This month, we covered a seemingly simple concept that has powerful, revelatory, and wide ranging applications: Right-Right vs Right-Wrong...Right WHAT-Right HOW/WHY vs. Right WHAT-Wrong (or NO) HOW/WHY.
The overview for the last section of this Series was that God wants our brain to have Profitable Thought Processes. The enemy and our flesh wants our brain to have Unprofitable Thought Processes.
Throughout this Series we saw the brain is the battlefield on which God and our mind participate in Spiritual Warfare against the enemy and our flesh. So, there are two participants attempting to access our strongholds: the enemy and our flesh.
Today, we will conclude this series.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE CONCLUSIONS
Taking in everything we have covered, we are now ready to interpret Paul's explanation for Spiritual Warfare.
II Corinthians 10
"1 Now I Paul myself entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I who in your presence am lowly among you, but being absent am of good courage toward you:
2 yea, I beseech you, that I may not when present show courage with the confidence wherewith I count to be bold against some, who count of us as if we walked according to the flesh."
(Most people skip the introduction to this critical passage. Paul is setting everything up by confirming that he is LOWLY in his physical presence, but mighty in WORDS. NO ONE ought to associate the rest of this passage with ANYTHING related to physical strength.)
"3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh
4 (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds),"
(Paul calls everything that follows verse 3 "war". He also states this is NOT according to the flesh...so it must be according to the spirit. Hence, this passage SPECIFICALLY deals with Spiritual Warfare. Then Paul parenthetically supports verse 3 with a reason that has to do with the weapons of our warfare. This is a key parenthetical point that most people miss: the weapons of our warfare are mighty AND they are able to cast down strongholds. The mightiest weapons are NOT physical. The mightiest weapons that we can INTENTIONALLY use are able to cast down strongholds. Strongholds are sources of ammunition for the enemy that are inside of us. We have covered how and where strongholds are formed: Amygdala, Emotion, and Facts. We have covered HOW the enemy does Spiritual Warfare and HOW to cast down strongholds: Apostles, Jesus, Heart, Mind, and Faith. Basically, all of this is done with WORDS in our brains. These strongholds are able to be accessed by the enemy through WORDS and SENTENCES that enter our being through the heart.)
"5 casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;"
(The essence of Spiritual Warfare involves casting down imaginations (thoughts). In fact, Paul specifically says we ought to bring EVERY thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. So far, everything Paul has stated is something we can intentionally do. We can initiate this aspect of Spiritual Warfare. We called this "Defensive Spiritual Warfare". We initiate defensive Spiritual Warfare by: removing strongholds, taking thoughts into captivity, getting aligned with God's doctrine, guarding our heart, and not focusing on the cares of this world. We need to get rid of all the junk inside of us that hinders the Holy Spirit from flowing through us. Paul also called this "killing the flesh". Ultimately, killing the flesh is a work and something we can intentionally do. We cannot control God. We cannot make the Holy Spirit flow through us. All we can do is get our vessel ready for the Holy Spirit to move through us in order to do God's Will. We saw the fundamental way to do this is to apply the four God-given principles to ourselves: non-contradiction, causality, contrastive thinking and growth.)
"6 and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full."
(The first part of this verse states that we ought to do Defensive Spiritual Warfare constantly so that we are READY to avenge all disobedience. READY means we are prepared for the Holy Spirit to initiate Offensive Spiritual Warfare. It does NOT mean we initiate Offensive Spiritual Warfare. Look at the second half of the verse: when our obedience is made full. When we remove the strongholds and bring every thought captive, then our obedience has been made full. Then the Holy Spirit is able to flow completely and at full power. Then we are ready to respond to the Holy Spirit initiating Offensive Spiritual Warfare. It is like a firefighter. The firefighter doesn't decide when they are going to suit up and fight a fire. All they can do is be prepared...be ready. It is the fire that determines when they get to fight. This is a HUGE point. We do NOT initiate Offensive Spiritual Warfare. The Holy Spirit initiates Offensive Spiritual Warfare. People who schedule times to do Offensive Spiritual Warfare are similar to firefighters scheduling their fires.)
