Tag Archives: spiritual discernment

Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 4) — Prayer

spiritual discernment, prophetic prayerFor the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, … and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.  — Hebrews 4:12, 13

We can pray from our intellect (soul), or by listening to the Spirit and then praying what He prompts us to say. Many intercessors never get past their natural understanding — but we can learn, if we want to.

Most of us experience stressful times when we launch into prayer based on our own understanding — especially when we have distressing needs. As we continue to pray and cry out to the Lord earnestly from our hearts, He faithfully adjusts our prayers, causing anxieties to lessen and our faith to arise. These personal SOS signals we send heavenward are a normal part of prayer life. But they are not what I wish to address today.

Let’s talk, though, about learning to intercede from the spirit, rather than the soul, when the concerns  are not quite as pressing, whether we are solo-praying or with a group. Our goal, as I have shared in my book, The Intercessor Manual, should be to pray like sharpshooters aiming for the bullseye, rather than randomly spraying buckshot all over the county, hoping to hit something in the process. The key is shifting into prayer led by the Spirit of God.

A first step is identifying what Spirit-led prayer feels and sounds like, compared to how prayers coming merely from the intellect sound. This takes practice, but we can become more adept as we keep at it.

Let’s look at some telltale signs that we are praying from a soulish perspective:

1.) Our prayers exhibit fear. When we carry on in an anxious, “Oh, I hope You can do something about THIS, Lord” vein, we are neither discerning His power, nor His willingness to answer us. We end up majoring on a lot of what-ifs.

2.) Our prayers sound like we’re parroting news commentators and political analysts. These prayers are usually coupled with fear — because spreading fear through sensationalism is what the news media does best.

Fairly frequently, I get e-mails from prayer warriors who have worked themselves into a tizzy about reports coming in from news services and watchdog organizations. They plead with us to pray very, very hard to keep the latest evil plot from happening.

It’s easy to climb on their hand-wringing bandwagon, but if we take time to ask the Lord, He may tell us that we can rest easy on the issue everyone else is hyperventilating about. It is already a non-issue with Him, and we can invest prayer energy elsewhere. Just because a news commentator or watchdog group tells us something is serious does not mean it is. Remember, a lot of these “experts” are not Christians, and of those who are, many of them are operating from a soulish perspective.

What we put into ourselves is what will come out in our prayers, so if we make a conscious choice to severely limit the clamor of these voices, and invest our time in absorbing the Bible instead, we starve soulish praying.

3.) Our prayers are very general. These petitions sound much like one of the lines in Away in a Manger: “Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care….” Or, as Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol said, “God bless us, every one!” I don’t mind either the song or Tiny Tim, but as a way to pray, this is not effective.

General prayers are easy to speak, because they carry no risk. They also have no teeth. With such all-inclusive, vague praying, we are bound to nick a few targets, even if we miss most entirely. But there is no way to measure whether we have received any answers. You won’t ever see a news headline screaming “PRAYER ANSWERED! GOD BLESSED EVERYONE IN OUR CITY TODAY!

4.) Our prayers exude unbelief. The prayer group is asked to petition for a desperate need, and just how dire it is gets explained down to the last detail. By the time the explanation is finished, what little faith anyone might have had has flown the coop.  From there, the whole tone of prayer becomes, “God, we’re asking because it’s the right thing to do, but we’re pretty sure already that You’re not going to intervene anyway, so Thy will be done.” It’s depressing — and it comes entirely out of a natural-minded mentality.

In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus told the father of a boy with an unclean spirit, “All things are possible to him who believes.” If we don’t have faith that He will answer, like that father, we should admit our unbelief and ask Him to fix us. We need to take steps to align our spirit with the Holy Spirit and then make our request.

5.) Our prayers are against people or people groups. If our prayers carry an attitude of hatred, or are asking for harm against someone, they extend beyond being soulish to being devilish. This should be obvious, but apparently it is not, as I have heard them prayed from time to time in gatherings I have attended. There is often a tone of anger accompanying such prayer. Pastors are criticized brutally. Minorities or people of different political, moral, or religious persuasions are prayed against and referred to as “those people.” Ahem!

If there are evil people holding political power, pray for God to deal with them His way. Ask Him to soften their hearts. Often it is best to pray for the removal or restraint of the specific evil itself, rather than going after the person(s) perpetrating it. Remember, our warfare is not against people, but unseen spiritual powers (Ephesians 6:12). Whenever we forget that, our praying goes awry.

