Category Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare #15 ~ Finger In The Sand

Some of the most powerful teachings of Jesus are when the religious leaders are trying to catch Him in His words to bring an accusation against Him. He always seems to use those opportunities to demonstrate the kingdom of God that He is ushering in. This is one of my favorites.

In John 8 we see Jesus teaching in the temple and the Pharisees interrupt His reading to bring Him a woman caught in the act of adultery. Pay attention to how Jesus deals with this.

John 8:2-8 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 

          They were testing Jesus. They were squeezing Him, hoping for something to come out of Him that they could use against Him.

Our heart is revealed through testing. When we get squeezed by life and circumstance, what is inside of us comes out.

        There is much to be learned from this passage, but there are two key phrases in this verse that we will focus on; “they said to test Him,” and “He bent down and wrote on the ground.” How are they related? What was Jesus doing when He bent down to write on the ground? What is the Lord saying to us through this encounter?

James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 

Being slow to speak is just one of the many valuable lessons to learn here. When Jesus got squeezed, what did He do? He bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. Giving us a living example of how to deal with testing, and how to find the answers we need when our feet are being held to the fire.

Most teachers would be quick to get angry for bursting into the temple and interrupting the service. They would be quick to rebuke and correct such brash and irreverent actions, but that is not what Jesus did.

          Instead of answering out of anger and His own understanding, Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground, focusing on what the Spirit had to say. I doubt that Jesus was writing anything significant on the ground. I believe He was simply checking what the Father had to say about it, how He should respond, and what He should do. I believe He was seeking wisdom and understanding.

They continued to pressure Him, we don’t know how long, but when He finally stood up He had the heart of the Father, and the Spirit gave Him the words to say. “He who is without sin, cast the first stone,” Then once more, He bent back down and wrote on the ground, waiting for further instruction asking the Father about the next step, waiting for those powerful words to have their full effect.

Proverbs 4:7-9 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

The principle thing in every test, every battle, and every encounter is getting wisdom and getting understanding. Wisdom and understanding are always available to us if we ask, seek, and wait. Many times we don’t think about waiting and speak before we seek. We try to answer or act from the shallow well of our limited understanding instead waiting , watching, and listening for direction from the Holy Spirit.

James 1:2-5 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 

          Testing will always come, and we are to count it all joy when it does. The closer we get to Him, the greater our testing will be. What comes forth from us during testing and trials indicates what we believe and who we trust. Testing is an essential part of the gospel. It causes us to grow spiritually and increase in our authority in the kingdom of God.

          We know from scripture that in Jesus’s mind, He could do nothing of Himself. Since He is our model for Christian living, it would behoove us to adopt the same line of thinking. The life of Jesus is perfect theology. What we see Him doing, we should be practicing in our churches and in our personal lives. If we cannot see it in the life of Jesus, it doesn’t belong in ours.

John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

Luke 12:11-12 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

          Jesus modeled this passage in Luke 12 in His encounter with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus always modeled the word that He preached.

          Many times throughout the gospels, Jesus separated Himself in between times of ministry to pray and fellowship with the Father. Without this component in our lives, we will not be mindful enough, or strong enough to keep our finger in the sand when difficult tests arise.

The world is watching all of us that profess to be Christians to see our true character. Our response to trials and testing should produce wisdom and grace, seasoned with salt and in step with God’s character.

If we are not intimate with the Father, we will not produce the fruit of who He is when it counts the most.

Lets keep our sword in our hand, and our finger in the sand, remembering that a test of character usually comes in the form of a “pop quiz.”

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Spiritual Warfare #14 ~ The Power of Stillness

          Practicing stillness before the Lord may be one of the hardest disciplines to master. One thing that seems to make us uncomfortable in prayer, especially in a corporate prayer setting, are times of stillness and quietness before the Lord. Somehow, we feel the need to do something or say something. Yet prayer is a two way communication, not a one way dialogue. If we neglect giving God an opportunity to speak, how are we to receive instruction, direction or correction?

          In a Father / child relationship, the burden of communication falls on the Father, the burden of listening, being attentive, and doing what He says falls on the child. We have a responsibility as sons and daughters of God to take time to listen in silence, purposely giving time to have a hearing ear.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 7 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;

          Waiting in silent expectation before God is a powerful, fruitful endeavor. Quiet meditation on who He is and His written word is an amazing exercise of our faith that is pleasing to the Lord. Clearing our head of any thought and listening to what the Spirit is saying may be more pleasing still.

Psalm 23:2-3 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

          The Lord is always leading us to a place of green pastures and still waters. A place of refreshing and restoration. It is a place we find direction and discernment from the Holy Spirit.

