Jesus life from conception to the current day is a spiritual struggle against Satan, the deceiver, the liar, the arch-angel who has become the devil who leads the whole world astray, who rules the kingdom of the air (Ephesians 2:2), who is liar and a murderer (John 8:44), who presents himself as light when he is darkness (2 Cor 11:14); whose fruit is always loss, death and destruction (John 10:10) He is cunning and schemes to led our minds astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Cor 11:3). He will use religion and rebellion.
Jesus has overcome this enemy and invites us to join him in his victory. In Christ, we are saved and seated in an overcoming place. As Christ needed to stand against, contend with, and actively resist the devil’s schemes and temptations so do we. He said, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19), because we would need to use it.
When we are in transition from one place of maturity in Christ to another, when God is leading us to enter a new place of fruitfulness. It seems like the enemy turns up the volume in his schemes to restrict us, and to corrupt our single devotion to Christ. Parallels could be the temptation of Jesus before the anointing to minister, and the struggle of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane before the cross and resurrection. The time before birthing is the hard, heavy, frustrating and uncomfortable. The process of birthing is vulnerable, messy and painful. It is also focused. The enemy will seek to distract us from that which God is calling us to in this moment.
There is a call to maturity, to focus, to clarity in who we are and what we are about; this call comes with pruning, and increased discipline. There are things to let go of, they were fruitful last season, but they are not part this season. Other things change in priority, still others need a new wisdom. This process is frustrating, uncomfortable, painful and messy; but it will lead to new life, new fruitfulness, new mantles of authority in Christ; and with authority comes responsibility. If you are in this process, the enemy will be scheming against you. Therefore, in everything you face seek the spiritual alongside the natural. (Ephesians 6:10-12)
The gospel is our power in this struggle, remembering and testifying to the saving grace we have in Jesus Christ. Discipline in bringing praise and giving thanks is are vital. These are weapons through which our position as over-comers in Christ enforces our victory over the enemy. This is not praise and thanks for little blessings. This is when we don’t feel like it, and can’t see it; but know in our hearts that God is God, and God is good and He is for us; so we praise Him for who he is; and give thanks for the salvation we have in Christ. Praise is not passive, it is spiritual aggression. Praise is called sacrifice in Hebrews 13:15, and in battle there is always sacrifice. So we sacrifice our feelings and imaginations on the altar of praise and giving thanks. Serving in the house of God is not for the faint hearted, it is brave risky adventure with the eternity of souls at stake. There is no greater reward.
Ephesians 3:14-19 is a prayer for the church to be strengthened by the Spirit in our inner being. This is our strength and resource in the struggle. The supernatural ability to grasp how much we are loved by our Father in heaven, O how he loves us. This is the viewpoint that enables us to be confident that “greater is he that is within us than he that is in the world” opposing faith in Jesus Christ. (1 John 4:4)
Colossians 1:12-13 states “he has rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” This is the purpose of the gospel; this is the focus of the struggle. That in Christ we have entered a new eternal kingdom, and have been included as equal sons and daughters of that kingdom with Christ, and the enemy schemes to keep us from living as these sons and daughters. This is what the devil tried to usurp at the beginning of time from pride and in rebellion, he wanted to to be the most high over all the earth. This is what God offers to share with us in Christ, and the devil hate us for it. “He is filled with fury for his time is short” (Revelation 12:12)
The devil does not want us to live beyond ourselves in Christ, beyond today for eternity, beyond our feelings in faith, beyond our understanding in the Spirit of God, beyond our past in grace and hope, beyond our loneliness in unity and family, beyond or best in God’s best. He schemes through temptation to cause us to think too much of ourselves, and through accusation that thinks too little of our God’s saving grace in Christ. We resist him as over-comers.
In Colossians 1:28-2:8 we find an intriguing picture. The apostle says; I am struggling, with the energy of Christ that works powerfully within me, for the believers in Collosse and Laodicea to be encouraged and to grow in maturity in Christ. He postures himself in a fight for their faith to flourish. He specifically says he is fighting for them, so they will not be deceived by fine-sounding arguments that depend on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. What does he know about the spiritual places that we need to grasp? How he a prisoner in chains in Rome could effectively minister, work, and fight for the believers in Collosse.
I am not encouraging us to become devil focused, we must firmly fix our eyes on Jesus; and see ourselves as over-comers in Christ. We need to know when the devil roars at us like a Lion that it is spiritual, and therefore our response is spiritual. Everything you are struggling with is not just you; some of it is an enemy scheme. It is spiritual. Stand in Christ, testify of Christ’s saving grace, praise and give thanks as sacrifice, be in the congregation on Sundays and Life group as priority.
Finally, in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat was told; “the battle is not yours but God’s”; so march into the battle as a congregation, stand firm facing the enemy and praise God singing “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever”.
It is Spiritual!