3 Levels of Spiritual Warfare

This entry is part 3 of 12 in the series Spiritual Soldier Series

We have been talking about spiritual warfare and how we as Spiritual Soldiers fight the wars that come to us. Some of this blog series concerns understanding spiritual warfare and its principles. But I also want it to be a battle manual to help you be victorious in war.

We have talked about reasons to study and practice spiritual warfare and the lay of the land on the battlefield. Now we will discuss three levels of spiritual warfare every Christian faces. Let’s dive in!

  1. Fighting the Flesh

The first level of spiritual warfare every Christian must fight is the war with the flesh. By flesh I referred to our desires from before we met Christ. For some it is a daily battle they feel they can never win.

But as with all of these levels of spiritual warfare we must learn to fight with the right tools and the power of the Holy Spirit. Some people do not believe fighting the flesh is a spiritual battle. But when we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to win this battle, it is a spiritual battle.

As we live in this world we are under constant threats from temptations within and without. But our former desires are the enemy violating our conscience and character with temptation. When we see things in the world we begin to think about them, dwell on them in our minds.

Then our former passions remind us of what life was like before Christ. We begin to think about the pleasures we enjoyed without needing to be disciplined. James pinpoints our desires as the beginning of our fight with the flesh (James 1:14-15).

Using a combination of images from hunting to birthing James begins with a hunting metaphor as we are lured and enticed by our own desires. Then he switches to a birthing metaphor as our desires conceive and develop, giving birth to sin. But sin leads to death when it is fully grown.

We must not blame God for temptation because he doesn’t use temptation (James 1:13). We deceive ourselves if we believe God is involved in our temptation (James 1:16). Instead we need to believe that God is a good God who brings us good gifts from heaven (James 1:17). The devil lies to us and makes us believe God is at fault when he and his demons attack us with temptations in this world.

As you can see even our temptations and our evil desires come from the spiritual realm. This is why fighting the flesh is a spiritual battle. It may be engaged by the physical realm but every part of the battle is spiritual in nature.

We cannot fight the spiritual battle with the flesh by mere willpower. It will never be enough, and we will always fall back into the same desires, temptations, and sins. We need the power of the Spirit to rescue us and make true to us the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf.

Long ago on the Cross Jesus waged the war against sin and death for us. He made eternal life available to us. Once we understand that Jesus has already won the war we have the power through the Spirit to be victorious in the battle with the flesh.

Rest assured, the flesh will always rise up, and our desires will tempt us again. We must be connected to Jesus (James 15:1-11). Without a continuous and vibrant relationship with Jesus we will fall prey to the flesh again.

So let us continue to contend with the flesh, crucifying it (Galatians 5:24), denying it and taking up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). We must fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). When we look at Jesus, we can’t look at the world or its temptations, our flesh, and its desires. Your eyes can only see one thing at once. So focus them on Jesus.

Ask other believers to become accountability partners with you. They are fellow brothers and sisters in arms with you against the flesh. Do not fight the flesh on your own. Expose its evil thoughts and desires to others, and the light of Christ through them will help you to vanquish the darkness within.

Exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11) robs them of their power against you. It will also keep your pride from rising up and thinking you can handle such evil foes on your own.

  1. Fighting the World

The apostle John uses “the world” in three different ways throughout his writings. When we fight the world we are not fighting the physical planet we live on. We are not fighting the people in the world. These are the first to definitions of how John uses “world.”

Instead, as he refers to the “evil world system,” this is what we fight against. This world is run by the devil, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). It is always opposed to God and stands against Him, opposing His will and desire for the people of this world.

The world began as good, completely prepared by God for our benefit. And God had desires for us to love and serve him. But sin destroyed God’s desired plan for humans. It brought death into this world as the consequence for rebelling against God.

Sin affected every part of this world, even creation itself. Death and decay became the natural order of things. For humans, sin affects every part of our society from the whole to the individuals. To be sure there are individuals opposed to God and working for the devil directly. But most people have no idea how affected they are by the world system.

From politics to economics we are bombarded with sinful ideas that seek to divide and destroy us. We could blame people for this, but it is the work of one Satan who seeks to divide everyone so he can conquer us.

He wants to separate Christians from the rest of the world. As far as he is concerned you as a Christian are an enemy combatant and he wants to take you out of an effective role as one of Jesus’ lights (Matthew 5:14-16).

Just as Jesus came to defy and overcome the darkness of this world (John 1:5), we as lights of the world are Jesus’ strategic soldiers to bring His revelation to the world of sin and its dastardly effects. We expose the deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11) and fight every thought and argument that opposes God and raises itself up against Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Jesus left us in the world, but we are not of the world (John 17:11, 14-18). We work for Jesus in this world, but it is not our home. We have a greater destiny to be with Jesus forever. But while we are here, we are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). We show others the glory of Christ. We are the aroma of death to some and the aroma of Christ and life to others (2 Corinthians 2:15-17).

So as we fight behind enemy lines for the truth of the gospel and the sake of Christ, we present Him to everyone we meet and allow the Holy Spirit to do his work of drawing them to Jesus (John 12:32; 14:26; 16:14).

I will quickly address the idea of getting involved in politics or activism. Some Christians get involved in these levels of government and social life. Are they wrong? That’s up to them and Jesus. But spiritual warfare concerns spiritual matters.

We’re not talking about warring with the world physically. We’re not talking about warring with our flesh with physical means. These are spiritual battles we take on for the sake of Jesus and the lost people around us you need to know Him because they are being manipulated by the devil.

There is nothing we can do through activism and politics that solve the spiritual problem. Only Jesus can change the hearts of the individuals around us. Only He can change your family members, your friends, your coworkers, and the strangers on the street. Only He can change the heart of your enemy.

Tools of God’s Kingdom include missions and missions work. Rest assured, any missionary will tell you about the spiritual battles they face on the mission field. It is through evangelistic efforts that the Kingdom of God makes headway we cannot have with any other worldly approach. We will address the powerful spiritual weapon of evangelism later in our series.

  1. Fighting the Devil

The final level of spiritual warfare is fighting the devil. By the devil I refer to the real person of Satan, his demons that serve him, and the spiritual entities of idols and other principalities. We will be going into depth on each of these entities, but they are enemies in our spiritual warfare.

I call the devil the enemy of your souls because that is how Jesus speaks about him and the rest of the Bible talks about him. Satan even shows up in the Old Testament, from where we give him his name. Contrary to popular belief, he is a real entity.

We will talk about his origin, his mission and goals, how he interferes with you in your mission, and his tactics. But we do not spend that much time on the devil. We do not want to give him any glory. He is a defeated foe and we treat him as such in spiritual warfare.

Next, his demons, whom I like to call Satan’s minions, are those fallen angels who masquerade as false gods and do whatever they can to distract you from your Christian mission. They can be very dangerous, just as dangerous as the devil.

We will talk about them in more depth. There are some truths and some false statements about them made by Christian teachers. I will go more into depth about these types of things when I get to demons. But talk of them will span into the realm of the third kind of devil out there.

Paul enumerates four different types of evil spiritual forces. We will also spend time talking about these. Some believe Paul lists a hierarchy of these creatures and entities. Others believe he is listing one type of evil spiritual force and giving it four different names.

But we will get into discussions about rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and this present darkness (Ephesians 6:12). Based on your translation you may have different terms for these. But we will go more in depth on them as well.

Suffice it to say, no one should play around with evil spiritual forces. Just because we cannot see them does not mean they are not real or hold real power. We will also be talking about that, whether they hold real power or not.

Sadly, much of what we discussed in spiritual warfare is not considered even by some Christians to be a real danger and possibility. But that is the first lie of the devil and his friends. If they can get you to believe they don’t really exist then they already have you defeated.

Wrapping Up

These are surely not the only three levels of spiritual warfare, but they are some of the most dangerous ones. We must be aware of them. We must be able to distinguish between them. And we must be able to know when we are dealing with a spiritual battle or another type of battle.

I am looking forward to continuing to dive deep into the issues of spiritual warfare. As we continue our Spiritual Soldier Series I want to prepare you for what is out there, what you will come into contact with, and what you must be able to defeat in the name of Jesus.

How do you deal with battles on these three levels? Do you see temptation as a physical or spiritual battle? Do you notice things in the physical realm that have a spiritual source and therefore a spiritual battle that must be one before you see a difference in the physical?

Up Next

We have spent a lot of time laying the groundwork in these beginning posts. We must understand the principles of spiritual warfare to be effective. In our next battlefield training we will focus on 7 Principles of Spiritual Warfare You Must Know.

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5 Facts about the Battlefield of Spiritual Warfare

This entry is part 2 of 12 in the series Spiritual Soldier Series

As we continue our Spiritual Soldier Series about spiritual warfare, we must be clear on the battlefield and how it is set up. We can only experience three if we know all the players involved, the realms we are involved with, and what to expect.

If we don’t know all of these factors we will become battle casualties instead of conquerors. So let us turn to these five facts about this battlefield. Our knowledge puts us in the right place to fight the battles we face and win them.

  1. The physical realm is the enemy you know.

So many things go wrong in the physical realm. If they haven’t happened to you, you have seen them happen to others. Financial ruin, starving, sickness, health issues, and every other form of sin and its results.

