Some weeks ago, while listening to a prophetic word concerning this past November’s highly contested presidential election, two words were dropped into my spirit. The first of these was line, followed a few minutes later by the word net. When I heard “line,” I was immediately reminded of what I had written last summer in my post Smoke and Mirrors. There, I had warned believers not to be taken in or deceived by the pandemic and the race riots which were then taking place, because they were merely diversionary tactics of the devil, designed…
To create a line of division between believers—to prevent them from forming a solid voting bloc for President Trump and the other conservative candidates; and,
To serve as a smokescreen—to hide just how far the establishment of Satan’s kingdom on earth had advanced.
When “net” was added, however, the word “line” took on a little different meaning for me. Unlike the earlier situation, the word was now speaking to me of a plumb line that is currently being drawn by God for the purpose of…
Separating the Righteous from the Wicked; and,
Separating the Faithful from the Unfaithful Stewards of God’s Word among those Righteous.
In other words, in preparation for the judgment that will soon be coming upon the earth, God has been calling out His Sheep and marking those who have been responding in obedience. While Satan has been using the Covid-19 crisis, the on-going threats of domestic violence, and the current political and economic instability to divide and conquer God’s People and to disguise the advancement of His kingdom’s agenda, God has been using these very same crises to expose the devil’s evil works while revealing those among His People…
Who know how to use the spiritual authority that has been delegated to them by the Resurrected Christ;
Whose fearlessness and overcoming spirits have been preparing them for the destiny of ruling and reigning with Christ in His Coming Kingdom;
In short, God has been using Satan’s own devices to set the wicked up for judgment and to call His People to the frontlines of battle, where He is taking names and singling out those who have proven themselves qualified for advancement in His Kingdom.
Of course, this MO—Method of Operation—is completely consistent with the Revelation of God that we have been given throughout Scripture; repeatedly He has been revealed not as only the Creator of this world but also as its Divider and Judge. In Genesis 1 alone, we find that after…
God spoke Light into the Darkness, He dividedthe one from the other, then judged it as good;
God made an Expanse of Sky He called Heaven, He placed it between the waters—thus dividing the upper waters from the lower waters—before judging it to be good;
God gathered together the lower waters, He called forth the Dry Land—or Earth—dividing it from the waters and then judging it as good;
God made the Seas, the Sky, and the Land, He made Living Creatures to inhabit those places, dividing them into various kinds and then judging them as good;
God made Lights for the Sky, He placed the Sun, Moon, and Stars in the Sky to rule over it, and to divide the Day from the Night—judging this, too, as good; and,
God made everything else, He created Man, the Spirit Being made in His own image and likeness, whom He then placed into the two physical houses of Male and Female. Giving them Dominion over the Earth and all that is in it, He separated them from the rest of His Creation, an act which He then judged as very good.
As for what net has to do with all of this, in verses such as these, we are reminded that throughout the ages the Wicked, apparently not satisfied with their own destructive behaviors or lifestyles, have purposely set out nets in which they hope to trap and bring about the destruction of the Righteous…
For without cause they [the wicked] have hidden their net for me in a pit, which they have dug without cause for my life. Let destruction come upon him unexpectedly, and let his net that he has hidden catch himself; into that very destruction let him fall. (Psalm 35:7-8)
Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have purposed to make my steps stumble. The proud have hidden a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set traps for me. (Psalm 140:5)
Why? Because they are like…
…Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:12)
What the Wicked haven’t take into account, though, is the Principle of Sowing and Reaping that God has incorporated into every aspect of His Creation. In fact, again in Genesis 1, He declared 10 times that all the living things that He has made have been designed to reproduce “…according to their kind”—a principle and a promise reaffirmed later, in Galatians 6:7-8, in this way…
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
Be Sure You Are Found on the Side of Righteousness
So today, as we look around at the seemingly sad state of our country—where the corruption, lies, and wicked devices of the enemy have become the rule of the day—let’s remember that when all human avenues of change have been exhausted and there seems to be no hope, God is still at work. He is examining the hearts of men and women at every level of life to see which side of the plumb line they have chosen to stand on; and once that has been made clear, He will begin drawing in the net—the one originally laid out for destruction of the Righteous— using that to trap the Wicked and to bring them to judgment. For…
…even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:10)
As all of this begins to unfold in the days, weeks, and even months to come, let those of us who know and serve Christ Jesus the Lord, be quick in the examination of ourselves, yet slow in our condemnation of others—remembering the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5 to…
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
As we wait for God’s promised outcome, let’s be careful to…
…avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23-26)
…if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
…as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12-17)
…above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ (1 Peter 4:8)
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
At long last, we are nearing the end of our exercises in Spiritual Warfare. Our graduation from Boot Camp is right around the corner, as is our return to our duty stations where we will have the opportunity to put into action the things that we have learned here. As we do, we can be confident that…
Because of what Christ accomplished on the Cross, we now possess the Authoritywe need to overtake and defeat any foe that we come up against;
Everything we will be called upon to overcome is all part of God’s way of preparing us for our Destinyof ruling and reigning with Christ when He comes to set up His Kingdom;
As we take theLight of the Gospel into the sin-darkened territories presently held by Satan, we will be bringing liberation to those who are still being held captive there; and,
To prevent us from completing our missions, Satanwill do everything in his power to stop us.
