties, ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, Freeform, Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, Marvel, Touchstone Pictures, Lucasfilm, Disney Digital Network, Polaris, Disneyland, Walt Disney World and other parks and resorts;
  • 21st Century Fox—Fox News, Business, Sports, TV Network, National Geographic Partners, FX, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Blue Sky Studios;
  • Time Warner, Inc.—CNN, HBO, Warner Brothers, Cinemax, TBS, TNT, NBA.com, MCAA.com, TMZ.com, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, DC Comics, Bleacher Report;
  • AT&T—AT&T, DirecTV, Cricket Wireless, U-verse, YP.com (Yellowpages.com), Sky Brasil, Time Warner and its properties;
  • Comcast Corporation/NBC Universal—XFINITY, NBC News, Sports, TV Network, MSNBC, CBNC, NBC Entertainment, Telemundo, Bravo, Sprout, USA Network, Syfy, E!, Philadelphia Flyers, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Focus Features, Universal Studios and other parks and resorts, Golf Channel, Oxygen;
  • CBS Corporation—CBS News, TV, Radio, Entertainment, Sports, Showtime, Simon & Schuster, Smithsonian Channel, CNET, ZDNet, TV Guide, Last.fm, Metacritic, Chowhound, Gamespot, Watch! Magazine;
  • Viacom, Inc.—Paramount Pictures, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, VH!, Nickelodeon, Spike, CMT, Centric, Logo TV, TV Land, Tr3s;
  • Univision Communications, Inc.—Univision TV, Radio, Digital Networks, Fusion, The Onion, The Root, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Uforia;
  • Verizon Communications, Inc.—Verizon Wireless, Fios, AOL + Yahoo!, Flickr, Tumblr, HuffPost, Engadget, TechCrunch, MAKERS, BUILD Studios, Rivals.com, Ryot, go90, Terremark;
  • com, Inc.—Amazon Prime, Cloud Drive, Web Services, Marketplace, Whole Foods, Echo, Fire TV, Kindle, Audible, Twitch, IMDb, Goodreads, AbeBooks, ComiXology, DPReview, Zappos and other online retailers, The Washington Post;
  • Alphabet, Inc./Google—YouTube, Android, Chrome, Nexus, Pixel, Google Home, Blogger, Zagat, Nest, Waze, Verily, Google Search, Gmail, Maps, Hangouts and other apps, Project Fi; and,
  • Facebook, Inc.—Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, Facebook Messenger, Internet.org.[9]

Some of the companies not included in NPR’s listings are the leaders in the Radio and Print Industries…

  • Clear Channel—which owns 866 radio stations and Premiere Radio Networks (a national radio network that produces, distributes or represents approximately 90 syndicated radio programs, serves nearly 5,800 radio station affiliates and has over 213 million weekly listeners, and with programs including the Rush Limbaugh ShowGlenn Beck and the Sean Hannity Show); Fox Sports Radio; Fox News Radio; Australian Radio Network;
  • Bertelsmann—one of the world’s largest media companies, it also owns Random House (with over 200 imprints in 15 countries, including the Ballantine Publishing Group, the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Broadway, the Crown Publishing Group, the Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, Pantheon, Random House U.K.), the Knopf Publishing Group, and Waterbrook Press;
  • The Hearst Corporation–a media conglomerate that controls or has ownership stakes in newspaper, magazine, television, cable network and Internet properties—including Twenty U.S. magazines (like Car and DriverCosmopolitanCountry LivingELLEEsquireGood HousekeepingMarie ClaireOPopular MechanicsRedbookSeventeenand Woman’s Day); King Features (syndicator of newspaper comic strips including BlondieBeetle BaileyHagar the HorribleFamily CircusDennis the MenacePopeye); Black Book; Hearst Business Media (Electronics Products MagazineFloor Covering Weekly); IDG/Hearst; Hearst Books; Hearst News Service; and,
  • The Tribune Company—which owns 23 TV stations, one radio station, 12 daily newspapers- including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sunand the Hartford Courant, and numerous magazines and other media properties.[10]

Why is this information so important for us to know?  Because these are the companies that are controlling what we read in print, what we hear on the radio, and what we see on television, at the movies, and on the internet every day.  These are the groups who, through the Image Culture they are helping to create, are replacing our reality with their fantasy, and reshaping our values and our views on life and of the world.  And, without a doubt, these are the organizations which, as they continue to consolidate, will provide the Coming World Ruler with the Communications Monopoly he will need to control the world and the mindset of its entire population.

Going back to our earlier definition of Mass Communication, then, we can now identify these Media Giants as…

…the professional communicators who are using [their] technological devices to share messages over some distance to influence large audiences.

This, of course, begs the following questions…

What kinds of messages are they choosing to share; and
How are they attempting to influence us through these messages?

We Need to Be Aware of the Messages that Are Really Being Communicated

Mediated Messages and Influence Peddling

Although there are millions—perhaps even billions—of messages conveyed through the Media each day, of particular interest to us are those which are designed to…

Separate Us from Our Money;
Steal Our Identity; and,
Secure Our Support or Sway Our Vote. 

  1. Separating Us from Our Money

There can be no question that the most plentiful and the most obvious messages are those whose purpose it is to sell us something.  Every day, no matter which way we turn, we are confronted by advertisements of one kind or another.  That’s because…

One of the basic ingredients of American popular culture is consumption, and it is the advertising industry that makes mass consumption possible.  Advertising sells us sexuality, beauty, youth, fashion, happiness, success, status and luxury.  When Calvin Klein, for example, advertises blue jeans, he is selling us sex appeal, not jeans.  Polo sells us fashion status and Miller beer offers us macho good times.

Advertising is an important element of our culture because it reflects and attempts to change our life styles.  New cultural trends and fashions are first transmitted to the mass culture through advertisements.

