When Jesus Won’t Fight For You

When Jesus Won’t Fight For You

 

He called me out smack in the middle of the class, thirty or so people staring wide-eyed as I sat there in tears. “It’s easy to ask Jesus to fight for us, isn’t it? Because then it’s His fault when we continue to struggle,” he said.

Just before receiving that verbal slap in the face, I had shared an extremely sensitive situation with Steve—in front of the entire Sunday class. I had confessed dealing with a major temptation, and thoughts of giving in were all-consuming, I felt helpless and overwhelmed. I had spent a great deal of time during the weeks previous begging God to deliver me from the inevitable. At one point I called an old friend and mentor out of desperation and confessed my inner torment. She counseled me, “Girl, you need to get on your knees and give it God. Ask Him to fight for you.”

Well, that sounded good, and that’s what I did. But why wasn’t it working? Tearfully I vomited out my situation to Steve as the class looked on. I told him how I’d been begging God to deliver me; to fight for me, but it just didn’t seem to be working. That’s when he stopped everything and called out the BS in my thinking.

Maybe you’ve heard it before? I know I’ve heard it prayed numerous times over the years, “Oh Jesus, fight for so and so.” I’ve had people pray it over me and I’ve prayed it for others. It sounds great and I had never thought this phrase or prayer was unbiblical until Steve served me a healthy dose of truth that morning.

“Guess what, Rebecca, Jesus already did fight for you—and He won.”

Wait, what?!

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14

Notice the verb tenses used here: has, brought, have, instead of is or bringing. These are all past tense. It’s a done deal.

“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:15

“You have been raised with Christ.” Colossians 3:1

“He has reconciled you.” Colossians 1:22

“In Him you were also circumcised…not with the circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ.” Colossians 2:11

“God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:14

Is it sinking in yet? Maybe you should take a few moments to slowly read through the book of Colossians if you’re still in doubt.

The truth is, Jesus fought and won the battle for our freedom on the cross, and the moment we surrendered our life to Christ, inviting Him to take over what we realized we couldn’t do for ourselves (salvation), the war was over. Unfortunately for us, the hardest part is to really believe this truth—that the war was fought and won at the cross. That is where our Enemy comes in and the ball gets put in our court. Jesus says, “I’ve already won. I already fought for you. Now it’s your turn to use the weapons of warfare I’ve provided to resist your Enemy.” You see, Satan will spend the rest of his days trying to convince us we are helpless. And you know what? He’s pretty damn good at it. Just look around—you won’t have to look far to see churches full of lifeless defeated Christians, struggling from day to day just to exist and go through the motions. This, friends, is not the “life to the full” we’ve been promised.

“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Now how exactly can our Enemy steal, kill, and destroy what Jesus has already done? He can’t! But he can deceive us into thinking he can (the devil is a schemer!). And this great illusion by the greatest Counterfeiter of all time is what trips us up. Satan’s ruse is all smoke and mirrors. It’s a mind game, and it’s a good one, one that takes a lot of Christians out entirely through depression, apostasy, suicide, and lukewarm worldliness, among other things.

As children of the God of Angel Armies (The Lord of Hosts) we have been given the authority and responsibility to fight against the Enemy with the weapons Jesus has equipped us with. But this isn’t the crazy whack-a-mole type of violent fight we conjure up in our imaginations. It’s a remarkably motionless fight. Really, it requires a lot of standing around.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemesPut 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…be alert and keep on always praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:11-18

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. Because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

Fact: The day of evil is coming. We will be tempted, we will be sought after, and we will be preyed upon. It is an inevitable fact of life if you’re a child of God. And yes, it will suck, it will hurt, and you’ll feel like giving up.

Fact: You do have a responsibility in this. Jesus has already fought and won this war. But the battle for your life continues and is opposed by your enemy. Jesus equipped you to resist these attacks with weapons like the belt of truth, the sword of the spirit, the shield of faith…etc.

Fact: It will be hard. In fact, it will be harder to resist these attacks by standing firm on faith and truth then it will be to give in to the doubt, depression, and defeat of the Enemies lies (“You’re a failure, you’ll never be good enough, you’ll never succeed, God can’t use you, and you’re such a hypocrite, just give up, might as well do what you’ve been doing, change is too hard…”).

Fact: Resisting the Enemy is a choice we all have. We can choose to stand on the word of truth, or listen to the whispers of temptation, shame, and doubt. We can choose to believe that Jesus won this war, or we can choose to keep asking Him to do what he’s already done. Most of our inner struggles boil down to a choice we aren’t making (to believe the truth!).

Fact: When we are being attacked, we will not want to pray. Our spiritual life will be opposed. We will feel as if we have no business talking to God. Things like anger, bitterness, shame, regret, and guilt will interfere and distract our communion with God. This distraction is just that—a distraction. It is not a reality. God has not left us. He has turned his ear from us. He hears us even when the Enemy whispers to us that our prayers are bouncing off the walls. This is why we are admonished to pray without ceasing. Keep talking to Jesus! Continue to pour your heart out to Him! HE IS ALWAYS THERE. Once again, stop asking Jesus to “be with” you or “be with so and so.” This is another one of those prayers He can’t respond to because He’s already answered it! He is always there and He will never leave. Instead, replace such requests with, “Jesus, help me to experience your presence because I know you are with me. Thank you for never leaving me even when the Enemy tries to convince me I am alone.”

Friends, Jesus has already fought for you. Now you get to stand firm on that truth. He has never left you. Ask Him to help you see with new eyes and trust His word with both your head and your heart. Ask Him to align your emotions with the truth and resist the Enemy whenever you are tempted to doubt what you know is true. You have a choice—the ball is in your court. Resist him and he will flee. That is God’s promise to you; now you must choose to stand on it.

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Related articles:

If You really Want the World to Change, it Starts with This

Why You Might Need to Stand on Your Head 

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Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 7)

Rebuking the Devil’s Deadly D’s (Part 7)

 Rebuking the Devil

11. Deadness

“They think he has leukemia,” my heart stopped as a lump formed in my throat. The news seemed, well, unbelievable, “How can that be?! He’s only thirty years old,” I responded to my sister. But deep down something in me just knew. My brother-in-law was going to die. And in fact, less than a year later he passed away. His death was an awful thing to witness. It challenged my faith and even some of my moral convictions. I left the hospital only hours before his last breath, but that final day was dreadful. I’m not even sure what was worse: watching his chest rise and fall awkwardly, or hearing the wails and cries of his mother and sisters who wept as those with no hope. As much as I loved him and would miss him, I prayed for God to take him quickly during those final, torturous hours. The only comfort came in knowing he was leaving his pain and entering the eternal rest of Jesus’ arms.

But it almost didn’t work out that way.

In the minutes after receiving that first phone call, my world began to change as I wrestled with the way I had lived my life and how my choices could have directly affected the eternity of my brother-in-law. He knew I claimed to be a Christian, he knew I was raised in church, he knew what I said I believed, but he also knew that my actions were the exact opposite of everything I had been taught. In fact, it was only a few months after my “prodigal return” to Jesus that I found out he was sick.

Realizing the seriousness of the situation, I fell to my knees in prayer for his salvation. He was not saved, he did not know Jesus, and frankly, I couldn’t blame him with the type of Christian examples he had in his life! Unfortunately, this scenario plays out all too often in many families. We find out a loved one is sick, we worry over their soul; we pray for their salvation, we cry out to God in desperation for their physical healing. But where were we and our prayers before we found out about their illness? Tragically, many of us were Christians whose faith was dead.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead,” (James 2:17, NIV). The Greek rendering for “dead” in the passage is literally, “like a corpse”. It’s like a body without a soul—it’s an empty shell, completely ineffective.**

When I started to witness to my brother in law, he was skeptical to say the least. Sure I had “repented” and been going back to church for a few months, but the whole of my life (as far as what he knew) was nothing but a giant hypocrisy. What was so great about the God I was reflecting in my life? Why should he want that? And now here I was pleading with him to accept Christ before it was too late. Maybe I should have thought about that, oh, say ten years earlier when I was chasing the lusts of the flesh.

