There’s nothing playful or innocent about these killers.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11 (ESV)
Fear. Lust. Anger. Hatred. Suicide. Oppression. Hopelessness.
Spirit-filled Christians are not immune to overwhelming assaults of the enemy, but we should be victorious at the end of the battle. Sadly, in today’s dark world, even some of the most passionate Believers are experiencing defeat after defeat. Many would admit that they have been unable to break free from strategic, continual, tormenting and demonic oppression. They force a smile on their face for Sunday morning and let it fade away as they walk out the doors at the end of the service. Depression and despair have dug into their soul and refuse to let go. They pray in tongues and stand in faith with no effect at all. It seems that God has abandoned them. The truth about their situation, however, is quite different.
I had a significant dream last night. It's a call for Christians to awaken and to repent and break alliance with unholy things.
Standing in the corner was a terrifying form. It was watching, threatening, alive though death screamed through it’s countenance. This being was so grotesque and evil that no true Christian would ever consider for a moment that it had anything of worth to offer. Quite the opposite. The terror that accompanied this otherworldly entity would make anybody franticly run while crying out for God to save them. No, there was nothing alluring about this beast whatsoever, until…
In the dark, haunting room that both the demon and I were having our silent confrontation was a dog. It was a fairly large dog, very possibly a German Shepherd. It was peacefully resting, curled up on the floor. It looked up at me, and I wanted to move over and pet this new friend. I could tell he was gentle and playful and would make a great new addition to my family. It was a bit strange to be thinking along these lines with manifested evil standing just a few feet away, but strangely the thought of having a new, furry friend brought some comfort. This made the evil force in the room happy indeed.
The demon suddenly took on the form of a wispy spirit. What looked like a misty cloud flew around the room and then entered right into the dog. It knew it would never be received in its previous terrifying form. It had to become familiar, alluring, and convincing instead of repulsive.
The animal that was moments ago wagging its tail, almost smiling at me, as excited as I was to have a new friend, was possessed by horrifying evil. No longer an innocent pet, this hell hound arched its back, fiercely growled and exposed its razor sharp fangs, ready to devour me. I could smell the stench of darkness emanating from this demon possessed animal. Destruction was its assignment and death was sure.
As a Spirit-filled Christian, I was well versed in the truth that “no weapon formed against me shall prosper.” I understood that I have been given authority over the domain of darkness. In that moment, boldness rose up within and I lunged at the beast. I grabbed its upper jaw with one hand and the lower with the other, risking slicing my flesh on its teeth. Just like a lion tamer, I put my face right in its mouth. Just like a warrior in prayer, I started intensely and loudly praying in tongues, right down the throat of that dog.
The prayer had power, and it had effect. The animal settled down and I backed away.
No more than ten seconds later, evil manifested again as the dog arched its back, opened its jaws and prepared to attack.
Again, I aggressively ran toward the dog, grabbed its fangs, prayed in the Spirit and watched it again settle down.
This cycle repeated itself over and over again. It was exhausting. It was ineffective. True victory never came and momentary relief was brief.
My new family pet, furry, playful, innocent, was anything but. I wanted to enjoy my new friend, presuming I had enough spiritual strength to deal with the evil that came with it. I did not.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14 (ESV)
FINDING RADICAL FREEDOM
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (ESV)
Do not be deceived. None of us are strong enough to resist the onslaught of a very evil, demented and deadly spirit if we entertain that spirit. Not only must it be cast out, it must be rejected in every form, in every area of our lives.
As I stated above, innumerable Spirit-filled Christians find themselves bound up, oppressed and without strength for a permanent deliverance in their lives. Yes, they are spiritually minded. They understand the power of prayer. They believe in the authority granted to them by Christ. They do their best to function as spiritual warriors, but at the end of the battle, they are beaten, desperate and hopeless. The enemy wins time and time again.
We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that evil is less threatening just because it takes the form of something familiar.
Many are in a cycle of warfare with the enemy, attempting to function spiritually, appearing to be bold and fearless as they engage him. However, they can never win unless they completely cancel their agreement with evil.
Both the spirit and the dog must go. Both the enemy and whatever vehicle it’s using to entice us must be eradicated from our lives. Now.
I have heard pastors, leaders and seemingly solid Christians tell me that cussing and violence in movies doesn’t bother them. Occasional nudity doesn’t either. They refuse to watch sexual situations, however. That’s where they draw the line.
They wonder why they can’t live free from lust. They can’t imagine living a life with no unrighteous sexual images (which would be anybody real or imagined other than their spouse) dancing through their minds.
They are watching the movies, they are entertaining the dog. The enemy is manifesting through unrighteous forms of media, something that seems so common, so familiar, so innocent, playful, something that’s a part of American culture.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV)
Others continually wrestle with anger and hatred while playing violent video games. The spirit of hatred is nicely packaged along with the dog, the video game, a familiar part of most people’s lives.
The truth is clear. We cannot keep the dog and eliminate the spirit. We can’t watch nudity in media and stay free from lust. It’s more than cause and effect. The enemy chooses certain vehicles and methods to anoint as he works to facilitate his plan of destruction in our lives.
We need to cast the spirit completely out of our lives and never allow ourselves to be deceived into enjoying what they have to offer again.
Discernment must increase. Holiness must increase. The dog must go.
Only then will we find true freedom.
…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:8-14 (ESV)
God talks, a lot. What do we do when he’s silent?
One of my great joys in life revolves around helping people discover the wonder of hearing God’s voice. We are all called to be prophetic, which at it simplest simply means that we hear God and respond accordingly.
God talks, a lot.
The stories of God intervening in the lives of his children continually have me in awe of him. I can’t imagine a life devoid of that precious, stunning, other-worldly avenue of communication between this humble, created human and an immeasurable, indescribable, all powerful creator! There’s nothing like being in the zone that results in a regular stream of dreams, visions, prophetic words, fresh revelation and supernatural interactions. I thank God he is still alive and kicking today!
There are also times when God goes silent. I really do not enjoy those seasons, but I’ve come to appreciate them.
Here are some quick points that help me when I enter a silent season:
1. God loves me. Period.
It can be easy to feel rejected, or to presume that God has become tired of me and my weaknesses, when he stops talking.
Remember that God IS love. His passion for us is so extreme that it would be utter foolishness to think that he’d fall out of love with us just because we are experiencing some growing pains.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 (ESV)
While it's true that God continues to love us, the enemy would love to use God’s silence against him by causing us to fall out of love with him! Be careful not to disengage in your adoration and worship, especially when you don’t feel his loving presence the way you are used to.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37 (ESV)
2. God uses silence to awaken us to something.
When God stops talking, I go into a time of reflection and personal assessment. It is possible that I need to be more aggressive in shifting into a new season. I might also have a negative heart issue that might need to be dealt with.
During this reflection, however, it's important that I do so with a healthy heart. His silence should draw me closer to him, and not result in division between us. You’ll notice that accusation against God can result in silence:
And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:3-5 (ESV)
Is it possible that I have accusation in my heart against God on a matter? Complaint or resistance to his Lordship in my life most certainly can result in Jesus refusing to respond to me. He will go silent, and the last thing we want during silence is more silence!
Instead of becoming more angry or frustrated, I propose we respond as Pilate did: Be amazed. Be humbled by the wisdom and unmovable nature of Jesus. As we do, our remedy is then to sincerely repent and embrace God as he is—whether we appreciate the way he is presently functioning in our lives or not.
3. Busyness will result in silence.
It’s truly rare for God to go silent for long periods of time when I’m praying in the the Holy Spirit, with passion and groans that can’t be uttered, on a continual basis. When I’m in that place of fervent pursuit and deep intimacy it’s uncommon for that electric connection between God and me to cease.
When other things edge out our prayer life, or minimize it, one can only expect to stop hearing from God. Prayer is his medium for communication. The simple, obvious truth is that if we aren’t in that burning, fervent zone of prayer, we won’t have the ability to receive communication from God. When the radio is off the speakers are silent.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)
4. The Bible is never silent.
No matter how deafening God’s Rhema silence might be, the Word of God never ceases to shout!
Dive into the the Bible with determination to see it’s truths explode in your life. Get excited about everything you read and grab hold of all of it!
