Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Message For the Warrior

 As a Christian we have been commissioned to represent the Kingdom of God. The Great Commission was given to go into the entire world.  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8.  The stipulation was that the disciples would first receive the Holy Ghost before they would become a witness. Jesus gave to the disciples the power and authority to carry out this task based on having received the Holy Ghost.   Before a warrior goes into battle, he must have a purpose. The only people who are in the spiritual fight for Truth are followers of Jesus. Our purpose is to spread the Good News of the Gospel.  If you aren’t a believer, you’re not just fighting an uphill battle; you are the opposition an enemy of God. 

By nature, the Bible tells us that we are children of wrath. We have rebelled against God by our sinful nature. We become warriors and co-heirs in the victory of the Cross when the Holy Spirit calls us to repentance and to a life of obedience to the Gospel. This marks the start of a battle between a believer and the enemy of their soul.  As believers, we are not bound to sin, but in our imperfect human form, we will still stumble at times.  It is by grace so undeserved, but greater than all our weakness, shame, and sin that God has forgiven us and made us joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We don’t earn power or authority by our own merits, but by the merit and actions of Jesus on the cross, the Holy Spirit empowers us and we have authority by the blood of Jesus to make war against the enemy and sin.  A warrior must die to himself before he becomes alive to fight!

To be a Warrior of the Cross we must bear the Cross.  We must spiritually pick up our cross, and march up the hill—we must accept the walk as Jesus did.  This is not a spectator sport but requires the warrior to be an active participant.  The era of television has turned many Christians into watchers.  Often Christians get so carried away with the final victory (I am waiting for the LORD to return) that they have remained blinded to the ongoing battle, and the oil in their lamps is slowly going out.  As Christians we need to understand that the way of the cross leads to eternal life and the way of the cross means there is a battle to be fought. There are all those who have fallen away under the pressure of warfare that they have refuse to fight in the Army of God as a Warrior of the Cross. These are the armchair churchgoers who have hindered the warrior from successfully defending the cross. 

Almost every Christian has experienced a real struggle in an effort to live the Christian life. On the one hand, there is an idea of the kind of life that should be lived.  There is the desire to do right but living a righteous life seems so difficult. It can be discouraging trying to live the Christian life. There is the struggle of doing the same sins all too often.  Christian people may respond to this struggle in different ways. Some seem to give up and quit. They just can’t seem to live the Christian life, so they no longer profess it. The term for this action is backsliding.  There are those who keep on with the struggle, and yet they go around with a defeated look lacking the joy of their salvation or the victory over sin. Their life is not a good witness for the Lord. They are without the hope that is in salvation.  As Paul states, they are most miserable.

Paul shares his own experience with the battle to overcome sin and please God. In the chapter seven of the Book of Romans Paul describes the conflict that takes place in the spiritual batter to defeat sin in our lives.

The enemy of our soul is the sin nature.  Sin enslaves us to do the will of our Adversary—Satan.  In verse 14 he says, but I am carnal, sold under sin. That is a clear reference to slavery, which was so common in Paul’s day. The sin nature is so strong and powerful it feels as though the individual has been sold as a slave under the controlling power of sin. It is an ongoing enslavement with lasting effects, for the verb “sold” is in the perfect tense. Paul uses similar language in the last of v.23, where he says he felt that he was brought “into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. ” In the context he is speaking of warfare in one’s soul, and in those days, those who lost the war were often sold as slaves. When sin wins the victory in the spiritual struggle, the believer becomes a slave to the sin. In the last of v.18 Paul goes on to say, “for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” He wanted to live right, but sin so controlled him, he found himself doing wrong even when he wanted to do right! He had the will to obey God, but he lacked the power to obey God. Sin is a tyrant that dictates hate and Paul loathes it and try as he might, he lacked the power to defeat it. This does not mean that sin always triumphs in act, but simply that it is a power from which the soul cannot free itself. For all his desire to obey God’s law, he is compelled by the malignant power within to disobey it. The power seemed to be on the side of indwelling sin.