We are born into this realm. We have experienced and observed what happens here. Are familiarity with it makes us think this is the realm that matters the most. Everything that happens here happens on its own.

But that’s not the case. What happens in the physical realm is the result of another realm. We are connected to our bodies because we receive them at birth and they house who we really are. I have a body that as a quadriplegic does not respond to what my brain tells it to do.

Our bodies are important for our survival in this realm. If it weren’t for a ventilator I will not survive for terribly long time. I can only breeze off my ventilator for a number of hours before my breathing becomes labored as my lungs work as hard as they can to keep me alive. But eventually without ventilator support they would give out.

Paul says that if we only have hope in Christ for this life we are to be pitied above all people (1 Corinthians 15:19). There must be more to this life than what we see and feel. We all have a hope deep inside that there is more than this.

I have heard stories of naturalist scientists who only believe in this physical world and atheists who on their death beds have looked to the heavens and thought, “I wish this is not all there is.” There is no hope in an existence only in the here and now.

Look at our cultures from long ago and now. Why do we have so many legends and stories about the afterlife? Someone or something has placed this desire from within this life inside of us. We wouldn’t have the idea of an afterlife or something greater than us if the possibility didn’t exist.

We start here in this physical realm. But I thank God (another concept we don’t need if this is all there is) that there is so much more to our existence. We practice spiritual warfare because there is another realm more important than this one.

  1. The spiritual realm is the friend you need.

We are part of the spiritual realm and meant to dwell in both. God created every person with a soul and spirit. These are the eternal and spiritual parts of every person. We long for concepts like heaven, eternity, God, and a way to get there because the spiritual realm exists.

In fact, the spiritual realm existed before the physical realm. How do I know that? The Bible begins by telling us that God existed before physical creation and brought it into existence by His powerful voice.

Only after God spoke did something happen in the physical creation. If he would not have spoken nothing would exist. Because God is above creation He decides how the world works, including these two realms. Nothing happens without His say-so.

The spiritual and physical realms are overlaid on top of one another. It’s possible to see what’s happening in the spiritual realm from the physical realm. But we must have eyes of faith to see the spiritual realm. The Holy Spirit makes our spirits alive to know God.

Faith is a powerful weapon in the spiritual realm. It can cause God’s power to change the physical realm. Through faith, we can experience healing, salvation in others, deliverance from spiritual darkness and demons, and it can do so much more. Jesus said that faith can move physical mountains (Matthew 17:20).

Angels and Demons, spiritual forces, can be seen in the physical realm. God makes things happen in the physical. He controls whatever He wills. God has intervened throughout human history to bring redemption and salvation to His fallen creatures.

The Bible documents much of what God has done in the physical realm. Every miracle is evidence that the spiritual realm changes before the physical realm. Think of the physical realm as the mirror reflecting the results of the spiritual realm.

This makes the spiritual realm much more powerful than the physical realm. So if we want to be part of eternity, to have power from God, we must not only believe in the spiritual realm but be members of it.

We play a vital role in the spiritual realm. God our Creator made us as amphibians. We are part of both realms. But if our spirits are not awakened to God’s presence by the time we physically die, we will remain spiritually dead into eternity. So we must find our place in the spiritual realm. It is the plane of existence on which the battlefield of spiritual warfare is waged.

  1. Evil forces are out for your soul.

On the spiritual plane of existence are a number of spiritual forces. They are not your friends. They are out to destroy you. They succeed when they keep you from spending eternity with God. This is the spiritual battle of all time.

These evil forces have a number of players. Satan is the chief evil being in the spiritual realm. He wants to destroy you. He is God’s adversary, but they are not equal in power. We will be studying Satan throughout our Spiritual Soldier training.

The Bible has nothing good to say about him. He is not only God’s enemy. He is your enemy. He likes nothing more than to trip you up and pull you away from God. Herein lies the biggest challenge for us. We began dead in the spiritual realm, and headed for an eternal destiny with Satan before we meet Jesus.

We contend for the souls of others around us as part of spiritual warfare. As spiritually alive and connected to Jesus we are like bright lights in the darkness while those around us are lightbulbs that have yet to turn on. We talk about Satan in more depth later in our series.

This is why we spend such heartbreaking moments full of tears for our loved ones in prayer. There is so much going against them. They don’t even realize what’s happening in the spiritual realm around them. But prayer is one of the most powerful weapons we wield in the spiritual realm.

Along with Satan are the demons that serve him. Satan is only one being and he can only affect one or two things at a time, just like us. But he has a host of demons who individually push themselves into the lives of other people. They can disrupt and destroy people in the physical realm.

We will be talking about demons later on in our series as well. We must understand the distinctions between these beings so we are prepared to fight them. They are not the only spiritual beings in the physical realm. But everything they touch they desire to destroy.

Along with Satan and his demons there are also false gods and idols. They try to usurp God’s place by acting like Him. They use what little authority they have to try to convince human beings that they are true gods and God is false.

Paul enumerates four of these spiritual beings in his letters. We will be diving into them in later posts and what the Bible says about them. But we must understand that all these spiritual forces are against us.

They have no good motives in mind for us. We must be aware of their schemes and strategies so we can defeat them by God’s power.

  1. Jesus is all you need.

I gave you the bad news first. You are stuck in a spiritual realm you cannot win on your own. There are enemies you don’t know seeking to take your spiritual and eternal life for you. This hopeless situation is not the end.

Jesus is greater than all of these enemies. When you know Him you are on the winning team. Jesus went to the Cross and conquered all of these enemies. He is King of the universe. Everything in creation, including Satan, demons, evil spiritual forces, and every human being, bows to Him.

We will be talking a lot about Jesus, much more than we talk about the devil or anything else in the spiritual realm. Because Jesus is the great Conqueror and the Victorious One, He’s the only One who matters in our discussion.

Everything Jesus has done for you rings through eternity. What He has done no one can reverse. He is the Hero of the story. And He takes all Christians along with Him. His victory over sin, Hell, and the grave is your victory.

Because of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, there is an extremely uneven distribution of power in the spiritual realm. Nothing else comes close to Jesus’ power and authority. When we work with Jesus we fear nothing because He has always had much greater power and authority.

If you want to be with God for eternity and experience eternal life you must know Jesus and serve Him. You can only conquer these spiritual foes through your relationship with Jesus. Only He can give you the authority and power to be victorious in spiritual warfare.

  1. You can have victory.

Many people are afraid of spiritual warfare and evil spiritual forces ranging from Satan to his demons. But you don’t have to be afraid when you walk with Jesus. You can have victory in spiritual warfare.

But you must serve Jesus. He is your only hope. Contrary to popular beliefs in multiple ways to God, Jesus proclaims himself the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Part of spiritual warfare is to present the truth of God’s Word in a world of delusion and lies. The spiritual darkness in our world is woven by Satan.

So be prepared and arm yourself to face off with all of the spiritual powers. We will experience through our Spiritual Soldier training how to handle these battles. Jesus had the victory long ago, and he gives it to us.

But for a time these evil spiritual forces have been given permission to wreak havoc on this world. Jesus has the victory but we still face these evil spiritual forces until they are destroyed by Jesus in the end.

If you are not prepared when spiritual warfare comes to your doorstep you will not be able to win. Victory only comes through being prepared in Jesus.

Wrapping Up

You must have a good handle on the spiritual realm, the physical realm, Satan and his demons, evil spiritual forces of all kinds, and the fact that Jesus brings victory to those who love Him. These may sound like very basic principles but without believing them you will not have victory.

These are important causation because there are teachers out there who are claiming that some of these things are true. They give too much power to the enemy. They make it harder to defeat the enemy than is necessary. We will look more in-depth at all of these things as we continue on. What are some teachings you have received about spiritual warfare in the past?

Up Next

Our next training in our lineup concerns three levels of spiritual warfare. Satan does not just come at us in one way. There are several approaches to spiritual warfare. We will look at all three that are proposed by teachers and discern how to apply them to our lives.

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5 Reasons to Study and Practice Spiritual Warfare

This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series Spiritual Soldier Series
Spiritual Soldier Series Spiritual Warfare Divine Discourse Blog
Image by ThePixelman from Pixabay

Introduction

Welcome to the Spiritual Soldier Series! I’m excited to talk about matters of spiritual warfare. We will be discussing many subjects under this new series in Divine Discourse. I’m thankful to all of you who contributed to enhance this series.

Some people misunderstand what spiritual warfare is. But we will be discussing that in another post. I want to introduce the series by discussing 5 reasons to study and practice spiritual warfare for every believer in Jesus Christ. Let’s dive in!

  1. Satan and his demons exist and wage war against Christians.

First and foremost, every Christian must realize that there is a spiritual realm. There are several players in the spiritual realm that we must be aware of. God and His angels, Satan and his demons, evil spiritual forces, and you are in the battle.

As a Christian you must know that there are spiritual battles all around you. Satan and his demons combine with evil spiritual forces against you and God and His angels. Some Christians are already well aware of this fight.

But you because you have both a physical (your body) and spiritual (your spirit and soul) nature are in the fight. Some people don’t believe in Satan or demons. They think these are mythological creatures from the past.

But the Bible confirms that Satan and his demons exist. There is a darkness that currently has some jurisdiction in this world (Ephesians 2:1-4). These beings are enemies to your soul. We will be digging deeper into who they are and what they do.

But for now know that you are involved in a battle that began before you were even born. As a Christian you must know how to defend yourself and how to advance God’s Kingdom behind enemy lines in this world.

If you don’t realize this first fact you are already in danger of attack. The Bible teaches us how to defend ourselves. It shows us how to wage war against these evil forces under God’s authority. So prepare yourself for the fight as we study Scripture together and practice spiritual warfare.

  1. The Bible talks about spiritual warfare.

Throughout the Bible God addresses the fact of spiritual warfare and the tactics and strategies of the enemy. But He also gives us the power through the Holy Spirit and His Word to put the enemy in his place.

Weapons like the whole armor of God and a mental mindset, an understanding of the devils devices and our ability in Christ to defeat every attack can be found in its pages. Jesus makes us aware of the battle at hand and gives us the tools to stand against these evil forces.

But the battle is not just about you as an individual. It’s one thing to stand and defend yourself. But like any fighting force throughout our world today we are also called to defend others and train them for war.

Unbelievers are unaware of this fight. Through tools like prayer, proclamation, authority, and worship we take the fight to the enemy and ask God for his preservation of our loved ones. We stand in the gap for others and ourselves.

The Bible provides principles and practices that defeat the enemy and give us victory in Jesus. It will be our main spiritual warfare manual to wage war against the enemy of our souls, and even defend those around us until they join the fight with Christ.

  1. Every Christian is under spiritual attack.

I cannot say it enough. Not everything that happens to you is a physical problem. There are spiritual forces at work. Jesus gives you the discernment to know if it is a physical or spiritual issue.

Sometimes physical issues can also be spiritual ones. Demons often possessed people and caused physical reactions in the process. One of the biggest challenges is recognizing a spiritual attack. You cannot defend yourself in a spiritual attack if you are not aware it is a spiritual attack.

The devil wants to stop you from pounding down the gates of Hell in the name of Jesus. If you are one of His spiritual soldiers you must be aware of the lay of the spiritual land. You cannot take the battlefield for Jesus if you are unaware of the players and the field.

But you cannot suspect that the devil is after you personally. Unlike God who is everywhere the devil cannot be everywhere at once. He is only one being and is limited in his movement. But he has demons he controls and he also controls this world at this moment.

We will discuss the weapons of your defense. You must have the mindset to conquer the enemy. But with everything we will talk about throughout this Spiritual Soldier series the Bible equips you well to serve Jesus and live in victory.

Do not be caught unaware of the battle or those against you. The battle belongs to the Lord and he will give you victory. Just because you are under siege does not mean you are powerless. See the battlefield and the enemy. Know your weapons and how to use them and you will see victory.

  1. Christians live behind enemy lines in this world.

When Jesus left this world to return to the Father he prepared the disciples in the New Testament and us to live in this world but not have its values (John 17: 11, 14-18). Because we understand the physical world more than the spiritual world at first we may get too comfortable here.

But Satan has designed the world system around us to work against Christians. Even if you are not under physical persecution now, he still has ways to intimidate you. The world governments and culture around you are not your friends.

Because we live in the world but we work for Jesus we must be prepared for everything the enemy has to throw against us. But we must also not live a paranoid life. That will not advance God’s Kingdom or show others a different Lord.

The way you live in this world shows God’s power through you. If you live is a defeated foe or act like you are planning for the other team through your comfortable occupation of this world you will be less effective for Jesus.

This is not a war for your pastor or spiritual elders to fight for you. The enemy is coming after you. You must arm yourself and prepare for the battle. You must know what to do when the enemy comes to fight you. The Bible speaks to you today as it did to Jesus’ disciples and soldiers in the past.

Jesus has placed His Spirit in you to take this world for Him. And His Spirit is greater in you than he, the devil, who is in the world (1 John 4:4). When you know you are behind enemy lines you realize what you can do for Jesus.

He gives you the ability to be a witness and ambassador for Him (2 Corinthians 5:20). You can do a lot of damage to the enemy through the weapons and principles found in God’s Word. But you must not become a battle casualty or prisoner of war through complacency.

You have become a Spiritual Soldier in the battles of spiritual warfare. You have been activated and called up for duty to serve Jesus behind enemy lines. You are part of the winning side even though it doesn’t look like it now. But God is with His soldiers. And His presence with us gives us His power and peace.

  1. Jesus has given Christians authority in the spiritual realm.

One of your most powerful weapons is the authority Jesus gives you against the evil one and his demons. When Jesus sent out his disciples they came back excited that even demons fled from them (Luke 10:17-20). But Jesus said spiritual warfare must be understood in the context of loving and serving Him.

Christians are first secure in their relationship with Jesus. Then they are secure in their duty as His soldier. You need not worry about anything the enemy can bring to your door. Jesus has already given you power and defeated the enemy.

But you cannot just sit back and say the battle is over. He gave you authority to trample the enemy and take spiritual ground for His Kingdom. Use His authority to do damage to the enemy. Destroy the works of darkness in Jesus’ name.

We will study your authority in Jesus and the authority of Jesus’ name. You don’t need to fear any of the evil forces that will come against you. As you advance Jesus’ Kingdom through service to him they will not be happy. But you are well prepared by your Commander in Chief.

The weapons he gives you are strong for tearing down spiritual fortresses (2 Corinthians 10:4). When you remain in constant and vibrant relationship with Jesus He will give you every weapon you need right when you need it. All you must do is stand in the authority of Christ given to you.

Paul calls each of us to stand four times when he introduces us to some of the principles and gear to wage war in this world (Ephesians 6: 11-14). So prepare yourself to stand against the devil and his demons. And you will be victorious not because you are great in yourself that because God’s power rests in you.

Wrapping Up

Get ready to not only study spiritual warfare but to be armed to use the principles and weapons we discuss to take the battle to the enemy. Spiritual warfare must not be overemphasized.

But in our day and age it is underemphasized and underutilized by many believers. Too many in the Church are sleeping and already defeated by the devil. But you know better. If you aren’t ready now, these posts will help you train for the battle. You will no longer be one of the devil’s pawns.

So join me in preparing for the battle and sharpening your weapons. And if you have any ideas for me to cover or questions about spiritual warfare, you can always contact me and ask your questions. Throughout our training I will address them. My goal in this Spiritual Soldier Series is to help you take this world for Jesus.

Up Next

Our next training gives us the lay of the land. We’ll talk about the battlefield and our Commander in Chief, Jesus the Victor. Knowing Who you fight for will give you energy and encouragement to not only face the enemy but defeat him in Jesus’ power.

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Holiness Matters for Today

This entry is part 144 of 144 in the series Holiness Matters
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This is the final post for the Holiness Matters series. We have finally arrived. We have covered a wide range of areas holiness touches. Not one part of our lives is unaffected. Many Christians continue to struggle with fleshly desires, temptation, and sin. They concentrate on all the negative commands they receive in Scripture.

These Christians try to eradicate sin with their own willpower to no avail. But it’s not supposed to be that way. We can focus on the positive, thinking on godly things and concentrating on pleasing God in everything we think, say, and do.

Christian preachers and teachers may have taught you that the struggle will continue until you get to heaven, but you can live in victory now. In this final post on Holiness Matters we focus on a summary of the points of holiness I want you to remember, think about, and apply to your life.

Enemies of Holiness

We will be constantly battling three enemies of holiness in our lives. This doesn’t mean we walk in defeat. You can have victory over every one of these enemies. But you must ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you His power over them.

First, you must battle your fleshly desires. This is “The Flesh” that Paul talks about so much. The flesh is the desires we used to have before we met Jesus. He has made us new creatures in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). We don’t have to bow to these desires any longer.

The flesh brings temptation to your doorstep. Although you are not subject to your fleshly desires anymore, they will try to drag you back in to your old lifestyle. You must resist the flesh and its desires and temptations.

Jesus calls us to new desires in Him. Instead of seeking our own selfish desires we seek to fulfill the law of liberty and the law of love He has taught us. Instead of loving ourselves we love others first. We put others ahead of ourselves.

Instead of seeking our own welfare we seek the welfare of others. And most of all we seek to know Jesus in the power of His resurrection, chasing after him with reckless abandon (Philippians 3:8-11).

We want to please God and bring glory to His name instead of our own. We seek to live out godly principles and a biblical worldview. Our values have completely changed, and our perspective is now focused on eternity.

The second enemy of holiness is the world. By the world I’m not speaking of people in the world. I’m talking about the evil world system that seeks to destroy Christians and opposes God at every turn. The world is the environment of sin we were born into and must contend with.

John often talks about the world in a negative way because he’s talking about the world system around us. We must not bow to the persecution around us. We must turn away from temptation and find a way out of it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The world tries to get us to change our godly values and eternal perspective. Our new perspective runs contrary to the way the world operates. We can be salt and light in a world full of darkness. As salt we preserve righteousness in the world and sees in our conversations with godly talk.

Our light penetrates the darkness as Jesus did. We bring revelation of sin into the world. The Holy Spirit uses us to convict those in the world of their sin and bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We show them a godly lifestyle.

The third enemy of our souls is Satan and his demons. Through spiritual warfare we take the battle to the enemy. Neither Satan or his demons can stand against the name of Jesus. But we must know Jesus and be walking with Him.

The power to wage war against the devil and his enemies does not come by our own strength. The power comes from Jesus and His Spirit. So we must rely on our relationship with Him, on continually abiding in Him.

There are many strategies to defeat these enemies of holiness and to live in victory. We must employ the one we need to win the day. Let us always rely on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Key Mindsets of Holiness

I am thoroughly convinced as I have studied holiness for over four years that our greatest asset is our mindset. The way we think about ourselves and about the enemies of holiness is the way we win the battle.

God guides our minds with the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17). And yet we often do not realize everything that happens the moment Jesus saves us. If we had a clear understanding of our identity in Christ we could face the enemy head on.

Knowing who you are in Christ keeps the devil from making you think you are weak or unsaved. He cannot play his mind games on you. You are a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), meaning your old life and old desires have passed away.

You are no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:15-19) and you’re dead to sin (Ephesians 2:1-4). When temptation comes knocking you are not home. When a hunter pokes a dead animal he shot it doesn’t move. You don’t respond to temptation anymore.

When you know who you are in Christ it is much easier to not allow your flesh, temptation, and sin try to get to you. Satan can’t convince you that you are a sinner, can’t defend against temptation, and cannot win the war against Satan.

Why Holiness?

Why do we want to live for God here and now? After all, if we are saved we can just wait for the end when we go to Heaven. But that’s not how it works. We are here on earth to glorify Jesus. We must lead others to Him.

More than that, holiness prepares us for Heaven. We follow God’s commandment to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:14-16). We are his representatives and show people God’s expectations and what He is like. We imitate His holiness.

God’s states His ultimate goal throughout Scripture, “I will be their God and they will be my people” (Exod 6:7; Jer 24:7; 31:33; Ezek 11:20; 37:27; 2 Cor 6:16; Heb 8:10; Rev 21:7). He deserves our worship and we love Him for what He has done for us, and for who He is.

We trust in Jesus as the only way to the Father, the Truth we’ve been searching for all our lives, and the eternal Life He has promised us (John 14:6). God has loved us as His creation from the beginning of our lives. When we find Him we cannot resist His love and grace toward us.

Actions for Holy Living

I cannot leave you with all this information without practical steps to apply to your life. The point of understanding holiness is to carry out measures that will ensure growth in godliness. I hope that at least one of these action points will help you grow in holiness.

These are ways we can apply holiness to our lives and please God. These are taken from my book, Holiness Matters: a Call to Obey the Holy Spirit.

  • Obey the Holy Spirit. Growing in holiness requires obedience to the Holy Spirit in everything. Our natural inclination must be to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit. We will make little progress until this becomes our second nature.
  • Look for a Way Out of Temptation (1 Cor 10:13). Paul teaches that God always provides a way out of temptation. When temptation grabs your attention, look for the open door out of the burning house and run through it with all of your strength.
  • Fill the Gaps. Even after becoming new creatures in Christ, we have weaknesses and old areas Satan will continue to bombard. When we know our weaknesses and have a plan against temptation, we can stand against it. Make two columns on a piece of paper. Write your weaknesses on the left side. On the right side, write at least two action steps to avoid temptation in those areas.
  • Push away and Get Close. James tells us to take two opposing actions at once. First, we submit to God. God must be number one in our lives at all times. We must keep our first love (Revelation 2:4). Then we must resist the devil. Tell him no, and command him to leave. Do not entertain his advances, and he will be powerless against you.
  • Live dead. Paul teaches we are dead to sin (Rom 6:1-4; Eph 2:1-4). We do not respond to sin. Do not give it an opportunity. Focus on God and living for Him. Honor Him in every area of your life, and do everything that pleases Him.
  • Use Your Sword. Memorize Scriptures that address any weaknesses in your life. When temptation rings the doorbell, shut it down like Jesus did in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Know the Scriptures before you are in the battle with temptation.
  • Go to Work. Godly distractions help people to focus on God. Bury yourself in Bible reading, study, and prayer; these activities keep our focus on God and our relationship with Him. God has a mission for every believer. As we discover it, acting on it with all of our heart brings God’s Kingdom into focus.
  • Practice the Spiritual Disciplines. Spiritual disciplines, from Bible intake to journaling, help us monitor our heart and spirit before the Lord. We evaluate our lifestyle, intentions, motives, thoughts, and actions.

My Prayer for You

Precious Jesus, As we seek You for Your holy best in our life, I pray You will call us to Yourself. Equip us for every good work. May we be conformed to Your character as Your Spirit renews our minds daily. Your victorious walk has overcome sin and shame.

Holy Spirit, fill us with Your presence every moment of every day. Empower us to serve Jesus with excellence, training us in the gifts You give in Your infinite wisdom. Cultivate Your fruit in our character and increase our faith to see unparalleled and remarkable miracles as You dwell in us by Your Power.

Jesus, I pray that one day You will embrace us at the end of this great journey saying, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” May we experience the fullness of Your unmatched love in eternity with You. Fill our lives with blessing as we Serve You and grow into holy character that glorifies You. Amen.

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Living in Victory

This entry is part 143 of 144 in the series Holiness Matters
Image by Elmer Geissler from Pixabay

Some Christians don’t believe holiness is attainable in this life. So they don’t strive for holiness. Others relegate holiness to a scholarly, academic discussion. But the Bible calls us to be holy is the Lord is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:14-16).

If God commands us to do something it is possible. But we cannot strive for holiness on our own. It must be done through the help and power of the Holy Spirit. As we obey the Spirit by doing whatever He commands us to do we will attain holiness and live in victory over sin and temptation.

We’re coming to the end of our study on holiness and how to apply it to many of the situations in our lives. We will talk about how to live in victory in this post and conclude our study in our post on Holiness Matters for Today.

Chasing after God

James highlights two approaches to holiness (James 4: 7-10). We must employ both of these approaches to become holy. The first approach is to submit ourselves to God. When we submit ourselves to God we surrender every part of our lives to Him.

Nothing is kept from the Holy Spirit. Everything is on the table for Him to change. But many times we find it hard to completely obey the Holy Spirit. Jesus saves us by His grace. Most Christian preachers and teachers leave it there. They say that is all that’s involved in Christian discipleship and maturity.

But there is one thing Jesus commands us to do. We must submit ourselves to God, being obedient to the Holy Spirit in everything. Even though that’s the one thing we must do as part of our salvation it is the hardest thing for us to do.

The Holy Spirit will address parts of our character that don’t please God. When we must do what He says we struggle to be obedient and complete the tasks He lays before us. The issues the Spirit addresses are flaws in our character that we had before we met Jesus.

He will bring up our pride, lust, coveting, materialism, and other issues in our character. These are long-term issues, things we have had in our character since birth. While God may change some of these issues in us at salvation, most of the work must be done by the Spirit as we walk with Jesus.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12–13, ESV)

The Bible tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. But how do we accomplish this? This is why I say we are commanded to obey the Holy Spirit in everything. The Holy Spirit guides us but we must follow Him.

Notice Paul mentions the word “obey.” He is not only speaking of obeying him as he taught the Philippians. Paul is not physically present to know that the Philippians have obeyed in his absence. Therefore, it cannot be Paul the Philippians are obeying. So who are they obedient to? The Holy Spirit. So it is with all of us who are walking with Jesus.

We work out our salvation by listening to and obeying the Spirit. He leads us by telling us what we must change to please the Lord. Then we change those parts of us. We change them through being tested as the Holy Spirit places us in situations that we must be obedient.

For example, the Holy Spirit teaches me patience as I wait at the doctor’s office and the doctor is behind. As I stand in long lines at the grocery store He is teaching me patience. In each of these examples I can continue to be impatient or I can surrender this character flaw to the Holy Spirit and learn to wait.

Paul says it is God who works in us (through the power of His Spirit) to will and to work for His good pleasure. He does this through His Spirit. As we obey the Holy Spirit he leads us into holiness through His testing and our obedience.

Paul reminds the Galatians that the Holy Spirit is not only at work in our salvation but also in our sanctification, our chasing after God in holiness (Galatians 3:2-5).

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—” (Galatians 3:2–5, ESV)

Only God can give His Spirit to us at salvation. But we didn’t earn the Spirit through our own works or following laws. God gave the Holy Spirit to us through our faith in Him as a gift of grace.

We began our walk with Jesus, saved by the Holy Spirit’s work in us. But we cannot turn to her own means after we are saved. We must continue in sanctification with the Holy Spirit. He is our Guide. The only way we become holy is through listening to and obeying Him.

James tells us that when we draw near to God He draws near to us (James 4:8). We must practice purity and resisting the world to draw near to God. Many Christians are resisting the devil, temptation, and their fleshly desires but are not as fluent in the language and practice of drawing near to God.

Freedom from Sin

The second approach James gives is to resist the devil (James 4:7). This is the one most Christians are very good at. We fight the battle of temptation with vigor. We jump on the battlefield of crucifying the flesh and surrendering our desires.

Martin Luther was famous for his prayers against the devil. He pulled no punches. Today if we heard his prayers we may be surprised by some of his language. But he saw the devil in the right sense, as the enemy against the Christian believer.

There are many volumes written on how to resist the devil and temptation. And many of these strategies and tactics are biblically sound and effective. But holiness includes both resisting the devil and submitting to God.

You may find you are better at one then the other. But as a pastor and Christian I have found I know much more about resisting the devil and temptation than I know about how to draw near to God. This is not easy for me to admit.

After all, as a pastor I feel I should know much more about how to draw close to God. To be sure there are many volumes written about this subject as well. We want to shore up our defenses against temptation. But many of us have sacrificed knowing how to draw near to God for this goal.

Paul counsels us when temptation comes after us to look for the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). God always provides a layout of our temptation. But we must look for it. We must want the way of escape.

Jesus also gives us a superb example of resisting the devil and his temptation when he was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. He was tempted three times by the devil and each time used Scripture not only to defend Himself but to go on the offensive.

We know from this account that the devil knows Scripture as well as we do. But he twists it and misuses it. So we must not only have versus memorized but understand the intent and context of those verses. Our memorization is best done as we study God’s Word. We must be able to discern the difference between bad and good interpretation of Scripture.

These are just a few of the many strategies we can use against the enemy of our souls. We must be prepared for such encounters. And we must also consider that the devil is but one being. He cannot attack all of us at once. I suggest to you that he is after the bigger and more dangerous targets to the gates of Hell.

But he also has many demons who would love nothing more than to distract us from our walk with Jesus. This is why we must be prepared for temptation. Resisting the devil includes more than just temptation. We must also consider spiritual warfare. There are some Christian teachers who place resisting temptation as one of the levels of spiritual warfare.

Let us all be ready for when temptation knocks on our door. Have a plan in place for the temptations that come after your weaknesses. What in your background and before you met Jesus was a temptation you never resisted? These will give you a head start in fending off the attacks of temptation.

Passion for Holiness

If anything you have seen as you have studied holiness with me throughout these almost 150 blog posts, we must have a passion for holiness. Through holiness we please God and set ourselves on the path toward heaven.

Holiness calls us to draw near to God. Volumes like Tozer’s The Pursuit of God, Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God and many more volumes like these are excellent classics. They help us to learn how to draw close to God.

We can practice holiness and live in victory over sin. But victory is much more than just defeating sin and the devil in our lives. Living in victory requires Christians to have such a strong faith that they cannot be denied by this world.

How did Peter, Paul, John, and many more in the New Testament, especially the bulk of Acts, become so used by God that they did miracles, set people free from demons, and preached the gospel without abandon?

They had the most vibrant relationship with Jesus. That is the key to witnessing the power of God in our lives. And that comes through living holy lives that please and glorify God. This is the task set before every Christian.

Holiness brings with it deep relationship with God, the power of God through our hands, a life desired by people in the world, and the ability to please and glorify God. We must develop a passion for holiness.

Conclusion

Many blessings come through living a holy life before the Lord and the world. James gives us the twofold key to holiness, submitting to God and resisting the devil and temptation. We must become proficient in both of these areas.

Which one of these areas are you weaker in? Seek books and resources that will help you become victorious in your walk with Jesus. Victory is not only the resistance of evil but the persistence to pursue God with all your might. What are other ways you can experience victory in your walk with Jesus?

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Stand for Jesus

This entry is part 142 of 144 in the series Holiness Matters

Christians live in a world God created to be good. But sin and wickedness have marred and tainted His good creation. How do we live amongst others? Our attitude must be the same as Jesus’ attitude.

Above all we must present ourselves as holy before the Lord. Here are some thoughts on how to live holy lives in this world and represent Jesus, presenting Him before those who do not believe in Him.

Living in This World

We live the challenge every day of the positive and negative aspects of living for Jesus in this world. We have the opportunity to represent Jesus and live holy lives before others. We can share our story of how Jesus has changed our lives.

But we also endure the persecution of others and their disdain for Jesus and His message through us. We must balance these positive and negative aspects. Much of our effectiveness relies on how we see this world and treat others in it.

Most of the people we meet treat us with respect. They don’t want to persecute us. They are our family members and friends. They enjoy our company and like to hear what we have to say. They are not offended by the gospel.

There are places in this world where persecution against Christians reigns. But here in America we are not to the point of shedding our blood for our witness and faith. There are laws and rights we have as Christian Americans that prevent others from persecuting us to that extent.

It won’t always be this way. But we must enjoy this grace period while it lasts. Take full advantage and embrace the opportunities God presents. You are free to worship God, free to share your faith, and free to practice it. Thank God for this opportunity.

Don’t see everyone as an enemy of the faith. Embrace each person as you meet them. If they turn out to be hostile toward the faith, allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you. Address their concerns as best you can with compassionate apologetics.

Enduring Persecution

But there are some throughout the world to endure incredible persecution and suffering. They are resisting evil through affliction and martyrdom. We must pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who bear their necks for Him.

In America much of our suffering for Jesus is done through enduring those who speak against us, malign our character, and slander our names. They see us as unintelligent for blindly following our Savior and obeying His Word.

They can’t understand why we trust in ancient documents of the Bible and follow archaic principles, according to them. New Atheists not only disagree with us but seek to evangelize against Christianity and other religions. They see faith as a dangerous back step into the past. They aim to trip us up and make us look like fools.

As we endure such persecution we must remember that we are under God’s grace. If we must suffer for the gospel and for Christ’s name to the point of shedding our blood in martyrdom or suffering torture Jesus gives us his grace and power to endure it.

One of my mentors, Pastor Paul Grabill often reminded us that, “You can’t scare a Christian with heaven.” Even if we die for the sake of Christ we will find ourselves with Him in Heaven. We do not lose when our home is Heaven.

He also used to say, “This world is not my home.” We must remember that while we live here we work for Jesus. Whether we find ourselves among friends or enemies we must not get so comfortable with the world that we forget our final destination.

No matter what your path is as you serve Christ in this world, hostile or friendly, you can trust in your inheritance. Even if they do the worst they can to you, they can never take Christ away from you. Live boldly for Jesus.

Living Holy Lives

Jesus calls us to be holy for Him. Through holy living we please God and honor Jesus. But the key living a holy life is to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit. He guides us on the path to holiness, giving us each step at a time.

But to those on the outside we sometimes look like we are not following Jesus’ commands. Our actions can be out of sync with our character. Perhaps we stumble in our walk with Jesus into temptation and sin. The Holy Spirit is working on our character and actions.

It will look to the outside world as though we are not representing Jesus. We may look like the world from time to time. But we are all works in progress. The Holy Spirit isn’t finished with you yet.

They probably wouldn’t understand if you tried to explain that you are not perfect and as you walk with Jesus sometimes you stumble. It’s a high calling to profess to the faith and walk with Jesus. Always remember that as long as Jesus is pleased with your progress as you grow in Him you are not a failure.

Make the distinction between momentary sin and a lifestyle of sin. We must not live a life of continual sin. This does not please God. We may stumble into sin through temptation, but it must not happen regularly. And we must deal with our sin instead of letting it go and thinking we’re still okay. Confess your sin and receive forgiveness from Jesus (1 John 1:9).

As you walk with Jesus you may want to compare yourself to other Christians. But each one of us is on a different step on the path to holiness. We all come to Christ with different backgrounds. What the Holy Spirit needs to address in my character and life will not be the same as yours.

We are all at different levels of maturity in Jesus. Walk your path He has given you and don’t be discouraged by others who are farther along. The Spirit has you right where he wants you.

Follow the path of holiness and you will please Jesus. You will glorify Him in all you do. Strive to live the life that honors God. Look at Jesus instead of at the world. Submit yourself to God and resist the devil (James 4:7-8). Always obey the voice of the Holy Spirit and you will not go wrong.

Telling Your Story

“But you will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8 (My Translation)

Your greatest asset as you walk with Jesus in this world is telling your story to others. Jesus has done such an incredible work in you. Your passion for Jesus should never wane as you mature in Him. The more you know Jesus the more excited you should become.

And your excitement will be contagious. People will want to know why you are different. They will want to know why you are helping them. One of the most effective ways to tell your story is through compassion ministry followed by proclamation.

As you compassionately help others they will be curious about your motivation. When you tell them it’s because you love them as Jesus loves you they may be intrigued to know more. But if you only help people without telling them why, they will just think you’re a good person.

When you compassionately serve someone you must tell them why. You do it because of what Jesus has done for you. Jesus has taught you to help others. He is your motivation. He is your reason.

So when you do something for another person let them know that Jesus loves them. Be Jesus to them. You may be the only Jesus they ever meet. So represent Him well and share Him with others.

As we live in this world we are the salt and light Jesus told us we are (Matthew 5:13-16). Salt preserves righteousness on the earth. As you speak with others season your conversation (Colossians 4:6) with truth and grace.

Some Christians are great at truth. They don’t have a problem telling sinners where they stand with God. But they are not loving about it. Jesus told the truth, but He did it tactfully with love. So we must also be gracious to others. But you can’t go that far without truth either.

It’s not gracious to tell sinners they are fine when they are not fine with God. A holy God cannot dwell with unholy people. So you must also tell the truth. We should study how Jesus did it so we can show his truth, grace, and love to everyone we meet.

As Jesus’ light in this world you reveal to others who Jesus is. You show them the way to meet Him. They see His character in you. As you live through the situations of your life they see something different.

Lifestyle evangelism shows a great approach to living for Jesus in this world. As people see you live, the struggles you phase, your faith in Jesus, and how you have different values and principles they will be interested in what makes you different. So live for Jesus by His rules, a life of surrender and obedience, and you will draw attention to Jesus.

Representing Jesus

“Therefore, on Christ’s behalf, we are ambassadors, as God imploring you through us, begging you on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God.”

2 Corinthians 5:20 (My Translation)

Your goal is to give Jesus a good name. You do not live for yourself. It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus and His glory. He is the one you want people to see. We lift Him high by representing Jesus well.

Don’t take the easy way out. Be willing to suffer, sacrifice, and surrender for Jesus. Through your actions and words you show people the benefits of knowing Him. You show others the difference He has made in your life. Shine the light on Jesus as you live.

I tell people that as we are commanded to be in the world but not of it that we live in this world but we work for Jesus. We don’t do the same thing the world does. We don’t have the same values or goals. Jesus has changed our perspective.

We don’t live for today. We live for eternity. We don’t hoard up wealth and resources. We generously give them away. We live to bless others, not for ourselves. We hold others up instead of stepping over them to get to the top.

We are citizens of God’s Kingdom. We live to serve others. We try to be content with what we have. We forgive others instead of holding a grudge. These are some of the DNA of the people of God. And we are part of that crowd.

So as you represent Jesus well you live on this beautiful planet, put Him first and everything else will fall into place. You serve the King of the universe. It’s a privilege to know Jesus and to walk with Him on this earth until He takes us home.

Conclusion

Living in this world is not easy for people who belong in Heaven. But as we live here we live for Jesus. We represent Him and serve Him. Our heart beats for the audience of our Lord alone. We are not interested in the things of this world.

And as we walk with Jesus through this life we have the high honor of knowing and growing in Him. Through the way we live we show others how great it is to walk with Jesus. What are some of the ways you represent Jesus in your life?

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Nine to Five

This entry is part 141 of 144 in the series Holiness Matters
Image by bridgesward from Pixabay

Most people struggle with their jobs because they are in a dead-end job or aren’t doing what they want to do. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Bible lays out God’s principles for our work ethic.

Some people are good at building a solid career that makes them happy. Other people work way too much. There is a balance to our work ethic. Jesus teaches us through His Word how to have a work ethic that glorifies Him.

As we look at how the Bible approaches work we will see how God has designed work from the beginning and how it has been affected over time. There are reasons why we don’t like to work. But there are also reasons why we would be bored out of our minds if we didn’t have something to put our hands to and be productive. How do we practice holiness while we are at work?

God’s Design from the Beginning

Believe it or not God designed humans to work from the beginning. If we see the Garden of Eden as God’s best for us Adam was working in the garden before sin came on the earth. We can see him being placed in the garden by God to work in it (Genesis 2:15).

So work was part of God’s original plan for humanity. Work gives us a reason for living. It gives us something to do, something to see grow and produce. Work is good for us. This is what God has shown us from the beginning.

A lot of people don’t like how the Bible has set us up to do work. But that’s because they don’t know the kind of work that Adam did in the garden. They only know the kind of work we are exposed to day after day. A very important event happened in the garden that changed work for today.

In Genesis 3 when the Fall of Humanity happened it brought hardship to our work. Sin brought separation between God and humans and in our relationships with one another. But it also affects how we work.

Sin affects the whole of creation. We see this in the curse God gave after the Fall. I don’t see this as much God punishing humanity for the decision to eat the fruit He expressly forbade. I believe part of it is descriptive of what happened because of sin in creation.

It disrupted the relationships even between humans and their work. I would deduct from the church that Adam’s job in the garden was much easier before the Fall than after it. God says this to Adam as part of the curse humans have incurred:

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”” (Genesis 3:17–19, ESV)

Because of sin the ground Adam worked in the garden became hard to work with. Pain and toil would now be the ways of work. Thorns and thistles and other problems would arise as Adam worked. All of the little things that come up throughout the day delay progress and success. They are all a part of the curse, the thorns and thistles.

Even worse, the goals of your work will not be easy to achieve. Those thorns and thistles also represent our failure to complete our tasks to our standards and expectations. How can we be pleased with our work when it does not work the way we want it to?

While God gave Adam and Eve a beautiful garden with work ordained by Him and His way, their rebellion brought sin that cursed the ground and the work we do today. The reasons we don’t like our work come directly from the result of sin in this world.

God’s Expectations

Even though sin has changed work to make it harder for us, God still expects us to represent Him and have a work ethic that pleases Him. Paul addresses work among slaves and broaches the subject of how Christianity changes the way they work for their masters (Ephesians 6:5-8).

Their masters had complete control over them and could do whatever they wished with their slaves in the Roman Empire. Despite this backdrop Paul still called Christian slaves to live differently than non-Christian slaves.

Paul told them to obey their masters with the same attitude they would obey Christ. They must do their work not to please people but to please the Lord. They do their work heartily, having a goodwill and trusting that their work will receive a reward. They work as unto the Lord.

The Bible also addresses those who are lazy and don’t want to work at all. The book of Proverbs is replete with examples of how lazy people will also be poor because they refuse to work. Paul lays down the principle that he who doesn’t work doesn’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

On the opposite side are those who work way too hard. Our society has made the term “workaholic” because their desire to work resembles those who cannot stop drinking alcohol. We work to provide for ourselves and families. This means we work for money, but we must avoid the love of money which is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

Workaholics may be trying to avoid their home life or other situations. Whatever the reason, God called us to rest. He reserves one out of seven days for rest in Him and worship. Work must not always be our focus. There are other parts of our lives.

As I have stated in my post on Sabbath rest your family needs you more than you know. Even if they tell you they don’t want you around they need you. Don’t give up the best parts of you at work and leave them without your presence at home. You are more valuable than you can possibly imagine.

Work Hardships

As I mentioned already, there are work hardships everyone must deal with. The most common is a Christian employer/employee and a non-Christian employer/employee relationships. It’s tough to work with people who do not share your values or principles.

You will not see eye to eye with that person on anything. Perhaps a non-Christian employer wants you to do something illegal or shady. Maybe a non-Christian employee decides to be lazy or provide a shoddy work ethic.

The employer in our culture holds a strong hand over employees. He can decide to fire an employee and leave that person to fend for himself. Employers can blacklist employees so they cannot find work easily.

Even in a booming economy it is hard for an employee to find another job. Even more difficult and perhaps not as helpful is to retool, go back to school, and be retrained. This does not guarantee an employee can find the work, pay, and benefits he had in his previous career.

This is why Paul’s counsel to masters and slaves in the Roman Empire is so key for employers today. He tells Christian masters to treat their slaves the way Jesus would treat them and do the same in treatment to their slaves (Ephesians 6:9).

In heaven, there is no master/slave relationship. Jesus is Master of all and he will judge earthly masters as well as earthly slaves. He will judge justly no matter what station you hold in life on this earth. It is better to give grace and mercy instead of judgment and mistreatment of others.

Employers who must face the indignation and mistreatment of employees who will not give their best work, who badmouth the company or the employer, or have other behavior that is not conducive to a good and godly work ethic can also suffer.

Reducing friction in relationships at work is part of holy living. As well as it is with you, you must live at peace with everyone at work, whether they are fellow employees or with your employees as the employer (Romans 12:18).

Employees who are fired from a company unjustly must rely on those in the church for compassion. We share life together as Christians, and that includes our responsibility to help other Christians when we are able.

This is one of the reasons we support one another as believers in Christ and are part of His body. Until that person is able to get back on his feet he will need the support of fellow Christians. Let us help in every way we can those who belong to the body of Christ.

Your Work Witness

Some Christians may be surprised to learn how much a holy work ethic matters to God. The way we present ourselves before others, employees and employers, is part of our work as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).

People are much more willing to listen to your story about how Jesus has changed your life when you have a godly work ethic. If we do not have a good attitude and do hard work that pleases our employers they will not see what’s different about us and non-Christians.

Work evangelism is much like lifestyle evangelism. The demonstration is in your work ethic. When people see how you are different from unbelievers they will be much more interested in why you work so hard and also know when to go home and be with your family.

They will see that you are not a moneygrubbing workaholic who is only in it for the cash. They will see the joy of Christ in you as you work. They will hear how Jesus has changed your life and be open to the message.

Work can be one of the greatest tools for your evangelism efforts. People notice if you are not acting like a Christian at work. But they also notice if you are different from everyone else around you. Let us be the people who represent Jesus well at the job site.

Conclusion

The way we work matters to God. The Bible is full of examples and principles on Christian work ethic. We must represent Jesus as we work. He doesn’t want us to be workaholics or lazy. We must balance work with all the other aspects of our lives.

The way you work shows your Christian values and principles. If you don’t have a godly work ethic that pleases the Lord, you will not please your employers or fellow employees. Let us all be good workers and employers to glorify God. How do you view the Christian work ethic and it’s affect on others at work.

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Vacation Break

I’m thankful to be able to go on vacation this year. I will be going to Florida from August 1 to August 11. I have the privilege of going to our General Council of the Assemblies of God from August 3 to August 6. This is one Assemblies of God ministers gather nationally to deal with the business of the Church and enjoy Spirit-filled services.

I also have the opportunity to preach at my mentor’s church in Jupiter, Florida. I am greatly looking forward to preaching and also spending time with my mentor and his family. This’ll be a wonderful time to recharge my batteries and relax in between these events.

Since I’m going on vacation, my Divine Discourse blog will be taking a vacation also. I have posted my Holiness Matters post on marriage today, but I will not post until after I return. My next post will be on Friday, August 13.

Thank you for reading my blog and interacting with me on all of these issues. I enjoy writing and passing on my thoughts to you. I’m looking forward to continuing Divine Discourse when I return. Please pray that the Holy Spirit uses me in a powerful way as I preach His Word on August 8. Blessings!

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God’s First Institution

This entry is part 140 of 144 in the series Holiness Matters
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

It’s one of the hardest relationships I have had to counsel as a pastor. Some pastors are well prepared and have great experience counseling marriages, but that’s not me. I have never been married, so I am an observer of marriage.

But when couples come to me I tell them up front I rely on what the Bible says about marriage as I counsel them. Of course, the Bible is open to interpretation on marriage and I hear every interpretation under the sun from couples.

I will start my discussion on holiness in marriage by stating what the Bible says. Many have helped me along the way to give couples the very best counsel of the Bible. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

My greatest observation when a couple comes to me is that there are two sides to the story and neither partner is perfect, each one needing to improve themselves. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about marriage and how husband and wife can be holy toward one another.

In the Beginning

Right after God created everything he placed Adam in the garden and then created Eve from his side and rib (Genesis 2:15; 21-22). God included both the man and the woman as part of His image (Genesis 1:26-30).

Let’s flush this out because it’s important to see how this applies to marriage. I will highlight the parts where husband and wife are included together.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”” (Genesis 1:26, ESV)

When God makes man (understand humanity for this word) in His image He declares, “Let them have dominion…” Husband and wife share the image of God and have dominion to gather over all the animals on the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, ESV)

Once again, understand the word “man” to refer to humans instead of the male gender. God’s image is not complete until it includes both male and female. He created both of them in his image. And some scholars suggest that God’s image requires male and female to symbolize the three Person relationship in the Trinity.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” (Genesis 1:28–29, ESV)

God’s blessing came to both the man and the woman. He commanded both of them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. This is not the job of just the man or just a woman. They do it as a joint venture together.

Why is it so important to point this out? Most theologians believe the Garden of Eden was God’s desired best for His creation. This is the way God wanted things to work from the beginning. But sin entered the world and destroyed God’s perfect and ideal creation.

Moses under the direction of the Holy Spirit notes that husband and wife were naked but not ashamed before they sinned (Genesis 2:25). But after the Fall they knew they were naked and covered themselves up (Genesis 3:7).

Sin further affects the marriage relationship when the woman’s desire is for her husband but he will rule over her as part of the curse, God’s description of the reaction to sin (Genesis 3:16). The hierarchy in marriage relationships was destroyed at the Fall from God’s original ideal.

In the New Testament, Jesus sets the record straight on matters from divorce to lust to adultery. And throughout the New Testament letters we are given a clearer picture of God’s original ideal being restored in Christian marriages.

Christ and the Church

Paul presented a beautiful image of marriage when he talked about it in the context of Jesus and His Church. In Ephesians 5:22-32 Paul shows how the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the Church.

Jesus is the head of His Church and the husband is the head of the wife. The Church submits to Christ and the wife submits to the husband. Women have many issues with the word submit. But men should understand their role is just as important.

When I cover this passage either in marital counseling or premarital counseling the woman usually takes issue with this point. I do my best to explain that both husband and wife will take issue with parts of this passage.

For instance, the husband is commanded to sacrificially love his wife as he loves himself. Sacrificial means he does the same thing Jesus did for the Church. The husband is willing to die for his wife, even the most gruesome way as Christ did for His Church.

However you want to understand Christ’s role and the husband’s role you must see that Christ used his leadership to be sacrificial and unconditionally love the Church. Jesus used His leadership to present the Church to Himself in splendor without spot or blemishes. Husbands love their wives to the point of nourishing them so they flourish in their calling.

Peter also addresses the marital relationship between Christian husbands and wives (1 Peter 3:1-7). He explains submission as a witness of their relationship with the Lord, and it can even win their non-Christian husbands over to the Lord without a word.

Husbands must live understandingly with their wives, not abusing them. The wise husband seeks his wife’s counsel in every decision. Why would a husband not want to know what his wife thinks about everything they face in life together?

Paul and Peter flipped the current Greco-Roman culture between husbands and wives on its head. Roman husbands could treat their wives anyway they wished. But the restrictions of loving wives sacrificially as Christ loved the Church changes everything. Husbands are not harsh with their wives or able to take advantage of them.

Who’s in Charge?

The question of who’s in charge in any social situation, marriage included, is always in the forefront of our minds. I believe asking the question itself shows how far we have fallen from God’s original ideal.

Because of the sin in our world we want to know who’s got all the power. Feminists fought to get the power back from men. Men twist Scriptures dealing with cultural situations in churches in the New Testament letters to subjugate women. We are all to blame because we’re thinking like fallen creatures instead of new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Addressing the Scriptures that deal with women in ministry is outside of the purview of this post. Needless to say, I can point to several reasons why we’re asking the wrong question. We take our cue from the beginning of Genesis where God clearly included both men and women, husband and wife, as part of His image, His blessing, and His command to rule the animals and earth together.

Further, as new creatures in Christ both men and women are saved by God’s grace through faith. In no instance in the Bible does God invoke gender when he talks about salvation, sanctification, or giving of gifts of the Spirit. And these are just a few examples.

The same Paul who talked about the specific cultural issues in some of the churches, restricting the roles of women in these churches is the same Paul who highlighted the leadership ministry of women like Priscilla (whose name often appears before her husband Aquila), Phoebe who was a deacon, and several others throughout his letters.

Although it’s hard for us to wrap our heads around it, before Paul talked about wives submitting to their husbands, he mentioned one verse above (Ephesians 5:21) that every person, both men and women, in the Church submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Jesus is in charge as the Head of His Church first and foremost. We all submit to him. And then in different circumstances we submit to one another. For further explanation, check out my post on mutual submission in the body of Christ.

So in marriage husbands and wives share in leadership in the home. They address every issue together and take on life together. They were meant to function as one, complementing one another’s weaknesses.

Husbands who love their wives cherish them and hold them in the highest regard. Wives respect their husbands and provide wise counsel. God created the marriage relationship for husband-and-wife to work together.

Seeing Eye to Eye

So far I have been talking about a Christian marriage where both husband and wife are Christians. But what do you do if you are in a mixed relationship, where one spouse is a Christian and one is not?

First Corinthians 7 goes into detail about how to deal with an unbelieving spouse. Some of Paul’s advice tells the believing spouse to stay in the relationship as long as the unbelieving spouse is willing to live with them (1 Corinthians 7:12-14).

He counsels that you should stay in the same situation that you were when you came to Christ (1 Corinthians 7:20). Peter has already said that a wife who lives for the Lord before her husband can win him over to the faith (1 Peter 3:1).

Paul counsels people to not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). But many times one of the spouses comes to Christ after they are married. This changes the dynamic in the relationship. In these situations prayer is a mighty tool. Pray for your unbelieving spouse because God can do great things through prayer.

Try to live in a peaceable and understanding way with your spouse (1 Corinthians 7:15; Romans 12:18). Jesus calls all Christians to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). But if the unbelieving spouse cannot live with you because you are a Christian, you are free to separate from that spouse (1 Corinthians 7:15).

In any marriage relationship if the spouse commits adultery Jesus gives permission to divorce (Matthew 5:32). But God hates divorce. If it can be avoided, then by all means avoid it. Divorce has become too common a cultural phenomenon. Christians must refuse the urge to have divorce on the table.

When I do premarital counseling I counsel couples to not even allow divorce to be a thought. Don’t let it on the table as a way out if things don’t go your way. I can imagine the big things or even the little things that add up that will drive you nuts about your spouse. You don’t always know these things before you are in this intimate relationship.

But we must do all we can in every relationship, especially marriage, to maintain peace in the home and love between spouses. Break the cultural barrier and stay together through thick and thin. Work hard at your marriage and it will reward you over time.

A few of the most common reasons people have problems in their marriages are finances, communication, and selfishness. Many times I have sat at my desk as a pastor and wished the bickering would stop long enough for me to show both spouses how each of them were being selfish with the other.

We need to learn how to communicate in each other’s languages. There’s a reason books like, “The Five Love Languages,” and “Men are from Mars Women are from Venus” are written and very popular.

When you come to an impasse Christian counselors specializing in marriage counseling are available to you. There are great books written for marriage from a biblical point of view. Avail yourself of all of these resources.

