The Great Commission has a qualifying clause that all authority over everything in heaven and on earth is vested in Lord Jesus and He has promised to be with the believers. God had blessed us with His weapons so that we can defeat every attack of the devil. The Holy Spirit teaches us to use these weapons to train us into capable fighters for only that soldier will be victorious who is well versed in using his weapons. He has purchased us with His blood, we fight in His power and the victory is also His.
Living in the power of God’s Kingdom – We know that, ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, in me it is not that only a part of me is changed, but all of me must receive that change. We are required to ‘not be confirmed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2). As a citizen of heaven I must develop ‘kingdom mindedness’ and get out this ‘world mindedness’ For Lord Jesus has also said, ‘You cannot serve God and mammon’ (Matthew 6:24).
What is the difference in the mindset? – Heaven mindedness is, to have compassion to arrange for the hungry and worldly mindset advises to send them away to find food since how can we go and buy bread worth a year’s wages to feed them. Again heaven mindset is to look unto God in heaven and seek His intervention to multiply the five loaves and two small fish to be enough to feed all (Mark 6:34-42). Satan wants us to remain subjected to his system of lack, doubt and unbelief whereas the ‘renewed mind’ wants to step out into the storm to walk on water. Lord Jesus’ brothers saw Him do all those miracles but did not believe in Him and said, ‘He is out of His mind’ (Mark 3:21).
One of my friends was stuck here due to lockdown and asked for a way out and my advice is always to go before the throne of grace of the LORD and seek His intervention. God answered his prayers and suddenly flights to Australia were allowed and he could travel back to be with his family. Lord Jesus ‘rebuked the wind and the raging of the water’ and they ceased. In the region of the Gadarenes, a group of demons called legion ‘begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss’ (Luke 8:23-31). The assurance of the Lord is clear, ‘he who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do’ (John 14:12). When the disciples ‘went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the Word through accompanying signs’ (Mark 16:20).
Apostles Peter and John went to the Temple in Jerusalem and made that well known statement to the beggar, who was born lame, ‘Silver and Gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk’ (Acts 3:1). And after healing the beggar, he delivered a sermon also to those gathered there. The Chief priests and Jewish elders were surprised at their boldness, for they were ‘uneducated and untrained men. And they realized that they had been with Jesus’ (Acts 4:13). It is very clear what we have to do, believe His promises and take charge, for all the authority of Genesis 1:28 over everything has been restored to us by the Savior Lord. As a ‘New Creation’ we outclass our worldly capabilities and qualifications.
God will not do anything supernatural in our life till we take the first step of faith. David had to go to fight Goliath and shoot the stone for God to do His part of giving exact direction and speed to it to hit Goliath between the eyes to kill him (1 Samuel 17:41-52). We dare not ask God to do both His and our part. It is also clear that all attempts of the devil and his wicked spirits are aimed at restraining us from achieving our true potential in the power and authority of the Lord. Our Father in heaven is well aware of the devil’s ways and He has fully equipped us for this battle with spiritual weapons, for a defeated foe is always more dangerous due to his revengeful attitude. Apostle Paul after receiving His revelation from the Lord and conversion, ‘did not immediately confer with flesh and blood’ but went to the desert of Arabia to be with the Lord. He could perform such great deeds for he listened to the voice of God as conveyed through the Holy Spirit. Someone who is either unaware of the capability of a weapon with him or is not capable of handling it, will always get defeated.
Weapons of our warfare – God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5) and in the Word ‘was life and the life was the light of men’ (John 1:4). This light shines in all believers in the form of the Holy Spirit and it starts with just enough light to show us the way, like a zero watt bulb. That much light is enough in complete darkness to see the way but the promise of God is of abundant life and that cannot be lived in just about enough light (John 10:10). The closer we draw to the Lord, the source of light, the brighter becomes the light within us and better becomes our life that gets filled with power and authority. In such closeness we get adequately equipped and trained to handle the weapons of spiritual warfare give to us by God.
Apostle Paul lists out the weapons of warfare, the armor given to us by God ‘to be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand’ and this standing is in His presence, power and authority (Ephesians 6:13-18). In this list five weapons protect our head or mind and thoughts, the heart and our feelings and emotions, our waist to control lustful desires and on this holy conduct to hang all weapons; the shoes to lead us on righteous paths and to escape traps and finally the shield of faith to provide protection. Only the sword of the Spirit is an offensive weapon which is the Word of God and we sharpen it through daily fellowship with God through reading, meditating upon and adopting the Word into our life and God writes His words on our heart.
Four of these weapons, the helmet, girdle, breastplate and shoes are about controlling mind, thoughts and emotions; the heart and feelings and desires, holiness in sexual conduct and walk in life and this we do by surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s control and guidance. God then provides protection by becoming a rock, deliverer, refuge, fortress and shield and stronghold for us (Psalm 18:2). The sword of the Spirit needs to be sharpened everyday through studying, meditating upon and adopting the Scripture into daily living through guidance of the Holy Spirit for a weapon not cared for properly is like not valuing it enough.
The next and the most powerful weapon, prayer is about moving in the Spirit before God for self and others for protection and strength on a daily basis. Our prayers are also effective only when we are in close fellowship with Holy Spirit, our Intercessor here and with Lord Jesus, who is our mediator in heaven and in this way with God the Father also. ‘In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him, who loved us’ and this conquering is in God through the Son (Romans 8:37).
