Tag Archives: spiritual warfare

Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 3) — Mindsets and Strongholds

Last time, we talked about the spiritual warfare which is waged against us in the arena of our thoughts. Some thoughts come directly from our own soulish nature, but they can also come from outside of ourselves — from evil spirits.

If we let these thoughts flow unchecked, not recognizing their source, we begin to come into agreement with them. Our thinking develops certain patterns, or mindsets — things we believe to be true, although they are not. When that happens, the enemy of our souls is on the way to establishing a “stronghold” — a fortress within our head, from which he can disseminate even more lies. The goal is to paralyze us, so that we cannot fulfill the plans God has for us.

Mindsets are limitations in our thinking which keep us from the full revelation of what God wants us to understand about Himself and about how He does business in His kingdom. They affect how we view our own destiny and the destinies of others around us:

  • “I am a failure / bad mom / inept klutz.”
  • “God loves others, but He doesn’t love me … at least not as much.”
  • “I am not worthy.”
  • “God doesn’t care about my needs / will not answer my prayers.”
  • “Brother Bob is not valuable in the kingdom of God.”
  • “Sister Alicia will never get over her issues.”
  • “My education / ancestry / race makes me superior (or inferior) to others.”

We all have mindsets which oppose the truth of what God says in His Word. While any pattern of thinking which is not in agreement with truth ultimately originates with Satan, the father of lies, not all mindsets come directly from him to us. Most of them begin through things we have repeatedly heard from parents, teachers, or other influencers, especially when we were children. Even more so, painful events throughout our lives cause mindsets to develop without us being aware of them:

  • “It is not safe to trust anyone. If I stay aloof, I won’t get hurt.”
  • “Men are bad, or to be feared.” (“Women are bad, or to be feared.”)
  • “If their family does things differently than my family, they are wrong.”
  • “People from other cultures or traditions cannot be trusted.”
  • “The church is full of hypocrites. I can be a better Christian if I steer clear.”
  • “If I show anyone the real me, they won’t like me.” (So I put on a false front.)

Mindsets also come through things we have viewed, heard, or read in various media. Our TV and computer screens constantly bombard us with ways of looking at life which are not in sync with the Lord. The more we allow these things in, the harder it is to resist them. They reek of me-ism:

  • “I deserve ….”
  • “I am entitled to be anything I want to be.”
  • “If you hurt me, I dump you.”
  • “If it feels good, do it.”
  • “I can do whatever I want, as long as I don’t hurt anybody.” (But you will always hurt somebody with that attitude.)

Even Christian teaching can establish limitations on our perception of God or our interpretation of what the Bible says. For instance, many believers have been taught that the gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 ended with the death of the original twelve apostles. Some have been taught that God no longer heals or does miracles. These beliefs are ingrained teaching in some circles, supported by twisted interpretations of isolated verses, although the Bible, read with an open heart, says otherwise.

I often ask the Lord to uncover theological ideas I have absorbed through the years which are widely accepted and yet not true. He faithfully answers that prayer by illuminating Scripture as I read it. I have been surprised at some of the things I have swallowed through repetitive “Bible” teaching — which are not really in the Book at all!

Deceptive mindsets taint us all. It is our lifetime warfare task to discover and remove them by examining them through the filter of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit helps us with this. He brings false mindsets to our attention, one by one. Jesus said of Him, “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13). Our part is to invite Him to reveal these inner mindsets to us and then listen to Him when He does.

Second Corinthians 10:4 tells us, “The weapons of our warfare are … mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” Once the false ideas we were agreeing with have been exposed and repented of, the devil’s hold on us is weakened in that area. We can, with the Lord’s help, tear down the strongholds the enemy had erected within our minds by renouncing his influence and commanding him to vacate. This will most likely be a process, not a single event.

We should not leave those territories of former evil influence unoccupied, however. The Holy Spirit wants to help us replace our old mindsets with His. We can ask Him to build up strongholds of the Lord in place of the enemy’s strongholds which were there before. The erecting of God’s strongholds comes through absorbing, confessing, and actively believing the Word of God.

