March 10, 2015

Pressure is On

Taking authority over the enemy is a foreign concept to most Christians. It is something that traditional preachers and churches simply do not teach. Instead, many mainline denominational churches teach suffering through the enemies attack, sort of a "grin and bear it" approach to spiritual warfare. Some churches and pastors even go as far as to suggest that Christians do not engage the enemy at all, that in doing so, we are overstepping our authority and responsibility, and that by doing so, we will bring on significantly more spiritual attack.

I am not really sure where this teaching comes from but I do know that the Word says "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). I believe it stems from the various views in Christianity that state that all miracles of God have ceased to exist (after Pentacost). Therefore, miracles of faith and healing, are no longer being manifested within the Church. I struggle some with this point of view simply because I have known a number of people who have received healing, a literal transformation from terminal death to complete healing and life. These are testimony of miracles whereby the medical establishment has no answer to give other than saying "we don't know what happened, but the cancer is gone." I also know of a number of people who have experienced financial blessing in the form of the exact amount needed for some specific purpose. The money just appeared without solicitation, and the need was met by a person who felt called by God to give the amount the family needed. These are miracles in my view, whether physical, materials, spiritual or mental/emotional, they are testimony to faith at work in and through the people of God.

If we understand Scripture then we know that Satan and his minions have been defeated at the Cross of Christ. In Col. 2:15, we read "In this way, he [Christ] disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross." Moreover, we read in Rev. 1:18, we read the words of Christ when He states "I am the living one. I died, but look--I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave."

We give power to the enemy when we believe the lies (the wiles and trickery) he uses to attempt to keep us from living out our calling in Christ Jesus. Our enemy has been defeated, yet we give him power and authority over us when we buy into the lies he is feeding into our minds. We have to take authority and stand in faith, using all the weaponry given to us as believers in Jesus. Our spiritual armor is what keeps us in check, and enables us to stand strong against the wiles of the devil. We read in Ephesians 6:10-17,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

We have been given the weapons necessary to stand against these attacks, and in doing so, our enemy will take heed and be routed. However, when we refuse to stand up, to defend ourselves (not engage), then we allow the enemy to gain power over us. This is when we feel most downcast, most overwhelmed, and most anxious. We give our power, our authority (in Christ Jesus) over to the enemy when we refuse to stand against his tactics. It is our faith in Christ, our belief in His overcoming sin forever, and our justification before God because of our position in Christ, that enables us to stand strong and to remain focused on doing the very things the Lord calls us to do.

I know that often I fail to do what the Word commands me to do. I shrink back in fear, and in doing so, I give the enemy a foothold whereby he torments me. If I stand against him, facing him squarely with my armor on and my body positioned securely in my faith in Jesus, he will flee. He may come back around again, but as long as I am standing strong with full faith and confidence in my Lord, he knows he cannot defeat me. The victory is mine in Christ Jesus. Amen. Selah!

Today is a weird and awkward day. I am feeling panicked, sort of squeezed between that uncomfortable rock-and-hard place. I know why this is, and I know what has happened. Yesterday, while I was driving home, I made the decision to take authority over several areas of my life. I prayed in the Spirit specifically for victory in these areas:
  1. My mental health and physical well-being. I have struggled with my mental health for a very long time, nearly my entire life, and I have always waffled between being mentally strong and mentally weak. By this I mean, I struggle with doubt, fear, and apprehension about my abilities and my adequacy. This is a mental game more than anything else, but the enemy seems to poke me here most frequently, and I suffer as a result. Moreover, I struggle with physical illness, issues related to fatigue and stress. Again, these have been yearly struggles since I became an active follower of Jesus, and as a result, I spend most days feeling wounded, beat up, and unable to continue on.
  2. My material health and financial well-being. Yes, I prayed for victory over my finances because I know what the Lord needs me to do in the coming months. I don't have the resources needed at this time, but He does. I am in a good place financially so long as I stay put and I do not incur any expense outside of the day-to-day routine. I cannot imagine moving across the country or taking a new job without His provision. 
  3. My intellectual and productive well-being. This goes to my scholarly studies as well as to my current work as an instructor. At times, I lose focus on my studies, I start to procrastinate. I struggle with the workload, and with thinking about teaching in the future. I would prefer to be in an easier, more productive job, but I don't have that option yet. The opportunity is on the horizon, but I am struggling with imagining how it will work out, when it will work out, and if it will work out.
I know and I understand that when you pray as the Holy Spirit leads and guides you to pray, often you will suffer a resultant attack by the enemy. Thus, today, I woke up feeling as though I have been bruised. Interestingly enough, this is the second day of attacks (not sequential, but within the week). As I consider the plans the Lord has for my life, and I pray for strength to move into His expressed will for my life, I am finding that I am getting attacked more frequently. I am feeling the pain, the pressure, and the power of the enemy (albeit it weak) rush over me. I am being pursued in order to convince me that the path before me is not a good choice, not a good way to go. Hmmm...

In truth, it would be possible to conclude two different things from this latest attack:
  1. The path before me is the path the Lord has for my life, but it is not an easy path to follow. It is a path that will bring great reward, and will honor Him, but it will require great sacrifice to abide in it.
  2. The path before me is not the path the Lord has for my life. 
The third option is that the enemy doesn't want me to follow the path because it means victory in Christ Jesus.

I know enough to tell the difference between 1 and 2. The path before me is a good path, clearly a very good path. It does have hardship attached to it, and it will require sacrifice on my part. It is a good path, though, and I feel that it is the path the Lord is calling me to follow. Moreover, I do not feel any hesitation from the Holy Spirit on following it. I have a sense of peace about it, and generally, I am willing and agreeable to going in that way. The panic I feel, the stress and confusion, is more related to fear about what is unknown. This is not from the Holy Spirit, but rather, it is a ploy of the enemy to attempt to keep me from stepping out in faith and following the Lord's will for my life. My view, then, is that the enemy is working overtime right now to keep me from following this path. He knows that what is down that road is glorious and fruitful, and that the results are in souls won for the Kingdom of God. Yes, all of my work is for His Name, His Praise, and His Honor so that the Father would be glorified. Thus, my work, my way, my will is surrendered to Him for I know, and I believe that the plans He has for me are good, so very good. Selah!

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