Tag Archives: The coming world war

Spiritual Warfare #23 Your Wineskin

          What did Jesus mean when He said, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins”?

           Of the 40 or so parables we see in the teachings of Jesus, only a handful are recorded in all three synoptic gospels. The parable of the wineskins is one of those that deserves our close attention.

          This parable was given in the context of answering a question about fasting.

Matthew 9:14-17 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. 17 Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

          What does fasting have to do with wineskins? I think most of us have not made the connection between this parable and the practice of fasting. We tend to read over the passage without realizing that Jesus is teaching us powerful truth about living with the fullness of the Spirit.

          Here is Mark’s account.

Mark 2:18-22 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”

19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

          Jesus is using old and new wineskins, and old and new cloth, as an analogy of our old and new natures. The old carnal nature that we are born into under Adam, and the new nature of God that we receive by the Holy Spirit at our new birth in Christ.

          So, what significance does fasting have in the context of this parable? Jesus was explaining to them the purpose, and significance of fasting.

          I see people fasting for many different reasons but when you boil it down, there is only one primary reason for fasting. To break through the veil of carnal flesh so the Spirit can have full expression in our lives.

          We live in this incredible paradox of having two natures that are constantly battling and warring against each other. Jesus is telling us that fasting is how we fight the battle and win the war.

          Fasting is not very popular to most Christians because it requires discipline and self-denial. Some fast for wrong reasons with little understanding and have little results.

          Let’s look at Isaiah 58 and see what the purpose of fasting is.

Isaiah 58:6-9Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.

          There is much more to this chapter, and I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but the point I want to make is that biblical fasting is not just about denying our physical bodies of food, but reaching out and helping others in need as we are denying ourselves. There is something supernatural about the combination of denying ourselves while tending to the needs of others that brings powerful breakthrough in our lives. It frees us from bondage, breaks yokes of unbelief, brings healing to our bodies.

           A true fast is not just denying the physical body, but the soul, mind, and will as well. Fasting should include deny every part of our being that is touched by the fall of man. Bringing whole being into subjection so our light will shine brighter and ultimately give God more glory.

           We all desire to be filled with the new wine, but it is God’s mercy that withholds it. If He filled us with the fullness of the Spirit before our wineskins were made new it would destroy us.

The kind of fasting that Isaiah describes creates in us a new wineskin that is meant to contain that new wine. It increases our capacity in the Spirit and empowers us to live a sustained life of power and demonstration of the kingdom of God.

          Let’s look at Luke’s account because he brings out a very interesting point that Matthew and Mark do not address.

Luke 5:33-39 Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?”

34 And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.” 36 Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise, the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.”

          Look at verse 39. Luke recorded Jesus as saying, “no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’”

          Jesus is telling us up front, “our flesh is going to resist this. We are not going to immediately desire to practice this.” Our flesh will always argue that the old way is better, leave things as they are, the old wine is good enough, fasting is not necessary.

          This is not going to be easy for anyone, but if it was easy there would be no significant rewards. The promises we see in Isaiah 58 are absolutely mind blowing. We desire, and pray for new wine, but we are asking God to put in our old wineskin. Isn’t gonna happen!

          Because of our fallen, broken nature, we seek more of God without making the necessary sacrifices. We desire the new wine, but we don’t want to release the old, craving change, yet, allowing things to remain stagnate.

          In our present culture, we are inundated with the constant temptation to consume more. More food, more stuff, more entertainment, etc. Excess results in nothing but a strong, well developed carnal nature. We feed the monster that wars against our soul.

           We must choose new wineskins to be filled with the new wine and become everything Christ paid for. This choice is vital to our lives, but more importantly, it is vital for His glory!    

Are you satisfied with the old wine of your carnal nature? Most of the Church is satisfied with the status quo of living a carnal existence while claiming Jesus as Lord. Personally, I just don’t have the stomach for it anymore.

          There is so much that our Father desires for us to be and to have, but it cannot co-exist with the old fallen nature. The old wineskin must be “put off” and the new wineskin “put on.” We either choose to be who our Creator designed us to be, or we remain the same. The choice is new life in Christ with full kingdom power and authority, or remaining distant and separate from the Father which is described as spiritual death.(Deut. 30:15-20)

             Choosing life is easy. Living the life that God has provided takes a certain amount of discipline, resolve, and self denial. It will require us to maintain a new wineskin. It will require biblical fasting.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

          It is impossible to follow Jesus without denying ourselves. We will not have the strength to pick up our cross without this denial of self.

