Last month, we shared a little about spiritual warfare and its connection to worship. We said that if we are going to learn to worship on a daily (and deeper) basis, then we must be knowledgeable in the art of warfare. We said that when we become true worshipers of God, the enemy immediately targets us and will try anything he can to thwart God's plan in and through us. Learning how to fight in the spiritual realm is not an option; it's a must!
The reason the enemy is after worshipers is because they are "dangerous." Their lives are radically changing, others are seeing it and wanting what they have. Worshipers become living examples of Christ's character - filled with His Love, His Wisdom and His joy, even in the hard times. This genuineness will revolutionize the church! And the enemy knows it. Thus, he will do anything he can to stop it.
Last month we also studied the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18, because this is exactly what's happening to many worshipers today. Jezebel represents the enemy in the story of Elijah. She was his tool to bring confusion, disorder and turmoil into Elijah's life. And it almost worked. Well, in these end times, the spirit of Jezebel is back (Revelation 2:19-22) and she is trying to do the exact same thing in many of our lives. When we determine to worship the Lord and live totally for Him, she will use the same tactics she used with Elijah.
Again, the enemy's main targets today are worshipers, people in leadership and those totally surrendered to the Lord. These are the ones the spirit of Jezebel marks to break their will and their spirit. This seducing spirit wants to rob them of their desire to serve the Lord and to quench their hope in Him. She is looking for "control" in their lives. Now, again, I'm not talking about "possession," but simply control through mental and emotional confusion, doubt, manipulation, depression, discouragement, despair, etc. By allowing these kinds of things into their souls, these saints leave the door wide open for the enemy's entrance. Again, look at Elijah's example.The spirit of Jezebel seems to attack through three main areas: discouragement, confusion and depression. The enemy has set up his own cycle of defeat for us and it goes something like this: discouragement leads to confusion; confusion leads to depression; depression leads to loss of vision; loss of vision leads to disorientation; disorientation leads to withdrawal; withdrawal leads to despair; and despair leads to defeat.
Each one of these areas leads us right down the ladder to the next, until we find ourselves caught in a web so thick there's no way out. Watch out for this in your own life. Recognize it. Then, make the faith choices (non-feeling choices) you need to get back to freedom.
Again, as we said last month, the people we know and love the most are often the ones the enemy uses to hurt us the most. They're able to do so through "control" and "manipulation." And, if we allow bitterness or resentment to result, the enemy will have entrapped us also. In other words, the negative emotions which result from our resistance can often become a trap or a snare that the enemy sets for us. The devil wins whenever he can get us to react in the flesh rather than than through the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
The spirit of Jezebel wants us to depart from the fruit of the Spirit to the poison of self. And she delights when we try to combat others' actions in our own strength and power and wisdom. Bitterness, resentment, etc., will never cast out Jezebel but only increase her powers. The only antidotes to her attacks are repentance, love and warfare.
Unfortunately, everyone in ministry will at some point endure a form of rejection and misunderstanding. Now, some of these Christians will be able to handle this situation in a godly manner and deal with it as God would have them. Others, however, when they realize they cannot control the circumstances, will reject the people involved. Remember the story of David with King Saul. When Saul realized he couldn't control David, he not only ended up resenting and being jealous of him, he also tried to physically harm him. (1 Samuel 24)
When we rebel against the Holy Spirit and don't deal with our sinful thoughts and emotions as God would have us, that void or hole is often filled by the spirit of Jezebel. Depression, confusion and fear are just the entrances she is waiting for. Then, we'll find our selves falling down the "cycle of defeat," just like we saw with Elijah in last month's article.
What the Enemy Fears
What the enemy fears the most is repentance. Repentance is the key to a surrendered, spirit-filled life and Jezebel knows this. It's interesting that Elijah is the very one who represented "the call to repentance." He exhorted Israel to return to God and to become a warring and worshiping people. But, because he tried to accomplish this in his own power and ability, he slipped into the flesh and fell. He forgot that all authority gained by our own efforts will simply become a stumbling block to receiving true authority from God. Thus, as seen in his own life, it can become an entrance for the enemy.