Next time, I will share in greater detail how to discern between soulish thoughts and thoughts coming directly from evil spirits.

Previous: Part 2 — Where Did that Thought Come From? 

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Personal Spiritual Warfare (Part 2) — Where Did That Thought Come From?

Winning our personal spiritual battles starts with knowing that every thought which enters our mind is not necessarily our own. Nor is every emotion we feel.

Some thoughts do come from our depraved nature, and those must be continually put to death. Eventually, as we gain ground through absorbing the Scriptures and spending time with the Lord, we develop more and more of a “renewed mind,” as mentioned in Romans 12:2.

But there is another source of wrong thoughts: evil spirits. They study our lives, including our words, and thereby figure out what our vulnerable areas are. They then inject thoughts into our minds accordingly. These thoughts are cleverly styled to sound like our own, but they are actually coming from outside ourselves.

This means that when we have an evil thought, instead of being shocked by how bad we are for coming up with such a thing, we must recognize that it perhaps did not originate with us, and we don’t have to buy into it. We immediately reject it, rebuking the evil spirit which planted it. It only becomes “ours” when we accept it and begin to flow with it. A thought caught and rejected in the first couple of seconds has no power over us. It is not sin until we agree and then run with it.

The apostle Paul gives us some ideas about how warfare over our thoughts works:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [soulish; according to the natural man], but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds). We are casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. — 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

Paul indicates that we cannot succeed in winning the war for our thoughts in our own strength (“warring according to the flesh”). This is why simply pushing away a wrong thought usually doesn’t work: it will keep on coming back, along with a flood of other evil thoughts to reinforce it. Instead, we must use the authority we have in Christ Jesus through His name, depending on the Lord to back us up.

When we recognize a thought which is not compatible with how the Lord thinks, our job is to immediately reject it, and then command the enemy to be silent and flee from us, in the name of Jesus. James 4:7 instructs us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The condition is that we stay yielded to the Lord. We put to death our own selfish inclinations. Then, when the enemy tries to manipulate our thoughts, we can speak confidently, “I resist that thought and the spirit behind it. I command the enemy to be gone from me, in Jesus’ name.”

When we are yielded to the Holy Spirit, depending upon Him for His power to be at work within us, our warfare is truly “mighty through God” (2 Corinthians 10:4). However, although we depend upon the Spirit to aid us in spiritual warfare, we cannot passively expect Him to do it all. If that were the case, there would be no warfare about it for us. Instead, He has given us supernatural ability so that we can cast down the wrong imaginations, and we can take every thought captive to make it line up with obedience to Christ (v. 5).

The problem for most of us, though, is that our natural tendency is to carry out life according to the flesh. This means we go by how we feel and what we perceive by our natural mind. We are not vigilant over our thoughts. We don’t pay attention to the steady flow of what we’re thinking, so sometimes we don’t recognize that the mental trail we are taking is off the Lord’s path. This is especially the case once we have developed a pattern of agreeing with wrong thoughts. Those patterns, or mindsets, can deepen into mental strongholds, which we will cover in the next post.

Previous: Part 1 — Intro
Next: Part 3 — Mindsets and Strongholds

 

The Intercessor Manual, by Lee Ann Rubsam

Personal Spiritual Warfare — Intro

We who are intercessors often tend to think of spiritual warfare as an external thing, where we achieve prayer victories for others. We war on behalf of individuals, cities, states, people groups, our nation, and even international situations. But what we often fail to understand or deal with is personal spiritual warfare.

The enemy initiates frequent (even daily) assaults against us in his attempt to render us incapable of carrying out our James 5:16 mandate, “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Most of these attacks do not announce themselves with drumroll and trumpet fanfare. They are subtle, meant to distract us or steal our peace and joy. And if we aren’t paying attention, we can easily miss what is really going on.

