Summing up Parts 1 & 2 – there is a world-wide spiritual war going on right now, today. Nobody, but NOBODY can escape it. As a Christian, you are not only part of the battle but you are on the winning side and you are already equipped to do battle yourself. It’s up to you to as to what you do now.
For the sake of argument, let’s say you’ve accepted your part in all this. Now what? This is the question I’ll answer in this post. Fair warning: expect your life to change.
This spiritual war has two major battlefields – the mind and the environment. He uses your environment to attack your mind. Look around you. What around you cannot be influenced in some way by our adversary, the devil? Even most foods we eat are polluted to affect our health either directly or indirectly.
The devil’s primary weapon is the lie. Not only is he adept at utilizing this weapon but he has used his time on this earth to build mountains of lies spanning the globe. Upon these mountains, he piles lies upon more lies, using every available tool he can, from ancient parchments, to satellite television and the internet.
Consider how he uses lies to influence your mind. From the time you were born you’ve been inundated with information. While much of what you’ve learned over the years is true, a great deal of false information is seeded in to all of man’s knowledge.
Even God’s word has been corrupted. Consider the church you attend. (or any you’ve attended in the past) Can you say for certain this church stands on God’s Truth above all others? Is every doctrine, every teaching beyond question? If not, why not? If so, then why doesn’t every other church fall in line with what your church teaches?
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (KJV)
The above verse is from the King James Version. Here is what another version, Young’s Literal Translation says:
1 Corinthians 14:33 for God is not a God of tumult, but of peace, as in all the assemblies of the saints. (YLT)
Is one of these more accurate or correct than the other? Which? What about other versions? How does this read in the Greek? Is the Greek the original Greek? (It is not, we have no originals.) Was Corinthians originally written in Greek? We cannot know for sure. So many questions, and yet we have so few answers.
This is just ONE verse of scripture! Is it any wonder the devil is having a field day with us? My point here is we all need to be aware of how the devil endeavors to manipulate every human on the planet from the day they are born into this world. It is only by the grace of God we are not all stark raving mad. Even as we are inundated with conflicting and confusing lies, God is able to push through all the static so His truth reaches us. Obviously we are not immune but we can trust God that we are where He needs us to be in this life.
1 John 4:4 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.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
I don’t know where you were spiritually and/or mentally before you accepted Jesus as Lord but I was an avowed atheist. I’d bought into evolution hook, line, and sinker. I rejected the existence of any god, gods, or spirits. In other words, I was about as far from God as I could get. Yet, looking back, I can see where God protected me even in my unbelief. He sheltered me as I rejected Him. Since that day when I accepted Christ, nearly 50 years ago, I’ve had good days and not-so-good days. Bluntly put, I’ve had downright awful days, even weeks. Just like anyone else, I wasn’t instantly transformed into some perfect, all-knowing saint. Today, I’m still far from any semblance of perfection. I doubt if that mark will even be in sight on the day I die (or Christ returns).
In short, the devil remains relentless in his attacks and I am still vulnerable to at least some of them. We can all expect to experience some vulnerability for as long as we draw breath. My goal here is to help you get to a better place than you are right now and continue on, possibly taking those things I show you and soar. Surely this passage is familiar to all of us:
Mark 4:3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:
6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
One thing that struck me recently is the above is true every time we hear God’s Word! Maybe you realized this long ago. No one can accuse me of catching on quick. Look again at Jesus’ explanation of the above parable in light of the devil’s constant efforts to keep us from God’s Truth.
Mark 4:14 The sower soweth the word.
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
Look at all the ways the wicked one attempts to prevent us from hearing God’s Word and producing fruit. He steals it away when he can. If that fails, he brings affliction (trouble) or persecution. Barring that, he distracts us with worldly cares, lusts (desires), and even riches. Look again at the world around you. Can you see how much trouble the devil goes to in order to prevent you from pursuing God? What can anyone do?
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
In one verse we are told three things right off the bat –
do not be conformed to this world.
renew your mind
So we can prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Wow. That’s a lot, don’t you think? I can tell you from nearly 50 years of trying, it’s not all that easy! What, exactly are we supposed to “renew our minds” to? God’s Word, of course. Let’s consider another passage where we are exhorted to renew our minds.