It is estimated that, by the time a person raised in the United States reaches the age of 21, he or she has been exposed to 1 million to 2 million advertisements.  The cumulative effects of this lifelong exposure plays a significant role in shaping our behavior, social beliefs and values.[11]

And, one man who was extremely instrumental in the success of advertising as we know it today was noted psychologist and radical behaviorist, John B. Watson; for it was he who…

…recommended to advertisers that they could make a fortune by manipulating basic human motivations and emotions to their advantage, and often, of course, to the consumer’s disadvantage.  One of his basic ideas, used with gusto and impunity by advertisers today, was to convince people that their possessions were inferior and consequently that they needed new possessions.  In other words, he helped create the modern consumer mentality…[12]

As a result, day in and day out, consumers are bombarded with messages telling them that they need to buy bigger houses, newer cars, the latest fashions, and the best technological devices—and that, for their overall well-being, they need to take more vacations, eat out more often, and still somehow manage to lose weight.  Far from benefiting from this consumer mentality, more Americans than ever are finding themselves over their heads in debt, more overweight, and more stressed out and feeling inadequate than ever before.  What has really been sold and bought, then, is the lie that more will make us happy; an exchange that has most often taken place right under our noses, in our very own living rooms.  Or, as Kalle Lasn, a co-founder of the Canadian media criticism and environmentalist magazine Adbusters describes it…

…In the privacy of our living rooms we made a devil’s bargain with the advertising industry:  Give us an endless flow of free programs and we’ll let you spend 12 minutes of every hour promoting consumption.  For a long time, this seemed to work.  The ads grated on our nerves but it was a small price to pay for ‘free television.’  What we didn’t realize when we made our pact with the advertisers was that their agenda would eventually become the heart and soul of television.  We have allowed the most powerful communications tool ever invented to become the command center of a consumer society defining our lives and culture the way family, community and spiritual values once did.[13]

Sadly, with our eyeballs having been sold to the highest advertising bidder in this way, many of us are ill-equipped to recognize the dangers inherent in the next set of Messages when they come our way.

Eyeballs for Sale

  1. Stealing Our Identity

If advertisements are the most plentiful and most obvious of Media’s Messages, surely the subtlest are those that are designed to steal our identities.  Usually, when we hear the term Identity Theft, we think of a person whose financial information has been stolen by some unknown internet hacker, who has made off with his or her social security number, or bank and credit card account numbers.  As devastating as this kind of crime can be to an individual’s long-term financial situation and reputation, there is a crime that is far more subtle and insidious being perpetrated upon the numberless recipients of Mass Media’s Messages.  This crime is the slow, subconscious, yet systematic theft of each recipient’s God-given Image and Spiritual Identity—a loss of reputation which will have everlasting ramifications.

Through the Media’s programming of television, music and music videos, movies, the internet and social media, and video games, today’s airwaves have been saturated with Images promoting hedonistic and godless lifestyles.  By appealing to our flesh—that is, our baser human instincts—they have successfully convinced many of us that what is evil is really good, and what is good is really evil.  Routinely, their Images have been and are being used to promote…

Idolatry and a rejection of God;
Vulgarity, swearing, and cursing;
Disrespect for parents and of one another;
Disrespect for authority and for life;
Drunkenness and substance abuse;
Lying, cheating, stealing;
Violence and murder;
Greed, covetous, and corruption;
Sexual immorality—both heterosexual and homosexual; and,
Marital infidelity and divorce.

In case you hadn’t noticed, each of these is a violation of God’s Standard of Righteousness, or what is better known as the Ten Commandments—and is something which God has repeatedly warned will be judged and punished.  Not only that but, each time a person buys into the lies embedded within Media’s Messages, that person trades the Image of God that he was designed to bear for the one that Satan has long been trying to imprint upon him.  And, without the light and salt effects produced by that missing Godly Image, individuals have become devoid of purpose in life, families have fallen apart, and the moral fabric of society has, over time, been eroded.

What We Take in Helps Make Us What We Are–or Shouldn’t Be!

  1. Securing Our Support or Swaying Our Vote

No where is this erosion more evident than in the Media Messages whose intent it is to secure our support or sway our vote—with the Media’s coverage of Politics and Public Affairs being a prime example.  In my lifetime alone, journalism—both print and television—has gone from being a respected and objective source of information to being a dog-and-pony show, with its blatant liberal bias on display for all to see.  Instead of just relaying the facts, today’s reporters have taken to giving their opinions instead, as they attempt to impress and gain a following with their editorialization of the stories they are covering.  Instead of real news reporting being the order of the day…

…studies have confirmed that the focus in journalism has shifted over the last two decades from an emphasis on policy, politics, ideas, and analysis to the current agenda of scandal; personality; human interest, entertainment, and spot-news cop-shop stories of crime, wrecks, and fires.  In most local television news markets, stories about crime outnumber stories about government and policy by a more than three-to-one margin.[14]

One must question whether the media help or hinder our collective ability to learn what is really happening in the world, and whether television news is trying to dazzle us or inform us.[15]

Further evidence of society’s erosion can be seen as a result of its embrace of all things “gay”—the promotion of which has been one of Mass Media’s most cherished causes.  Once again, just over the course of my life, the major Media outlets have gone from producing television programs and films which wouldn’t even show married couples sharing the same bed to shows and movies promoting every kind of sexual deviation as normal and worth experiencing.

The Media Would Have Us Believe that Love Justifies all Behavior–and that It Should Be Accepted

To demonstrate just how successful the Media-promoted Gay/Lesbian movement has been, we need only look at society today and compare it with the proposals contained in the ‘Gay Bill of Rights,’ legislation which was introduced in the House of Representatives on January 3, 1985.  In that bill, the LGBT agenda was clearly stated to include…

  • the legalization of homosexuality and lesbianism;
  • the criminal prosecution of all churches, schools and businesses for refusing to hire homosexuals;
  • the criminal prosecution of an individual who refuses housing accommodations to homosexual/lesbian couples;
  • the legitimization of marriage between homosexual/lesbian couples, as well as their adoption of children; and
  • the requirement that all public schools create sex education courses taught by homosexuals in order to show their lifestyle as a moral, healthy, and normal alternative to heterosexuality.[16]

With each item on this wish list now having been checked off, what we’re left with is a society in a state of confusion because its citizens have lost their sexual bearings.  Young children in school no longer know whether they should go into the boys’ or girls’ restrooms, while older ones are in a quandary as they try to decide which sex they should be.  Of course, this state of Androgyny, where people…

–are both male and female; hermaphroditic;
–have both masculine and feminine characteristics;
–have an ambiguous sexual identity; and,
–are neither clearly masculine nor clearly feminine in appearance…[17]

… has been Satan’s goal all along.  That’s because, once people have lost their sexual identity, the last vestiges of God’s Image will have been removed, and they will be prepared to worship the hermaphroditic image of the Antichrist when he makes his appearance.