The greatest spiritual warfare any of us will ever encounter is what rages within our own minds and emotions. We must learn to overcome in this personal arena, for, if we neglect to fight our battles there, we will eventually be rendered ineffective in intercessory prayer as well. The good news is, once we are conscious of the war within and are actively committed to engaging in it, we are already on the road toward winning it.

Perhaps a good place to start is by making sure we’re ready to go to battle. Soldiers go through extensive training and preparation before entering the battlefield. Doing a spiritual health checklist can be part of our preparation. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I invest time in simply being with Jesus, or does all my prayer life revolve around intercession?
  • Do I absorb and meditate on portions of the Bible daily?
  • How is my thought life? How much does it look like Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true … honest … just … pure … lovely … of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things”?
  • Am I holding offense and bitterness in my heart toward anyone?
  • How do my thoughts and words line up with 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (the “love chapter”) on a regular basis?
  • Do I carefully monitor what I allow into my inner being through my eye- and ear-gates?

In the coming series, we will examine our personal spiritual warfare task in detail, using Scripture as our anchor. I will also share some practical tips I have discovered through the years for how to gain the victory. As we learn to effectively deal with our own inner battles, we become stronger and more able to take ground for the kingdom of God.

Next: Part 2 — Where Did That Thought Come From? 

Your Intercession Questions Answered, by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered

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Have You Lost Your Hope?

Do you find yourself battling frequently with a feeling of having no hope? I have felt this way, especially in the last year or so. Many are the times when I have prayed, “God give me hope. Restore my hope.”

I don’t think it is just a response to the current state of our world, although that is a factor. For those of us who know the Lord, it might be a deliberate spiritual attack. And we cannot afford to take it lying down.

First of all, we must understand that God’s will for us is to be filled with hope. If we are experiencing the opposite, something is happening which is against His will. That should be a signal that we need to stand in warfare to retake what has been filched from us.

Hope is such an important part of our covenant with the Lord that He calls Himself “the God of hope”: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.”Romans 15:13

The God of hope desires to fill us with joy and peace as we believe on Him. He also wants us to abound in hope — which happens through the power of the Holy Spirit continually working within us. This verse has really come alive to me in recent weeks. I have meditated on it and prayed it back to the Lord frequently. As a result, I am sensing a fresh hope building inside of me.

Some people can pinpoint a specific disappointment or sorrow which caused them to lose their hope. If this is you, you may need to ask Jesus to heal the wound. Like blood oozes from an injured spot, an untended emotional wound can cause our hope to leak away. Maybe you cannot identify a specific cause. You just feel a general blanket of hopelessness weighing you down. No matter what the cause is, there are some ways we can fight back.

The Aggressive Use of God’s Word

Any time we are undergoing spiritual attack, declaring the Word is our prime weapon. It is called “the sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:17. When Jesus was tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-14), in each case, He parried Satan’s thrusts by declaring what the Scriptures said: “It is written.” The last verse of that passage tells us that when the assault was over, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.”

In addition to quoting specific Scriptures to silence the enemy’s lies, meditate on uplifting verses about hope and the promises of God. Romans 15:4 tells us “that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” And Lamentations 3:26 reminds us, “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” If you need some verses to get you started, I’ve got a great list of them at my webpage, Encouragement from God’s Word. Even better, ask God to bring to your remembrance verses He wants to personalize to you to rebuild your hope.

Repentance

Along with the aggressive use of God’s Word, we must also repent of the words we have already spoken which aligned us with hopelessness:

  • “I can’t go on.”
  • “I give up.”
  • “This is never going to change.”
  • “There is no hope for me.”

These are sinful utterances, because they are not what God says about our situation. We need to ask His forgiveness for fighting against ourselves and against His plans for us through our contrary words.

Assuredly, the opportunity will come up again to fall into the same trap. So, when the hopeless feelings resurface, we must commit ourselves to resisting giving way to those wrong declarations. While in a faith battle, the less we verbalize how we feel, the better. Pour out your weakness to the Lord in your heart if you need to, but then also tell Him you will trust in Him in spite of the feelings. Don’t spill from your lips anything which opposes what God says about the situation.