In the end, after much prayer and witnessing (and yes, much confession and asking of forgiveness) my brother-in-law did accept Jesus as his Savior before he lost the ability to communicate. I’ll never forget one of the last things he said to me as his face radiated peace during those final days, “I’m going to be with Jesus! I’m going to Heaven!” I had no doubt about his eternal security, but man, that was close! Too close! And for many, sadly, the story does not have a happy ending.

Spiritual deadness is merely the result of spiritual dullness left unchecked. Living as a complacent, lukewarm believer eventually leads to an ineffective faith. What the world needs to see is Christians practicing what they preach (love, grace, mercy, forgiveness), and exuding the peace that passes all understanding in their daily lives. When we choose sin over obedience, self over surrender, and bondage over freedom, our behavior will absolutely reflect those choices—and our choices will affect other people. It may even affect their eternity.

“To suffer deadness is to forget Revelation 3:1,

‘To the angel of the church of Sardis write: “These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”’”¹

Our lives are ravaged with trial, suffering, and pain, but that doesn’t mean we should lose hope, abandon our faith, and walk away from God when circumstances don’t turn out the way we’d like. A lot of times our spiritual estrangement is a result of an “entitlement” mentality. We believe God “owes” us a certain way of life, and when He fails to meet our expectations we get angry with Him and rebel. I plead with you to take caution with such an attitude. Satan will tempt us to think our influence doesn’t really matter, or that our choices aren’t hurting anyone else, but that is a lie from the pit. Our spiritual freedom matters, our faith matters, and it matters not only for you and me, but for our families and friends, and anyone we come in contact with in our daily lives. The bank tellers, the grocery store clerks, the other drivers on the road (ever see a crazy driver with a Jesus fish or church sticker on their car?)—our decision to choose to pursue truth and live by it matters to the world.

If you’ve struggled with a dead (ineffective) faith, please pray this prayer out loud, “Jesus, my attitude, actions, and choices do not always align with your truth. In the name of Jesus I now choose to believe what your word says about me, and how you see me, and I reject the lie that my choices and behavior do not matter and won’t hurt anyone else. Give me a heart that is willing to walk by faith while boldly rejecting what is false. When I trusted you as my Savior, you made me alive in righteousness and dead to sin, now create an experience in my life that reflects that position of freedom. Help me live every day as one dead to sin and alive unto righteousness. Thank you for your forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. I choose to reject the voices of condemnation and embrace your word of truth that says simply, ‘Go, and sin no more.’² In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

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  1. Dr. H.L. Willmington, Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, ©1981, 1984 by H.L. Willmington–all rights reserved.
  2.  See John 8:1-11
  3. **Before you send me angry emails or attempt to post argumentative comments, I know this verse is often used to prove that one needs works in order to be “truly” saved. But without getting into a theological debate, I will merely state this: in relation to the whole of God’s word and contextual interpretation, I do not believe this verse says faith without works is not a “saving faith”. In fact, if it did, it would contradict many other passages and examples of “carnal” Christians in the Bible. (And that’s as much as I care to comment on this subject. This post is NOT intended to be a doctrinal debate on soteriology!)

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(To review the previous Deadly Ds of the devil, simply click on the “D” of your choice:

#1—Disappointment; #2—Discouragement; #3—Despair; #4—Doubt; #5—Disbelief; #6—Distraction; #7—Double-mindedness; #8—Dishonesty; #9—Deceit; #10–Dullness)

Living Free Life Group–Quotes (from May 12, 2013)

Remember:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; Jesus has come so that I may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Highlighters:

“Christ has set you free through His victory over sin and death on the cross. But, if you have failed to stand firm in the faith or you have willfully sinned, it is your responsibility to do whatever is necessary to maintain a right relationship with Him.” The Bondage Breaker, page 199

***

“Who or what is most important to us becomes that which we worship. Our thoughts, love, devotion, trust, adoration, and obedience are directed to this object above all others. This object of worship is truly our God or god(s).” The Bondage Breaker, page 205

***

“We will find real joy and freedom when we stop living a lie and walk openly in the truth.” The Bondage Breaker, page 209

***

“The real secret to happiness isn’t anywhere in prime-time entertainment, of course. The key to a fulfilled life has nothing to do with fast cars, revolving partners, or this year’s fashions. Those are just counterfeits with which the enemy and the flesh conspire to tempt us. And the remedy—the number one defense against this devious deception—is to clothe ourselves in truth.” Chip Ingram, The Invisible War

