In the last post “The two important aspects of successful spiritual warfare Pt 1” we looked at a couple of essential ideas for success in spiritual warfare that are often overlooked. They are taken from the often used passage on warfare by the apostle Paul. Eph 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore…
In teachings on spiritual warfare many immediately go to various thoughts about the armor of God but overlook two important features that are essential in conjunction with the armor. The two issues are “be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might” and “stand firm.” Standing firm is mentioned three times in the passage. Standing firm means “To make a stand, to hold, stationary, to hold on, or dig your heels in.” This is a similar idea Peter used in his instruction on warfare with the enemy. Peter uses the phrase “resist him, firm in your faith” which is similar to “standing firm.” 1 Peter 5:8-9 NASB Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (9) But resist him, firm in your faith…
Standing firm or resisting firm in your faith is about holding convictions about our identity and God’s mission without compromise in the face of opposition.
There are always two goals the enemy is trying to accomplish in spiritual warfare.
1. Get us to question identity – Both our identity and/or God’s.
2. From that place of questioning desert or pervert His mission.
Wilderness Temptation (Luke 4:1-13, Matthew, 4:1-11)
The enemy tried this with Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness. The way Jesus responded gives us important examples in standing firm and resisting.
The first temptation: The enemy introduced a question about His identity “if you are the Son of God tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus was hungry after fasting for 40 days. The enemy tried to get Him to question His identity and then elevate a legitimate need above His mission. The temptation was to reduce hearing from God and following His mission to a secondary place. Jesus resisted this by quoting the word of God, Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”
The second temptation: The enemy tried to get Him to choose a shorter and easier road to fulfilling His mission. The devil showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” and offered them to Him. Why did he do this? This was really part of Jesus’ mission. All the kingdoms of the world were destined to become His kingdom Revelation 11:15. Think what he was offering Jesus. He could forgo all the years on earth with the disciples, the opposition of religious people,and the suffering of the cross. He could fulfill it now and not have to endure or suffer.
Over the years I have seen myself and other Christians offered easier paths than the one that God set before them as part of His mission. In those times a cross is offered as well as a way out. One of my crosses years ago was leaving an advancing career in law enforcement, taking a 50% cut in salary, and moving my family into an apartment above an old funeral home in a town 5 hours away. I could have justified avoiding it by rationally thinking “by keeping my current job I can continue to advance and have more influence, more money to tithe, and continued service in a great church.” All good things but not His mission.
Jesus refused to take an easier path and resisted the devil firmly Luke 4:8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'”
The third temptation: The enemy introduced another question to His identity and tried to get Him to prove it by taking an action, “if you are the Son of God throw yourself down from here.” He even added the Bible to the equation, “it is written HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU…”
This is also a common trick. The enemy gets us to question our identity or God’s then tries to get us to prove it by doing something, even a Biblical thing. It is never a good idea to try to prove God’s, or our identity by doing something, even a Biblical thing in or own effort or leading. We are only to move in what God is leading us to do. The motive of proving identity (God’s our ours) is futile when we do it out of our own initiative.
Jesus would have nothing to do with that trick. He again stood firm on God’s word, Luk 4:12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'”
After the temptation the devil departed and waited for a more opportune time to tempt Jesus. Luke 4:13 NASB When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. We must remember that there will always be more temptations and warfare in our future.
Three important points about standing firm in resisting the enemy in spiritual warfare from the temptation in the wilderness.
1. All temptation first tries to get us to question identity, both God’s and ours by the “if, then” rational. If you are this…then. If God is really God…then…
2. The nature of all demonic temptation is to get us to desert or pervert mission. This is done by giving up totally or take an easier or different path than the one God has for us on mission.
3. Resist the enemy by standing on and quoting God’s word. This is part of “resisting him firm in the faith.” It is not just enough to yell at or bind the devil. By firmly declaring God’s word we are reminding ourselves and resisting the demonic by confessing our intension to follow God’s mission with His identity.
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