Spiritual Warfare 101

by Joe Murray on January 31, 2012

Pride is a Grace Killer

The greatest necessity in the Christian life is grace. Many of you have heard grace definitions over and over again. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. We do not deserve God’s favor. We have not earned it. In fact, the only thing we ever earned from God is death. “For the wages of sin is death…”Romans 6:23a Every human being that has come to the knowledge of good and evil, (we reach this time as a young child), has earned death and hell. “But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23b That, my friend, is grace.

I heard Bill Gothard describe grace as “The desire and the power to do the will of God.” In our spirit (heart) there is a desire, and as we obey that desire we find that we have the power to do so. We have the desire to be saved and we have the power to be saved. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” Colossians 2:6. We received Him by grace through faith. We walk in Him by grace through faith.

I like to look at grace as God doing for us and through us what we can’t do apart from Him. The Christian life is a total impossibility for the Christian to live, apart from grace.

  • “…Love your enemies!” Luke 6:27b
  • “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Ephesians 5:25
  • “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22
  • “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15b

Every commandment God gives us can only be obeyed by trusting the Lord Jesus to live and love through us. The Christian life is Christ in us living through us as we are being filled with the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Christ.

We find in 1 Peter 5:5b, “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” I heard a Bible teacher give this definition of pride and humility. I believe this also. Pride thinks it deserves more than it has and is never thankful. Humility thinks it deserves nothing and is therefore thankful for everything is has. When I heard this, the Holy Ghost convicted my heart that I had natural pride and that pride was a grace killer. The Lord God only gives grace to the humble.

I believe the two major sins of the Church today are unbelief and pride. I know these two cause more defeat in my life than any other sin. God has wonderful ways of dealing with pride that is in the old sin nature of every Christian. Meekness, or humility, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. When we are being filled with the Holy Spirit the Lord Jesus gives us meekness. He, being God Almighty, the God-man, was meek and lowly. We can come unto Him and learn of Him.

Through Circumstances and Through People

As we have major growth in this Christian life, pride has to be exposed and dealt with. Psalm 17:13 and 14 tells us, “Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked (one), which is thy sword. From men which are thy hand…” God brings us into humbling circumstances that we can’t handle in order to expose pride that is in the sin nature. As we see our sin and repent of it through the blood of our Lord Jesus, we are cleansed and filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore have the meekness of Christ instead of the pride of fallen man.

This does not mean that our circumstances will immediately change when we repent of pride and we are being filled with the Spirit. It has been my experience that we have to walk in our difficult circumstances for some time, or as we are about to see, due time. The Lord God led the Israelites into the wilderness to try them, to prove them so they could see what He already knew was in them. Whatever is in us will come out when we are squeezed.

Humble Yourselves

Therefore, 1 Peter 5:6a exhorts us to “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God…” God’s hand comes down on us and we need to stay under it until the work is complete. This is where pride is dealt with and exposed. Things we need to do by the grace of God we find that we can’t do, because grace has been removed. Not our salvation, the new birth, but the desire and power to do the will of God. When we see this happening we should repent, and then grace will return.

That He May Exalt Us

God’s goal is to exalt us. He has a plan for our life that is hid with Christ in God. He doesn’t take us down to leave us down, but to take us higher than we have ever been. We go from faith to faith. When the Lord God exalts us, we are now exhibiting the humility of our Lord Jesus. We are more mature, less critical and judgmental of others because we have now been through the same type of things that we judged them for and the fruit of the Spirit is more mature in us than before. “Before I was afflicted I went astray…” Psalm 119:67a

When we are in the affliction, trial, crisis, etc., we must remember, believe and confess to God that He will exalt us. On this higher level we will bear more fruit than ever before with a greater anointing and more love than we have ever experienced. John 15:16b is the Lord’s goal. “That ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain…”

In these times we are to act on what we already know to be true in the Word of God. “In everything give thanks” 1 Thessalonians 5:18a “…Count it all joy…” James 1:2b. If we are givers, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19 If we are tithers, “…and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground.” Malachi 3:10b-11a Think it not strange. It is not because we are doing wrong, but it is happening because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us. Yes, God’s will is to exalt us and He will do so if we do not faint. “And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