In light of this last point, before we can graduate and move on, there is one last exercise for us to complete—one providing us with an understanding of the basic principles of Strategic Warfare and the Offensive Weapons needed to ensure our success on the battlefield.
As we learned in our last exercise, we have been outfitted with a top-notch arsenal of defensive weapons known as the Armor of God. These—the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shoes of Peace, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit—when worn faithfully and used as directed, will provide us with the defensive covering we need whenever we come under attack by the devil. However, there is more to Spiritual Warfare than merely protecting ourselves while we maintain our current positions. To the contrary, we have been charged by Christ to launch out into the world and be sown as seed among the nations, in order to free Satan’s spiritual captives and bring the Kingdomof Christ to the earth. For, it was Christ who boldly proclaimed…
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19)…
…and, it was He who also commissioned us 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 28:19-20).
We Need to Carry Out His Strategy in Ways that Honor Our King Understanding Strategic Warfare
Understanding Strategic Warfare
When seeking to understand the principles of Strategic Warfare, it is essential that we first establish a clear definition for the term. Since strategic is defined as…
…pertaining to, characterized, or of the nature of strategy…
…with strategy being…
…a plan, a method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.
When we put this into a military context, Strategic Warfare can be defined as…
…the science and art of military command aimed at meeting the enemy under conditions advantageous to one’s own force…
…a military command in which…
…a distinction is made between strategy and tactics. Strategy is the utilization, during peace and war, of all of a nation’s forces, through large-scale, long-range planning and development, to ensure security. Tactics deals with the use and deployment of troops in actual combat.
Here, in this definition, we have two levels of war described for us; but, according to modern military theory, there are actually three that we need to take into consideration—the strategic, the operational, and the tactical, where…
…the strategic level…involves a strategic concept, plans for preparing all national instruments of power for war or conflict, practical guidance for preparing the armed forces, and leadership of the armed forces to achieve strategic objectives;
…the operational level is concerned with employing military forces in a theater of war or theater of operation to obtain an advantage over the enemy and thereby attain strategic goals through the design, organization, and conduct of campaigns and major operations; and,
…the tactical level translates potential combat power into success in battles and engagements through decisions and actions that create advantages when in contact with or in proximity to the enemy.
To put this into more understandable terms, at the Strategic Level, those at the top of the chain of command are responsible for creating an overall plan for winning the war, taking into account the manpower and materials they have at their disposal. Once their plan is in place, they delegate different aspects of the plan to those serving under them at the Operational Level, those whose duty it is to orchestrate and oversee the campaigns assigned to them and their individual theaters of operation. Directives from this level can then be sent down to the Tactical Level—to those in charge of the troops on the ground—to make sure they are deployed to the right place at the right time, are appropriately trained and armed for each engagement, and that they have adequate intelligence and support for each and every battle.
Why is this so important for us to know? Because this is the same way that the Spiritual Warfare we’re engaged in is structured and carried out. At its Strategic Level, creating the plan for the war itself, is God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Charged with the implementation and oversight of their plan’s many Operational Level campaigns are the Angels of various ranks and with specific responsibilities. The troops on the ground at the Tactical Level are us—the Born Again members of the Church, serving under the leadership of the apostles,prophets,evangelists, pastors and teachers, whose responsibility it is to…
…equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:11-14).
Given that our enemy is merely a copier/counterfeiter and not a creator, he has pretty much duplicated this strategic structure—with the exception that, instead of the All-Wise, All-Powerful, and Everywhere-Present Creator God making the plans—he, the quintessential Usurper is the one devising the schemes that he hopes will one day defeat God’s Army, overthrow God, and catapult himself onto the throne of the universe. Unlike our Commander-in-Chief, who is headquartered in the Third Heaven, this Presumptuous Pretender to the throne has been relegated to the less advantageous location of the Second Heaven, where he and his generals occupy what will prove, in the end, to be temporary thrones from which they oversee his operations in the First Heaven and on the Earth.
As we learned in Spiritual Warfare: Getting the Lay of the Land, these operations are carried out by an army of demonic subordinates whose responsibility is to keep their human charges on the earth in bondage to their master– should they somehow fail at this, to prevent those who do find freedom in Christ from growing in their knowledge of Him and from serving Him and His Kingdom purposes successfully.
The Plan for Winning the War
To help us better understand the part Strategic Warfare plays in the on-going conflict between God and Satan, let’s assess and compare how each side makes use of these three levels. We know from our exercise in Spiritual Warfare: Knowing the Enemythat…
Satan’s original plan—his Plan A—called for his overthrow of God and the take-over of His Throne in Heaven; however, given the fact that God was and still isAll-Powerful, and Satan’s power was and still is severely limited in comparison, this proved to be a colossal failure.
This led to the creation of Satan’s Plan B, which called for him to set up his kingdom and reign upon the Earth—but, this plan, too, hit a wall when God created Man and gave him Dominion and Authority over the Earth instead.