We can also ask the Lord to remove those who need removing and raise up better people in their place. But don’t curse anyone or pray harm upon them. Let God deal with the when and how. We should take a lesson from the story in Luke 9:51-56, where James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village. Jesus rebuked them, saying, “You don’t know what manner of spirit you are of, for the Son of man has not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

These are five identifiers of soulish praying. No doubt there are more. If you can think of any, would you please share them in a comment?

Next time, we will talk about how to identify and shift into prayer coming from a Spirit-led perspective.

Previous: Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 3) — Prophecy
Next: Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 5) — Prayer

The Intercessor Manual



The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam


Your Intercession Questions Answered


Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam


Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 3) — The Prophecy Connection

Soul or Spirit? For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.

— Hebrews 4:12, 13

When we continually plant the living, infallible Word of God in our hearts, it breathes life into us in ever-increasing measure. Our ability to discern between soul and spirit in people’s words grows keener because of the Word living inside of us. In addition, the more we absorb the Word, the more it changes the words coming forth from us. We begin to speak prophetically.

Prophetic speaking happens in many varieties and flavors. Some of us will prophesy over others, perhaps moving in the word of knowledge, too. Some will release a word of wisdom and be very aware of doing so. For others, the prophetic word is more subtle. Our word of wisdom may show up as counsel we offer in everyday conversation, which speaks directly into someone’s heart, without us realizing we have spoken by inspiration of the Spirit.

Not every prophetic word we release has to be as concise or emphatic as a “Thus says the Lord” word. We might share quite informally with someone a sense we have about his or her future, not even recognizing in the moment that we are speaking by revelation. Our prophetic utterances may also come forth in what we pray about and the angle from which we address a prayer issue.

Some of us will operate more obviously in the prophetic gifts than others, but all God’s people can speak prophetically at some level — and we should desire to do so, according to 1 Corinthians 14 (see vs. 1, 31, 39).

Prophetic release of the word of God can take a couple of forms:

1.) Speaking the infallible, written Word (the Bible) into a particular situation through declaration and petition

2.) Speaking the prophetic word of the Lord as we hear it by revelation.

Either of these forms can come forth as either straight-up prophecy or as prophetic prayer. Prayer and the prophetic speaking of the word of God go hand in hand.

As the Word of God lives, thrives, and grows in us, our words will increasingly take on the same qualities as the written Word, as described in Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, … a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

A genuine prophetic word:

  • Brings life to its hearers.
  • Is infused with power. It puts things in motion.
  • Has the authority of heaven in it to change lives, situations, or even regions.
  • Keenly discerns and divides between soul and spirit.
  • Reveals the intents of hearts.

Because all things are open and naked to the eyes of “Him with Whom we have to do” (v. 13), by His Spirit He can reveal concealed motives to the prophet (or prophetic intercessor) when necessary. He also reveals hidden plans of the enemy, so that we can either warn God’s people or nullify those plans through warfare prayer.

A note of caution:

When the Lord reveals people’s hidden motives to us, we must be extremely careful with how we handle that information. We want to have the same heart as the Father does. While He sees sin exactly for what it is, He sees with a redemptive heart. If we step into soulish thinking, we will process this type of revelation with criticalness, a desire for judgment against what we see, and the temptation to expose it. But God is compassionate toward the person whose attitudes or lifestyle are a mess. His goal is mercy. He wants to set people free and restore them. We must make His goals our goals.

Most of the time, that means we have been given such revelation for prayer purposes only (personal prayer, not passing it on to a prayer chain). Occasionally, the Lord may instruct us to talk privately with the person about what God has revealed, so that he or she may come to repentance. But that must be done discreetly and tactfully, and only once we are sure the Lord is calling us to do it.

Next time, we will talk about how to cross over from intercession fueled by the soul to Spirit-led intercession.

Previous: Discerning Between Soul & Spirit (Part 2)
Next: Discerning Between Soul & Spirit (Part 4) — Prayer

Personal Prophecy


The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy


prophetic, prophecy


Growing in the Prophetic (CD or mp3 set),
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 2)

Each of us must make daily choices of whether we will think according to the soul or spirit. We have to decide whether to agree with the soulish viewpoints of others, or whether to refuse them in favor of the Spirit. As I said last time, besides secular movers and shakers, some Christian leaders who carry a great deal of influence are speaking from the soul, rather than the Spirit.

We must learn to recognize whether what we are listening to is originating with soul or spirit. Once we know how to identify which it is, we are well on our way to understanding how to respond to it.

