Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Day 2

I am continuing from yesterday as we go through the devotional study guide (study guide is a serious understatement) by Kay Arthur, Lord Is It Warfare?  I am in much encouragement of you working with this book and a handwritten journal.  At the end of this, I am certain that you will feel a sense of accomplishment but even more than that you are going to have developed a sense of understanding of what Scripture has to say about the matter of spiritual warfare.  Furthermore for those who serve in churches as Sunday School teachers, Bible study group leaders, and even pastors, you are going to find a wealth of material that will come to you at the right time as you are teaching.

One quick note of explanation for those who are not familiar with some of the Greek language that the New Testament was written in.  On yesterday’s post you would have noticed that after the words for flesh, lust, and war from 1 Peter 2:11 in yesterday’s blog there was a “G” followed by a number.  This is the system that was developed in the original Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance used by Bible scholars, preachers, and teachers who did not have a background in the Greek language.  Instead of having to know the language, the student could work with the number system. 


The section on Day 2 begins with some very thought provoking questions:

·        Have you ever felt like quitting because of the hassle of Christianity was too much?
·        Do you ever doubt the truth of God’s Word or the reality of Christianity?
·        Have you ever been tormented by blasphemous thoughts against God?
·        Have you ever felt captivatingly drawn, almost magnetized, to the things of the world?
·        Is there anything you feel compelled to do or believe, and yet you know it is not of God?
·        Are you bombarded with doubts about God’s goodness—His love toward you?
·        Have you ever been plagued by feelings of worthlessness and/or inadequacy?
·        Even though you’ve confessed past sins, do you live under a cloud of condemnation?
·        Have you felt overwhelmed by depression?
·        Have you ever thought about suicide?
·        Have you ever been haunted by some derogatory remark, thought, memory, desire you couldn’t shake?
·        Or have you heard voices in your mind?
·        Is your mind filled with incessant noise?
·        Are you afraid to tell anyone?
·        Are you filled with anger, bitterness, or unforgiveness?
·        Even though you realize you are wrong to harbor these feelings, do you feel powerless to deal with them?
·        Are you physically sick—yet the doctor cannot find the cause?
·        Have you ever been joyfully serving the Lord and been suddenly attacked unjustly?
·        Have you remembered the Christian life is warfare?

These questions are very thought provoking and to some they may even seem inappropriate.  However, as I was working through the list, multiple examples and Scriptures came to mind that would address each of these feelings or emotions.  Some of these are so far out in left field that I know that as a child of God they would never even cross our mind except they did not have their origins in hell!  You are in a battle and the enemy first of all attacks our mind because that is the very seat of the action.  What is worked out in the heart will be exhibited in behavior.  That is why we must have spiritual boundaries and parameters on our mind that are godly, holy, and righteous.   

Ephesians 6:11 KJV  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11 NASB  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11 WNT  Put on the complete armour of God, so as to be able to stand firm against all the stratagems of the Devil.

We are to put on the whole of armor of God.  Why?  So that we can stand against the wiles (KJV), schemes (NASB), and stratagems (Weymouth) of the devil.  The word that Paul used in this was METHODEIA (G3180).  It has the idea of cunning arts, the use of deceit, craft, and trickery.  Therefore when we put on the whole armor of God, our ability to see through, anticipate, and plan for the attacks we will ensure our own spiritual success.  This same word is used in Ephesians 4:14 in the context of spiritual immaturity as children who are tossed about by storms and winds of doctrine, deception by men, and the wily, craftiness of the devil who is behind all of it. 

With that in mind, I would like to go back and look at some of these questions and find some biblical examples of where this kind of attack took place in the Bible.  The study guide actually wants you to list personal examples of when this kind of thing may have prevailed in your own life.  Obviously I am not going to air all of that out here but this is why I recommended to you the personal journal that is for your eyes only.  You will be very surprised at what kind of soul-work goes on when you began to write these kinds of things down.  Some may be hesitant to do this sort of thing and I can understand that.  However, I would point you to the Psalms and get you to read them through this set of lenses:  note the introspective angles and the tones of self-examination and personal confession that you find there.   

·         Have you ever felt like quitting because of the hassle of Christianity was too much?

You are not the only one who has ever felt like throwing in the towel.  I find that there are multiple references that are encouraging in tone for us to continue on. 

Galatians 6:9 KJV  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Ephesians 6:10 KJV  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

1 Samuel 4:9 KJV  Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.

1 Corinthians 16:13 KJV  Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

There are other matters of consideration that we need to take in here also.  It has to do other areas of life where people have a thought to quit.  Quitting the ministry, quitting church, quitting your marriage, quitting your family, quitting your commitments, quitting your job, quitting school, and so forth.  I am not so foolish as to say that all of these feelings are spiritual warfare but some of them are. 