Worship

Worship and praise dispel darkness and bring the atmosphere of heaven down all around us. Our outlook can completely change, if we persevere in deliberate extolling of the Lord. It is not easy. Worship is a sacrifice (Hebrews 13:15). It goes against our flesh.

It is also a tool of warfare. Psalm 8:2 tells us, “Out of the mouth of babies and infants You have ordained [established] strength because of Your enemies, that You might still the enemy and the avenger.” Jesus quoted this verse, “Out of the mouth of babies and infants You have perfected praise(Matthew 21:16). We are strengthened to overcome, and the turmoil with which the enemy tries to afflict us is silenced, as we aggressively worship.

Genuine hope is not based on the temporary situations we face right now. It has its foundation in Christ. Ultimately, our hope rests in living from an eternal perspective, our eyes fastened on Jesus, so that we are not like unbelievers, who have no hope.

May we take back from the enemy of our souls the hope which is rightfully ours, and may we then be bearers of it to our hurting world, assuring them that the hope we possess can be theirs in Christ, too.

Prepare for War

… A time of war, and a time of peace. — Ecclesiastes 3:8

Jousting_Knights_by_DegasBelievers, in case you have not noticed, a war looms on the horizon. Indeed, we are already in it. The conflict might seem complicated with side issues and questions, but really it boils down to being about truth and the gospel of Jesus.

Up until now, many of us have felt we had the option of spectating, rather than engaging in battle. “Let Dr. Dobson do it. … Let Franklin Graham do it. … Let my pastor do it.” Like it or not, sideline-sitting isn’t going to be available much longer.

Years ago, the Lord showed me a vision, illustrating the condition of His Church in America. I saw people in a medieval army camp, leisurely handling their armor, casually looking it over, and admiring it. They did not seem to sense the urgency of putting it on and getting into the battle.  They were merely playing at being soldiers.

 Because the Church did not go to the front lines back in the day, the front lines have now come to our own doorstep. But too many of us are still merely gawking at the armor and talking about it. It’s time to suit up and start swinging the weapons.

We need to listen to the spiritual perceptions Holy Spirit is giving to us, and take action as He reveals it to us. But what kind of action am I speaking of? Much of our warfare takes place in the arena of prayer. We contend for the souls of men through mighty intercession, coupled with fasting and devoted worship.

But we have come to the place where we must also contend for truth publicly. It is time to speak. We can no longer be silent while those around us march over the cliff to their destruction. Even in the Church, many are so concerned about showing a humanistic compassion which makes people feel good about themselves no matter what they are doing, that we have forgotten to care for their eternal well-being. Genuine love does not pat people on the back and tell them they are A-OK, when the Bible clearly says the road they are on leads to a horrible eternity in hell.

Part of the battle is to know how to speak like Jesus would. Colossians 4:5, 6 tells us, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside [the family of God], redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every man.” We must be able to listen carefully and calmly before engaging, and not angrily tear people to pieces in the name of truth.  We are not effective when we lose track of who the enemy (Satan) is,  and start attacking people. “We do not 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). We tend to forget this far too often.

We must also prepare our hearts by understanding the cost of war. Concern for preserving our popularity, our comfort, and even our possessions will no longer be possible.

The war we engage in is not only external. As we approach the end of the age, Satan is raging against the Church with an intensity most of us have never experienced before. A lot of that war is against our mind and emotions, our health, and our spiritual integrity.

Each of us should ask the Lord to give us clarity about what our particular position on the front line is supposed to be, and then stand fast there. We each have a specific role to play. While there are many good causes to champion, none of us is called to fight them all. Choosing our battles wisely is key to successful warfare.

The Lion of the tribe of Judah is not a toothless lion. He has not left us toothless, either. We need to perceive this. He has given us all that we need to come through victoriously — His Word, His blood, His name, His authority, revelation from the Holy Spirit, and even angelic assistance.

