After completion of the creation process God declared everything to be very good for all was created for God’s glory and before sin man was doing this. Lord Jesus opened the way for us to get near to God and be in His presence in this world and till eternity in heaven. The Savior Lord destroyed the works of the devil and fulfilled His promise of ‘abundant life’ for all believers. But we, like the musk deer who keeps searching for ‘kasturi’, the most expensive scent that is within it, keep searching for the promised life outside us. Little do we realize that the indwelling Holy Spirit is ready to help us discover it from within.
What is abundant life? – The Savior Lord declared His mission to give life and that too abundantly which is differentiated from the woks of the devil who steals and destroys (John 10:10). God became man, in our likeness to give us the life that we were created to live before sin entered the world. God created man in His image and likeness, where image has more to do with appearance and likeness is about abstract spiritual similarity (Genesis 1:26-27). The creation of man in itself is a union of what is of the earth and of heaven, for when God breathed into the pile of dust shaped like a man, a part of heaven was placed in man (Genesis 2:7). That part, the spirit of man, enabled him to commune with God.
Lord Jesus told the Samaritan woman, ‘God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’ (John 4:24). ‘Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory’, for due to sin we were unable to behold God’s glory in His fullness (John 1:14). God’s voice was heard by Adam and Eve and the way this is mentioned, it is evident that this was not their first meeting and it was conducted in a natural, close and intimate way sometime in the evening when their work for the day would be over (Genesis 3:8-9).
Restoration of dominion and authority – The Creator had given dominion and authority to man and this meeting was about accountability (Genesis 1:28). The command to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’ precedes this and the Hebrew word ‘kabash’ means ‘subdue, bring into bondage, trample or forcing’. Apparently this was about using force to achieve the result. In the creation process a few points are seen – first, we do not find anything visible that could cause opposition to man; second, man was created in the physical realm but had power to look into the spiritual realm to communicate with God, a Spirit, unless God would appear in a physical and visible form. There is an emphatic declaration that ‘No one has seen God at any time’ and thus the meeting in the Garden would only be in the spiritual realm (John 1:18). Adam was thus able to see the forces of evil that were in rebellion against God and he was required to fight these forces and create a heavenly realm on the earth by extending the boundaries of the Garden of Eden.
Operating in the spiritual realm – Satan was created perfect in every way to be the anointed cherub who is always in God’s presence (Ezekiel 28:14-15). The angels or sons of God present themselves before God on a particular day and Satan also has access to God on that day (Job 1:6 & 2:1). The devil has access to God in heaven and is well aware of God’s kingdom, for he tried to take over that. Lord Jesus prophetically declared that ‘I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven’ (Luke 10:18). Sometime in the future there will be a final war in heaven when Michael and his angels will cast to the earth, Satan and his angels and permanently barring their access to heaven (Revelation 11:7-9). Adam and Eve were created to operate in both, the physical and the spiritual realm and met God on one side while fighting the evil forces on the other, for without this strength they would be unable to operate, leave aside enforce dominion.
Jewish Patriarchs’ communication with God – Abraham went towards Sodom with the three ‘men’ whom he had looked after earlier and one of them, ‘the LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?’ (Genesis 18:17). Hebrew word ‘YHWH’ is used for LORD and wherever this word appears in the Bible, the English word is written with all capital letters as compared to the first letter capital for Lord Jesus. Abraham was thus in the presence of the LORD God and conversed with Him. Jacob saw in a dream the ladder reaching heaven, with angels descending and ascending on that with the LORD, YHWH, standing on the top and God talked to Jacob (Genesis 28:12). Jacob was alone after sending everyone ahead and ‘a Man wrestled with him’ (Genesis 32:24). The following verses clarify that this was not some ordinary man but Son of God who came to change Jacob from a deceiver to Israel meaning ‘God rules’.
Spiritual powers in Old Testament – Joshua stopped the sun over Gibeon and moon over the valley of Aijalon, till the Israelites had revenge over their enemies (Joshua 10:12-13). King of Syria sent his army to bring Prophet Elisha forcibly to him and the Prophet’s servant was scared of the enemy. Elisha prayed to the LORD for opening the servant’s spiritual eyes to let him see the heavenly forces with horses and chariots of fire deployed to protect him (2 Kings 6:16-17). All these people were equipped by God due to their obedience and close relationship with God to prevail over the forces of spiritual as well as physical realm for that is the life we are supposed to live. The promise of ‘abundant life’ of Lord Jesus is restoration of this same power to live in the spiritual as well as the physical realm at the same time.
Our real enemy – Lord Jesus has said, ‘Kingdom of God is in you’ and the devil is opposed to God and His kingdom, for he wants to set up his own kingdom that is above God (Luke 17:21). All believers are therefore continuously in a battle against the devil and his demonic forces. Before we get into any battle it is imperative that we know the enemy that is arrayed against us and then assess the resources that we have, to work out our strategy. First, our battle is against the world –‘the forces of evil around us’; second, our battle is against the flesh –‘the enemy within us’ and third, it is against the devil – ‘the enemy above us who operates from the heaven and from below the earth’. In all this the director of the battle is Satan, who is part of ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12).