The answer is simpler than we might suspect: it is wrapped up in the Word of God.

For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit … and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.  — Hebrews 4:12, 13

Part of the reason believers are so easily led about by soulish influencers is because the majority of us are not well-grounded in the Bible. When we continually eat from God’s Word, we are nourished by the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, counsel, and truth. He becomes the strongest Influencer in our lives. Therefore, when we come into contact with even the most convincing voices, a red flag pops up inside warning that something isn’t right. Colossians 3:15 refers to it as the peace of God ruling (like a judge or umpire) in our hearts. We know in our spirit-man whether something we are being told is right-on or off-kilter.

Do you want to keenly discern between what is of the soul and what is of the Spirit? Here are three practical steps to get you there:

1. Fill yourself with the living, powerful, sharp Word of God. It will help you discern whether to reject or accept the voices of other people. Even more importantly, it will help you quickly discern what is soulish within your own thinking.

2. Pray for greater wisdom and discernment. God wants us to have these qualities even more than we desire them for ourselves. That’s why He encourages us in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all men liberally and without reproach, and it shall be given to him.” When the red flag pops up inside of my spirit, if I am not immediately certain why it is there, I ask God to bring to mind a Bible verse to help me know why. He is faithful to do that.

You can also form a habit of frequently asking God to reveal to you His perspective through the inner voice. As we wait upon the Lord, listening for Him, He gives us understanding far beyond ourselves — whether it is about current issues, teaching we have heard, or personal relationship challenges.

3. Once you have discerned that someone is consistently speaking from the soul, shut your ears to that. Those of us with inquiring minds have a tendency to listen to what people say, even when we know they are off. It’s a curiosity thing. We hope we can “eat the chicken and leave the bones.” Unfortunately, even when we know the truth, if we keep on absorbing teaching or opinions which are not right, those ideas inevitably start to stick to us, even though we don’t want them to. It’s best to shut them out.

Does this mean we should expose to everyone else that So-and-So is coming from a soulish perspective? I don’t think so. Feeling the need to expose can quickly develop into alignment with the devil,  who is the accuser (Revelation 12:10). Just shut your own ears to it, and let the Holy Spirit deal with the other person in His way and time. Focus on talking about Jesus and His qualities, rather than what’s wrong somewhere.

To recap, if we want to discern correctly and be led by the Holy Spirit, rather than by natural-minded thinking, we can hone that ability by

  • Feeding on the Bible, letting its truths influence what we think
  • Seeking God continually for greater wisdom and discernment, so that we are not fooled
  • No longer subjecting ourselves to the words of an influencer once we determine that he or she is speaking from a soulish perspective.

Next time, I would like to examine how Hebrews 4:12, 13 can help us in the areas of prayer and prophecy.

Previous: Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 1)
Next: Discerning (Part 3) — The Prophecy Connection

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Yes, You CAN Be an Intercessor! (CD Set or mp3)
by Lee Ann Rubsam


Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 1)

soul spirit balancing actThe phenomenon of social media has brought to the forefront a problem we have in Christianity: our inability to discern whether shared ideas are coming from the soul or spirit. In this series, we will look at what we can do to keep from buying into and spreading soulish opinions. We will also look at how discerning between soul and spirit assists us in prayer and prophecy. Our goal should be to operate more consistently from the spirit than the soul.

“Soul,” as I will be using the term here, refers to natural-minded thinking: what comes of intellect and logic alone. “Spirit” refers to the part of us which is able to connect and commune with God, to understand His ways. God has given each of us a soul, made up of our mind, will, and emotions. The soul in itself is not bad — but because sin has marred it, if the soul is left to itself, it can come to very wrong conclusions. It needs to be ruled over and assisted by our spirit.

Being soul-dominated is not limited to indulging in a sinful lifestyle. Having a soulish mentality can also lead us to self-righteously champion Bible truths on a purely intellectual level, thinking that we have the counsel of God, but missing the mark by a mile. My pastor referred to this as applying truth based on the tree of knowledge of good and evil, rather than on the tree of life (Genesis 2:17; 3:1-7; 3:22-24). It is possible to be right, and yet not be righteous.

An example of soulish thinking I frequently see is Christians justifying and even encouraging unkind speech and actions. The argument goes something like this:

Jesus was not “nice” in how He spoke to the Pharisees. He even called them names. So, as a Christian of righteous principle, I am free to “tell it like it is” (translation: be mean) in how I talk to and about people. I am just doing what Jesus did — calling out hypocrites and Pharisees.