Ephesians 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
The term “new man” may seem to be another figure of speech (and it may be), however in this case it can be taken as literally true because we are born again of God’s spirit and thus we truly are a “new creature in Christ”. Verse 24 says this new man which after [according to] God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Our first assignment as Christians is to renew our minds to God’s Word. Imagine yourself being part of this Roman church in the first century. Imagine all you had was this letter from the Apostle Paul. Certainly this epistle to the Romans contains enough truth to renew your mind, however we have far more than this. We have the seven church epistles and then some. If you look, really look at them, it soon become obvious God’s instructions aren’t all that mysterious. Do good things. Think good things. Be good to others. Okay I’m simplifying a lot but in the end it’s not rocket science either. Sure you can dig out lots of details but, deep down, you know how to do what’s right. After all, God created holy spirit within you.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Speaking of sin… we need to get right with God. The subject of sin is probably the most debated and agonized topic we Christians face. It is well worthy of a deep study and far beyond the scope of this article. For now, understand while we cannot escape from sin, God does forgive us when we ask.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
This is not only crucial for our own well-being but also when we take the next step – dealing with the outside world.
Luke 6:39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect [fully trained WEB] shall be as his master.
41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.
43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Notice in verse 40 above I inserted the World English Bible (WEB) rendering for “perfect” in brackets. While I want to be consistent in my use of the KJV in this article, I felt the WEB rendering was more clear, especially in the verse noted above.
Let’s again consider our lives before and after we accept Christ. I’m sure you’ve been taught we were all “born in sin”. We are sinful creatures from day one, thanks to Adam’s original sin. This is certainly true. Beyond that truth of being born in sin, we are also immersed in sin from the day we are born. Sure some of us were born in Christian families so we’ve been spared at least some of the devil’s influence. I’m sure you can see where the devil has invaded just about everywhere. Nobody lives in a sealed, godly environment.
Once we are born again, we are given a clean slate, spiritually and we become a new creature, a spiritual creature. As wondrous as this is, we must still deal with the mental baggage we’ve collected over the years along with the same, devil-polluted environment we grew up in. This is where our battle begins. While most of us cannot withdraw from the world entirely, we can limit our exposure to the toxicity and mitigate what we cannot escape. In other words, we need not watch MSNBC. (or any “news” channel for that matter.) We can certainly avoid those things we know are ungodly at the core. And we can feed our minds on godly things instead. In other words, we can renew our minds.
Now maybe you caught this principle already when it was stated before. It could be you are way ahead of me on this. No matter what the devil inundates us with – we can remain undefiled.
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Mark 7:18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
How can we remain undefiled? By renewing our minds to God’s Word and thereby pushing out those evil things. Do not expect this to happen overnight. Nobody said it would be would be easy, but it can be accomplished. Every godly thought displaces an evil one. Every victory, no matter how small, gains territory for God. Now we are ready to gain even more ground.
Winning the Battles of Our Environment
Up until now, I’ve focused on renewing your own mind. This is crucial to entering the battles raging all around us. Most of us cannot fight on a large scale. That’s okay because every single one of us have plenty of skirmishes to fight on our “home fronts”. In fact, most of the challenges we face are right in front of us.
If you haven’t noticed by now, take a good look at some of the verses dealing with evil, sin and so forth.
Mark 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 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 things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
All of the above encompasses our dealings with each other. Surely an alcoholic an drown himself alone. Many do. This same goes for many ungodly behaviors. That said, nearly every ungodly behavior involves human contact on some level and many would not be possible without being involved with at least one other person. Does that make sense?
If godly behavior gains ground for God, then who benefits from ungodly behavior? If every action you take, everything you say, can be deemed either godly or ungodly, then you can either gain ground for God, gain ground for the god of this earth, or perfectly balance your actions so neither side gains anything. I contend either you are working for God or against Him.
While the devil puts every effort into affecting your environment, simply living a godly life, ensuring every action you take, every word you speak, as much as you possibly can, strikes a blow for God. Even the smallest gain puts another mark in the win column. Everything you do goes in one column or the other.
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9 (For the fruit of the Spirit [Gr. phos = light] is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
The battle lines are clearly drawn. Every moment you draw breath you have a choice. What will your next choice be?