In Due Time

The Lord Jesus was born in due time or in God’s time. The test is about our faith in the faithfulness of God and His word. This will probably not be an overnight procedure, but it will be on time. God’s time. We must co-operate with Him during these days and fight the fight of faith. Our flesh (old sin nature) will want to quit every time the test comes. The flesh is at enmity against God. This means it hates God and His Word. We must throw our flesh down on a regular basis in the name of our Lord Jesus and trust Him to help us.

Your emotions will be a great enemy during these afflictions or hardships. The flesh will want to rise up and rule. God says through Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 If we do not fight the world, the flesh, and the devil, we will get off course and lose our fruit, not our salvation, in the Lord Jesus.

There is a denying of self, which includes selfishness, self-centeredness, self-sufficiency and self-pity. We are to take up our cross and follow our Lord Jesus. This is daily and moment by moment, especially when you are in the fire. Many have turned around and followed Him no more. Things weren’t turning out like they expected. The cross was in view and they had something else in mind rather than what they were experiencing. The Lord Jesus wasn’t fitting their mind set of the Messiah. This same type of thing happens to us. We think God is leading us into something wonderful and glorious, when in fact He is. We just do not see the valley that is between the two mountain peaks. The well has to be cleaned in order for a better flow or release of the Holy Spirit. Pride and unbelief that we didn’t even know we had must be exposed to make room for the humility and love of our Lord Jesus. Yes, there is a due time for exaltation and it will come if we continue to take God at His Word. This is not a one time experience, but it happens over and over as we grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus. We go from glory to glory, from one level to the next level. We must be stronger in spirit when we get there as the task is greater on the next level. It is like the body builder who is lifting 300 lbs. and wants to go to 400 lbs…He must get stronger in body and we must get stronger in spirit with the strength of our Lord Jesus. “…The LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Isaiah 61:1b

We are not just attendees, but participants in the local church. We have to grow up in the Lord Jesus to be able to do this impossible task through Him who does the impossible. The only thing that will bring us through the bad times is the love for God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who loved us while we were yet sinners. The flesh, the old sin nature, will not want to suffer these things. We must continually die to this sin nature and a growing love for our Lord will lead us to do this. Many are fainting everyday and we can’t judge them. There is no guarantee we will make it through the trial without our Lord Jesus. We must get into His Word and let the Holy Spirit put His Word in us. Trust Him by His Word when you can’t see, hear, taste, touch or feel anything.

Cast All of Your Care Upon Him

The next step is to cast all of your care upon Him. Again, this is a continual thing in the trial because we keep taking it back. Every anxiety, every care, every worry, every concern, we must keep casting upon God. It is this care that will overwhelm you if you try to carry it alone. God’s design is the cross. It is not the devil’s idea nor is it man’s. The devil delivers trials through men, but God designs it. No death, no resurrection. The cross is a necessary instrument.

Ask God to show you someone who has had to come through this humbling time. The first time I remember God’s hand coming down on me was about 30 years ago. As I cried out to God, He told me while reading Isaiah that there was one man who could help me. I inquired who this man was and He impressed my heart with Manley Beasley. I called Bro. Manley and he took me with him the next week to a revival meeting. He paid all my expenses and ministered the Lord Jesus to me. You see, Bro. Manley had forty revival meetings canceled in one day earlier in his ministry, and I was totally shut down in my ministry under the hand of God. A preacher who hadn’t been humbled probably would have just thought there was something wrong with me. On the contrary. This is not for known sin in our lives, but is because we are following the Lord Jesus, bearing fruit that He produces and God wants to take us to a higher level. It is because we are anointed and the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us.