Satan’s Plan from the Beginning

Media’s Motive

The final question that we need to answer, then, is this:  why would the owners of these Mass Media Conglomerates use their messages to help create a society in which its citizens…

  • are in debt up to their eyeballs, relentlessly chasing unattainable images and lifestyles–like gerbils on a wheel;
  • have been narcotized by mindless “entertainment” while being left ill-informed about what is actually happening in the world; and,
  • are so confused about their sexual identity that they are willing to try anything, no matter how outrageous it is, in an attempt to figure out who they are?

It’s because the heads of these organizations are members of the groups we learned about when we surveyed the Earth’s Physical and Financial Landscapesgroups that are dedicated to the creation of a One World Government (which the Bible predicts will happen)—a government with…

  • One international identity, and one set of universal values;
  • Centralized control of the people in a society with no middle class, only rulers and servants;
  • A zero-growth policy designed to eliminate prosperity and facilitate the repression needed to keep society divided;
  • A state of perpetual imbalance that will keep people physically, mentally, and emotionally confused and exhausted;
  • Centralized control of education, enabling them to erase and rewrite the history that is taught to students;
  • Centralized control of all foreign and domestic policies;
  • Empowerment of the United Nations as the world’s government;
  • An American Union, a trading bloc similar to the European Union;
  • Expansion of NATO—with NATO becoming the UN’s world army;
  • One legal system; and,
  • One socialist welfare state, where those who cooperate will be rewarded and those who don’t will be eliminated.[18]

As for the Media’s role in all of this, it has been their job to distract us from what is really going on, and to con us, confuse us, and condition us for the coming new regime.  In remarks made at the 1991 Bilderberger meeting, David Rockefeller praised the Media for their part in the advancement of the globalist agenda

We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine and other great publications, whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years…

It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years.  But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government.  The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto determination practice in past centuries.[19]

The elite in this case—those who anticipate being the head and not the tail in this coming world government—would be the Media, and the members of the other globalist groups, who are helping to usher in the earthly kingdom over which Satan will one day rule.  Of course, anyone who is familiar with the book of Revelation knows that, for those who are responsible for the promotion of Satan’s Image on the earth, the story does not end well at all!

Phillips Craig & Dean remind of our responsibility to be the image of God to our children…

 

 

[1] media. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/media(accessed: February 9, 2018).

[2] Stan Le Roy Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture: An Introduction (New York: Random House, 1989), 14.

[3] Early Methods of Communication, Skwirk On-Line Education Website, at http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-11_u-26_t-70_c-247/nsw/science-technology/way-out-communication/delivering-messages/early-methods

[4] Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture, 24-25.

[5] Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture, 26-27.

[6] Elizabeth Thoman, Rise of the Image Culture: Re-Imagining the American Dream, Center for Media Literacy at http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/rise-image-culture.

[7] Jeffrey McCall, Viewer Discretion Advised (Lanham, Maryland: Roman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2007), 1.

[8] Mark Crispin Miller, “Media Monopolies are a Serious Problem,” in Mass Media; Opposing Viewpoints, ed. William Dudley (Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2005), 77.

[9] Alina Selyukh, Maria Hollenhorst, and Katie Park, “Big Media Companies and Their Many Brands—In One Chart,” for National Public Radio at https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/10/28/499495517/big-media-companies-and-their-many-brands-in-one-chart, updated December 22, 2017.

[10] “Who Owns the Media?,” article on Free Press website at https://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart, accessed March 14, 2018.

[11] Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture, 263-264.

[12] Karen E. Dill, How Fantasy Becomes Reality: Seeing Through the Media Influence (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 144.

[13] Thoman, Rise of the Image Culture.

[14] McCall, Viewer Discretion Advised, 51.

[15] McCall, Viewer Discretion Advised, 69.

[16] John Daniel, Scarlet and the Beast, Vol.2 (Tyler, Texas: JKI Publishing, 1994), 68.

[17] androgyny. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/androgyny (accessed: March 29, 2018).

[18] Daniel Estulin, The True Story of the Bilderberger Group (Waterville, Oregon: TrineDay Publishers, 2007), 42-43.

[19] Estulin, The Bilderberger Group, 92-93.

Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Nature of the Conflict

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This is War

And We Need to Know What It’s All About

Having established some of the foundational principles for Spiritual Warfare in our last two exercises—that…

  1. Through Christ, we are once-again the divinely Authorized Rulers over Planet Earth; and,
  2. By learning to exercise our Authority over His and our enemies, we are being trained to rule along with Christ when He returns to the Earth to set up His Kingdom…

…it is time for us to move on to the training exercises that will help ensure our victory in the spiritual battles that lie ahead.  To help us get into the best fighting shape possible, this training will include exercises in…

Understanding the Nature of the Conflict;
Knowing the Enemy;
Getting the Lay of the Land;
Gearing Up for Battle; and,
Honoring the Rules of Engagement.

That being said, let’s get exercise number one underway by first assessing what is involved in this conflict; for…

…what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand (Luke 14:31)?

What We Need to Know

At the outbreak of any war, before the potential combatants suit up and march off to battle, it is essential that they know whom they will be fighting and what they will be fighting for.  In order for them to be fully committed to winning the war at any cost, they must first understand the reason behind the conflict and just what is at stake in it for them.  If they don’t believe they have a personal interest in it, then they won’t even bother to show up.  I think this concept is best illustrated by a brief look at the United States and its delayed entry into World War II.

