Heaven - part 2
Even while we are on earth, we can learn some of what heaven will be like from the blessings that we have while we are here.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. - 1 Corinthians 13:12
“To be in heaven is to lean one’s head upon the breast of Jesus. You have done it on earth? Then you know what heaven is. To be in heaven is to talk with Jesus, to sit at his feet, to let our heart beat against his heart. If you have had that on earth, you have had some of the grapes of heaven.” - Charles Spurgeon
Battling Demonic Oppression
By Chad Prigmore
We as believers must engage in the spiritual battle faithfully knowing that God is on our side and that we stand on the power of His truth.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8
First of all, understand that to engage in spiritual warfare and to fight back against the oppressive assaults of the enemy is very much a part of genuine true Christianity. Those apathetic, complacent, lukewarm "Christians" being entertained in "seeker sensitive" and "purpose driven" entertainment centers posing as Churches each Sunday are probably no longer even on Satan's radar - he has already gained much of the victory over those lives. The battles are fought by those on fire for Jesus Christ.
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. - Revelation 3:15-16
When oppressed by the assaults of the enemy we must remember who's we are, who loves us and who we love, who's name we are sealed with, and seek the Lord completely - forsaking all else. Our aim must be to gain the victory and that God may be glorified through it. Remember and meditate on God's never failing promises.
and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. - Psalm 50:15
Prayer must always be our first course of action whether in a time of trial or triumph. When faced with the attacks and oppression of the enemy we must seek the Lord more diligently through prayer and the prayerful study of His word. As Christians prayer should be something that we are always engaged in - we must literally pray without ceasing as God commands us in scripture.
pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Be in Christian fellowship constantly. Never become a complacent Sunday Christian who only fellowships and converses with the brethren occasionally. The Church is not meant to be a social club. Instead, pray for doors of opportunity to open for fellowship and aim to be in fellowship far more than not. Care for those in need and share your burdens with those the Lord blesses you with for strength and edification.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2
If you are suffering and oppressed get the elders of your Church involved. Allow them to pray for you and over you that God's grace may be multiplied to you.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. - James 5:14
Consider what might be encouraging demonic activity in your life and remove it.
These are just a few recommendations. The armor that God gives us in Jesus Christ is beyond description and far more than enough to gain victory in the spiritual battles we face. Seek the Lord radically, pray for a deeper belief and stronger faith. Reject and cast away anything contrary to the gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Remember who's you are and who's name you are sealed with and rejoice in the Lord always!
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35-39
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6:12
As Christians, we have true inner peace in Jesus Christ. Yet, we are engaged in a war against spiritual forces that seek to destroy our peace and lead us away from the Lord and His truth, and to hinder the proclamation of the gospel.
Satan knows that he is defeated and that his time is short. He is in a rage because of his impending demise and strives to destroy all he can in the time he has left.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - Romans 16:20
This world is Satan's domain and his influence permeates and slithers into the eyes and ears of every person through his relentless and growing prevalence. Take a look around at modern culture and Satan's signature is seen everywhere.
We must arm ourselves, our brethren, and especially our children. The hour is late and the battle is intensifying rapidly. Christians, the gospel, the Christian faith is under attack. We are surrounded by the enemy on all sides in the middle of a violent spiritual battlefield. Yet, the majority of the modern Christian church relies on worldly, secular methods in addressing spiritual issues. I use the word "addressing" because the church is not engaging in warfare. It seems one of the greatest problems in the modern church is rampant spiritual apathy in which no one wants to fight the battles but instead efforts are focused on worldly measures of success and new and innovative methods of compromise without any scriptural standards. The question must begin to be shouted, "Where are the men that will stand up and fight for the truth of the gospel in the name of Jesus Christ? Where have all the warriors gone?
"The most critical need of the Church at this moment is men, bold men, free men. The Church must seek, in prayer and much humility, the coming again of men made of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made.” - A.W. Tozer
There is nothing in or of this world, or of man that is of any value against the oppressions, afflictions, struggles, and sinful desires of man alongside the Word of God. Psychology, psychiatry, psych-pharmaceuticals, recovery programs, false religions - they all lead astray to varying degrees from the one absolute truth of saving grace and salvation in Jesus Christ.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:12
Victory in the Battle Against Temptation
When you break it down, victory over the sin of addiction is victory over temptation - the temptation to sin. Our natural fallen desire to sin must be transformed into a righteous desire to please God which from a purely human capacity is impossible and in direct contradiction to our nature. It is only by the supernatural power of God's grace that a person's natural desire to sin can be transformed into a desire to please God in righteousness.
The prophet Jeremiah explained perfectly the human condition without the transforming power of God's grace: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
But even as Christians, saved and transformed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we still struggle against temptation for the time that we are here in the flesh. So the question becomes, "Just what is the most powerful way, as we grow in sanctification, to obtain victory over the temptations of the flesh"? This question - especially during the time in which we live, in which so much Christian teaching has come to look outside of the Word, or added to the Word from the teachings of psychology, psychiatry, new age philosophy, secular recovery, etc... is a very important one to address. And, with the hope of not seeming to overly simplistic, might we now consider turning back to the founder and perfecter of our faith and casting aside the influences of this world for the needed victory over the age old battle against the temptation to sin? Might Jesus our Savior have provided the means of victory for us in this battle?
Consider the greatest single onslaught of temptation that any human has ever had to endure - the temptation that Jesus faced in the desert and the victory He claimed over it. Also, as you read through this section of scripture please bear in mind that when Jesus faced these temptations he had fasted for forty days and forty nights out in the desert by Himself. Jesus also knew what lay ahead for Him in just three years. He knew that He was moving toward the time when His closest followers would desert Him, when He would be betrayed by one of His own apostles, when He would be arrested and accused falsely, then spat on, ridiculed, tortured, and stripped naked and hung from a cross by those He came to save. But beyond all the ridicule and physical pain Jesus knew as Satan tempted Him that He would have to take on Himself the sins of all mankind and endure the wrath of His Father in order to atone for our transgressions - in order to save us from that horrific and justified wrath.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."
But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple
and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"
Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me."
Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. - Matthew 4:1-11
All the Lord had to do in order to avoid what He knew He would soon endure was to give in to Satan's temptations. But by giving in to Satan, the Lord Jesus would have been abandoning us to eternal damnation. Because of love for us He stood firm, fought of the temptations of Satan and the devil left Him.
When we are faced with temptations, why would we ever consider looking for a solution other than what Jesus Himself shows us so clearly in His Word? Jesus, when tempted declared "It is written" in response to each temptation and the power of the Word proclaimed faithfully gave Him the victory. For whatever temptations we struggle against, for whatever attacks Satan unleashes on us through the enticements of this world, Jesus shows us the way to victory - through His Word!
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2
Armor Against Temptation
By Chad Prigmore
Struggle against temptation is unfortunately a battle that Christians must all engage in as we are in a dark sinful world in which temptation is one of Satan's most relentless attacks. In order to have victory over temptation we must understand that it is not in our power to defeat temptation - but only through the power of God's grace.
We must understand what the Bible teaches us in Ephesians 6:12, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." These are the forces that tempt us and seek to entice us away from the truth of Jesus Christ. But we are told in Ephesians 6:10-18 how we are to arm ourselves against these attacks. Paul writes, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,..."
We must be in prayer constantly, and prayerful study of God's Word constantly, seeking to grow closer to Christ and to be more and more conformed to His image. As we seek Him this way He will strengthen us and we will overcome temptation and the devil will flee from us in defeat.
Chad Prigmore is Pastor and President of The Way R122 Ministry USA & Kenya.