Those of you who know or have known me for a while know that I love the Epistle of 1 John and most especially chapter four. My whole ministry for the most part, ever since I was much younger has been based on his writings about our Love relationship with God our Father. Combined with what Jesus stated with authority are the two greatest commandments, these have been the foundation of the work and service I have tried accomplish in my calling from the Lord.
I haven’t always been successful, after all, I’m a man! (Meaning still flawed!) But, I am a forgiven man and a man who recognizes from where my redemption lies and though it has taken a willingness to surrender my will to His Greater Will, it has taken practice, and more practice, of faith.
The Apostle stated it best in Romans 7:18-25, 8:1-2, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
But still, within me is the desire to love all of Almighty God’s creation with a Godly love, impossible in the flesh, but fully possible in the Spirit. EXCEPT, the spirit of man can cause the flesh of man to act and true love, real loving of others is revealed not in the spirit of man at the seat of emotion, but in the flesh of man in his actions. You have seen me teach along these lines so many times before. God loved mankind through His actions on our behalf. Jesus was the most perfect example of that!
So with Godly love being the main foundation of my ministry I have not given a lot of time to the teaching of spiritual warfare in the offensive. From time to time I hear or read of others who seem to teach spiritual warfare as a way of life. I have given it much thought as of late and mainly because of the way that the world “system” seems to be going; which of course has been prophesied from the beginning.
The thing with a lot of teachings on spiritual warfare, though it starts out attempting to be spiritual, it always seems to descend to the flesh for how can we war in the spirit when we ARE flesh? Usually those that become the brunt of our spiritual battle plans are flesh themselves and they rarely if ever experience the Godly love that Christ Jesus commands to be shown to our “neighbors.”
If you have been serving the Lord for any length of time, you all know these familiar Scriptures;
Ephesians 6:10-12, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” is the major key. A lot of teachers rely on the first part about a Christian’s armor. I am not saying it isn’t important, for it is and we will get into that, but you have to know who or what your enemy is before you can even begin to fight.
But you might be saying, “I know what it is, it’s easy, it’s SIN!”
Well, yes, but remember, if we are Christians, we have been baptized in the Blood of Christ Jesus and have died to self with Him. We are dead to sin. So then, even though temptations are ever present, sin is not the real enemy. If we sin, it is because despite our freedom from it, we choose to act on the temptation. But, we still have a Living Advocate who stands before the Father on our behalf.
You see, when we attack sin, we are attacking the person who is sinning, whether it be ourselves with guilt (a tool of the enemy) rather than remorse or another who may have either fallen into temptation or one who has not been “baptized in Jesus’ death and resurrection.” We don’t mean to attack the person, but as a common theme is often stated to justify attacks, you can’t get away from it; “you hate the sin, but love the sinner!” We have all heard it time and time again. But how do you “attack” the sin without wounding the Creator’s creation? Believe me when I tell you that I have asked the Lord this question over and over and over again. I have heard many who are much smarter than I who have exhorted this theme. Yet I have still witnessed hurt and even more importantly the lost attention of the one being “witnessed” too!
Yet, true again, we have to acknowledge sin as the cause of our initial fallen nature and we have to acknowledge that God, our Heavenly Father in truth hates sin. But we have the Bible and we have so many examples of how Jesus taught on sin from the Biblical accounts that there should be no problem. Jesus dealt with the hopes of Heaven and what it takes to get there and it all starts with relationship. Even when He invited sinners to dine with Him, He didn’t condemn them of their sin first, tell them to stop sinning, repent and then we’ll eat!!
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood.” Jesus demonstrated, by example, His love for others by His actions. He let His presence, His demeanor and love for the lives of others do the talking. When He did address sin, He addressed it in a group situation rather than point it out in individuals so that individuals could look inward and search their own hearts. Jesus used Godly wisdom when speaking and yet His teaching was always upbeat and positive. Even when He had to be firm and authoritative, He always used the formula, “speak the truth, let the individual reflect, end with hope!”
The very same thing, what I call the formula can be found in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
This example is the Lord speaking to Solomon; the same God who speaks through the writer of Hebrews and says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8. When in John 14:9-10, “Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”
There are so many examples in the Gospel accounts of how Jesus dealt with the subject of sin. If His examples aren’t enough, we also have the writers of the Epistles, the Apostle Paul foremost among them who wrote, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood.”
We have examples given by Paul of how to deal with sin in the church. Like Christ Jesus, one of the Apostle’s greatest examples of dealing with sin is found in the Second letter to the Corinthians. You may have to deal with one who sins, who knows better, but then you bring them back into the fold in love lest they be lost completely. Paul also, for the most part in his letters, speaks of sin to ALL the congregation. Except in just a couple of instances as I indicated concerning 2 Corinthians, does he point out an individual, but it is an example of the ultimate LOVE on an eternal scale! Paul cared deeply for a person’s eternal well-being even if it means them suffering chastisement or admonishment for but a moment. It’s a matter of the heart and not the Law.
So, if not flesh and blood, and yet we have been called to stand, resist and fight, then what or who? The Apostle says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” — Ephesians 6:12.
We fight in spiritual places against spiritual forces! You might be asking why this is so important. Think about this; when we accepted the new life in Christ Jesus, it opened up a “doorway” which had been closed due to sin and the corruption sin did in our flesh. We were “barred” from the spiritual realm of which we were actually born from. We were created by God, our Father, Who is Spirit and He breathed into us part of that Spirit and we became a living creation. (Genesis 2). This is one of the reasons why mankind has such a yearning for something just beyond their reach. It is an indication that the spirit of man, given life by the Spirit of God is trying to get back to that relationship. Just as original sin has been inherited, so also, is a yearning for a relationship with our Creator! The problem with most is that those, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” – 2 Corinthians 4:4.
Once we were no longer bound by the chains of sin and the flesh, our real home, not in the natural but in the spiritual calls to us. We have become citizens of a new Kingdom, but one not made with human hands. Paul stated it this way a few verses later in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Our new home is in the eternal. If we truly follow the two Greatest Commandments found Matthew 22:37-40, as stated by Jesus, our love for God, our Heavenly Father AND for our neighbors (those we come in contact with) then demands that we do what we can to let them also know of the eternal hope that awaits all who are willing to opened eyes blinded by the god of this world! You do NOT accomplish that by first condemning people and then trying to “woo” them to the Lord!!
This is one of the reasons why I have been upset for so long when churches and other “religious” organizations decide to picket and protest those that engage in activities that we either know for sure or believe is sin. All you end up doing is the devil’s work for him and instead of gaining a relationship with those that NEED the truth, you ostracize them and turn them completely against ever wanting to listen to anything you have to say.
I am not saying that we are to condone sin. God Almighty as I’ve stated HATES sin; but, that is why He sent His Son into the world. You don’t see people protesting other places that people congregate because some people lie, do you? Why not instead do as the Bible says we are to do in Matthew 5:43-48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.“
Because it tends to be pride and ego that drives man to want to PUSH his righteousness on others. It is the curse of the Law, coming from those who claim to be walking in Grace! It is because we are hoping for our “kingdom” to be here, cursed in the natural, then where our Heavenly Father says our real Home lies. We are wanting life to be easy and carefree. All men want that, but we have been loosed from the chains that bound us and we so willingly want to put them back on! Our HOME IS NOT HERE! We are only pilgrims here; just traveling through.
What we are supposed to be doing is trying, by actionable love, to help others to see past the blindness that the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” has placed over the eyes of mankind. Love, real love, not the syrupy, sickening sweet, emotional lie that is thought to be love, but true Agape, unconditional love is the greatest spiritual tool and weapon that transcends the natural and still operates in the spiritual! The thing is, it is not always easy, it is not always pleasant and though we are commanded to love, it is not within our power to dictate the outcome! Our service to others is to be obedient to the Lord and His Spirit and then it is up to the Spirit to get results; just remember, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and He will never go against a person’s freedom to choose. That is REAL love!
That is where the real battle comes; can we be obedient to the Spirit of the Lord, despite the natural difficulties and never knowing the ultimate outcome? Love of God above all else has to say, “I will be obedient.” The Love of our neighbors demands that we at least be obedient to the Spirit of God and leave the outcome of us acting with love, to Him.