Throughout much of its history, when it came to its involvement in overseas wars, the United States maintained a policy of isolationism, because it didn’t see that it had a personal stake in those faraway conflicts.  Maintaining this position was possible because, unlike a lot of the nations in other parts of the world—nations which shared common borders—the United States was protected east and west by oceans, and shared its northern and southern borders with only two neighboring—and friendly—countries.  So, why become involved in wars on the other side of the world which seemingly had no bearing on life in America?

Uncle Sam Wants You

And Uncle Sam Got Them , Too!

All of this changed, however, when Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany, and he began his rampage across Europe in pursuit of world domination.  At first, even though war had been declared by England and France in 1939 and Hitler had been wreaking havoc across the continent before then (with his oriental ally, Japan, doing the same in the Far East even longer than that), the US refused to become involved.  Since it wasn’t being affected by the war, why fight in it?  That was its position until Japan attacked America’s naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941—and, then, it became personal!  The US immediately declared war and thousands of young men—eventually millions—made their way to the nearest military recruiter and signed up, because they suddenly had a stake in the outcome of the war!

Although the Second World War was…

…the most widespread and deadliest war in history, involving more than 30 countries and resulting in more than 50 million military and civilian deaths (with some estimates as high as 85 million dead)…[1]

…the war which has been raging in the spiritual world since the beginning of time is one that has affected far more people (every person who has ever lived, in fact), and is far deadlier than WWII—or, all of the wars in human history put together, for that matter.  That’s because it is the one war which has not only impacted the quality of life on this planet and endangered the life of every human being on it on a daily basis, but it is the one war which has determined the eternal destiny of every person who has made the earth his home.  Given this, it is a war in which we all have a very personal stake—and one that we each need to understand more fully and take more seriously!

To help us do this, let’s take a moment and look at this war within the overall context of the Bible Story, in an effort to discover…

The Source of the Conflict;
The Nature of the Conflict; and,
The Outcome of the Conflict.

As we do, we need to keep in mind God’s original goal for Mankind and the Earth—which was, to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth, with His Sons and Daughters ruling over it in Righteousness.  We know this to be true because…

  • God gave the first Man and Woman Dominion over the Earth—that is, the Authority to Rule it–which they subsequently lost to Satan; and,
  • Jesus later came to the Earth and reclaimed that lost Authority through His death and resurrection, and restored it to the Children of God.

In fact, as these verses illustrate, Jesus’ entire ministry was focused on restoring the lost Kingdom of God and re-establishing it on the Earth within the Hearts of Men…

From that time [the beginning of His ministry] Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5)

…but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…for I was sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43)

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. (Luke 8:1)

When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:11)

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried…your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.  Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the   (Luke 12:29-32)

The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. (Luke 16:16)

…and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29)

And this gospel [the good news] of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

Since the Kingdom of God—both its restoration and proclamation—was at the heart of Jesus’ mission to Earth, then it stands to reason that it must have been the reason for the conflict in the first place.

The Source of the Conflict

To discover the reason behind this war, we must go back before time even began; when, at some point in Eternity Past, the All-Wise, All-Knowing, All-Powerful God purposed to have a Family and to create the Earth as the place for that Family to live.  In anticipation of this, He first created a huge Host of Angelic Beings, whose purpose would be to serve Him by serving His soon-to-be Heirs of Salvation—or, the coming Sons and Daughters of God…

Of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.’  Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?  (Hebrews 1:7, 14)

Angels of the Lord

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Psalm 148:2

To facilitate this future Service, God created different types of Angels, each one designed for a specific purpose and each one given a particular rank of Authority—with those highest in rank called Archangels.  One of these Archangels was named Lucifer; and, as possibly the highest-ranking Angel, it was his job to protect the Throne of God and lead the Worship which took place around itHe must have been something to behold, because in Ezekiel 28 he was described as being…

…the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty… every precious stone was your covering… On the day that you were created they were prepared.

You were an anointed guardian cherub.  I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created.

That is…

…till unrighteousness was found in you… you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground… (Ezekiel 28:14-18)

Just what could have caused this?  In Isaiah 14, we learn that…

You [Lucifer] said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’  (Isaiah 14:13-14)

In other words, Lucifer—now the Devil and Satan—so coveted God’s Throne and Power that he rebelled against God in an effort to obtain that Throne and usurp His Power.  Having been denied the Throne in the Kingdom of Heaven, Satan then purposed to set up his own kingdom here on Earth.

God had other plans for the Earth, though; for, as we have already learned, He intended for it to be ruled by Man.  So, try to imagine the outrage that Satan must have felt when he heard God announce…

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Genesis 1:26)…

…as well as his delight when the Woman he tempted…

…saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:6).

What a coup!  Not only did he succeed in enslaving Man and alienating him from God, but he also managed to wrest the Right to Rule from Man so that he could set up his own kingdom here on the Earth.  Where before, there had only been One Kingdom and One Will in existence—that being God’s—there were now Two Kingdoms and Wills, both contending for the hearts and allegiances of Men and Women.  As Watchman Nee explains…

We may say that there are two massive contradictory wills throughout the universe.  On one side stands the holy and perfect will of God; on the other is arrayed the defiled, defiling, and opposing will of Satan.  In between subsists the sovereign, independent, free will of man.[2]

This is so important for us to grasp, because in this cosmic battle of wills, the decision as to which one will prevail on the earth has been delegated by God to the will of each human being living on this planet; and, it is determined every time he or she  chooses to do what will satisfy his or her own selfish desires, or what will be pleasing to God.  To put it simply, then, this contention for the free will of man is what this war is all about.