***

“When we are sure God loves and accepts us, we can be free to own up to our sins and face reality instead of running and hiding from painful circumstances.” The Bondage Breaker, page 210

***

“We need to own up to our own faults without excuses and without blaming, bring them to God, and confess them honestly before him. That’s the only way to stand firm against deception.” Chip Ingram, The Invisible War

 ***

“Defensiveness occurs when God brings truth into our lives and we won’t receive it. We justify ourselves rather than confess the reality of our faults. [We need to] put on the belt of truth and let it break [our hearts]. Psalm 34:18 says, ‘The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ The Spirit of God is always a friend of truth, especially when it hurts.” Chip Ingram, The Invisible War

***

“Faith is the biblical response to the truth, and believing what God says is a choice we all can make. If you say, ‘I wish I could believe God, but I just can’t,’ you are being deceived. Of course you can believe God because what God says is always true.” The Bondage Breaker, page 214

***

“You don’t just put on the belt of truth in a quiet time some morning or with a quick prayer in the car. It’s a process. It comes through long, significant seasons of being with God, not out of duty but out of longing to hear his voice. It comes when we stop ignoring that uncomfortable lack of peace, that disquieting voice in the back of our minds, and refuse to cover it up.” Chip Ingram, The Invisible War

***

“Just ‘having faith’ is not enough. The key question is whether the object of your faith is trustworthy. If the object of your faith is not reliable, then no amount of believing will change it. That is why our faith must be on the solid rock of God and His word. That is the only way to live a responsible and fruitful life. On the other hand, if what you believe in is not true, then how you end up living will not be right.” The Bondage Breaker, page 218

***

“Your freedom must be maintained…Freedom will continue to be yours as long as you keep choosing the truth and standing firm in the strength of the Lord.” The Bondage Breaker, page 244

***

“The power for Christian living is found in the truth; the power of Satan is in the lie…Christians are to pursue the truth because they already have the power and authority to do [God’s] will. Truth is what makes an encounter with Satan effective because his primary strategy is deception.” The Bondage Breaker, page 258

***

“When fear is controlling a believer, the Spirit of God is not, and Satan has the upper hand. Fear of the enemy and faith in God are mutually exclusive.” The Bondage Breaker, page 258

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

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Living Free Life Group–Notes and Quotes (From February 24th, 2013)

Remember:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; Jesus has come so that I may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

The Greek word for “full” is translated exceedingly abundantly above or superior in quality. How many believers are living a superior quality of life in comparison to the average non-believer? Why do you suppose that is?

God’s idea of quality living is found in Galatians 5:22-23. It is a type of lifestyle that should come naturally to the Christ-follower. The reason so few believers demonstrate this type of consistent living has to do with 1) fleshly desires and 2) spiritual warfare. Satan wants to steal our fruitful living and extinguish any quality of life we may have. Unless we take an active stance against Satan’s attacks and schemes, we will never experience life to the “full” as  we were created to.

~

“Nothing is more foundational to your freedom from Satan’s bondage than understanding and affirming what God has done for you in Christ and who you are as His child. Your attitudes, actions, responses, and reactions to life’s circumstances are greatly affected by what you believe about yourself.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 46

~

“Since your old self has been crucified and buried with Christ, you no longer have to sin (1 John 2:1). You sin when you choose to believe a lie or act independently of God.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 49

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“When the Bible tells us the truth about who we are already are and what Christ has already done, there is only one appropriate response—and that is to believe it.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 50

~

Four evidences to test whether we are living by faith:

“Test #1—‘Am I doing this for the glory of God, or just to please myself?’

Test #2—‘Am I rushing ahead impetuously, or am I willing to wait?’

Test #3—‘Can I defend what I am doing from the Word of God?’

