Continuing our series on Reflections of His Image, a very important part of “abiding in Christ” is the ability to recognize the attacks of the enemy and to know what exactly to do. The Lord tells us in Psalm 91 that if we abide, “He will keep us from the snare of the fowler and no evil will befall us; He will deliver us and set us on high because we have known His Name.” The Psalm says the reason He promises to do these things is because we have set our love upon Him and are abiding in Him. (Matthew 7:16; 1 John 1:5-6)
As we abide in Him on a daily basis, however, we’ll find ourselves encountering the enemy more than ever before. This occurs because we are beginning to reflect Christ’s image in all we do and the enemy is mad. We thus become his “mark” and his “target.” Consequently, part of our worship time with the Lord must be concerned with spiritual warfare. Luke 10:19 tells us: “Behold I give unto you power over all the power of the enemy and nothing, by any means, shall hurt you.”
The Temple Walls
First of all, we must recognize that we are living in the enemy’s territory. He is the prince of this world. In other words, this world belongs to him. The whole reason Jesus came was to bring Satan’s rule to an end and to free those held by it. The victory that overcomes the enemy then is really the victory of Christ. He is the One who overcomes the devil, not us. But, when we make faith choices to relinquish ourselves to Him and allow His Life to come forth, He can overcome the enemy through us.
The way we relinquish ourselves to Christ is by daily going through the four cleansing steps we learned a few months ago in this series. We must acknowledge our sin and self; then we must confess and repent of it; give it to God; and finally, replace the lies with the Word of God. These steps are based on the procedure that the Priest’s of Solomon’s Temple went through not only to cleanse themselves, but also to restore their fellow-ship with the Lord. (For a more in-depth study of these steps, see the book Be Ye Transformed.)
The Lord tells us in Isaiah 49:16, “Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.” “Walls” here in this verse refer to the walls of our soul. If the walls of our soul are strong and there are no gaps, breaches or holes (meaning we have dealt with all the “sur-face” issues in our lives), then we’ll be able to keep the enemy out by depending totally upon the God’s authority and power.
However, if our walls of our soul have been broken down, are sagging or are “plastered over with untempered mortar” as Matthew 23:28 calls it, then we’ll have opened ourselves up to the enemy’s arrows and our Godly strength will evaporate. (Isaiah 30:12-13; Ezekiel 13:10-15; Nehemiah 4:10)
God wants us to acknowledge the sin and self that have accumulated in the walls of our soul. (James 4:7-9; Leviticus 14:33-48) He wants us to confess, repent and then give these things to Him. God wants us to rebuild the walls of our soul according to His instructions. He wants us to become “repairers of the breach” (Isaiah 58:12), “watchmen on the wall” (Isaiah 62:6) and “brazen walls” (Jeremiah 1:18). It’s imperative to recognize that if we don’t deal with the surface issues in our lives, they can become root issues or “strongholds.”
A “stronghold” is a surface issue that we haven’t dealt with, but simply buried in the hidden part of our soul. It’s something we dwell upon, entertain over a period of time and eventually even act upon. It’s an area we’ve chosen not to let the Spirit have full control over and, thus, it becomes open to attack from the enemy. It’s imperative that we learn to identify these strongholds in our lives, pull them down, root them out and then, destroy them. (Jeremiah 1:10)
Symptoms of a Stronghold
In Vito Rallo’s outstanding book, Pulling Down Strongholds, he lists some symptoms of a stronghold. Here are a few he mentioned:
Any persistent act of disobedience or sin habit that is uncontrolable; Unrestrained behavior; i.e., language, anger or temper or violence; Depression, mental breakdowns, confusion or fear; Repeated failures, never able to fully succeed; Poverty cycle, never able to have enough to live on; Sickness and disease that “runs in the family” and that doesn’t respond to prayer or medical treatment; Uncontrolled desires: lust, perversion which results in sexual sins; Addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, etc.; Breakdown in family relations.
Chapter Eight of Ezekiel talks about root issues and how, if not dealt with, they can become the enemy’s hideout. In verse 12 it says, “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.” If you look up the word “imagery” in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, it says that it is “a figure carved in a wall.” God desires to “carve His image into the walls of our soul.” (Romans 8:29) However, in this passage in Ezekiel, it tells us that unrighteousness can be “carved into the walls” of our soul, which opens us up to all sorts of enemy activity.
Ecclesiastes 10:8 makes it even clearer: “He that breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.” In other words, if somehow the walls of our soul can be broken down and defiled, then we’ll become vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. Nahum 3:17-19 confirms that demons encamp in the hedge. As long as we operate in the soulish realm and not the spiritual, we’re vulnerable. This is why the Lord warns us: “Do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:27)
Cords of Sin
When talking about “strongholds,” Proverbs 5:22 is another very provocative Scripture. “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be [held] with the cords of his sins.”
