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Spiritual Warfare – The Final Challenge

This will be my last post in the series about spiritual warfare.  I’m looking at Christ as our example.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Matthew 4:8-9

This was probably the greatest attack the enemy could have aimed at the Lord.  Jesus knew that God’s plan called Him to buy the world with His blood on the cross.  This would be an easy way out of that suffering.  But if He took the deal He would have lost it all.

It’s clear that the final attack is aimed at the world.  Why the world?  Remember the goal…our goal is not personal comfort or the safety of the church.  What we’re fighting for is to set the captives free.

That’s why we pick up the shield and advance forward toward the enemy’s camp.  It’s to save souls.

The battle must go from personal to the kingdom.  What I talked about in my last two posts was just a defensive battle.  Now you’re at hell’s gates.  Now you’re taking something from the enemy.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Matthew 4:10

Jesus saw through the devil’s deception.  It was all about worship.  The Lord was being tempted to pay homage to the ruler of the world.

We fall into that trap when we decide that we want to impress the world.  You can’t do both; you can’t impress them and free them at the same time.

We are here to impose God’s freedom on the enemy’s kingdom.  But we lack understanding if we think it’s like opening up a jail or a prison camp.  It’s not like that.  It’s more like an opium den.  The people we’re trying to set free are all addicts to sin, just like you and I were.  It’s destroying them, but they don’t want freedom.

By the power of God, the church is out to break down the strongholds of the enemy.  In the eyes of the world, it’s like we’re removing their supply of drugs.  It’s the sin they’re addicted to that we’re attacking.  That’s why we’re so hated much of the time.

But that’s why we’re in the battle.  It’s to save lives.  The real question of all this is; are you willing?  Are you ready and able to go to spiritual war?  This generation of America is at stake.

The Lord is looking for the faithful.  He’s calling to assemble His army.  You’re needed on the front lines.

Question: What role do you play in this war to set the captives free from their bondage to sin?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Warfare – The Personal Struggle

In many instances in the Scripture, our personal spiritual walk is described as a battle.  Light vs. darkness; Heaven vs. hell; good vs. evil.  We need to know how to live with this truth.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:17-18

In this verse, Paul is talking about the authority and power of God.  He wants to work these through us.  There’s a battle raging on the earth right now.  Unfortunately, many don’t even care about it.  Do you?

The last sentence of this quote is very important.  It literally says, attending to this with all persistency and petition around all the saints.  The emphasis is that this is encompassing all the saints.

The battle is all around you whether you want it or not.  That’s why the apostle uses such strong language in his exhortation.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

Think about the church today.  Picture the body of believers as an army standing before hell’s gates.  Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church.  The question is; are we that victorious church that the Lord was talking about?

We should be, and in some areas, there are local churches that have the enemy on the run.  But that’s not the case everywhere.  Are all the believers in their spiritual armor?  Are all believers even willing to fight this spiritual battle?  I don’t think so.

What about the enemy’s kingdom?  Are they ready?  Absolutely.  They understand what’s at stake and they’re in it for the long haul.  They won’t give in without a fight.

Right now the arrows of the enemy are flying all around us.  If you remember, I’ve said that arrows are the first strike weapon.  The truth is that you don’t have to be in the fight to be hit by an arrow.  That’s why believers are encouraged to take the spiritual armor seriously.

How do you take the stronghold from the enemy?  First, you put on the armor and pick up your shield.  Behind the gates are the prisoners that need to be set free.

Understand this, as you approach the gates the fight goes from general to personal.  It gets to the point where it’s one on one.

Paul is not talking to all believers in this letter, but to the faithful.  That’s who I’m talking to as well.  The believers who want to make a difference in the world around them.

For the next few posts, I want to talk about this personal spiritual battle that we face on a daily basis.  I’ll use Christ as our example of how to live an overcoming lifestyle.

Question: How is your life affected by the spiritual battle?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Warfare – Victory Prayer

I’ve been posting about the connection between prayer in the spirit, unity, and the fight of faith.  Did you know that they all go hand in hand?

Today we’ll look at another place in Scripture where we’re told to contend for the faith.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.
Philippians 1:27

I’ve read through this verse many times.  After careful study, I’ve developed a very different take on this passage.  When I read it now, it sounds to me like an army general giving a final speech to his troops on the eve of battle.

Listen to what Paul says.  Stand firm in ONE SPIRIT.  Contend as ONE MAN for the faith.  How can this be done in the natural?

We now know that it can’t, it must be a work of the spirit.  We must pray in the heavenly gift together, and so line up our spirits with each other and with the Holy Spirit.  Only then can we stand firm in one “spiritual wind”.

It’s without a doubt that prayer in the spirit unifies the church for war.  This gift is the unifying factor in the body of Christ.  There is, however, a deeper reason for using prayer in the spirit as a part of our warfare.  I found this, of all places, while watching the Weather Channel.

They were airing a special about wind.  Scientifically, the wind is simply air molecules in motion.  They talked about everything from light winds to severe winds.