          Jesus said, “But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.”

We are in those days. It’s your wineskin. What are you going to do with it?

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare, CLICK HERE.

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Spiritual Warfare #22 Becoming Childlike

         Becoming childlike seems like a characteristic that would not be desired in any type of warfare, but in spiritual warfare it can be the difference between a sweatless victory and a prolonged and difficult battle.

Jesus said if we don’t become as a little child, we will not enter the kingdom of God. That is a sobering statement that we should examine closely. Our warfare must be waged with kingdom authority, and from a kingdom perspective. A childlike perspective is a kingdom perspective.

Matthew 18: 1-4 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

          It is critical to recognize that the phrase “kingdom of heaven” is not referring to eternal life, but the kingdom of God on Earth. There are two phrases in the New Testament we must discern properly to understand this passage and many others. The phrases “the kingdom of God,” and “the kingdom of Heaven”. These two phrases are always talking about the same thing, which is the kingdom of God on the Earth.

          The kingdom of God is any place on Earth that God’s rule and reign is acknowledged. Primarily it is in the hearts of men. The kingdom of Heaven is God’s dwelling place, where there is no corruption, no darkness, and no decay.

          The phrase, “the kingdom of God” is used almost 70 times in 10 different books of the New Testament. The Phrase, “the kingdom of Heaven” is used 32 times exclusively in the gospel of Matthew.

          The explanation of this is simple. Matthew was a Jew. His audience was Jewish, and he was writing about Jesus who was a Jew. Devout Jews at that time, and even today, have a holy reverence for mentioning the name of God. They will only utter or write the name of God when there is no other alternative. I believe Matthew tailored his message to his audience so that the gospel would be better received by the Jewish leaders of his time.

           This can easily be verified by looking at all the parables about the kingdom recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Most of them will not make sense any other way.

          Anytime we see the phrase kingdom of Heaven used, we can safely replace it with the kingdom of God without any danger of adding to, or taking away from the scriptures.

          All the kingdom imagery and terminology we see in the Gospels is not about going to Heaven when we die, but about Heaven coming down to earth while we live.

Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

          Earth is the domain of the kingdom of God. It is Heaven’s outpost, given to Adam for stewardship for a season, lost by Adam through deception and rebellion, redeemed through the blood of Christ, and is now under our stewardship. We gain our entrance and citizenship into Heaven by accepting Christ as Lord. We gain entrance to the kingdom of God by becoming like a little child. This will never become a reality if we don’t become childlike.

          What does Jesus mean in Matthew 18:3 about entering the Kingdom like a child?

Becoming childlike requires a putting aside of our will. This way our opinions and misconceptions do not get in the way of trusting God wholeheartedly.

A child understands that they do not always know what is best. Children often have very little control over their own lives. They embrace the fact that they have to put their trust in other people. They trust what their parents, teachers or other adults say without doubts or fear. For example, when a young child is shown a magic trick, their eyes light up with wonder.

Adults, on the other hand, are much more skeptical than children. This childlike faith and sense of wonder are somehow lost in the process of growing up.

          There is something essential about a childlike perspective that pleases the Father and empowers a person to enter the kingdom, but what is Jesus talking about? What is this childlike perspective that Jesus has in mind?

          We throw terms around like, “childlike faith,” but faith is never mentioned by Jesus. He is answering a question about who will be the greatest in the kingdom of God. I am not saying that faith has nothing to do with it, but Jesus did not put emphasis on faith. He put emphasis on a perspective that greatly effects our faith.

          Is it possible that becoming like a little child means that we maintain the sense of wonder and innocence of a child that life in this sinful world tends to beat out of us?

          Could it be that Jesus is talking about living life without being self-conscious, without guile, being open about our feelings and emotions, having an undefiled conscience and living life with excitement and boundless energy? Could He be referring to childlike inquisitiveness, vivid imagination, and creativity? Or a heart that is humble, joyful, hopeful, tender, loving, gentle, quick to forgive, and willing to believe the best of every person?

          These are the sort of qualities that tend to define a child but get quickly stripped from us as we mature and become more “self-aware,” encountering the sin and brokenness of our fallen world.

          As we grow into adulthood, we become jaded and prideful. We hold grudges and stay angry, refusing to forgive. We tend to lose hope because our hopes have often been dashed and destroyed. We allow negative emotions to rule us and let unimportant things matter more than what matters most. We lose our joy and live with a seared conscience.