Test #4—‘As I contemplate this move, do I have joy and peace within?’” The Strategy of Satan, Warren Wiersbe

~

“We don’t make anything true by our experiences. We choose to believe what God says is true, then live accordingly by faith; and the truth works out in our experience. It is not what we do that determines who we are. It is who we are that determines what we do. I don’t labor in the vineyard with the hope that God may one day accept me. God has already accepted me, and that is why I labor in the vineyard.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 51

~

“Unless we are motivated and directed by truth, we will be defeated by the enemy. If we permit any deception to enter our lives, we have weakened our position and cannot fight the battle victoriously.” The Strategy of Satan, Warren Wiersbe

~

“Satan’s perpetual aim is to infiltrate your thoughts with his thoughts and to promote his lie in the face of truth. He knows that if he can control your thoughts, he can control your life.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 61

~

“We do not quench the darts by faith in ourselves (even our past victories), faith in faith, or faith in some creed. It is faith in Christ and his Word. We cannot stop Satan from throwing the darts, but we can keep them from starting a fire.” The Strategy of Satan, Warren Wiersbe

~

All behavior is the product of what we choose to think or believe.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 69

~

“Let’s quit kidding ourselves. There can be only one Lord of your life and mind. Jesus, Satan, or your self cannot all occupy the same throne. You must choose every day who will be God in your life.” Stand Up and Fight Back, Ken Abraham

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Rebecca Aarup is an author and freelance writer. She is a health columnist for Theprofilepic3 Christian Online Magazine, creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters women’s ministry, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson Press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. She just released a new Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by subscribing to her blog (it’s free) and following her on twitter and facebook.

Satan, God, the Flesh and Spiritual Warfare

If you read my recent post (So, What is YOUR Word) you already know that my 2012 was defined by “perseverance”. To elaborate further, the perseverance revolved primarily around spiritual warfare (consider one of my most popular posts this year: Freedom is Here). Yes, there were health issues, financial issues, and relational issues, but the biggest issue was Satan. (And no, I’m not saying “the devil made me do it”.)

I didn’t kick off the New Year asking God to give me a new word; I had already learned my lesson from 2012. However, God has clearly given me a new focus: spiritual warfare. Perhaps the appropriate “word” would be: fight.

Let’s be honest here, you probably aren’t reading too many articles about spiritual warfare, Satan, and his evil spirits, are you? Neither am I. So my mission in 2013 is to change that. After all, there are plenty of people writing about relationship problems, financial woes, and health issues. There are plenty of people writing awesome devotions and providing good soul-food to inspire and encourage. And for the majority of 2012 I also wrote about a variety of things from devotionals to health and fitness to marriage. This year I am choosing to focus on what I’ve learned and experienced regarding Satan, spiritual warfare, freedom and truth, so I can really help someone live in the spiritual abundance they were created for (as well as keeping myself well grounded). Step one involves identifying the problem. So in my next post (and many more to follow) I will address some of these questions:

Is there an Enemy?

What does he sound/look like?

What is the difference between the flesh and the devil?

How can I recognize God’s voice over my own desires?

Is Satan really messing with my mind on a daily basis?

Are there really spirits out there trying to control me?

If I am a Christian, aren’t I immune to demonic power?

Should I address spiritual warfare with my child, and if so, how?

I hope you’re well-armored, because the more you know about the schemes of the devil, the more opposition you can expect to encounter. This isn’t for the faint of heart. This is serious, this is life or death.

I’m going to share a passage I read and pray with my daughter every morning before we start our day (she is five years old).

“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all the strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spiritual world. So, use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will be standing up.” Ephesians 6:11-13

If you’ve subscribed to this blog because you enjoy my devotionals and other articles, don’t worry, I share all of my favorite Christian influencer blogs/articles/devotions every day on twitter and my facebook author page, so if you’re on either of those services and are following me, then you are already receiving great soul-food material from great Christian authors every time they post something new. (Authors like Beth Moore, Joel Rosenberg, John and Stasi Eldredge, and many more, along with some “lesser” known names whom I’ve stumbled across in the writing world and whom have a great voice for truth.) I also host an online women’s ministry which shares a great deal of inspirational/devotional material from women all over the world. My social networking sites are used primarily for the spreading of truth from other great writers to make transforming teaching readily available to you at your convenience. I will also continue to post articles I have published in other periodicals here on this website, along with the occasional book review (again, another way I like to share truth from the voice of other believers), as well as information about my upcoming book releases.

Buckle your seat belts and hang on to your Bibles, this ride is about to get bumpy!