You would think that a 40 MPH wind is twice as strong, does twice the damage of a 20 MPH wind.  So did I, and I was wrong.  The effect of wind on its environment is an exponential increase as the speed increases.

This means that because of the nature of wind, a 40 MPH wind is actually ten times the strength and effect of a 20 MPH wind.  Take hurricanes for example.  A Category 1 hurricane, the weakest, is about 75 MPH.  The strongest, a Category 5, is about 135 MPH.  Even though it has twice the wind speed, a Category 5 hurricane does ten times the damage of a Category 1.

What does any of this have to do with prayer in the spirit?  Well, all of this talk about the exponential increase of wind should remind you of a spiritual truth.

How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up?  For their rock is not like our Rock, as even our enemies concede.
Deuteronomy 32:30-31

We usually quote this by saying, “one can put a thousand to flight and two shall put ten thousand to flight.”  Whether you know it or not this verse is speaking about the exponential increase of the move of the Spirit of God.

The truth we need to learn is that prayer in the spirit has an exponential effect on the object of that prayer.  This is the true power of corporate prayer in the spirit.

Question: Why is the power of corporate prayer in the spirit largely untapped in our generation?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Warfare – The Need for Unity

I’m continuing to post about spiritual warfare.   It should be obvious that this type of battle takes place in the spiritual realm.  To understand it, we need to grasp life in the spirit.

One of the most common word pictures for the spirit is the wind.  As a matter of fact, both the Hebrew and Greek words for spirit are the English word, wind.

The only way that a translator knows whether to use “spirit” or “wind” is by the context in which it’s used.  The wind is a powerful picture of how our spirits operate in conjunction with the Spirit of God.

When you speak about wind, it implies motion.  Motion is determined by speed and direction.  We need to understand this aspect of the Spirit if we’re to talk about how to wage war in the spirit.

If you remember, I talked about the fact that a war is nation against nation.  That means this warfare is conducted by the body of Christ.  For any type of warfare, a kingdom must fight in unity.  It’s no different for the church.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

In order to grasp this, we must first define some terms in the Scripture that are commonly misunderstood.  What we must understand is that there’s a big difference between unity and agreement.

Most Christians use these two terms interchangeably.  Actually, they’re two very different truths.  So, we must ask ourselves what’s the difference between unity and agreement?

The Word of God is clear that agreement is when we think and believe the same way.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 18:19

In this verse, the Greek word that’s translated, agree, is sumphoneo.  It’s where we get our English word symphony.  It literally means to sound together.

You agree on the facts, so you speak the same thing.  This means that if I believe Jesus is Healer, and you believe Jesus is Healer, we’ll sound the same when we speak.  In that case, we’re in agreement.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10

In this passage, Paul makes it very clear.  Our agreement involves mind and thought.  These are functions of our soul.  If we believe the same thing, then we’ll also speak the same.  This is agreement – our thinking and our speaking.

Unity is a whole different thing.  Let’s look at the verse from Ephesians again.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

In the same way, that agreement is a function of our soul, unity is a function of our spirits.  What we need to realize is that we’ve already been made one in Christ.  It’s now our job to keep or guard the unity of the spirit.

In the Greek, the phrase, make every effort, means to use prompt and earnest effort.  This tells me that it requires work on our part.  There’s something we need to do.  In order to keep this unity, it will require the “wind power” of the spirit.

In the next couple of posts, I’ll share how the power of the spirit brings unity in the church and havoc on the enemy’s kingdom.

Question: Why do you think that it’s so hard for churches to come into unity and agreement?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2020 in Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare, The Church

 

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Our Victory is in Christ

Now that we’ve seen the war against the flesh and the world, we’ll move on to the final battle.  We’re in a war against the spiritual forces of the kingdom of Satan.

As I’ve already written about, the people around us are not the enemy.  They’re prisoners of war in the spiritual battle.  They’re being held captive by the world system under the control of the devil.

It’s up to us, God’s people, to set them free and bring them to the cross.  That’s where they can find true salvation for their souls.

In order for that to happen, there are some things that we need to understand.  We can’t go into this battle with only half the information.

The first thing that we have to realize is that Christ has already won the war.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:15

Jesus Christ has once and for all won the victory over all the power of the enemy kingdom.  However, that doesn’t mean that the fighting has stopped.

Just like in WWII, when the Axis powers collapsed, the Allied forces had to mop up the remaining troops.  They had to enter the concentration camps and free the surviving prisoners.  That’s where we are in the spiritual war today.

The trouble is that even in defeat, the enemy is dangerous.  He wants as few people as possible to be set free by the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Just how do we thwart the devil’s plans?  The Lord already took care of this.  Look at what Christ said to His followers.

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
Luke 10:19

The same power over the enemy that the Lord walked in has been conferred upon us.  We have authority over the enemy’s kingdom.  Of course, the devil would like that to remain a carefully guarded secret.

As long as we look to the future for our victory, we’ll never see the enemy kingdom back down.  We must learn to walk in the authority of Christ that we’ve already been given.