The “Pharisees” referred to are usually believers who do not see things from their viewpoint — and of course, theirs is the right one! There’s a problem with this mindset, however. It is just as pharisaical as those it attacks. And if we agree with it, we’ll find ourselves thinking, “Yeah! Give it to ’em good!” But here’s where the difficulty lies: we are not all-knowing, as God is. Jesus could clearly see what was in the Pharisees’ hearts, while we do not have that advantage. All the facts aren’t known to us, so we can easily misunderstand people’s motives.

The Pharisees were legalists. They operated completely in the soul realm, according to their intellectual knowledge of the Scriptures. Mercy? They had none. Compromise? They felt comfortable with their own. They just didn’t approve of other people’s versions. Jesus, on the other hand, always listened to and moved with the Holy Spirit. His purpose in rebuke was not to condemn the Pharisees, but to radically stir up them and those they held in bondage to see their desperate need for a Savior.

Colossians 4:6 counsels us, Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every man.” Salt with no grace irritates and burns. But Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He knew how to answer every man, in every situation. He did it with redemption uppermost in His mind.

Whether realizing it or not, the soul-motivated person accuses for selfish reasons — to maintain his own comfort, to get his way, to build up himself by putting down others, or to gather a following. He assumes he knows the motives of the person he condemns. However, the Spirit-led person, like Jesus, is motivated by a goal of redemption.

On the surface, opinions or arguments coming from the perspective of the soul can be pretty convincing — especially when crafted by someone who is skillful with words. Well-presented logic appeals to our natural mind. Unfortunately, some Christian leaders with large Internet platforms are speaking from the soul, not the Spirit, and because they have such weighty influence, it is easy to accept what they say unquestioningly — and then parrot it to our own circles of influence.

Why does any of this even matter? First of all, because if we speak in agreement with soulish things, it is a terrible witness. Nonbelievers around us recognize that we are not speaking like the Jesus we say we represent. And for those of us who function as intercessors, if we do not correctly discern soul and spirit, we can easily become entangled in praying from erroneous perspectives brought on by unquestioningly accepting whatever we are told by people of influence.

So, how do we discern soulish thinking and avoid it? We’ll talk about that next time.

Next: Discerning Between Soul and Spirit (Part 2)


Growing in the Prophetic (CD or mp3 set),
by Lee Ann Rubsam



Strange Alliances

While in prayer recently, I received a warning for the Church:

Beware of strange alliances.

Typically, this is how strange alliances play out:

You become disgruntled about something happening in your local church — perhaps a policy the leadership puts in place. Suddenly, people whom you never quite liked or trusted before start looking pretty good. It’s not because you have developed a new, Christ-like love for them or they have dramatically changed. No, it’s because they are unhappy about the same things you are. You start to form friendships with them, based upon your common ground of disagreement with church leadership. The qualms you had about them are suddenly wiped away, but for the wrong reason: you have become allied in division.

I am not talking about disagreement over core doctrines. It’s usually about procedures, preferences, or approaches. To the person not caught up in the controversy, the concern over the issue seems trivial or illogical; yet it seems entirely logical and vastly important to those falling into the trap. It is the stuff of which church splits are made.

If someone mentions a gripe they have about how things are done, and it is the same thing troubling you, do not be deceived into believing it is “confirmation.” Whether the complaint is valid or not, it is the devil’s snare — the spirit of division attempting to draw you into an unholy alliance in order to tear apart what God desires to hold together.

What should we do if we are tempted with such a situation?

1.) If people start approaching you to confide their unhappiness about whoever and whatever is already your own area of discontent, run! The devil deliberately brings people across our paths to ensnare us into taking part in dividing the Body of Christ. Don’t fall for it.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Now I implore you, brethren, take notice of those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). While Paul was speaking particularly of doctrinal divisions, it’s a good principle to apply on lesser issues as well. Proverbs 6:12-19 speaks of behavior which God hates. Twice, those verses mention sowing discord as one such abomination.

2.) If you have a gripe, don’t talk about it with others. Do not be the enemy’s instrument of division. Proverbs 26:20 observes, “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out: so, where there is no talebearer, the strife ceases.”

3.) Instead, take the matter to God and pray it through until the circumstances you are concerned about change (if they even need to), or until you change. If you harbor little love for the ones you disagree with, the most important change which needs to happen is in you.

It goes beyond the church.

Forming unholy alliances is not limited to the local church, of course. Intrigues and power plays go on in all circles of life, large and small, from the workplace or family right up to national and international alliances. As believers, we must avoid them wherever they arise.

