The dynamics of spiritual warfare

snake-195917_640Jeremiah 47:6: Ho, sword of Jehovah, till when art thou not quiet? Be removed unto thy sheath, rest and cease. (YLT)

The Lord is called a mighty one (Psalm 50:1). He is the Lord of hosts (Jeremiah 5:14). Jesus came to the earth once as a Lamb, but he will return as Lion (Revelation 5:5). With the sword of his mouth, he will vanquish the opposition and set up a thousand-year kingdom of the earth (2Thessalonians 2:8, Revelation 19:11-21, 20:1-6).

God showed himself as a warrior in the deliverance of the children of Israel from the grip of their taskmasters in Egypt. Before then there was no hope of escape. They did not have any army, their overlords had emasculated them, and killed their males, to stem their population growth.

So daily there are weeping and gnashing of teeth. They face untold difficulty, loss, pain and were filled with the sense of hopelessness. And God wielded his sword for their deliverance, in an unforgettable display of power.

He told Moses: “I have come down. I am silent no more. I will at once bring deliverance.” The power bank of heaven was opened and Pharaoh could not stand it. By the time all was said and done, the army of Egypt was buried in the Red Sea, and everyone who is a firstborn was dead and buried.

Egypt was broken and the hold of slavery on the people of God was destroyed. At the end, they were free. Light filled their soul, rejoicing filled their heart, and their mouth was filled with music, songs of praise to God.

Signs and wonders marked the birth of that nation. Getting the people out of Egypt was the easy part, but the hard task begun after that, which was taking Egypt out of the people to bring them to the Promised Land. It is getting them to maintain their focus on God till the end.

None could resist God’s plan to bring the people out of bondage but to bring them to the place of their rest, the people resisted God, because the latter involved walking with God which needed the retraining of the mind.

Getting saved comes in a snap, you confess Jesus, and just like that you are saved (Romans 10:9-13). With that, we come into Christ, into his righteousness. But the challenge is to get Christ to manifest in you, have his righteousness expressed through you. It is a massive work, involving concerted and complex hard work.

It is in view of that Paul said: God is at work in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). He also said that he travails again that Christ might be formed in the Christians in Galatia (Galatians 4:19). To the church in Colossi, he wrote that one Epaphras was labouring fervently in prayer so that they will stand perfect in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12). That is pure hard work, it is laborious, intense and continuous.

After Jesus defeated the devil on the cross, Paul said another warfare ensues within us which has to do with casting down thoughts and imagination that are contrary to God (2Corinthians 10:1-5). Paul said that for that task the weapon of our warfare was not carnal but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds.

Jesus said that it does not profit a man to gain the world and lose his own soul (Mark 8:36). The world is complex at it is, and from what Jesus said, we can conclude that the soul is more complex.

Looking at this world, many things need reform, so the soul (our internal world) needs even more reform. Jeremiah said that the heart of man is desperately wicked who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9)? That hints at the unending complexity of the soul. With advances in knowledge, we have come to know the world but, the soul (which houses the personality) is a tougher landscape.

The content of the soul is expressed in the tongue. As it is written: out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). And James that the tongue is an unruly member, difficult to tame (James 3:8). As we come under the blood of Jesus, we are saved, we need to get our heart under the control of the word of God, which Paul calls the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).

We also read that the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the asunder of soul and spirit, which means it has the capability to change us on the inside, to liberate us (Hebrews 4:12). There is a war going on within us, it is the battle of the mind, it involves thoughts emotions and reactions.

Eve in the Garden of Eden was in a thought warfare with the devil that she was not aware of (Genesis 3). And because he was not on guard she became a victim.

The devil had her under him. He caused her to agree with him. She thought that the devil was right and God was wrong. And when Eve was conquered on the inside, conquered in her thoughts, he committed sin in her action, showing she was conquered. Jesus made it plain that the lust and other evils that take place in the heart are validly sins (Matthew 5:28).

The sword of the Lord empowers us to wage spiritual wars successfully. Spiritual battles are going on all around us. Paul said: we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:10-18).

We do not confront them on our own, by our own strength, rather we take on the whole armour of God, i.e. things that must line up together in our lives to give us the edge over Satan’s operation in the heart.

The word of God affirmed that we have all the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions (Luke 10:19). In another place, we read that the force of unity enhances our effectiveness in spiritual battle. Five will chase one thousand and one hundred will chase ten thousand (Leviticus 26:8).

Conclusion

God did not leave us defenceless against the forces of darkness, we are encouraged to take hold of the sword of the Spirit ourselves. It is effective both in the realm of the spirit and in correcting things in our heart.

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