The Nature of the Conflict

When we describe this war as a clash between kingdoms, mind you, we are not talking about physical or material kingdoms, but spiritual ones.  They are actually the systems of governance which rule the hearts and minds of people and, by extension, the operating systems existing in the spheres where these people live.  We need to clarify this because I think there is a tendency on our parts to regard Satan as the owner of the Earth when, in reality, he isn’t.  In Ephesians 2:2, the Apostle Paul calls him the Prince of the Power of the Air because that is where his domain is.  The Earth itself, on the other hand, still belongs to God…

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein… (Psalm 24:1)

Since Adam and Eve were only given the Right to Rule as God’s governors on the Earth—and not the title deed to it—the Dominion that Satan took from them also gave him the Authority to rule over the world and its systems, but not the legal ownership of the Earth.  Even so, this Authority alone was enough to enable him, over time, to establish the political, cultural, and religious systems that are so reflective of his ambition and nature–systems which he has used so effectively to manipulate and dominate his poor, unsuspecting subjects ever since the Garden of Eden.

Because Satan’s kingdom was founded upon pride and rebellion, and operates on the basis of deception and lies, slander and corruption, every institution that he has established as part of this world’s system bears those same characteristics and functions according to the same principles.  Through these institutions, as well as through his constant appeal to the pride and baser human instincts of man, he has—as the god of this world—been able to control the hearts, minds, and especially the wills of those in his kingdom, and has…

…blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

The Devil's Tactics

No Tactic is too Low

In the war to maintain control of his subjects and his territory, no underhanded scheme or dirty trick has been beneath him—with guerrilla warfare being his specialty.   To use the words of Jesus…

He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44); and, is…

The thief [who] comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).

C.S Lewis, in his classic apologetic novel, The Screwtape Letters, imagines this war of wills through the eyes of a seasoned demon named Screwtape, when he writes…

To us [demons] a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy [God] demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth.

He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because he has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His.  We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy (God) wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct. [3]

In this excerpt, Lewis clarifies the Nature of the Conflict for us:  Satan and those in his kingdom want to destroy the individual and absorb his will into their own, in order to satisfy their insatiable greed and increase their power base; while God and those in His Kingdom want to bring the individual into the Family of God, shower him with love, and empower him to become the unique and whole/holy person God created him to be.   In the former, the motivation is selfishness and greed, while in the latter, it is giving and grace.  Given the marked contrast in the nature of these two kingdoms, we might wonder why anyone in their right mind would will to remain in a kingdom such a Satan’s, when they could will to enjoy the freedom in a Kingdom like God’s.  As I see it, the most likely explanation is that they have no idea that the Kingdom of God even exists, and that they can actually choose to be a part of it—a situation directly attributable to the Church’s lack of obedience in carrying out Christ’s final and Great Commission to…

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-19).

Soldier of the Cross

Armed and Ready to Serve

As the Sons and Daughters of God–and Soldiers of the Cross, it is our responsibility to take the Light of the Gospel into the sin-darkened territories held by Satan, so that those still imprisoned there can see their way clear to the Kingdom of God.  Instead of going AWOL, we need to suit up and show up, ready for battle—because the sooner we do what we are supposed to do, the sooner the war will end.

The Outcome of the Conflict

Because…

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9)…

…He will not bring this war to an end until every single one of His Children has been brought home to Him.  When all those who will be saved are saved, and His Family is complete, He will crush His enemies, merely by the Word of His mouth, and set up His Kingdom of Righteousness and Peace on the Earth. Satan and all those in his kingdom will be thrown into the Lake of Fire where they will suffer forever, while those in God’s Kingdom will take their places before him and hear, at last, their Father say…

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master (Matthew 25:21).

 

Keith and Kristyn Getty challenge the Church to Arise…

 

 

 

[1] History Channel Website, http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii.

[2] Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man (Richmond, VA: Christian Fellowship Publishers, Incorporated, 1968), Book 3, 77.

[3] C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001), chapter 8.

 

Spiritual Warfare: A Question of Authority

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The Workout Room

Take the Challenge

So far, in our efforts to become more spiritually fit, we have successfully worked our way through three of the four levels of exercise in our Workout Program; where, at…

     Level 1, we covered the basics of our Faith; learning how, through Salvation, we are Redeemed from Sin and Death, and adopted as children into the Family of God.

     Level 2, we dealt with Sanctification; or, the life-long training process by which the Holy Spirit transforms us from the Sinners we once were into Holy Sons and Daughters of God.

     Level 3, we learned about Service; or, the Work of God that we, as His Children—the Church—have been commissioned to carry out. It was here that we were introduced to the concept that…

…as the Corporate Body of Christ, we are to reach out to those in the world around us, bringing them the good news of God’s Love and Salvation;
…as the Corporate Soul of Christ, we are to relate as Family to those who are already a part of God’s Family; and,
…as the Corporate Spirit of Christ, we are to serve as the Army of Spiritual Warriors charged with the task of liberating those still held in captivity by Satan, and taking his territory captive for the Kingdom of God.

Since this last matter deals with Spiritual Warfare, something which we have only recently touched upon, we will make its study the objective of this fourth and final Level of Exercise in our Program—a Program which, when completed, will have helped us…

Define our Position, as a Child of God;
Refine our Person, as a Child of God;
Outline our Purpose, as a Child of God; and,
Underline our Power, as a Child of God. 

It is through this progressive pattern of growth—from Position to Person to Purpose to Power—that we have advanced from our original state of spiritual infancy to God’s more highly desired state of spiritual maturity, becoming better equipped along the way for our eternal destiny with Jesus Christ.

Not How to Spend Eternity

It’s Certainly Not Biblical

What is this destiny for which we, as the Children of God, are presently being equipped?   Contrary to one of the more popular conceptions of what life will be like in the hereafter, we will not be floating around on a cloud, with a crown on our heads and nothing better to do than strum on our harps for all eternity.  Not only is this a perfectly wasteful—not to mention boring—way to spend one’s everlasting life, but it in no way compensates us for all of the hardships we suffered through during our earthly sojourns.  And, it certainly doesn’t call for any specialized equipping on our parts to prepare for it.

On the other hand, the destiny that God has planned for us is a gloriously challenging one.  In keeping with His divinely ordained principles of Sowing and Reaping, it is one that will provide us with levels of rewards commensurate with the levels of faithfulness we have demonstrated during our times of training on the earth, and elevate us to positions of authority in the coming Kingdom of God.  From these positions, we will exercise the Dominion originally gifted to us by God, lost to us as a result of the Fall, and restored to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Destined for Dominion, Subjected to Slavery 

We first learned about this matter of Dominion during one of our visits to the story of Adam and Eve.  For, it was there that, upon his creation, Man—as both Male and Female—was commanded by God to fill the earth with people, and to rule over everything in it.  This Right to Rule, however, was lost when Adam, as a result of his disobedience to God, forfeited his Position of Power—a position which Satan immediately claimed as his own.

In his classic book, Destined for the Throne, the late Paul Billheimer explains some of the legal issues involved in this transfer of power…

The entire universe is governed by law…God’s grant of authority and dominion over the earth to man was a bona-fide gift.  This authority and dominion became legally his.  What he did with it was his own responsibility.  If, so to speak, he ‘fumbled the ball’ and lost it, God could not lawfully step in and repossess it for him.[1]

We know from Romans 6:16 that…

…if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness.

Therefore, when Adam chose to obey Satan instead of God, he became Satan’s slave.  And…

As a slave of Satan, Adam lost all of his legal rights, not only to his person but also to his domain.  This gave Satan legal authority to rule over man and the earth.  If Satan’s dominion was to be revoked, a way had to be found to redeem fallen man and recover his lost authority without violating universal principles of justice.

No angel could enter the contest because these legal rights were never his.  Thus a member of Adam’s race had to be found who could qualify to enter suit in universal court and wrest Adam’s lost heritage and dominion from Satan.  The government of the earth had been given to man.  It was lost by man.  It could be legally recovered only by a man.[2]

But where was such a man to be found?  To qualify for the task at hand, he would have to be a full-fledged human being; and yet, because Adam and all those who would eventually descend from him had become the slaves of Satan, he would have to be sinless in order to be free from Satan’s control…

To the human mind the situation was hopeless, but God found a way.  ‘When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons’ (Gal. 4:4).  God solved the problem by the Incarnation.

Since Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, the divine nature was present in Him.  Because he was sinless, Satan had no claim upon Him.  But because He was ‘made of a woman,’ He was an authentic human being and could therefore qualify as a bona-fide member of the human race to enter the legal fight to reclaim Adam’s lost estate.[3]

Victory in Jesus

He Has Made Us More than Conquerors

The Spiritual Battle to the Cross 

Although I can’t think of anyone who would willingly sign up for a task like this, the spiritual battle to win back our freedom that Jesus freely committed Himself to was one that was repeatedly characterized by humiliation, rejection, opposition, and affliction; which, when you put them all together, add up to a whole lot of suffering.

Just think of the humiliation involved when…

…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2: 5-8).

Or, the rejection He must have experienced when…

  • His family…went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind (Mark 3:21).
  • The people in His hometown said, ‘Where did this man get these things?  What is the wisdom given to him?  How are such mighty works done by his hands?  Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?  And are not his sisters here with us?’  And they took offense at him (Mark 6: 2-3).
  • John the Baptist sent messengers to Jesus, asking, ‘Are you [sure] you are the one [the Messiah] who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ (Matt. 11:3)
  • Upon hearing some of Jesus’ hard sayings, ‘…many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.’  (John 6:66)

As for opposition, Jesus had that in abundance; for, even as a child, when He was perceived to be a contender for his throne, King Herod tried to have Him killed.  And later, during His earthly ministry, He found Himself constantly at odds with all factions of Jewish society…

  • With the Sadducees, because He threatened their economic and political power;
  • With the Pharisees, because they considered Jesus a law-breaker, and His teachings overturned their religious traditions;
  • With the Essenes, the ascetics of the day, who considered Jesus too worldly because He socialized with “sinners;”
  • With the Zealots, or the anarchists of the day, because Jesus preached a message of love instead of rebellion; and,
  • With the people who, in their apathy, did not want to be confronted with change.

And, when it came to affliction, no one has ever endured more.  Of Him, it was said that…

…he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.  By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?  (Is. 53: 2-8)

And, if all this wasn’t enough, from the time of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry until the moment when He drew His final breath, Satan, in an effort to take Him captive through sin just like the first Adam, was constantly working to trip Him up…

The fallen Lucifer, once the Light Bearer, the guardian of the throne of God, the highest of all pre-Adamic created beings, marshaled all of the available resources of the underworld in an effort to break down the allegiance of the God-man to His heavenly Father.  One weakness revealed, one thought of rebellion or self will entertained, and all of Jesus’ efforts to repossess the world and its enslaved race from the usurping god of the world would be lost.[4]

But, Praise God, in spite of all this pressure, Jesus didn’t give in; for…

When Jesus died without failing in the smallest detail, His death resulted not only in defeating Satan’s purpose to obtain a claim upon Him—it also canceled all of Satan’s legal claim upon the earth and the whole human race…

Therefore, since Calvary, Satan has absolutely no rights or claims upon anyone or anything.  Whatever authority he carried with him on his banishment from heaven passed into the hands of the new Man along with the lost heritage of Adam[5]

Dominion Restored

So We Can Rule and Reign with Him Throughout Eternity

Our Authority Restored

It is this authority that Jesus restored to His disciples; the same authority…

…to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you (Luke 10:19)…

…that Jesus delegated to the seventy-two He sent out to proclaim the Kingdom of God—and, it is the same authority that we possess today.  For…

As individuals we have authority over all the combined powers of the enemy.  This is an incredible, wonderful truth.  Everything at Satan’s disposal—every demon, every coven, every cult and religion, every work, and every influence—is subject to the authority given to us by Jesus.

