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The Start of Spiritual Warfare

For the past few posts I’ve been talking about the first spiritual battle between Adam and the devil.  We saw that Adam was given all the authority he needed to defeat the enemy.  Instead, he allowed the devil to use words in order to deceive him into disobeying God’s Word.

In that defeat, there were some important changes that happened.  First and foremost, Satan became the legal owner of planet earth and everything in it.  Mankind became slaves.

There was another event that most people don’t realize.  If you remember, Adam was given a bow and arrows as his spiritual weaponry (Revelation 6:1-2).  When he was defeated by the enemy, he was stripped of these weapons.  It’s clear from Scripture that they are now in the enemy’s hands.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:16

This verse is especially important knowing that these arrows originally belonged to Adam.

That tells me that in the garden, when Adam fell, mankind was stripped of all spiritual armor and weapons.  Humanity was defenseless against the spiritual forces of evil.

A third result of Adam’s defeat was the entrance of sin into the world system.  When Adam knowingly chose to disobey God, he picked that which was imperfect.  At that moment he stepped out of God’s perfect will for his life.

In both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible the word, sin, literally means to miss the mark.  Perfection, what we were created for, is the bullseye.  No matter how hard we try, we miss the target.  That’s the word picture of what sin is.  It’s missing the mark of God’s will.

That brings me to the start of the ongoing spiritual war that we find ourselves in.  Our number one battle is not against the enemy, even though that’s a part of it.  The toughest battle we face is within our own being.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Hebrews 12:4

The writer of Hebrews tells us that we’re at war against sin.  It’s that part of human nature that wants to do something other than God’s will.  Our flesh always seems to want to choose the imperfect.

This explains a lot about the Old Testament.  People often ask why there were so many sins that had the death penalty attached.  The answer is simple.  With no spiritual weapons, the only way to fight sin was in the natural.

How do you stop the spirit of adultery from spreading?  Under the Old Testament we would have no way to combat it in the spiritual realm.  The only way to stop the spirit of adultery was to put to death the adulterer.

That also explains why whole nations had to be totally destroyed.  The nation of Amalek, for example, had sold itself out to the enemy.  In that case, their sin had to be eradicated by a physical war.

This is why we have to be careful in how we apply Old Testament Scriptures.  Things have changed since then.  That’s why I feel that God is leading me to talk about the history of spiritual warfare.

We need to understand where we are today.  There are some principles that we can learn from the Old Testament, but our battle is on a different level.

Over the next few posts I hope to explain not only where we’ve come from, but how we can walk in the victory Christ has won for us.

Question: What is your biggest difficulty in your battle against sin?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Giving Ourselves to God

I’ve been posting about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  Paul goes into great detail explaining the importance of His rising from the grave.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58

In the context of this verse, Paul has just told us of the defeat of death and sin.  By rising from the dead, the Lord proved once and for all that they had no hold over Him.

Paul concludes this section by talking about our victory in Christ.  The resurrection is the foundation for our victory in this life.  We know that the victory is ours in Christ, no matter what the situation may look like right at the present moment.

So in this passage, Paul uses the word, therefore.  It’s because we know that Christ is victorious – past, present, and future – that we can give ourselves fully to God.  We already know the outcome, so we can give ourselves willingly.

The problem is that willingly and fully are two very different things.  I can willingly serve God with only part of my life, time, and resources.  The real victory comes when I willingly give all to Christ.

Jesus Christ is returning soon.  The clock is ticking.  God wants to do great things in our generation.  The question is; do I want to be a part of it, or simply watch what happens in the lives of others?

Please understand that this has nothing to do with your abilities.  It has everything to do with your willingness to fully commit your life to God.  The Macedonian churches are a great example of this in the Scripture.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.  Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.  And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.
2 Corinthians 8:3-5

This is one of the most miraculous verses in the Bible.  How can you ever give beyond your ability?  I don’t know, but that’s Paul’s testimony of what they did.