Conquering Life Together

When we look at all of the biblical evidence concerning marriage we see there is mutual love and respect, and mutual submission between marriage partners. God designed marriage as an institution that prepares husband-and-wife to conquer life together.

Through consulting with one another and carrying the load of all the responsibilities that come with marriage, husband and wife complement one another. This is the way God designed marriage.

God didn’t see Adam being alone in the garden as a good thing. He created the woman as a helper to Adam. This doesn’t mean she was subservient to him. The word “helper” is used elsewhere in Scripture to refer to God Himself, and he is subservient to no human.

Instead of asking who’s in charge or seeking to control one another, husband and wife should work together. They should complement one another’s weaknesses with their strengths. Don’t allow the decay and sinful environment of this world to destroy your marriage.

Jesus must be the center of your marriage. When husband-and-wife submit to the Lord first they will find no trouble working together. God did not create marriage as a way to sabotage one another or ruin each other. He created it as a fortress for husband-and-wife to stand under as they face the storms of life and defeat them.

Conclusion

Marriage is not an easy institution. After the honeymoon wears off, up to two years, husband and wife may find themselves in squabble after squabble. But it doesn’t have to be this way and God didn’t make it that way in the beginning.

Each spouse must put the other before him or her. Husbands must love their wives sacrificially with Jesus as their example. Wives lovingly trust and respect their husbands as they live life together. They seek one another’s counsel and wisdom. What are some cultural issues that have tripped you up from seeing God’s vision for marriage?

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When In Rome

This entry is part 139 of 144 in the series Holiness Matters
Image by Kookay from Pixabay

There is a lot of unrest around our country right now. It seems every authority structure is being challenged. No one trusts the people in authority. So we ask the question of how Christians deal with the authorities of this world.

The Bible is clear on God’s expectations for Christians and worldly authority. Let’s consider biblical teaching on the authorities of this world and holiness. We are citizens of heaven but we also have citizenship on earth.

Respecting Authority

Since we are part of two different worlds, heaven and earth, we must know which authority to obey and submit to. The Bible tells us God’s expectations for how we deal with human authority in this world.

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been put in place by God.”

Romans 13:1 (My Translation)

“Be subject to every human establishment for the Lord’s sake, whether to the emperor as authority, or to governors as sent by him for punishment of evildoers or praise of the upright, because this is God’s will—by continually doing good, you silence the ignorance of senseless people.”

1 Peter 2:13-15 (My Translation)

From both Paul and Peter the direction is to be subject to authorities on this earth. This comes from Christians who are being hunted down and persecuted, some of them killed, for their faith by the Roman Empire. And yet they still say Christians must subject themselves to these governments.

Paul goes even further to say that God has given these governments and their leaders authority. And it is true that God is the ultimate authority. Nothing happens without his stamp of approval on these governments and their leaders.

Peter and Paul contend that human governments are in place to bring justice against evildoers. Christians who do good things and stay within the bounds of the law should have nothing to be concerned about. God puts these governments in place and gives them authority to deal with evildoers. But is it so cut and dry?

Nothing to Fear

So Peter and Paul tell Christians there is nothing to fear from earthly governments. They come after lawbreakers and evildoers. As long as you are following their laws they are not interested in disturbing you.

Romans 13:1-7 shows us how to interact with the governments in which we live. We are responsible to honor God by honoring and obeying these officials. Whether you like the government administration you live under or not the Bible calls you to obey their laws so you have no fear of them.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Romans 13:1–7, ESV

In America, we have a system that changes usually every four to eight years. A new administration is elected in these spans of time. Depending on your political values you will not enjoy certain administrations.

But we are still called to respect and obey our leaders. We must distinguish between a difference of opinion and a law. We can have differing opinions but still follow the laws administrations put down. To us these opinions may not be effective.

In a democratic system like ours the majority of people vote in the candidates and administrations they want to lead them. You may be in the minority. But I can assure you that Paul and Peter are writing by the power of the Holy Spirit. Their friends, and they themselves, were being persecuted by the Roman Empire and yet they penned these words

Even under regimes against Christians, we may endure persecution for the name of Christ (Matthew 5:10-12). In our suffering we bring glory to Jesus. We are citizens of heaven first and our inheritance comes from Jesus (Philippians 3:20).

Christians must be guided by Scripture and the Holy Spirit on how involved they get with earthly governments. Some are called to serve in an office of some kind and represent Jesus in that environment. Others want to have nothing to do with earthly governments.

The way we interact with our culture and government must be a matter that God leads us to accept. He can use Christians in every situation to be salt and light to others. As salt we preserve righteousness and season our conversations with godly counsel. As light we expose and reveal the wickedness of our world.

We must navigate the world of morality when we are involved in politics. I often find myself becoming very upset with how leaders govern. Some of them have no wisdom and it shows. Others do not have no voice because they try to abstain from being corrupted. Sometimes it’s hard to tell in the midst of situations who is godly and who is not.

But if you have the right to vote you should exercise that right. Christians have the ability to change the outcomes of their nations. But we don’t always need voting to do that. God can use us to minister to people one-on-one.

Politics is not the only way we can interact with our world for the good of the gospel. But it can be an option to make a difference for Jesus. Why would Peter and Paul say that governments are appointed by God when they faced persecution and death under the Roman Empire?

Levels of Authority

They say governments are appointed by God because he is the ultimate authority. When we resist them we are resisting God. There are levels of authority, a hierarchy, among all the authorities in our lives.

At the very top of the hierarchy is God. He reigns supreme and is the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25). He is in charge of all of His creation. Everyone and everything looks to Him. He has the last word. And this is why the Bible tells us God appoints every government.

Sometimes we don’t understand why He allows a government that is hostile to Christians to exist. But we do not know His purposes and plans completely. We have an idea, but the Bible prophesies a complete breakdown of world governments and authorities in the end times.

We can make a difference for a short time but eventually governments will turn on Christians. They will persecute and barter Christians to no end. This doesn’t mean we need to have a defeatist attitude about government. While God allows us to have influence on our governments we should take advantage of that grace while we have it.

Next after God in the hierarchy are the heads of state. In some cases like in the American system, we can elect our officials. But there are other places, like the Roman Empire Paul and Peter were under, where they had no say in governmental matters.

No matter what system you find yourself involved with you must represent Jesus. These governments may be against you, persecute you, and even martyr you. But you are called to the place where you are to represent Jesus well.

After heads of state are the administrations put in place. These governments can be elaborate with many different departments. Some of them may be hostile to Christians and other departments may not be hostile. I have observed you usually get a mixed bag with each administration.

State and local officials come next. They are probably the ones you know better than national leaders. They are closer to you and more accessible. You have more sway if you are able to vote for them because you are part of a smaller pool of voters.

This hierarchy matters because it helps us define our position when we encounter laws and leaders against Christianity and God. We have said earlier that these governments are put in place for our benefit and safety because they do not penalize those who follow the law.

There are times when these governments make laws that go against God’s laws. What shall we do then? God is above all human government and the ultimate authority and Judge. So we must consider first His laws above the laws of human leaders who go against them.

Laws issued against God by these human governments must be rejected. When Peter and the apostles were commanded by the Jewish religious leaders to stop preaching Jesus they responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Paul says that to be a servant of Christ we must be willing to please the Lord, not people (Galatians 1:10). The Bible sets the precedent to not embrace laws contrary to God and His Word. This doesn’t mean we have to become warriors against such laws. But it means that we do not follow them.

This may open you up to prosecution of some kind, tribulations, suffering, and persecution. But suffering for Christ is part of being one of his disciples. All of the apostles suffered for the faith and all but one, John, were martyred for their faith. John was exiled to the island of Patmos as a political prisoner for a time. Suffering is a natural consequence of being a disciple of Jesus.

Jesus gives us the grace and ability to endure suffering and persecution. We do it with a godly attitude. Sometimes this may even impress the ungodly leaders who are persecuting us. But even if they are too hardhearted to see His light breaking through us we still glorify God as we righteously suffer for Him.

Living at Peace

We don’t need to become activists against ungodly governments or ones we don’t like. We live a godly lifestyle before them. We follow God’s commands and do what he tells us. Only God is qualified to take vengeance on His enemies (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30).

God may give you a defense for His gospel and His name. But even if He doesn’t, you stand for Jesus. You are His representative on earth. You show people Jesus’ love. Even if you are mistreated you turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44).

Our goal is not to fight the systems of governments and rulers against God. We do our very best to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). We can object to an immoral law without going to war. Peaceful objection may include persecution but it certainly stands for Jesus and the principles He gives us to live by.

Jesus calls us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). We want to live peacefully when we can. Even when we must stand for godly and biblical principles we can do it peacefully. Do everything you can to live peacefully with everyone.

Conclusion

Jesus expects us to do our best to live at peace with everyone around us, including governments and administrations we don’t feel comfortable with or have a negative opinion about. As His representatives we live a good and holy life so we are not trouble to the authorities.

We don’t have to be afraid of the authorities if we live within their laws. But when laws go against the commandments and teachings of Jesus we must peaceably object and not follow them. Even if this brings persecution Jesus gives us grace and strength to endure it. How do you handle authorities when they oppose God’s laws in your context?

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