When Jesus rose from the dead after ripping the usurped authority from Satan’s hands, He did not immediately go to heaven.  He stopped off to see the eleven remaining disciples…Jesus handed to them the authority He had taken from Satan.  The authority legally changed hands once more and belonged to man again.[6]

This truth is what we need to keep at the forefront of our thinking as we approach our upcoming exercises in Spiritual Warfare—because our success in any battle will be totally dependent upon our acknowledgement of the One who has already won the victory.  Satan and his demons certainly know who it is; for, it was Jesus who, after overcoming every form of Spiritual Warfare in His life–on the Cross and through His resurrection…

…disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them (Colossians 2:15).

Even so, Satan and his legions continue to fight on, using our ignorance of the authority in Christ as one of their chief means of success.  Let’s determine not to give them that critical edge over us; always bearing in mind that, in whatever situation we may find ourselves, the One who won the war for us has already been there on our behalf…

…For, we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Therefore…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  (Hebrews 12:1-4)

The Victory of the Cross

The War Has Already Been Won for Us by Jesus

 

 

The Gaither Vocal Band reminds us of who we are in “On the Authority”…

 

 

[1] Paul E. Billheimer, Destined for the Throne (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1975), 73.

[2] Billheimer, Destined, 73-74.

[3] Billheimer, Destined, 74.

[4] Billheimer, Destined, 76.

[5] Billheimer, Destined, 79-80.

[6] Dean Sherman, Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian (Seattle, Washington: YWAM Publishing, 1990), 130-131.

Service: Women and the Work of God, Part 1

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Can't Isn't in My Vocabulary

This is what my mother always told me!

In our last exercise, Service: Interrupted…By Devilish Design, we learned how Satan, in his drive to establish his kingdom’s rule over the earth, has been at work trying to prevent the establishment of God’s Kingdom on the earth.  We discovered that from the beginning of human history to the present time he has…

  • Grown his kingdom by alienating people from God, taking and keeping them captive through sin;
  • Limited the growth of God’s Kingdom by keeping those under his dominion ignorant of God’s goodness, as well as the freedom they could be enjoying as members of His Kingdom; and,
  • Hindered the advancement of the Kingdom of God by means of an on-going war, aimed at disrupting the Service of its citizens—namely, those liberated from Satan’s kingdom of darkness and death through the freedom of faith found only in Jesus Christ.

We also learned that Satan has enjoyed a considerable amount of success in this war, simply by keeping those in God’s Kingdom…

  • In the dark as to their true mission in life, and ignorant of the resources available to them for successful living, merely by limiting their knowledge and understanding of the Bible;
  • At odds with one another by stirring up misunderstandings, envies, and petty offenses among them; and,
  • Battle-fatigued, or frustrated, discouraged, and completely worn out from all the conflict.

These aren’t the only tactics he has used to good effect, though.  Through his exploitation of the conflict between the sexes, a by-product of man’s fall from grace, he has been able to sideline roughly one-half of the workforce in God’s Kingdom, thereby greatly reducing the amount of Kingdom Work being done in the world.  These workers, whose God-ordained right to serve has so often been denied, are none other than the female members of God’s Family—the very ones (as we learned in Service: The Church as the Family of God) who were meant to serve as pictures in the flesh of the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

For us to better understand how this situation came to be, we’ll need to revisit the story of Adam and Eve.  This time, instead of focusing our attention on the pattern of seduction used by the devil to ensnare our ancient forbearers, we will be approaching the story with an eye to understanding God’s purposes for the Man and Woman, as well as the ways in which sin has affected those purposes.

  1. God’s Purpose for the Sexes

As we have mentioned more than once during the course of these exercises, God’s purpose in creating Man was to provide Himself with a Family to love, both now and throughout eternity.  As a Family of Beings bearing the image and likeness of the One who was giving them life; and, since…

…God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth (John 4:24) …

…it was essential that the members of God’s Family also be Spirit Beings.  As the late Dr. Myles Munroe explains in his excellent book, Understanding the Purpose and Power of Woman

…when God made man, He essentially drew man out of Himself, so that the essence of man would be just like Him.  In this way, the receiver could be just like the Giver, and could reciprocate His love.  Since ‘God is spirit,’ He created man as spirit.

So man—the spirit-man—was created as a result of God’s love.  Note carefully that, at this point, we are still talking about man, the spirit.  We are not yet talking about male and female.  Whom did God create in His image?  Man.  Man is spirit, and spirits have no gender.  The Bible never talks about a male or female spirit.  God created the spirit-man without a gender.[1]

Thus, when the time was right for His Family to come into existence, the first thing God did was create a Spirit Being whom He called Man…

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).

And, once this Spirit had been created…

God took this spirit-man, and He placed him in two physical forms:  male and female.  The spirit-man is neither male nor female.  However, to fulfill His eternal purposes, God used two physical forms, called male and female, to express the one entity of man.  Therefore, the essence of both male and female is the resident spirit within them, called ‘man.’

Whom did God call man?  Both male and female.[2]

Male and Female Houses

Different Houses for Different Purposes

With God’s “eternal purposes” being the creation of Family—and a family being the product of the sexual union between Male and Female—God took the Spirit-Man and placed him in separate physical “houses” or bodies; bodies differing from one another because of the unique roles or functions they were designed to perform.  In the role of the Male, Man was designed to demonstrate the love, leadership, strength, guidance, provision, and protection of God the Father, and to be the Giver of the Seed of Life; while, in the role of the Female, Man was designed to demonstrate the love, respect, wisdom, care-giving, gentleness, grace, empathy, and sensitivity of God the Holy Spirit, and to be the Receiver and Nurturer of the Seed provided by the Male.  Through the coming together of the Giver and Receiver, then, the life shared by them would be reproduced over and over, and the Family of God would grow.

In keeping with His divine order of creation, God built the house for the Male first, as He…

…formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

Once the Male had become a living being, God placed him in the garden home He had created for him.  And, after instructing him as to his responsibilities and the rules by which he was to live,  God set about completing His final work of creation, with this pronouncement…

It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him (Genesis 2:18).

Turning His attention to the construction of the house for the Female, He…

…caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed its place with flesh.

And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man (Genesis 2:21-23).’