(One of the questions that began this series is, "Why don't we see more signs and wonders today?" I believe the main reason is that very few people are able to remove strongholds, take all their thoughts into captivity, align with God's doctrine, guard their hearts, and not focus on the cares of this world. Think how hard it is to do this in our current culture. Think how it would be easier to do this as a missionary in a third world country. I've had people tell me signs and wonders are happening, however it seems to usually involve a missionary from a foreign country serving in a third world country. Remember, Peter said silver and gold have I none, but what I got I give to you. Jesus needed Peter to go fishing in order to pay his taxes. None of the people who did Offensive Spiritual Warfare had money and cares of the world. In Acts, a man tries to buy this Offensive Spiritual Warfare ability!)
"7 Ye look at the things that are before your face. If any man trusteth in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again with himself, that, even as he is Christ's, so also are we."
(Notice the rest of this passage also deals with Spiritual Warfare. Paul is going to follow through on the idea that Spiritual Warfare is NOT physical and the individual needs to actively realize that looking to the physical (cares of this world?) hinders their ability to do Spiritual Warfare.)
"8 For though I should glory somewhat abundantly concerning our authority (which the Lord gave for building you up, and not for casting you down), I shall not be put to shame:
9 that I may not seem as if I would terrify you by my letters.
10 For, His letters, they say, are weighty and strong; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.
11 Let such a one reckon this, that, what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such are we also in deed when we are present.
12 For we are not bold to number or compare ourselves with certain of them that commend themselves: but they themselves, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding.
13 But we will not glory beyond our measure, but according to the measure of the province which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even unto you."
The key passage is that Paul said we are in word by letters when we are absent what we are in deed when we are present. There ought to be NO difference between our WORDS and our actions.
Another reason I believe we haven't seen more signs and wonders is DOCTRINE.
We saw that God brings about His Will by influencing the heart of the individual through grace. This influence is checked with the faith (understanding and experience) of the individual. The understanding is doctrine.
When it came to the HOW of Spiritual Warfare for the enemy, we saw that the enemy's influence was a thought that was meant to lead the person into a stronghold as they tried to understand the thought.
When it came to the HOW of Spiritual Warfare for God, we saw that God's influence was a fully formed, complex causeless thought. The individual doesn't need to make an effort to build up the thought. The thought actually teaches the individual and all the individual does is choose to allow it to reflect in his life or not. The reason the individual fully understands the thought is that the thought accesses the doctrine within the individual that agrees with God.
I look at doctrine like piano chords. If a person knows a couple of chords, they can only play a few simple songs. However, with every chord they learn, the quantity and complexity of the songs they can now play grows.
Likewise, as a person gets more of God's doctrine in their brain, they are able to be influenced more by God and at a higher level of complexity. They are able to hear more clearly and more often from God.
God's ability to influence the individual depends on the doctrine within the individual. This is WHY we have teachers. This is WHY we ought to understand MORE about God and His Word. People who believe we can't understand more about God are actually hindering peoples' ability to be directed by God.
In the Old Testament, we saw the GREATEST PROPHECY ever presented in the Bible came to Daniel. We saw Daniel was present for many signs and wonders. We saw that Daniel had his doctrine perfect. Daniel perfectly participated in Defensive Spiritual Warfare. Why did Daniel have his doctrine perfect?
"34 And Pharaoh-necoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim: but he took Jehoahaz away; and he came to Egypt, and died there." (2 Kings 23:34)
We have seen that Josiah was the greatest Old Testament King. He focused on doctrine. People who lived under Josiah had the opportunity to get their doctrine right. Jehoiakim was Josiah's son and ruled when Josiah died.
"1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it." (Daniel 1:1)
The Book of Daniel BEGINS by saying Jehoiakim was king for three years before Daniel was taken into captivity. Daniel grew up under Josiah's reign. Daniel's parents lived under Josiah's reign. Daniel had the best opportunity of any Old Testament person to get their doctrine right.
Look at the New Tesament. I have already stated that I see the Gospel of Mark as the action gospel. As for the other gospels...Luke is the exhaustive gospel. Matthew is the story gospel. John is the doctrinal gospel. There is more doctrine found in the Gospel according to John, than any other New Testament book. The Book of I John is a completely philosophical presentation that organizes doctrine. While I am hoping to present I John later this year, I am going to leave our Series of the Gospel according to John for next year.
My point is, the greatest New Testament prophecies are presented by John in The Book of Revelation. Just like Daniel, the person with the greatest understanding of doctrine is able to receive the most complex revelations from God.