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

          It is in stillness that God is known. Reading and studying God’s word helps us to know about God, but spending time in His presence is what we need to actually know Him intimately. God is raising us up to live life from the overflow of His indwelling presence, rather than merely living by the principles in His written word. We desperately need both.

“In our stillness before Him, He prepares us to host His presence.”

Psalm 62:1 Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation.

Psalm 62:5-6 My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.

“Silently waiting on God anchors our soul.”

          When we are pressed on every side with problems, trials, and attacks of the enemy, silent waiting on God gives us strength to stand in faith. It reinforces our trust in His mercies and His power to deliver us out of all our troubles. It purifies our motives and gives us a proper perspective.

Isaiah 30:15 For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not,

          The Lord is speaking a strong word of correction through the prophet Isaiah. The Lord rebuked His people for trusting in Egypt for strength and salvation instead of Him. Isaiah said by the word of the Lord that in returning and rest they would be saved and in quietness and confidence they would be strengthened, but they refused to do it. This was recorded so we could learn from their mistakes.

          Quietness and stillness should be practiced individually and corporately to keep us from trusting in the world and its systems. How many gatherings have we seen where we corporately wait in silence before the Lord?

          We live in an age of distractions and constant movement. It is vitally important that we practice stillness before the Lord to help us cut through the clamor and chaos of our generation. Stillness is the frequency of God. It positions our hearts to hear the still small voice of the Spirit.

How much of our prayer life is spent in stillness?

“Be still and know that I am God

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Spiritual Warfare #13 ~ Keeping Watch

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

          What did Jesus mean when He said “Watch and Pray?” Here is a true story from a friend of mine that I believe will help us understand what Jesus was talking about.

While going to a grocery store one day the Lord prompted me to remain in the car while my friends went in to do some shopping. In the car next to me was a little dog sitting in the driver’s seat, staring intently at the sliding glass doors of the store. This dog would not take his eyes off that door. Every time the automatic doors would slide open the little dog’s ears would perk up. He would stand with his front paws on the steering wheel, panting, wide eyed, and tail wagging expectantly. Many times people would come out of that door and the dog would get excited until he realized that it was not his master. Then the dog would return to his intense watchful position, not disappointed, but with an obvious understanding that one of these times his master would appear, he had only to wait patiently.

I knew the Lord was Fathering me. My attention was on this dog like his attention was on the door. Through this little dog, the Lord showed me what He meant when He said “watch.”

Eventually the little dog’s master exited the door. His excitement and enthusiasm came completely unhinged! I could hear his happy little whines and yelps as he watched his owner walk to the car. His love and appreciation for his master was unquestionable.

         They could not have been apart for more than 30 minutes, yet the dog greeted his master like he had been missing him for a month. To this dog, his master was the most precious person on the planet. He desperately wanted to be with his master. It was obvious this dog was longing for another opportunity to love on his master with everything that was in him. I wept as I watched this unfold before me.

         After hearing this story of the little dog, I was convicted that we often take the Lord for granted. That our attention is often on the wrong things. We may not fully understand what it means to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. (Mark 12:30) But this little dog understood.

Do we really see Him as our master, the one who paid for us with His very own blood? Are our hearts divided? Our minds distracted? Do we allow other things matter more than what should matter most?

         What would it be like if we saw our Heavenly Father the way this little dog saw his master? What difference would it make in our lives? How would it affect our relationships with the Lord and others? What would it do to our perspectives? How would it affect our faith?

         The Bible says to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all our needs will be met. (Matt 6:33) Yet we often approach God with our laundry list of needs and wants like He wasn’t serious when He said that.

         The Christian faith is a very focused perspective. A Christian has a narrow way of thinking, believing, speaking and behaving. This cannot be fully realized without practicing watchfulness.

John 5:19-20 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

         Jesus only did what He saw the Father do. Jesus was able to do what He did because He constantly practiced watching the Father. Could this be a reason that we don’t see the level of supernatural life that we read about in the gospels and the book of Acts?

         The discipline of watching helps move us from being a child to a mature son or daughter. It is only the mature ones that can receive their full inheritance. (Gal 4:1-2)

         The discipline of watching creates an awareness of God that puts life in proper perspective. The more we keep our attention and focus on Him, the clearer we become on who He is and who we are to Him.

        Being watchful births humility, and He gives His grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5James 4:6-7)

         Being watchful produces an integrity of heart that makes resisting temptation easy. It keeps us prepared to face anything that life would dish out. Watchfulness is one of the most important parts of prayer. When we practice watching, we know better what to pray for and how to pray. We know what to do and how to do it. It positions us to be a vessel that the Father can move through. Watchfulness sanctifies us.

