Hidden: A Life All for God

What a beautiful and inspiring documentary! Few of us are called to a monastic life, but there is much we can learn from the lives of these Benedictine nuns. For them ‘life and worship flow seamlessly’ as they learn to ‘live in the moment’ and to ‘find balance’ in their Christ-centred lives. The part that touched me most is at 44:12 when the nun explains how she copes with the ‘yet unconverted parts’ of her life – trusting that she is still loved not only by God, but also by the other sisters in the community – ‘trusting in their mercy and in their compassion’. How beautiful to walk in mercy! How vital that we Christians learn to be ones who are always ready to be merciful and so bring lightness and relief to people’s lives.

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Affirmations of Faith: I am

On days when I find it difficult to pray, there are 2 or 3 things that help. Affirming who I am in Christ always brings things into perspective. It reminds me that the reason for my coming into the prayer closet is not a mere sense of duty. I come to His feet because all that I am springs from my relationship to the Living God. As I confess these things, my spirit opens up to touch of His Holy Spirit and He leads me in my prayer.

I am a child of God. Jesus died for me; because I trust Him for my salvation, I have been forgiven all my sins. Christ purchased my soul with His own precious blood. God is now my Father, Healer, Protector, Defender and Friend. He is by my side. He will never leave nor forsake me. He said, “Lo, I am with you, even to the end of the age.” 

Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us that we should be called the children of God. I am precious and honoured in His eyes and He loves me. I am the apple of His eye, and He has me in the palm of His hand. 

There is no condemnation for me because I am in Christ Jesus. Who will bring any charge against me? It is God who justifies. Who will condemn me? Christ Jesus who died, more than that was raised to life is at the right hand of the Father and continuously intercedes for me. I stand by His grace alone. I have gained access into this state of grace by faith.

The power of God is at work in my life – the same power that was at work in Christ Jesus to raise Him from the dead. He sanctifies me and perfects me by His grace. I am not weak or forlorn. He heals me of all my diseases, because He is Jehovah Raphe, God my healer.

In Christ Jesus, I rise above the constraints of the flesh. I bring all my thoughts under subjection to Christ and in line with His word; in His name, I reject every false suggestion that the enemy tries to plant in my mind. 

In Christ, I keep my heart pure, and my mind cleansed from all unkind thoughts towards my neighbour. I choose to accept others in love as the Lord has accepted me. I choose to be merciful even when they do me wrong. I will not be critical of my neighbour in my thoughts or words. I will not judge people in my thoughts because I do not wish to be judged. Instead I will pray for God’s mercy upon their lives, and for love to grow between us. The grace of God is wide enough to cover the sins and failings of both.

Jesus Christ is alive. Our Saviour is resurrected from the dead and lives for evermore! He will return in power and glory! I rejoice in the glorious resurrection. All things are and will be restored, because of the life-giving power that has overcome the power of death and decay. In my life, in my home, and in the life of the church, this life-giving power will counteract the power of sin and death. 

There is a mighty renewal, restoration and healing. He said, “Behold! I make all things new… these words are true and faithful.” So, I will trust in His goodness without wavering as I hope for the great restoration in my own life. 

I will not grieve like those who have no hope. My mourning gives way to dancing. I will celebrate the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. He has promised that those who go out weeping carrying seed to sow will return with songs of joy!

In Christ, I am an overcomer. I am not a fool, a victim or a failure. The cross symbolises the victory of Jesus; and I rejoice for I am a partaker in this eternal victory. I am more than a conqueror through Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. How great is my inheritance! No eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has the heart of man conceived what the Lord has prepared for those who love Him.

The Four Pillars Of A Balanced Prayer Life: An e-book on ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.

For the past 2 years, I have been writing another blog, ‘Come Pray’ in the form a devotional with excerpts from a book that I had written several years ago entitled “The Four Pillars Of A Balanced Prayer Life – Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer”. I will soon be closing down that blog, but its contents are now available in the form of an e-book which you may access by clicking on this- E-book on The Lord’s Prayer – found at the top right hand corner of this blog.

I would appreciate your suggestions and comments.

Holiness or Hardness

He…wondered that there was no intercessor… (Isaiah 59:16)

Holiness or hardness towards God

by

Oswald Chambers

The reason many of us stop praying and become hard toward God is that we only have an emotional interest in prayer. It sounds good to say that we pray, and we read books on prayer which tell us that prayer is beneficial— that our minds are quieted and our souls are uplifted when we pray. But Isaiah implied in this verse that God is amazed at such thoughts about prayer.

