Thursday, January 15, 2015

What You Need To Win

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
 2 Peter 2:1

When God calls us and we accept entrance into His kingdom, He equips us with everything we need to stand against the deceitful tactics of Satan and his army of demons.

There are specific counter strategies for overcoming spiritual wickedness in high places that is spelled out in the word of God.

First and foremost, we have to recognize Satan is an imitator.  "Imitation" means to copy or counterfeit something. The first step in overcoming wickedness in high places is to recognize that Satan imitates every part of God's religious structure. Be on the look out for imitations!

Use your God given discernment.  There is a special gift of the Holy Spirit called "discerning of spirits." It is an unusual ability given by God to immediately discern another person's spirit and know if they are good or evil. If you have this spiritual gift, use it in dealing with spiritual wickedness in high places.  If you do not have this gift, the Holy Spirit endows us with a certain measure of discernment which when used in conjunction  with the word of God allows us to see the imitating tactics of Satan.  Through the word of God you can detect imitators.  God's word is very clear in 2 Peter 2 and the book of Jude regarding the tactics of the enemy in regards to the tactics of the enemy.  He has listed the characteristics of those men with seducing spirits.  All believers are encouraged to:

*   "try the spirits" 

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  (I John 4:1) 

To "try" means to "test" the spirits. If you test the spirits it does not mean you are operating in unbelief. If the spirits are of God, they will pass the test!

*   Study the word of God  

In order to recognize the false doctrines of Satan's teachers, apostles, prophets, and ministers, you must know what is taught in the Word of God. Apostle Paul told Timothy:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15)

Even though Apostle Paul was a great spiritual leader in the early Church, the believers at the city of Berea checked everything he said by God's written Word:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)

To avoid being deceived by spiritual wickedness in high places, examine everything that is taught in light of God's Word.

*  Reject anything that is not found in the word of God  

I find this saying to be true:  if it’s not found, it’s not sound!  Satan establishes much spiritual wickedness in high places through so-called "special revelation of new truth." People will claim special dreams, appearances by angels, visions, voices, or other supernatural events. But Apostle Paul warned:

Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  (Galatians 1:7-8)

Reject any teaching, doctrine, manifestation, or revelation that is not in harmony with God's Word. Do not accept any so-called prophecy that is not in right relation to the faith 

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
(Romans 12:6) 

. . . and which does not come to pass 

When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.  (Deuteronomy 18:22) 

Do not accept any revelation that leads you away from God and the truth of His Word 

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
  (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead. (Proverbs 21:16)

*   Evaluate by Spiritual fruit.  

Because Satan imitates the power of God through supernatural manifestations of miracles, signs, and wonders, God has provided a special method of evaluating ministries. You are to evaluate the supernatural on the basis of spiritual fruit.

Jesus compared men to fruit trees. He said you would know both the real and the imitators by their spiritual fruit:

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. (Matthew 7:18, 20)

Satan can imitate spiritual gifts and God's power, but he has no imitation for a holy life exhibiting the fruit of the Holy Spirit which includes true..., joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Evaluate ministries by spiritual fruit, not by supernatural manifestations of power.  This does not mean that we ignore, discount or disclaim the spiritual move of God in our life, but we view it in it's proper perspective in accordance to the word of God.

* Avoid every satanic influence  

God warned Israel to avoid every type of Satanic influence:

Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: (Numbers 33:52)

In accordance with God’s word, we should destroy anything in our possession that has to do with witchcraft or the work of the devil. This would include idols, "lucky charms", potions, amulets, crystal balls, games, divining devices, and other similar items. This is what people did in the New Testament when they became believers:

Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men, and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. (Acts 19:19)

Destroy any evil literature and music that does not glorify God. Do not spend time in places where there is evil influence. The Bible records that God manifested Himself in special places such as the Old Testament temple and the upper room of a house on the Day of Pentecost.

It is equally true that Satanic power can be manifested in special places dedicated to evil. This would include places where evil pictures are shown, drinking and riotous behavior is occurring, seances are being held, worship of Satan is occurring. . .   anywhere sinful practices are going on. Avoid such environments, because Satan's power is especially strong there. You cannot pray the Lord's prayer, "Lead us not into temptation" and then put yourself in such a place:

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (I Corinthians 10:20)

Do not associate yourself with false leaders, teachers, prophets, ministers or apostles:

Abstain from all appearance of evil. (I Thessalonians 5:22)

* Expose the wickedness in high places  

Believers must not ignore this spiritual wickedness in high places. Pastors must preach the whole counsel of God in face of deception: 

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  (2 Timothy 4:1-4) 

False teachings of the occult and doctrines of demons must be identified. Believers are not to participate in the "unfruitful works of darkness" but rather should expose them.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:11).

*  Exercise the ministry of deliverance  

God's organization, the true Church, is more powerful than that of Satan. Jesus is the head of the church and believers are the body.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23)

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. (Ephesians 3:10)

Jesus is the head of the Church. Believers are the body. If all things (including Satan and his religious structure) are under the feet of Jesus, then they are also under our feet because we are the body. "Under the feet" means they are under the power and authority which God has delegated to us. Jesus said He has given us power over "all the power of the enemy"

Behold , I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

This includes spiritual wickedness in high places.