True spirituality is measured by displaying Christ's meekness and His humility, not our own control and power. We must seek humility before position. Otherwise, we open ourselves up to the enemy. All self-seeking, self-promotion, self-preservation and self-centeredness must be destroyed and our focus returned to Christ-likeness. God's way is to use the weakest of us - "the foolish things of the world," - and then to fill us with Himself and exalt us to the highest position.
When we depend upon our own strength and our own power to accomplish God's will, we give room to the spirit of Jezebel. The antidote to this is to refuse to take any authority or influence in our own power and strength, and instead rely completely upon the Lord to establish us. This is why those in leadership are such prime targets for the deceptions and tricks of the spirit of Jezebel. The temptation is always there to take matters into our own hands and somehow "make them work out." As 1 Peter 5:6 says, we are to "humble ourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, [so] that He may exalt [us] in due time."
King David is a great example of this. During his reign, with the exception of the episode with Bathsheba, he refused to lift a hand to seek his own recognition or his own influence. And, as a result, the New Testament tells us that David was known as "a man after God's own heart." (Acts 13:22) Even in the situation with Saul, David never took matters into his own hands, but insisted upon always exposing his own personal motives, and trusting God with the outcome of the situation. (1 Samuel 24:10) King David demonstrated the exact opposite of a controlling spirit. This, unfortunately, is not the norm in today's churches and probably one of the major root causes for much of the division and discord that we experience.
As we have said before, the answer to the enemy's tactics of pride, control, insecurity, fear, etc., is surrender, repentance and love. We must quit following our own ways and choose to turn around and follow God. Constantly, we must ask Him to expose our efforts to control or manipulate others or situations. And, when He does so, we mustn't collapse in guilt and remorse - allowing more strongholds for the enemy - but simply confess, choose to turn around, and give everything over to Him.
Trying to take "control" of situations or others is, unfortunately, one of the first ways our "flesh" rears its ugly head. As we know, the flesh is continuously warring against the spirit, but through confession and repentance, it can be overcome. God's way always leads us back to the Cross.
Unless we can see the situation through God's eyes and through His Love, we'll not be seeing clearly at all. Any insecurity, any self-preservation, any self-promotion, unhealed wounds, unforgiveness or bitterness will neutralize our discernment and destroy our ability to walk by the Spirit. In other words, we won't be able to interpret our circumstances accurately. True spiritual discernment only comes to light through worship and intimacy with the Lord. Matthew 5:44 tells us, "We are to bless those that curse us, and pray for those who despitefully use us." By grace, we can "choose" to lay our lives down for one another and allow His Love to flow through us.
"Repentance and forgiveness" simply mean the freedom not to reciprocate from our wounds and hurts, but from Christ's Life within. This is the only response that causes the evil spirits to flee.
Paul in the New Testament experienced such horrific attacks from the enemy that he despaired even of life itself. His answer, however, was not to give up and die, but to repent and trust God even more. Listen to 2 Corinthians 1:9, "...we have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead."
We must determine to do the same. Never give in to doubt and strife, but simply choose to have deeper faith in God's unfathomable ways, trusting that He will lead you in His perfect way. Isaiah 30:21 says it this way, "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it..." (John 10:27) Again, we are not required to understand all that He does, but simply to trust Him in all that He does.
Keys to the Kingdom
Jesus gives us some further insight into how we might fight, when He says in Matthew 16:19, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Now, granted this verse probably had an immediate application for that time, but I also believe it has a spiritual application for us today. The word "to bind" actually means to be put into bonds, to be tied up, to yoke, to harness or to join together. It can also mean to forbid, to refuse, to not allow, to shut the door or to bring into subjection. The word "to loose" means to break up, to dissolve, to unloose or to melt away. It can also mean to permit, to open or to grant. Binding and loosing are Hebrew idioms for exercising power and authority which Jesus says are the "keys" to the kingdom.
It's interesting because Adam Clark, in his commentary on Matthew 16:19, says that when the Jews confirmed a man as doctor of the law, they put into his hands the key of the closet in the temple where the sacred books were kept, signifying that they were giving him the authority to teach and explain what was to be permitted and what was to be forbidden.
In like manner Jesus has given us (in His Name) that same authority and power. He has given us His authority "to bind" the enemy (to forbid him entrance) and "to loose" his strongholds (to break up and dissolve the ones already established). Because of Christ, we too have the keys to the closet of the temple of our body. (1 Corinthians 3:16)We mentioned earlier that Jesus is always our example. And, what He did in many cases was simply forbid the enemy from speaking, rebuke him and then, command him to flee. And, by doing so, He pulled down, broke up and dissolved many fortified hideouts and other walled defenses the enemy had erected.
So, by the authority and power that Christ has given us as His children, we, too, can forbid and refuse to allow the enemy any more entrances (or holes) into our souls and we, too, can dissolve the strongholds already at root. For example: feelings of resentment can lead to the stronghold of bitterness; confusion can lead to the stronghold of discouragement; and, feelings of betrayal can lead to distrust. These negative thoughts and feelings are often protected by self-erected, fortified and walled defenses to keep out more pain. In other words, "boundaries" that we set up in the flesh and then depend upon to protect our right to believe something. Unfortunately, these defenses can also become comfortable hideouts and camps for the enemy. Consequently, the Lord wants these strongholds loosed, broken up and dissolved. (See our book The Way of Agape, page 161 - all of the grey area is open to attack.)
When we ask the Lord to expose the hidden part of our soul and confess and repent of the things that He shows us, we then destroy, break apart and smash any deception around which the strongholds are built. In 2 Corinthians 10:4 we are told that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds..." (See also Colossians 3:5)
The only way we are ever going to be "conformed into Christ's image" is by surrendering every negative emotion, thought, desire, attitude, fear and stronghold - inside and out - that might create opportunities for the enemy. There's a huge difference between simply defining the sin and actually pulling down the strongholds that helped produce it. In 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 we are told, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to punish all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled." This, to me, is one of the lessons that God is trying to teach us by the terms "binding and loosing." As believers we have the power and authority to either prohibit or allow, tear down or build up, cast down or grant. This will be our continual choice - truly, the "keys" to the closet of our temple. Other powerful Scriptures in regards to this area are Matthew 12:29; 18:18; Mark 3:27 and Luke 10:19. It's imperative that we learn to continually "bind" the enemy with chains (Psalm 149:8) and command him, in Jesus Christ's Name, to be gone.
Binding and loosing in the Name and authority of Christ must go alongside of worshiping the Lord. If we don't learn how to do this, it would be analogous to taking off our grave clothes, but not rolling away the stone.
Consequently, learning to pray a daily spiritual warfare prayer is of the utmost importance. If you are like me (and especially, if it's a new prayer), it's always helpful to have a rough example to follow. Yes, the Holy Spirit must always lead, but it's also nice to have a guideline when you are first beginning. So, here's an idea of how you might pray. If this prayer doesn't meet your needs, then by all means, let the Spirit lead you to write a new one.
Abba Father, King of the Universe, in the Name of Jesus, I ask you to search out and expose all my enemies and the tactics they employ against me. Open my eyes that I may see and understand the battle. Give me wisdom and understanding that I may lean on Your ways and not my own. Reveal any root of bitterness, unforgiveness or iniquity that I may repent before you and take back any legal right given to the enemy. Bind the enemy that is round about me and loose every stronghold that has been established in my life. In the Name of Jesus and through His authority I say to my enemies, "the Lord rebuke you for He is my defender and the lifter of my soul. I take my stand against you, your temptations, deceptions and snares in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ." Father, Creator of all things, let me not take my stand alone, but fill me with Your Spirit. Empower me to stand against the enemy and cover me with the blood of Jesus. Release Your mighty angels to defend. I trust in You, Jehovah-Jireh, my provider, and I will not be disappointed, for you are a shield about me. Amen.
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To be continued next month: Private Worship - The Key to Joy and the Glory of God. This article has been excerpted, in part, from Nan's book Private Worship: The Key to Joy. See here for details and other products from The King's High Way.