Worship and intercession must go together; one is impossible without the other. Intercession means raising ourselves up to the point of getting the mind of Christ regarding the person for whom we are praying (see Philippians 2:5). Instead of worshiping God, we recite speeches to God about how prayer is supposed to work. Are we worshiping God or disputing Him when we say, “But God, I just don’t see how you are going to do this”? This is a sure sign that we are not worshiping. When we lose sight of God, we become hard and dogmatic. We throw our petitions at His throne and dictate to Him what we want Him to do. We don’t worship God, nor do we seek to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. And if we are hard toward God, we will become hard toward other people.

Are we worshiping God in a way that will raise us up to where we can take hold of Him, having such intimate contact with Him that we know His mind about the ones for whom we pray? Are we living in a holy relationship with God, or have we become hard and dogmatic?

Do you find yourself thinking that there is no one interceding properly? Then be that person yourself. Be a person who worships God and lives in a holy relationship with Him. Get involved in the real work of intercession, remembering that it truly is work— work that demands all your energy, but work which has no hidden pitfalls. Preaching the gospel has its share of pitfalls, but intercessory prayer has none whatsoever.

Paying the Price

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16 (NIV) 

As Christian intercessors we should wait on God for the keys to having our prayers answered. Crucially, we need to examine ourselves in the light of scripture, so that nothing in our own lives hinders the answers we seek. James reminds us that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16 KJV). Righteousness, therefore, is a condition for answered prayer. It is important to understand what this means for us in practical terms. God is Jehovah Tsidkenu, our righteousness. All our righteousness is in Him, and we receive it – just as Abraham did – by faith. In the divine exchange at Calvary, our sin was placed upon Christ and He paid the price in full; in return, His righteousness is ascribed to us when we receive Him by faith. His sacrifice makes it possible for us to approach the Father’s throne with our petitions, in the expectation that He will answer. 

When the answers to our prayers are delayed, we should not become discouraged, but persist in prayer until we receive an assurance in our spirits, or have some degree of certainty about God’s purposes in the matter. We also ought to explore the reasons for the delay. Perhaps, we or others concerned are not quite ready to receive and handle wisely the answers we seek; or, perhaps the time is not quite ripe from heaven’s perspective. Our faith is often tested through these delays so that we might develop that important Christian virtue – patience. Furthermore, God uses the delays to train us in obedience. As we persist in prayer, areas in our lives that do not conform to Christ’s image are brought into the light, so that we may, with His help, put off these things. So, we grow and mature in righteousness. While our legal standing and righteousness before God are the result of Christ’s work, our obedience, which is our response to His sacrifice, fits us to inherit His promises. 

To understand this more fully, let us look to the example of Jesus-

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:7-10 NIV).

Why did Jesus need to learn obedience? Jesus, as God, was and is always righteous. The Bible states in no uncertain terms that He was without sin even in His earthly walk. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NIV). This means that although Jesus was constrained by the rebellious flesh that He put on for our sakes, He chose not to obey its demands. At every turn when He had to choose between what His flesh desired and what He knew to be the Father’s will, He invariably chose the latter. In His pre-incarnate state, His will was always one with the Father’s, so this earthly experience was something new for Jesus. He learnt by experience how insistent the flesh can be about getting its own way, and how hard one must work to resist its hypnotic pull. As He said to his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 ESV).

Much of our prayer vigil should, therefore, consist of fighting the flesh. If Jesus had to learn obedience, how can we hope to escape sin without the same struggle? At Gethsemane, He travailed in prayer until His natural desire to avoid that terrible cup of suffering was subjugated to the Father’s will, and He was ready to face the Cross. In prayer, we expose ourselves to God’s Spirit in the light of His word, so that all contrary instincts and desires may be brought under submission to the Father’s will. God’s spirit is a consuming fire, which burns up our impurities so that the pure gold of true faith remains. This pure faith is what wins the heart of God, and moves His hand. Now, the time spent at the Father’s throne, crying over our sinfulness and selfishness, pleading for mercy and a pure heart, might take hours or days. It might seem like a time-wasting exercise but it is not. On the contrary, we are fighting the Lord’s battles and our struggle will be greatly rewarded in this life and the next. And, once we are where God wants us to be, the answer to our petitions is certain.

