Lift Up a Standard

June 20, 2014

Lift Up a Standard

Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

All of us have had strongholds and weaknesses in our lives in which we were prone to sin and perhaps still are. When we came to Christ we found the truth of Ephesians 4:8, “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Jesus suffered and died to break the power of the enemy over our lives. He bound the strong man of the house (satan) and loosed the captives held in sin and bondage. That was you and I. Romans 6:22 says, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” And Romans 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
How many of us have enjoyed the freedom we found in Christ, then one day have satan show up on the doorstep of our soul with the temptation to partake again of those things from which we had been set free? James 1:13-16 says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.” So we know the temptation doesn’t come from God, but many of us know the slippery slope it has led us too and many of us have slid down that slope, feeling the shame and disgrace of again giving place to those temptations that led us into sin.
Jesus told his disciples when they were in the Garden with him just before the Passion, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak. (Matthew 26:41).” The flesh we live in is our weakest link in living a victorious life in Christ. While we have been set free from the sin nature, the power and temptation of sin can still influence our soul as it stirs up those former passions and desires. Jesus said this in Luke 12:39, “And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.” If you are the good man of your spiritual house and you knew that at a certain time satan was going to come to you with a particular temptation, you would prepare for it and strengthen and fortify that area so that you would not yield to that temptation. Check the doors of your spiritual house. Have we left an access open, windows or doors for temptation to find its way into our house? Have we failed to rid our lives of all the avenues that sin can again have access into our souls? Lock the windows and doors of your soul, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1Peter 5:8).” This is why we must watch and pray always, maintaining a vigil against the temptation that wants to come and entice us back into sin. The spirit man in us must be the strong man in our house as we are identified with Christ and each day we are to be walking in the revelation of our union and oneness with Him.
Isaiah 59:19 says, “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in, like a flood the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” That standard is the Word of God and our faith in it. As Jesus used the Word to defeat devil’s temptations in the wilderness, so it is our standard by which we establish in our own hearts the righteousness upon which we stand.
Have we slipped back into those former sins? Are we tempted to do so now? The blood of Jesus is there to provide the way back. God does not want us beaten down by the condemnation of our failures; neither does He want us to remain in them. Reach out and take hold of the hand of Jesus. He is there to pull us back out of that miry clay and set our feet again on solid ground. 1John 1:9 is His outreached hand of grace to us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We must find our victory, not out of condemnation, but in the love of whose we are. Wrap your spiritual arms around Jesus, let Him be the passion and desire that is above every other. Satan will come knocking at our door, but 1Corinthians 10:13 says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].” Run away from the temptations that comes your way and run into the arms of Jesus that He might show and provide for you the way of escape. He is our standard, our banner and our victory.
The Word of God gives much mercy and grace to be forgiven and to turn from our sin, but it never gives us justification and excuse to continue abiding in it. It is where we change our direction, not our pretense of righteousness while we continue in sin.
Pull up all of those markers where sin has marked our life. Make a righteous declaration of faith based on what the Word of God says we now are in those places in Christ Jesus. Allow righteousness define you, where sin once defiled you.
When we harbor the fugitives of our repentance we are still in collaboration with the enemy of our soul. You can’t conquer the ground in the places where you are still giving place to the enemy.
True Christianity is not an ideology or a theology, it where we walk as Christ walked and where His Word becomes flesh in us. If we love God we will keep His commandments.

Blessings,
#kent

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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