Spiritual Warfare: Getting the Lay of the Land

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Mapping Out the Enemy's Territory

What We Need to Know Before We Go

Having familiarized ourselves with the character, career, and ultimate end of our enemy, Satan, in our previous exercise, it is now time for us to “get the lay of the land” over which he rules.  In other words, we are going to reconnoiter or, to put it into military terms, do a “recon” of our enemy’s territory.   Since reconnoiter comes from the French word reconnoitre, meaning to “make a survey,” our goal in this action is…

…to inspect, observe, or survey (the enemy, the enemy’s strength or position, a region, etc.) in order to gain information for military purposes.[1]

Given that the enemy’s territory is so vast, and largely invisible to the naked eye, surveying it seems like a rather daunting task for us to undertake.  This is especially true when we consider that there many whose knowledge of the world beyond their immediate spheres is so limited that they cannot identify many of the states on a map, or give a location for the countries whose names they so frequently hear in the news.  Nevertheless, if we are going to be at all effective in waging Spiritual Warfare, this is something that must done—and, it is something we will endeavor to do through a process known as Spiritual Mapping.

Spiritual Mapping

Spiritual Mapping is the term coined by George Otis, Jr., a specialist in prayer and world evangelization, to describe the method…

…by which ‘We learn to see the world as it really is, not as it appears to be;’ and,
…which involves…’Superimposing our understanding of forces and events in the spiritual domain onto places and circumstances in the material world.’[2]

In other words, it is a way for us to make the invisible supernatural forces at work in the natural world visible to us through our eyes of faith.  This is so important because…

…behind many visible aspects of the world around us may be spiritual forces, invisible areas of reality that may have more ultimate significance than the visible.[3]

As for how to go about doing this mapping, we will…

  1. Take what we can learn about Satan and his kingdom in the Word of God;
  2. Apply this information to what we know about the Earth and its environs; then…
  3. Attempt to identify the visible Structures which the invisible powers have erected upon the Earth and throughout the Cosmos—and, by Structures, I am referring to the Systems of Governance which hold sway over the lives of every human being living on this planet.

As with any map, ours will consist of a vertical element—a y-axis, if you will—as well as a horizontal element—or an x-axis—that will need to be plotted out.  For our purposes, this y- or vertical axis, as a spiritual one in nature, will define the extent of Satan’s domain in its northerly to southerly direction; while the x- or horizontal axis, being a terrestrial one in nature, will demonstrate the extent of his domain in an easterly to westerly direction.

Our Spiritual Map

What We Will Be Looking For

 Mapping Out Satan’s Vertical Domain

Although the Bible doesn’t give us any concrete dimensions for Satan’s kingdom, it does infer a three-fold vertical division of it in the following verses…

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 2:9-11).

And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it (Revelation 5:3).

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’  (Revelation 5:13)

The fact that there are beings in heaven, on the earth, and beneath the earth who are not presently bowing to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a clear indication that these are the areas which are currently under Satan’s dominion.  Given this information, we now know that any mapping we do of Satan’s vertical territory must include a survey of its Celestial, Terrestrial, and Subterranean divisions.

Its Celestial Division

By Celestial, we mean the area…

…pertaining to the sky or visible heavens; or to the universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere;
…pertaining to the spiritual or invisible heaven.[4]

In its opening verse, the Bible makes reference to both the visible and invisible heavens mentioned in this definition, when it tells us that…

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

Later, in 2 Chronicles 2:6, another reference to is made to them by Solomon in his dedicatory prayer for the temple…

But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him?

And, then, in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, the Apostle Paul makes an even more specific reference to them as he relates the following…

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.  And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

Derek Prince explains the significance of all this in the following way…

Logic convinces me that if there is a third heaven, there must be a first and second.  So there are at least three heavens.

What are the three heavens?  The first heaven is the visible and natural heaven with the sun, the moon, and the stars that we see with our eyes.  The third heaven, we know from 2 Corinthians 12, is God’s dwelling place.  It is paradise, the place of rest of the departed righteous.

