Response to the Topic of the Indwelling Spirit and Authority in Spiritual Conflict (Jan24 CSLI)

A Monthly Reflection

Faith doesn’t always come to bear until we are faced with our own fallibility. When we “enter into temptation,” it often means we haven’t been vigilant—that we’ve stopped pursuing the God who has pursued us. In the aftermath of temptation, we recognize our spiritual laziness. We become wise—but remorsefully. 

Rebecca Van Noord

Have you ever seen an old Tom & Jerry cartoon?  The media franchise and comedic short films started in the 1940’s and continue to this day in various methods of engagement.  The series centers on two main title characters: Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse.  The classic chase – the cat tries to get the mouse.  However, if you have watched the cartoons over the years, growing up like I did, you start to realize who is really in charge – the mouse – Jerry.  He seems to always be one-step ahead of Tom and almost always the one with the most influence and often the better results.

Though the course of numerous recurring moments in various episodes the viewer will be drawn into a familiar scene we are all too familiar with, even subconsciously  – Tom has on one shoulder a visual, albeit, a shadow-copy of Jerry both as an angel dressed in white and the devil dressed in red – each playing a role of trying to coax Tom in their own appropriate good vs evil style of existence.  In another aspect, think of Tom as the “human” who thinks he is dealing with the physical aspect of chasing Jerry to have him as a tasty meal, while Jerry is the spiritual portion (as well as physical) of Tom’s life as Jerry influences (or wants to) Tom spiritually.  Remember, I said that Jerry has the most influence.  This parallels our own human instincts and existence.  We are physical – yet I believe we are much more spiritual in nature.

This is the epitome of spiritual warfare: good vs evil.  Our enemy wants to destroy us in the process of his own rebellion against G-d.  We are just one of the means of trying to hurt our L-rd as the more harm he can try to do (or get) to us then he succeeds in his mission.  The problem is that we as humans either fail to recognize or care about this pursuit of abuse [JD1] and harm of us from the spiritual forces.  We try to wash it away that this is a fallacy (lies), or that we are in charge (pride), or that we are not under this environment at all (deception).  We live like we want to pursue our own goals and desires while being a moment away from our demise. 

Instead, we should choose to put on the full spiritual armor of G-d, via prayer, so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes.  We need to be aware of our weaknesses, our enemy, and his goals, as well as that we are victorious only and through the blood of our Savior Yeshua and by His Word and gifts that He given to help us.  We are powerless and need His help to fight the good fight of faith as Paul says in the New Testament.  We have a way forward in this fight.  We are not defeated yet can not also take all of this too lightly either.

This way forward is via the H-ly Spirit that indwells within us, via Christ, to help us with the power of prayer to put on each piece of the armor to fight:

  • Belt of Truth
  • Breastplate of Righteousness
  • Shoes of the Gospel of Peace
  • Shield of faith
  • Helmet of Salvation
  • Sword of the Spirit: Word of G-d

It has been said that all but the last are defensive in nature – to help us to fight off the fiery darts (tactics) from our enemy and therefore to stand.  The last one is powerful – because while the situation can be dire – we can be in the thick of the war, fighting in the trenches defending ourselves, yet the Word of G-d can not only help us with our defense, but it is also our OFFENSE.  We can engage the battle boldly by studying, memorizing, meditating, and reciting Scripture while on the battlefield[JD2] . 

            Yeshua was the perfect example of this and showed us numerous times His prayers of battle engagement.  The first was in the heat of the desert/wilderness when Satan tempted Yeshua multiple times to acknowledge and follow him in obedience – Yeshua fired back with Scripture showing His authority and the authority of His Word and to defeat the power of temptation, Satan’s lies, and ultimately to follow His Father’s will.  He demonstrated that the W-rd was effective in both defenses: to defeat the initial fiery arrows (temptations) as well as offensively that the W-rd is the only way to demonstrate to the enemy again that the real Authority is to be followed. 