I believe that the key to all this is found in verse 5.  Paul said that they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us.

Your first calling is not to a church or a ministry.  It’s to God Himself.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t commit yourself to a church.  What I am saying is that committing yourself to a church without first giving yourself to God is counter-productive.

It’s only when you first give yourself to God, that you can accomplish something beyond your ability.  That’s when people notice that it’s God working in you.  Only then will God get the glory from your life, and people will be attracted to the Gospel.

Question: How fully committed is your life to God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Final Judgment Fun

After my last post, you may not think that the words “judgment” and “fun” go together.  Trust me.  There is one point in the final judgment that I am absolutely looking forward to.

Do you not know that we will judge angels?  How much more the things of this life!
1 Corinthians 6:3

This one question that Paul asks is the basis for a lot of joy in my life.  Whenever a question starts with, do you not know, it means that you have to ask yourself whether you know it or not.

There are many believers who have no idea that we’ll be seated with Christ on His judgment seat.  (For more details on that, read my last post.)  During this time it’s not just humans who’ll be judged.  Angels will be coming before us as well.

It stands to reason that if an angel served God faithfully, then there would be no reason for them to be judged.  This is only referring to those angels who chose to side with Satan in his rebellion.  So we’re talking here about the judgment of the demonic kingdom.

Why does this make me happy?  Simply put, it’s the ultimate payback.

I can just picture that day.  A big old demon comes before the judge’s seat.  His list of offenses is read.  At that point, a realization dawns on me.

“So you’re the one who gave me that flat tire at the worst possible moment.  It was you who tried to hinder the answer to my prayer that God was sending my way.  And it was you who incited my co-worker to lie about me to my boss.”

I can imagine my joy as I shout out, “Guilty!  Take him away.”

There are times that we look back on our lives.  When we do, it usually centers around people and events that gave us tough challenges.  We don’t typically think of it in terms of a military campaign that’s being played out.

That’s why it’s so important to know the truth about this final judgment.  There will be a military tribunal where all the facts will come out.  We’ll see all the war crimes that have been committed against us and the perpetrators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We know that there will be days when the enemy is giving us a hard time.  Take the opportunity to remind him about the judgment that’s coming.  The annoyances of the enemy will be paid for.

You may even find that a little smile will start to spread across your face.  You might even start praising God in the middle of the struggle.

We need to realize that the enemy’s kingdom is already defeated.  We’re not waiting for the victory.  The war has already been won; we’re simply in the clean-up phase, freeing the prisoners, right before the war trials.

Remember, at this point, the enemy is not trying to defeat you.  He simply wants to annoy or distract you to keep you from completing your mission in Christ.  Don’t let that happen.

Don’t let the problems and challenges of this life rob you of your joy in Christ.  Look to the eternal not the temporary.  Our future with the Lord is something to look forward to with great anticipation.  Keep your eyes on what the Lord has already accomplished in you.

Question: How have you seen the victory of Christ at work in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Thanksgiving and God’s Will

Here in the USA, tomorrow is a holiday devoted to Thanksgiving – at least that was the original intent.  I’ve been meditating on Thanksgiving lately.

I think about the age we’re living in.  I look around at all that’s happening in the society I’m a part of.

Many people seem to have the attitude, “What do I have to be thankful for?”

The truth is that we’ve rewritten history.  If you believe what they teach in most public schools, it started solely from the Pilgrims’ thankfulness to Native Americans for helping them.

That was definitely a big part of the original celebration.  The problem is that we’ve all but erased God from the picture.

The pilgrims arrived at the new world in the winter.  That first year almost half of them died.  Every family lost someone.  Yet, in spite of their hardships, they gave thanks to God for His blessings.

I think about the times we’re living in right now.  The world around us is so uncertain.  People are worried about finances, healthcare, government, crime, terrorists, the weather, and a host of other fears that seem to be hanging over our heads.

Society is on the edge of their seat.  How can we be thankful in a time like this?

But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

As believers, we have the answer in Scripture.  The principle is that He gives us the victory…

That is a comforting thought.  He won the victory and then gives it to us.  How does that work?

It’s all about thankfulness.

…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

The Bible makes it very clear that giving thanks is God’s will.  It doesn’t matter what you’re going through.  You could be facing good or bad situations.  There might even be a cloud of uncertainty looming before you.  It’s always God’s will for us to be thankful.

Notice that He doesn’t say for all things.  He simply wants us to be thankful in all things.  What’s happening around us shouldn’t affect our thankful attitude towards our God.

Remember we’re not moved by the visible.  We must keep our eyes on the eternal.  The ups and downs of society around us are temporary conditions.  Everything is subject to change.

In any situation I find myself in, I can give thanks to God.  When I’m thankful, I know that I’m in the center of the will of God for me.

Be thankful and have a blest Thanksgiving!

Question: What are you thankful for right now?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Caution – Evil Days Ahead

Are you protected enough to face each new day?  In my last post, I began looking at Paul’s letter to the Galatian church.  In this article, we’ll see that the answer to this question was the very reason that this book was written.

I want to see a revival in the church.  It’s obvious from what’s happening around us that we need it.  The real question is; do we want it?  And more than that; are we willing to do what it takes to lay hold of it?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.
Galatians 1:3-5

I used to teach that inanimate things couldn’t be evil or good.  After spending some time studying this verse, I realized that I was wrong.  Things like days and money can be evil.  It’s actually talked about throughout the New Testament.

Maybe you might think that not all days are evil.  After all, there was intense persecution of the church back then.  That was Paul’s day he was talking about.

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

One of the reasons that Christ went to the cross was to rescue us from this present evil age.  That’s the time we live in.   The age he’s talking about stretched from Paul’s day to the time when Christ returns to establish His Kingdom.  If the age is evil, then all the days of that age are evil.

The word, rescue, in the verse from Galatians, means to choose or select one person out of a group of people.  God is choosing us for Himself out of the world system.  But we need to understand the times.

We live in evil days.  Paul also talked about this in regard to the armor of God.

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 6:13

We need to be constantly walking in the spiritual armor.  This is our protection from the evil age.  This is not an option or something that only needs to be done once in a while.

Jesus went to the cross to provide us with more than just a one-time salvation.  His work is ongoing in our lives.  He provided us with the armor we need to rescue us from this present evil age.  We don’t need to be affected by it.

When will the evil day come?  Every time you wake up in the morning.  That’s why God’s armor is so important.  The evil day is not on its way, it’s here.

As God’s people, we should be prepared for what’s ahead.  We’re the ones who should be walking in victory over the challenges that face the world around us.

We need to spend time in the presence of the Lord.  That’s where our strength is.  In Him and in the power of the Holy Spirit, I have everything I need to face the evil days ahead of me.

How else could I walk in victory?  If every day is evil, then in Christ every day is a victory through Him who gives me strength.

Question: How does this evil age manifest itself in our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Is Your Faith Known?

In my last post, I talked about the need for a faith-coach. In sports, coaches are needed to overcome the challenges that an athlete faces during their competition. I believe it’s the same in our Christian walk. It’s how we’ve been coached that gets us through our challenges.

Paul tells the Thessalonian church the reason he was sending Timothy to coach them…

…so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
1 Thessalonians 3:3-5

First of all, let me say that I’m not particularly thrilled with this passage. Paul makes it clear that it’s an undeniable fact of life that we will certainly face trials. Both of the words he uses – trials and persecution – mean pressure, narrow spaces, and challenges.

The Good News is not that we have an easy life with Christ. Instead, the Lord strengthens us to overcome in all of our trials.

This is why Paul wants them to be coached. In our trials, we should never be unsettled. That word literally means to wag – like a dog wags his tail.

Too often we, as Christians, end up simply reacting to our trials. We don’t expect them. Worse than that, we don’t know how to correctly operate in faith to walk through them. God has a better way for us. Listen to what He said to Israel when He taught them the law.

The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
Deuteronomy 28:13

The Lord never wants us to be wagged – to simply react – to the challenges of life. We have been given the Holy Spirit so that we can be ready for anything that comes our way. By watching others overcome, we can be equipped for the same victories.

Unfortunately, many refuse God’s mentoring system. They end up learning to overcome by trial and error. Personally, I want to know the strategy before I enter the heat of battle.

Back in the verse from Thessalonians, Paul said that he wanted to find out about their faith – literally he wanted to know their faith. The fact is, that true faith can be seen and known by those around you.

Trials and challenges – the pressures of life – serve an important purpose. They come so that the faith that you have on the inside can become evident on the outside.

Listen to how Peter describes the result of trials in our lives.

These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:7

Do what needs to be done in order to prepare your faith. Then when the trials come, as you know they will, Christ will be revealed in you.

Question: How has watching other believers prepared you for your trials?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Resistance is not Futile

I’m continuing to post from the book of James. He’s been telling us about how to humble ourselves before the Lord. This is important, especially when confronted by the enemy.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

Causing the devil to run away sounds great. But I’ve had people come to me and tell me, “I tried resisting and the enemy kept pestering me. This verse doesn’t work.”

Things like that happen because we take things out of context. The enemy doesn’t flee simply because you resist. There’s more going on in this verse that you need to apply.

The first thing James says is for us to submit ourselves to God. That word, submit, means to place under. Its usage is like what happens in the military when a soldier takes his orders from a superior officer.

When we find our place in the kingdom of God, under submission to Christ – our Commander in Chief – we can then resist effectively. The devil flees because heaven is backing me up, not because I’m resisting on my own.

The Apostle Paul tells us pretty much the same thing.

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 6:13

The word stand in this verse is the same word as resist that James used. We need to stand our ground and resist the devil. We’re told that if we do this, in submission to the Lord, the enemy will flee. But I’ve found that it’s the time frame between the resisting and the fleeing that gives us the most problem.

Why would the devil ever flee from us? After all, we’re not that strong compared to him.

This is a great lesson that the church needs to hear. So many people give up when things get hard. Some of us are under the impression that working for God should be all hearts and flowers.

Why then does Paul use the analogy of a warrior, fully armed, and dressed for battle? The fact is that there are spiritual forces that don’t want us to succeed in our service to the Lord. The victory comes from knowing that it’s the Holy Spirit giving you strength, and not giving up.

We need to learn how to stand in the center of opposition. The ancient Romans knew how to do this. It was the secret to the success of their army. Each of the Roman soldiers was taught how to defend a 3-foot square of ground from an invading army. When they fought together, there was no way to break through their lines.

We need to get it into our heads that the only way to victory is to move forward in the Lord. Backing up WILL NOT get you out of the battle. It will only make you have to fight to regain that ground later.

But the thing about this verse that gives me the most trouble is when Paul says, “when the day of evil comes.” Not “if”, not “there might come a time when problems arise”. He tells us in a straight forward way that this day is coming whether you’re ready or not. So the best thing to do is prepare now.

The word that both James and Paul used for stand literally means to stand in opposition to. We must be prepared for the enemy to oppose us.

The phrase after you have done everything actually translates after you have fully accomplished your work. When you have done everything you were assigned to do by the Lord, then it’s time for the Holy Spirit to take over. One thing I’m certain about. The enemy is no match for the God I serve!

So, being forewarned with the knowledge that the day of evil is coming, we need to be ready. We must be fully armed and prepared to stand our ground in Christ. Then we will see the victory of God manifest in our situation.

Question: What are you going through right now that will require you to stand your ground?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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