·        Do you ever doubt the truth of God’s Word or the reality of Christianity?

Doubting the Truth of God and His Word is an old trick.  It started with the first family Adam and Eve.  The devil came along and asked, “Has God really said?” (Gen. 3:1).  Once he lodged some doubt against the Truth, Eve began to waffle on it.  Perhaps the best place to go with this question is to one of the most crucial parables the Lord taught in Matthew 13. 

Matthew 13:18-19 KJV  Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.  [19]  When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

Mark 4:15 KJV  And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

Luke 8:12 KJV  Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

I can’t even began to tell you how many times this has happened to me as I would preach.  I would toss the seed and before the Word could even get a foothold, the devil would work with doubt and snatch it away.  I can also sadly tell you that there were things that God had placed in my personal life that were snatched away with doubt. . . We are in a war!  This is not a picnic where you will have your best life now!

·        Have you ever been tormented by blasphemous thoughts against God?

This can began to gain a foothold in our hearts when we are in situations that feel out of control to us.  Sometimes there are people around us who unwittingly will be used by the enemy to cause us to doubt the prevailing power of God. 

Job 2:9 KJV  Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

Pressurized situations can cause you to be literally tormented by the circumstances around you.  I am also willing to believe that because of advice that Paul provided gives us insight to know that he too knew what it was like to be attacked in such a way.  Consider:

Philippians 4:7-8 KJV  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  [8]  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

2 Timothy 4:18 KJV  And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 ·        Have you ever felt captivatingly drawn, almost magnetized, to the things of the world?

In a day where almost any kind of separation from the world is mocked, decried, and scorned, we must take the advice (commandment?) of John. 

1 John 2:15-17 KJV  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  [16]  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  [17]  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

When we feel the magnetism and the drawing of this world, we must set our sights on heaven!  One of the reasons that heaven does not have enough of a hold on the saints of the Lord is because our hold on the world is almost that of a death-grip.  This thing is a spiritual war! 

·        Are you bombarded with doubts about God’s goodness—His love toward you?

The devil would greatly desire to bombard our minds with the idea that God cannot and will not love us.  This is one of his wiles, his strategies, his methods, as Paul warned us of in Ephesians 6:11.  We combat those matters just like Jesus did at His temptation in the wilderness, with the Word.

Jeremiah 31:3 KJV  The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Ephesians 2:4-8 KJV  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  [5]  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  [6]  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  [7]  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  [8]  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Titus 3:3-6 KJV  For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.  [4]  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,  [5]  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;  [6]  Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

I hope you are beginning to see why the Bible is called a sword.  It has great power to overcome every wicked thought the enemy throws in our direction. 

·        Even though you’ve confessed past sins, do you live under a cloud of condemnation?

This is another powerful trick of the devil.  He wants to minimize the power of the blood of Jesus Christ.  Note this, Paul lists some of the darkest sins of humanity when he was addressing the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 KJV  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  [10]  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

But he did not stop there. . . He goes on. . .

1 Corinthians 6:11 KJV  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

You could go on and on with this theme through Scripture.  However, occasionally I like to re-visit old songs that I heard when I was a kid. . . This is one of them that says it just about right when we are attacked by that nasty beast of condemnation.

·        Have you felt overwhelmed by depression?  Have you ever thought about suicide?

If you have ever felt that dark beast of depression seize on your soul, you are not alone.  It is a taboo subject that many do not like to address but some of God’s greatest men battled with it.  Moses, Elijah, and Jeremiah all felt the darkness of it.  But one day I ran across this passage:

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 KJV  For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:  [9]  But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

What shall we do with Paul?  Will we give him a pill?  I think not!  He said that he had the sentence of death that was in him but the key to overcoming it was that he could not trust in himself or his own efforts but rather in the Lord!  That is the answer! 

·        Is your mind filled with incessant noise?

Our world is full of noise and somewhere we need relief from all the racket! 

Psalms 46:10 KJV  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

I have skipped a number of the questions that the book recommended.  But on a closing note, I want you to consider some of the ramblings that I wrote in my journal.  When we remember past criticism, we build a prison we cannot get out of.  This prison will turn into a seething anger and bitterness that will pull every bit of the joy of serving the Lord out of your soul.  It can lead to physical sickness.  I have seen this countless times over a 25 year career in medicine.  In fact one physician told me one time, “Philip, if we could fix their mind, we could fix their sickness!”  I believe that is how powerful the mind is and therefore we can only imagine what kind of attack the devil would like to lodge against the mind of a godly saint! 

I am sorry that I have overloaded this (again)!

More tomorrow. . .


Thanks for reading. . . . 

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