Spiritual Warfare


I stumbled upon this remedy for treating depression a couple years ago from “The Dr.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones), and it has done my soul well.  May it do the same for you:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact thyat you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?  Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning.  You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc.  Somebody is talking.  Who is talking to you?  Your self is talking to you.  Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself.  “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks.  His soul has been depressing him, crushing him.  So he stands up and says: “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.”

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The city of Mansoul is visited by Diabolus (Satan) and Incredulous (Unbelief) in this classic.  With Innocence and Resistance destroyed by the enemies of Mansoul, the city soon is taken captive through the Eye Gate and Ear Gate.

Lord Will be Will takes charge as Reason and Understanding are deposed and imprisoned.

This is the stage in John Bunyan’s Holy War.  An allegory depicting the story of stories- the creation of man, his exile from Eden, and God’s ensuing, pursuing love to deliver him from the corruption of his rebellion even as evil is leavened throgh the flesh of man.  With sobering scences and comical characters- the diabolianians, once identified within the city, crucified atop the city gates in full view of Diabolus in the vein of Colossians 3 “mortify your members” (KJV) “put to death whatever is earthly inside of you” or of Mr. Godly Fear and Mr. Carnal Delight- it can be explained to children and doubles as a primer on spiritual warfare. 

The story being told in terms like this is one of the best ways to awaken a knowledge to the truth and a sense of urgency.  As Bunyan commented elsewhere, Praying in the Spirit, one of the best ways to teach children [or anyone] to pray isn’t giving them some creed or scripted prayer, but to tell them, “of damnation and of salvation… of how to avoid the one and enjoy the other…”  This manner of teaching, he says, will be the quickest way to elicit hearty groans flowing from their hearts and chests, to teach them to pray in the Spirit, and to deliver them from the hypocrisy of those who “honor God with their lips while their hearts are far from him.” 

Before picking up the latest “bestseller” think about what are some of the best sayers of the truth.  Will that book on the New York Time’s list persist as a wealth of wisdom and warning in 100 years, or will it crumble away within a generation awaiting the next fad?  Take a step back in time and see that as we hit the big themes, “there is nothing new under the sun.” 

When it comes time to read, Joel R. Beeke says in Feed My Sheep, ask yourself whether or not that book will increase your love for God, help you to conquer sin, or if your time could be better spent reading another book.  For me, this book has been instrumental in appreciating the spiritual war in the heavenlies all around-seeing the enemy of soul’s tempting and entreating entrance at each of the five sesnes-, in awakening an urgency to the battle, equipping with a practicality against it, and in sensing the love and joy of God for his people.

When I was about six years old, I remember playing tee-ball. Of that time, little about the games themselves sticks out, yet one memory is clear. Three-quarters of the way through the season, I decided that rather than shaking the hands of the people on the other team, I would just spit on kid’s hand as I walked down the line.
It was funny until I did that the last game of the season. As usual, I spit on each of their hands, until I got to the end of the line. Their coach walked behind all their players. With my eyes down, aiming at each hand that went by, I did not notice the coach. He saw it and quickly horse-collared me. He marched me around until he found my parents.
Did I really do anything that bad? I asked myself. His firm grip told me I did.
My dad greeted him with a smile; they had been old high school friends. The coach did not return the smile, but gruffly asked, “Is this your boy??”
“Yeah,” my dad replied swallowing hard.
The coach told my dad what happened, and the look of warmth in my dad’s face flushed to burning anger.
Afterwards the teams met together to have ice cream and celebrate the end of the season. I did not enjoy this as I might have, staring into my sundae and dread what was coming when I got home.
In games you have sportsmanship. In games you have rules and discipline. If these are abandoned, if the boundaries are burned down, there is chaos; the game is no fun, the positive is not affirmed, the negative is not reproved and as such, detracts from the whole.
But where is the relevance between this story and today’s events?
Well, about a week ago, the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church USA) voted that local congregations may appoint homosexual clergy and church leaders, if they so choose. Like me spitting on the hands of other players, the PCUSA assembly spit on the hands of all who seek to live godly lives within this denomination. Where before local bodies would face some sort of reprimand for endorsing homosexual clergy, now local leaders have received consent to appoint such leaders, metaphorically spitting on the hands of those who maintain the standard of godliness for those with oversight of the congregation. The vote has said that it is ok sportsmanship for some to shake hands while others spit on those passing by and then spit on the Word of God and say, No thank you, we have progressed and become more tolerant and we have found truth and right is not rooted in your archaic laws, but in our feelings, inclinations, and predispositions.
Here, as opposed to a child’s tee-ball game, the stakes are not loss of an ice cream cone and a pat on the back at the end of a game; here the stakes are the gaining of or loss of soul. A church assembly condoning sexual immorality and leaving the God who gave them does not liberate man from being faithful to God’s Word.
“And [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,” Luke 17:1-3.
This is clear, but the PCUSA paraphrase of verse three might read, “if your brother sins, ordain him.” The message is that that those in leadership have the responsibility not to endorse or be posterboys for sin (Galatians 6:19-21), but they ought to be extremely circumspect in their own lives (James 3:1), watching that they do not cause the little ones to sin. For all the little ones seeking God and striving night and day for relief from their burdens, from a heavy heart, a guilty conscience, a stalking past of abuse, a sexually deviant background, the solution is not to permit more behaviors among the shepherds of the church, but present the little ones with the God who asks to shoulder their sins and make them new creations.
Please look here for a statement of those in the church body who have spoken against this divisive ruling: http://www.presbycoalition.org/GA5statement.htm