Luke 21:34-36  “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Mark 13:33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.

1 Thessalonians 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.

Matthew 25:13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

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Spiritual Warfare #12 ~ Praying in the Spirit

          One of the greatest tragedies in the Church is the confusion we have about the Holy Spirit. Even among groups that emphasize the Holy Spirit and His role in the Church, we see different beliefs, expressions, and practices, many of which are contradictory.

We see throughout the Bible that mishandling of holy things brings serious consequences. How much more the Holy Spirit of God living inside us?

It is important that we rightly divide truth concerning the Holy Spirit.

In this lesson we will address the practice of praying in the Spirit and define what exactly praying in the Spirit is. While some limit praying in the Spirit to praying God’s word, others say that praying in the Spirit is only praying with other tongues. Still, others reject praying with other tongues altogether. Our lack of agreement reveals our overall lack of understanding.

Effective spiritual warfare requires an understanding of praying in the Spirit, so lets bring some clarity from God’s word and put all other opinions to rest.

The first thing we must understand is that praying in the Spirit is praying ANY prayer under the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit. Look at our instruction in Ephesians.

Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

          Our instruction is that all prayer is to be done “in the Spirit.” The prayer of salvation, prayers of sanctification, prayers of dedication, prayers of intercession, prayers of repentance, the prayer of faith, prayers of thanksgiving, and yes, praying with other tongues. They are ALL to be prayed “in the Spirit.” So, what does that look like?

          Everything God does is relational. Prayer is no exception. Many of us have allowed our devotional time to become mechanical and lifeless. We run through a prayer list and read our daily devotional, never spending time in silent reverence so we can connect with the one we are talking to. Having a daily devotional is commendable. Having a daily devotional and never actually connecting intimately with our Father is tragic. Praying in the Spirit requires communion, not just conversation.

com·mun·ion – the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.

          If all we do is pray from our limited thinking, our prayer life will lack the authority to bear much fruit. I am not saying that praying with our natural understanding is wrong, but let this be a launching point, a positioning of the heart and mind to a place of stillness and quiet so we can be receptive to the influence of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians makes it clear that we need both.

1 Corinthians 14:15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 

          Praying usually starts in the natural, but as we approach God in prayer to partner with Him we should be expecting supernatural utterance to come from our own lips. Praying in the Spirit requires us to connect our thoughts and our attention to the Holy Spirit inside us, praying out, and praying into what rises in our hearts. Praying in the Spirit requires dependence upon His leading and a willingness to follow even when it doesn’t seem to make sense.

          All prayer should should be approached with humility. Hearing His voice and sensing His direction becomes easy when we have a humble heart. Humility gives us a higher perspective and brings us to the place with the greatest light. Everything becomes clear from a place of humility. It is the place of greatest sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Humility before God brings His grace on the scene and our prayers become filled with His divine influence and direction.

James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

          When we approach God in prayer, we should recognize that we are here for His good pleasure. It is His will, His agenda, and His purpose we are pursuing, even when we are praying for ourselves. We need His involvement, His instruction, and His direction. When we approach God with an awareness that we have an audience with the Creator of the universe, we are more likely to have a listening ear than simply a running mouth. Mindless recital of prayer should become a thing of the past and effective fervent prayer a lifestyle.

James 5:13-16  Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

          If you arrive at a place in prayer with the perspective described above, you are praying in the Spirit whether it be in a known or unknown tongue.

Concerning praying in tongues, there seems to be confusion and division over this practice more than any other form of prayer. Praying in tongues is clearly a New Testament doctrine and I see no scriptural evidence of it ending or being “done away with.” However I see a lot of misunderstanding and unbiblical demonstration throughout the Church so I will address this. But first, I will share my personal experience with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In November of 1988, a few weeks after being born again, being completely unchurched, and having had no exposure to any teaching about praying in tongues, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues while alone in my bedroom.

I was reading the book of Acts for the second time and I could see clearly that there was more available to me than what I was currently experiencing, so I prayed, “Lord if there is more of You available to me, I want it.” and the Lord baptized me in His Holy Spirit.

When the Spirit of God came on me I felt amazing power like electricity all over my body and it felt like my tongue was as big around as a soda can. I could hear in my head these crazy sounding words and syllables but at first I resisted saying them out of my mouth because this was all very strange to me. When I finally did yield to what was bubbling up inside of me I said a few sentences in an unknown tongue and then stopped because it freaked me out a bit. I could not deny however, that I had a genuine experience and felt the power of God all over me, I just didn’t understand what happened.