The cry of Paul at the end of the chapter was a plea for deliverance from the body of sin and death.  It seemed that there was no hope in defeating the power of sin in this life.  There is a transition that takes place between chapter seven and chapter eight. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Roman 8:1-4
Paul has established in his letter to the Church at Rome that the carnal nature of man is the enemy of God.  It will not submit or yield to the will of God. The carnal nature or self can hide under all forms of goodness, and gain a more unmovable abode in the forms of goodness than it can as a sinner. This thought ought to alarm us all. Self can watch and fast, pray much and preach long; self can become religious, take pleasure in its duties, and be exceedingly diligent in its services.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8-5-8

It is important that we die to self, but this cannot happen until we know what self is. If we cannot see how the carnal nature of self, hides in a cloak of religion, all teaching and effort will be vain. We may be ready to die to this nature, and not know that the stronghold is in the temple—our bodies are the temple of the LORD. This carnal nature-self, will make a pretense of yielding to God or dying but will retain its control over the soul.  It is only when we begin so to fear the elusiveness of this nature and realize that in ourselves we cannot bring this nature to its death-- that it is an act of the Holy Spirit. It is only when we yield our entire being to God that we have any hope of conquering this nature, the entire casting of ourselves, in utter despair, on God alone to do the work.

It is only when the soul is brought to believe in its own entire and utter weakness to deal directly with this nature that it will begin to get an insight into the absoluteness of the surrender to God and the trust in Him, which is needed if He alone is to do the work for us and in us. Christ conquered sin by His death.  Nothing that we do ourselves can have any good in it, because it is self-working in us. The good in us is the work of God’s Spirit, and it is all preparatory to that full death to self to which He seeks to bring us, and in which we are entirely yielded up to God to work all in us. 

All failures of the Christian life are due to this one thing that we seek to do in our own strength what God Himself by His Spirit alone can work in us. To die to self, to come from under its power, cannot be done by any active resistance we can make to it by the power of nature. To exchange the life of self for the life of God, to come out of the darkness of self into the light of God, is a work we cannot do. It is the man who ceases from self, who sees and accepts in the death of Christ his death to self, and his entrance into the life that God has promised us. 

What is the true way of dying to self? How can a man be led to understand and desire and find what the death to sin and self in Christ gives him? It is the way of patience, meekness, humility, resignation to God. Dying to self, turning away and ceasing from it, refusing to be led by it, can be effected in no other way but just bowing low before God in the confession of sin and feebleness and the patient waiting for His work in us. 

There are transitions in the life of the Christians that take place when filled with the Holy Spirit, going from the servant to son, the solider to warrior and carnal to spiritual.  The difference between soldier and warrior is a little confusing. The two words, soldier and warrior, are often confused when it comes to their meanings. They appear to be words that give the same meaning but, strictly speaking, there is some difference between the two words. A soldier is the one who is a militant follower of an organization. On the other hand, a warrior exhibits bravery and courage under the given circumstance. He demonstrates courage towards an organization. This is an important difference between the two words. In other words, a soldier is a fighter by profession, whereas a warrior exhibits great courage when the time comes, though he is not a fighter by profession. 

A soldier is a paid individual who fights the opponent to protect his king or the country. The family of a soldier is taken care of in case of any casualty to the life of the soldier in the battle. A solider works in an army as he is a paid fighter. Also, not every soldier goes on to battle. There are many parts in an army. Some of the soldiers works in offices and do not go to the battle field at all.  The bottom line is the solider is a servant of the king or country he serves. He may not know the agenda or goals of his leaders but act on their orders-he is their servant.  

In the Old Testament the scriptures speak of the servants of God.  They were not led by the Holy Spirit but rather the Holy Spirit came upon them.  The Spirit did not dwell within them.  The great prophets of the Old Testament “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost: 2Peter 1:21 

A solider (servant) can become a soldier (servant) of righteousness and still be driven by the Spirit rather than led by the Spirit.  The solider can be in bondage to the Law, which makes the solider a servant. 

Since the solider is not made aware of the goals and agenda of the King  there can be confusion among servants of righteousness, concerning what God's righteousness is. There are those who will impose the Law without Grace.  There will be those who will impose the Law with some Grace.  What the solider servant fails to see is that it is all Grace and no Law.  It is Mercy without sacrifice.  It is Peace with division or confusion.  There cannot be sin and righteousness, good and evil, blessed and cursed, death and life. 

In contrast to the solider a warrior is a fighter who exhibits great courage when time comes, though he is not a fighter by profession. In other words, a warrior does fight when the occasion comes, but he does not work for money.  A warrior always has something to give for the kingdom or an organization based on the relationship with the king. 

A warrior can be working with the army or away from the army. The warrior has the ability to work from outside of the army as he is not a paid fighter. Often, a warrior works for the betterment of the society as a whole. Unlike a soldier, a warrior definitely goes to the battlefield. 

The relationship of the warrior is that of a friend, son or brother of the king.  John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants ... but friends.  Galatians 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son. Philemon 1:16  Not now as a servant, but above a servant a brother.  Jesus said, Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you

Paul writing to the Galatian Christians told them they were no more a servant, but a son; and if a son then heir of God through Jesus Christ. The higher calling of the warrior is that the Spirit of Christ dwells “within you”.  The warrior is led by the Spirit rather than driven by the Spirit.  

Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Someone once asked the great evangelist Charles Finney, “Do you really believe in a literal devil?” Finney responded, “You try opposing him for a while, and you see if he’s literal or not.”

If you want to find out if there is a literal devil, then start walking with Jesus Christ and seeking to be in the will of God. You will find just how real he is. Many people, after they have decided to follow Christ, are surprised to find that the Christian life can be so difficult, so intense sometimes. It isn’t a life of ease, but one of conflict, warfare, and opposition. Our choice is simple: Will we be victorious? Or will we be victims on the spiritual battlefield? 

It has been said that you can tell a lot about a man by who his enemies are. The same is true for us. We are no longer opposing God, but we now have a new, very powerful foe, and he is described in the Bible as the Devil. The Devil, of course, is not happy with the fact that he has lost one of his own. He is angry that you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ. Now you have become a potential threat to his kingdom as well. 

The battlefield in which our spiritual warfare takes place the most often is in the mind. We wrestle, or strive and struggle in our minds against world systems, the flesh or the carnal nature, and the devil. The mind encompasses our thoughts (imagination, reasoning, and intellect), as well as our emotions and will. In all of these aspects lies the very heart of an individual. By our thoughts and feelings we determine our will and purpose for our lives. As Christians, we seek to live by the truth and power of God because they are our assurance of God's promised victory in each and every situation in life, and we are not ignorant of the reality of evil, and the destruction that surrounds our world on a daily basis. It is in this process that we will encounter a very real spiritual struggle in our thoughts, emotions and will, because the adversary knows that these areas are directly related to the power of our faith, and means to receiving the promises of God.  The adversary's goal is to weaken the faith of every Christian.  

If you choose to live a half spiritual and half carnal life, you jeopardize much of your victory in Christ.  Although, at the moment of conversion you received Christ and are assured of your salvation, your heart still needs to be right with God in your commitment to follow Him.  When you follow Him you build a sure foundation, in which Christ said, Luk 6:47 - 49  "Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great." 

There will be times when it is necessary and also an act of wisdom to retreat or step back a little from forging ahead spiritually, and to take the time to reflect, renew our strength and to gain perspective for our lives. Even Jesus knew the importance of retreating into the mountains to renew is spirit.  However, he did not remain in the mountains.  He came down to face the enemy once his spirit was revived. 

After having struggled through a spiritual battle that has drained us both physically and spiritually we may even begin to feel a sense of relief and become complacent.  If we are tempted to remain complacent, we should remind ourselves of the lives we will never touch, the spiritual heights we will never reach, and the force of faith that will no longer impact the invisible world to keep the enemy at bay.  The Christian Warrior can never remain away long from the battlefield.  Keep in mind there are legitimate struggles in life, and we can become discouraged, but even if we feel discouraged we keep placing our trust in the Lord for He will not fail us.  Some battles may be lost because lesser obstacles were overlooked at the start, and there are times, out of enthusiasm, we move ahead of our present capacity. It is not wise to tackle unfamiliar territory unless we are led by the Holy Spirit, to do otherwise is to witness the casualties of spiritual warfare. 

The clang of the swords had died away, the shouting of the slaughter was hushed; silence lay on the red-stained ground. Swords and Shields covered the field, broken blades lay where the dead were placed in heaps. The nerveless hand yet gripped the broken hilt: helmeted heads, back-drawn in the death throes, tilted red beards and golden beards grimly upward, as if in a benediction of life. The battlefield of fear, doubt, depression, physical problems, condemnation, obsessions, worry, despair or hopelessness is faced by every Warrior.  

All through the history of mankind there has been a group of individuals, in a scared and unbroken succession, who have confessed that they were pilgrims and strangers upon this earth.  They can be found wandering the deserts and in the mountains, dwelling in the dens and caves of the earth, to which they have been driven by those who would wage war against them.  They can be found in the marketplace and homes of men, distinguished only by their simpler dress, their girded loins; their restrained appetites of worldly pleasures; their loose hold on gold; their independence of the opinions and applause of the world around them.  There is in their eyes the far-away look which now and then glows from a certain affection centered not on the transitory things of time and earth, but on those eternal realities which, lying beneath the veil of the visible, and are only revealed in faith.  These are the Warriors of the Cross