Let me clarify what it means to expose ourselves to God’s purifying light and fire. As we come to the Throne of Grace, the central purpose of our coming is to seek God’s mercy. We need His mercy to cover all our sins, besides His interventions of mercy in our circumstances. Although God sees every sin, we are commanded to show them to Him, and not hide our sin as Adam did, or pretend that we have no sin or make excuses. As the psalmist said, ‘Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin’ (Psalms 32:5 NIV). If we are not open about our sin, the Lord will simply not give us a hearing as we begin to make our requests – “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened…” (Psalms 66:18 NIV). If we must confess our sins, then mercy is freely given, because it was purchased for us by Christ. 

In the HCSB, the same verse is translated like this: “If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” To harbour malice implies that we bear ill will or a grudge towards our neighbour. Perhaps someone has treated us badly, and we are now ‘stewing in resentment’. All our prayer at our Father’s throne must first be directed towards becoming free of this resentment. There is no point rushing into our petitions or intercession without first resolving this matter. Again, this watch is not wasted time. We are joining the ranks of the overcomers to whom many rewards are promised (Revelations 2 and 3). Our flesh is being crucified, so that the life of Christ may be displayed in our lives.

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:13-14 NIV). Asking in Christ’s name is not merely a mantra to be recited at the end of every petition; rather it implies a deep identification with Jesus Christ, His desires and interests. A married couple often choose to hold a joint bank account because there is a deep mutual trust and a sharing of common goals between husband and wife. The bank of heaven often disburses answers to petitions after considering the strength of our identification to the One we call Lord. As our lives are more fully merged with Christ’s, heaven recognises this union, and permits the opening of more joint accounts to facilitate answers to our requests.

We are coming to an age when people will be unwilling to pay the price of following Christ. In the age of apostasy, churches will dilute the seriousness of sin, and encourage us to indulge rather than crucify the flesh. Christians will be so caught up with the things of this world that the demands of the gospel of the Cross will seem strange and unnecessary. How careful and vigilant we ought to be so that we do not fall into a trap. Let us begin even now to approach the crucified Christ, and submit ourselves more fully to Him. Let us plead for ourselves, our friends and this fallen world, so that many, many souls may be saved.

Father, teach us to prevail in prayer as intercessor, for this world need many who will pray. As Christ has promised, give us the keys of the kingdom. Show us why doors are closed and how to open them so that people may be saved. In Jesus’ name.

Snippets from the Saints

Rees Howells (1879-1950) was born in Wales to devout Christian parents. Early in life, he joined his brothers in the coal mines before travelling to America ‘to become rich’. He was radically converted at a revival meeting held by Maurice Solomon, a Jewish Christian. On returning to Wales, he was first used by God to impact many lives in his own hometown. Later Howells and his wife made the heartbreaking decision to leave their only son, Samuel, in the care of a relative, to go as missionaries to Africa where he was instrumental in leading a revival. Back home on furlough, he was guided by the Holy Spirit to start a Bible College, where his band of intercessors were to impact the destiny of their nation through prayer. The following account of a powerful move of God in the college is taken from Norman Grubb’s book – ‘Rees Howells, Intercessor’.

The first outward sign that He was working in a new way was when one of the staff broke down in prayer, confessing her sense of need and crying to the Holy Spirit to meet her. Then we heard how the Holy Ghost had so manifested Himself in the glory of His Divine Person to some of the girl students that they wept before Him for hours—broken at the corruption of their own hearts revealed in the light of His holiness. 

“An awesome sense of God’s nearness began to steal over the whole College. There was a solemn expectancy. We were reminded of the 120 in the Upper Room before the day of Pentecost. Like them, we only wanted to spend our time ‘in prayer and supplication’—conscious that God’s hand was upon us—conscious that He was about to do something. God was there; yet we felt we were still waiting for Him to come. And in the days that followed, He came. “He did not come like a rushing mighty wind. But gradually the person of the Holy Ghost filled all our thoughts, His presence filled all the place, and His light seemed to penetrate all the hidden recesses of our hearts… it was in the quiet of our own rooms that He revealed Himself to many of us. 

“We felt the Holy Spirit had been a real Person to us before; as far as we knew we had received Him; and some of us had known much of His operations in and through our lives. But now the revelation of His Person was so tremendous that all our previous experiences seemed as nothing. There was no visible apparition, but He made Himself so real to our spiritual eyes that it was a ‘face to face’ experience. And when we saw Him we knew we had never really seen Him before. We said like Job, ‘I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee’; and like him, we cried, ‘Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.’ 

“In the light of His purity, it was not so much sin we saw as self. We saw pride and self-motives underlying everything we had ever done. Lust and self-pity were discovered in places where we had never suspected them. And we had to confess we knew nothing of the Holy Ghost as an indwelling Person. That our bodies were meant to be the temples of the Holy Ghost we knew, but when He pressed the question, ‘Who is living in your body?’ we could not say that He was. We would have done so once, but now we had seen Him. “In His nature, He was just like Jesus—He would never live for self, but always for others. We were people who had left all to follow the Saviour, and had forsaken all we had of this world’s goods to enter a life of faith, and as far as we knew we had surrendered our lives entirely to the One who died for us. But He showed us, ‘There is all the difference in the world between your surrendered life in My hands, and Me living My life in your body.’ 

“We read the Acts afresh and found we were reading, not the acts of the apostles, but the acts of the Holy Ghost. The bodies of Peter and the others had become His temples. The Holy Ghost as a divine Person lived in the bodies of the apostles, even as the Saviour had lived His earthly life in the body that was born in Bethlehem. And all that the Holy Spirit asked of us was our wills and our bodies. 

“‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice . . .’ (Rom. 12:1). It seemed as though we had never seen that Scripture before. He made it clear that He was not asking for service, but for a sacrifice. ‘Our God is a consuming fire’; and if God the Holy Ghost took possession of these bodies, then His life was going to consume all that there was of ours. “We had often sung ‘I want to be like Jesus,’ but when we had the offer from a Person who is just like the Saviour to come and live that life daily and hourly in us, we found how unreal we had been. How much there was in us that still wanted to live our own lives—that shrank from this ‘sentence of death’! We now began to see the meaning of the Saviour’s words in Luke 9:24, ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it.’ 

“Why had He manifested Himself to us in this way? He made that quite clear. It was because there was a work to be done in the world today that only He could do (John 16:8). No wonder the Master told His disciples not to move from Jerusalem until they had received ‘the promise of the Father.’ But when He had come, they would be His witnesses ‘in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’ 

“Many of us… had put our all on the altar for the sake of giving the gospel to every creature. We had become willing to be any cog in the machinery that God needed to put that through in our generation. But now the Holy Ghost said, as Jehovah had said to Moses, ‘I am come down to do it.’ And we knew that He was as almighty as He was holy. “As those days of visitation went on, we were just prostrate at His feet. We had thought that there was some virtue in our surrender: that we, with thousands of others, would be the people to evangelise the world in this generation. But now He had come, and we were out of it—except in so far as our bodies would become the temples in which He would dwell and through which He would work. He said, ‘I have not come to give you joy, or peace, or victory. I have not come to give you any blessing at all. You will find all that you need in Jesus. But I have come to put you to the cross, so that I may live in your body for the sake of a lost world’ (Col. 3:3; 2 Cor. 4:10; Gal. 2:20). 

“He warned us that the trials before this task was through would be so great, and the attacks of Satan so fierce, that ‘flesh and blood’ would never be able to hold out. He showed us that on the eve of the crucifixion, when the real clash came with the powers of darkness, it was only the Saviour who stood. We saw every one of the disciples fail in that hour—in spite of all their surrenders, their vows and their devotion to the Master. And looking into the future years—the darkness of the last days of this age, the final contest between heaven and hell for the kingdoms of this world—we could see only One Person who was ‘sufficient for these things,’ and He was the glorious Third Person of the Godhead in those whom He was able to indwell. 

“One by one He met us; one by one we broke in tears and contrition before Him. From one after another rose the cry, as it did from Isaiah when he too ‘saw the Lord’: ‘Woe is me for I am undone . . . unclean.’ One by one our wills were broken; we yielded on His own unconditional terms. To one by one there came the glorious realisation: He had entered, and the wonder of our privilege just overwhelmed us. 

“The personal experience was great. We were new people. His Word became new. So often we had had to water down the Word to the level of our experience. But now the Person in us would insist on bringing our experience up to the level of His Word. We understood that crucifixion was a slow death, and that He would have much to deal with in us before He would really be free to do His work through us. But one thing we knew—He had come and He could never fail. “But far greater than anything His visitation could mean to us personally was what it was going to mean to the world. We saw Him as the One to whom ‘the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance.’ On our faces before Him we could only say, from awed hearts, ‘Holy Ghost, You have come to shake the world.’ 

“There was no excitement or enthusiasm of the flesh in those days. When His power had come upon us [earlier] we had been carried away and were singing and shouting our praises. But in these days we were so awed by the holy majesty of His Person that we hardly dared raise our voices in the meetings. “Even the grounds outside seemed filled with His presence. Walking around together we would suddenly be conscious that we were speaking in whispers. The late hours came, but no one thought of bed—for God was there. It seemed to be a foretaste of the Holy City: ‘There shall be no night there.’ 2 and 3 a.m. often seemed just like midday as we communed together, prayed with some who were ‘coming through,’ or waited before God in the quietness of our hearts. 

“His visitation lasted for some three weeks in this special sense although, praise God, He came to ‘abide,’ and has continued with us ever since. But no one has a monopoly on the Holy Ghost. He is God, and whatever our experience of Him, He is far greater than all we can know of Him. Whatever we know of His gifts, His manifestations and His anointings, He is greater than all those. In whatever way He has manifested Himself to us, we also recognise His mighty working in and through others. Increasingly we look to the Holy Ghost Himself, poured out on all flesh as Joel prophesied, as the only One by whom the Vision He has shown us can be fulfilled, through His prepared channels, in all parts of the world.” 

The Power of Complete Obedience

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds), casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ASV)

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, among other topics, he reveals the nature of the warfare that we are engaged in as Christians. Towards the end of this passage, there is a crucial point often overlooked by many teachers – partly because it is not properly understood – in their expositions on the subject. The point is obedience, and what can be effected or achieved through a believer’s obedience being fulfilled (KJV) or confirmed (HCSB), made full (ASV) or made complete (ESV) and perfect. When we arrive at the point of complete obedience, then we will be ready, that is properly equipped or made fit – to do what? We will be ready to avenge (ASV) or punish (NIV) all disobedience. In other words, annihilation of the enemy’s strongholds is only possible if we are fully obedient. To understand this further, let us study the context.

Paul was expounding on the rebel system that the enemy has set up on the earth, and in the spiritual realms, to oppose God and to destroy mankind. We are reminded that we cannot hope to fight this system in our flesh, because the system has already corrupted and, indeed, subjugated the flesh. The flesh has only one place – the cross (Galatians 5:24). So, we are called to crucify the flesh, and not to trust at all in its power to achieve anything of eternal value. Whenever the flesh rises to reassert its authority, we are commanded to subdue it. The above verses give us the keys to oppose the enemy, and crucial to our victory is complete obedience.

The enemy system itself operates mainly by presenting to us false arguments or pseudo-truths. Sometimes these false arguments are cloaked in scientific or humanitarian terms; at other times, they have the appearance of being ‘Christian’, but are essentially opposed to the will and purposes of God. The enemy’s goal is to keep us in a state of confusion. It is interesting to observe this deception at work in our age. Today, we see that on one hand, issues that are morally neutral – belief in climate change, for example – are ascribed a moral status, so that those who do not believe in it, or accept blindly the so-called scientific consensus, are described as being not merely ignorant, uninformed, sceptical or foolish, but as being inherently wicked. On the other hand, those upholding the moral absolutes which once governed human behaviour and relationships, are despised as evil, intolerant bigots.

In the end times, such persuasive pseudo-truths will abound, and people will become increasingly receptive to them. As the apostate church loses its scriptural moorings, and rejects fundamental truths – upheld by Christians everywhere and in all ages until now – it will become active – not in establishing God’s kingdom, but – in removing the ‘ancient landmarks’, in contravention of God’s command, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set (Proverbs 22:28 ASV). These landmarks or boundary stones – set up to keep us safe and to secure our inheritance – are the plain, proper and faithful interpretations of the scripture believed from the earliest times by Christians. When these are overturned by the church itself, then people will have no light to guide them in the darkness. The remnant faithful church that continues to uphold scriptural truths will be shunned by all, including those in Christian leadership as being false, cruel, unchristian, inhuman and worthy not just of ‘no-platforming’ by universities, as in the present, but deserving of criminal sanctions, and possibly, extermination. 

When Paul warns us that our human efforts are futile in resisting this system, we need to understand what he means. While we can and indeed ought to present the Christian perspective to the world, we should not be surprised when our arguments and reasoning are dismissed as foolishness by the world. For our arguments to break through the darkness, and shatter the falsehoods of the enemy, a change is necessary. This change must first begin in those carrying the message, that is, us. To wage war effectively, we need to be transformed in two interconnected areas of our lives: 1. The mind and 2. The will. When our minds are moulded into the pattern of Christ’s, and our wills are brought under subjection to God, then the enemy’s devices are weakened and church is positioned to penetrate his strongholds.

The Mind: Paul exhorts us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV). Our words, actions and responses to situations are determined by what we think or believe to be right. For example, most people would agree that lying, stealing or killing are evils to be deplored; but many of the same upright souls will have no problem stretching the truth in specific circumstances, harbouring grudges or gossiping about colleagues at work. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ set forth a standard of righteousness that exposes the shallowness of the world’s standards, and this standard is unachievable without a radical change in our thinking. This radical change begins – but does not end – in our born-again experience, when our hearts and minds become enlightened by God’s Spirit and receptive to His guidance. 

Paul instructed the Roman church: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be [continually] transformed by the [continual] renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 NIV). To be able to understand God’s will and purpose, our thoughts need to be shaped by scripture and not by the cultural norms of our society. So, we should not neglect the study of the word. Further, we must resolve to accept God’s word as being binding and superior to anything that the world might tell us. When we are presented with counterarguments by the enemy (whether in our own thoughts, or through ‘experts’), we must discern their source and actively resist him by stating God’s word – “It is written…” – just as Jesus did when He was tempted by the devil. As we fight to keep our minds pure – impervious to the world’s arguments, and attuned to the mind of Christ – we become positioned to discern the enemy’s devices, repel his attacks and to destroy his strongholds.

The Will: “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1-2 KJV). “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:3-4 NIV). So, Satan once controlled our lives when we were ‘children of disobedience’ – our wills were in subjection to his, and we lived ‘disordered’ lives, that is for our own pleasure or self-gratification. This principle of disobedience which is opposed to human well-being continues to operate in the world, and now it opposes us at every turn. 

As Christians, we are called, even forced (because the enemy is intent to destroy us), to wage war, to overcome and to avenge, that is, inflict God’s wrath and vengeance on this system of disobedience which once ruled over us. We do this not in our own strength or with human instruments, but by God’s Spirit and with spiritual weapons. To be effective and to prevail over the enemy, we must be strong in the counter principle which is submission to God. This means going against our own natural desires and laying down our lives to fulfil God’s plan and purposes.

Just as light conquers darkness, obedience overcomes the power of disobedience. Now, a 100-watt bulb is more effective than a 10-watt bulb in very dark room; similarly, the extent of obedience determines our effectiveness. An example to illustrate this point: During the Welsh Revival in the early years of the 20thcentury, the Christians who were privileged to usher in this great awakening, were impressed by the Spirit on the need for prompt obedience in the smallest detail of their lives. If they were fully and consistently obedient, then and only then, the Spirit would move unhindered in their midst. As a result, even people on the streets outside their meeting places were convicted of sin. Many would fall on their knees, cry out in repentance and be saved. The enemy could no longer operate freely in their land and his grip over people’s minds and hearts were broken. The Welsh Christians witnessed a demonstration of God’s power in their midst – “I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!” (Isaiah 49:8-9 NIV).

 If a truly obedient person, who walks in humble dependence on God, bears great authority in the spiritual realm, how much more, an obedient church? Paul writes that we will be able to avenge or punish all disobedience – meaning not just the works of disobedience, but, also their source – once our obedience is complete. Such obedience seems very difficult because there is so much to distract us in this world. Yet, the promised blessing of revival is hindered precisely because we have not yet come to the place of full obedience. This calls for deep repentance on our part and a commitment, with God’s help, to change. As we seek to walk in obedience, we will grow ever more sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit, and experience fresh stirrings within our spirits as we meditate on His word. Even our prayers will change. Many things that seemed difficult, even impossible, will find quick resolution as we walk in step with the Spirit. We will no longer wander in the darkness, but walk purposefully in the light, overcoming the powers of darkness. And, so we will see the powers of the God’s kingdom manifest in our generation if we practise obedience. 

Father, we repent of our past disobedience. Take away our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. Open our eyes to Your truth, and help us to walk in obedience to your will. For we ask this in Jesus’ name.