What care do you have today that you can’t handle? Cast your care on God. Do you have the sense that if you don’t handle your problems, nothing will be done? If you can handle it, go ahead. This is not the hand of God on you. When the hand of God is on you, you can’t handle the area of your life that is being dealt with. Whether it is relational, financial, physical or whatever it may be. Perhaps you have lost your job and your care is next month’s bills. Perhaps you are worried about what will happen in 3 or 6 months. Dear friend, if you are anxious about a period of time other than today, all of that evil is brought on in one day. That is why the Lord Jesus says, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34 We have the grace of God to handle the devil today, but not days, weeks or months ahead. You are looking at a future that is empty. If your job is going to be terminated in 6 months, you are tempted to wonder how you will pay the mortgage, feed your family and how you will pay your bills. Everything you have care or worry about, cast them one by one on the Lord God. Call them out and give them to Him.

For He Cares For You

Now it is getting down to the nitty gritty. In times like this your emotions tell you God doesn’t care what happens to you. If He cares for you, He wouldn’t allow circumstances or relationship problems to happen. The very opposite is true, beloved. If He didn’t care for you, you wouldn’t be going through the trials. 1 John 3:16a tells us, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down His life for us.” The cross is the present and eternal evidence that God loves you. He gave His life for you. He shed His blood for you. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Again, this is not because you are doing anything wrong, but rather because you are following the Lord Jesus. The child God loves He chastens. Now there is a chastening for living in known sin, but this is not it. This is a chastening to make us grow. Let us co-operate with Him, knowing by faith, not circumstances, God loves us.

As Much as God Loves Us, the devil Hates Us

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 To be sober is not to be somber. It means to be serious. You do not find our military personel cutting up and laughing on the battlefield. Of course there is a time for laughing. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Proverbs 17:22a However, we should never let down our guard. We are in a war and there is no R&R. This war was won on the cross by our Lord Jesus when He shed His blood. There are battles today that we must fight by trusting the Lord Jesus who is the captain of our salvation. The battle is the Lord’s. We must let Him fight it for us.

The devil and his forces do not want to see us under God’s hand. The devil knows that if we stay under God’s hand and let Him exalt us, we are going to be used of God to do great damage to his domain. He knows that we will be more mature (perfect) and that the fruit of the Spirit will be greater in us. He knows that we will be stronger in spirit and a greater threat to his domain of darkness.

Therefore, the devil wants to lure us out from under God’s hand and move us over to his turf so that he can devour us or render us helpless in seeking the kingdom of God. The devil’s nature is identical to our fallen nature. He knows us and he knows how to tempt us and draw us away from God and out from under God’s hand.

Oswald Chambers said, “They will make God seem like an unkind friend, but He isn’t.” You may feel like you are left out, overlooked, pulled aside, not important, third string, etc. It is just the opposite, you are very valuable to God or you wouldn’t be going through this trial. The more intense the warfare, the greater evidence and confirmation that you are in the will of God. If you weren’t in the will of God the devil wouldn’t give you the time of day. Peter and the disciples counted themselves worthy (worth value) to suffer shame for the Lord Jesus. You are of great value to God when He puts His hand down on you and shuts you down, so to speak. During this time, do whatever your hand finds to do and do it trusting the Lord Jesus, but do not be shocked at being isolated and very little working out for your good.

Remember you belong to God and He is not caught off guard. He has a plan for you and your life. The fire will only consume what is bound in your life.

“By grace are you saved through faith; and that not or yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Our works and our life is planned by God, but we do not automatically achieve it. We must live by faith in God and in His Word. We must believe that God is faithful to us and that He loves us so much that He nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross for us. I actually believe that there are very few that fight the fight, finish their course and keep the faith. Many start out well, but few finish. We aren’t talking about going to heaven or being saved, but living out the life that God has planned for us. It should help us to know God has a plan for us in times like this. He is not caught off guard and we can trust Him with our lives, our families, and our church. We can trust Him in everything.