          As adults, we do things “because we’ve always done it that way” and have trouble with new ideas. We tend to reject things we do not understand, and this hinders us from trusting in the seemingly impossible. Children do not behave this way. Neither did Jesus.

          Does this mean Jesus lacked maturity? Did He lack wisdom and understanding? Far from it. Jesus was full of wonder and hope for humanity. I believe Jesus lived in a constant state of awe and wonder. Jesus lived in awe of His Father, in awe of humanity, in awe of life, and in awe of His Father’s creation.

          Anyone who witnessed how Jesus lived began to see how life should be lived. I believe this made Him the most attractive person on the planet to those who were not too jaded by selfish pride. It also made Him hated by those that were blinded to truth.

Jesus revealed to us how God intended life to be lived. The life of Jesus is the perfect example of childlikeness. His life is perfect theology.

Hebrews 1:9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”

          I think many of us have a hard time seeing Jesus as joyful and childlike, yet some of the fruits of the Spirit are gentleness, meekness, and joy. I think His fruit was probably ripe and could easily be harvested just by being in His presence.

          People began to see the rule and reign of God’s kingdom unfold before their eyes as Jesus began to embrace His earthly ministry with demonstration of the Kingdom of God and power. Signs and wonders were the fruit of His childlikeness before the Father

          Jesus modeled the life we should live, and Jesus invited us to follow Him. He taught us that if we want to experience the kingdom of God in this life, then we need to become like a little child.

         I encourage you today to get alone with God and don’t bring a prayer list. Just come to Him as a child that loves His Father and wants to be just like Him. Ask Him to help you be more childlike, in fact, ask a bunch of questions. Be open, vulnerable, humble, and forgiving. Tell Him what you struggle with, what makes you happy, what you would like to change about yourself. He’s a good listener.

         Be attentive to His voice, practice being still in His presence and listen with the expectation of Him speaking to you.

          The first step in becoming more childlike is to spend time with Him and allow Him to Father you. Embrace His love, invite His correction, pursue His instruction, and believe that change is coming.

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare, CLICK HERE.

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Spiritual Warfare #21 The Fear of the Lord

          The fear of the Lord may be the most significant thing we can learn concerning spiritual warfare. If spiritual warfare was a wheel, and all the spokes of the wheel were different aspects of spiritual warfare, the fear of the Lord would be the hub of that wheel, holding all the spokes together in their perfect place and in perfect alignment.

          The Bible is full of instruction concerning the fear of the Lord, but we rarely see it taught with any depth or clarity. I believe the main reason for this is that the Church, for the most part, has lost the fear of the Lord. We have almost no one to model the fear of the Lord for us and what we see modeled is religious fear and the fear of man.

Religious Fear

Isaiah 29:13 Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,

          Religious fear is marked by religious activity, and a works mentality. It often comes from a desire to be involved in a religious organization, like a church or ministry that appeals to our itchy ears. Religious fear is a fear taught by men and does not bring a person’s heart closer to God. It is not motivated by the fear of the Lord but by religious conformity to a certain doctrine or religious practice.

          People bound by religious fear attend church and experience the presence of the Lord in worship but go home and remain unchanged. They attend church but never become the Church. They bear little fruit and show no spiritual growth, just an increase in religious knowledge.

Fear of Man

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.

          The fear of man trusts in man’s opinion instead of God’s word. A fear that is motivated by the demands and expectations of leadership. A fear that is driven by a desire to be approved of a person or an organization rather than God. We can easily be trapped in the fear of man if our primary way of learning about the Bible is to allow other men to teach us without having a real hunger for reading and understanding the Bible for ourselves.

          The Bible is the only book that is alive. There are certain parts of the Bible that the Lord will highlight to us personally, and emphasize to us emphatically if we will esteem it properly. If we trust the reading and interpretation of God’s word wholly to others, we will never discover the fullness of what God is saying to us personally. We must all find ourselves in the scriptures.

          Another type of fear we need to identify is demonic fear.

Demonic Fear

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

          The mark of demonic fear is that it is unnatural, unreasonable, and tormenting. It binds and enslaves, making us feel powerless against it. Demonic fear is a clear indicator that we need a revelation of the love of God, and that we lack an intimate relationship with the Father.

          God is Love. If we practice intimacy with God daily when no one else is looking, the power of demonic fear will soon be broken.

