We’re in a War, Folks!

Sam Storms: The Apostle Peter tells us that “the passions of the flesh” are waging “war against” our “souls” (1 Peter 2:11). Don’t underestimate the significance of this daily battle for our souls. So, how are we to fight? With what weapons do we wage this war? Peter says we do so “as (or because we are) sojourners and exiles” (v. 11a; see 1 Peter 1:1,17). His point is that we should draw strength to say No to fleshly passions because they belong to this world and we don’t! We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom that operates under the Lordship of Christ. The culture of heaven is governed by a different ethic, a different spirit, a different morality. So remind yourself often of where you belong. We belong to the Lord Jesus, not to this world, so take your cues from him, not it. John Piper put it best when he said that “we must cultivate the mindset of exiles.” This truth is designed

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Why We Should Not Fear Satan and Demons

From Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue: Are Demons in the World Today? Why do demons sometimes receive so much attention from the media? Are the reports biblically correct, or are they just the musings of uninformed people who see a demon behind every bush and under every rock? Has demon activity accelerated in the world? How can one know which concepts are biblically accurate and which are not? This subject deserves a full-length book, but it will only be summarized here. Consider several preliminary, general observations: We affirm the historical reality of Satan and demons, both in the past and in the present, as verified by the Bible. We affirm that the Bible admonishes Christians to expect Satan and demons to operate now much as they did in both Old Testament and New Testament times (1 Pet. 5:6–11). We affirm that the Bible teaches that, in living out the Christian life,

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The most important spiritual battle

Trevin Wax: The Battle That’s Bigger Than The Culture War Imagine you are tasked with writing a letter of encouragement and exhortation to Christians in distress. Your readers occupy the margins of society; they are maligned and falsely accused. Some of them face imprisonment, and a few have been martyred. The government is cracking down on any religious expression seen as subversive, and the Christians are prime targets. Meanwhile, the rest of society approves of the reigning authorities’ coercive methods of persecution. What would you say to Christians in the middle of a culture war? How would you strengthen believers in that situation? Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you… (1 Peter 2:11) Desires Waging War What strikes me about Peter’s exhortation to the suffering believers scattered throughout Asia Minor in the first century is that the apostle is so focused on the battle for holiness in the life

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You have authority in Christ

  Ray Ortlund: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”  Luke 10:19 In Dynamics of Spiritual Life, Richard Lovelace proposes that one of the “primary elements of continuous renewal” in a church is “authority in spiritual conflict,” pages 133-144.  We are not on the defensive.  We have authority from Christ himself.  The blows we do receive from Satan “come from a retreating enemy,” as Lovelace says, because of the decisive victory of Jesus on our behalf. Lovelace draws from Scripture five fall-back strategies of Satan: 1.  Temptation “The enemy strategy here is either to disfigure a Christian’s witness through public scandal, to gain some evidence through which his or her conscience can be accused and discouraged, or to weaken faith in the possibility of sanctification in some contested area.” 2.  Deception “Negatively, demonic agents induce a strong conscious aversion to biblical truth,

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Combatting the Demonic

  J.D. Greear: When it comes to the demonic, people fall into two errors—not wanting to talk about it at all, or not wanting to talk about anything else. As C. S. Lewis said, “Humanity falls into two equal and opposite errors concerning the Devil. Either they take him altogether too seriously or they do not take him seriously enough.” So we can’t just pretend that demons aren’t real. But we also shouldn’t attribute every inconvenient circumstance—a dead car battery, a traffic jam, a price increase at KFC—to spiritual warfare. The questions is: how should we combat the demonic? If Satan is real—prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour—what can Christians do about it? Listen to what Jesus says in Luke 10:19-20: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you,

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Gospel Peace in Suffering

“Gospel peace prepares the heart for suffering, as it brings along with it and possesseth the soul where it comes, with such glorious privileges as lift it above all danger from any sufferings whatever, from God, man, or devils. If a man could be assured that he might walk as safely on the waves of the sea, or in the flames of fire, as he doth in his garden, he would be no more afraid of the one than he is to do the other. Or, if a man had some coat of mail secretly about him, that would undoubtedly resist all blows and quench all shot that are sent against him, it would be no such scareful things for him to stand in the midst of swords and guns. Now, the soul that is indeed at peace with God, is invested with such privileges as do set it above all hurt and damage from sufferings. ‘The peace of God’

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How can Christians be meek and war-like at the same time?

In discussing the sixth sign of authentic spiritual affections, Jonathan Edwards poses this question. After arguing that true godly experience results in meekness, gentleness, lowliness of spirit, he raises the objection — But here some may be ready to say, Is there no such thing as Christian fortitude, and boldness for Christ, being good soldiers in the Christian warfare, and coming out bold against the enemies of Christ and his people? Edwards responds: To which I answer, There doubtless is such a thing. The whole Christian life is compared to a warfare, and fitly so. And the most eminent Christians are the best soldiers, endowed with the greatest degrees of Christian fortitude. And it is the duty of God’s people to be steadfast, and vigorous in their opposition to the designs and ways of such, as are endeavoring to overthrow the kingdom of Christ, and the interest of religion. But yet many persons seem to be quite mistaken concerning the

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24 Hour Armour

Jared Wilson: Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10 to “be strong,” but he tells us to be strong in the Lord’s might, not ours, which is why before we get to praying and making supplication, we are to put on the armour of God. Notice that this armour consists entirely of things God does or provides for us. We don’t put on the helmet of self-affirmation. We don’t put on the shoes of motivation. We don’t put on the belt of intestinal fortitude. No, we put on what God has done for us in Christ, which is to say, we put on Christ. When the enemy attacks my heart, I don’t want my self-righteousness standing guard, but the breastplate of actual righteousness, Christ’s righteousness. When the enemy whispers his accusations into my ear with his forked tongue, I don’t want Stuart Smalley-esque daily affirmations sitting there; those would protect me about as much as cotton-ball earmuffs. But the helmet of salvation is

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David, Goliath and Representative Warfare

From Nicholas T. Batzig: It never ceases to amaze me how the various accounts of David’s life stand in a typical relationship to that of Christ, the Son of David. While the Bible explicitly draws out some of the ways that David typified Jesus (Matt. 12), it is in the details of the accounts unfolded in the covenantal history that reveal it so magnificently. One such account is the battle between David and Goliath. Far from merely being an exciting children’s story from which we may teach our little ones how to be courageous in the LORD, the record of this battle comes at the half-way mark in redemptive history–reminding us of the battle promise of Gen. 3:15 and urging us to look forward to the fulfillment of it when our Lord Jesus Christ defeated the evil one at the cross. The points of comparison are striking: 1. The Battle is a representative battle. Two individuals represent their people and face off in

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What is true of Him

  “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 We must think of suffering in a new way, we must face everything in a new way. And the way in which we face it all is by reminding ourselves that the Holy Spirit is in us. There is the future, there is the high calling, there is the persecution, there is the opposition, there is the enemy. I see it all. I must admit also that I am weak, that I lack the necessary powers and propensities. But instead of stopping there . . . I say, “But the Spirit of God is in me. God has given me his Holy Spirit.” . . . What matters . . . is not what is true of us but what is true of Him. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, page 100. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

Lessons about the demonic world

This is excellent from Adrian Reynolds: All taken from Luke 8.26-39 which contains not less than all this stuff and probably more: 1. The demonic world is REAL (v27) 2. The demonic world is OPPOSED to JESUS (v28) 3. The demonic world is EXTENSIVE (v30) 4. The demonic world is DANGEROUS (v29) But… 5. The demonic world is LIMITED (by space and time)(v32) 6. The demonic world is UNDER JESUS (v31-32) 7. The demonic world is DOOMED (v31,33) 8. The demonic world is ultimately POWERLESS to stop salvation (v35-39) Brilliant! Only, if I’ve read 2 Cor. 10.3-5 correctly and Eph 6.10-18, our neglect of the battling aspect of Christianity and our neglect of, in particular, prayer, renders us much more open to the terrors of 1-4 and much less certain of the reassurances of 5-8….

Taking Every Thought Captive

Taking every Thought Captive for Christ (2 Cor. 10.4-6) By Sam Storms We live in an age of angry atheism; not simply a casual and indifferent disregard for the existence of God but a militant opposition to all things religious. Most are by now aware (and sick of hearing about) such folk as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. What should be our response, if any? Do we simply ignore them, confident that in time they will fade away as have other skeptics in centuries past? Fade away they will, but I believe we should be more proactive in our efforts to expose the ill-founded and prejudicial nature of their arguments. That’s why I’m grateful for the work of such notable Christian apologists as Tim Keller (The Reason for God), Alister McGrath (The Dawkins Delusion), Ravi Zacharias (The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists), and Al Mohler, Jr. (Atheism Remix). What they and

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Satan v. Church Leaders

From 9Marks blog: Southern Seminary professor Chuck Lawless imagines what he would do if he were Satan, trying to ensnare pastors and church leaders. The whole article is here, but his seven basic points are First, I would attack those who are most gifted . . . by reminding them that they are gifted. Second, I would encourage leaders to talk about accountability . . . but not be personally accountable to anyone. Third, I would challenge leaders to emphasize spiritual disciplines . . . but only for others. Fourth, I would focus the leader’s attention on tomorrow . . . rather than today. Fifth, I would encourage ministry by e-mail . . . especially with those of the opposite gender. Sixth, I would not hinder ministry success . . . as long as “success” results in few changed lives. Seventh, I would stress failure . . . and then lead the church to do the same.