S.M.A.R.T.

Spiritual Warfare

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

Spiritual warfare is real!  It is something I first encountered as a young child, and would literally chase a demon out of our home when I was 10yrs old.  Back then you could babysit your own family members at that age so the parents were out at a function when this evil spirit manifested itself.  Ever since then, I have been critically watchful over entertainment (the source this thing attached itself to that evening), even seemingly innocuous entertainment, media consumption, books, music, movies, fiction and non-fiction alike.  Proverbs says:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Proverbs 4:23

  Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
Proverbs 4:25-27

We must be careful that we do not allow the enemy of our souls a foothold in our lives by what we see, hear, say, do, or where we go.  Today, pagan, New Age, Wiccan, and satanic thought patterns have woven themselves into much of the vernacular we use in everyday speech, euphemisms, and ways we look at the world around us.  I began noticing this taking shape back when I was 12yrs old, and awareness of along with engaging/teaching/dealing with this stuff has come in waves ever since.  This year I became aware of this in the world of coaching, both secular and Christian alike unfortunately.  There are terms, teachings, methods, mannerisms, mental and physical exercises and more that many claim can be repurposed for the Glory of God.  God Himself said to Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 8:1-18
1  And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me.
2  Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
3  And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.

Look at verse 3 here.  Out-of-body experiences are one of the experiences Pagan, New Age, and Wiccan practitioners strive for.  I have read various stories about this and not all of them have ended well for those in these practices.  This is known as Astral-Travel in most circles, and the Kundalini Experience in Hinduism and New Age philosophy.  Astral Travel is a counterfeit of what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing and I’ve read those stories too.  They always end well when the Holy Spirit is involved, but when we try to engage demonic forces disguising themselves as angels of light, we run into BIG trouble.  Ok, carrying on with what God told Ezekiel now:

4  And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
5  Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
6  He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
7  And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
8  Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
9  And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
10  So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about.
11  And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
12  Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.

“In the chambers of his imagery?”  One of the common tools of the New Age is the concept of visualization, guided imagery, guided visualization, etc.  If you can visualize it, it’s yours.  Where have you heard this before?  The imagination is a powerful place and both God and satan know this.  God says 

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.
Jeremiah 23:16-17

Ok, back to Ezekiel here:

13  He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
14  Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
15  Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.

Tammuz is related to Ishtar of Sumerian lore and Isis of Egyptian lore

16  And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.

There is a yoga pose known as the Sun Salute.  Hmmm. . . 

17  Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
18  Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.

God has a fair bit to say further on this in Romans:

Romans 1:18-32
18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

There’s that use of imagination again. 

22  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

We do this when we revere “Mother Earth” instead of adhering to Scriptural practices of stewardship.  I am seeing Christians talk about “Mother Earth” and this is wrong!

26  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

What do these two verses above bring to mind?

28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

I mentioned above about the misuse of prophecy.  God spoke further to Ezekiel on this matter:

Ezekiel 13:16-23
16  To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD.
17  Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them,
18  And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?
19  And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?
20  Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.
21  Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
22  Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
23  Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

From this passage, false prophets earned the nickname “pillow prophets” when I was growing up.  Sadly, not only has that term gone by the wayside, but entire modern-day Schools of the Prophets have sprung up doing exactly this!  There are people naming themselves as “prophets and prophetesses” and accusing anyone who sees through their deceptions as “touching God’s anointed, how can they?!”  But this very behaviour is rampant right now.  Paul described such people and those who listen to them this way:

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
2 Timothy 4:2-5

But how does one go about discerning if they are being led astray by a coach, a teacher, a pastor, a prophet, or that caring significant other? 

First, we go to God’s Word!  As you can see, God’s Word has a fair bit to say that I quoted here, but a lot more I haven’t quoted as well that I will link to on this page in a sidebar menu created just for this purpose.  We need to be discerning the times and seasons, and this means paying attention and being watchful that we don’t fall into deceptive practices and ways of thinking as well.  Paul made this observation:  

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
Acts 17:10-12

Second, we pray!  Prayer is the term God uses for our communication with Him.  It shouldn’t be contrived, scripted, repeated by rote, or done only by those with a given credential.  Scripture is full of examples of ordinary people who prayed ordinary prayers, and we can too.

Third, we be watchful!  

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
1 John 4:1-6

There are many out there who think they are hearing from God, who think they are hearing from the Holy Spirit, but who are actually listening to another voice instead.  We must always be alert and attentive to not fall into their traps.  

Fourth: Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment!  

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Hebrews 5:13-14

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11

At all points along this journey, we put on the whole Armour of God:

Ephesians 6:10-18
10  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

If you need help discerning what is or is not of God, let’s chat.  We will go to the Holy Spirit first, and then we will prayerfully delve into what is bringing you confusion.  Remember, God is not the author of confusion!

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