          We see in 1 John 4:18 that there is no fear in love, and that perfect love casts out fear. By this we know that the fear of the Lord is very different from the three types of fear mentioned above.

           So, what is the fear of the Lord?

          The fear of the Lord is a supernatural perspective that must be desired and pursued. It is a act of our will and a fear that is to be reserved for God alone. The fear of the Lord has profound effects on every aspect of our lives. It is the reasonable response to His holiness, His omnipotence, and His immeasurable majesty.

         The fear of the Lord is a holy awe. A reverential admiration that produces in us a desire for absolute obedience and a need to treasure Him in worship. The fear of the Lord births in us a holy hatred for sin and a submissive heart that desires to always be pleasing to the Father.

          The fear of the Lord is a doorway to signs and wonders. When we lose the fear of the Lord, we sacrifice much of the supernatural in our lives and in our services. All we are left with is an atmosphere that God frequently visits, but not a people with whom He abides in and moves through.

         The fear of the Lord is one of the seven-fold expressions of the Spirit of God. To better understand the fear of the Lord, we must familiarize ourselves with the person and nature of the Holy Spirit. The seven distinct characteristics, or expressions of the Holy Spirit are listed in Isaiah 11:2, and also referred to in Revelation 4:5, and 5:6.

Isaiah 11:1-3 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;

          This is a prophecy about Jesus and the seven-fold expressions of the Holy Spirit that marked Him as the Messiah. The same Spirit now abides in every believer.

          In verse 3 we see that above all these seven expressions of the Spirit, Jesus delighted in the fear of the Lord.

          In Hebrews we see how the fear of God caused Jesus’s prayers to be heard and answered.

Hebrews 5:7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear

          If the fear of the Lord was important for Jesus to have His prayers heard and answered, how much more important should it be for us?

          In Malachi 3, we see an important dialog about the fear of the Lord. As God was rebuking and correcting His people for complaining, there were some among them that feared the Lord and had a conversation amongst themselves. They were not praying, just talking with one another.

Malachi 3:16-17 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them
So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name. 17 “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

          The fear of the Lord is so significant, that God not only hears and answers the prayers of those that fear Him, but He also listens to every conversation. In this case, a book of remembrance was written in Heaven because of their Godly fear and meditation on His great name. God said of those that feared Him, “They shall be mine, and I will make them my jewels.”

          Consider just how important the fear of the Lord is to our Heavenly Father.

Isaiah 33:6 Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the Lord is His treasure.

          To fear the Lord is to see God as our treasure. God’s treasure is when we see Him with a clear and proper perspective. To fear Him, is to treasure Him and give Him our whole heart.  

 Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Blessings of the Fear of the Lord

          Attached to the fear of the Lord are more promises and blessings than any other theme mentioned in the Bible as far as I can tell. Other than being God’s treasure, let’s look at some of the other blessings that the fear of the Lord brings.

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.

Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.

          Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are also expressions of the seven-fold Spirit of God, but they all begin with the fear of the Lord. Wisdom is described as the principal thing. Meaning it is first in rank and order. It is the first fruit, yet it starts with the fear of the Lord.

          The fear of the Lord is the catalyst by which all other expressions of the Holy Spirit are perfected. It is the tree that all other branches of the Holy Spirit grow from.

Psalm 25:14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.

 Proverbs 20:5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.

         The Spirit of council, another facet of the seven-fold Spirit of God, reveals the secret of the Lord and His covenant by the fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every believer. To understand and receive Godly council, to understand the secret mysteries of the Lord, and to be a good steward of those mysteries, one must fear the Lord.

Proverbs 1 28-29 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. 29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord,

          The fear of the Lord is a choice. It is an act of our free will, and the first step to complete submission.

Psalm 34:11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Psalm 25:12 Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.

Psalm 86:11 Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.

          If we choose the fear of the Lord, that is the beginning of wisdom. When we ask God to teach us the fear of the Lord, that is the beginning of true knowledge and understanding.

Job 28:28 And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.’ 

Psalm 89:7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him.

          There must be a restoration of the fear of the Lord when we assemble. The reverence and awe that is missing in the Church will only return if we choose it and seek it. We must ask God to forgive us and teach us about the fear of the Lord so we can become the bride without spot or wrinkle.

2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

          Holiness is only perfected in the fear of the Lord. We are commanded to be holy as He is holy. (1 Peter 1:16) The narrow pathway to holiness is through the fear of the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.

