Are we to live in the spiritual trenches on the defensive, being afraid something we might say or do, or not say or not do, might open the door for the devil in our lives?
Or do we treat the devil as a sometimes nuisance like a buzzing fly, but no real threat to us or our loves ones?
When we do all to stand, and having done all, stand, do we stand from a perspective of having already won, or do we put on that whole armor to do battle against an enemy where our victory is not yet determined?
Back in the days of the Word of Faith (WOF) movement…
…’positive confession’ took center stage. Related to that was being careful (oops, ‘careful’ was one of the banned words) not to say words perceived as negative.
Around 1981 we were saying goodbye to some friends, and made the mistake of saying with a wave, “Take care!” Wow, the wife reacted! You would have thought we had just insulted her mother the way she snapped around and angrily corrected us: “We reject that in the name of Jesus, no devil, we take no cares on us. We are careful for nothing (careful to use the King James English because if it was good enough for Paul, it was good enough for them) Don’t you know saying ‘be careful’ means to take care on yourself? We won’t do that because we don’t want the devil to have an open door into our lives!” Wow. We closed the door having been sternly rebuked.
All we were trying to do was express care for them in their drive home in the dark…we weren’t suggesting they take the cares of the world upon their shoulders. Wow, that was a vivid lesson in two areas – one, to be careful about what we said, (oops, I did it again) and two, there were some people out there really afraid if they made one misstep, the devil could come into their lives and wreak havoc.
Here we are decades later
The belief systems related to saying the right thing and being concerned we might open the door to the devil, not only exists, but is thriving, and has become much more sophisticated.
There is the group that believes in an elaborate court system in heaven, with rules and protocols by which we may present our case. If we do something wrong, then the case could go against us.
There is the group that goes into detail about every demon in charge of everything from nations to regions to cities, and they do battle in prayer against those demons. During the height of the teaching about doing warfare with spirits over cities, one group in Tulsa dressed in army fatigues and rented the 60th floor of a building so they could be closer to the prince of the power of the air.
Do we read in Acts or the letters where Paul or Peter, James, John or Phillip did spiritual warfare over cities they traveled to? Do we see that in Samaria or Ephesus, to call down the evil spirits over those cites? No.
There is also the group(s) that follows their leaders religiously, hanging on their every word, often reading some spiritual sign or threat into everything from the color of the moon to dates on the calendar, all done in defensive mode to see what the devil may do. Does anyone remember when prayer alerts went out when the western calendar turned to 6/6/(0)6?
This stream holds their audience (captives) in rapt attention following every move, for it they don’t tune in to the next service, if they don’t do exactly as they are told, the devil will surely have a door into their lives and bring lack and whatever else he wants.
Fear takes many forms, many ways to manifest as you can see above, and I just mentioned a few ways. But when it comes to ‘religion’,fear puts the burden on us to be on the defensive against the devil.
Some are so addicted to fear, I call it “fear p*rn”. They are both afraid and fascinated, and achieve a spiritual release by the fear p*rn addiction. They can’t stop looking at those sights that wrap their news in fear.
That same fear that makes people afraid of the devil, makes God the adversary.
Some years ago leaders of one ‘stream’ of the faith told their followers if they just gathered enough people together at a conference, they would bring heaven down to earth and cause revival to pour out across the land. They would travel from one city to another in conferences with 3,000 and more people, even filling a stadium or two, and all with the same theme – if we gather enough people we can yell and shout and cry and beg to God the Father to pour out His Spirit to us and for our land.
In the various ‘revivals’ in recent history, yelling and crying and screaming out to God was the normal way for many people. They made God the Father in heaven who refused to hear them, refused to pour out His Spirit to send revival, who had to be cried to, shouted at, coerced, to answer prayer, or send revival.
All those people forgot that Christ lives in their spirit and we are one with Him – there is no need to shout.
Let me interrupt myself right here: If you are at a spiritual place where your Heavenly Father has become your adversary, then whoever you’ve been listening to, whatever you’ve been watching, please run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit. Those people who make the Father or Lord our adversary are not healthy nor balanced.
Let’s look at scripture….
Have you noticed from Acts to Jude, very little is said about the devil? Consider Luke (wrote Acts that covers 30 years), Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude, wrote letters that make up our New Testament over the course of about 70 years, and none of these men have much of anything to say about the devil. There is no letter fully devoted to spiritual warfare. They barely mentioned the devil.
They lived in a time when Christians were being killed just for being Christians. But very little was said about the devil. There was no commentary or instruction about the demons motivating Caesar or local governments to persecute Christians. There were no calls to cast down the spirits controlling Rome.
We have I Peter who writes the most about suffering for the Lord. There are some 15 or 16 references to suffering for the Lord, with a few of those being bringing our flesh into subjection to Christ and the suffering it endures facing discipline (I Peter 4:1), but the rest are about persecution and how to handle oneself. (4:16-19)
Paul mentions ‘this present distress’ in I Corinthians 7: 26, referring to persecution and submitting for their consideration it may not be the best time to get married – if one or both of you may lose your lives to martyrdom.
And in his closing words of his letter to the Ephesians he talks of prayer, how to behave as a parent and employer and employee, and mentions putting on the whole armor of God to stand against the devil.
The other side of that coin…
When Paul mentions in Ephesians 6: 10-18 for us to put on the whole armor of God, he mentions this in the context that he is in prison for his faith – clearly the first meaning of that passage has to do with standing against the devil’s plot to persecute you (v19-20).
The other side of the coin is to consider just whose armor he says to put on. If I say, ‘You can have my coat, here, put it on because its cold outside’, you understand the coat is mine. So when Paul says put on the armor of God, whose armor is it?
The scriptural reference is Isaiah 59: 15-21 which most if not all the original readers would have understood just Whose armor it was. Isaiah is prophesying about a time when those who are good, are accused of being evil. It is a time when doing good makes yourself a prey to evil people.
Isaiah continues in v16 saying the Lord marveled that there was no intercessor and it displeased Him there was no justice, no one to make things right, “So His arm brought salvation, righteousness sustained Him…He put on righteousness as a breastplate, the helmet of salvation was upon His head, His clothing was zeal…”
You see, when Paul said to put on the whole armor of God, the God he was talking about is the Lord Jesus, who was spiritually equipped to fulfill His mission on planet earth (persecuted throughout) – Do you remember when David was given King Saul’s armor with which to face Goliath? Do you remember what he said to Saul: “I cannot wear this, for I have not proven it (in battle).” David took Saul’s armor off and went to the stream to pick up 5 stones to arm himself with the weapon he had proven against the lion and bear. (I Samuel 17: 34-40)
Jesus proved the armor in battle. He successfully brought salvation, and now we are commanded to put on the whole armor of God – it has been proven in battle, it is for us.
But are we in the trenches using this armor, or do we battle like David, knowing we have already won before the fight even begins?
We will pick it up there next week. (This first in the series ran a little long, sorry, shorter next week)
Until then, blessings,