Resist the devil

“Whom resist steadfast in the faith…” 1Peter 5:9a “In the faith” is the key here. Make sure there is no sin between you and the Lord God. Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit and agape love. We have the faith of the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. Be steadfast in the faith of our Lord Jesus. “Submit yourself therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 A good way to submit to God is through thanksgiving. We should give thanks in everything and for everything. Giving thanks helps us stay in the Spirit. “Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6

Submission is receiving, not resisting, from God all He has to give you. The devil wants to get us worried, fretful, fearful, anxious and thus get us to panic and get out from under God’s hand. On the other hand, God wants to give us the grace we need, but He has to deal with pride because pride is a grace killer. Every dart the devil throws at your mind, turn it over to God and give Him thanks. Stay focused on the Lord God and trust Him to take you to a higher level of glory for His glory.

You Are Not the Only One

“…Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:9b One of the devil’s favorite wiles (methods) is to get us to think we are the only one. We may think, “Why me? I am obeying God and following the Lord Jesus as far as I know. Why am I going through this?” Remember, it is because you are following God and He wants to take you higher; but the way up with God is down. The Lord Jesus, being God, humbled Himself and came down to earth to be a man. He went further down to the shameful death of the cross and then He went further down to the tomb. Glory to God, He rose on the third day and is exalted at the right hand of the Father and is soon to come again, ruling and reigning forever. God’s plan for you and for me is to exalt us in the work He has for us to do. But now and then we have to suffer affliction so that we can handle the next level of ministry.

Your brethren throughout the whole world must go through these times of prepariation for the next level. One reason is so we will walk in the humility of our Lord Jesus. The Lord was never arrogant, prideful or looked down on people. He gets under us and lifts us up to God. He was the servant leader. When man is exalted in pride he makes others serve him. When we are exalted in humilty, we are servants to others like our Lord Jesus.

From the Biblical illustrations of people like King David, Joseph, Elijah, Peter, Paul and with most people I know that are being used of God, this is a necessary and repeated process in being more and more useful in the kingdom of God. The devil (actually the demons) will try to convince you that you are mistreated while everyone else has it so easy. God says your brethren throughout the world, every Christian who follows the Lord Jesus, will have this stretching or growing from faith to faith or from glory to glory. We like it when God’s glory is in us, through us and all around us. It is the silent times where little or nothing is happening, when God seems to be hiding, that we’d rather not have. We can’t see what others are going through, my friend, and be assured by the Word of God that they are going through trials also.

If we do realize that a brother or sister is having a hard time, we should stand with them in prayer and be available to help and encourage them. They are valuable to the Lord Jesus and His kingdom’s work. “…Because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the bretheren.” 1 John 3:16b

One way to do this is to share our afflictions, if not in detail, at least let people know that you are not on the mountain top all the time. Be sensitive in the Holy Ghost as to what problems other people might be facing. For example, telling people you were so blessed by God that you made $300,00.00 last year when they may be under God’s hand and are really struggling may not knock them down, but it could have a negative effect on them.

Another way to handle the accusations of the devil is to realize that you have a race to run, a course to finish that is not like any other persons. God designed your course. It may be thirty, sixty or one hundred fold, but one of these is not greater than the other in God’s view. I may be a thirty fold, but as long as I’m following the Lord Jesus and living by faith, He will accomplish through me what He has planned.

There are men that I started out with 36 years ago that are one hundred folders. It is amazing what God is doing through them. Praise the Lord God! However, I have a course to stay on and looking at them with anything other than praise to God will get me off course and trip me up in the race that I am running.

Finally We Are Confirmed

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10 This verse reminds us that the grace we need, God has for us. He loves us because He called us. God is not willing that any perish, but that all men be saved. You and I have received our Lord Jesus and we are saved by Him. God wanted us very, very much. We are not second rate but first rate servants. We are not third string, but we are on the first team. Whatever the devil tries to convince us of, he is the liar and the father of lies. We truly are loved and of eternal value to Lord God Almighty. His goal for all of us is exaltation.

After You Have Suffered Awhile

The suffering is absolutely necessary. We must become more like the Lord Jesus and less like Adam. The only way this is accomplished is by seeing Adam, and the self life he exposed. When we are aware of this we should repent and confess the sin, and be filled with the Spirit. The suffering is real and it may last awhile, but we are under the hand of God, safe and secure. God is in control and He does not allow anything that is not good for us.