We need to see a God’s-eye-view of the spiritual war.

“…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades [Hell] will not overcome it.”
Matthew 16:18b

We have to come to the realization that the gates of Hell don’t move.  They don’t attack the church.  These gates are fixed around what the enemy already possesses and he’s trying to keep hold of.

The gates of Hell are around our centers of education.  They surround our political systems.  They’re also around our entertainment industry.

What we need to see is that it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.  The gates of Hell – all the power of the enemy – cannot withstand an attack by God’s people walking in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Too often we try to infiltrate these areas of society using the rules of the world.  That’s why we only achieve limited success.  We need to learn to take this battle into the spiritual realm.

I’m going to take a few posts to talk about what God has given us in order to walk in the victory that Christ has already won for us.

Question: What are the spiritual battles that you’re facing right now?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The World at War

I’ve been talking about the spiritual war that we find ourselves in.  The first battleground was internal.  It’s the war against the flesh.  Having talked about that for a few posts, I now want to move on to the next area of conflict.

…for everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:4

Our next area of struggle is against the world.  But, just saying that means different things to different people.  Before I can talk about this battle, I need to explain what exactly is meant by the world.

The word that’s translated, world, is usually the Greek word, cosmos.  This word is NOT talking about the planet earth.

As a matter of fact, we’re not even talking about the people on the earth.  The Bible is clear that our fight is not against fellow human beings.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…
Ephesians 6:12a

As Christians, we can’t look at any group of people and label them the enemy.  Many believers are against certain groups.  Let me be clear.  According to Scripture, abortionists, the LGBT community, Democrats and Republicans are NOT our enemies.

We need to understand clearly that the world we struggle against is not the people around us.  Then what does the Bible mean by the world?

The Greek word, cosmos, is about the world system.  It’s the way the world operates.  It’s how the people of the earth relate to each other.  It’s how they go about pursuing life and happiness.  It’s how our society works.

The problem with this world system is that it’s broken.  It was messed up when Adam and Eve fell from grace.

We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
1 John 5:19

When Adam fell, control of the system passed into the hands of the devil.  He now sets the rules for how society operates.

That’s why many get frustrated by the outcomes of certain situations.  It’s not about what’s fair or right or just.  In most cases, things turn out according to the agenda set by the devil.

If that’s the case, then where does mankind fit into the equation?

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Galatians 3:22

Our society operates according to the rules set by the enemy.  The people in this system try to live the best that they can as they follow those rules.  In effect, they’re prisoners of this system.  It’s a system where sin, missing the mark of perfection, is the main goal.

That’s the place that we find ourselves as believers.  We’re in this system.  But, the Good News is that we’re not a part of the system.  In Christ, we’re not subject to the same rules and constraints as the rest of the population.

Over the next few posts, I’ll explain how our victory over the world system works.

Question: How do you see this world system working in the lives of those around you?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2020 in Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Attacking the Flesh in Water Baptism

I’m posting about our spiritual battle against the flesh – our old man.  In my last article, I talked about defending your mind against the attacks of the sin nature.  Now we want to go on the offensive.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

We can’t live our whole life playing defense against sin.  According to Paul, the first thing we should be taught is how to put off the old self. Take the war to him.  We need to start seeing some forward momentum.

Paul wrote a lot about this subject. It’s from his writings that we can learn how to overcome the flesh. It’s in Romans, chapter 6, that he begins dealing with the subject of sin. He tells us that it’s the grace of God that covers our sins.

Paul goes on to ask a question that may sound a little foolish, but it’s one we deal with all the time. Should we sin more in order to get more grace? Obviously not. But he uses the following argument.

By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Romans 6:2-3

Here is a truth – in Christ we’ve died to sin. In the waters of baptism, we’ve identified ourselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. So, we shouldn’t want to live according to our old life. But by the very question he asks, he implies that it’s possible to live in sin even though we died to it. How can we get the victory over this sin?

It all starts with our water baptism. This is where we identify with Christ. This is where we begin the process of removing the old man. Peter agrees with Paul’s assessment.

…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…
1 Peter 3:21

The word pledge in the above verse means asking, desire, or demand. When we allow ourselves to be baptized in water, we are placing a demand on God for a good conscience. Because we desire to live rightly before Him, we take this step. It’s how we start down the road to remove the old sin nature.

By faith, we see our old self dead and buried under that waters of baptism.  That’s got to be our attitude.  When we rise out of the water, by faith we assume that our old flesh stays under.

This is the first battle in a major campaign against the flesh.  It’s also a major victory.  By your act of obedience, you’ve placed a demand on God, and He completed the work.

Romans chapter 6 continues this thought. The first 10 verses describe our identification with Christ through water baptism. Then, in verse 11, Paul brings out the next step in the process.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

The words, in the same way, let us know that this is a new truth. You were baptized, and by faith identified with the death of Christ. In the same way that you trusted God for this, now go on to the next step of faith. I’ll talk about that step in my next post.

Questions: Were you baptized in water?  How was your faith released during your water baptism?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2020 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

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