          What is the bottom line? Fear God and do what He says. Pretty simple huh? Let’s not make it complicated.

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare, CLICK HERE.

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Spiritual Warfare # 20 The Mark of a True Disciple

          What is a disciple? If someone asked you; Are you are a disciple of Jesus? What would you say? Do you believe that you are a disciple?

          I was convicted strongly by the Holy Spirit that we throw that word around and don’t seem to stop and consider what a true disciple of Christ really is. Websters definition of disciple is, “a pupil or follower of any teacher or school.” But what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

          We can easily look at the lives of the twelve disciples of Jesus and look at the life of the apostle Paul. That may help us understand what it means to be a true disciple, but what does the Bible say about it?

John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

          Abiding in God’s word is the mark of a true disciple. According to this passage, the fruit of being a true disciple is knowledge of the truth and freedom. In other words, being a disciple has a specific fruit attached to it. It is measurable.

We must ask ourselves these two very sobering questions.

Am I truly abiding in God’s word?

          Do I hunger and thirst for the word like a baby desires its milk?

1 Peter 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby

          True disciples have this in common, they all have an insatiable desire for God’s word. Spiritual hunger and spiritual growth are also measurable fruit of being a true disciple.

Am I truly free?

          Am I free from the bondage of sin? Or am I still bound by the same old habits, addictions, emotions, and carnal tendencies I was last year? Is my transformation into Christ-likeness obvious to me and others, or am I stuck in religious practices that makes me feel better about myself but doesn’t change me?

          Do I understand that Truth is a person and not just words on a page? Am I growing in my relationship with that person and following Him?

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 1:1-5 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. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

          Being a true disciple is to abide in truth until it dawns on our heart and mind that truth is a living person, not simply words in a book. Abiding in truth causes Truth to set us free, and whom the Truth sets free, is free indeed. Freedom is the fruit of knowing Him.

          As we abide in the truth of God’s word, that Word becomes flesh in our lives. We become the truth we abide in. We become what we behold.

          This is how we follow Him.

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare, CLICK HERE.

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Spiritual Warfare #19 A Kingdom Divided

          This is a topic that the Lord has been highlighting to me for the past few years. He has relentlessly brought it to my attention until I finally made it a focus of my study and prayer. At first, I searched the internet to see what the “theologians” had to say about it and nothing that I found bore witness with what the Lord was showing me. I knew that there was a part of this mystery that myself, and the Church had been blinded to, so I asked the Lord what He was trying to show us. I believe He answered me.

That being said, I have found that there are too many “theological positions” on most of the major doctrines in the Bible. From the Trinity, to the gifts of the Spirit, to water baptism, you name it. Sometimes we find as many as three or four different opinions and interpretations from highly respected Bible scholars and they write volumes of books to defend their position. Are they all right? Is only one right? or is it possible, that on some subjects, they are all wrong? We should all judge these things carefully..

This is going to run crossways of most peoples beliefs on this subject, but I really believe that this is from the Lord. I don’t feel the need to be right about this. In fact, if I am wrong, I pray God corrects me or sends someone to help me understand it better. I know before posting this that my revelation of this subject is incomplete, yet I think I have enough to articulate what the Lord is showing me. I will likely be making updates to this teaching as the Lord brings more clarity. I would love it if someone would help me with this.

The word of God is too precious to trust its interpretation wholly to another individual. Quite frankly, in my pursuit of answers on this subject I lost a lot of confidence in other men’s opinions, even from the brightest theologians that I still love and respect. Furthermore, I do not trust myself. I do trust the Holy Spirit however, and I have full confidence in Him to lead us into all truth.

After over two years of seeking God on this topic I have found the “Unpardonable Sin,” also known as “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” to be one of the most misunderstood topics in the New Testament. I believe that Satan has blinded most of the Church from this truth for over two thousand years because it is one of the most significant revelations concerning our faith and our identity in Christ. I believe it to be a key component as to why we do not see the demonstration of the kingdom of God at the level we see in the Bible.

          In the gospels we have three accounts of Jesus teaching this truth. (Matthew 12:22-37, Mark 3:22-30, and Luke 12:10). Any time we see all three synoptic gospels recording a teaching, we really need to pay attention and make sure we “get it.”

          Matthew’s account of this interaction is the most complete so I will use that text for the purpose of this teaching. It is a long text, so I will unpack it as we read, making comments as we go.

Matthew 12:22-37 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

          The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils by the authority of the devil. They were saying that the power in Jesus to bring about deliverance and healing was by the same power that bound the demonized man.