It's a powerful moment indeed when, at a time of divine silence, the eternal Word of God shakes us, invigorates us and causes our faith to rise. No matter how much or how little you are feeling God's presence in your life, read the Bible and believe every single word you read. It's just not possible to stay frustrated when the very words of God are being seared into our spirits!
Reject your personal experience, history or common sense when those messages conflict with the miraculous messages of Jesus. Reuse to doubt. Declare the Word in prayer. Move mountains with your faith. Don't get frustrated waiting on God to speak personally to you about a matter. He's already speaking more loudly than we have ever considered, in the Bible.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Proverbs 3:1-2 (NIV)
5. Nothing should steal your peace or joy.
If God’s silence results in you losing your joy, you might want to refer above to point number two again. He may be attempting to calibrate you to his heart.
Even when God is not speaking, we can and should still remain steadfast in a place of extreme joy, faith and love.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:11 (ESV)
6. Appreciate the calm before the storm of victory.
I’ve noticed my reaction to seasons where God’s activity is slowed directly results in my position in the season that follows. A right response and a refusal to give in to complaint, despair or apathy, and a resolve to go even deeper in God through both the Word and prayer, results in advance and promotion. It also strengthens my character and stretches me into greater maturity. Silence is a necessary part of growth and advance.
I’ve met a lot of people who stop in their tracks when God isn’t talking, opening doors, giving prophetic words or doing other such things to move people forward. God very often will refuse to relate to us in that manner when we are failing tests or ignoring truth that has already been established in Scripture. As we react in a right manner during the silence, and focus on obeying the Word of God, we will pass the test and experience glorious, divine open doors!
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (ESV)
7. Ask. Seek. Knock.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 (ESV)
You are guaranteed to hear from God if you are unrelenting in your pursuit of him.
If you aren’t given to the sacrifice of seeking, don’t expect to find much of anything. Hearing from God requires a devotion to prayer and interaction with him at a degree that most are not comfortable with.
Press through the crowd and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Wrestle with God until he blesses you. Cry out from your cave. Refuse to stop until you encounter God’s love, power and glory! It will be well worth the effort.
Watch this video and discover a powerful, unexpected key to powerful personal victory!
Get ready to discover a powerful truth that will ensure your life is effective and victorious!
As we groan in intercession, we are calibrated with God's purposes for our lives.
Do all things work together for those who love God and are according to his purpose? Stop and think about it.
Is it possible there's a missing piece to that truth that must activate to see the victory come?
John shares a powerful revelation from Scripture in this short video.
The One Percent—Are you a part of the remnant?
300 people out of a possible 32,000 were deemed ready and usable to advance in a great mission under the leadership of Gideon. Are you ready to be a part of the one percent?
John discusses some key factors in ensuring you are indeed ready to be chosen worthy and ready. It's a sobering challenge, but if we are alert and consecrated we will most certainly find ourselves running ahead with in victory!
Failure or victory? Yes.
“The big idea is this: I don't know if you are aware of it, but Christendom is dead,” he says during a recently released video promoting the book's theme. “The bus is no longer carrying us, it's running over us. Christianity is no longer popular and there are no social benefits to waving the Jesus flag. All you are going to get is persecution, opposition, and criticism. That's the day in which we live. The question is what will we do?” ~Mark Driscoll
“We have the victory!”
This is something we hear shouted in churches all the time, and, as stated, it is true. What we need to discuss is the actual reach of that victory. True Christians (who are much fewer in number than we’d realize) absolutely have had victory availed to them through the death and resurrection of Jesus. There are two specific issues, however, that we must consider.
- First, we as Christians can shout “Victory!” all day long, and live in depression, deception, defeat, fear and turmoil if we don’t actively live according to that victory. We have a part to play (a big part).
- Second, the true scope of the victory is limited. We can get excited about our own victory while failing to see how rare it is—as the high majority of people on the Earth are not victorious at all. They are lost.
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4
Victory and faith are one in the same. This reveals quite clearly that we must be active in faith in order to experience victory. And, of course, as was stated above, that victory is tragically limited. It’s truly few on the Earth who are living in faith and victory even though the cross and resurrection of Jesus provided victory to everyone in the world—everyone who would respond, that is.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58
As we, through faith, abound in the work of the Lord, we will live in victory—yet more importantly, our labor will result in victory for others. That’s the true purpose of our lives.
