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Spiritual Warfare – It’s Bigger than Me

I’m posting about the spiritual battle that we have to contend with as believers.  I’m using Christ as our example.  In my last post, I talked about the devil attacking who we are in Christ.  The next attack is more subtle.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Matthew 4:5-6

Remember that I said it’s not about mindlessly quoting the Bible.  That doesn’t bring about the victory.  In this verse, we see the reason for that.  The devil has the Bible memorized.  He can quote it better than we can sometimes.

What is this attack?  By using the Bible, Satan is trying to attack the church.  He wants to go through you to bring down other believers.

If you’re a warrior, then the enemy needs to bring you down so that he can attack the church. That’s what the verse meant that said that the battle entails persistency and petition around all the saints. (Ephesians 6:17-18)

Other Christians aren’t really watching the battle.  Many times they’re off in “praise land,” never realizing that they’re being protected.  There are those whose ministry is interceding for them – protecting them.

Why would the devil have told Christ to jump from the temple?  The angels would have protected Him and it would have fulfilled a prophecy from Malachi.

“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
Malachi 3:1

Had He jumped off the roof, Christ would have appeared suddenly in the Temple.  The people would have flocked to Him.  But what would they be following?  In a word – sensationalism.

God doesn’t want us following the spectacular.

“He’s on TV, he must be spiritual.”

This attack asks; am I going to build God’s kingdom?  Am I going to protect God’s people?  Or am I going to live for self?  This attack happens after a victory in another area.  I’ve overcome the temptation to sin, now I want the fame, recognition, and money that I deserve.

This attack is all about whether I want to advance myself or God’s kingdom.  Many choose to exalt themselves.  The body of Christ is not a place for self-advancement.  It’s got to be the Lord who exalts us.  Christ’s answer to this attack was simple.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Matthew 4:7

This is making God the focus of our examination.  The fact is, God doesn’t have to prove He’s going to bless me before I serve Him.  I obey Him because He’s God.  He’s done so much for me already; the Lord has nothing He needs to prove to me.

It’s when we need something more than what Christ has already provided that we fall victim to this trap.  Instead of testing God, our goal should be simply to hear and obey Him.

Question: What are some of the things we chase after that are unneeded in our Christian walk?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spiritual Warfare – Battle Tested

I’m taking a few posts to talk about the example Christ is to us as we fight this spiritual battle.  I believe that the church needs to develop a warrior mentality.  In the natural world, soldiers don’t live with civilians.  They live set apart, and they see themselves as set apart.

By looking at the example of Christ, we can see what this battle is all about.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1

In my last post, we saw that we’re to fight this spiritual battle with all persistency and petition around all the saints.  The fight is not in the center of the saints where the “praise party” is going on.  It’s on the edges – in the prayer closet – in the private places.

Notice that Jesus was not in the city or with His disciples when the devil attacked.  It was in the place of prayer and fasting.  That’s the true place of warfare.

So often I’ve heard worship leaders, in the midst of a great time of praise and worship, proclaim, “We’ve got the enemy on the run!”  Far from it.  During those times the church is in the mess hall, far from the battle.  Warfare occurs when we’re in private.

The Scripture is clear that Jesus was tempted by the devil.  It’s important to know what this means.  We think of tempting as Satan trying to get us to fail.  The actual Greek word means a test, proof, or examination.

The temptation is merely asking, “Are you the real thing?”  When you pick up the shield of faith, are you for real?  Are you just repeating something you heard, or does it come from your heart?

This is important for believers to understand. Whenever we grasp a new concept in Christ it must be added to our faith. It can’t simply be something we give lip service to.  We have to be willing to live it out.

The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:3-4

We need to see that the first attack is personal.  Who are you in Christ?  Are you going to cater to your flesh or to the spirit?

This is why you need your helmet and sword.  You have to walk in the authority of your position in Christ.  You must understand the power of the Word of God in you.  That’s the only thing that will counter this attack.

That’s why you need to know who you are in Christ.  What’s your calling in the kingdom of God?  The battle is all about who you’re going to trust for your needs.  Of course, that means we know the difference between wants and needs.

Jesus could have answered “Yes” to the devil’s challenge.  The question is; where did the Lord’s response come from?  Was it the Bible that said “no”?  Was Jesus merely quoting Scripture?

No, this came up from His Spirit.  It was the overflow of a heart that was full of God’s Word.  That’s where we get the strength for overcoming the enemy’s schemes.

The fact is the Word is more important than bread.  We have to come to grips with this.  What’s the Word more important than in your life?  It might not be a bad thing that you have to push aside in place of the Word of God to you.  It’s this response from our heart that proves we’re the “real thing” during the times of testing.

Question: How have you been tested lately?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Don’t Let Go

SwordI’ve been sharing about David’s mighty men from the Old Testament. They’re an example to us of the warrior spirit that we need in order to fight our spiritual battle.

The next person I want to talk about is a man named Eleazar.

Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
2 Samuel 23:9-10

Apparently there was a time when David’s army started making fun of the Philistines. Israel decided that it wasn’t a good idea to provoke them and they took off. David and his men stayed. In the course of the battle, Eleazar’s hand froze to his sword.

Think about what happens in the body of Christ today. It’s easy to taunt the enemy while we’re safe in church with other believers. What about in the middle of the attack when we’re on our own?

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:17

We’ve been given the most powerful spiritual weapon anyone can use – the Word of God. It’s the sword we need to defeat the enemy. Does your hand freeze to the sword in the spiritual struggle?

Remember the early church. At one point they were commanded not to speak in Jesus’ name anymore. What did they do? Run and hide? Did they compromise to as not to offend?

They had a prayer meeting, praying in the spirit.

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4:31

The middle of the battle is when you cling more tightly to the sword. Only then can the victory be assured.

You need to realize that I’m not just talking about reading the Bible. Even though that’s important to our spiritual growth, it’s the Word we hear from God in our prayer time that makes the difference. Even David understood this.

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
Psalms 138:3

There’s a boldness that only comes when we’ve heard God’s voice speaking to us. Then we know that there’s no weapon that can defeat us. It’s time for the church to press in and hear from Heaven. Then we must walk in obedience to the Lord’s will.

Question: When have you been made bold as a result of being in prayer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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Bears

1 Peter 5:8
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I have learned many valuable spiritual lessons as I have been hiking.  One of those lessons has to do with bears.

I praise God that I live on the East Coast.  When I hike, I don’t have to contend with grizzly, Kodiak, or polar bears.  Only cute, little (comparatively), vegetarian, black bears.  Well, as many people are aware of, even black bears can be nuisances.  Usually it’s the fault of a human.  When we leave our food and trash out, we encourage them to hang around.  They will then prowl around looking for something to devour.  Hmm…sounds familiar.

A lot of the time we encourage the enemy to attack us.  We do it by trying to live in both kingdoms.  We try to get God’s blessing using the world’s methods.  Or we try to use God’s power to satisfy our lust for material gain.  These things signal the enemy to hang around hoping for a free handout.

It is time for us to “clean up our camp.”  Seek God today.  Is there anything that needs to be put back in order in your life?  Christ will give you the wisdom, strength, and courage you need to overcome in this area.  Turn it over to Him.  Don’t give the enemy a free handout.  Use this time to take back any foothold that you have given him in your life.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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The Unseen Battle

Ephesians 6:12 – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
(NIV)

It would be so much easier if I could see my enemy.  The fact is that there is no group that you can point to and say, “They are the enemy.”  People and organizations are not the enemy.

We want to blame someone.  “It’s their fault.”  That’s not the attitude we should have.  It is clear from Scripture that the enemy is unseen.  There is a whole spiritual world that is just out of reach to our five senses.  It cannot be felt or touched, yet it is just as real.

We also need to realize that this unseen world is organized.  Actually it is more organized than the church.  The enemy knows that the battle for souls goes on 24/7.  We like to take breaks and holidays from the struggle.  We think that because we did something special for God today, we can take the next few days off – “let our hair down” for a while.  I believe that’s why the church in America seems to be so ineffective for the most part.

It is time for God’s people to take this unseen battle seriously.  We need to begin living our faith the way God intended us to.  We need to lift up the Word of God as an offensive weapon against the darkness of this age.  It is time for the light of Christ to shine through us to set the captives free.

Be a part of God’s victorious church.  Arm yourself for the unseen battle through prayer and the Word.  It is time to strike fear into the heart of the true enemy – the unseen kingdom of darkness.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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The Big Gulp

Do you feel like a victim, like you’re the target practice for the world?  That’s not God’s plan for you.

1 Peter 5:8 – Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
(NIV)

This verse gives us some insight into the strategy of our spiritual enemy.  He hunts like a “roaring lion”.  Lions are interesting hunters.  Normally they are absolutely silent.  You don’t see them until they are literally on top of you.  A roaring lion is one who has gotten too old for that kind of hunting.  He has lost some of his teeth.  Younger lions move out in front of the prey, while the old toothless lion roars, and scares the prey so that they run right into the trap set by the younger ones.

This older lion then lets the young ones rip the prey apart, then eats the carved up pieces.  That word devour, literally means to gulp down in one bite.  The roaring lion is not looking for a fight.  He doesn’t want to go one on one with the prey.  All he wants to do is scare it into a trap.

This should speak volumes to us.  Are you an easy prey for the devil?  Do you run at the first sign of his attack?  He is looking for someone with a victim mentality.  The last person the devil wants to deal with is a Christian fully armed and standing on God’s Word.

Don’t just roll over and play dead.  You are not the world’s doormat.  You are meant to be victorious in Christ.  Be strong in the Lord.  Let the power of the Holy Spirit work in you.  Stay in prayer and in the Word so that you are spiritually self-controlled and alert.  Then you will not become the devil’s punching bag.  Instead you can go on the offensive and free the oppressed from their bondage to sin.  Be that champion God has called you to be!

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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