Our power source – On the Day of Pentecost, God fulfilled the promise made by Lord Jesus about another comforter (Acts 2:1-4). The prophecy about this was made earlier, where God promised to quench the thirst of individuals and the dry ground by pouring His Spirit on them (Joel 2:28 & Isaiah 44:3). We are seated with Lord Jesus in heavenly places after His ascension and glorification (Ephesians 2:6). Apostle Paul was saved by Lord Jesus Himself and though he had learnt the Scripture under Gamaliel, a learned scholar, he went into Arabia to learn from God the Holy Spirit (Galatians 1:16-17). God desires us to be alone with Him to bless us with great gifts from the Holy Spirit, for only He can satisfy our thirst for the Word of God. The Holy Spirit then becomes our channel of communication with God in heaven. Lord Jesus declared that Kingdom of God does not come by observation but it is within you (Luke 17:20-21& 36). If the kingdom cannot be seen by natural eyes then only with spiritual eyes shall one see that.
The prophets of the Old Testament operated in the spiritual realm while being in the body and could then work various miracles which were evidence of some supernatural force working with and in them. Every believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit to enable them to perform all expected tasks in the spiritual realm. At baptism we enter the spiritual battlefield and in this either we fight in God given power or surrender and perish.
Effective use of spiritual powers – Prophet Elijah was informed by an angel about the sickness of the king of Samaria and about his sending messengers to enquire from Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron about his healing (2 Kings 1:1-12). When the king sent a troop of fifty men with their captain to bring the Prophet, Elijah called for fire from heaven that consumed two of these groups. The widow of one of the students of Prophet Elisha’s school of prophets sought his help for repayment of debt and as told by the prophet went into her house, closed her door and poured out the little oil that she had in a jar. The oil kept on flowing till all the vessels were filled (2 Kings 4:1-7). The prophets were aware of their role on the earth and led and empowered by the Holy Spirit could perform all these miracles.
Spiritual power of a believer – Each believer is involved in the spiritual battle as a part of the whole, for and through empowerment of the same God (1 Corinthians 12:6-10). The gifts from God to a believer range from knowledge and wisdom to interpretation of tongues and performance of miracles and healings through faith and discernment of spirits and of prophetic messages from God. All these gifts relate to performance beyond the natural realm and about understanding, preparing for and countering the effects of actions of the devil, who is a spiritual being. Lord Jesus, while teaching about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, told, ‘He will teach you all things, and bring to remembrance all things that I said to you’ (John 14:26). No battle can be won without knowledge and wisdom and this is one of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit, ‘to teach and remind’. Lord Jesus sent seventy disciples with the task to ‘heal the sick’ and they returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name’ (Luke 10:9 & 17). How much more is our authority who have God’s Spirit residing in us.
Renewing the power – Apostle Paul was on the verge of embarking on his journey to heaven and said, ‘I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand’ (2 Timothy 4:6 & 13). Moses laid down the specifics of the drink offering and it was offered on to the altar fire with the sacrificial offering (Numbers 15:4-5). The Apostle was offering his life as an accompaniment to Lord Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Apostle Paul lived His life for the Lord with the single mission, ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Philippians 1:21). The Apostle was as comfortable of his spiritual life where he had been to ‘the third heaven’ as he was in the body to preach the Gospel to all areas that the Holy Spirit led him (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). If we ignore or refuse to accept any life other than the physical, while being in this world, then we are collecting treasures of this world only. The treasures of heaven can be discerned and earned through an active spiritual life of victory over the devil and his forces of evil, who in any case have no authority over a believer except what we give him. Apostle Paul teaches that angels are ministering spirits to the believers (Hebrews 1:14), repeating and confirming the statement of Psalm 91:11 where angels are decreed by God to ‘keep you in all your ways’.
Inter-relation between physical and spiritual realm – Lord Jesus’ teaching is that even to look at a woman with lustful desire is to commit sin, which is opposed to the rules of this world. Whatever we think or do has three phased cycle, our thoughts or deeds in the world, the effect that activity has in the spiritual realm and the reflective impact of that in our material realm. In this world a thought has no apparent effect but the dynamics of the spiritual realm is, that every thought, word or deed in this world, creates a ripple there. Lord Jesus asked Philip about buying bread to feed the large number of people coming toward Him, ‘But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do’ (John 6:5-13). His thoughts of compassion and love caused opening of the heavenly realm to supply the abundance of food to meet the need. In faith we believe that God can help us at any given time for after all He is God but spiritual victory is assured when we express our trust and confidence that He will actually help. But we are always filled with doubts and our problems never seem to leave us.
Remedy for problems of our lives – God’s word is, ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’ and this is not about worldly but spiritual knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Lord Jesus revealed Himself to Apostle John in the fullness of His heavenly glory (Revelation 1:13-18). Each of the letters to the seven churches end with an exhortation, ‘he who overcomes’ followed by a promised reward (Revelation 2 & 3). If there is nothing to overcome, why would He make a promise of a reward? The disciples faced a great storm and the boat was being covered with the waves (Matthew 8:24-26). The Greek word ‘seismos’ is used here and it means ‘a shaking as in an earthquake, storm’. But the Lord was unperturbed by all this shaking and danger. The disciples woke Him up crying out, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing’ to be told, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith’. When the Son of God is there in the boat, how will it not reach its destination? Moses encouraged the Israelites, for he was not going to lead them into the Promised Land, that the LORD would go with them and ‘He will not leave you nor forsake you’ and He will give your enemies into your hands (Deuteronomy 31:5-6).
Apostle Paul in his last epistle before he was martyred, from the discomfort of the prison cell, asked Timothy to bring his ‘books, especially the parchments’ (2 Timothy 4:13). The apostle was fully aware that it is only through daily fellowship with the Lord, through worship, prayer, reading and meditating upon His word can one hope to be victorious in both realms.