Joining with nonbelievers in social justice causes is one area to be wary of. While some seem noble on the surface, they can end up being perverted due to the flawed motives or beliefs of those involved.

When considering whether to invest our energies in working side by side in these causes with those who do not know Jesus, it is wise to keep in mind the apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship does righteousness have with unrighteousness? And what communion does light have with darkness? And what agreement does Christ have with Belial [the spirit of rebelliousness and lawlessness]? Or what part has he who believes with an infidel?”

While this does not mean that we can never work together with secular-minded people for a common good, it does mean we should proceed with caution, our spiritual ears sensitive to warnings from the Holy Spirit.

In summary, any alliances which would produce discord and strife, or would compromise our agreement with God and His principles, should be avoided. Such alliances raise red flags by how unlikely they would normally be, if we were to examine them objectively. Whether in our church relationships or in other arenas of life, we must stay spiritually attuned to the Holy Spirit, so that we can discern the tug of these attractions quickly and flee from them.



Yes, You CAN Be an Intercessor! (CD or mp3 set),
by Lee Ann Rubsam




Growing in the Prophetic (CD or mp3 set),
by Lee Ann Rubsam




Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 7) — Keys for Overcoming (cont.)

People conflicts are responsible for a lot of the spiritual warfare we go through. We get distressed mentally and emotionally when we are in disharmony with others. Offenses try to take root inside, and we find ourselves feeling bruised, barraged with critical or angry thoughts, experiencing fear of what might be coming next. The next three keys deal specifically with warfare over people issues:

Remind yourself that people who are giving you grief are not the real problem. This is probably one of the main ways we miss it in spiritual warfare. Much of our soulish thinking has to do with smoldering resentment of ways people have offended, annoyed, or wounded us. We carry on imaginary conversations with them —  telling them off, putting them in their place, rehearsing what they said or did over and over again.

We need to be aware that people who give us a bad time are mere instruments of the enemy. Evil spirits are pulling their strings — to yank ours in response! This is why Paul reminded us, “For we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Quite honestly, even our Christian brothers and sisters can be real tools of the devil, although often unwittingly. They say stupid things, we feel devastated, and we don’t even stop to consider where it is really coming from.

Overcome by praying blessings upon those who hurt you. In Matthew 5:44, 45, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, so that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven ….”  While this is a familiar Bible passage for many of us, it seems that walking it out has been all but lost in the Church today.

When we speak blessings upon those who mean us harm, choose to respond with kind acts toward them, and, especially, pray good things for them, several changes take place:

  • We increase in being like our Father in heaven, because we are choosing His ways.
  • Sustained prayer for others inevitably leads us into loving them. This is a spiritual principle. After a while, we don’t have to grit our teeth and endure around them, because we take on the Father’s own love and compassion for them. The change inside ourselves can be amazing!
  • We pave the way for the person to be softened and freed from his bondage, especially as we release benevolent prayer for him. The enemy’s hold on him is weakened.
  • Many times, those who have persecuted us will have a change of heart toward us, as they experience our kindness. Love wins.
  • Even if the person continues to treat us badly, our Father sees. He returns the blessing we have bestowed upon our adversary back to us.

Commit to staying inside the walls of 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. That’s the “love chapter.” If you are going through a struggle with how you feel or think about a person, fill yourself with this passage daily. Determine to align with it. Yep! This will take some dying to self!

Final thoughts:

Sometimes you need others. No matter how strong or mature in the Lord you are, when you are embroiled in a spiritual battle, sometimes you need support. Surround yourself with believers who will pray with you, listen to you, cry with you, and share their insights. We all need friends who care and who can be trusted, who will love us in our weaknesses and stand with us when we are under attack.

I know some of you may not feel like you have that in your local church. Perhaps a home fellowship, such as a prayer or Bible study group, can meet the need. My husband and I have developed close relationships through a couple of home fellowship groups we are part of.

You may be able to find a support group through people you engage with via social media. I have gradually gotten to know some trustworthy people in this way. They have become wonderful friends with whom I can share, even though we’ve never met in person.

It will take time to establish trust with others, so start making these relationships happen now. Being transparent and expressing need involves risk, because it makes us vulnerable. Test the waters a bit before a spiritual crisis arises. Generally speaking, you will be surprised by how caring people can be.

