Diagnosing Spiritual Complacency

One of the terrible diseases of Christianity today is complacency. There is a major complacency epidemic spreading amongst the Kingdom. Are you battling complacency in your ministry?

I certainly believe that Satan is a master deceiver and uses many techniques to disarm and neutralize Believers. I wholeheartedly believe that one of Satan’s strategies is to plant the seed of complacency.

I have a friend who served a tour of duty in Iraq. On that tour of duty he worked many road checkpoints and was issued, along with his other soldiers, some very particular gear. Among that gear was the normal body armor and helmet, but that gear also included padding and armor for their upper arms and thighs, as well as a groin guard. All of this gear had one mission in mind: to keep them alive and protected in the event of an IED explosion. As you can imagine all that gear made the already intense heat nearly unbearable. So for that reason many of the soldiers would remove the gear when officers were not around. One particular day there were no officers on site and a newer enlisted soldier was in the guard tower wearing his helmet causing many of the others to poke fun at him. On that particular day an enemy assailant just so happened to be taking aim with a long-range rifle and shot that soldier in the head. The helmet and his lack of complacency saved his life, whereas many of the other soldiers would have been killed. I say all of that to make this point: in combat complacency kills.

In Amos 6:1 the Lord spoke to the backslidden Israel through His prophet Amos. It says,

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come!

The Lord was addressing to the people who were self-satisfied and in their comfort zone. They felt self-sufficient and strong enough in their own power. These people had little desire for God, and little hunger for His righteousness. They were self-confident and self-sufficient. Thus the Lord warned them about the impending judgment upon them.

How often do we fall into this exact attitude? We allow ourselves to grow complacent and live a self-satisfied life. Do we truly live dependent on God or do we try to maintain some independence? Remember, complacency makes us to feel secure in our job, safe in our strength, good about our knowledge, protected in our money and possessions, eventually blinding us and leading us to our downfall. Sometime the strike isn’t immediate. Like the enemy assailant in the story above, sometimes the enemy patently takes aim and waits. He allows us to grow comfortable, and complacent all the while he is disarming us without much effort.

A.W. Tozer says,

Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth.

Let’s get one thing straight. Complacency is a killer that can ruin ministry. Are you battling complacency in your ministry?

Revelation 3:14-22 says,

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

We see above that lukewarmness is a spiritual condition that apparently, Jesus can’t stand. Another name for it might be “complacency.” Complacency is not contentment. Where contentment is finding joy in the blessings of walking with God, complacency is when we have stopped walking.

How do you know that this killer has crept into your ministry? Here are some telltale signs.


  • Lack of Zeal

One of the most obvious and beginning stages of complacency is a diminishing presence or absence of zeal. We all can probably remember a time in our life when we were passionate about something, maybe you are like me and when you find a new interest or hobby you dive in headfirst and it is all consuming? Hopefully we can all think back to a time when we were like that with Jesus. We didn’t need complex theology or big “spiritually correct” words. Yeah… I just went there.

Too many of us have substituted zeal for knowledge!

I honestly am pretty tired of seeing Bible believing friends of mine tearing each other to shreds over theology on Facebook for the whole world to see. I have been there too! At times I myself have replaced my zeal for pursuing Christ and acting like Him for merely knowing more about Him and maybe letting others know about it. Before anyone gets all tore up please understand that I am talking to myself here! Maybe the dissection of the Word down to the last punctuation mark was just a distraction to keep you from understanding it and doing what it says? In actuality Satan, the deceiver, doesn’t care how much you know the Word if you don’t do the Word.

Please read the Word, dissect the Word, understand the Word, memorize the Word… but then go put into practice!

