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Spiritual Warfare – A Strong Start

As I said in my last post, I’m beginning a series on the spiritual battle that we find ourselves in.  There are a number of things that we misunderstand about it.  Hopefully, I can help to clear up some of these issues.

To start this subject, I want to take us through the history of spiritual warfare, as recorded in Scripture.  To do that, I’m going to look at some verses that people don’t normally associate with this topic.  I just ask you to stick with me; it will become clear as we go along.

The first place I want to take you is to the throne room scene in Heaven.  In the book of Revelation, we see Christ (the Lamb) taking up a scroll that’s sealed with seven seals.  That’s found in Revelation, chapter 5.

I believe that this scroll is the title deed to planet earth.  Christ is given it as a call for Him to return as King since He paid for it with His blood on the cross.

As with any deed, it should record the major events of the property in question.  It would contain the owners, liens, and rights of way that have been enforced during its history.  The deed to earth is no exception.

That being said, in Revelation, chapter 6, we see the Lord breaking these seals and opening the scroll.  What’s recorded on it is very important to our discussion.

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals.  Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!”  I looked, and there before me was a white horse!  Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
Revelation 6:1-2

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of conjecture about this verse.  Some say that it’s talking about Christ, the church, or the devil.  Unfortunately, if you read the description carefully, you’ll find that none of these will match perfectly.

There is one person, however, that fits all the requirements of this verse.  Look at the description.

He carries a bow.  In the ancient world, that was the “first-strike” capability of any army.  The archers could do a lot of damage before the enemy even got close.

He was also given a crown.  That’s talking about God-given authority.  Along with that, he had a destiny to conquer something.  And don’t forget that he rides a white horse – that stands for purity.

With all of these descriptions, I think that the single most important fact is that he’s the first person listed on the title deed to the earth.  As far as I can see, there’s only one person this could be.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Genesis 1:27-28

Here we see the start of it all.  Adam is created perfect, pure, and righteous.  He has authority to rule and is commissioned to subdue, or conquer, the entire earth.  He’s to bring everything on earth under the rulership of God, the Creator.

As the first created human, he’s also in a unique position.  Because of his authority under God, he can protect the earth from any invader.  He has been given “first-strike capability.”

In Adam, the human race was given a strong start.  Things looked very promising.  There’s no enemy that could defeat God’s anointed ruler.  At least that’s what it looked like in the beginning.

In my next post, we’ll see how that turns out.

Question: How are we like Adam, with the authority God has given us in Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Law or Tradition?

In my last post, I talked about the need for everyone to be under our God-given authority.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, this principle applies to all of us.

In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
1 Corinthians 11:11

This is an important point.  We’re all interdependent upon each other.  It’s not a patriarchy.  Men are not only dependent upon men.  We all need each other.

We’re all different.  We have unique giftings, strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.  That’s why the church is more of an organism than an organization.

For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman.  But everything comes from God.
1 Corinthians 11:12

There are no grounds upon which to state that men are more important than women in God’s kingdom.  We may have different roles in the family, but neither gender is a higher order of creation.

We have to realize that we all came from God.  He’s the Creator.  We are His property.  Humans do not belong to other humans – we are never to be seen as objects or property.

That means that in everything, we bow to the will of God.  That even includes the areas of our preferences.  I may prefer a certain style of music in church.  This doesn’t mean that everyone who has another style is wrong, they’re just used to a different culture.

I believe that the Holy Spirit was able to speak through Paul, even though he may not have personally understood what he was writing.

Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?  Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?  For long hair is given to her as a covering.  If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice — nor do the churches of God.
1 Corinthians 11:13-16

Paul was inspired by God to preface this section with the exhortation to judge for yourself.  Then he put his preferences down in the form of questions.  He may have thought that the answers were obvious – and they were within the context of his culture.  What he didn’t realize was that the answers might be different in the various generations and cultures that would carry on the Gospel message.

