Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Weapons for Spiritual Victory

Spiritual Warfare

Revelation 12:7-11 
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." NKJV

The Devil is the Christian leader’s greatest foe. He the devil wields a vast power in the world. It is necessary therefore that the Christian leader should pay enough attention to the activities and methods of the devil. We allow him to outwit us in strategy and outmanoeuvre us in tactics largely because of our ignorance of his devices. Too much goes by default because we are not alive to his insidious activity. 

In war, one commander gains victory over the other, due largely to a painstaking study of the opponent – study his character, temperament, habits and previous tactics. The knowledge gained enables him so to plot his campaign as to take advantage of the strengths of his own position and the weaknesses of his foe.
In the passage, we are given a first-hand information of Satan’s character and methods by the One who conquered him and with it the assurance that we too can overcome. It is a method that has never failed.

Let us see the Warfare itself

The Warfare

The first eleven chapters of the Book of Revelation unveil the unceasing struggle between the Church and the world. The remaining chapters reveal that this outward conflict is but the manifestation of the eternal war between God and Satan, and between Light and darkness. At the beginning of this section we meet a startling sentence “And there was war in heaven” (Revelation 12:1). This heavenly warfare was very soon manifested on earth for the record continues, “the devil is come down unto you having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time” (verse 12) His anger increases with the shortening of his time, which perhaps explains the mounting tensions of our day.

A survey of the Church history reveals something of his mode of warfare. When persecution failed to subdue the zeal of the infant Church, he incited the Judaizers to declare the Gospel of grace and cause division through their insidious teachings. When this stratagem failed and the Gospel finally overthrew paganism in Rome, he brought the birth of the Roman and Greek Churches with their mixture of truth and error. In our own day, when Africa appeared to be well on the way to complete evangelisation, he interposed the Moslem belt across the continent between the advancing Church and the unreached heathen in the North.

Every true disciple of Christ is involved in a global war, for our Commission is to take the Gospel to the whole world; and the whole creation. We are engaged in total warfare against a ruthless enemy and there are no exemptions from service. The homeland, the family is as much a part of the battle front as the foreign field. It is a war in which there will be many casualties.

Who are the Warriors?

“They overcame him” – In verses 9-10 a series of revealing names is given to our enemy. In five vivid words the Holy Spirit gives us searching insight into his character and methods of warfare.

He is called the great dragon: To the Greek mind the dragon was a fabulous monster, a dreadful and hostile power, cruel, mysterious, ferocious and malicious.

As that Old Serpent he is cunning and crafty working under a disguise. He seldom comes out into the open, but as in Eden, hides behind someone else. He even transforms himself into an angel of light (Second Corinthians 11:14) He has not changed his tactics but has improved on them and made them more vicious.

The designation the Devil means slanderer. Way there in the Garden of Eden, he slandered God to Adam and Eve, and later he slandered Job to God. Slander is one of his most potent and lethal weapons, and he delights when children of God engage in the same ministry of detraction.

Then he is Satan, the adversary of God, the Church and the believer. He is the open enemy of all that is holy. “And he showed me Joshua the high Priest standing before the angel of Jehovah [the Lord], and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary” Zachariah 3:1) He is the antagonist of all that is in man’s highest interests and to the greater glory of God.

Finally, in this passage, he is the Accuser of the brethren. He is the Father of Lies but will tell the truth when it suits his purpose. And, we alas provide him with so much material to establish his case. Not only does he accuse us to God, but he accuses us to one another. It is striking to note that the word “going to and fro” in the earth used by Satan to describe his wanderings suggests “going about as a spy”, a commentary on his sinister activities. Take time to study the twenty-two names of Satan used in the Scripture and you will be amazed at his activities and what names can reveal of a person. 

If this powerful, malicious, crafty, slanderous, accusing adversary with his highly organized hierarchy is ranged against us who can overcome him? It is important to note that Satan is still the most powerful and vicious creature in the whole universe. Don’t deceive yourself. “They overcame him” – the weak, sinful brethren whom he accused to God. As brethren they sustain a blood relationship with their Lord, and this alone makes them the object of satanic hostility. He can now hurt and discredit the Head of the church only through the members of His Body. But the same blood relationship enables them to share His victory. Praise God, if we are to overcome him we must see to our weapons.

What weapons do we have against this vicious foe?

Our Commander does not ask us to engage in this warfare unarmed. He provides three invincible weapons of offence.

First, there is the Judicial Weapon

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” a weapon which derives its potency from Calvary. The secret of victory is not our prowess, but our union with Christ in His victorious and vicarious death. The phrase “the blood of the Lamb” is not to be regarded as a magic charm, something to be imported into service or prayer, thus insuring orthodoxy and supernatural results. In the same way that some people are today using the Cross and the Bible; putting them under their pillows, wearing them around their necks; so as to drive out their danger or save them from dangers when they come.
The blood of the Lamb is not to be a credulously mumbled formula, not a parroting of mystical words, but the expression of an intelligent, active, vital faith in Christ, the Lamb of God who by the shedding of His blood bruised the serpent’s head and finally defeated him. I wish to add again here, that the phrase “in the name of Jesus Christ” is equally open to abuse and misuse.

“The blood of the Lamb” is one of the most pregnant phrases, in the Scripture. In it is concentrated all the virtues and values of Christ’s mediatorial work. Blood is life in solution. The life of the Lamb of God violently taken by sinful men was yet voluntarily laid down. He rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God by virtue of His own blood. “The blood of the Lamb” now becomes the ground of our victory. It is to be noted that the “by” in this phrase connotes “because of” not “by means of”. Because He broke the power of sin and Satan by the shedding of His blood, we who are united with Him can participate in His victory. We are to regard Satan as already conquered and to claim Christ’s victory over him as our own, for Satan has no counter weapon to “the blood of the Lamb.”

So then, when in prayer we plead the blood of the Lamb, we are really saying that our faith is fixed and resting for victory upon all that Christ achieved for us by His vicarious death and the victorious resurrection which released unmeasured Divine power. This is our first weapon of offence.

Read More: The Blood of the Lamb the Conquering Weapon

The Second Weapon in our hands is the Evidential Weapon 

“They overcame him by the word of their testimony” Faith in the death of Christ is to be followed by witness to His living, powerful Word. It is not clear whether the reference is to the Word to which they bore testimony or to their testimony itself. Probably both are included. Any testimony which is not Bible-based is powerless to achieve spiritual results, but grounded in the Word it becomes the Sword of the Spirit. Note that it is not argument or denunciation but testimony which silences the Devil, The word of Christ and His apostles tested in experience, becomes testimony to us. The Word in the intellect is not sufficient in warfare with Satan. Testimony occupied a prominent place in apostolic preaching and Paul used it with effect greatly. There is room for education, for medicine, for agriculture in the missionary programme, but nothing can take the place of the word of our testimony delivered in the power of the Spirit. God has made the world wonderfully accessible to us and has given wings to our testimony in these days. Radio, television, recordings can all be used by Him to overcome the dragon.

The third and the last Weapon is the Sacrificial Weapon 

“they held their lives cheap and did not shrink even from death” The Greek word here translated “testimony” is that from which our own word “martyr” is derived. This third weapon as distinct from the other two is not directed at our enemy. It is a sword which we take in both hands and plunge into our own breast. Only the sword of testimony of one who has the martyr spirit is mightily active and effective. To him life is of secondary importance. In this, our Lord has set a shining example to His followers. The sacrifice of His life did not begin at Calvary, or even at Bethlehem. He was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) He was the exemplification of His own teaching that “except a Corn of wheat falls into the ground and die, it abides alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” (John 12:24) The word of our testimony will be sterile unless we too are treading the way of the Cross.

Yet there is no single thing so absent from contemporary Christianity as this martyr spirit, this element of sacrifice. Being a Christian today confers blessings rather than costs sacrifice. We are closely wedded to our comforts, as though comfort-loving Christians could be disciples of a Cross-bearing Lord!

They overcame him. Here is a note of undefeatable optimism. Our Lord stated categorically: “Upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18) Satan’s judgment and defeat were finally secured at Calvary, but until the sentence is executed, we have these invincible weapons. We reckon on the victory of Calvary. We bear testimony to its conquering power. We are willing to lay down life itself for our Commander. Is that the attitude of your heart? Does your life style show it? 

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