“So could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation…” (Matt 26:40-41).
“Be sober minded’ be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).
I find myself making an excuse for spiritual apathy and general apathy. What does it matter? I ask myself, I can just do that later. Oh, that is just a little thing. Oh, I know I should fix that now, but I am so tired. Get up early and spend time with God- I will just take my rest and do that later.
Yet Christ rebukes his disciples and tells them he desires their fellowship in the hour of need, as seen in Matt 26:40-41. Their fellowship with God is not desired so that they give God something, but that by being in God’s presence, they are guarded from the fierce lion who waits to tear them apart. Peter was warned of the temptation to come “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32); Peter was warned again to stay awake (Matt 26:40,45); and then when the temptation came, Peter gave in to the temptation to deny Christ (Matt 26:75).
Yet Christ’s prayer gave Peter the strength to persevere. Then Peter, humbled as one who had fallen before (I Peter 5:6-7) and who knew the bitterness of coming into the hour of temptation unprepared, admonishes his brothers to stand in Christ as well and to stay awake.
What is the takeaway lesson? For me it is several: 1) Be killing sin now as it comes into my mind and not later; 2) When I awake in the middle of the night disturbed by dreams or ungodly thoughts, come before God right away and bring his Word to mind; 3) Spend time with God when it seems hard or when I find myself desiring sleep badly; and 4) Don’t buy into the lie that if I do such things, it shows I am not just trusting in God or that it really doesn’t matter if I don’t pray.

A few queries, scattered thoughts, and ruminations. I am still flushing out some thoughts on this, and please, let’s bring some more Scripture- LIGHT- into this.

My question: Does the freeing of the slaves from Egypt parallel the freeing of men and women from demonic opression / spiritual bondage?

What I mean is this: the slaves (many of them) were freed from the ruthless hand of Pharoh in Egypt, but did not rejoice, but rather complained and fashioned idols for themselves in the desert. In the same way- that is to say in a miraculous way- some are delivered from physical abnormalities, and from irrational psychological fears.
I think there is a parallel between the freeing of the Isrealites and the freeing from spiritual oppression, and that it should make us very careful and humble in how we live. The freeing from oppression would be a sign that God has been merciful, and not necessarily a sign that God is in favor of (has counted righteous) the person freed. Jesus was not pleased with the lepers who did not thank him, but they were still healed.
And now, let me give a few examples to further my queries: could not a man freed from an irrational vertigo still die from a great fall, leaning too comfortably over a large precipice; could not someone freed from a demonic fear of the opposite sex not respect the boundaries God has established between men and women and fall into great perversion in that area; and could not someone with a paralyzing spirit in public speaking have that removed, and then shortly after use their words, their mouth, their tongue in the advocation of all degrees of blasphemies, evil, and hatred?
The conclusion I draw from these scattered thoughts is that when God opens a door or shatters a chain, we should not be too proud, but rather humbly thank and acknowledge his work, pleading that He would guide us in His path and in His ways (Jer 7:23, Deut 6:5-9, Ps 25:10-11). I think these examples may show that though one demon may go, seven more worse than the first will return if Christ is not the focus and Lord. The sinners and the wicked experience miracles, but do they see or know God?