A Rescue Mission
Prior to the cross and resurrection, humanity was flooding into Hell. The rescue mission of the cross was necessary, and the power it released was immeasurable, but its impact was minor when you take into account how few have responded to it.
It’s no surprise that the idea of Christianity experiencing failure feels both ridiculous and offensive. It’s ridiculous to those who are so inwardly focused on their own personal experience that they don’t see reality around them. It’s offensive because it presumes the sacrifice of Christ was insufficient.
The emergence of Christian Universalism and its various sects has resulted in a faux spirituality for innumerable people—people who presume that the cross of Christ resulted in one hundred percent of humanity being redeemed. Any thought of a lesser success rate is immediately resisted with mocking and even rage. After all, their comfortable, eternal utopia is threatened, and any theology that puts it at risk is soundly rejected.
Most play the good vs. bad card just as the lost do. Have you ever seen the interview on the street segments where people are asked, “Why should you be allowed into Heaven?” The answer is always, “Because I’m a good person.”
The thought is that Jesus would certainly allow entrance into Heaven anybody who lived a good live and who voiced even the slightest affirmation of the Gospel. Only the hateful, evil people of the world would be cast into Hell. This thought is rampant in Spirit-filled churches today.
…as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; Romans 3:10
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:18
We have underestimated the power of the blood of Jesus while overstating the role of the blood of Jesus. The shed blood of one Man long ago was powerful enough to eradicate the multiplied trillions of sins that had been committed, and those that would be committed in the future. Further, one drop of that ancient blood was sufficient to heal every disease. We have barely tapped into its power.
However, people wrongly presume upon the blood to apply itself simply because we have voiced a commitment to the one who shed it. The blood doesn’t grant us immunity, it grants us authority. We must apply it. We must live a life empowered by it. Though the blood paid the price for sickness, it is still required that we heal the sick. Though the blood paid for salvation, we must walk that salvation out with fear and trembling.
The church in the Western culture barely has a heartbeat, and this is due largely to a casual, entitled people who presume wrongly upon the blood of Jesus instead of taking up their cross, laying down their lives and operating in the bold authority that such a great sacrifice by a great God demands. We have a part to play.
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Luke 10:19
If we tread, then we won’t be hurt. Why? Because we applied the blood of Jesus. We advanced in the authority that it provided. If we don’t tread, we will be stung.
It’s not a prayer alone that saves us. It’s a lifestyle of enduring surrender. Salvation isn’t a status, it’s a lifestyle. We work it out, we endure, we repent. Salvation is not a dime store item on the shelf that anybody with a little curiosity and a minimal investment can receive. Salvation is immersive, dynamic and all consuming, and can’t be simply analyzed with a logical mind. It’s not a switch that’s flipped. It’s a relationship. Anybody who’s been in relationship knows it has up and downs, and it grows, ebbs and flows.
A relationship with Jesus is otherworldly and it is discerned spiritually. This is why so many are so terribly deceived into thinking they are saved simply because they believe in Jesus and live a good life (which isn’t actually possible without living in the power of Jesus). The majority of church attenders presume it’s easy to get saved. This deception is growing deeper and deeper as is evidenced in faulty theologies such as Christian Universalism, false-grace and Antinomianism. (Antinomianism in Christianity is the belief that under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation.)
For example, an increasing number of professing Christians have subscribed to an expression of Christian Universalism that believes that Hell is a temporary holding place for those who rejected Jesus, and will be released from torment at the end of the Millennium. This is a result of a misunderstanding of the role of the blood. Its reach is only as far as we affirm and apply it.
The cross of Christ, the blood of Jesus, possesses such unimaginable power. However, it didn’t result in salvation for all. This means that the glorious cross and miraculous resurrection set many captives free, but not all. Not most. Not even close.
The question is, is this failure Christ’s or the church’s? Of course it is on us.
Victory’s Limited Reach
The fall of Adam and Even was more cataclysmic than any of us could imagine. The general thought is that they fell and God then sent Jesus who would resolve everything. That’s the incorrect belief that this article is addressing.