  • Tradition is Doctrine

Tradition entails so much more than what most people typically think of when it is mentioned. Tradition is more than robes, recited prayers, hymns, etc… Tradition is something that can invade and ultimately take over any church, regardless of its denomination, history, or style. Let’s get this straight, when we depend on tradition for our “religious” involvement, relationship, worship, or gatherings we stop depending upon something else… namely the Bible and the Spirit of God. When that happens, we’re on a rapid descent to destruction. In fact, our gatherings become nothing more than scripted ceremonies that we have rehearsed and polished in hopes of gaining something. We might keep ourselves happy, we might grow our church in numbers or financial security, but we aren’t truly pursuing the renewed work of Christ and the Kingdom of God here in our ever-changing ministry field.

There is nothing wrong with tradition itself. But… there is something wrong with depending on tradition!

C.S. Lewis once wrote,

Security is mortals’ greatest enemy.

But what kind of “security” is he talking about? I believe he is talking about the security that comes with comfort. Maybe your comfort looks different than the blanket that Linus drags around everywhere, but it’s still serving the same purpose. Do your traditions make you feel at “home” or secure and comfortable?

Complacency makes us feel secure, but feelings can lie.

Ephesians 5:14-17 says,

This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

How is it that we can be told to make the most of every opportunity and still pass up so many because they didn’t fit into our idea of “church?” Let’s put it out there, we as a whole have become slothful, habitual, uninspired, secure, and complacent, often doing what we do for traditional reasons rather than because it’s best.

Why is it that we, who have had the precious blood of Christ cleanse our sins, now take such a mediocre and habitual approach to those things related to Christ and His cause? From our outreach, in-reach, preaching, worship, programs, aesthetics, etc… in almost every area of corporate church complacency has unfortunately become the norm.

The message is the same, but the messengers and avenues they take change!

The secular world has caught on to this! Look at the music industry. Songs and albums were once put out on vinyl, then tapes, then cd’s, and now everything is digital. The same songs that were once on vinyl can now be downloaded on iTunes for .99 cents! Businesses don’t always change the product or name… they just change the presentation, method of delivery, or audience. Why aren’t we who have the best “offering” putting forth the same effort in our church activities as we do in our personal activities and businesses?

Andrew Grove, a founder of Intel, is famously quoted for saying,

Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure.

If we stay the same, for the sake of staying the same, we get left behind and we do the message an injustice! We must understand that our complacency has eternal implications, and I’m afraid that a culture of mediocrity has now become the new tradition.

  • Tolerance of Sin

Last week I asked you to imagine a trashed house full of garbage and the flies that go along with the garbage. Sometimes our lives look a lot like that house, and the natural tendency is to clear out the flies. Sometimes we are successful and manage to shoo them all away, but as long as the garbage remains we are fighting a losing battle and those flies are inevitably going to return and multiply. So, the solution is to get rid of the garbage in our lives. We need to be concerned with the flies, but we also must work to remove the garbage to keep them out! Every trashcan is going to look different… but we certainly all have one. In his strategy of complacency, Satan watches as we clear our houses of garbage and flies…except for one room. It’s more than likely a hidden room, one we keep to ourselves. That room may be continual sin, it might be a relationship, bitterness, or a wound we haven’t allowed to heal. At times the door to that room full of garbage stays shut for a while and Satan allows us to have successes in other areas all the while the flies are just multiplying and building up in this little room. Then, out of nowhere, the door of the hidden room flies open, freeing thousands upon thousands of flies who have been breeding and waiting for just this moment.

Why does this happen? We get complacent and our complacency leads to tolerance or apathy.

Think it doesn’t happen? Take a moment to consider prominent Christian leaders, celebrities, or politicians whose lives and careers have been ruined when they fell in disgrace from one sin or another. We all know them so there is no need at mentioning names. We might look in from the outside an ask ourselves, “how would they allow that to happen” or, “why would they do that with all the success they have?” Rest assured. That fall wasn’t part of the plan when they began their career. Nobody begins a ministry with the goal to ultimately disgrace themselves and God by being brought to their knees by their own hand. Too often the fall comes from complacency. They believed the lie that they could “get away with it,” or, “it’s not that big of a deal,” and when they seemed to have it all together and under control, they grew complacent in their tolerance of sin.

Sin is sin, and all sin is bad. Don’t tolerate it! The church is to be a place of healing for sinners, but a Holy God doesn’t wink at or bless iniquity. He sent His son to die for and erase that iniquity and sin… not cover it up. The only reason the church welcomes sinners is because by God’s grace, sinners can be reborn with Christ’s righteousness. Do not tolerate sin in your own life! Letting a few “little things” slip leads to bigger slip-ups. I recently watched a video of a poor woman who slipped on an icy sidewalk and every time she would begin to regain her balance and composure she would begin to slide and fall again until ultimately she ended up on the ground. We’ve all been on an icy sidewalk… when you begin to slip it is all over. But… you know how you avoid slipping and falling? Stay off the ice.

  • Lack of Pursuit

What is a pursuit? I would define it as an intense chase of something in order to attain it.

My parents have a German shepherd by the name of Obi and he is extremely quick. One afternoon while playing and walking Obi his leash fell off of his collar and went limp in my hand. I looked down in shock only to see him looking at me with the same look of shock in his face that I had in mine. At that point the chase was on.

Why did I pursue Obi the dog? I pursued because I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t catch him, of what would happen if I stopped pursuing him!

How many of us have stopped pursuing holiness? Lost interest or will to pursue God and spiritual growth?

Spiritual growth is marked by an aggressive intense pursuit of God. We desire His fellowship, His people, and His word. A life that lacks prayer, Bible intake, and neglects spiritual nourishment is a life that has slipped into complacency and that will see little or no fruit.

Mark 11:12-14 says,

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

When Jesus cursed the fig tree for its failure to produce fruit in the verses above He gives us a sobering lesson. Empty religion, lacking fruit, needs to and ultimately will die. In actuality the parable of the fig tree doesn’t end with Jesus’ withering curse, because the very next verse says,

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

The spiritual complacency or “religion” of the people had reached the place where they were making a total mockery of the temple and of the message. We may not see our situations as that bleak, but if Jesus walked into our churches what things would he need to overturn or shake up?

  • Inward Focus

One of the surest signs of complacency is a church that is self-absorbed or entirely inwardly focused. You might ask, “Tanner, what does than mean?” Let me begin my answer with another question, what is the mission of the church? That question can evoke many answers like: to provide teaching for Believers, to be a place of fellowship, a place of worship. To all of those I would say yes… but what is the first and foremost mission of the church? In Matthew 28:19 it tells us about that mission. It says,

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The mission of the church is to spread the good news and make disciples. In fact we may have to get out of our comfortable and familiar zone to do it! Acts 1:8 says,

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Is your church inward focused or outward focused? Are you so concerned about not “rocking the boat” that you leave it docked? We see in the book of Acts that in order to achieve our mission we have to wander outside of ourselves! Are we so overly concerned about keeping “our people” happy and content that we miss opportunities to reach those that haven’t yet been reached by Christ or the church? I will step out in an unpopular way and say that when a church is absorbed with just its own activities, its own problems, and its own people, it has become complacent and ineffective at achieving the goal and mission.

The primary challenge, and our primary concern, should be, “how do we reach people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus?” Most inward-focused churches are not sensitive to or even aware of this challenge. We might bank on our “friendliness” or position in the community to cut it… but the numbers show that it doesn’t! We can’t simply pray for a harvest and not plant any seeds or till any ground!

So many of us are so complacent that we fear any change or decision that might push insiders away and, frankly, impact the bottom line. Ironically, any organization, including a church, that doesn’t focus on reaching new people has already started to decline and will eventually die. In the book of Acts, James the brother of Jesus, told the Jewish Christians, who were the insiders of the day, they should not make it difficult for the Gentiles, the outsiders of the day, to turn to God. Why is it that this many years later that problem still exists? Are we making it easy for outsiders to turn to God, or are we stuck in the busy complacent work of keeping insiders happy?

Jeremiah 10:21 says,

For the shepherds have become stupid and have not sought the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered.

Proverbs 1:32 says,

For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.

What is our focus as a church?


Zephaniah 1:12 says,

It will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men Who are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good or evil!’

Are you complacent? Go to war with the complacency in your life.

 

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The War

Everyday there is a battle raging around us. Satan, demons, and the powers of darkness are real and they are actively at work in our world. The question is do you know how to recognize them – and, if need be, go to combat against them?

When you talk about spiritual warfare there are two primary errors or trains of thought… they are: over-emphasis and under-emphasis. Some tend to blame every sin, every conflict, and every problem on demons that need to be cast out. Others completely ignore the spiritual realm and the fact that the Bible tells us our battle is against spiritual powers. They might be quoted as saying,

Yes, the Bible talks about Satan and demons, but you know, that was probably at another time, in another world, and I don’t really see that stuff playing out, in our day, in this way.

In fact Christian songwriter Keith Green summed up this mentality well when he wrote this,

I [Satan] used to have to sneak around. But now they just open their doors. No one’s looking for my tricks because no one believes in me any more.

Today I argue that the key to waging successful spiritual warfare is finding the Biblical balance. It is true that Jesus sometimes cast demons out of people. But…it is also true that other times He healed people with no mention of the demonic or casting out spirits, in fact, He healed them and saved them from themselves.

In Scripture we are told to wage war against the sin in ourselves. Romans 6:1-14 says,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Then in Ephesians 6:10-18 we are told to oppose the schemes of the devil,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

So, the Spiritual realm is real… and active! There is a war raging.

Eddie and Alice Smith once said,

When Adam and Eve fell, they relinquished rulership of the earth to Satan, a fallen angelic being. Spiritual warfare is the reversal of that procedure. It is the unseen power encounter between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Through prayer, fasting and exercising the authority of Christ and His cross, believers indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit are forcing angelic beings to relinquish rulership of the earth!

Wars by definition are large conflicts made up of smaller conflicts called battles. Like earthly battles, spiritual battles are often fought on multiple fronts. An enemy doesn’t always only attack by day, but sometimes they come at night. A wise enemy doesn’t limit all of their attacks to land… but they also mix it up by adding in water and air assaults. Our enemy is wise and attacks from all angles and sides with different schemes and tactics.

Like we discussed above it is important for us to differentiate and be able to identify on what front the battle is being waged. Is it a spiritual battle, a worldly battle, or a battle raging within us?

Below we will discuss the different battles being waged within this war.


The Spiritual Battle

We live in a physical realm and the natural tendency is to only pay attention to the things we can see and touch. The world tells us that unseen things can’t be proven or aren’t real.

So… how do we know that there is a spiritual realm?

If we cannot see it, should we believe in it? Some of us can’t get a grasp or handle on the things here in the physical so it almost seems overwhelming that there would be more right?

Has it ever made you laugh watching a child playing peek-a- boo or hide-and-go seek? With a kid all you have to do is cover something up and suddenly you have made it disappear! It is truly amazing right! But… unfortunately for us that is not reality. The lack of seeing something or someone does not mean that it or them is not there.

In Scripture we are given evidence of “spiritual” things that we cannot see. Pay attention to the bold and italicized words in the Scriptures below.

Nehemiah 9:6 says,

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

Luke 2:13-15 gives us a glimpse of some spiritual beings. It says,

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Ephesians 6:12 says,

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.

Colossians 1:15-16 says,

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

Half the fight is recognizing the Spiritual realm. God gives us everything else we need to be victorious with the other half. We have all had that experience where we just had a “feeling” that there was more going on that we could see. Sometimes we heed to that “feeling” and others we dismiss it. But, whether we choose to believe in the existence of spiritual beings and places does not change the fact of their existence and their activities.

Take a second and think about what you believe as a Christian. You believe in a God that created all things out of nothing. You believe in an enemy that lured creation into sin. You believe in a trinity that consists of Father, Spirit, Son. You believe in a Son that manifested Himself as a human and died on a cross to take the repercussions of our sin. You believe that the Son then rose 3 days later and ascended into Heaven. You believe in eternal life.