The phrase, the very nature of things, means the observable way things work, whether it be in nature or society.  If you’re talking nature, there are animals that God gave longer hair to the male than the female – I’m thinking about lions for one.  So other cultures may answer this question differently.

Another point I see is that Paul clearly states that he had no other practice.  That’s a word that means tradition.  To the apostle’s knowledge, there was no other tradition in his society or any of the churches he experienced.

His society had a tradition of long hair and coverings for women.  Consequently, the churches in that culture followed suit.  I don’t believe that these questions that Paul asks constitute a spiritual law for all cultures, generations, and peoples.

The key is that everything comes from God.  He has ownership.  If I acknowledge Him and seek His will and pleasure, then the Lord will lead me down the right paths.

Question: How is the blessing of God based upon Christ’s work and not my appearance?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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An Uncovered Society

There are some segments of Christianity where covering a woman’s head is a big issue.  It all centers around a portion of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

You may want to check 1 Corinthians 11:4-16 before reading the rest of this post.  I’m only going to hit some points that I feel are important for us to understand.

Paul said that a man could pray or prophesy with his head uncovered.  A woman could pray or prophesy with her head covered.  Let me just note here that what the early church called “prophesy”, we would call preaching.  So a woman could publically pray or preach in the early church.

About the head covering…we know that it was, and still is, the Middle Eastern custom for women to have a covering.  It’s a sign that they’re either under their husband’s or their father’s authority.  It was also the custom of ancient Rome.

In that society, a woman with an uncovered and shaved head was a sign that they were a prostitute.  They were publically showing that they were under no one’s authority.

That was the only way of life that the apostle knew.  But the Holy Spirit, in writing the Scripture, went beyond Paul’s limited knowledge.  1 Corinthians 11:6b says that if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.

The word “if” is in the original Greek verse.  Here’s my question – is it a disgrace in our society for a woman to cut or shave her hair?  A quick walk down any street will answer that.  The length of a woman’s hair has no relation to any sign of authority.

Our problem is that we don’t want to deal with the real issue that this section of Scripture is all about.  It’s so much easier to tell a woman to cover her head and think that’s the end of it.  We need to apply this truth – the need for everyone to be under some authority.  In our culture, we try to be fiercely independent of any authority.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Romans 13:1-2

This verse clearly tells us that everyone must submit to authorities.  God has established three authority structures – Family, government, and spiritual.  We have to find our place in each of them.

Under normal circumstances, Christians don’t have too much problem with government or spiritual authority.  It’s the family that we have the most issue with.

There’s a prevailing opinion that you’re under a parent’s authority only as long as you live in their house.  Once you move out, you’re on your own and no longer have to listen to them.  But is that what the Bible teaches?

If we want the blessing of God on our lives, then we need to find the place we fit into under the authorities God has given us.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman; you need to be under authority.

Authority flows from the top (God) down.  I believe that the reason we see so little spiritual authority in our society is that so many have unplugged themselves.

We all need to find and accept the authorities God has placed over us.

Question: Who are the authorities that God has called you to be under?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Men, Women, and Authority

As we continue to study Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we now come to another controversial section.  He begins to talk about men and women in regards to the principle of authority.

I think that so much of our debating and anger over this section comes from both a misunderstanding and a misrepresentation of what Paul is teaching.  We need to see this without any preconceived ideas of what’s being said.

Therefore, I’ll try to stick to the simple statements found in Scripture, rather than my personal perspective.  The key word is “try.”

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
1 Corinthians 11:3

Let me get started by getting everyone mad at me!  This Scripture is a loaded minefield if you’re not willing to take it at face value.  It deals with the issues of authority and submission.

First of all, we’re talking about headship on an individual basis.  Notice that both the word man and woman are singular.  Paul is not saying that all men are the head over all women.

We make submission a very complicated subject.  I’m not going to talk about it much in this post.  I’ll simply give you some homework.  If you do a study of submission, you’ll find that the specific areas in which a woman is told to submit are to her own husband, or to her own father.