There is one more issue to consider when looking at why we don't see more signs and wonders. Yesterday, we looked at blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. At its most basic level, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is SPEAKING against the Holy Spirit. The example Jesus gave was the Pharisees saying that Jesus healed by the prince of demons when He actually healed by the Holy Spirit. What would happen if God suddenly had signs and wonders abundantly manifest through the Holy Spirit today? How many people would state that these people are actually doing miracles by the devil? How many people would be committing an unforgivable sin?
It would seem to me that God needs to make sure we can handle abundant signs and wonders by the Holy Spirit before He has them manifest. At the very least, it would seem that we would need to UNDERSTAND blasphemy of the Holy Spirit more before signs and wonders became abundant. THAT is doctrine. This would be another reason why we need to have sound doctrine and teach it to others. What if people are actually healing by the Holy Spirit today? What do you hear most people say about those who claim they are healing people by the Holy Spirit?
Again, the unforgivable sin is commited by SPEAKING WORDS against the Holy Spirit...crediting the actual work of the Holy Spirit to the devil through WORDS. WORDS are important!
Ultimately, the ability we need most in order to participate in Spiritual Warfare involves WORDS.
God speaks to us in terms of WORDS.
The enemy speaks to us in terms of WORDS.
Our heart, brain, and mind all work in terms of WORDS.
We communicate to others in terms of WORDS.
WORDS are important.
The novel "1984" was written to illustrate the power of WORDS. The basic premise is that people can be controlled when you limit their WORDS. If people are only allowed to use certain abstract WORDS, then they are unable to think at a higher level. They are unable to be unique. Once you have limited peoples' uniqueness and ability, you can treat them all the same...like the Law.
EVERYTHING we learned in this Series was built on the foundation that Spiritual Warfare was NOT physical, but was ACTUALLY based on WORDS. Not only using the correct WORDS, but WORDS that the individual understood and was able to arrange correctly in Statements, Questions, or IF/THEN Statements.
Look at what Jesus said in John 14:10
"10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works."
I will always remember these last two months as the time I acquired a greater appreciation for God and Jesus. There are MASTERS with their WORDS!
They made it look so easy, yet you will see how AWESOME they are when you try to recreate their sentences. Like I stated in an earlier post, when you read the Bible, pause before you read what God and Jesus say. Take a moment to try and state exactly what they will say. This is especially enlightening with a passage that you think you know. It is so easy to say WORDS that are condemning, judgmental, wrong, unjust, or even open ourselves up to being wrong or unjust.
There are two aspects to Spiritual Warfare: Defensive and Offensive.
Defensive Spiritual Warfare involves removing strongholds, taking all our thoughts into captivity, aligning our doctrine with God's doctrine, guarding our hearts, and not focusing on the cares of this world. The SPECIFIC HOW of Defensive Spiritual Warfare is described by Paul in Ephesians 6 as "The Whole Armor of God"...but this is ONLY Defensive Spiritual Warfare.
Defensive Spiritual Warfare is a work we ought to constantly do so that we are ready for when the Holy Spirit initiates Offensive Spiritual Warfare. Paul stated this in II Corinthians 10. So, put on the Whole Armor of God so that you are ready to avenge all disobedience when the Holy Spirit leads you!
Offensive Spiritual Warfare involves casting out unclean spirits and healing people. In every successful instance, we have saw the participant in Offensive Spiritual Warfare makes a Statement that is a statement of the will for someone or something that can't state a will OR for someone who has faith and is in agreement.
Offensive Spiritual Warfare is made up of WORDS and SENTENCES. These WORDS and SENTENCES are a Statement of a will. This Statement of a will depends on the faith (understanding and experience) of the individual. Notice, in "The Whole Armor of God" there is ONE Offensive Weapon: The Sword. What did the Sword stand for? The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God! Offensive Spiritual Warfare is initiated by the Holy Spirit and COMPLETELY involves WORDS! How much more blatant does this have to be?
Why don't we see more signs and wonders? Ultimately, we aren't successful in Defensive Spiritual Warfare. While we have seen that our doctrine tends to be based on man-made tradition instead of God's doctrine, there is no reason why a person needs to have all of God's doctrine before they participate in Offensive Spiritual Warfare. However, having strongholds can prevent the Holy Spirit from operating at full capacity because there is always a part of you that the enemy can access. We need to remove strongholds, especially the biggest ones.
I believe there are two HUGE strongholds that are holding back the Holy Spirit from demonstrating more signs and wonders in our presence.
Next month we will begin a new Series. We will look at these two "universal" strongholds...