Freedom is Here

clean

Yesterday was a big day in my life; I would venture to say it was a life-changing experience, second only to my conversion. You should see my face today, I cried so much my eyes are swollen. I don’t even have the energy to put make-up on. Spiritual warfare is exhausting.

Two days after my last bout of major depression my Sunday Class teacher emailed me (completely unaware of my struggles-nice work, God) and invited me to partake in an afternoon of fighting for my spiritual freedom. That certainly sounded like something I needed. I agreed and we set a date, April 29th.

It was 1:00pm before I made it into the modular room where my teacher Steve, sponsor Kimmy, and another prayer warrior, Terry, awaited my arrival. Steve and I worked through the 7 Steps to Freedom in Christ (Neil T. Anderson) while Terry and Kimmy prayed for me…for 4 hours.

“‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'” Isaiah 1:18

I went in with mild expectations of what would happen, but I emerged a changed woman. I discovered fighting for my freedom was hard, painful, and exhausting. Throughout this ordeal I uncovered bitterness I was unaware of, strongholds that had been weighing me down, and serious repentance of issues I had never regarded as sin. What happened was extremely personal, and for the first time in my life I was 100% honest. I heard my own voice declare sins, repent, renounce, and claim freedom in Christ. Verbal reinforcement is powerful.

There I stood in the presence of God, uncovered and completely exposed. I had to make a choice.

All of my years of bulimia, addiction, rebellion, self-mutilation, and controlling had only served as a means of self punishment. I was giving myself what I thought I deserved. In order to walk in Freedom, I had to choose to forgive myself and renounce my sin. Steve insisted, “You don’t just ‘try’ to forgive, you must choose to forgive yourself.” Whew, it was powerful and it took me several minutes to work through.

“As far as the east is from west, so far has God removed our transgression from us.” Psalm 103:12

There was a lot more to this than forgiveness. Specific issues had to be recalled (which was not fun), and their sinful patterns renounced. It was basically 4 hours of repentance. During this time the battle raged on in my head (the enemy at work), I would read a statement like, “I am innocent” and would hear, “You will never be innocent!” I had to renounce the enemy repeatedly in every area of my life. I’m telling you, folks, the war against the spirit is serious. Satan does not want my freedom, but guess what? He has no power here anymore.

“So take everything the Master has set out for you, well made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way…This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels.” Ephesians 6:10-12 msg

I left that meeting not just feeling like I was lighter, but knowing I was set free. Once and for all, it was over. The decades of depression, the eating disorder, the sins of my haunting past; it was over. I was no longer defined by my past. I am not a failure, disappointment, or a worthless whore. I was clean, I was whole. I had prayed for years to be made whole, I had begged and pleaded for healing and often wondered if God had turned his back on me. But yesterday, April 29th, I was set free once and for all. Spiritually and emotionally made whole. I walked out of that room whiter than snow. Finally, what I knew in the Word connected with my own experience.

The battle is not over, the war wages on. Is the enemy done with me? I doubt it. He is forever seeking to destroy my faith. What is different? I am equppied now to fight the battle with truth that sets me free. I know what to look for, I know how the enemy develops strongholds, and I know how to stop it. I can say with all authority under heaven, in the name of Christ Jesus, I have been healed and made whole. I am free.

(Neil T. Anderson has authored many books on spiritual freedom including, Victory Over Darkness, The Bondage Breaker, Overcoming Depression, and the manual I went through, The Steps to Freedom in Christ)

*In the coming posts I will list specific prayers from the 7 Steps to Freedom.

Stand Firm; Fight with Faith

Stand Firm; Fight with Faith

 “And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4b

When we think of words like fight, battle, and war we often get an image in our head that resembles many gruesome scenes. Perhaps this is due to the movie generation we live in where everything is put on the “big screen”, and easy for us to imagine. War movies are particularly popular. Maybe you’ve already got scenes from “Saving Private Ryan” in your head, or “Independence Day” (if you’re into alien movies), a western story like “Tombstone” is a favorite of mine. All of these movies have a common theme: the heroes have to fight for their freedom, and they must use a lot of violence. In all practical sense it is very logical to believe that in war we must fight with weapons, and use force to take what is rightfully ours.