So we are left with the second heaven.  Clearly, this must be between the first and the third.  I understand it to be an intermediate heaven between the heaven of God’s dwelling and the visible heaven that we see here on earth.  I also believe this intermediate heaven is where Satan’s headquarters are located.[5]

With the third heaven being God’s dwelling place—and the place from which Satan was evicted after his failed rebellion—it stands to reason that the second heaven would be the next best place for him to set up his kingdom’s headquarters.  From this vantage point, he is not only able to supervise his operations in the first heaven and the lower regions, but he is also ideally situated to interfere with or attempt to interrupt the ministry of God’s angels to those living on the earth.

As for how he goes about doing this, because he is neither omnipresent nor omniscient like God, he has to rely on the support of and intelligence provided by a hierarchy of demonic underlings, such as those described by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:12…

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Thomas White, a specialist in strategic level warfare, elaborates on this passage with a word study of the Greek in an excerpt from his book, The Believers’ Guide to Spiritual Warfare

Paul brings light to the topic by depicting the powers as organized in a hierarchy of rulers/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…

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, rebellion, 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 stronger ones.[6]

And, as we shall discover in an upcoming exercise…

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.  When we describe evil at this level, we are in a sense describing the Board Room of Hell, acknowledging that there are high ranking C.E.O.s (Chief Executive Officers) responsible for major movements of deception and destruction in our world.[7]

Satan's Vertical Domain

The Vertical Extent of Satan’s Domain

Although the Bible doesn’t give us much more information than this about these evil beings, some revelations of them have been given to a variety of people over time—with one unlikely group of recipients being the children living in the Adullam Home in the little town of Kotchiu, China, sometime during the 1920’s.  This home was opened and run by missionaries H.A. Baker and his wife, Josephine[8]—a Pentecostal couple who witnessed a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon these uneducated and beggarly children, and who recorded these visitations in the book, Visions Beyond the Vail.  Here is a transcript from that book, detailing some of the things the children witnessed while under the anointing power of the Holy Spirit…

The government of the hosts of evil is in mid-heaven.  There are thrones from which the devil’s angels exercise their Satanic government over the earth.  These rulers of darkness vary.  Some are larger in stature than others; there is variation in dress, crowns, facial expressions, disposition, and authority.  In all respects they are as devilish in appearance and acts as the hosts of Satan are expected to be.

These rulers of evil are in constant contention amongst themselves, each resenting the authority of those higher in power, each jealous of the other and all covetous of the seats of highest rank.  Those in higher rank hold their positions, not by consent of the lower orders, but solely through their own superior fierceness and powers.  Cliques and individuals are in constant conflict and quarrels.

All have crowns that represent various orders and ranks.  All desire to sit on the thrones above and supervise the work of evil on earth, rather than descend on delegated duties to further the demonical powers below.

Those of highest rank sit on thrones in the mid-heavens, ruling over innumerable hosts of evil spirts, from whose number delegations are constantly dispatched to earth to entice its inhabitants, to withstand the forces of righteousness, to strengthen weak places in the demonical forces of earth, and to bind and to drag the souls of evil men to hell when they die.

Although these wicked demons fly in high heaven to the very gates of the New Jerusalem and although they descend to earth and fly in its air, the center where they congregate in countless numbers is in the region of the thrones of authority in the mid-heavens.  Here evil hosts of wicked spirits of all sizes fly hither and thither or move about more deliberately.  A certain halo surrounds the wicked angels of higher rank.

All are similar in some respects:  all have wings, all have crowns, all belong in the heavens.  The delegated messengers go to earth only temporarily.  Their evil errand finished, they again return to the heavens.[9]

Its Terrestrial Division

With the higher-ranking demons supervising the devil’s work from their lofty perch in the Second Heaven, the actual hands-on dirty work on the Earth is carried out by demons of a lesser order.  According to the visions of the children at Adullam…

The hosts of evil spirits on earth are very different from those which fly through the heavens.  Those on earth do not have wings; they can walk and run rapidly; and they move freely but apparently do not leave the earth.  They vary in size from a few inches to ten feet in height, wear gaudy colored clothes of many stripes, and have fancy caps of various shapes and colors; some, on the other hand, wear rags or filthy garments.