You can’t see any of those things in the physical realm today. But does that make those things any less real or any less true?

But, Christians aren’t the only ones that believe things that can’t be physically seen in the here and now. Our history books are full of things that we can see the lasting effects of, but not necessarily the thing, place, or situation itself. Sound familiar? We see the lasting effects of Jesus each and every day in the same way that the world sees the lasting effects of the Revolutionary war or the dinosaurs.

The belief is necessary for the education. That is what faith is built on… belief.

The Bible is filled with references to the heavenly realm or a place that is invisible to our eyes physically today, yet very real in its existence. The Bible is also filled with references of spiritual fights, forces, demons, and evil that we also have to count as real. We cannot say we recognize the heavenly realm and not recognize the evil that has dominion over the earth here and now. We must have faith and believe with eyes that God has given us to see.

There have, however, been others who were able to see with their physical eyes into the spiritual realm. 2 Kings 6:11-17 tells us of one such man. It says,

This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?” “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

This is just one example that clearly demonstrates the workings of an invisible spiritual realm around us. The rumblings of an invisible war. The good news is that the Lord is with us and provides for us through His angels as He chooses. The Lord loves us and protects us physically as He works it out for us on the spiritual end.


The Worldly Battle

The next area we face battle is somewhere that we can see! As we begin to understand the spiritual realm we will begin to understand how the enemy moves against us in the physical realm.

You might be curious now as to how “demons” can interact in the physical realm but yet still stay hidden from the world. To clarify that let us reference the story of Job. In fact, Job is a perfect example of a spiritual conflict that was manifested in the physical form.

Tonilee Adamson says,

Job was a real human being living here on earth, but the Bible gives us a clear look at what was happening concerning Job’s life in the spiritual realm. God looked upon Job as a righteous man but, because Satan wanted to prove God wrong, Job became the victim of Satan’s attacks. Job’s family, finances and home were destroyed and his health and friends turned against him. Job experienced very real physical and circumstantial conflicts because of the conflict in the spiritual realm. Job also became the victor because of his faithfulness to God in words and actions throughout the trial. His victory was spiritual, physical and material…on earth as it is in heaven.

We live in the here and now, whereas God does not. He has always existed and always will. He doesn’t operate by our time and is not inhibited by it. God exists outside of our time and space. He is both infinite and timeless. One day we will join God in the spiritual realm (Heaven), but… that doesn’t change that we do live in a physical realm now.

Romans 12:12 says,

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

In John 17:14-16 Jesus said,

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

So, we are called to live in the world but not be a part of the world, but the thing is… the world hates those who follow Jesus.

We are going to have conflicts with the world and its ways. Those conflicts are battles within the war that is spiritual warfare. In fact, it isn’t the physical world itself that we have a problem with. We know that when God created Adam and Eve and they dwelled together in the Garden in harmony with God that “it was good.” It wasn’t until the temptations and schemes of the evil one came in that the problems arose. So it isn’t the physical world itself that we have a problem with. After all, we aren’t battling trees, and animals, but rather it is the forces that control the world that are in conflict with. Again, I will repeat the quote by Eddie and Alice Smith,

When Adam and Eve fell, they relinquished rulership of the earth to Satan, a fallen angelic being. Spiritual warfare is the reversal of that procedure. It is the unseen power encounter between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Through prayer, fasting and exercising the authority of Christ and His cross, believers indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit are forcing angelic beings to relinquish rulership of the earth!

We, as Christians, are God’s children. Followers of Jesus. So, if the world is in conflict with God, the world is also in conflict with us.

Like any war, there are 2 opposing sides. In this particular conflict we have the side of Heaven and the side of the world and Hell. It is important to note that we have to pick one. A person cannot remain a neutral faction. By not picking the side of Jesus one is by default selecting the side of the world and will face demise along with the rest on that force.

I personally find it encouraging that Jesus Himself came in flesh and understood the temptations of the world. He knew that Satan would use every kind of enticement possible to lure man’s heart away from God. He uses circumstances, events, people, things, and even doubt to steal hearts back to his worldly and evil ways. These types of battles are fought in the world but involve the spiritual forces of darkness that exist in the invisible realm around us. The world promises instant satisfaction and pleasures that fulfill the desires of our flesh. We must stay on guard to ourselves and our own fallen nature, and be quick to pick the ways of the Lord and the transforming and renewing of our minds on a daily basis.

James 4:4 gives us a warning about our war with the world,

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.


The Battle Within

From nearly the onset of this writing I wrote that Jesus did cast demons out of people, but also at times He healed people with no mention of the demonic or casting out spirits, in fact, He healed them and saved them from themselves. I believe that much of the battle we confuse with being in the ”spiritual realm” actually exists inside us as our human fallen nature rages war against the ways of God in us.

Like I previously stated, in Scripture we are told to wage war against the sin in ourselves. Romans 6:1-14 says,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

I believe for myself that most of the hardest fought and intense battles are fought within me. Let’s face it, denying of oneself is not a pleasurable activity. Jesus told us in Luke 9:23 that,

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

What does that cross mean for you? What battle must you fight today?

There is a constant struggle between flesh and spirit, and we are constantly battling between what we want to do versus what we know the Lord wants us to do. In his letter to the Romans, Paul explains that we are saved by grace, not by observing the law, because Christ died for us. But, he goes on to say that this does not give us permission to sin, but rather, we should serve God by being slaves of righteousness.

Romans 7:14-20 says,

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Robert Deffinbaugh had this to say about that particular passage,

Paul describes in the Book of Romans a much deeper frustration—one with which only Christians can identify and one with which all Christians can identify. The Christian’s agony comes from realizing that our sinful flesh refuses to respond to the requirements of God’s Law. Those things which we as Christians despise we find ourselves doing. Those things which we as Christians desire we fail to accomplish. No matter how much we may wish to serve God in our minds, we find ourselves sinning in our bodies. As Paul describes his frustration in Romans 7, with his mind he desires to serve God. He agrees with the Law of God and rejoices in it. He wants to do what is right, but his body will not respond. He watches, almost as a third party, as sin sends a signal to his body, and as his body responds, “What would you like to do?” Paul finds, as we do, that while our fleshly bodies refuse to obey God and do that which we desire and which delights God, they quickly and eagerly respond to the impulses and desires aroused by sin…

Some of our most tender nerves are touched by Paul’s teaching in verses 14-25. For the truths taught here could be taken as the most depressing and hopeless realities of our lives. But Paul does not dwell on the weakness of our flesh in order to discourage us. Rather, Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh as the root problem which prevents Christians from living the kind of lives God requires and which we, as Christians, desire in our innermost being. Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh to prepare us for God’s provision for Godly living…

We as mortal beings have the complete inability to live righteously, in our own strength. We may want to… but we are unable.

Matthew 26:41 says,

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Galatians 5:17-17 says,

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Genesis 4:7 says,

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

We can understand the circumstances and situations that the enemy uses to destroy us. We can accept the truth of how the world lures and tempts us. We can understand to some degree that the battle in the spiritual realm is ongoing and real, even though we cannot see it. But, to get a grasp on what is going on within our own hearts and minds can be the hardest, most exhausting, battle of them all. God’s ways are not natural to us. We constantly need to crucify our natural inclinations and desires to receive all that God has for us. Colossians 3:8-12 says,

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Romans 12:3 says that God has distributed faith to each of us for our good!

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Jesus Christ came to earth in the flesh. He lived a life of much suffering as He denied the desires of His flesh and the temptations of the enemy. Our flesh will suffer just like Jesus but we can be victorious just like Jesus. The victory may not look the same as defined by the world, but nothing compares to a life that is victorious in the ways of God.

Romans 8:38-39 says,

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Next week we will continue this conversation by discussing “The Enemy and his Schemes.” Until then… watch your six!