No one taught me, no one prayed over me, no one laid hands on me. I simply saw it in His word and asked for it. God is good!

Here is my concern from over 30 years of observation. Many that claim to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit speak a sentence or two and just repeat the same thing over and over. This is the limit of their “prayer language.” I have seen some people repeatedly give “messages from the Lord” by tongues and interpretation, but using the same few words in tongues over and over again, maybe changing the order of the words a bit. However, the interpretation is always different.

I am not saying these people have not been baptized in the Spirit, I just question their understanding and their expression to the body of Christ. I believe that some things are out of order.

Are they being done with an understanding that they are handling holy things and representing a Holy God? Is it being done in the fear of the Lord? Are these things edifying the Church? It is a serious thing to speak publicly and claim these words are from the Lord.

My understanding of scripture is that praying in tongues is necessary, but should be limited in a public setting unless accompanied by an interpretation. 1 Corinthians 14 addresses this issue.

1 Corinthians 14:22-25 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

How we represent God in any setting is a serious thing. We are responsible as individuals be an example to others to the best of our ability. We are all at different places in our journey with the Lord and should not be too quick to follow others examples unless we are confident that they represent the Holy Spirit well.

We can all grow in our understanding, our humility, and our fear of the Lord. Let us not put God in the miniscule box of our limited experience. Instead, lets ask Him to elevate our experience and understanding to match the Bible.

Praying in the Spirit is a beautiful thing. It is yielding to the influence of the Holy Spirit, letting Him define us and shape us as we pray in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication.

Pray without ceasing! Love Him well! Be Blessed!

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Spiritual Warfare #11 ~ Sword Skill

          The Bible teaches us that the word of God is the sword of the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

          It doesn’t take very long reading the Bible to realize that it is much harder to read and digest than any other book. It requires spiritual and mental effort, as well as physical stamina to read and understand the truth contained in it. The reason? The Bible is the only book that is alive. The word of God is a living sword of truth!

Don’t be confused, the sword of the Spirit is not just the written word, it applies to the spoken word as well. Without the spoken word we will never get the specifics needed to wage a good warfare and win the battles we are destined to fight.. Look at what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy.

1 Timothy 1:18  This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,

The spoken word of God is just as valid and important as the written word, yet there are entire denominations that reject prophecies and claim that such gifts ceased in the time of the original apostles. Others claim that the written word is the only sure word. In Paul’s writings to the Thessalonians he made this clear statement.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

I make this point so we don’t get trapped into wrong thinking about what our spiritual sword is and limit ourselves in our ability and knowledge of how to use it. We must not take lightly the words that the Lord has spoken to us, whether spoken to us directly or through other saints.

The word is described as a living sword, but in other places it is described as a seed, a mirror, a light, water, food, a fire, and a hammer. Jesus Himself is called the Word. The point is, the word of God contains anything and everything you need in any given situation.

John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth

          Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified, set apart by the truth of God’s word. The sword of truth separates us from our old carnal nature so we might embrace our new life in Christ.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

          The sword of truth is sharper than any other sword, cutting clean and deep when we incline our heart to it. It is a discerner of our beliefs, our thoughts and the intentions of our heart. It has the power to separate light from darkness, identifying things in us that need change. The sword of the word challenges what we think and believe as it exposes us to God’s nature and His divine purpose for our lives.

          Children shouldn’t play with a sharp sword. Not until they have learned the dangers of mishandling it, and the damage that can be caused to others by misusing it. The word should be handled with reverence and respect, with skillful wisdom in the fear of the Lord.

There should be no sword fighting amongst God’s children.

Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.

2 Timothy 2:23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.

Arguing about the word with other believers is a sure sign that we are unskilled with the sword.

          We see in the gospel of John that Jesus is called “the Word.” Are we to take the sword and cut people up with it? I think not.

John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

          Everything that was made, was made through the Word of life, Jesus Christ. notice it says nothing about things or people being cut up or torn down by the word. When we mishandle the word, we misrepresent our Lord and King. This brings a reproach on Jesus and the Father. It also grieves the Holy Spirit within us.

          After the Apostle Paul’s dramatic conversion, he did not start teaching immediately, even though he was a trained Pharisee with years of study in the Old Testament. Paul clearly implied that he spent three years being taught by Jesus Himself.

Galatians 1:11-12 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

          Whether Jesus appeared to Paul physically or revealed Himself through visions and revelations is unknown, and unimportant. What is significant is that Paul received three years of discipling from Jesus personally, just like the other Apostles.

