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Devotional - Spiritual Warfare

Christine Platt - Wednesday 25 October 2017

Trust and obey, for there is no other way,
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Yes it is very simple, but it is far from easy! In fact it is impossible for us to perfectly trust and obey God in our mortal bodies (1Jn 1:8).

We have three enemies who work against us: sin, our flesh and the devil.
Each of us were born rebels against God’s rule, we were born sinners (Ps 51). We each died to sin when we were made alive in Christ. We were once slaves to sin, now we are God’s slaves. Yet we choose many times each day whether it is sin or God whom we will obey.

Our flesh wars against the Spirit. We are called upon to crucify our flesh with all of its desires and instead we are to walk in the Spirit. We are called upon to deny ourselves, to leave behind the works of the flesh, such things as sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies (Gal 5:19-21). We are called upon to bear the fruit of the Spirit, with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).

And the devil prowls around like a lion seeking who he can devour (1 Pet 5:8). He’s a liar and the father of lies (Jn 8:44). He is actively waging war against us (Rev 12:17). Indeed the people in Satan’s grasp are not our enemies. Our enemies are the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers of this present darkness, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).

When you think about spiritual warfare, what comes to mind? As usual, the reality is often very different to our vivid imaginations!

Worship
As a new Christian going to church I found worship to be a bit of a mystery. What people called worship, I found to be strange and very boring. I am quite sure that whatever it was I was doing was not worship! Read the last few Psalms. Worship was a time of joy and coming into God’s presence. God’s people, indeed all of creation, are praising God. Their worship sounds anything but boring.

Read through the book of Revelation. People and angels are worshipping God. They are in awe as they see God’s purposes unfold in history. Worship is our proper response to God. In worship we glorify God, we remind ourselves of the reality of God’s victory and our joyful place in eternity, and should the Devil choose to hang around it reminds him that he has lost the war and that his time here on earth is short. Indeed Psalm 22 tells us that God is enthroned on the praises of Israel.

It is the experience of many that worship is a vital component of spiritual warfare. I have found that introducing an element of worship into meetings has a transformational effect and is worth the investment of time and effort. What is your experience of worship? How do you make worship a part of your daily life?

Know your Bible
Think of Jesus being tempted in the desert for 40 days after his baptism by John (Mth 4:1-11). Jesus was tempted three times, each time he responded by quoting scripture:

v4: “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

v7: “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

v10: “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”

How well do you know your Bible? What are you doing to know and understand what the Bible says? The better you know and understand God’s word the more able you will be to recognise and dismiss the lies of the devil.


Pray
Have you noticed people hearing the gospel but not coming to Christ? Why does that happen? The Bible tells us that the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2Cor 4:4).

Are you at a loss as to what to do next? Ask God for wisdom because he gives generously to all without finding fault (1Jm 5:5-8).

Are you worried or anxious? Rejoice! Be gentle! The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Php 4:4-8).

We are told that Jesus went off alone to pray quite often. If he needed to pray, then how much more do we need to do the same? How much time do you spend alone with God? Do you turn to him when trouble strikes? Do you thank him when things go well?


Be strong in the Lord/Abide in Christ
We are called to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. To put on the whole armour of God, so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. So we must put on whole armour of God, so that we may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. So we must stand, and fasten the belt of truth around our waists, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for our feet we put on whatever will make us ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. And we take the shield of faith, with which we are able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. We put on the helmet of salvation, and take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
We ought pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. We keep alert, always persevering in praying for all the saints (Eph 6:10-18).

And being strong in the Lord is very much like abiding in the Lord:

In john 15:1-11 we learn that Jesus is the true vine, and his Father is the vinegrower. The vinegrower removes every branch in the vine that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. Jesus is the vine, those who trust and obey Jesus are the branches. Jesus calls us to abide in him and Jesus abides in us. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can we unless we abide in Jesus. Those who abide in Jesus and Jesus in them bear much fruit, because apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in Jesus is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If we abide in Jesus, and Jesus’ words abide in us, we can ask for whatever we wish, and it will be done for us. The Father is glorified by this, that we bear much fruit and become Jesus’ disciples. As the Father has loved Jesus, so Jesus has loved us; we must abide in his love. If we keep Jesus’ commandments, we will abide in his love, just as Jesus have kept his Father’s commandments and abided in his love. Jesus told us these things so that his joy may be in us, and that our joy may be complete” (John 15:1-11).

As we trust and obey, we are strong in the Lord, and we abide in him and he abides in us! Pretty amazing eh?


Resist the devil
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Jm 4:8). Invite him in and he’ll eat you for dinner (1Pet 5:8). The choice is yours.
Your salvation is Christ’s gift to you - he became sin that you might become the righteousness of God. Your character, your relationship with God, your walk (in spirit or flesh), your works of service, your worship, your knowledge, your prayer – are you working out your salvation with fear and trembling. Are you fighting the good fight? Have you given up the fight? Are you fighting alone or in company?


Be part of a band, not a lone wolf.
Look at God. One God but three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God himself is in community. Look at Jesus on earth – he chose 12 apostles and had a larger band of disciples following too. Look at the apostle Paul – he travelled and ministered with others. We are called to meet together regularly. The early disciples met daily in each other’s homes to break bread (eat) together. God made Eve because it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. We are made for community. We need each other. You need other people to fight alongside you, encourage you, and help you when you fall (and you will). Who is fighting alongside you? How well do you fight together? If there is no one… who can you ask to join you?