By Pr Ay Nee Ng
Taken from Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday, August 14, 2013.
British cameraman shot dead while reporting for Sky on Egypt bloodbath as protesters say as many as 149 have been killed.
Mick Deane was part of a Sky News team in Egypt reporting on a security force operation to raid the camps in the capital Cairo when violence broke out. Security forces are said to have opened fire on mostly unarmed protestors with machine guns during the operation which began shortly after 7am local time. Although the total number of dead in the clashes is unconfirmed, burned corpses have been seen on the streets which resemble a war zone. Interim Egyptian leaders have declared a state of emergency and imposed an overnight curfew.
A British cameraman lost his life covering the news. Are we prepared to lay down our lives for our Lord Jesus Christ? Are we prepared to testify of His goodness to our friends, neighbours, and family and to stand for what is fair, good, and just? Do people around you know you love the Lord? The days are here when Christians are put more on the microscope for sometimes just ordinary things because we are on a war zone. Yet, it doesn’t mean we can’t live. Life goes on in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, but the question then is: How do we live in a war zone?
Last time, we talked about what God spoke to the Church in an exercise on waiting on the Lord. Early July God gave two words: “preparation” and “poise”. Church, are we prepared for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the final battle ahead—the battle at Armageddon—where Satan and all the evil powers will be defeated forever? Church, we are in a war zone where there are battles for people’s lives and for our faith in Christ Jesus. We have battles in our mind, will, and emotions and battles against the works of darkness and Satan. In a war zone, there are casualties of war. Some overcome the atrocities of war and some are scarred for life, but with Christ, we can overcome the scars and move on in forgiveness and love.
“Put on the full armour 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” (Eph. 6:11-12). What do we need when in war?
Prepare to Fight the Spiritual Battles in Your Life and around You
There are many battles before the final battle in which the war over sin and darkness will be won.
Know Your Opponents
1. The devil. References of the devil, Satan or Lucifer in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, Ephesians 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:26, and Ezekiel 28:14-16.
Schemes/Devices of the Devil
- Satan lies (John 8:44) and blinds people to the truth (Gen. 2:17).
- Satan puts evil suggestions into our minds (In John 13:2, Judas Iscariot; in Acts 5:3, Ananias lied). What are your secret desires? They must be aligned to God’s will.
- Satan promotes an unforgiving spirit among brethren (Jas. 3:14-15). Apply Ephesians 4:32.
- Satan tempts believers to commit sexual immorality (1 Cor. 7:5).
- Satan incites persecution against Christians (Rev. 2:10).
“But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:10-11).
2. Rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Principality, power, might, and dominion (Eph. 1:21) are terms consistently used for ruling authorities in both the visible and the invisible realms (Eph. 3:10). Read Daniel 10:10-14, 20. Let’s read Ephesians 1:20-23.
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
There are three levels of heavenly places. The heavenly places don’t refer to heaven, the destined home of the redeemed. The 1St level of heavenly places is earth where there are physical authorities with evil spirits in them, the 2nd level is the invisible realm where the Holy Spirit, ruling spirits, princes and principalities work, and the 3rd level is the abode of our God and His angels. The Greek word for heavenlies in this passage refers to the invisible realm that surrounds our present daily situation, the arena or sphere of spiritual action and activity, that is, the 2nd level of heavenly places. Nonetheless, Christ’s authority encompasses every age, exceeds every known power, and is here and now (see verses 1:3; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12).
3. Sinful nature. We are all born with a sinful nature, which is the principle in man that makes him rebellious against God and independent of God. We have a natural inclination to sin; given the choice to do God’s will or our own, we will naturally choose to do our own thing. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” (Rom. 7:18-20).
Sadly, proof of the sinful nature abounds. No one has to teach a child to lie or to be selfish; rather, we go to great lengths to teach our children to tell the truth and to put others first. It is pity and shameful that sinful behaviour comes naturally. When we turn to the news nowadays, there are always tragic and violent examples of mankind acting badly. Wherever people are, sure enough, there is trouble.
Charles Spurgeon said: “As the salt flavours every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived”.
The Bible explains the reason for trouble. Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12, ESV) Therefore, humanity is sinful, not just in theory or in practice, but by nature. Sin is part of the very fibre of our being; the stain runs deep—our souls are wrapped in it. The Bible speaks of “sinful flesh” in Romans 8:3. It’s our earthly nature that produces the sins listed in Colossians 3:5. Also, Romans 6:6 speaks of “the body ruled by sin.” The flesh-and-blood existence we lead on this earth is shaped by our sinful, corrupt nature.
Some of the consequences of the sinful nature are:
- Rebelling against God (Rom. 7:19-20).
- Yielding to sinful desires (Rom. 6:6) and the corruption of this world (Col. 3:5). “By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Pet. 1:4; ESV).
- Yielding to the desires of the flesh. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16; ESV). “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21; ESV).
- Being defiled by evil. “All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:23; ESV).
- Conforming to this world (Rom. 12:1-2).
- Being prideful (Prov. 6:16-19)
- Experiencing death—separation from God.
Sin separates mankind from God in a universal and pervasive way, placing all of creation at odds with God and itself (Rom. 8:20-23). Because of sin, there was no acceptable offering to satisfy the demands of God’s holy nature. God had to send His only Son Jesus Christ to provide an acceptable sacrifice for sin. It was specifically the blood Jesus Christ shed on the cross that satisfied the demand of God’s holiness, established a peace bond or covenant with those who received Him, and provided the means for all of creation to be reconciled to God.
Leviticus 17:11 declares that sin can’t be forgiven without the shedding of blood. Because sin takes life, life is required to repay sin’s debts. Jesus Christ gave His divine life in blood to satisfy all of mankind’s sins and to restore the covenant peace between God and man. Wow! What a great sacrificial love story!
Church, the death of Christ restored the harmony and fellowship that once existed between God and His creation and brought victory over sin. But why we struggle? Struggle comes when there is temptation. It is the struggle of the mind and the flesh—the battles that rage within our mind, will, and emotions when we don’t know how to surrender to our Lord and say “NO” to temptation. But temptation is not sin until you give way to it.
“And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. 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—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant” (Col. 1:20-23).
Know Your Weapons Well
Let us read Ephesians 6:10-20.
10-17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour 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. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18-20 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
The seven tools used in opposition to Satan and his schemes, the principalities and powers of darkness, and the sinful nature are:
1. The blood covering of the lamb. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Rev. 12:11).The shed blood of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:20-23) redeemed us from sin and gave us eternal life. As we continue to trust in Him, we can overcome the battles in our mind and our emotions and be comforted through the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. Submitting to God. “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas. 4:8).
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority [the head of all principality and power in NKJV]” (Col. 2:9-10; NIV).
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: 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. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col. 1:16-20).
Paul depicts Jesus as the Mediator, Agent, and Goal of all things (John 1:3). This includes declaring His authority above all negative cosmic powers, which are also subjects of His creation who fell from their first estate. Paul’s reference point is Genesis 1. Colossians 1:17 which says, “all things hold or stand together”, portrays Christ as the Sustainer and uniting principle of the universe and the word “fullness” in verse 19 sums the divine attributes resident in Christ and show His unique and uncontested mediatorship.
3. Resisting the Devil. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7).
4. The full armour of God (Eph. 6:10-18). When we accept Christ as our personal Saviour and start to live, we want a change in life that will work for our life now in Him. Yet, how many of us have been dashed time and time again? There is an enemy seeking to destroy our faith and testimony, hoping we will fail and fall flat on our face. All of us know that living the Christian life involves an ongoing warfare, but God has provided a spiritual armour to protect us. He has placed in our hands a sword, not just any sword, but a sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, to help us conquer and overcome evil. We read about the armour of God in Ephesians 6:10-18. The armour includes 4 things that are very important and useful:
- Belt of Truth. It always pays to be truthful. It brings balance back into our lives.
- Breastplate of Righteousness. It gives us the ability to do the right thing and to distinguish right from wrong.
- Shield of Faith. It is the willingness to trust and believe that what God says is true. Believe first; understand later.
- Sword of the Spirit—the Word of God.
Our Christian life is about the battle against powerful evil forces headed by Satan. To withstand his attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armour. All believers, those who confess theirs sins and that Jesus Christ died for their sins and rose again the third day are saved. We become a target of Satan’s attacks because we are no longer on Satan’s side. We need supernatural power to defeat Satan. God has provided that power by the Holy Spirit who lives within us and by the provision of the armour that surrounds us. May God help every believer to be alert to these truths and win the war.
5. The name of Jesus and our authority in Jesus Christ. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:5-11).
Some of the names of God are:
- Adam: “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit’” (1 Cor. 15:45).
- Advocate: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
- Alpha and Omega: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8).
- Amen, Faithful and True Witness, and Beginning of the Creation of God: “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God’” (Rev. 3:14).
- Author and Finisher of Our Faith: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebr. 12:2).
- Author of Eternal Salvation: “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).
- Beloved Son: “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles” (Matt. 12:18).
- Bread of Life: “Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven” (John 6:32).
- Chief Shepherd: “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Pet. 5:4).
- Cornerstone: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Ps. 118:22).
- Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
- Creator: “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).
- Deliverer: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob” (Rom. 11:26).
- Glory of the Lord: “And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoke” (Isa. 40:5).
- God: “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isa. 40:3).
- Good Shepherd: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
- Great High Priest: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” (Heb. 4:14).
- Head of the Church: “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Eph. 1:22).
- Heir of All Things: “But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (Heb. 1:2).
- Holy and Righteous One: “You disowned the Holyand Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you” (Acts 3:14).
- Holy One of God: “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24).
- I AM: “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58).
- Image of God: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).
- Immanuel: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).
- Jehovah: “Trust in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:4).
- Jesus: “And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
- Ruler, King of kings and Lord of lords: “Which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15).
- Lawgiver: “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us” (Isa. 33:22).
- Lamb: “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).
- Lamb of God: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29).
- The Way, the Truth, and the Life: “Jesus said unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me’” (John 14:6).
- Light of the World: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).
- Lion of the Tribe of Judah: “Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals’” (Rev. 5:5).
- Lord of All: “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36).
- Lord of Glory: “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8).
- Mediator: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
- The Anointed One: “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble” (Dan. 9:25).
- Mighty One of Jacob: “You will drink the milk of nations and be nursed at royal breasts. Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (Isa. 60:16).
- Root of David and Morning Star: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16).
- Redeemer: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth” (Job 19:25).
- Resurrection and Life: “Jesus said unto her, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live’” (John 11:25).
- Rock: “And drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4).
- Rose of Sharon: “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys” (Song 2:1).
- Saviour, Messiah, and Lord: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11). “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ)” (John 1:41).
6. Prayer, praise, and worship. Pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 4:18) and with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6).
7. The love of God and the mindset and heartbeat of Christ in us. “Do not love the world or the things in the world… but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
“This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:17-18).
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:5-11).
To survive in a war zone, we need to get ready to fight the battles in our life, know our enemies, and know our weapons well. As in any war, there are casualties. We get wounds and scars in our daily battles, but we have to learn to put hatred, bitterness, and unforgiveness away as children of God. Only God through Jesus Christ can soften our hearts when we are willing to answer His call and come to Jesus Christ as a child. Only through Jesus Christ we have forgiveness of sins. Through the love of our Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and by the power of His Holy Spirit, our lives can be mended, restored, and transformed. We can get pass the wounds and release the pain that is embedded deep in our soul. His Holy Spirit can bring us comfort, peace, and healing, but we need to learn to trust and love again through the love of God in us. Over time, the memory of pain will be overtaken with God’s love and our thankfulness to Him.
Finally, let’s keep trusting in the Lord, doing His will, and committing all things to God; He will see us through. He is coming back again for a spotless bride. The Christian life isn’t only about the giftings, but also about living our lives for God and loving Him. Let’s grow our love for God and stand firm for God.