Some of these demons on earth have very little power and are of a rather harmless order.  Others, however, are large in stature, fierce in appearance, and have great power.  These on earth withstand the work of righteous men and the work of angels among them.[10]

Whether large or small, weak or strong, these are the beings who are responsible for keeping their human charges on the earth in bondage to their master, Satan; and, in the event that they fail at this, to keep those finding freedom in the Kingdom of God from growing in the knowledge of Him and from serving Him and His Kingdom purposes successfully.  We were introduced to some of the ways they accomplished these tasks in Service:  Interrupted…by Devilish Design, and we will learn even more about them when we get around to plotting out the x-axis of our map in our next exercise.  So, for the time being, let’s move on to our survey of the third and final division of Satan’s vertical domain, which is…

Its Subterranean Division

By Subterranean, we mean that part of Satan’s kingdom…

Existing, situated, or operating below the surface of the earth; underground;
Existing or operating out of sight or secretly; hidden or secret.[11]

While we might be tempted to dismiss the idea that there could be such a place, Jesus Himself confirmed its existence in the parable of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus, found in Luke 16:19-31…

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.  And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.  The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’

And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’

Heaven or Hell

It’s Either Paradise with Jesus or Hades/Hell without Him

From Jesus’ description, up to that time in history, there were two places—two holding tanks, if you will—where the souls of men would go upon their deaths:  the righteous would go to Abraham’s side (in some translations, Abraham’s bosom), and otherwise referred to as Paradise, while the wicked would go to Hades, also known as Sheol in the Old Testament.  Since the writers of the Old Testament always thought of Sheol as being “…down under, somewhere in a hollow part of the earth,”[12] and since, in the parable, the rich man and Abraham could see one another, it is logical to conclude that both places were underground, in close proximity to one another, with some kind of un-crossable barrier between them…

The reason there are two different realms in sheol is best explained by remembering that sheol has two different kinds of inhabitants…here the righteous and the wicked enter, though when they arrive, they do not have the same experience.[13]

From this parable, we learn that…

The man in hades was fully conscious immediately after death. Memory, speaking, pain, and bliss—all of these were a part of his experience.

The eternal destiny of this man was irrevocably fixed…[he] is confined, without any possibility of escape.

This man knew himself well enough to know that what he was experiencing was fair and just…he complains about the pain, but he does not complain about injustice.

The rich man of Luke 16 was not yet in hell, but hades. Because the King James Version often translated both sheol and hades as hell, this needlessly confused two different kinds of regions.  The Bible is clear that no one is yet in hell today.  Someday, hades will be thrown into hell, but that has as yet not happened (Revelation 20:14).[14]

As for Lazarus, because he was in Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, he and all the Old Testament saints who were with him were carried along with Jesus into Heaven—leaving Hades with only one section, and with Hades still being…

…an abode for departed spirits, a temporary intermediate state where those who have not received God’s forgiveness wait until further notice.  When they hear their names called, the news that awaits them will not be encouraging.[15]

The experiences of the children at Adullam also bear witness to the present-day existence of hell (Hades); for…

Over and over again the children had visions of hell and the lake of fire.  The first time anyone was under the anointing of the Spirit he usually had a vision of hell.  He was bound in chains by demons and taken through a region of darkness.  Some children could hear demons all about them in this region.

The children saw not only darkness in hell, but also the lake of fire which was always approached through a region of stygian darkness.  In vision they were led to the edge of a great lake of molten fire in a semi-dark pit from which arose clouds of smoke.  When the smoke settled low, the fire in the lake was less distinct.  When the smoke lifted a little, the burning lake with red and greenish flames and its inmates could be distinctly seen.

The lost were seen going into hell.  Some fell in, some walked over the brink, and some were bound by demon chains and cast into hell by demons.  One boy saw groups of the wicked bound in bundles, ready to be cast into this furnace of fire.

When the fire abated and the smoke settled down the moans of the miserable could be heard.  When the fire at intervals increased in intensity and the smoke lifted a little there were shrieks and wails of agony.

In the lake of fire were oceans of hands reaching up for help.  Those below pled with those looking in upon them to come to their rescue.  We could hear the children talking to them just as you can hear someone talking over the telephone and get but one side of the conversation.[16]

More recently and in separate experiences, Mary K. Baxter and Bill Wiese witnessed first-hand the horrors of hell when they were carried there in the spirit by the Lord.  In their books,[17] they describe in great detail the demons who run rough-shod over those who leave this world without knowing Christ and end up at their mercy in the Subterranean division of Satan’s kingdom—with both confirming that hell/Hades is real and a place to be avoided at all costs!