            The second instance was in the Garden of Gethsemane when Yeshua was at one of His most humane moments – the reality of His impeding death on the cross.  He knew what He came to do, and He felt that enormous weight.  He knows what lies ahead.  He is literally sweating to the point of bleeding.  He is hurting emotionally and humanly.  He is weak and could easily steer towards running away from the cross or maybe wiping it all away.  He does what we would not most likely – he continues.  He prays.  He has faith (the shield).  He is Truth (the belt).  Though the Bible does not directly mention Satan tempting Him as in an entity that came to Him – I draw a little assumption here that in His mind, as a human (much like I have felt), the temptation to run and hide or to take matters in His own hands and try to “fix” the situation.

            Vigilance and complacency are illustrated in the garden of Gethsemane. In His last moments, Jesus requests that His closest disciples stay awake with Him (Matt 26:38). But while He repeatedly prays, they fall asleep. What seems like a request for moral support gets defined a few verses later: “Stay awake and pray that you will not enter into temptation” (Matt 26:41). Staying awake is associated with spiritual awareness. And their sleep is costly. Because of their spiritual sleepiness, they’re not prepared for His end, even though He had repeatedly prepared them for His death. They abandon Him, and they even deny Him (Matt 26:56; 75). 

But in this same passage, we get a picture of what vigilance looks like from the Son of God. Jesus anticipated His imminent suffering and death. “Deeply grieved, to the point of death,” He turns to the Father in prayer. Jesus boldly requests relief from suffering; when it is not granted, He submits to the Father’s will. 

Being vigilant means seeking guidance and refuge from the God who provides it. He has provided refuge, but we must seek it out. This means asking for His Spirit to equip us for discernment. While we don’t know the challenges and temptations we’ll face, He does. And if we ask Him, He will provide us with all we need to face them. 

Rebecca Van Noord (continued)

Yet Yeshua doesn’t.  He prays to His Father and draws strength from the H-ly Spirit to surrender to the will of the Father.  He chooses to PRAY!  He chooses to use His own armor.  He knows it as He created it.  He engages in the battle.  And He wins.

            This is our daily challenge.  WE ARE IN WAR!  [JD3] We need this armor.  In fact, it is evident – we won’t succeed without it.  We will fall.  We need Yeshua’s gift: the H-ly Spirit.  We need to surrender to the Father’s will.  We need their help to stand.  We need to remember this more often.  Again, we need daily surrender and prayer.

            We also need to realize that we need to study the Scriptures and that we are victorious in and through Christ.  We are more than victorious in time and reality.  However, we live in the here and now.  We are still on the battlefield with explosions around us.  Bombs shattering.  Air sirens going off in the distance.  The smell of the gunpowder.  The bodies falling at our side.  Are we going to dig in our heals and face the facts and draw upon His strength and with prayer or are we sticking our fingers in our ears and closing our eyes while we repeatedly say to ourselves – it’s going to be ok – it’s going to be ok…….

That is my personal challenge for the rest of the war until we are pulled out by own Infinite Star General, our L-rd to be called home.  We need to ask for discernment, i.e. to know and use the Belt of Truth, to understand the challenge before us and the rest of the full armor of G-d to play our role in the battle that is not against human flesh but within the spiritual realms against the spiritual forces of evil.

 I need Yeshua’s daily guidance and His W-rd as sustenance to fight the good fight and to finish the race…… He wins in the end…  He already has…

 [JD1]This really resonates with me. I can easily become focused on the things of the world and miss the spiritual connection. Because I can’t see the spiritual clearly, I sometimes forget it is there. I shouldn’t, but I do.

 [JD2]I remember a quote from year 1 that said, paraphrased, that John 3:16 is a great verse but it isn’t sufficient for every battle. We need to fill our armory with a variety of weapons that are appropriate for different circumstances.

 [JD3]Yes! But how often do we behave like we aren’t?

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