          When Mathias was chosen to take Judas Iscariot’s place as an Apostle, we see the conditions required for that office in Acts 1.

 Acts 1:21-22 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

          God’s children should study the word to show themselves approved before they consider teaching the word. The foundational Apostles needed three years of direct teaching from Jesus Himself. We are not foundational Apostles as they were, but we must ask ourselves and the Lord; Am I ready to represent the Word life? Am I skilled enough to teach others to use the sword?

           As we put on the armor of God, the sword is the last thing we are instructed to pick up.

Ephesians 6:13-17 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

          We know that God’s word is a spiritual sword, but what is a “word” in general?

          A word is a verbal or written expression that carries ideas and creates images in peoples hearts and minds. The very nature of the word shapes the image that it produces. All words are spiritual, and all thoughts are spiritual. The nature of God’s word is love. Love is our license to wield the sword.

Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus is the express image of God. He is our role model. He is The Word. As we behold His image, we are shaped into His likeness.

          Paul’s exhortation to a young Timothy gives us clear instruction on our approach to God’s word.

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

          Being skilled with the sword takes diligence and work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

          All scripture is profitable for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, but not necessarily our interpretation, or our delivery of it. Handling the word of life without humility and the fear of the Lord can result in people being cut, hurt, and offended. It brings a reproach on Christ, discrediting His name, His Church, and His word.

          The Bible says in James 3:1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

          Teachers of the word of God are held to a high level of accountability. A stricter judgment. Teachers should teach from the overflow of their own intimate relationship with the Lord, for these are the only things they really know. Accumulation of knowledge about the word of God is not the same as knowing the Word.

In the age of abundant information that we live in, it is easy to accumulate a lot of knowledge about God and reduce ourselves to just relaying information. Unless we have practiced what we are preaching, we don’t actually know the truth we are trying to share. This results in teaching and preaching that lacks spiritual authority in demonstration and power. We try to make up for this lack of authority and power by being funny and entertaining. It is a poor substitute.

          We should keep in mind that the Word is a person. When we share the word with others, we are to share from our understanding of God, not the knowledge we have accumulated about God. If we are not practicing what we know we are not able to teach it with the authority and power it deserves.

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

          When we teach what we don’t practice, we not only deceive ourselves but do an injustice to those we are attempting to teach.

2 Timothy 3:14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,

          We must ask ourselves; Are we learning from our relationship with the Lord and His written and spoken word, or are we just learning from the opinions of preachers and teachers? Are we studying to show ourselves approved by God, or are we just listening to the latest revelations from our favorite ministers? Do we rely on the revelations of respected theologians, or do we know God intimately for ourselves?

Even if we attend seminary and have multiple degrees, we must filter all that knowledge through our own intimate relationship with the Lord. Attending Bible college does not qualify us or validate our call to minister. Without intimate relationship with the Father we will teach doctrines of men and religious traditions filled with leaven like the Pharisees and Sadducees.(Matthew 16:6)

1 John 2:27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

          The Bible also says, “call no man your teacher.”

Matthew 23:8-11 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.

          This is not a contradiction to Ephesians 4 where Jesus gave us teachers and the other 5-fold ministry gifts to equip us. We should listen to other teachers and preachers, but at the same time we must filter those teachings through our own intimate relationship with the Lord, allowing the living Word to rightly divide and discern truth. If we are sensitive to the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can easily detect error.

We should ask ourselves; How much time and effort are we really investing in our own personal relationship with the Lord? What does our relationship with God look like when no one is looking? Are we studying the Bible to better know God, or studying to come up with a sermon to preach to others? Our own personal relationship with God is our most important ministry. It is ministry to the Lord, not to people. Ministry to people should flow from our ministry to the Lord. Priorities here are vitally important.

Acts 13:1-3 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Notice how clear and specific direction came as they ministered to the Lord. The Holy Spirit spoke through one or more of these men by prophesy, word of wisdom, or maybe tongues and interpretation. It does not say specifically. However, it clearly bore witness with all present and they moved forward in that prophetic word with confidence to wage a good warfare.

If we try to “do ministry” without first ministering to the Lord, we will fall prey to false doctrines and develop itchy ears. We will seek validation by following others that believe like us and gravitate to others that treat the truth like a pair of shoes. We will try it on and if it is the least bit uncomfortable, we will set it aside and try on something else that is more comfortable. Truth is not always comfortable. That is why we have a comforter.

2 Timothy 4:2-5 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 

We are in the latter times if you haven’t noticed. The great day of the Lord is upon us, so let us give proper reverence to the God and His holy word. so that we can handle our sword with skill and precision.

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare CLICK HERE.

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