The Lord Jesus did not enjoy the cross. “…Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2b That is exaltation after suffering. God knows that I do not like it and you probably do not like it, but the next level of the glory of God is coming. It will be worth all of the humiliation.

I believe that one of the keys that you are about through the fire is when it doesn’t hurt any longer. We either become better or bitter. Let’s trust God to complete each work, (James 1:4) and may the Lord Jesus bring us all the way through the fire. Ask God according to James 1:5 to be your wisdom so that you can co-operate with the Holy Ghost in the trial of your faith.

Glory to God

“To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:11 When we give God the glory, (boasting on Him, praising Him) He gives us grace. When we take His glory, He removes His grace. Whithout His grace, we couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Grace is not an option, it is imperative in the Christian life. We must have it to even function properly. Whatever it cost the self life, let’s pay that price for the glory of God. It cost us nothing to be saved by our Lord Jesus. We have nothing to pay. It cost us everything to be a disciple, a follower and a learner.

The Lord Jesus says, “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24b The flesh (sin nature) of selfishness, self-centeredness and self-pity will throw a fit and try to rise up and rule over the Spirit. The price is self-denial and being filled with the Holy Spirit in the trial, through the trial, and on this side of the trial.

I’ll see you here, there, or in the air, dear friends. Remember, it will be worth it all when we see our Lord Jesus.

Addendum

When we are under the hand of God, one of His main purposes is for us to get to know Him better, love Him more and trust Him more. Job is a good example of this. Job was a perfect (mature) man, but as Brother Beasley said, he got more perfect.

The Shunammite woman took her husband for granted. He (type of the Lord Jesus) hid behind the lattice and did not reveal himself until she began to seek him with her whole heart.

When there is great activity in our lives and everything is going well, we live in the revelation of God that we have presently. We know God at the level of the last crisis and we function on that level.

Joseph had a God given vision as a young person. It took years as a slave and then a prisoner for him to get to know God on the level of ruling a nation.

Many times when the suffering comes, we turn around and follow the Lord Jesus no more. May we ask God for grace to go all the way through each trial of our faith. The more we know the Lord God the more we see His love for us. We begin to know how He sees us. Our value is put on work and when the work is abundant, we feel good about ourselves. God’s value is put on us and He sees us like the Lord Jesus, because that is how we are going to turn out. We must grow to the place that we see how valuable we are to God. So much so that He nailed His only begotten Son to the cross. Again, Brother Manly Beasley used to say, “Don’t waste your sorrows.” When we waste them, they are just sorrrows, but when we go through them trusting God, we come out knowing Him better and loving Him more. The things we do learn, however, will help us when the test comes again.

God’s goal is not to take everything away from us and leave us there. His goal is for us to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering. The circumstances are designed for us to grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. No wonder the devil works so hard to get us out from under God’s hand.

Let’s ask our Father to help us and give us grace to stay under His hand until we know Him on the next level He has planned for us. Do you remember when you were in school? If you went through the 10th grade and didn’t pass the material, you had to take the grade over again. A weight lifter is lifting 300 pounds, but he wants to get to 400 pounds. The day comes for the test and he can’t lift the weight. All that he has learned will help him to prepare for the test again and if he stays at it, he will one day be able to lift 400 pounds. He has a desire to do so.

A Christian should want to know God. When you fail the test, the things you have learned will help you in the next crisis and one day by the grace of God, you will know Him on a level that you have not experienced before. It is on that level you will experience greater love, greater fruit of the Holy Spirit and greater anointing than you have ever had before.

Our goal, however, is not the results, but God Himself. May God help us to make it for His glory and honor and for our good.

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Joe Murray

About Joe Murray

Joe Murray is Assistant Pastor of Harvest Baptist Church, he has a passion for teaching the Spirit filled life, and spiritual warfare. He lives with his wife Judy in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Check out his sermons, books, and updates at http://joemurray.org.

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