A Few Rules of Engagement

There is one area of the Christian life that I notice many of us encounter real difficulty. And I believe a lot of this difficulty stems from a combination of bad teaching and our own misconceptions.

It’s certainly no secret to anyone that attempts to live the Christian life that there will be opposition. And that opposition may show itself in some of the most unexpected ways.

Family disputes, a sudden onset of illness, an unforeseen financial setback, problems with our work or business, depression, anxiety – this list can seem endless.

The really sad part of it is that we generally fail to recognize the real source of the problem. It seems that we’re programmed to respond to the symptom and ignore the underlying cause.

If you’re one of the few that are sincerely trying to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, you know full well what I’m talking about. The troubles can seem pretty overwhelming.

One of the first things we tend to forget is Paul’s warning from Ephesians 6:12 –

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.

We just forget that things are not what they seem. We forget that just maybe, there’s someone else in the room.

In these troubled times, we would do well to remember this. We would also do well to change our thought process so that this is the first alarm that sounds whenever we do encounter trouble.

In my conversations with other Christians, I’ve often encountered a general sense of helplessness and a sense of resignation in trying to deal with trouble. All too frequently I see others being totally weighed down by these troubles.

One of the more common answers that I get whenever we start to explore these issues usually goes something along this line:

“Well, I’ve asked the Lord to lift these burdens, but….”  You fill in the blanks. Chances are, you’ve been there. We all have.

The first thing we simply must do is to learn the lessons given to us in Scripture.

Dan Edelen, over at Cerulean Sanctum, had a recent post that pretty much sums up why it is that we so often are unable to fully cope with the trouble that is thrust upon us.

He refers to a bible study group that he attends and the particular scripture is Genesis 15: 11 –

And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.

As Abram prepared his sacrifice to God for sealing the most important covenant, that offering came under attack. You will note – he didn’t ask the Lord for protection or help in defending the offering.

He fought off the attack himself.

What so many of us fail to realize is that we have been charged with the authority to defeat this enemy that works relentlessly against us.

Now, before you run off and start trying to fight this enemy on your own, there are a couple of things you need to know.

First of all, we need to understand the authority that we’ve been given and the source of the power behind it.

Our authority, and the power to enforce it, comes only from the Lord Jesus Christ. On our own, we really are helpless, we just don’t have a chance.

And that brings to mind another of the common answers that I frequently hear whenever I’ve explored this with others.

“You know, I tried to bind satan, but……” you probably know the answer to that one, too.

Whenever we asked the Lord Jesus Christ into our lives, we were given citizenship in a realm other than our citizenship on this earth. At that point, Jesus gave us the power and authority to overcome all the power of the enemy.

That’s the point where most of us just stop. And that’s our mistake. You see, that power and authority is wasted and is useless if we don’t learn how to use it.

Imagine, if you will, that you have just joined the military. Imagine, also, that you’ve never seen a gun before in your life. That gun you just got is not going to do you any good at all until you learn how to use it.

And so it is in this struggle we face against the powers of darkness.

A Few Specifics

Perhaps the most powerful weapon we’ve been given is the Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God.

As we read the word of God, we can learn just how we are to engage this enemy we face.

First of all, we learn that much of the fight we’re in is our fight. Having been given the authority and power to battle, it falls to us to fight the enemy. Yes, there will be times for us to call for help.

We can also learn just how we are to use the weapons given to us. One of the best examples given in Scripture reveals our failures to be obedient to God’s Word:

In Jude 1:9 we read:

“But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

This particular scripture is most revealing in that it demonstrates to us just how we are to invoke the power and authority that has been given us.

Notice, first of all, that Michael didn’t say “I rebuke you,” he said, “The LORD rebuke you.”

Secondly, whenever we presume to pronounce such a rebuke on our own, it is considered to be a blasphemous judgment. Just how far do you think that sort of approach will get you?

In yet another instance from scripture, we are all familiar with the words of Jesus when He commanded satan, “Get thee behind me.”

Again, this is another area where we too often are disobedient and presumptious in our attempts to fight the enemy. We try to do the same thing by saying, “Get thee behind me.”

And then we wonder why it doesn’t work.

You see, there’s another word for this type of presumption on our part. Arrogance. It’s something we’re all born with and it’s probably one of the hardest things for us to let go.

So I’m going to offer a couple suggestions for how to begin your next counter-attack against this enemy we face.

Taking what we’ve learned so far, I have found that the following usually produces some rather quick results when used as the opening portion of prayers in spiritual warfare.

Bear in mind that when I say quick results, I mean just that. Sometimes there is an instant sense of relief. At other times there is an equally opposite reaction. That’s when it’s time to call in reinforcements. (And that’s a subject for another time.)

So the next time you’re under attack (as in, maybe now?), try beginning your prayers in this fashion:

The Lord rebuke you, satan. The Lord rebuke you. Thank you, O Lord, for having granted to me all power over the enemy through the Lord Jesus Christ. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I claim that authority here and now and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee satan: get thee behind me.

In following this format, we invoke the authority given us through the Lord Jesus Christ, and, in effect, we stand in His shadow as we do battle. Straying from His shadow invites disaster and is a sure guarantee of losing the fight.

Say it as many times as you need to get results. Wimpy and mild-mannered just won’t work here. You’re in a fight with  the prince of the powers of this world – you’re  not chastising a petulant 3-year old.

As you say it, pay attention to the portions emphasized. Continue to repeat it, putting more and more authority into it each time until you can say it with real authority and belief.

It’s a simple prayer – but in saying it you are calling forth the power and authority of the Ancient of Days, the Lord of Hosts, the Lion of Judah, the great I AM. Lay waste to this enemy that has come to steal, to kill and destroy.

Above all, expect results. Expect an answer and you won’t be disappointed. Remember:

Judges 6:12  And the Angel of Jehovah appeared to him, and said to him,

Jehovah is with you, mighty warrior.

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