THE BONDAGE BREAKER | MANIPULATING SPIRITS
Last week Pastor Lee took us through the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-18), the things that God has equipped us with to fight off attacks from the enemy. God has provided us with the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shoes of Peace, the Shield of Faith and the Helmet of Salvation. Because of these things we are dressed and ready for battle with the enemy.
WHO ARE WE FIGHTING?
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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 6:10-12 NIV
Commentary | We have a real enemy. He has been named. He is the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11).
“God originally created Adam and his descendants to rule over the birds of the sky, the beasts of the field, and the fish of the sea and over all the earth (Genesis 1:26). But Adam forfeited his position of authority when he sinned, and Satan became the revel holder of authority…Satan ruled from the fall of Adam until the cross. The death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ secured forever the final authority for Jesus (Matthew 28:18).” (Source: Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, pg. 112)
Jesus not only took the final authority, he transferred that authority to us. Yes, Satan is powerful, he is the ruler of this world, but he is not ruler over us! Christ is our Lord and He has outfitted us for battle so that we can be victorious. God’s word declares we have the authority to destroy the work of the enemy (Ephesians 6:16, 1 John 3:8, Matthew 18:18). However, he is a cunning foe and in order to fully regain control over our lives we must be able to accurately identify when we are under attack.
RUNNING THE GAUNTLET OF EVIL
“Imagine that you are standing at one end of a long, narrow street lined on both sides with two-story apartments. At the other end of the street stands Jesus Christ, and your Christian life is the process of walking down that long street with your eyes on the Author and Finisher of your faith. There is absolutely nothing in that street that can keep you from walking toward Jesus by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. So when you receive Christ, you fix your eyes on Him and start walking.
But since this world is still under the dominion of Satan, the apartments on either side are inhabited by beings who are committed to keeping you from reaching your goal. They have no power or authority to block your path or even slow your step, so they hand out of the windows and call to you, hoping to turn your attention away from your goal and disrupt your progress. They are like pimps who are trying to lure you into their houses of ill repute.” (Source: Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, pgs. 118-119)
THREE METHODS OF ATTACK
“Even though we are secure in Christ and have all the protective armor we need, we are still vulnerable to Satan’s accusations, temptations, and deceptions. The fact that we have been instructed to put on the armor of God clearly reveals that we are vulnerable to some degree.” (Source: Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, pg. 114)
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.” – James 1:13 NIV
Commentary | We live in a world full of temptations. The entire premise of advertising is to tempt you. Eat this food, buy these clothes, drink this alcohol, lust after this man, be lusted after by this woman. God is our creator and the creator of this world, but the Word tells us that temptation does not come from God. He is not trying to test us to see if we can be true to our faith or to Him.
Temptation is the work of the enemy and his army, trying to slow us down and distract us from keeping our focus on God and moving forward in our walk of faith. But God provides us with a way out. He loves us so much He equips us with everything we need to resist temptation and turn from it.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” – John 8:44-47 NIV
Commentary | Satan is the father of lies. If you are not sure if something is true, check your Bible. God’s Word is our truth to live by. Anderson writes, “you need not fear Satan and his demons as long as you cling to God’s truth.” (Source: Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, pg. 118)
The enemy is a master of deception. He will confuse you, make you doubt and question what is of God and what is not. Knowing we would face a cunning and convincing evil in this world, God gave us the definitive truth to live by with His Word. If ever we are struggling to understand what is of God and what is of the enemy we need only to look in our Bibles. It is the ultimate litmus test.
“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” – John 17:14-17 NIV
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.’” – Revelation 10:12 NIV
Commentary | Satan loves to use accusation to trip us up and distract us from the truth.
“Satan’s emissaries are masters at accusation, especially after they have distracted you through temptation. One minute they’re saying, “Try this; there’s nothing wrong with it.” Then, when you yield, they’re right there taunting, “See what you did! How can you call yourself a Christian when you behave like that?” Accusation is one of Satan’s primary weapons.” (Source: Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, pg. 119)
Accusation can be paralyzing. When we believe the accusatory lies the enemy hurls at us – you’re not smart enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’ll never amount to anything, they don’t really like you, your friends think you’re boring, you’ll never get that raise, no one will ever listen to you – we are paralyzed by fear, anxiety, anger, and depression.
But when Christ died for us, he washed away our sins and made us whole. As sons and daughters of Christ we are free from accusation.
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Colossians 1:21-22) NIV
PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM SPIRITUAL DEFEAT
As we’ve discussed, Satan’s goal is to turn your attention away from God and slow (or halt) your spiritual journey. “The most spiritually defeated Christians are those who pay attention to deceiving spirits (I Timothy 4:1). They weakly give into the temptations and believe the lies and accusations. These Christians are defeated simply because they have been duped into believing God doesn’t love them, or they will never be victorious Christians, or they are helpless victims of the past. There is no reason why they can’t get up immediately and start walking again, but they have believed a lie, and so they sit there in the middle of the street, defeated.” (Source: Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, pg. 121)
There is a common saying in sports: the best defense is a good offense. You have everything you need to protect yourself from the enemy and spiritual defeat, but you need to remain armed and ready. Clothe yourself in the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shoes of Peace, the Shield of Faith and the Helmet of Salvation every day. Pray for God to help you resist temptation. Look to the Word to determine what is truth and what is deception. Remember God’s promises that you are loved and you are free from accusation.
“With every arrow of temptation, accusation, or deception they shoot at us, we simply raise the shield of faith, deflect the attack, and walk on. We choose truth in the face of every lie. As we do, we grow with every step. (Source: Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker, pg. 121)
NEXT UP | THE LURE OF KNOWLEDGE AND POWER (JULY 30)