 

Francesca Battestelli reminds us that when God is on our side, any giants we face will fall…

 

[1] Reconnoiter. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/reconnoiter (accessed: September 28, 2017).

[2] C. Peter Wagner, Breaking Strongholds in Your City (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1993), 32.

[3] Wagner, Breaking Strongholds in Your City, 49.

[4]  celestial. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/celestial(accessed: November 6, 2017).

[5] Derek Prince, Spiritual Warfare (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 2001), 21-23.

[6] C. Peter Wagner, ed., Territorial Spirits (Chichester, England: Sovereign World, Ltd., 1991),61-62.

[7] Wagner, Territorial Spirits (Chichester, England: Sovereign World, Ltd., 1991), 62.

[8] The Bakers were the grandparents of Rolland Baker, who founded the IRIS Ministries in Mozambique with his wife, Heidi Baker.

[9] H.A. Baker, Visions Beyond the Vail (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1973),82-83.

[10] Baker, Visions Beyond the Vail, 84.

[11] subterranean. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/subterranean (accessed: November 11, 2017).

[12] Erwin W. Lutzer, One Minute After You Die (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1997), 32.

[13] Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 33-34.

[14] Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 37-40.

[15] Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 41.

[16] Baker, Visions Beyond the Vail, 87-89.

[17] Mary K. Baxter, A Divine Revelation of Hell (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1997), and Bill Wiese, 23 Minutes in Hell (Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2006).

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;
Familiarizing Ourselves with our Weapons; 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.

 

Salvation: What It Is and Why We Need It

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When it comes to thinking about Salvation, there seem to be two vastly different approaches to the subject.  Although both of these are very broad generalizations…

  • To the “Unsaved,” Salvation is often regarded as either–
    • an antiquated theological doctrine, designed to rob life of its happiness and any sense of personal fulfillment; or,
    • a religious crutch for those who lack the intelligence, sophistication, attractiveness, or success necessary to do life well on their own; while…
  • To the “Saved,” it is seen merely as the means by which—
    • their sins are forgiven and their lives are made right with God; and,
    • their eternal destination is changed from Hell to Heaven.

Of course, the first approach is completely inaccurate and the second one is woefully incomplete.  So, in an effort to correct the former and complete the latter, let’s begin to stretch our Spiritual understanding as we learn What Salvation Is, and Why We Need It.

Salvation

We All Need to be Rescued by Jesus


What Salvation Is
 

For a definition of Salvation, I prefer the one found in my little Webster’s pocket dictionary which defines Salvation simply as “a saving or a being saved” or as “a person or thing that saves.”  I like this definition because “a saving” implies an act“a being saved” implies a process; and “a person or thing that saves” implies that salvation is not something that we can do for ourselves—it must come from a source outside of us.  Essentially, this is what Biblical Salvation is all about; for, in reality it is…

  • The One-Time Act of faith which makes a person a child of God;
  • The Life-Long Process of spiritual growth which follows; one which transforms the character and behavior of that person into that of a child of God; and,
  • Jesusthe One Outside of Ourselves who does all of the saving.


The One-Time Act of Faith

As simple as this may seem on the surface, please don’t let its simplicity blind you to the real significance of this One-Time Act of Salvation; for it is the only legitimate, divinely-authorized way in which a Holy God takes a Sinner, or a person who was…

…dead in the trespasses and sins in which [he] once walked, following the course of this world…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and [was] by nature [a child] of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Eph. 2:1-3)…

…and not only adopts him or her into His family as His own child, but also makes that child a Joint-Heir with His only begotten Son, Jesus!  And, it is through this One-Time Act that a person goes from being alienated from God to being accepted by Him, from religious slavery to spiritual freedom, from unrighteousness to holiness, and from certain death to life everlasting!  So, just how does all of this happen?  Well, through the three stages of Salvation known as Redemption, Sanctification, and Glorification.


Redemption and Why We Need It 

Since the definition of Redemption is…to pay off, as a debt; to buy back or recover; to ransom or to obtain the release of a captive by paying the demanded price; to restore to favor… 

Redemption for our purposes is the act by which our sin debt is paid, making us righteous in the sight of God and releasing us from the penalty and power of sin. 

This act is a necessity for us because while God is holy, due to the sin nature we all inherited from Adam and Eve, we are not.  Therefore, before any of us can be reconciled to God and any adoption can take place, something has to be done about the problem of sin in our lives.

The Heart is Desperately Wicked

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

While most of us are all too quick to deny that any sin problem exists, it is a spiritual reality that from the moment of our births until the moment of our deaths, we are constantly adding to a “rap sheet” of offenses against God; that is—through our thoughts, words, or deeds, we repeatedly violate the laws of God’s righteousness, with these violations all too judiciously being transcribed into our “permanent records.”  This means that we are all lawbreakers from birth, on the run from God, and unaware of the day looming before us when we will be apprehended and called to appear in His court for judgment.

Guilty

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” –Romans 3:23

Sadly, because we don’t realize or accept the fact that we are sinners, or because we think we will be able to appeal to God on the basis of our morality or relatively good works, we mistakenly think that we can safely put this day of reckoning off until after our deaths. But, this is a disastrous decision which will leave us standing before the Righteous Judge of the Universe, alone, guilty, and without any legal representation.  And, once the charges against us have been read—and our appeals of innocence have been proven to be without merit—this Just Judge will have no other choice but to honor the law and sentence us to the death that the law demands—a death which will mean our eternal separation from God and all things holy.

But, there is a way that such a terrible outcome can be avoided. You see, this Righteous Judge is also the God of love, grace, and mercy—the One who was…

… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9)…

…and because of that, He made a way to provide us with an Advocate, sort of a court appointed attorney, who will plead the cases of all those who will come before Him and acknowledge the crimes for which they are guilty—if they will only do so before they die!

Advocate

Jesus is Our Advocate

This Advocate is Jesus, the Son of God, and He can represent a sinner before God because He is the One who came to earth, lived a sinless life which met the righteous demands of God’s law, and then died an agonizing death on the Cross to pay off the sin debt owed by every human being who has ever lived.  Through the substitution of His death for theirs, deaths which the law calls for, He is able to clear the charges against them and offer them a pardon, without so much as a fine to pay!  Once pardoned, and with their sin records expunged by the blood of Christ, they can stand righteous before God, and are in a position to be legally adopted as His spiritual children!


As for Sanctification

Since the definition for Sanctification is …to set apart as holy; to consecrate, or to devote to sacred use…

…Sanctification, for us, is the process whereby a new child of God is set apart for the sacred or holy service of God.

In reality, this is the life-long schooling in righteousness that every child of God must undergo if he or she is to realize the eternal purpose for which they were created.  It begins at the moment of adoption when the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within the heart of each new believer, and He begins teaching him what it means to be a child of God.  He does this by…

  • Training him in the laws of God, and then empowering him to obey those laws;
  • Reproducing the character of Christ in him through the development of the “fruit of the Spirit”–or the character qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control;
  • Empowering him to carry out the work of Christ through the various “giftings” of service imparted by the very same Spirit;
  • Teaching him how to worship God, and how to overcome His enemies through prevailing prayer and persistent praise; and,
  • Helping him learn to die to the things of the flesh so that he can learn to live by the power of the Spirit.

This training—which we will discuss in greater detail in a later session—is designed to totally transform every child of God, until he thinks, speaks, and acts like Jesus; something which, when completed, will prepare him ultimately for his graduation into the glorious and eternal presence of God, his Father.

Glorification

Glorification: The Final Stage of our Salvation


About Glorification…

Since the definition for Glorification is …to give glory to, to honor; to extol; to praise highly

Glorification is what we will experience when, upon our physical deaths, our earthly bodies are replaced by heavenly or glorified ones, and we are ushered into the presence of God where we will receive the inheritance He has promised to His children.

Then, as the legitimate, blood-bought children of God, we will be recognized and honored in heaven, and share in the same glory that is accorded to Christ.  And, having been prepared and equipped through our earthly training process, we will be ready to move into positions of authority as co-regents, or rulers, with Christ, when He sets up His kingdom, first here on earth and later in eternity.

As you can see, Salvation is, in no way, just an antiquated theological doctrine or religious crutch for the needy; neither is it merely about having one’s sins forgiven so he or she can bypass Hell and go to Heaven.  It is the one and only way that we can realize our God-ordained destinies of becoming the Children of God—destinies made possible solely through the sacrificial death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ—and ones which will become realities once we have been Born Again.  

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2
A message worth considering from Francesca Battistelli…