          Many make the mistake of assuming that the Pharisees were the ones committing the unpardonable sin, when actually, they were accusing Jesus of committing it. Pay close attention to what Jesus emphasized in His response to this accusation. The underlined portions of scripture gives us important insight into what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit looks like.

25 But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 

          Jesus was not rebuking the Pharisees for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, He was correcting them and explaining to them why their accusation of Him was not possible and made no sense. He was teaching them, and us, about a divided kingdom. Specifically, a kingdom divided against ITSELF.

          Jesus made it clear up front that they were accusing Him of performing miracles through a divided kingdom. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit has to do with a divided kingdom, a divided city, and a divided house.

          Although Jesus Himself is the kingdom, city, and house He is referring to in this passage of scripture, we are now “in Him” as born again believers. We now have the kingdom of God abiding in us. We are the kingdom, the city, and the house that Jesus is referring to. If that kingdom inside of us becomes divided, it will not stand.

The key to this entire passage is the statement “A divided kingdom will not stand.” The unpardonable sin has to do with the kingdom of God inside us being a divided kingdom. It is the reason the Church has become virtually powerless and does not walk in the authority of the kingdom of God. Jesus repeatedly said, “the kingdom of God has come upon you” when he healed someone or cast out a devil. If we do not see the fruit of the kingdom of God coming upon people, we should ask ourselves; Is it possible that our kingdom is divided?

Many of us have wondered why the Church lacks the demonstration of signs, miracles and wonders that we all know are available. Where is the disconnect? What is lacking? Is God a withholder? Or are we trying to “do Christianity” from a divided kingdom? In the kingdom of God there can never be two opposing powers.

Lets read on.

29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 

          Who is this “strongman” that Jesus is referring to? Remember, He is still talking about a kingdom divided against itself. Self, is the strongman. The word plunder is used twice in this verse and literally means to seize. Have we really allowed God to seize our hearts and take over our house? Are we allowing His kingdom to grow in our hearts, or are we willfully withholding some of our selfish desires that we refuse to let go of? Have we completely submitted our will to the will of the Father, or are we living our Christian life on our terms?

The strength of our fallen nature is our own free will. If our will is not completely submitted to the will of the Father, we are a kingdom divided. Free will represents the sovereignty of self, and it must be bound before the Holy Spirit can seize our house and take control. The kingdom of “self” must be bound before the kingdom of God can have full reign in God’s temple.

We see in the Old Testament temple and the tent of meeting that God is very particular about where He abides. He is Holy, and must be revered as such.

Next verse.

30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

          Why does Jesus make the comment, “he who is not with me is against me?” Is He talking about the Pharisees that are speaking against Him, or is He still talking about what is inside of Him and by what power He does these miracles?

When we are born again, suddenly we have two persons, with two wills, inhabiting one body, which is now God’s temple. Two persons, two wills, one kingdom. Our will must be submitted to the Holy Spirit’s will for the kingdom to stand.

          Jesus has a free will. As a man, He has always had the ability to say no to the Father. We see Him struggle with that in prayer before He went to the cross. He asked the Father if there was any possible way let this cup to pass from Him, but He said, “nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” He had to submit His free will to the Father, just like you and me. If Jesus did not have the free will to choose sin, He would not have had the power to destroy sin in the flesh.

          Consider how hard it must have been for Jesus to know what was about to happen to Him at the cross and still submit to it. Even after an angel came and strengthened Him, He was still in agony to the point of sweating blood! (Luke22:43-44) This was His greatest battle between choosing His will over the Father’s. Had He chosen His will, He would have been guilty of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Praise God He didn’t!

          The reason we see Him function in full kingdom authority and power is because He laid down His free will and never picked it up. He allowed the Holy Spirit to bind the strongman. He could do nothing of Himself. He only did what He saw the Father do. The kingdom of God inside Him was never divided and never stopped increasing.

Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

         Jesus laid aside His sovereignty as God to take on the sovereignty of man. He then cast the crown of man’s sovereignty at the feet of the Father and refused to pick it up again. This was an act of complete submission. It is how Jesus was able to do what He did. Furthermore, He said, “Follow Me.” Meaning, we have the ability to do the same.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

What did Jesus say to do before we could follow Him? Deny himself, then pick up your cross and follow me.