Losing a battle is not the same as losing the war. In every major conflict, you’re going to lose a few battles. That’s why the Lord said in Proverbs 24:16, “A just man falls seven times, and rises up again,” and in Psalm 37:23, 24, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD…. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the LORD upholds him with His hand.”

If you fail, as long as you get back up and fight again, you will win in the end. Jesus is there to help you. He is The Overcomer, and He’s committed to bringing you through.

This concludes our Personal Spiritual Warfare series. I’d love to hear your tips for how you have overcome. By sharing, you will encourage others.

Previous: Part 6 — Keys for Overcoming  

The Intercessor Manual


The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam



Your Intercession Questions Answered


Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann




Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 6) — Keys for Overcoming

It’s not enough to identify problems and then be told by someone to overcome them. I want to be given practical tools to get me there. Maybe you’d like that kind of help, too. Here are some steps to help you win those personal spiritual battles you encounter:

Get used to the idea that you are in a war. 1 Peter 1:13 exhorts us, “Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“Girding up the loins” refers to how people of Bible times prepared for battle. They tucked their long robes up into their belts, so that their legs were free to move unhampered. “Be sober” means to understand the seriousness of what we’re involved in and to stay on the alert. “Hope to the end” indicates that we’re in this for the long haul. Individual battles may be short or prolonged, but the war lasts throughout our lives. We can’t quit at any point. If we stay at it, we will assuredly finish our life-race well, because the Lord Himself is right there fighting with and for us.

Corral your mind.1 Corinthians 2:16 says, “We have the mind of Christ.” Now, that’s the truth, but walking it out requires some effort. We have to continually “be sober; be vigilant, because [our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We have to “resist him steadfastly in the faith” (v. 9). This means we don’t let our thoughts flow unchecked. When we notice our mind going places which are not in keeping with the way Jesus would think, we need to “cast down [those] imaginations, and every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The Holy Spirit is willing to expose those wandering thoughts to us, if we invite Him to. But it is up to us to keep on bringing them back to where they should be. This takes practice. Sometimes it is exhausting, especially if we are dealing not only with our own soulish nature, but with thoughts implanted by the devil.

The secret is to keep at it. If you notice wrong thoughts dozens of times a day, every time you corral them and push the reset button, you have taken a few steps toward ultimate victory.

Take a worship break. — If you have already taken authority in Jesus’ name over any evil spirits which might be bombarding your thoughts, worship can refocus your mind where it needs to be. It’s great to keep worship music playing in the background, if you can. Worship music changes the atmosphere around us. But take it a step further. Go beyond listening to worship music, to actively doing the worship yourself – out loud, if possible. Worship connects us spirit-to-Spirit with the Lord, and when our spirit-man is in the right place, it can help our mind to line up as well.

Focus on Jesus more than the battle coming against you. – This goes along with taking a worship break. The enemy wants to get us obsessed with him and the problems he is causing. When we put our attention on him instead of the Lord, we play into his hands: we end up giving him the glory which belongs to the Lord Most High.

Jesus wants us to fasten our attention on Himself, the Author of peace, the Deliverer, the One who has already overcome on our behalf. How easy it is to forget that the battle is the Lord’s! (1 Samuel 17:47). The moment we cry out for Jesus’ help, He goes to work for us.

So don’t spend all your time and energy on contending with the devil. Worship. Tell Jesus you are setting your heart on Him. Express to Him your confidence that He will take care of you and get you through.

Do the exact opposite of what you are tempted to do. – This is a simple, but highly effective, warfare tactic. We can frustrate evil desires, deflating their sails, by taking an opposite course.

Do you feel the urge to give somebody a verbal slap in the face (maybe because you felt like that’s what you got)? Be cordial and friendly instead. 1 Peter 3:8, 9 addresses this very issue: “… Having compassion toward each other, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or railing for railing. On the contrary, bless them, knowing that is what you are called to, so that you will inherit a blessing.”

Do you want to avoid or run away from someone who has hurt you – an individual, a pastor, or even a whole church fellowship? Conquer that flight desire. Show up, converse, be kind, participate. If you need to express that you have been hurt, try to walk through the reconciliation / forgiveness pattern Jesus laid out for His Church in Matthew 18:15-17. Don’t go into hiding mode.

Doing the opposite of the temptation is part of how we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). It disarms the enemy’s ability to manipulate us.

Next time, we’ll wrap up this series with some final keys for overcoming.

Previous: Part 5 — Long-Term Assault
Next: Part 7 — Keys for Overcoming (cont.)

The Intercessor Manual


The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam



Your Intercession Questions Answered


Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam