One of the top ten books for me in the honorable mention category from last year was KayArthur’s book, Lord, Is It Warfare? I did use it in some of my own personal devotions but as I worked through it, I discovered that as a pastor, this book was a launching pad of sorts to go beyond the exercises that had been given in the book. Therefore, over the next several weeks, I have intentions of putting some of my scribblings from the book margins and from my own personal journals that I composed. Obviously the study guide has some areas of personal reflection and evaluation that I will leave out for understandable reasons. I would encourage you if you are a regular reader of this blog to take some time to consider what will be covered. Also I would greatly encourage you to get the book, get a journal, and get a pen and write. For me, it ended up being about an hour time allotment but it will become one of the most eye-opening hours that you will spend during that day.
Spiritual warfare can be a slippery path that can lean toward fanaticism or formalism. At the end of the day what we must take into consideration is what Scripture clearly and accurately addresses in this area. If you have been in Pentecostal circles for any length of time, you have probably heard some very fanciful stories relating to this subject. I am in that camp! I have heard some of the most far-fetched stories that as the years have rolled on, I have dismissed them as pure imagination of the teller who had a motive of self-aggrandizement mixed with too much exposure to Hollywood. On the other hand, because my father-in-law has been a district global missions director for over 30 years, my exposure to missionaries has probably been much higher than that of the average pastor. Friends, neighbors and all ya’ll in between, when a missionary comes to town, the vast majority of them can tell you some very clear and accurate things concerning the dark side of the spiritual battle. I would encourage you to spend time with these men and women and listen to what they have to say.
One particular missionary who spent several days at our church apartment was very helpful to me in this area. I asked him why we were not seeing the same kinds of manifestations in America that they often saw on the mission field. He told me, which I feel is very accurate, that here in America we have become much desensitized to the presence of the demonic. This has been greatly facilitated by the entertainment industry in Hollywood. He also told me that the appalling prayerlessness and biblical ignorance of the American church has contributed to great carnality and it has dimmed our spiritual senses so that we are not able to discern the attack. Lastly, he told me that spiritual leaders generally do not have the commitment to battle against this ongoing attack against the church through their own lack of personal prayer, commitment to personal holiness, and a rigorous approach to solid doctrinal preaching. He noted that our preaching has largely turned into pep rallies and how to be more successful in A, B, or C areas of life. Concerning his comments about spiritual leaders, he did reiterate to me several times that he did not think that it was because of a malicious and wilful choice but the fact that American pastors had gotten far too distracted and focused on the minors.
One last thing before I jump off on this first day, I did use several translations of the Bible for my own personal study. In no particular order I used: the ESV, NASB, KJV, J. B. Phillips, Moffatt’s, NLT, The Message, Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, and the NKJV Spiritual Warfare Bible. There were also some very useful books that I used as additional resources, some are commentaries and others are just single volume reference works. They are listed as follow:
With that covered, let’s start Week 1, Day 1 from Kay Arthur’s Lord, Is It Warfare? Instead of this being written in paragraph format, I am going to simply post my notes as they were written in my journals which are mostly in bullet point format. These are the notes that I took from the Introduction and W1, D1.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 KJV But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 NASB But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 J B Phillips Yet the Lord is utterly to be depended upon and he will give you stability and protection against the evil one.
-Most people do not even realize that they are in a spiritual battle that is ongoing. Perhaps battle is an understatement and the best word to use is war. It is a state of perpetual warfare.
-I see this everywhere around me when I see people questioning all kinds of spiritual boundaries that have been given to them through the Word of God, an active prayer life, the voice of pastors and spiritual leaders in their lives. Be careful that you (me) do not let yourself fall into the trap of sophisticated education that questions and mocks what old-time holiness preachers called for. This kind of spirit can have terrible ramifications and outcomes that will affect you (me) and my family. They deserve a godly, reverent man to follow!
-Most of us have such a low level of spiritual discernment that we do not even sense the danger that is lurking. Many of the spiritual struggles that take place in life are due to the wily methods of the devil.
-The devil is real. Not a figment of the imagination nor a philosophical argument that has been set up. There are methods, tactics and devices that he is constantly attempting to exploit.
-Truth is always a weapon that will overcome the enemy. Truth will overcome every lie that he hurls in my direction.
-There are new beginnings, new avenues of ministry, and a sense of doing something that will outlast time for a person that is willing to do the hard work of spiritual preparation for this battle. There is always a cost involved and no matter what the cost is pay it!!!!!! You (me) must discipline yourself and stay the course!!!!!
-Hebrews 4:12—The Word will discern the thoughts and intents of my heart. . . By this taking place, there is light to be turned on in my heart that will bring exposure to the condition of my soul. Not only that but I also have the ability to see where I am going.
-Christ-likeness: An ordered life, a disciplined life, an eternal life, a thoughtful life, a powerful life, a holy life, a purposeful life, a praying life, a holy life, a set-apart life (whatever happened to wanting to be set apart for a holy purpose? Note of song when I was in youth camps in the late ‘70’s, early ‘80’s, we sang Jesus be the Lord of all. . . If You’re not Lord of everything then You’re not Lord of all.) a surrendered life, a Word-focused life.
-Php. 3:14—Press on and obtain the work that God intended for us to obtain.
-Psalm 119:104~he said that he hated every false way. . . That is some concept that should get into me also! My prayer is that Psalm 119:104 will literally find the good ground of Matthew 13 in my heart. The Psalmist said that he “hated every false way.” May that be resident in my own heart. False ways are like road signs that are wrong, like having mislabeled drugs, like a surgeon amputating the wrong leg. I have to hate every false way! The Truth will set me free! It will help me to walk where I need to walk!
-Spiritual warfare takes place every time that unwanted intruders come into the soul. Peter noted that these were the things that war against the soul.
1 Peter 2:11 KJV Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
1 Peter 2:11 Moffatt NT Beloved, as sojourners and exiles I appeal to you to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war upon the soul.
1 Peter 2:11 NASB Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.
1 Peter 2:11 J B Phillips I beg you, as those whom I love, to live in this world as strangers and “temporary residents”, to keep clear of the desires of your lower natures, for they are always at war with your souls.
-Fleshly—SARKIKOS—G4559—Temporal, bodily, animal, unregenerate—This is what happens when we are walking in the flesh (in violation of Romans 8). We are under the control of our animal appetites. Governed by human nature not by the Spirit of God. Having its seat in the animal nature or aroused by depravity. (Ref old David Fuller sermon called “Spiritual Eclipse.”)
-Lust—EPITHUMIA—G1939—A desire or a craving, longing, desire, for what is forbidden.
-War—STRATEOUMAI—G4754—To make a military expedition, to lead soldiers to a war or battle (as a commander). To do military duty, to fight.
-This single verse in 1 Peter sets the context for a basis of spiritual warfare. My flesh is a key avenue the devil wants to exploit. His attack on me is direct, ordered, it has a plan. I get this from the words flesh, lust, and war. Nothing in this battle is haphazard.
-If this is true then there should be an absolute understanding that our defense has to be just as ordered and clear as the attack is. This information would have never been discovered had I not read this. My devotion to the Word needs to increase!
-The battle on the outside (world) is intended to strike us on the inside. What is without is a plan to topple what is within.
-At the end of Chapter 1, Day 1 was to read Ephesians 6:10-20. Then you are to write down who the struggle is with.
- The wiles of the devil
- Not flesh and blood
- Rulers of darkness
- Spiritual wickedness in high places
- There is an evil day
- There are fiery darts of the wicked
-The instructions were also given to write down the things that torment you. For obvious reasons, I am not adding those here but it is an eye-opening and soul-awakening experience when you start doing this kind of soul-work and examination.
-The third recommendation was the matter of memorizing Scripture. This can be absolutely incredible in helping our minds to gain insight into what the Lord desires to do in us.
- Reading the passage over and over.
- Reading it aloud.
- Listening to Scripture.
-My hopes is that such a walk through Scripture will cause my preaching to be so Word-based and Word-focused that those who hear me will hunger for the Word themselves. I want to preach the Word in such a way that they want to go home and read for themselves. Churches who read Scripture will have a higher expectation out of preaching because of a heightened hunger and awareness that the Word is working in their own lives. Never forget that preaching is an act of worship—both on the one preaching and those who are hearing!
-The devil wants us ignorant, misinformed, and clueless as to the nature of the spiritual battle.
More tomorrow. . .
Thanks for reading. . .