(Part 2 – continued from part 1) (Navigation forward and backward to other posts at bottom of screen)
Jesus’ interaction with Peter in Matthew 16 is a powerful example, demonstrating how we can unwittingly hear from BOTH SIDES of the spiritual realm that is all around us. This is a perfect illustration of the truth that not all of the thoughts which come to us originate with us. The Lord is speaking to us and the enemy is speaking to us. Yet when these thoughts come, they sound as though they are our own. If we do not understand this, then we are in much greater danger of failing to recognize and reject the thoughts inspired by our enemy, and failing to accept and act on the thoughts inspired by God. We must learn to discern the spirits behind the thoughts and messages which come to us, so that we can believe, receive, speak, and act in agreement with those that come from God, and we can recognize, resist, reject and replace those that come from the enemy! God’s Word provides the foundation and standard to which all else must be compared.
Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. II Timothy 3:16-17
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13
Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is a great example of the kind of spiritual warfare each of us faces (Matthew 4:1-11). I have serious doubts about the common idea that Jesus could literally see Satan incarnate there with Him. If we could see the devil tempting us, and knew who he was, for many of us this would severely dilute the lure of his enticements, to the point of making them impotent in most cases. The visible and tangible unveiling of the father of lies speaking to us in a given situation, who desires only to destroy us, would empower most of us to resist and reject him. Instead, I find it much more likely that Jesus’ battle was fought just like the majority of our battles with the devil and his demons ~ in the battlefield of the mind.
Some have proposed that we can get so close to the Lord that we will not have to deal with any harassment from the enemy or even hear his voice. I believe this is not only untrue, but is dangerous to believe and teach. If we believe we have reached a point where we no longer hear the enemy’s voice, we will no longer discern and resist him; we will be easy prey. No one has ever been closer to the Father than Jesus (perfectly One with Him), yet Jesus still heard the voice (lies, temptations) of the enemy. The Lord did not say that His true sheep (followers) would not hear the voice of the enemy; He said that when we hear it, with His help through His Word and Spirit we will be able to discern that it is the voice of the enemy (the voice of a “stranger”) and flee from it (John 10, Romans 12:1-2, I Timothy 4:13-16, II Timothy 2:15; 3:10-4:5, II Thessalonians 2:9-15, Hebrews 4:12-13).
We saw above in Hebrews 4:12 that God’s Word is literally alive and is sharper than a double-edged sword. Ephesians 6 says it is the sword of the Spirit, one of our essential offensive weapons which we MUST use to overcome the enemy. Jesus demonstrated the kind of spiritual warfare we must all learn to engage in to walk in His world-overcoming victory. He had to discern that the thoughts coming to Him were not His own and were not the voice of His Father, but were the voice of the enemy challenging His submission to the Father’s Word and will. Each time, Jesus discerned and defeated the lies of the enemy with the sword of the Spirit by declaring the truth from God’s Word ~ “It is written…!” We see a vivid picture of this reality in the spiritual realm in Revelation, where we find a greater unveiling (revelation) of the Lord Himself with this double-edged sword proceeding from His mouth (Revelation 1:10-18; 2:12-17; 19:11-21).
In His right hand He held seven stars, and from His mouth there came forth a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full power at midday. Revelation 1:16
After that I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse [appeared]! The One Who was riding it is called Faithful (Trustworthy, Loyal, Incorruptible, Steady) and True, and He passes judgment and wages war in righteousness (holiness, justice, and uprightness). His eyes [blaze] like a flame of fire, and on His head are many kingly crowns (diadems); and He has a title (name) inscribed which He alone knows or can understand. He is dressed in a robe dyed by dipping in blood, and the title by which He is called is The Word of God. And the troops of heaven, clothed in fine linen, dazzling and clean, followed Him on white horses. From His mouth goes forth a sharp sword with which He can smite (afflict, strike) the nations; … And on His garment (robe) and on His thigh He has a name (title) inscribed, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:11-16
This same powerful sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, is available to us and we must use it to recognize, resist, and refute the enemy’s lies. Jesus was even able to identify when the enemy tried to twist the Word and use it to deceive Him (Matthew 4:6-7). For this same reason, we also need to know the full counsel of the Word so that we can discern the spirits behind the thoughts that come to us and the things spoken by others in order to avoid being deceived.
II Corinthians 6 and 10 also speak about this type of warfare.
We put no obstruction in anybody’s way [we give no offense in anything], so that no fault may be found and [our] ministry blamed and discredited. But we commend ourselves in every way as [true] servants of God: through great endurance, in tribulation and suffering, in hardships and privations, in sore straits and calamities, In beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless watching, hunger; By innocence and purity, knowledge and spiritual insight, longsuffering and patience, kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love; By [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God, with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [to attack] and for the left hand [to defend]… II Corinthians 6:3-7
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. II Corinthians 10:3-5
Though in context these passages seem to refer more to the fact that our spiritual weapons can demolish the arguments and strongholds in others’ minds that are opposed to the Truth (the One who IS Truth and His Word), they can certainly apply to the battle the enemy wages against our own minds and lives as well. When we fail to do this, and instead unwittingly listen to the enemy, receive his lies into our hearts and minds, accept them as our own thoughts, and begin to think, speak, and act in agreement with them, we end up in deception and bondage to sin. Thankfully, the Lord is able to bring freedom and deliverance by helping us get to the root of those lies, even exposing how the door was first opened for them to be sown into our hearts.
to be continued…. (see part 3 here)
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