The church (body of Christ) is actually to demonstrate His power to these principalities and powers! We must exercise this ministry to bring deliverance from those in bondage to "spiritual wickedness in high places." We must use what God has given us to turn men from darkness to light and from the power of Satan and his kingdom to the Kingdom of God!

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.  (Acts 26:18)

 Biblical Studies

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wickedness in High Places

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.   (Ephesians 6:12)

God is strong, and He wants us to be strong. After all, we are created in His image and His likeness.  So take everything God endued us with - well-made weapons of the best materials. We are to use them so we can stand up to everything the devil throws our way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps; a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels.

It seems to be inherent in human nature to think of God as dwelling somewhere in the heights. From earliest times men have chosen high places for worship, both of the true God or false gods and idols invented by man. In Old Testament times these high places became the scenes of evil orgies and human sacrifice connected with the worship of false gods.

God told Israel when they entered the Promised Land to drive out all the inhabitants of the land and destroy their high places:

Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places. (Numbers 33:52)

In the book of Judges we read of Israel's failure to drive the people out of the land. As a result, they fell into idolatrous worship in the high places. After the period of the judges, some of the good kings of Israel destroyed the high places. Others rebuilt them and worshiped false gods. King Manasseh was one who rebuilt the high places. After he had been punished and repented for this sin, he was restored to his throne and resumed worship of the true God. The people still sacrificed in the high places, but "only unto Jehovah their God".

And he repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel.  Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the Lord their God only.  (2 Chronicles 33:16-17)

We must be aware of the places and methods Satan imposes on man in order to deceive us from God.

When Apostle Paul speaks of "spiritual wickedness in high places", he is referring to wicked spirits who have infiltrated the religious systems of the world. They have even crept into the congregations of the righteous. Satan has organized his evil forces to imitate the organization of the true church of God. 

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  2 Corinthians 11:14

Through "spiritual wickedness in high places" Satan aims for the total allegiance of man. He uses false cults, his own church of Satan, and infiltration into the Body of Christ to accomplish this purpose.  But even more dangerous, Satan has set up his system right in the true church through evil people who have "crept in unawares": 

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Jude 4)

God established the true church which is known as the "Body of Christ" of which Jesus is the head:

Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular.   (I Corinthians 12:27)

But speaking the truth in love,  may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.  (Ephesians 4:15-16)

The Bible is filled with the true doctrines of God revealed by the Holy Spirit:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)

We should be aware that there is doctrine that is not found in the scriptures as we know Satan has his own doctrine and it is called the "doctrine of devils":

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.       (1 Timothy 4:1)

Satan has demons known as "seducing spirits." Their specific job is to seduce men into doctrinal error. The "doctrine of demons" is any teaching presented as "truth" which does not agree with the written Word of God.

Apostle Paul tells us  we are told to present ourselves to God as a "living sacrifice"

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  (Romans 12:1)

This means we are to surrender in total allegiance to God. However, Satan demands sacrifices also:

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (1 Corinthians 10:20)

The sharing of the communion bread and wine was started by Jesus as a way of remembering His sacrifice for the sins of all mankind on the cross (I Corinthians 11:23-34). Satan counterfeits this by his own communion:

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. (1 Corinthians 10:20)

God has called some believers to serve as pastors and minister to His church and proclaim the Gospel: 

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
(1 Corinthians 12:28) 

We have to be very careful in knowing and discerning who God has called to orate His word because Satan also has ministers:

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.  (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

The "gospel" of Satan is contrary to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Which is not another, but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.  But though we or an angel from Heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:7-8)

God has a throne in Heaven. Satan also has a throne:

And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon (Satan) gave him his power, and HIS SEAT, and great authority. (Revelation 13:2)

There are many who worship the true God but there are also those who worship Satan:

And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?  (Revelation 13:4)

Some worshipers of Satan pretend to be followers of Jesus:

The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. (Matthew 13:38-39)

Satan mixes the bad "seed" in with the good "seed" (believers).

God has set in the Church prophets, men who are especially anointed to bring a direct message from Him to the Church. Satan has false prophets who deliver false messages:

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.     (Matthew 24:11)

God has anointed some people as teachers to share and explain His Word to others. But all teachers are not from God. Satan has false teachers to spread his evil doctrine:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.  (2 Peter 2:1-3)

Satan's teachers bring in "damnable heresies," teachings which are false and cause division. They speak lies and are experts at mixing truth and error in a way that makes error acceptable. Many such false teachings have resulted in the growth of cults. A cult is any system of religion or worship that is not in harmony with the written Word of God. It is a "damnable heresy."

An apostle is a person who spreads the Gospel and establishes churches.  Satan also has apostles doing his work throughout the world. They deceive people by imitating the true apostles:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:13)

Satan's apostles become leaders of false cults and infiltrate churches in leadership capacities.  Satan has even imitated the Lord Jesus Christ by raising up false Christs. Jesus warned:

And Jesus answered and said unto them, take heed, that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)

The Bible is a record of how God spoke to man. God continues to speak to men today. Satan also speaks to man. His first words to humans resulted in their fall into sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).

Believers pray to God regarding their needs and God responds to the prayer of the righteous 

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  (James 5:16) 

Satan's followers pray to him and communicate with evil spirits. Sometimes Satan responds with supernatural events such as voices, the moving of objects, noises, etc.

God has communicated to man through His written Word, the Bible. Satan's message is also being communicated through the written word by evil magazines, books, motion pictures, and music. God's communication through His written and spoken Word provides guidance for man in the affairs of life. Satan has a system of false guidance accomplished through methods such as the following:

*  Astrology and horoscope: Which use stars to predict events and give guidance.

  Reading of tea leaves, cards, pictures, bumps on the head, palms of the hand and crystal balls: The formation of the tea leaves, cards, lines in the human hand, crystal balls, and pictures are claimed to give guidance.

  Witchcraft: Using spells, potions, charms, magic, rituals, seances, divinations, methods of chance, divining rods, visions, drawings, and similar unscriptural methods to receive guidance.

Jesus promised supernatural power to His followers after they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  (Acts 1:8)

Satan also gives supernatural power and authority:

And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. (Revelation 13:2) 

His demons can provide supernatural strength and energy.  Satan can perform many supernatural signs and miracles:

For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Revelation 16:14)

Jesus said:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.  (Matthew 7:22-23)

The children of God are not to be dismayed or discouraged.  

Power belongs to God and He has given us power through His Holy Spirit to defeat everything that comes against us.  Greater is He that is within you that he that is in the world!  

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.  (1 John 4:4)

Biblical Studies

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lust of the Flesh

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.  1 Corinthians 9:27

The 'world' is an evil social force of Satan that works from the outside to attack believers. It is the corporate organization of fleshly individuals. The 'flesh'; our self nature, is an evil force working from within the believer.  The same "fleshly spirit" that operates in the world will operate in our life if we allow it to do so.  The term 'flesh' is also used in Scripture to refer to the actual body of man and beast. But this is not the context being discussed today when referring to the use of the term 'flesh'.   

The Bible also uses the term 'flesh' to describe the basic sin nature of man. The flesh is the center of willful defiance and rebellion against God:

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will (to do good) is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.   Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 8:18-20)

The 'flesh' is a compulsive inner force which expresses itself in rebellion through sin. It is this meaning of flesh which is being discussed.   The words "carnal" and "old man" are also used to describe the fleshly nature of man. All men have this basic, sinful, fleshly nature:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12)

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

John tells us not to love the world neither the things of the world which are centered on three things:

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  1 John 2:16

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

What is the lust of the flesh?  Lust is "strong desire, soulish emotions, the natural tendency of man towards evil that develops into strong desire"  The Bible warns that we should not lust after evil things:

Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. (I Corinthians 10:6)

Lusting after evil things which will please your fleshly nature is "lust of the flesh". It is how Satan attacks from within. It is comparable to a civil war within a nation, with your spirit and flesh warring against each other.

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  (Galatians 5:17)

Lust, or sinful desire, first enters through the natural senses. The eye sees something evil or the ear hears something wicked. A touch, a taste, or even a smell can even foster lust. This is how Satan uses the environment of the world to tempt and influence the flesh. These natural senses trigger an evil thought or desire in the mind. This is lust. The lustful thought is what tempts you to do evil:

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man.  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (James 1:13-14)

Remember, God never tempts you. You are tempted when you are drawn by your own sinful, fleshly lusts. But you do not have to yield to this temptation. God always provides a way of escape:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape that ye may be able to bear it. (I Corinthians 10:13)

Since the mind is used to tempt the flesh, Apostle Paul warns:

For to be carnally (fleshly) minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Romans 8:7-8)

If you yield to lust, temptation results, and if you yield to temptation, it results in sin which leads to death:

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (James 1:15)

The world is corrupt because of lust:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  (II Peter 1:4)

Your flesh is corrupt because of lust:

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (Ephesians 4:22)

When you are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, that Spirit indwells your spirit. The Holy Spirit in your spirit opposes the lusts of the flesh. Your flesh wars against your spirit and the Spirit of God within you. The flesh entices you to sinful lusts. This is why you often cannot live the way you desire to live.

Apostle Paul described this battle between the spirit and the flesh.  He summarized the battle:

I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man (the spirit);  But I see another law in my members (the flesh), warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)

The lusts of the flesh, if not conquered, lead to sinful works of the flesh which result in spiritual death:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such thing shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

They are contrasted to the fruit of the Holy Spirit which should be developed in the lives of believers.  The bible tells us there is no limit to the quantity of the fruit of the spirit, we should have as much of it as we can with the implication being that the more fruit of the spirit we have the less likely the works of the flesh can operate in us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
   Galations 5:22-23

The 'world' and the 'flesh' combine with Satan and his demons to wage war against believers. These are the spiritual forces of evil.

Thank God for the comforter; His Holy Spirit.  There is no need to be discouraged or defeated for He tells us:

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.  (1 John 4:4)

Biblical Studies