Undaunted, Satan then devised a scheme whereby he could gain control of the Earth by taking God’s Authorized Representatives captive through deception and lies. So, lying about who he was, who they were, and who God is, Satan convinced Eve, then Adam, to disobey God. As a result, Man and Woman became slaves to Satan, sin, and death, and the Authority which should have been theirs was handed over to Satan.
Satan’s plan was dealt a bitter blow, though, when eventually he, sin, and death were defeated through Christ’s Atoning Death and His powerful Resurrection. As a result of His Victory, this Second Adam reclaimed the Authority that the First Adam had lost, and restored it to all those who afterward would come to the Father through Faith in His Finished Work on the Cross.
But, because Satan had already established rulership over the world’s systems and its structures, he continues to occupy territories which rightfully belong to Christ and His Church. What is enabling him to maintain his grip on them is the ignorance,timidity, or unwillingness of the Church to rise up and retake these areas in the Name and Authority of Christ, through the Power of the Holy Spirit.
So, Satan’s Strategy is—by whatever means necessary—to keep the people who don’t know God from knowing Him, and to keep those who do know Him too ignorant, too fearful, or too self-seeking and apathetic to do anything to dislodge him.
Given that Satan’s Strategy is primarily focused on maintaining control of the territories presently under his rule, it is essentially a Defensive Plan. On the other hand, God’s Strategy, being one of Infiltration, is a decidedly Offensive One. Because He is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance, God has chosen to strategically place His very own Sons and Daughters in positions behind enemy lines where they can reveal the Love of Christ to the captives and, shining the Light of the Gospel into those dark places, they can illuminate a way of escape into the Kingdom of God. This is exactly what God did when He sent His willing and obedient Son,Jesus, into Satan’s authorized territory where, having shone the Light of God in the darkness and revealed the Love of the Father there…
…Jesus’ obedience, then, took Him even to the cross, and through that to the empty tomb. Thus He won the battle over Satan from behind enemy lines…to defeat the enemy and begin to establish His own Kingdom in the middle of enemy territory…
…and, since this was behind enemy lines, it meant warfare—spiritual warfare aimed at taking back God’s world from the usurper.
Like our Savior, we have been assigned to carry on this mission in the very same way.
The Individual Campaigns of the War
Because Satan is neither omnipresent nor omniscient like God, he is limited to being in one place at a time. Therefore, he must depend on a hierarchy of subordinates to carry out his operations, and rely on this system of underlings for his much-needed intelligence reports. Depending upon their nature and location, these operations are most likely carried out by one of these three groups…
Satan’s Hierarchy—consisting of Rulers, Principalities, and Powers, with…
Rulers—being the spirits charged with gaining/maintaining control of the world’s authority structures, such as government at all levels, schools, businesses, churches, civic groups, athletic organizations, and families;
Principalities or Territorial Spirits—being the demonic spirits that are in charge of operations taking place within a specific geographic area or ethnic/cultural group of people; and,
Powers or Strongholds—being the spirits representing the evils associated with certain sins and the demons assigned to their promotion.
Forces of Darkness—the lying spirits behind any Religions, Philosophies, and Ideologies that are opposed to God and the Truth, including humanism, atheism, evolution, New Age, reincarnation, existentialism, socialism and communism; and,
Lower Level Spirits—the wicked spirits assigned to individuals in an effort to influence their behavior.
No doubt imitated by Satan when he set up his own kingdom, God’s Operational Level is also made up of a hierarchical structure of spirits who carry out the operations called for in His plan. Although the Bible doesn’t give us a lot of specifics about the structure itself, what we do know is that it consists of Angels operating at different levels, and possessing various degrees of authority. From what we can gather in the scriptures, those closest to God and His Throne, and those highest in rank and authority, are the…
Cherubim; Seraphim; and Living Creatures.
The Cherubim are probably the highest ranking of all of the Lord’s Angels. The first time they are mentioned in scripture is in Genesis 3:24 where, following Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, they are placed as Guards at the entrance to the Garden, to keep Adam and Eve from returning and eating from the Tree of Life while in their fallen state.
They are next mentioned in Exodus 25:18, when God instructs Moses on how to build the Tabernacle. For the Most Holy Place, Moses is told to make two Cherubim of gold and to place them at the two ends of the Mercy Seat…
The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be…
There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel (Exodus 25:20, 22).
The Mercy Seat which the Cherubim sheltered was also known as the Seat of Atonement and revered as the earthly Throne of God. Verses such as these inform us that, in addition to their role as Guardians, the Cherubim also serve as the Bearers of God’s Throne…
The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake (Psalm 99:1)!
“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth (Isaiah 36:17).
Ezekiel saw this throne and gave us a description of these incredible creatures in Ezekiel 1:5-14…
And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands.
And the four had their faces and their wings thus their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces.
And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went.
As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning.
Later in Ezekiel 28:14, we learn that Lucifer, Satan’s name in his pre-fallen state, was one—probably the highest ranking one—of these Angels…
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. Ezekiel 28:14
Angels Carry Out the Operational Campaigns of God
Because the Seraphim are only mentioned once in the Bible—in Isaiah 6:1-3, 6-7—much less is known about them and their ministry. From Isaiah’s description…
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for…
…it would seem that because of their non-stop praise and their access to the heavenly altar, their primary ministry is as priests before the throne of God. And, given that their name means “burning ones,” I think we can infer that they are burning in passionate devotion to God and in their dedication to the praise of His holiness.
Although Ezekiel, in his vision, describes the Cherubim as Living Creatures, in Revelation 4:6-8, we find another set of Living Creatures being described…
…around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:6-8)
These are set apart from those in Ezekiel in several ways…
…in Revelation, each one has only one face, whereas in Ezekiel each had four faces. In Revelation, each has six wings; in Ezekiel, they had four. In Revelation, they have eyes around and within; in Ezekiel, the eyes were in the wheels, and the spirits of the cherubim were in the wheels. In revelation, they do not move; in Ezekiel, they propelled the throne of the sovereign God throughout the world. 
As for their ministry, in Revelation 6:1-7 and 15:7, we learn that, in addition to their worship and praise, these creatures also play instrumental parts in the execution of the God’s end-time judgments on the world.
The Other Angels
From other portions of scripture, besides being the worshipers at, the guardians of, and the priests before the Throne of God, we learn that the Angels carry out God’s operations in a number of other ways…
In Luke 2:10 and Acts 27:23-23, they serve as God’s Messengers;
In 2 Kings 6:17 and Daniel 10:13-20, they are God’s Warriors in the heavenlies and on earth;
In Daniel 4:13 and 17, they serve as God’s Watchers, observing and recording the affairs of men and nations;
In Psalm 34:7, Psalm 91:11, Daniel 6:22, and Acts 5:19, they provide Protection and Deliverance for God’s People;
In Genesis 24:7 and Exodus 23:20, they give Guidance and Direction to the righteous;
In Matthew 13:39-42 and Mark 13:27, Jesus informs us they will be the Reapers in the End-Times Harvest;
In Revelation 1:1, they bring God’s revelation to man;
In 2 Kings 19:35, Acts 12:23, and Psalm 78:49, they are God’s Instruments ofJudgment and Destruction;
In Revelation 7:1-2 and Revelation 16:1, we learn that they have Power over God’s Creation;
In Matthew 18:10, we are told that they are the unseen Guardians of Children; and,
In Luke 16:22-23, we discover that they Escortthe Saints into the Presence of God upon their deaths.
The Troops Deployed on the Ground
With Satan’s Rulers engaged in controlling the world’s Authority Structures, and his Principalities busy riding roughshod over its Geographic and EthnicTerritories, it seems that the actual Tactical Maneuvers of his plan have been delegated to his Powers, Forces of Darkness, and Lower Lever Spirits for implementation. These are the spirits who are responsible for establishing Strongholds, or bases of operation, in the minds of men and women, from which Satan can exercise control. This is accomplished through their promotion of certain sins, through the lies contained in their false religions, philosophies, and ideologies, and through the intelligence gathered by and resulting from the harassment of the Lower Level or Familiar Spirits.
Those in this last group are the spirits that most of us must contend with on a daily basis. They are the demons who, much like God’s Guardian Angels, are assigned to us at birth—those who study us, our habits and tendencies, throughout out lives, looking for ways and opportunities to trip us up and keep us in a perpetual state of confusion and defeat. As Familiar Spirits, they become so well acquainted with us that they can pretty much predict what we’re thinking about and how we will react in any given situation. Armed with such valuable information, they not only know which sins we will be predisposed to give into and which lies we will fall for, but also which of the Devil’s D-Bombs will be the most useful in rendering us ineffective…
The Devil’s D-Bombs are Some of His Most Effective Weapons
Distraction—a loss of focus, confusion;
Distortion—of the truth; or,
Deception—disguise and outright lies;
Disobedience—a disrespect for authority;
Delay—in answers to prayers and provisions;
Disruption—of plans and schedules;
Discouragement—resulting from stress, overwork, lack of appreciation, hurt feelings;
Depression—mental and emotional ailments, especially due to repressed anger;
Defeat—after repeated failures;
Destruction—a loss of property and reputation;
Disease—physical ailments and suffering; or,
Death—suicidal, accidental, or disease-related.
Apparently, in his dealings with those who already belong to him, Satan is free to use these, or any other evil tactics he can come up with, against them with impunity—especially if and when he finds that they are in danger of going over to the other side. When it comes to dealing with those who belong to God, however, he doesn’t enjoy the same privilege. We know this because, when he came against righteous Job (Job 1: 9-12), seeking to prove that Job only worshiped God for the blessings he could get out it, he had to obtain God’s permission to do so. Later, in 2 Corinthians 12:7, we find out that he had to get God’s permission to harass the Apostle Paul, permission which was granted in order to achieve God’s higher purpose…
…to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
While being limited in what he can do to the Righteous, Satan does enjoy a distinct advantage in his dealings with everyone else. Because every person coming into the world is born “in sin” and in a state of alienation from God, they not only already belong to Satan, but they are, by virtue of their carnal natures, predisposed to living according to their physical appetites and soulish desires. This state of affairs makes it easy for the Powers of Satan to do their work of establishing secure Strongholds within them—Strongholds from which they can operate throughout their lives, even if these people later come to Faith in Christ.
