RSS

Tag Archives: spiritual warfare

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

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Spiritual Warfare – The Gathering Storm

Imagine if you were a general at war with another country.  What if you could control the weather?  What if you could hit their country with a category 5 hurricane the day before your attack?  Do you think it would increase your chances of victory?  Believe it or not, we can operate in this scenario in the spirit.

In my last post, I talked about the cumulative effect that takes place when believers pray in the spirit corporately.  There’s an exponential increase as we come together and pray.

Think about it.  When Jesus walked the earth with His disciples, He limited Himself to the power of one man yielded to the Spirit.  When He prayed, He prayed as a man empowered by the Holy Spirit.  The result of the Lord’s ministry was tremendous.  Yet, when He ascended into heaven there were only between 100 and 200 believers.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Acts 2:1

After Jesus ascended to heaven, He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Gift of the Spirit.  Nobody knew what He was talking about.  Not the disciples, and certainly not the devil or his dark kingdom.

On the day of Pentecost, there were 120 people in the upper room praying expectantly.  I’m not going to show you the math, because that’s boring.  Suffice it to say, that if you calculate it out like the wind equivalent, this small group of believers had about 10,000 times the prayer power of Jesus by Himself.  Why do you think the Bible records the following?

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:2

Something happened that had never happened in the history of the universe.  Satan didn’t see it coming; he had no advance warning.  120 believers aligned their spirits with the Holy Spirit all at the same time.

They generated a “spiritual wind” with a force like never before experienced.  I can just imagine demons blowing in all directions out of Jerusalem!  This is why there was such a great effect on the Day of Pentecost.

Jesus Christ had an incredible effect on Israel.  Those who heard Him said, “no one ever spoke like this man.  We have never heard this much authority.”  Yet, after 3 years of ministry, only 120 still obeyed His instructions.

This is because, during His life, Jesus had to fight the spiritual battle single-handed.  This can still be done.  Even today Christians are finding themselves fighting hand to hand with the kingdom of the enemy.

But, when the demonic influence is blown away first, how much easier the battle becomes.  This is illustrated beautifully in the outcome of the day of Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts.

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 2:41

Think about the implications of this for us today.  If we have 3000 people show up for an event and 120 are saved, we shout the victory.  How about 120 people showing up for the meeting and 3000 being saved?!!!  This is the potential if we as a body of believers send a spiritual attack against the kingdom of the enemy before we do something in the natural.

Please understand this.  That first day of Pentecost took Satan totally by surprise.  Now he’s ready when believers gather for prayer in the spirit.  He instructs his minions to hang on to something while they’re praying.

I ask you then, what’s the devil’s greatest fear?  It’s simply that the church would come together and pray in unity in the spirit.

Question: Why do so few churches have intentional, corporate, prayer in the spirit?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Warfare and Unity

In my last post, I showed how when I pray in the spirit, I align my spirit with the Holy Spirit.  I used the illustration of a fan in a field.  This is an important concept in understanding spiritual warfare in the church.

I’ll now continue with a deeper truth.  It all begins when you come along into this illustration.  Let’s say that we’re together.  I’m praying in the spirit and then you begin to pray in the spirit.  We’re now together praying in the spirit.

At that point, I’m one with the Holy Spirit, and you’re one with that same Holy Spirit.  Our two separate spiritual “winds” are now consumed by the wind of the Holy Spirit.

So as we all come together to pray in the spirit, we create a spirit (or “wind”) of unity.  This is the unity of the spirit.  The incredible truth is that as we pray in the spirit together we align with the Spirit of God AND with each other.

Think about some of the great spiritual movements of recent history.  Moves like what happened at the Azuza Street Mission, in California.  According to the reports, rich and poor, black and white, it made no difference, as people from all backgrounds came together into unity.  This was not achieved by willpower or a decision to agree – but by the Spirit.

More recently, think about the Charismatic renewal.  Denominations that never spoke to each other came together in unity as they prayed together in the spirit.  This could only have been accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I believe that both of these moves of God were orchestrated by Him to bring His church into unity for the end-time harvest.  I also believe that the Lord is going to do it again in the near future, only this time with a church that understands the importance.

There is, however, an even deeper work that the Lord wants to do through corporate prayer in the spirit.  The question is; how does this tie into Spiritual Warfare.  For the answer to this, we need to go back to Ephesians, chapter 6.

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 6:18

Most of us know this section of Scripture pretty well.  It’s in the passage that deals with the Armor of God.  This section literally says to pray in the spirit, sleeplessly watching, and persevere at it.  I always thought that this was an interesting verse, especially since it concluded the section on spiritual warfare.  Keep this in mind.

Now we will go to the book of Jude.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit…
Jude 20 (NKJV)

Jude is telling us to strengthen our inner man by praying in the spirit.  Here’s where it starts to get interesting.  To find the reason for Jude’s writing of this short letter we must go to verse 3.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Jude 1:3

According to Jude’s own words, he started out just wanting to write a light letter of encouragement.  It would have been a short word about the salvation that we all share.  But the Holy Spirit had other plans.

The Spirit of God moved upon Jude to change the course of his writing.  He says that he felt like he had to write about CONTENDINGfighting, struggling, wrestling – for the faith.  It so happens, that Jude uses the same Greek word here that Paul used when he said that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12).

There are also some differences between the two writers.  Paul was writing about contending against spiritual forces.  Jude, on the other hand, was dealing with the struggle against false teachers.  But it’s the similarities that caught me off guard.

Here we see two very different writers talking about the fight of faith.  In both cases, they conclude with PRAY IN THE SPIRIT.  It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that there’s a connection.  Somehow our spiritual struggle requires prayer in the spirit.

Question: Why do we need unity for the fight of faith?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , ,