I got reminded of something this week, a truth about our lives and reality that I've taught many times, but was failing to apply. That truth is that we have an opponent, an enemy, whose agenda never changes.
Today, my two oldest sons will travel to Macon as part of the Gilmer High wrestling team who is fighting for their fourth straight state championship title. Before my sons started wrestling six years ago, I had never been around the sport. There are a few things I've figured out though, one of which is that as soon as my sons walk on the mat and the referee says go, their opponents want to take them down and put them on their backs, leaving them defeated. Once that match starts, there's not even time to look up in the stands and wave to mom and dad. They've got to battle or they're done!
Well…duh! Real advanced grasp of the sport, huh.
I got reminded of something this week, a truth about our lives and reality that I've taught many times, but was failing to apply. That truth is that we have an opponent, an enemy, whose agenda never changes. Jesus describes him this way in John 10:10: "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy…." That reality doesn't change just because we aren't paying attention.
If we are not fighting, we're getting taken down, and our enemy wants to do more than just tempt us to sin, he wants to kill us, to take us out. Peter warns us with this wake-up call. "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8) The reason is, Satan hates anything that can bring glory to God, and we are God's image bearers and have a greater capacity to reflect God's glory than anything else in creation.
So here's Spiritual Warfare 101 for you. As the Father of Lies, our enemy's strategy is to get us to believe what's not true…about God's goodness and trustworthiness, about what will bring us life and satisfaction, and about what makes us worthy of love to list a few key areas. When the enemy whispers a lie into our minds, it sounds like our own thoughts. What he's looking for is an agreement. Once we agree with a lie, something in us dies, he has us in bondage and the glory of God is diminished in our lives.
This week, I found myself at a really low point, maybe as low as I can remember. There was a combination of anger, bitterness, depression, self-loathing, and despair. Hmmm. What's wrong with this picture? I'm a beloved child of God, a temple of the Holy Spirit, a saint made righteous by Christ's work on the cross through whom Jesus can do "immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine."
By three o'clock in the afternoon, I realized what was going on, that I had not been battling the lies of the enemy and finally made it to my knees. I asked God to show me every lie of the enemy that I was believing. As the Holy Spirit brought them to mind, one by one I took them before the one with whom I had made the agreements.
"Satan, the Lord rebuke you. (Always address the enemy in the name of Jesus. Jesus is the one who has defeated him and has authority over him.) In the name of Jesus, I come before you admitting I have believed that________ (insert lie here). In Jesus name, I break that agreement and I am no longer bound by it. What is true is this:_______ (insert truth here, with scripture if you know it)."
I think I probably broke 14 different agreements that God showed me I had been making with the enemy. I had been on the mat in a battle, but I hadn't been fighting, and the enemy had me on my back. The oppression was affecting my relationship with my amazing wife, my beautiful children, and our ministry. The great news is, if we will fight with the truth of what Christ has accomplished and his victory on the cross, it's a given…we will win.
Yesterday, my joy had returned. My passion for ministry was restored. My heart was full of hope and love for my wife, family and others. Vision returned. Creativity. Laughter. The list goes on and on. It's the Life of Jesus.
Get alone. Ask Father to show you in agreements you have made with the "Father of Lies." Face and resist him in the name of Jesus. Expose the lie. Declare you are breaking the agreement in Jesus name. Tell him what's true. Then come back here, make a comment, and give testimony to the victory Jesus won.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)