Having said that, this verse is saying that the head of a man is Christ.  The head of a woman is a man (either her husband or her father).

Women – Please don’t shut me off just yet!  Wait and see where I’m going with this.

All too often I’ve been flagged down by a husband, dragging his wife along.  He needed to ask me a “Bible question”.

“Pastor Nick, doesn’t the Bible say that the husband is the head of the wife?  Doesn’t she have to submit and do what the husband says?”

Immediately I see a problem in the relationship, and it’s not the wife.  It stems from a total misunderstanding of authority and headship.  Let’s see how Paul explains it.

In the above verse, he makes it clear that even within the Godhead there is headship and authority.  God the Son – Christ – is under the headship of God the Father.  Does that make Christ any less God?  Absolutely not!  He is fully God.

What then is the relationship when it comes to headship?

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
John 5:19

Notice what Jesus said here.  He did not say that He does everything the Father tells him to do.  Instead, He tells us that He does what He sees His Father doing.

The head sets the direction for the body.  In my last post, we saw Paul instructing them to imitate him as he imitated Christ.  This is true in any headship – authority relationship.

In my experience, the relationship of a wife to her husband is usually the same as the husband to Christ.  Godly men who are serving Christ faithfully usually don’t complain about lack of authority in their families.  It’s not about trying to get others to obey me, but about me getting my relationship right with the Lord.

Question: How well do you follow the headship of Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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All for Christ

As we continue through First Corinthians, Paul is teaching the church about human wisdom versus that which is from God.  This is because they had developed factions based upon their favorite teachers.  Paul lets them know that this is a result of worldly thinking.

So then, no more boasting about men!  All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
1 Corinthians 3:21-23

Paul brings us to the bottom line of the discussion.  If you’re truly operating in the wisdom of God, then you will not be boasting about which teacher you like the best.

That’s because we need a multitude of teachers in order to understand the full counsel of God.  It takes a wide variety of personalities, styles, and ministries in order to bring the church to where it should be.

I’d like to think that my teaching has a lot to offer the body of Christ.  However, if I’m the only one you’re listening to, then you have a very poor and imbalanced spiritual diet.

The apostle explains that everyone God places before you has a role to play in your life and development.  They are yours.  They’re a gift from God to help you grow.

It’s not up to us to decide who we want to sit under.  To reject someone that God has sent is to reject the work of the Holy Spirit in you.  I’ve received some great blessings from people who seemed, to me, to be the least qualified.

But Paul doesn’t stop there.  He goes on to lay a foundation for some incredible spiritual truths.  It’s not just teachers that are ours, but other things as well.

We are told in this passage that the present world system is ours.  That’s an important concept to understand.  We’re members of a kingdom that has greater authority than the kingdom of this world.

As believers, we need to walk in this knowledge.  We shouldn’t be trying to live according to the world’s expectations.  Our life is on a higher level.  If we truly understood this, we wouldn’t spend our time trying to get society’s acceptance.

Another thing that’s ours is life and death.  This truth should make us constantly sensitive to God’s plan in us.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 18:21

The Holy Spirit wants us to produce fruit for the kingdom of God.  That involves both the speaking of life and death.  Yes, you heard me correctly; sometimes we need to speak death over things.  It’s clear from reading the book of Acts that the apostles understood and walked in this.

As an example, we had a large New Age school that operated in our town.  It was a hotbed of occultic activity.  During our prayer meetings, we would curse it (not the people, but the organization).

After a few years of this, it was closed.  I believe that this was a direct result of God’s people taking authority over the enemy’s kingdom.

We’re also told that the present and the future are ours.  Where we find ourselves now as well as where we’re headed is in our control.  It all has to do with our submission to the work of God’s Spirit within us.

I can’t complain about where I’m at.  It’s my own choices that brought me here.  It’s by my own choices that I can move on to new levels in Christ.

The most important point of this is that through us, it all belongs to God.  If we lay hold of these things, even though the enemy rules this present world, God is free to move by His Spirit.  As we allow the Lord to work through us, we can see changes in our sphere of influence.