If We are to be Victorious, We Must Identify and Eliminate the Devil’s Fortresses in Our Lives
What Are Strongholds?
Simply put, Strongholds are faulty patterns of thinking which have developed such a “strong hold” on us that they keep us bound by bad habits, irrational behaviors, pride or an exaggerated sense of self. They are anything in our lives that misrepresents God, anything that deceives us about who we really are, and anything that deludes us into thinking we can live life successfully apart from God. These misrepresentations, deceptions, and delusions are ways of thinking that have developed in our minds over time, and which serve primarily as a means of keeping us alienated from, and at odds with, God.
Their points of origin can be traced all the way back to our births, when we arrive in this world with the strongest of all Strongholds already intact—an “IT’S ALL ABOUT ME!” mentality. Then, as we make our way through life, others are gradually added; with the most deeply ingrained ones coming first from our interactions with family, friends, and our early experiences in life, and with later ones coming from our educational and religious training (or lack thereof), or as a result of our encounters with the cultural forces at work all around us. As such, they become fortresses erected around our erroneous beliefs; fortifications which, in our minds, serve to protect and justify our choices in life, and to help insulate us from any potentially painful experiences—and, which Satan delights in using to keep us in bondage or to render us useless in our Kingdom Service.
But, it needs to be noted here that bondage of this or of any other kind is an anathema to God. Therefore, the Strongholds in our lives are one of the first things we must deal with in Spiritual Warfare. Before we can successfully liberate any of Satan’s other territories, we must first rid our own of its enemy outposts. As Jesus would say…
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5).
Because they are the heavily guarded outposts of lies and deceptions built up in our minds by the devil, and the devil is a powerful spirit whose chief aim is to keep us from God and His revelation of the Truth, the only way for us to deal with these Strongholds is through the power of a stronger Spirit–the Holy Spirit of Truth—and the Spiritual Weapons God has made available to us. For…
…though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
With our spiritual armor in place, we can begin the process of taking our thoughts captive by exercising the authority delegated to us by Christ in Matthew 28:18; with it, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can proceed to bind up the “strong man,” or the demonic being in charge of protecting that mental fortification. According to Jesus’ instruction in Mark 4:27…
…no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
Once this strong spirit is overthrown, we can move in and take captive any of the lying thoughts previously under his protection, and replace them with Truth from the Word of God. As we do, we begin erecting a Strong Tower of Truth, built in the very place where the Stronghold of Lies once stood. And, as warriors for Christ, we will have reclaimed territory too long in the possession of His enemies.
When it comes to God’s Tactical Operations, unlike Satan’s, which are nothing but destructive, God’s tactics are always redemptive and remedial, because they are borne out of love. In Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Nature of the Conflict,we learned that the goal of Satan and those in his kingdom is to destroy the individual and absorb his will into their own, for no other reason than to satisfy their insatiable greed and increase their power base. However, it is the goal of God and those in His Kingdom 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.
So, to help His Children realize their spiritual potential and prepare them for their eternal destinies, God routinely deploys them to the front lines of the conflict where, in the heat of the battle, their character will be refined and they can learn to use their Offensive Weapons to overcome His enemies.
Fighting the War with God’s Weapons will Ensure Our Victory
Our Offensive Weapons
When it comes to a discussion of our Offensive Weapons, it may come as a surprise to learn that the most powerful one in this category is a Godly Lifestyle. That’s because…
Spiritual Warfare is not just a prayer prayed or a demon rebuked—it is a life lived…everything we do either aids the forces of darkness or repels them…
Since it is sin that gives the devil an entryway into our lives, we need to take seriously the charge given to us in Ephesians 4:27 to…
…not give place to the devil.
Maintaining this kind of lifestyle, though, demands that we “keep short accounts with God.” To do so, we need to vigilantly guard our hearts and minds, and routinely examine our lives to see if there is any sin that has gone unchecked and unrepentant of, for…
Repentance is a major weapon against Satan. It’s simple: if I repent, I break the powers of darkness. But if I’m disobedient, I allow the enemy to work. If I obey God, I hold the devil off. If I’m moving in unbelief, I make room for him. But if I exercise faith, I cut him off.
The reason behind this is also a simple one. Because Spiritual Warfare is the cosmic conflict between two competing wills—the holy and perfect will of God and the perverted and opposing will of Satan, both vying for the allegiance of man—and, because 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 the planet, every time a person chooses to do that which satisfies his own selfish desires, he is actually empowering Satan to carry on his work.
To help us keep this from happening, we need Faith and Obedience, two more of the weapons making up our offensive arsenal. Faith is that inner assurance or confidence we have that because our Father knows what exactly He is doing, He has a good plan in place even if we don’t know yet what it is. As we develop more of this kind of Faith, it becomes easier for us to believe God for the impossible, to launch out into new territories, and to pray our way to victory. Jesus told His disciples as much in Matthew 17:20 when he said…
For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.
Our Obedience is simply the outward demonstration of our inner trust that this is so. In our submission and obedience to a higher Authority, we are not only coming at Satan in an opposing spirit—which serves to render him ineffective in that situation—but, we are also keeping him from sowing his seeds of pride and rebellion in our hearts.
When We Come at Our Enemy in an Opposite Spirit, He is Rendered Ineffective in that Situation
Although we may not realize it, obedience is a key factor in Spiritual Warfare because…
There are rules and principles by which the spirit world operates. Among the most important of these: the rules that govern authority relationships.
As we have emphasized so many times over the course of these exercises, God has established a very specific authority structure within Creation, and it is one that He expects us to honor. When we don’t—that is, when we use our wills to do things that overturn that order—we are actually giving Satan and his demons permission to carry out their wills in the spheres where we live…
Scripture is clear that there is a close connection between the spirit world and the human world. In spite of our habit of regarding spirit things and human things as separate, in Scripture these realms are not compartmentalized from each other. They are tightly interrelated, with events that go on in the spirit realm having repercussions in the human realm, and vice-versa.
Furthermore, the same rules seem to govern interaction between humans and God and humans and Satan. The authority of God to do what He wants, for example, seems enhanced when His devotees obey, acknowledge the authority of, pray to or worship Him. Likewise, the authority of Satan to do what he wants is enhanced when his devotees respond in such ways to him.
It looks as though a major principle is this: The way authority is exercised in the human sphere affects what goes on in the spiritual realm, and vice-versa.
Closely associated with our Obedience, then, are the weapons of Discipline and Self-Control—two things which must be instilled in any soldier who is to be used by God. These are essential to us if we are to avoid the many land mines of temptation that the devil has carefully laid out in his effort to sideline us from our service. This is a reality that even the Apostle Paul had to come to grips with in his ministry, leading him to…
…discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27).
And it stands to reason that we must learn to do the same.
For the Battle is the Lord’s
As for Prayer and Worship, if God’s authority is enhanced through our implementation of these two weapons, then they are ones that we definitely need to use more often. When we pray, we are not just staying in touch with our Father, but we are activating the ministry of His Angels on our behalf and releasing His power into the lives and situations that need it, while rendering the enemy in those situations powerless. Then, when we worship God and offer Him a fitting sacrifice of praise, we are not only giving God His due, but we are actually creating confusion in the enemy’s camp and throwing his troops into disarray.
Probably the best illustration of this is the story recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 20:14-15,17,20-23. When the Moabites, Ammonites, and people of Mount Seir came against Judah and godly King Jehoshaphat, the king prostrated himself before God, and pleaded with Him to deliver him and his people from these enemies. At that point…
…the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, ‘Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s…
You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.’
And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.’
And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.’
And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.
Afterward, all Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah had to do was collect the spoils, something which took three days for them to do.
In addition to the Prayer, Worship, and Praise offered by the people to God in this situation, it is apparent that the Word of God, which was given to them by means of His prophet, played a decisive role in the securing of this victory. In our last exercise, we learned that the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit with which we guard our minds against our enemies’ assaults; but this is not the only way that God intends for it is to be used when it comes to Spiritual Warfare. Because His Word is the Spirit-inspired revelation of His character and His will and His purposes for Man and the Earth, when we speak His Word into a situation, we are actually declaring that His will regarding that situation be done. And when we speak His Word into that situation, the resources of heaven are activated to ensure that His Will is carried out there.
Some of the other Offensive Weapons at our disposal, that we don’t make use of the way we should are…
…patience, consistency, and tenacity, by which we learn to wait on God and His timing, and to not give up even in the face of adversity and suffering;
…giving, for when we are generous with our time, talents, and resources, we sow seeds of provision into the lives of others and in our own lives as well;
…love, because it covers a multitude of sins, and it enables us to overcome evil with good; and,
…unity, because it not only increases our effectiveness exponentially and helps to speed our victory—but, because it was the chief concern on Jesus’ heart when, on His last evening before going to the Cross, he offered this prayer on behalf of His disciples…
And now, Father…I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me…keep them in your name…they may be one, even as we are one.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me (John 17:6ff).
Amen–may it be so, Lord Jesus!
“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one…” John 17:22
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir reminds us what it is all about…
Many years ago, I attended a church which staunchly supported its denomination’s position that a person can lose his salvation. Up to that point in my Christian experience, I hadn’t given much thought to the matter, probably because the thought that a saved person could somehow become unsaved had never occurred to me. However, since all I have ever wanted to know is the truth, I decided to try and keep an open mind about it, at least until I could search the scriptures for myself.
As I started thinking about it, though, the idea of a person losing their Salvation began to seem like a very far-fetched and highly illogical one. I mean, if it was possible, at which point would that person cross the line?Would it happen after he had committed a certain number of sins, or, once he had committed a particular kind of sin? In other words, would it be the quantity or the quality of his transgressions—or, perhaps a combination of the two—that would push him out of the righteous camp and back into the camp of the wicked? And, if this could happen, just how was he to know if and when he had crossed over? Would an angel of doom suddenly appear on his doorstep with a message informing him of the transfer; or, would he come to know it as he found himself, going through life, with a dark cloud hanging over his head?
Of course, no one that I knew at the time had any answers to these questions—nor, could I find any in the Bible. And, that’s because, once I got around to checking out the verses usually used to support this theory, I found that, more often than not, they had been taken out of their immediate contexts, and out of the overall context of the Bible, as well. As examples of what I mean, here are some of the verses that I reviewed, along with a brief description of the contexts in which they are found. I will leave you to judge for yourselves whether or not they really support the position that a person can lose his or her Salvation.
The Verse:“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. ‘Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
The Context: These verses come from the Sermon on the Mount, and were a warning from Jesus to His disciples to beware of false prophets; saying that the way that they would recognize them would be by their fruits. It would be to these false prophets that Jesus would one day say, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
The Verse:“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
The Context: Here, Jesus is preparing to send out His twelve disciples to minister on their own, charging them to confine their ministry to Israel and not to take it to the gentiles. He warns them that, because of their association with Him, they will be persecuted and encourages them to stay strong through the opposition.
The Verse: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
The Context: In the Olivet Discourse, when the disciples asked when the temple would be destroyed, Jesus warned that it would be at a time of great tribulation, when many false Christs and false prophets would arise, and when they would experience intense persecution. The last statement in this verse was intended to encourage them to remain faithful through whatever challenges they may have to face.
The Verse: “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.”
The Context: Jesus admonishes his disciples to be ready for His return at any time and uses a parable contrasting the reward waiting for a faithful servant and a faithless servant to make his point. In the parable, the faithful servant is the one who believes his master and behaves accordingly, while the unfaithful servant proves his unbelief through his mismanagement and abuse of others.
The Verse:“Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
The Context: The fig tree in this parable speaks of Israel and of her failure to produce the fruit that she should have. This doesn’t have application to an individual’s salvation.
The Verse:“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Context: This was directed to some Jews who professed belief in Jesus. But when He said this to them, they took issue with the part where He said they would be free. As descendants of Abraham, they claimed that they had never been enslaved, so they didn’t need to be set free of anything. In their response to Jesus’ statement, they revealed that they hadn’t come to faith at all.
The Verse: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
Context: In the last of His seven “I Am” statements, in His farewell discourse in the Upper Room, Jesus declares Himself to be the True Vine—in contrast to Israel. The implication is that those in Israel who do not come to true faith in Jesus will be cast away as unfruitful dead branches, while those who do come to faith will remain in Him and bear fruit.
The Verse:“But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.”
Context: Once again, the branches referred to here are the Jews who, because of their unbelief, were cast off. Paul is admonishing the Gentile believers to not be arrogant toward the Jews because they had been grafted into the Vine. Instead, they are to be reverent and grateful for God’s kindness to them for, if He judged the unbelief of the Jews, He will also judge them for their pride and arrogance.
1 Corinthians 9:27
The Verse:“No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
The Context: Paul uses the metaphor of an athlete training for a race to describe his approach to ministry. In the same way that an athlete endures the rigors of training so that he may run and win the race, Paul endures whatever hardships are required to carry out his ministry and win the lost to Christ.
The Verse: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
The Context: To the Colossians who had become believers, Paul contrasts their conditions before salvation and after their salvation—reminding them that, because Christ has reconciled them to God in order to present them holy and blameless before Him, they should make every effort to remain steady and grounded in their faith.
The Verse:“Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.”
Context: Here, Paul is encouraging Timothy to stay strong as a minister of the Gospel—unlike those who claim to represent Christ but who have proven to be false teachers. He identifies two who fit that description, saying that they had been put out of the church for that reason.
The Verse:“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”
The Context: This relates to the false teachers that Paul has been warning Timothy about—and, about how they will infiltrate the Church in an effort to lead true believers away from the faith.
The Verse:“But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.”
The Context: In this passage, the writer is contrasting Christ with Moses—with Christ as the Son over the household and Moses as the servant. He then contrasts the followers of Moses with the followers of Christ. Moses’ followers failed to enter into the rest of God through their unbelief, but the true followers of Christ will prove their belief as they hold on to their faith in the midst of struggle and persecution.
The Verse:“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”
The Context: Again, recalling the unbelieving Jews in the wilderness, the writer admonishes those who hear the voice of God not to rebel and harden their hearts to the truth. Instead, they are to encourage and build up one another in the faith so that none of their hearts will become hardened by sin and unbelief.
The Verse: “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”
The Context: This is probably the most problematic passage for those who question the eternal security of the believer. However, I think it will begin to make more sense when it is interpreted within the context of the book in which it is found. The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who were either being threatened with or undergoing persecution for their faith; and, because of that, they were being tempted to return to the “safety” of their original Jewish faith and rituals. The imagery used here is of one who has come to the magnificent feast that is offered in Christ, only to return, in comparison, to the table scraps being offered by life under the Law. Having just made a case for the superiority of Christ over every aspect of the Jewish religious system, here the writer encourages those being tempted not to abandon the former in favor of the latter, as Judaism could offer them nothing in the way of salvation—only Christ can do that. In essence, the writer is saying that salvation through Christ is God’s Plan A—His only plan—and, since there is no Plan B, they need to stick with it.
The Verse: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
The Context: Because Christ is the only way that anyone can be saved, for those who have heard the gospel of salvation through Him and rejected it—choosing instead to remain in their sinful conditions—there remains no other way for them to be saved. In their rejection, they have demeaned or “trampled underfoot” the sacrifice offered by the Son of God, so all they can expect is judgment and punishment as enemies of God.
2 Peter 2:20-22
The Verse: “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
The Context: The “they” here refers to false teachers who appear to have come to faith in Christ but haven’t really. It would have been better for them to not have made a show of knowing Christ because they will be judged all the more severely for their deception, and for their attempts to lead others from true faith.
2 Peter 3:17
The Verse:“Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.”
The Context: Peter warns that false teachers are twisting Paul’s teachings, and admonishes his readers not to be deceived by them—but to grow in the grace of Jesus Christ and in the knowledge of the Lord.
1 John 2:24
The Verse: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.”
The Context: John’s readers had seen many leaving the church, so he tells them that their departures only indicated that they were not true believers to begin with. Warning that the devil is always at work trying to deny the Son, he encourages them to hold on to the faith that they had in the beginning.
The Verse: “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.”
The Context: This is part of Christ’s letter to the church at Sardis, a church He described as being dead, despite its appearance of life. However, there still were a few in the church who were saved—ones whose names had been written in the Book of Life and would not be removed.
The Verse:“And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
The Context: Jesus, through John, warns that anyone who attempts to add to or take away from the inspired Word of God will be regarded as a false prophet and subject to death—the same fate as the false prophets in the OT.
Through Christ, We Have Become the Sons and Daughters of God
Instead of focusing on the more negative aspects of the question, perhaps it would prove more helpful if we approach it by looking at it within the context of the overall Story of the Bible—a story driven by God’s desire and plan to create a family for Himself. As we have learned in our three previous exercises in Salvation, this family was to be one made up of men and women from every tribe and nation of the world, who had originally been born as slaves to sin and death, but whose freedom had been purchased for them by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. Once forgiven and free, they were in a position to legally be adopted as the sons and daughters of God and be placed into the family of God by the Holy Spirit—who would then begin the lifelong process of training these offspring of God to think, speak, and act like His children.
With this in mind, then, let’s now go to a passage of scripture which will provide us with a picture of the security that every believer, as a blood-bought child of God, should expect to experience. This passage is the Parable of the Prodigal Sonand, while I cannot ever recall haven heard it used in support of a believer’s eternal security, I think it provides us with one of the best examples of it to be found in the Bible.
As one of the best-known parables, it tells the very familiar story of a father and his two sons; with the younger son, itching to get out and experience what the world has to offer, choosing to rebel against the authority of his father, while the older son remains at home and obedient to it. In its original context, this parable was given, along with the Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin, in response to the Pharisees’ and scribes’ criticism of Jesus for His practice of associating with “tax collectors and sinners.” It was used in that context to illustrate God’s great passion for seeking and saving the lost; however, when viewed from the perspective of family dynamics, it provides us with the reassuring picture that, no matter how far away from God we stray, His love for us remains the same and our position in His family is never in jeopardy.
Here, then, is the story, taken from Luke 15:11ff…
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father,‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.
So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. And he arose and came to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Now, let’s take a look at what this parable has to say in regard to eternal security…
The younger son, in pursuit of a life in the world, willingly chose to separate and alienate himself from his father;
Everything he did while in the world would have been reprehensible and an anathema to his father;
Yet, when he was as far away from his father as he could possibly get, he came to himself and the first thing that he acknowledged was, that in spite of his own unworthiness, his father was still his father; then,
When he repented and returned home, he discovered that to his father, the son was still his son.
In other words, the son’s sins did not, in any way, negate the Father-Son relationship—in fact,it remained intact the whole time that the son was living in the world. What they did do, though, was sever the fellowship between the two during the period of the son’s estrangement; and, ultimately, rob the son of the future rewards that his inheritance would have otherwise brought him. So, it wasn’t his position in the family which was lost—it was his fellowship with his father, as well as any future rewards for faithful service.
Lessons about Family from the Story of the Prodigal
So, when we consider that…
Every sin capable of being committed would have at some time in the past, been committed by the men and women who eventually come to Christ for Salvation;
Every imaginable sin was paid for and completely covered by Christ’s atoning work on the cross;
When each of these men and women come to faith in Christ—that is, when they receive by faith His death as a substitutionary payment for their deaths–they are declared “Not Guilty” in the Court of Heaven, and immediately adopted into the family of God; and,
Their adoption papers have been signed in the blood of Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and witnessed by God…
…is there anything that they can possibly do to undo their adoption, and cause them to lose their Salvation…especially in light of such promises as these from the Word of God?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
…whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)
…whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37)
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
…you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13)
God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 24-25)
I don’t think so, for…
Safe in the Hands of God
The Pilgrim Mennonite Mission Choir reminds us that, whatever we may do, God’s “Grace is Greater Than Our Sin”…