Luke 17:21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

The Garden of Eden is the Old Testament type of the kingdom of God, and there are still two trees in the garden of our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the tree of life. Our free will is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s instruction for the garden still applies to the kingdom of God within us.

Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

          Did Adam fall and die when he ate of the tree? No, he lost the glory of God that clothed him and broke the oneness of relationship with God that empowered and sustained him. Spiritual death is separation from oneness with our Father.

          God gave us our free will and our creativity to express our love for Him and serve His purposes. We are here for His good pleasure, not ours. When we use those astounding gifts for selfish reasons that oppose God, we are a house divided and guilty of the unpardonable sin. Willful disobedience is the fruit of unbelief. When we operate in selfishness, we eat from the tree of our own free will and we are demonstrating our unbelief. On some level, it breaks down our relationship with the Father and separates us from the life of God that is only found through intimacy with Him .

          Moving on…

31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

         This is the portion of scripture that trips people up. The phrase, “it will not be forgiven in this age or in the age to come,” has Christians wondering and worrying if they have committed the unpardonable sin and have lost their salvation.

          Just to be clear, only Christians can commit the unpardonable sin, but it does not cause us to lose our salvation.

          We see an example of this in 1 Corinthians 5. Paul was correcting the Church at Corinth about them allowing a man that was committing adultery with his mother to remain in the congregation. Obviously, if one is committing adultery with his mother there is a kingdom divided. Paul gave some specific instructions to the Church on how to deal with this man that gives us insight into the scope and the judgment of the unpardonable sin.

1 Corinthians 5:5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Even though this man was clearly guilty of practicing gross sin and blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, Paul said deliver him to Satan, meaning banish him from the fellowship of Christ’s body, so that his carnal self could be destroyed, and his spirit saved at the coming of the Lord. The kingdom in him did not stand. He lost fellowship with the Lord and the body of Christ but clearly, did not lose His salvation.

We need to ask ourselves why we haven’t seen this level of spiritual authority or righteous judgment practiced in the Church lately?

          The unpardonable sin has nothing to do with losing our salvation or going to hell. It has nothing to do with the Great White Throne judgment in Revelation 20. Jesus is talking about the kingdom of God on earth, which is in our hearts, and the Judgment Seat of Christ that we will face in Heaven where our works will be tried with fire. Any works that we perform in the name of the Lord and for His kingdom while we have a divided kingdom in our heart, we will have no rewards for.

          What does He mean by not being forgiven in this age?

          When we refuse to embrace the new life that God has purchased for us by the blood of Jesus, we are guilty of blasphemy. When we deny God’s right to inhabit and seize our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit we are preferring the bondage and depravity that Christ has set us free from and we are guilty of blasphemy. When we walk in the kind of unbelief that the Israelites did in the wilderness, we blaspheme the Holy Spirit. When we succumb to pride and take credit for God’s work through us, we blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

          The children of Israel and their journey in the wilderness are a type of the Church today, and the biggest example of the unpardonable sin. Did God forgive Israel of their unbelief and allow them to enter the promise land anyway? NO! Neither will He forgive us for having a divided kingdom and allow us access to all the promises of the kingdom of God.

Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 

          If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to bind the strongman of SELF and keep it nailed to the cross, we will be denied kingdom privileges, and not be trusted with the powers of the age to come. Our promise land is not an external location, the kingdom of God is within us. If the kingdom within us is divided, the authority and power of that kingdom WILL NOT STAND.

          We do not lose our citizenship in Heaven; but we are denied the authority and power of the kingdom of God on Earth. God cannot forgive this kind of unbelief and grant us the powers of the age to come. A house divided will not stand in the kingdom of God.

          Conscious and hardened resistance to the Holy Spirit leads us away from humility and repentance to pursue our own desires.

A Tree Known by Its Fruit

          Here is the conclusion of Jesus teaching and rebuking the Pharisees over their comment.

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

          Blasphemy is to speak or act against. We must align our actions and our language to agree with the work of the Holy Spirit. Our complete submission to the Father is required for full kingdom authority.

          Our actions and words bear the fruit of what we believe. We must guard both to “make the tree good.”

          The words we speak are far more significant and powerful than we understand. The Bible is replete with teaching on the power of words. Words are expressions of what we believe and create images that accompany those beliefs.

          To make our tree good we must plant ourselves by the river of living water. We do this by delighting in His word, keeping it before our eyes, in our mouths, and planting its incorruptible seed in our hearts. It takes only 75-80 hours to read or listen to the entire Bible, yet most Christians have never done either. It reveals how little we read the Bible and exposes our lack of reverence for what God has to say.

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

Examples of Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

          Any New Testament doctrine must be found and verified in the Old Testament by scriptural precedent, or example. The Old Testament is full of examples, and we find it in the New Testament as well. Studying these examples will help us better understand blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and confirm what is being taught here. The following are just a few of those examples.

Old Testament types of the unpardonable sin

          Moses and Aaron not being allowed into the promised land because of their blasphemy at the waters of Meribah is a great example. Numbers 20:6-13

         God called it unbelief and said they failed to sanctify Him as holy in the sight of the people. They sanctified themselves in front of the people instead. (This goes on in churches all the time.)

          Moses had a moment of pride in the sight of God’s people. He said, “shall we bring water from the rock?” (Meaning him and Aaron) and didn’t speak to the rock like God commanded him, but struck it like he did the first time, trying to reproduce what God did before.

          God called it unbelief because Moses didn’t hold Him alone up as holy, instead he held himself and Aaron up in the sight of the congregation. This disqualified both Moses and Aaron from entering the Promise Land on Earth. It was unforgivable. Later, Moses pleaded with God to let him enter the Promised land and God said, “no, and don’t bring it up again.” It didn’t keep them out of Heaven, but we can surmise that they would get no rewards for leading God’s people to the promised land because of this incident.

           In the Church today, we like to take credit for the things God does through us. Instead, we should take full responsibility for obedience and reverence, but take no credit for the results. After all, it is for His great name and His glory.

          Nadab and Abihu is another example. Leviticus 10. They offered strange fire before they Lord. “strange” means unauthorized, foreign, or profane. They just decided to do their own thing. God not only rejected their sacrifice; He found it so offensive that He consumed the two men with fire. (Leviticus 10:2)

How many times have Christian leaders stepped out to do their own thing? 

          A New Testament example is Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. They “lied” to the Holy Spirit and died on the spot! I can only surmise that this stark example was put in the New Testament so we could see the seriousness of blasphemy against Holy Spirit. In Exodus 33 we see the explanation of what happened to them.

Exodus 33:1-3 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

          This is shocking! God was going to send them to the promised land with supernatural protection and provision… But He wasn’t going with them because He didn’t want to consume them. This is the condition of the Church today.

          God was abiding in the early Church when this happened to Ananias and Sapphira. Therefore their blasphemy brought instant judgment. I used to wonder why this happened to them, but we don’t see instances of it in the Church today. It is obvious to me now. God moves upon His church from time to time, just like He did with the children of Israel, He just doesn’t abide in her in fullness because He loves her and doesn’t want to see her destroyed. It breaks my heart!

          The Spirit in us is HOLY. I think we fail to understand what holiness is in God’s eyes. God will not forgive us in this age for our lack of reverence and allow us to operate in the powers of the age to come. The few supernatural things we see in operation in the Church is much like the children of Israel in the wilderness. (Which is possibly the greatest example of the unpardonable sin) They saw the provision and power of God daily for forty years and still did not believe God for more than a minute. God put them in the wilderness to test them, to see if they were worthy of the promise of His abiding presence.

Deuteronomy 8:2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

          When we receive the Holy Spirit and willfully continue to practice lawlessness, it is blasphemy. Anything we accomplish in the name of the Lord while practicing lawlessness, doing things for selfish, prideful, and deceitful reasons, disqualifies us from the full power of the kingdom of God on Earth. and disqualifies us for any rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

          God will not forgive this type of behavior and allow us to operate in His full power and authority. God is merciful and works with us as much as He can because He is good, and He loves us. However, anything supernatural that we accomplish when our heart is impure disqualifies us from any rewards for those accomplishments at the judgment seat of Christ. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “this sin will not forgiven in the age to come.”

I Never Knew You

Matthew 7:22-27 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

An obedient disciple is a house built on the Rock

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

A disobedient disciple is a house that will not stand

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Obedience is the “love language of God.” Disobedience is and act of unbelief and an act of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

          As we honor God’s word, the kingdom within us grows, so does our authority and His influence through us. We must learn to reverence the work of Holy Spirit in us if we are to follow Jesus’s example and live in the fullness of the Spirit. He would not have said “follow Me” if it wasn’t possible. We must not war against the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in us. The only way we can avoid the unpardonable sin is to remain in complete submission to the Father.

For more teaching on Spiritual Warfare, CLICK HERE.

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