Here, in this special construction of the Female’s house, we see how God, in the same way that He had taken Man out of Himself to be someone He could love, took the Woman out of the Man and gave her to him to love.[3]  Here, too, we have Man’s acknowledgment that the Woman, having been made of the same stuff as he was, was his equal and partner in the work of God.  With His creation then complete…

…God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:28, 31).

So, here at the beginning of things, and in keeping with the purposes of God, in Man—that is, the Spirit-Man created by God for relationship with Himself—there was no Male or Female.  It was only in the human body that sexual distinctions were made—distinctions determined solely by the part each sex was to play in the creation of God’s Family.  Here…

  • Both Male and Female were equal in the eyes of God;
  • Both Male and Female were given the task of stewardship over God’s creation;
  • Both Male and Female were blessed by God…

…and, as far as God was concerned, it was all very good!

God's Creation is Good

It Was All Good

 

  1. God’s Punishment on the Sexes 

With so much good going on in the Garden, it seems such a shame that Evil had to rear its ugly head and spoil it all.  And yet, for Man to truly be a son of God, it wasn’t enough for him to be…

An eternal spirit, like God;
A rational being, like God;
An emotional being, like God;
A willful being, like God; or,
A moral being, like God.

He would also have to be Holy, like God.  Before this could happen, though, he would have to do what was right in every situation, just like God.  But, at this point in Man’s brief history, he was living in his original state of innocence, for his righteousness had yet to be proven through testing. 

People have often wondered why a Holy God would allow Evil into the world, without taking into consideration that for Man to truly be like God, he must want the same things God wants and love God enough to do what He says.  For Man to be free to choose God’s way, then, there would have to be an alternative from which he could choose—with Evil being the only other option to obedience to God.

Of course, Evil in this case did not look like Evil

…for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Instead, it came packaged as a rational self-interest and an appealing religion of works, and was presented in such a way that it would overturn God’s established order of creation, inverting His authority structure in the process.  Like it or not, God’s order and authority structure for Creation was this…

God First,
Then Man,
Then Woman,
Then the Animal Kingdom.

We’ve already established that, up until this time, Man and Woman were…

Equal in their position before God;
Equal in their call to the work of God; and,
Equal in their blessing by God. 

But, for the sake of order, God created Man first, placing him as Head over his wife (and eventual family); a position in which he would be held accountable for everything happening in his family.  This position of Headship, however, was never meant to be a mark or measure of his superiority over the Woman.  If it was, then we would have a serious problem with the following verse…

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God (1 Corinthians 11:3).

If, being the Head indicated one’s superiority over another, this would mean that God the Father was and is superior to God the Son—and we know from the Scriptures that this just isn’t the case.  For…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3).

I [Christ] and the Father are one (John 10:30). 

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God (John 5:18).

He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God…for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell… (Colossians 1:15, 19). 

From these verses, it is easy to see that, although God is the Head of Christ, Jesus is still equal to God. That being said, what are we to make of this statement by Jesus to His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion?

You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than II do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father (John 14:28, 31).

In this case, is God being “greater” than Jesus an indication that He is somehow superior to Jesus?  Or, in doing what the Father has commanded Him to do, has Jesus’ equality with the Father been diminished in any way?  No, not at all; for, in His Person and in His Power, Jesus remains equal to God; it is only in His Position, as Leader, that God is greater than He—with this assumption of Leadership being solely for the sake of order.  In other words, for the sake of fulfilling the Father’s Kingdom Purposes, Christ Jesus…

…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped…emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:6-11).

So, although He was equal to God, Christ willingly chose to submit Himself to God’s Leadership so that the Plan of Redemption needed for God’s Kingdom purposes and the creation of His Family, could be realized.

Headship, then, was and is a good thing, and remains an essential and powerful component in the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth.  However, it was not the only component that would be needed; if it had been, then God would never have created Woman.  For, in His creation of a Helper for the Man, God provided the Man with a power to help get the job done which was lacking in himself—that being, the subtle but dynamic power of the Woman’s suggestion, encouragement, and Influence.  Had the Man been left in charge on his own, his way of carrying out God’s Work would have primarily been through fiat; an effective but not necessarily a pleasant way to lead.  The Woman, on the other hand, as a picture or type of the Holy Spirit, through her powerful leadership gifts of persuasion, could help him accomplish things that he couldn’t do by himself.

Being fully aware, then, of the limitations of Man’s “Position Power,” God fashioned a partner for him with the “Influence Power”[1] needed to complement or complete him, and to assist him in accomplishing God’s Kingdom Work.

According to Jewish Tradition

…and, that the union of the Male and Female was considered to be the reunification of their one soul?

In order for us to more fully comprehend the Fall and its effects on the Male-Female relationship, it is vital that we first understand God’s Purposes for Man, along with the system of order and authority He instituted within His Creation.  To be sure, Satan was well aware of them for, when he bypassed the Man in his Position Power in the Garden, and approached the Woman instead, he did so with the intention of using her Influence Power to achieve his Evil end of overturning God’s Kingdom, so that he could advance his own.

Because we have already covered a lot of important information in this exercise—information which will, no doubt, take a little time to digest—and, because there is still much more to come, I think it would be wise for us to divide this exercise into two parts, and take a break for reflection at this point.  Having laid the groundwork for our discussion of the role of Women in the Work of God in the first part of this exercise, when we return for part two…

  • We will learn how Satan’s manipulation of the Woman’s Influence Power led to the forfeiture of Man’s Position Power, and of the consequences of that debacle;
  • We will learn how the Woman’s Influence Power was checked during Old Testament times, and compare that to what is intended for women in New Testament times; and,
  • We will briefly discuss two of the most troublesome Scripture passages dealing with the role of Women in the Work of God…

…so be sure to check back soon for the rest of this rather vigorous workout session.

 

Shane and Shane remind us in “Liberty” that it is for freedom that we have been set free…

 

[1] Dr. Myles Munroe, Understanding the Purpose and Power of Woman (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2001), 54-55.

[2] Munroe, 55-56.

[3] Munroe, 61.

[1] Munroe, 185.