Strongholds

April 24, 2014

Mark 3:23-27a
So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.

Strongholds

There are strongholds that each one of us deals with in our lives. Some may be stronger than others, but all of us have dealt with areas of our flesh where we are weak and more prone to failure and sin. Most all of us tend to want to keep these in the secret places of our closets so others won’t see, but often very ugly things reside behind the closed doors of our home and our hearts. These strongholds have fettered us and kept us in a state of bondage even as Christians for far too long. It is most often a love-hate relationship. We hate our sin and yet we love it too much to let go of it. As a result we struggle with our hypocrisy, often justifying it or rationalizing it so we can live with this bondage that is crippling our wholeness in Christ. Many of us live with much guilt and condemnation because we truly love the Lord and yet in these areas that may differ with each one of us, we are weak and seem unable to break free.
The enemy knows our areas of weakness and vulnerability. These are his inroads to our soul to hinder us and cripple us in walking in obedience in these areas. No amount of rules or laws are going to deliver us from these sensual or fleshly indulgences.
Paul says this in Colossians 2:19-13, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” The truth is that Jesus Christ has bound the strong man, disarming his powers and authority. We now possess in Christ a greater power and authority than that which has bound us. Verse 10 says ‘you have been given fullness in Christ who is the head over every power and authority.’
So why are we still enslaved by these strongholds of sin and flesh? God has placed the Spirit of Christ in us to overcome the flesh. It is easy when someone does everything for you, but it doesn’t help you to grow or to find the strength you need to live in victory. God has called us to overcome in Christ Jesus.
We plead, “But I have tried and I still fail. I can’t do it.”
That is exactly right, we can’t do it, but we have a power resident within us by which we can. Romans 8:12-14 tells us, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” The key words here for us are “By the Spirit”. We have an identity in Christ that we must put on in every area of our lives. We are no longer identified with the weakness, fearfulness and the lust of our flesh. We are identified with what we possess which Colossians 2:10 says is the ‘fullness in Christ’.
Colossians 3:1-11 exhorts us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” We must know who we are and where we now reside in the Spirit. We are not an earthly people any longer, we are a kingdom people with the King of Kings setting upon the throne our hearts and souls.
Some of us cry out in our souls and say, “I want to be free, but I can’t.” Can’t is not a statement of faith, but of fear and unbelief. “We can do all things through Christ that strengthens us.” Our greatest enemy is the deceptiveness of sin. We hide our sin in the closet because of our shame. We don’t want people to think of us less than spiritual; when in truth we are all struggling with the same garbage. It doesn’t matter how wicked or perverse the thing is that you struggle with, God sees it and He knows. It is not His will that this stronghold possesses you and rules over you. The greatest tactic of the enemy is to get you alone with your sin, like you are the only one going through this. You are not alone. We all struggle in areas of our life. Our greatest strength and victory is going to come when we bring our sin and struggles into the light and we allow the body of Christ to stand with us, pray with us and offer accountability to us. James 3:16 tells us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The reason we confess our sins to one another is to bring them into the light, which renders the devil powerless. He can only work in darkness. In the light we unite with the strength and support of fellow believers who can pray with us, stand with us and help us to be accountable in those areas where we are so prone to temptation.
It is time for all of us to come out of our dysfunctional state of sin and failure. Let us help one another in coming into the full freedom and deliverance from these strongholds that have so long crippled and hindered us in our walk and full devotion to Christ. You are not alone in your struggle. Surround yourself with other solid believers that you can trust and confide in. You may find that you are able to help them as much as they can help you. Let us walk in the light as He is in the light. No more strongholds!

Blessings,
#kent

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How Profound is His Love?

February 17, 2014

Romans 5:6-8

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


How Profound is His Love?



Meditate on this simple truth that we often so quickly read past.  Nothing you, I or anyone did or could do could provide for us what only God the Father could provide for us through the love of His Son Jesus Christ.  It speaks to a principle of God, that out of utter weakness, helplessness and depravity the power of God is revealed toward us.  Most of us know that we could never get good enough on our own to deserve God’s love and salvation.  He is not wanting us to come to Him only after we have cleaned up our lives, that is like trying to take a bath without water or soap. He is the only way that we can get clean. Faith in His blood and in the washing of the water and the Word is our cleansing.  It is by nothing we can do or earn, but by simple faith that embraces God’s Son who took our sins upon Himself, suffered the incomprehensible pain and shame that  should have been ours and then died the death of sin that we deserve.  

Who is this Jesus that He should die for me?  He was the divine expression of God’s insurmountable love for all of humanity.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).”  This is a very simple elementary truth of the Christian faith, but one we never want to loose sight of. It is the simple faith we placed in Jesus that has brought us into one body and one hope of our calling.  Nothing else exists without this foundational truth and reality.  Even the faith that we have to embrace Christ was the gift of His grace, lest any of us should boast (Ephesians 2:8).  

Do we fully understand that it is not our power that is at work here in our Christian walk and faith?  It is religion and a religious mindset that doesn’t comprehend this mystery of God and tries to establish a godliness out its own works, strength, knowledge and goodness, but God operates best out of weakness and total dependence upon Him.  Just as we couldn’t save ourselves, we can’t produce our own righteousness.  He alone is our righteousness.  It is in that daily exchange by faith of “who we were for who He is”, that we embrace that divine nature.  There is no amount of knowledge or gifting that can bring you into the likeness of the Son, only He can do that by the power of His Spirit working in you.  It doesn’t matter your status, your fame, your perception in the eyes of this world, Father knows and wants us to know that it is only His power working out of our weakness that makes us strong.  

Notice that there was an appointed time, just the right time, when we were still powerless , that Christ died for the ungodly.  There is another time, just the right time, when as 1 Thessalonians 1:10 says, “on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”  You and I are the incubator and womb of this manchild that is growing inside the true Church.  There is a right time, the fullness of time when Christ shall be revealed in glory, within and without of His body, which we are.  

It is this simple truth that we first embraced that now grows within our womb.  This seed of life, deliverance, salvation and glory.  In your weakness He is working His strength.  Let your dependence and your hope be in none other, but Him.  He is the author and the finisher of your faith.  “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).”

 
Blessings,
kent
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