For anyone that has been following the news there are a growing number of stories that speak of the persecution of Christians. For many, such articles seem surreal, they remain so far removed from our current peaceful existence that we find no reason to relate, let alone guard ourselves from possible violation.
But what if it does come near our door? Must we fall victim to the tyrannical plans of a corrupt world system? Should we yield ourselves over to those that would gladly bring harm to us or to those we love? Of course the answer is “no” but we must also gain perspective on how Jesus saves us from such violent confrontation. Only when God’s people stand in the authority of Christ, and say no to personal abuse, do we let Jesus to be the one that decides our fate. Let’s consider a couple of valuable truths that make victory possible.
Dwelling with the Most High. When we got saved the authority of Jesus was given to us through a supernatural connection. Jesus became our example of life and faith as we were brought into the family of God and His authority became our source of authority.
Ephesians 2:6-7 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Seated with Christ means two things; it means we have ceased from our own works and our own abilities, since Jesus has offered us a full and rich alternative to mankind’s dominion. Secondly it means that we have gained a spiritual position in Christ that is raised above the dictates of a fallen world. We can literally hold on to the perspective that we are in the kingdom of God and preserved by His hand. In fact the Greek definition for “salvation” amounts to “deliverance, preservation and safety”.
Now that should help us not only take responsibility for our faith but also make choices that allow us to continually abide in God’s favor. From this regal place of authority and position we can conclude that the kingdoms of this world remain under our feet. However there is one thing that stops us from living in that place of total security; it has to do with our dependence on our old man’s flesh and blood nature. Let me explain.
At one time humanity received a commission from God to be fruitful and take dominion and this was a good thing. However as man sinned and lost connection with God, his natural ability to take dominion became corrupt. Left to his own devices he became a slave to a temporal world and to numerous false gods.
As believers this should concern us for one reason. Even though we have been invited to rest in the kingdom and partake of that which is victorious in Christ, the dividing line between true success and failure depends on our right choices. The Apostle Paul helps us make a distinction by saying;
Romans 8:5-6 (NIV) Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
As I have matured in Christ I have become more and more aware of my own limitations and how the choices I have made in the past have actually set me under worldly oppression. When I thought naturally about the world, its inhabitants and my place within the scheme of things I was actually seeing myself as being under its power and a victim of its past, present and future reach. Under that umbrella I might have hoped to avoid evil men and dark circumstances but realistically I have been thinking naturally since birth and for the most part continued to do so even after receiving Christ.
However, as a believer the Holy Spirit has been at work in me to change how I think and act so that I can see with new eyes and walk with new authority; an authority which is raised above the dictates of an evil and violent world. In other words I needed to trust in a new standard of authority which is found in Christ rather than the authority of Adam which is destined for destruction.
But how do I regain wholeness if I have already given myself over to Adam’s ways?
After years of living under the weight of poor natural choices I discovered that Jesus had made a way for me to regain spiritual confidence in Him as well as a clean slate. The answer is present in what He did on the Cross.
Our way of escape There are many benefits that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus provided for us, all of which helped us sever our umbilical cord with Adam (fallen mankind). Since we were desperately owned by a corrupt world, God sent His son in the likeness of frail man to save us all. In this case Jesus was fulfilling the will of the Father by becoming a sacrifice for mankind’s sin, but he was also providing a way for us to come out of the limitations of this fallen world. So how did we get set free?
As it happens Jesus wasn’t the only one that died on the Cross; as believers we also gained freedom from the world by participating in that one event. No, we didn’t die physically; instead Jesus supernaturally took us into His own death so that we could also experience His life. Here are some verses describing this marvelous point of transformation.
Romans 6:2…………….. We died to sin.
Romans 6:3…………….. You were baptized into his death?
Romans 6:6…………….. The old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with.
Romans 6:7…………….. Anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Romans 6:8…………….. Died with Christ… alive with him.
Romans 6:11…………… Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 7:4…………….. You also died to the law through the body of Christ.
Romans 7:6…………….. By dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law.
1Corintians 5:14……… Christ died for all; therefore, all died.
Galatians 2:19………… I died to the law so that I might live for God.
Galatians 2:20………… I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
Colossians 2:20………. You died with Christ to the basic principles of this world.
Colossians 3:3………… You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God..
2Timothy 2:11…………. If we died with him, we will also live with him.
Colossians 1:22………. You were reconciled by Christ’s physical body through death.
Colossians 2:12………. You were buried with him in baptism and raised with him through faith in the power of God
This example of transformation is often spoken of when a person gets baptized. As Paul points out;
Colossians 2:12 You were buried with him in baptism and raised with him through faith in the power of God.
So here’s this powerful (often over looked) aspect of the gospel which shows us how we were set free of the old life and were loosed from the effects of poor Adamic choices. Yet it is to our advantage to see that the Cross is still present to set us free, not just once, but every time we notice that some worldly lie or worldly master still owns us. These verses are telling us that the way of escape is based on dying to what once owned us. We can escape the worlds clutches and enter into the arms of a supernatural God at anytime.
So how do we take an issue to God?
To separate from any improper ownership all we have to do is agree with God. Based on His Gospel we died with Him to being owned by the flesh, the world and the Devil. Here’s a verse that supports our way to freedom.
Romans 8:12-14 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
The “misdeeds of the body” are anything that holds us captive to the fallen nature. That includes every choice to be moved around by worldly light and worldly reason. Yet getting free of things doesn’t mean that we are left in the grave; Jesus by His Spirit then supernaturally infuses new life and purpose within us; basically out with the old and in with the new.
Romans 8:11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Application Jesus, the scripture says that I died with you, so I ask that by your Spirit you will put to death where I remain improperly owned and made subject to men, organizations, or a demonic realm. (Name some examples.)
What is established is a long term relationship with God that allows us to mature in our faith and separate from worldly and destructive endeavors. So what are some specifics that have been standing in the way? If we are going to address any issue of worldly “bondage” we want to bring attention to two main components that often work in tandem to keep us down.
The first component is our self centered Adamic will. We by choice are often looking for something in the world to satisfy an itch. Thus man’s initial commission to take dominion was replaced with an attempt to dominate creation for personal gain. In this case we’ve been making deals with the world which remain binding. Think of it as a series of bad contracts that now hold you captive to a particular negative outcome.
The second refers to the Devil and his own involvement in such endeavors. He is known as “the god of this world” and remains master of something we now call “the world system”. Please notice the distinction here; God rules heaven and “earth” but the “world system” is based on the Devil’s own agenda. So when the Devil tricked mankind into disobeying God he did so by offering to supercharge his natural fleshly abilities, desires and appetites. Hence a bond was formed between man and this fallen spirit which gave man a sense of counterfeit power and purpose; but also allowed the Devil and his minion’s to gain ultimate control. This is an important point because it reveals how most of man’s natural actions get moved along by a corrupt and wicked kingdom. For this reason Paul the Apostle says;
Ephesians 6:12 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
Please notice that he is talking about an on going source of spiritual contention. There’s a spiritual realm out there that wants to maintain absolute control over the human race. What that control amounts to is a zone where a demon has gained a certain amount of influence over lands and peoples. If one enters that spiritual zone it then has a tendency to weaken our resolve and eventually we find ourselves under its power.
So the combination of bad company, both human and spiritual, are what corrupt good morals and sets the stage for us being “under” various degrees of oppression and defeat. Think of it this way; if we succumb to any environment of improper control then those that rule us, both man or demon alike, can move us around any way they want. In fact if they say, “its time to abuse Christians” then those who have been made subject to that voice will either abuse believers or become the victims of abuse. Hence once men give their souls away to dark minded forces atrocious things do occur.
Now being vulnerable to such actions actually remains a choice for the believer. In other words, we can live our lives in the proverbial box (world) or we can remain outside of it? The Book of Revelations confirms that there is an “in” and there is an “out”; this verse is addressing Believers here;
Revelation 18:4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
“‘Come out of her, my people,’
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
Presently there are countless ways in which we have joined ourselves to the world. These are choices we made in ignorance but they have added unnecessary contention, strife and attack upon our lives. So the question at hand is; what are you still “under”, who owns you and what choices have denied you a true example of deliverance, preservation and safety? Take the time to evaluate where each point of alignment with the world is still causing you to be a victim. Yes this is very much a “cause and effect” type of deduction. For example; maybe you have heard the saying; “those that pick up the sword die by the sword” (cause and effect), but this reference can be expanded to represent just about anything that the world offers us. Hence, “those that make a deal with the world die by the world’s agenda”.
Application God, I repent for being so foolish as to live by the worlds standards. On my behalf,
- Test by the cross where I have inappropriately aligned my Christianity with worldly rulers and agendas and so remain vulnerable to attack.
- Based on what you did on the Cross take me into your death so that I can know freedom from my poor choices (name them).
- Give me wisdom to know where I still let the enemy come near and make me suffer needlessly.
- Judge by the cross the spiritual realm associated with these many issues.
- I ask these things in Jesus Name and declare that You are the Resurrection power that now saves me.
So far we have been talking to God about getting free of past compromise, bad contracts and their destructive results. The goal has been to transition out of darkness in order to see ourselves as firmly established in the will of God. This has been a journey of introspection. Basically as we seek to regain position in Christ and confidence in Him we are realizing that life looks notably different; it contains new purpose and new opportunities to serve God. Now, since the subject of this article is about raising up a suitable defense against unwanted natural and spiritual advances, we can also learn something from one of Paul the Apostles experiences.
Acts 16:16-18 is telling the story of a girl that had unique abilities. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. One day as Paul and Silas where preaching in that region she started shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
What should be brought to our attention is the girl and spirit engaged the Apostles on their own turf; they were doing God’s work at God’s request. The girl unfortunately entered into a zone of power and authority, which was the result of Christ on their lives. Hence based on Jesus’ authority the demon had to leave and the girl ceased in her rant.
Let’s also bring attention to the “Name of Jesus” within this same scenario. If we are planning on winning future battles in Christ we may also need to call upon the Name of Jesus for support. It is not merely reciting the name that is powerful, but rather it is the authority that is behind the Name, as well as our position within it. When we proclaim the Name of Jesus we are letting both heaven and earth know that we are joint heirs with Christ and are declaring our Family Name! In such an environment of grace we have the authority to command spiritual oppression to cease in its advance, leave our families alone, as well as release those under attack.
John 17:11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.
Let me give you an example of one such battle I myself experienced; victory came and I didn’t even have to lift a finger. A few years back I was meeting a friend of mine who was having some work done on his house. For the project, he had hired a man with whom he had previous business connections. Yet on this day the two had a disagreement and the hired man started to become quite aggressive, even to the point of becoming violent. Before the confrontation became ugly, the Holy Spirit prompted me to bind the spirit of violence that was on this man’s life. I didn’t bind the man, I bound the spirit. I said;
“In the name of Jesus (Yeshua) I bind the violent spirit that is at work in this man.”
Now I was about thirty feet away from this encounter and had whispered my command, but immediately the hired man turned to me obviously shaken and said, “ Wait a minute “WE” don’t have a problem with you, our fight is with the boss!” My reply was; “That doesn’t matter you are now bound from being violent.” In short order the confrontation was over.
The key to dealing with any confrontation is to recognize that we are not wrestling with flesh and blood. We’re dealing with powers that have gained position and control over the human condition. In this case both men had a familiarity with a violent spirit. Under subjection to this spirit each took their respective place; one was prone to delivering violence and the other was prone to receiving it. This open door set the stage for a potentially destructive encounter, but the authority of Christ was able to intervene.
For the record; all Christians possess the authority of The Name of Jesus (Yeshua) . So any scenario in life where you find yourself threatened by a dominant and oppressive confrontation the Name of Jesus will bring quick resolve. Now do consider even if you don’t have your proverbial act together and remain steeped in worldly behavior there is still authority in the Name. But this should also make you ponder whether you would have even needed to call upon the Name of Jesus; if you weren’t living a compromised life.
I guess there are a number of questions worth asking. What choices in life declare you as “open for business”. Which kingdom is feeding you and where are you still a slave of its desire ? When you crave unity with the world you become vulnerable to attack. Though there are all sorts of subjects that can be explored here regarding compromise deciphering potential issues of violence is probably a good place to start.
If one has become familiar with the world’s dominance, or have been raised in a violent atmosphere, then there are some old contracts worth breaking. Consider where your own quality of life has suffered by supporting a violent link. Are you familiar with physical violence, verbal violence, sexual violence, social violence, religious violence, media violence, movie violence, political violence or medical violence? Here’s a couple more you may have not considered before; military or police violence. Though these last two examples are often honored and embraced as gallant defenders of the peace, their job description and training is far from it. The nature of the job is one that requires a controlled means of violence to put down another violent force. Anyone that has grown up in a family where civil service has been a part of their lifestyle has not escaped the impact of these various forms of violence. In any case if you remain “under it”, this may allow you to be on the receiving end of police or military brutality; or at least you may draw undue attention to yourself.
Application; God on my behalf,
- Test by the cross where I am improperly subject to a particular person or organization’s (Name them) form of violence (name it).
- Test by the cross where I am subject to territorial, familiar, generational or religious spirits also making me vulnerable to violence.
- Test by the cross where I am subject to issues of violence attacking me in body, soul, spirit, mind (conscious and subconscious thought), will, emotions, moral conscience, sexuality, intimacy, authority, identity, Christianity, family, marriage, communication, business, finance, intellect, and gender.
- I ask these things in Jesus Name and declare that You are the Resurrection power that now saves me.
Good intentions In the days ahead, believers may find themselves being pressed to not only conform to that which looks evil but also that which looks good. One such good agenda that is commencing has to do with humanity being moved to accept a one world government, one world economy and one world religion. Many of those that would support the benefits of these agendas are unaware that their goals are oppressive. In fact many believe that the agenda is going to improve society, religion and our quality of life, so why would anyone say no to that? Scripture talks about these many activities and refers to there being an eventual mark of the beast. This appears to be coming about in the form of an implanted chip that can track a lost child or save a person from being robbed. It can also offer an on the spot medical history in the event of an emergency. Sounds good for all the right reasons, but these good reasons are being implemented because mankind once sought to save himself and now has a greater interest in control than ever before . For this reason persecution has come and will continue to come upon those that don’t fit the mold.
John 15:20-21Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.
This even includes religious persecution.
John 16:2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.
This is a natural expectation; they are not looking at us as a people belonging to the God, but rather as a people not properly playing the game. But this fleshly view of things can also be our problem but for different reasons. Since our aggressors come to the door wearing flesh and blood suits we give no thought to the possibility that they are being moved or inspired by a demonic power. Certainly a depraved assailant needs to be stopped in their tracks; but will physical strength stop them? In this case command the spirit to leave you and your family alone. In this way you are trusting the Spirit of God to be your defense.
“In the Name of Jesus (Yeshua) I bind the spirit of violence working in this man or in this situation!”
Let this sink in; your persecutors are not men they are demons that have gained control over mankind and man’s self centered interests. However If believers ever get a revelation that they are seated with Christ in heavenly realms and come to recognize their authority in Christ, then evil will want to stay far from us.
In advance of any potential conflict I want to suggest that believers take a look at their lives and do a moral inventory. Where do you look more like the world and its form of compromise? Of course start by ridding yourself of sinful habits that leave you vulnerable to the systems of men. But also consider asking God where your current world view may still be conditioning you to accept a destructive outcome. Here’s some examples;
1. Its OK to question authority which denies you a sovereign right to life and liberty in Jesus.
2. There is no sin that is not common to television (media); it should not become your role model. This example epitomizes how violence is so easily accepted as an out come, since we have seen violent acts play out thousands of times on television. What we see with our eyes conditions us to have faith in the same.
3. There is one Christian concept in particular that is often held up as our reason for becoming a casualty . Some say, “But what about the bibles many references to being persecuted, shouldn’t I accept persecution as just the way things are?” Well it sounds very noble, yet there are believers throughout the ages that have lived prosperous lives and have gone on to be with the Lord in peace. So If persecution is not an across the board phenomenon for all believers; should we automatically label ourselves as a potential target? Not many have the assignment from God to be martyrs for the faith so I would suggest challenging any belief that destines you for death before you time.
Application; God, on my behalf,
- Test by the cross where I remain vulnerable to unnecessary persecution in society and in religion.
- Test by the cross where I have accepted abuse from those in authority who lack God’s true commission.
- Test by the cross where I accept medias interpretation of me having a violent experience.
- Test by the cross where I inappropriately hand my self over to destruction in order to accept a religious principle of persecution that does not represent the will of God.
- Judge by the cross the spiritual realm associated.
- I forgive those who have harmed me in the past and I forgive myself for letting them.
I ask these things in Jesus Name and declare that You are the Resurrection power that now saves me.
In the days ahead the individual Christian may not be able to depend on others as a shield against violent acts. Instead it is time that each believer develop their own set of leadership skills. That means, we each put on the armor of God and really settle in our hearts that God is for us. It is by His authority and power on our lives that we can set at bay any potential enemy. So if you find yourself staring death in the face or if some man wants to steal away your destiny, then I think it’s a good time to introduce him to the authority that you have in Jesus.