We must be the catalyst of change that God’s called us to be.

Question: How is God calling you to affect your surroundings?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Teachers in Church

In my last post, I mentioned that my anointing is that of a teacher in the body of Christ.  That got me thinking about our view of teaching in the church of today.  I want to take a couple of posts to talk about this.

I believe that a lot of problems we face are directly tied to what we’re being taught.  But let’s start at the beginning.  We really need to understand the importance of teaching from God’s perspective.

As I’ve stated many times in this blog, the form of the New Testament that we use now is not in the order it was given to the church.  Over the years it has been arranged by topics rather than the original order.

While that may make it easier to find certain passages, we sometimes miss out on some important warnings.  For instance, James was the first book to be written, but because it’s placed close to the end, it doesn’t get a lot of priority.

However, when it comes to teaching in the church, James should be the first book we think of.  In its pages, we find the first thing the Holy Spirit revealed about teachers in the body of Christ.  What do you think that is?

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1

Please pay careful attention to the voice of the Spirit.  The first thing He wants you to know about the ministry of a teacher is – that position comes with a stricter judgment.

That’s because the place of a teacher is much more important than most people realize.  Yet in our present church culture, we’ll let anyone teach.  We need so many for Sunday School, Children’s Church, Teens, and Adult classes.

“Everything you need has already been done.  All you have to do is to study the lesson plan at home, and talk about it in class.”

I’m sorry if I’m stereotyping, but here’s what I observe in our present church ministries.  Most teaching is simply passing on what we’ve read or heard from someone else.  We use books, sermons, online tools, and lessons that give us the messages that we, in turn, pass on to those we’re teaching.

That was actually the state of teaching in Israel when Christ came on the scene.  He had a different method.  The Lord only taught those things that He heard from the Father.  What was the response?

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Matthew 7:28-29

The difference was obvious.  He wasn’t simply parroting what someone else was teaching.  He was bringing them a Word from the Father.

That’s where we need to get to in the church today.  We must raise up teachers who walk in the anointing the Holy Spirit.

In my next post, I’ll continue with this important truth.

Question: How should the warning of James work in the life of modern teachers?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2018 in Anointing, Leadership, Ministry, Word of God

 

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Authority and Sonship (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

One of the most important truths in Scripture is the principle of Sonship. We’ve been given this position by adoption into the family of God.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:9-10

I’ve heard many people preach on this verse. For the most part, we take it out of context and miss what it’s really saying. Indeed, we’re told that we have the power to receive answered prayers, to find that which is hidden, and to open doors that seem impenetrable.

But we must ask; what is this authority based upon? If we would just read the next few verses, we’d see that Jesus gives us the guidelines for this type of power.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:11-13

It’s obvious that Jesus is talking about the authority of Sonship in this passage. He tells us that we’re asking for the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that then confers upon us the Spirit of Sonship. Once that’s in place, and I’m walking as a mature son, then I’m free to ask, seek, and knock as led by the Spirit of God.

In many cases, our trouble is that we don’t ask for the Spirit. We want to do it our way. We want what our earthly desires are prompting us to seek for. Then we end up begging God for a snake or a scorpion. It’s no wonder why we don’t get most of what we pray for.

The simple fact is that true authority resides in the correct use of mature sonship. There was another time in Jesus’ ministry when He was talking about being a disciple. He said that if you were truly His disciple, then the truth would set you free.

The religious community – those who continued to rely upon the power of the law – were outraged. “We are sons of Abraham, and have never been a slave to anyone,” they replied.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:34-36

I’m sure that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law had no clue what the Lord was talking about when He said this. To us, however, it should be rich in meaning. The words of Christ tell me that Sonship is a position of freedom.

We’ve been set free because of the authority of Christ. We are no longer under the bondage of sin, the world or the devil. What we need is the maturity to walk in it.

Question: What does it mean to be free in Christ?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2018 in Power of God, Prayer, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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