Friends, we are in a very real battle in the spiritual realms. We are cautioned:

 “For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12(NLT)

Does this verse make you a bit nervous? The truth is, we are in a very real war, it is raging and you and I are IN this war, whether or not we want to admit it. We are either pawns on the chessboard, or we are active participants, ranking in God’s army and being used to fight against the “rulers…of the unseen world”. I know I would rather be a bishop in God’s army then a pawn in Satan’s chess game. We do have a choice as to what “player” we are going to be.

 But this isn’t a message about choosing to fight, or what player you want to be in the war. This is about strategy. Assuming you want to fight, what is the strategy you need to use to be a successful victor against these “mighty powers in this dark world”? We can be sure that this is serious business, and we need to know how to fight God’s way. One thing is certain: our battle plan will always fail.

First, we look to God’s Word and see how He instructed His faithful followers to fight in the battles laid out before them, and from that we will get some clues as to what our strategy should be.

Read Exodus 14:21-30

 Finally the Israelites have been released from captivity under the oppression of the Egyptians. As they are fleeing, the Pharaoh is enraged and has a little change of heart. He instructs his armies to chase after the Israelites. Coming up to the Red Sea the people become desperate. Did they come all this way just to be recaptured and killed by the wicked Pharaoh?

 “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise it over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground…My great glory will be displayed.’” Exodus 14:15-17(NLT)

 God didn’t tell the people to grab the nearest blunt object and fight for their lives, He didn’t even tell them to run across the dry ground. He instructed Moses to stand still and hold up his staff to part the Red Sea so the people could walk across. Be calm, and trust God to fight your battle.

 “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.’” Exodus 14:13-14(NIV)

This is one marvelous example of many. You can look at them for yourself. In Judges 7:19-22 we see how God delivered Gideon and his very small army from the Midianites. What did they have to do? We are told:

“Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape.” Judges 7:21

Again we see words like, stood, and watched as the means for “battle”. Not exactly logical by worldly standards, but that is exactly how God’s glory is revealed! He takes the impossible and makes it possible only through Him, so there can be no denying His hand’s work. In Acts 16:25-27 Paul and Silas literally sat and sang their way out of prison!

 “All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off.”

In Daniel 3 we read of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who did nothing but stand for what they knew was right and they were delivered from the fiery furnace and God’s glory was revealed to all who witnessed it. Daniel 7 reminds us of how Daniel stood for what he knew was right, and was cast into a den of hungry lions for it! Did he pick up a club and start fighting for his life? Nope! It wasn’t necessary because he trusted God.

 “My God sent His angel to shut the lion’s mouth so that they would not hurt me.” Daniel 7:22

And finally I will mention the greatest example of all. Jesus Himself modeled for us His desire for us to stand firm, and fight with our faith, and use the Word of God as our weapon. In Matthew 4:1-11 we read of how Satan came to tempt Jesus after He had spent 40 days and nights fasting in the wilderness. He was in a state of physical weakness, and most vulnerable to a spiritual attack. From this we are given an important clue. Our physical weakness does matter, and Satan will use that against us. He comes to us in our weakness and whispers enticing deceptions into our minds, and this is the biggest battle of all. We must have the Word of God stored up in our hearts to fight against this attack. During this time of temptation Jesus did not physically fight with Satan, He only used His words. He quoted the Scriptures, and He knew the will of His Father so He was not deterred by any of the “enticements” laid out before Him. Some things are made very clear from this encounter.

First, we must have an intimate prayer life with our heavenly Father to know His will for our lives. If we are in a state of confusion we are more vulnerable to the lies of the Enemy and more likely to make unwise choices.

 Secondly, we must know the Word of God, it must be hidden in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). How can we resist the devil unless we know what we are resisting? We have to know the truth to recognize the lies!

 Third, when we know the truth, we must then rest in that knowledge and trust God to follow through on His promises.

 “The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The Lord will keep watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” Psalm 121:5,8

This is truth that sets us free! We must trust in this truth, choose to believe what He tells us, and live with faith. The key strategy for our battle is standing firm, using our weapon (the Word of God), and exercising Faith in His truth!

“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

 “Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 3:7-8

 “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” Psalm 4:4

 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

 “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so that you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.” Ephesians 6:13-14 (NLT)