The first emotion after sin was fear and that led to a divide between Adam and Eve but also with God and they tried to hide from Him. The strongholds of the devil cause fear about everything, the doctor’s report, the mortgage payment, child’s admission and innumerable other things. We have the assurance that the Lord keeps those who are born of God ‘and the wicked one does not touch him’ (1 John 5:18). The only way for us to defeat the tricks of the devil is through our faith that ‘Jesus is the Son of God’ and in this faith everything comes through and the weapons effectively protect us (1 John 5:4-5). God ‘gives us the victory through Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57) and the Messiah declared that in the world we shall have tribulations but that He ‘has overcome the world’ and through faith this victory is imputed to us (John 16:33).
Why do believers fail despite such great promises from God? – Like the Israelites of Old Testament times we have also developed the Canaan attitude of offering a sacrifice to our self created god and then demanding him to do everything. After creating everything God gave all authority and power to man to rule the earth and its inhabitants and on the seventh day He rested from His finished work (Genesis 2:3). At the time of the evening sacrifice, the Son of God ‘knowing that all things were now accomplished’ (destruction of devil’s works), fulfilled the final part of the prophesy about Himself and declared ‘It is finished’ and then gave up His spirit (John 20:28-30). The Risen Lord assigned the task to the disciples to ‘preach the Gospel’ and then gave them power over demons, speaking new tongues, power over serpents and healing the sick. Then ‘He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God’. We are to walk and work on earth of hindering the devil’s works with authority and power of Lord Jesus and our Lord will work with us ‘confirming the Word through signs (Mark 16:15-20).
The devil showed Lord Jesus ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their glory’ and offered all that to Him (Matthew 4:8-9). All that the devil has stolen was supposed to belong to us and since he has stolen that we have to demand it back from him only, but we ask Lord Jesus to get us a job, mend our relationships, get our debts off and everything else. It is like I being looted by A while fighting with B to give it back to me. He has given His authority to us to take it back and His authority is explicit, firstly the gates of Hades will succumb; second, keys to the kingdom of heaven given; thirdly, the power to bind anything on earth and finally power to loose anything and both will be executed by Him in heaven (Matthew 16:18-19).
The answer is to first bind the strongman and then plunder his house (Mark 3:27). Wrongly we try and bind Satan himself and we fail, for God has permitted him to still be free and I cannot override God’s plans. Satan had shown the kingdoms to the Lord thereby telling that there are different authorities for every area. Again I cannot bind the spiritual controller over all of Chandigarh, where I live, and I must first identify who to bind, the one over my house controlling the specific activity that I desire to correct. This binding must continue till the problem is resolved. I must also loose the way of rectification and then have faith to see it happen.
The exercise of this authority depends upon the leading of the Holy Spirit and does require prayer support of other believers, failing which there will be a possibility of failure or a back attack by the demonic forces. If we react without a close relationship with God, we will be attacked, for without that closeness we cannot be fully aware of the power and limitations of our authority. The seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief Priest, were attacked by the Holy Spirit for this very reason (Acts 19:14-16).
Invariably we keep listening to our own voice whereas we must speak the Word of God to ourselves and to the demonic forces to counter the lies of the devil. Lord Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross after suffering great humiliation and pain so that we could live completely and not a life of fear and pain. It takes action from the earth to make heaven’s decree effective and we have a greater responsibility than we realize. God has invited us to share His throne with us but are we ready to act with authority and responsibility so that like the Savior we could say ‘I can do nothing of myself but I do the will of my Master (Ephesians 2:6). But we want freedom from all types of commands, even the statutes of God.
Lord Jonathan Sacks, the Ex Chief Rabbi of England says that ‘nowadays freedom is usually understood ‘freedom from’, meaning the absence of restraint. We don’t like to be tied down. But the real freedom worth having is the ‘freedom to’ meaning the ability to do something that’s difficult and requires effort and expertise’. Freedom is not about no restraint but choosing the right restraint which involves commitment. David Brooks, a moralist, says, ‘My favorite definition of commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behavior around it for the moment when love falters’. Am I creating a structure around my mind, heart, soul and body that the devil cannot lure me away from God’s love?
God told Moses that Pharaoh will not let the Israelites leave Egypt, ‘no, not even by a mighty hand’ (Exodus 3:19). Without God’s intervention through His Spirit, the devil will not let us get out of his clutches easily and we have to fight continually (Zechariah 4:6). Lord Jesus declared that John the Baptist is greater than all those born of a woman ‘but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’ (Matthew 11:11). The Old Testament prophets could perform such great acts, how much more is the power given to us in Lord Jesus’ name. God promises to be ‘a wall of fire’ around Jerusalem, His chosen place (Zechariah 2:5). How much more will be His protection around us who are His Temple and His children? We look for protection from God but who will protect us from ourselves? Are we creating a wall around our lives to protect us from the devil’s lies? If not then all the weapons and authority and power is of no use.
While performing a miracle, where the disciples had failed, Lord Jesus repeatedly cautioned them against doubting and calling them, people of little faith. God’s Word will never return void and will perform the decreed work irrespective of who has spoken that Word in the authority of God. And in any case the repercussions of our fight will not be for our life on earth but for eternity. And it is not only about saving myself but also about teaching out to others to rescue them from the clutches of forces of evil and the devil. The more we use the weapons given to us the more proficient we will become and greater will be the chances of victory.