In ancient times, spring was the season when kings went forth to war. This is our time to do likewise, for the Lord “has made us kings and priests to our God, and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10). We cannot passively watch from the sidelines anymore.

Clearing Out the Filters

strainerHave you ever had what you thought was an innocent conversation with someone, only to have the person turn around a few days or weeks later and accuse you of having said this and that — things which you never for a moment meant or thought you had said? The person who so grossly misunderstood you had a filter in his mind that was distorting the information.

We all have filters to some degree, and what we hear and see does not get to us without passing through those filters. They might be insecurity filters, rejection filters, fear filters, low self-worth filters, or even cultural filters. We could call them strongholds.

Where do filters come from? They are gradually built into our thinking, often through hurts and disappointments we have endured. They are constructed by a partnership between the enemy of our souls and our own unguarded thinking. The devil injects wrong thoughts into our minds when he sees a weak spot in us or a hurt to be taken advantage of. If we cooperate with those injected thoughts by latching onto them and agreeing with them, we’ve got the beginnings of a stronghold, or filter. Over time, the filter becomes more and more plugged up, so that less and less gets through to us in its original, unmuddied form. Our interpretations of what is going on around us become increasingly inaccurate — skewed.

It is difficult to recognize when a filter is affecting our thinking. We sincerely think we have heard or seen correctly. So, we get offended with people who meant no offense. We think we are operating in discernment about others’ motives. People become hesitant to  interact with us because of the backlash. And we wonder why we feel like the tail, instead of the head. A filter will also affect our ability to accurately hear and see prophetically. What a mess!

There is a way out, and it begins with frequently asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us any areas of darkness in our minds. You might feel squeamish about asking Him to reveal problem spots to you. I know I do! But He is faithful to help us if we are willing to hear Him. 

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The main truth we must know is Jesus Himself, Who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), but knowing Him allows us to come into all truth, including being able to recognize strongholds (filters) in our thinking which oppose His truth. So, as we ask Him to search us, He begins to point out to us where the filters are and how they are at work against us.

Recognition of the problem is half the battle. Once you understand that your thinking is influenced by a particular issue you suffer under, you can ask God to bring it to your attention whenever you fall into skewed thinking in that area. He will be faithful to do so, and you will develop a habit of recognizing false thoughts more quickly as they arise. And once you can recognize a false thought at work, you can deal with it. God shows us how, in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not soulish, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds), casting down imaginations and every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity, to the obedience of Christ.

Let’s look at what we can learn from those verses. First, we recognize that we don’t have to indulge or put up with every thought that goes through our mind. Truthful thinking versus darkened thinking is spiritual warfare, and God is mighty on our behalf to help us win the battle. The moment we identify a thought or imagination which does not line up with God’s thinking, we must determine to stop it in its tracks. We dethrone it, so to speak, and bring it as a captive of war to Jesus. (I like to envision it as lassoing that thought and bringing it to Him. “Here, Lord Jesus. I caught another one trying to horn in on our territory!”) We then realign our thoughts in obedience to what the Word of God says. For starters, Philippians 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 are great verses to thoroughly know and realign our thoughts to.

Getting rid of filters in our minds is a lengthy process, but we can all succeed if we want to, because the Holy Spirit is eager to assist us. Remember that most of them weren’t constructed in a day, so it will take time to demolish them, too. It may be an uphill climb at times, but it is worth pressing in to accomplish. As we do so, the gunk will gradually be cleared out of the filters (like opening the holes in a plugged-up sieve), so that we can process what we see and hear more accurately. Eventually, filters can be completely wiped out.

If you would like to be free of filters which have plugged up your thinking processes, please pray with me:

Dear Father in heaven, I want to see and hear things from Your vantage point. I want to be free of attributing wrong motives to other people, which aren’t even really there.  By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me, please help me to recognize the strongholds or filters in my life which must be cleared out and demolished. Help me to recognize every thought which is not in agreement with You, and to bring it captive to Jesus.  Give me a renewed mind, which thinks like You think. I ask it in Jesus’ Name.