The Lord wants us to be “repairers of the breach,” not only in our own temple, but also by “standing in the gap for others,” praying for them and reaching out to them. He wants us to see that unconfessed sins, unresolved hurts and unvented negative thoughts form chains, bands or cords of sin around us that bind us. “Whatever is not of faith” and whatever is not dealt with, becomes the enemy’s bait to keep us his captive. (Ro-mans 14:23c) Satan wants to defeat God’s plans and purposes, and he uses our own “fleshly” choices to do so.
Again, we must understand that once we are believers, neither Satan (or his hordes) nor the power of sin has access to our new spirit, our new heart, or our new willpower. These areas are inviolate. Therefore, a Christian cannot be demon-possessed. Our spirit and heart cannot belong to God and to Satan at the same time. We will either have a new heart (Christ in us, our hope of glory), or an old heart (evil from birth and obviously, open to the enemy’s attacks). However, if we make fleshly choices that open up areas of our (unredeemed as yet) soul and body to the enemy, we then give him a “legal right” of involvement there.
1 John 5:18-19 reads: “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not, but he that is begotten of God keepeth him-self, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” The word “toucheth” in the Greek is haptomai, which means “to fasten to, to cling to, to attach oneself to.” Consequently, if we continue to make faith choices to confess, repent and follow God regardless of how we feel or what we think, the enemy cannot fasten himself, cling to or attach himself to us in any way. This means there are no gaps, holes or breaches in our souls (no legal rights for the enemy).
However, if we make “fleshly” choices to follow our sin or self over what God has shown us, we give the enemy a legal right to fasten, cling and bind himself to us. We have given him the right to do so by yielding to the power of sin and creat-ing a breach in our wall or hedge of protection. (Job 1:10; Isaiah 5:5-6; Ezekiel 8:7-8)
As we learn to identify, acknowledge and give God not only the “surface issues” but also the “root issues” (the strongholds), then the gaps, breaches and holes in the walls of our souls will begin to close up. We’ve all heard the term “standing in the gap.” This is not only something we pray for others, it’s something we need to do for ourselves. By going through the four steps of cleansing, we will literally be standing in the gap, preventing the enemy from adding more “unrighteousness” to the walls of our soul. (Ezekiel 8:12)
Remember Isaiah 58:11-12: “And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach.”
Speaking of being “repairers of the breach,” check out Nehemiah 4:10-23. This passage is fascinating. This is where Nehemiah is trying to rebuild the Inner Court wall of the temple.
In verse 10 he says, “The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed and there is much rubbish so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them and slay them and cause the work to cease.”
Nehemiah had heard about the enemy’s plan to stop the work on the temple, so he set watchmen in “the lower parts behind the wall” and on the “higher places” with their swords, spears and bows in their hands. Once the enemy heard that the watchmen knew about their plan, it “brought their counsel to nought.” From then on, half the wall builders worked and the other half protected the project by holding spears, shields and bows. “Every one had his sword girded by his side” and “none did put off their clothes [armor?]” until the wall was repaired.
What a great picture this gives us of the importance of understanding the tactics of our adversary and the essentialness of spiritual warfare. We must do the same and keep the walls of our soul strong.
Spirit of Discouragement, Confusion and Depression
The picture of a broken-down wall around the temple is very graphic and hits close to home because the spirit of confusion, discouragement and depression is rampant among Christians today. More than three quarters of the calls we get here at the ministry are from believers suffering from depression and discouragement.
Back in the Old Testament book of Kings, the prophet Elijah, who brought the message of repentance to the nation of Israel, also struggled with discouragement and depression. If you recall, his arch enemy was a controlling, manipulating and evil woman named Queen Jezebel. (See 1 Kings 18-19) Well, Revelation 2:20 tells us that in the end times, this same Spirit of Jezebel will come back to seduce Christians by robbing them of their peace and joy, and by negating their hope and confidence in the Lord’s faithfulness. This spirit wants to break down the walls of our soul in order to gain entrance. Her tactics are to fuel discouragement, confusion and depression in any way she can, so that she can control our lives. She wants us to transition from the “fruit of the spirit” to the “poison of self.” And, she’ll do whatever she can in order to accomplish this.
The only way we can fight back is by making sure the walls of our souls are strong. We must continually recognize the enemy’s tactics, learn how to bind him and forbid him entrance.
Next month, we’ll talk about binding and loosing as we get into “The Keys of the Kingdom.”
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To be continued next month: “The Keys of the Kingdom.” This article has been excerpted in part from Nan’s book Reflections of His Image: God’s Purpose for Your Life. Click here for more information on all The King’s High Way products.