After the fall, God moved into the world’s most dramatic and comprehensive rescue mission—a mission that by most any standard would be categorized as a massive failure. Contrary to Universalists, this rescue mission will not result in every human being being saved, redeemed. In fact, we should be haunted and grieved by the reality. Statistically, the numbers are horrifying.
It’s been recently reported by Barna Research that only 4% of Americans fit within the category of professing, active Born Again Christians.
Without any true ability to know the exact numbers of people who have or will be cast into Hell, we can at least entertain an estimate.
The official estimate of people who have ever lived on the Earth is approximately 108 billion people. Others who subscribe to a 6,000 year history put the number closer to 50 billion. Let’s use the 50 billion estimate.
How many of the 50 billion people experienced victory and how many did the mission of Jesus fail to save?
At 4%, which may even be a little high (some suggest one in one thousand on the earth today are truly saved), that would mean 2 billion through all of history were successfully saved through the cross of Christ. That would mean 48 billion are currently in Hell (or on their way there).
So, you might wonder just what the point I’m trying to make is.
Here it is: When declaring victory, shout it with boldness and humility and great thanks, but absolutely do not stop there. Cry out to God and volunteer to move outside of your comfortable safe place, focusing on your own victory, and volunteer for the ongoing rescue mission.
To shout about victory without understanding how rare and precious it is, and without brokenness about the condition of the world, is narcissistic, selfish and evidence of a radical lack of revelation of God’s heart for the lost.
Who’s Number One?
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 1 Colossians 1:18
While others are convulsing, burning, roasting in the fires of Hell for eternity, Christians today are lining up for events that promise health, prosperity and happiness for themselves in their few short years on the Earth. They are already convinced of their own eternal security (often wrongly), so the next obvious step would be to have their life on Earth enhanced.
Every day countless people are entering eternity without Jesus, while never being prayed for, never having a Christian stand in the gap for them, never having the opportunity to know the love of Jesus.
Where are those Christians who should be weeping and hurting over the condition of the lost? Too many are self absorbed, entertained and working on living a more fulfilling life. They are looking out for the wrong number one. They are asking, “What’s in it for me?”
I see a lot of Bible Promise books out there. Where are all of the Bible Command books? What if we asked, “What is required of me?”
A wrong understanding of victory will result in presumption that Jesus did it all, we have no part to play and now all we should do is go about our personal lives.
A right understanding of the status of the mission will result in lives of Believers laid down as willing martyrs for the sake of slowing the flow to Hell.
Simply said, the cross of Christ resulted in glorious victory for those who have received him. However, those people are very few and very far between. Salvation is rare indeed.
Hell is expanding to hold those who are descending into it, and this is a tragedy that we can’t ignore. It’s not about us. It’s about them and it’s about Him.
Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. Isaiah 5:14
We must be realists. We must not reject truth, even when that truth is fearful, traumatic and heavy.
Certainly, in the end, Jesus will win the victory over Satan and the kingdom of darkness. We understand the great battles that are coming will be won by Jesus and his army.
That is a mighty victory for sure!
The redeemed will experience such phenomenal, glorious victory and their eternities will shine forever!
This absolutely is news worth rejoicing over!
But, we cannot stop there. Not now. Not when people will die in their sins tonight. Not when it’s so unbelievably rare to make Heaven. It’s time to pray. It’s time to fight. It’s time to lay down our lives—for real this time.
Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. Revelation 6:9
It’s time to take an honest look at the typical Christian experience that is largely disappointing for so many.
Sing along with me:
I went to the enemy’s camp and took back what he stole from me, took back what he stole from me, took back what he stole from me…
This is a fun song to sing and has a sold ring of victory to it, but it has always troubled me. I always wondered why Christians seemed to be playing catch up, perpetually trying to gain back what was lost and attempting to convince themselves that they are victorious. We often try to cheerlead our way to believing we are who God says we are. It’s as if we are sitting on a couch in a counselors office, looking into a mirror and saying, “I’m OK. God likes me. I’m a winner. I’m OK. God likes me. I’m a winner.” If we say it enough, surely it will sink in, right?
Again, let’s be honest. Yes, we as Christians all agree that in the end Jesus wins. Or, do we really believe that? Is it simply easier to believe something that’s far removed and chiseled logically into the stone that holds the tenants of our religion?
What if that end of times war exploded violently and experientially right now? Would we simply embrace peace and easily, confidently know that Jesus wins—or would we freak out and worry as devastation creeps onto our front lawn? Would it it result in a crisis of faith or an eruption of faith?
Our foundation of faith (or lack of it) will result in difficult situations either triggering hopelessness and despair or passionate expectancy.
Lets bring it closer to home.
At any Sunday morning church service I could stand in the pulpit and ask the congregation a question: Who here has a history of financial struggle?
Most hands would shoot to the sky. Yet, we know that scripture declares that every need that we have is provided for!
Philippians 4:19 (ESV) 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Do you see the conflict? It’s a crisis of faith that is unfortunately experienced by most Christians!
Think about the 1260 promises in the Word of God. How many are inactive in the lives of Christians? How many have the enemy stolen away? Just where is that camp that we have to find so we can take back what he stole from us?
Psalm 84:11 (NKJV) 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
That’s a really good Bible promise!
Why does that verse feel more like a pipe dream than a common reality experienced by Believers?
Because many Believers are actually unbelievers.
They doubt. They are gripped by unbelief.
Check out this passage:
Matthew 13:10-15 (ESV) 10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “ ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
Seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. This issue is gripped the unbelievers in the church!
Why don’t we see extreme prosperity, healing, joy, life and freedom in the church today?
Matthew 13:58 (ESV) 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
- Tradition. Another way to say it is historical evidence or past experience. If our confidence and expectations come from past experience and cultural norms instead of the wild realities of the Kingdom, you will live like most every other Christian out there—below the bar of Kingdom wonder.
Matthew 15:6-9 (ESV) 6 …So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
- Powerlessness. Christians are evidenced by their supernatural power. Check out this problematic passage:
Mark 16:14-18 (ESV) 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
What a situation we have here! In the same breath that Jesus rebuked them for unbelief he was telling them to wise up and figure this Kingdom thing out. They were commanded to deal with their doubt and change the world. The way they would pass the test? Faith-fueled signs, wonders and miracles. Does it strike you as concerning that there are Christians out there that have not discovered the power of God flowing through them? It’s a very serious issue.
- Failure of performance. Have you ever quoted verses that dealt with an issue you were facing? Did you add some prayer to the mix only to be disappointed by a failed mission? The Bible speaks to this directly:
Matthew 17:19-20 (NKJV) 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" 20 So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
It’s unbelief. Doubt. The moment we give room for any ending other than what is promised in Scripture, you can label that unbelief. So, what was Jesus’ prescription for their unbelief?
Matthew 17:21 (NKJV) 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
We don’t pray and fast to cause demons to come out. We pray and fast to cure our unbelief. Apply this verse to any enemy that is winning in your life. Depression, fear, poverty, sickness. If you don’t have belief that joy and power and prosperity and health are yours for the taking, then move into an extreme season of prayer and fasting. Breakthrough hinges on your ability to fully believe without wavering.
This verse makes the point very clear:
James 1:5-8 (ESV) 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
If we doubt, we can’t expect to receive. Period. If your mind entertains thoughts like, “God might heal me,” you are pretty much done before you began contending.
- No joy of salvation. Ouch. This one hurts, but must be addressed. We see salvation and faith so intertwined throughout scripture that we simply have do deal with this. If we as Believers are living most of our lives in the realm of unbelief can we casually presume to be saved? I’m not so sure. Check this out:
Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Do you see how faith and salvation are connected? Here we see the devil stealing the very thing that ensures their salvation—their belief. The next group experiences the joy of salvation, but didn’t have sufficient belief when the trials came. They fell away. It’s the last group that hears the word (faith comes by hearing the Word!) and endures and bears fruit with patience.
- Faith in what is visible. If we default to what is visible and humanly understandable, we will fall well below the mark of belief. This can have often tragic results. The story of King Asa should be an alarm for all of us:
2 Chronicles 16:12-13 (ESV) 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 13 And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign.
I believe one reason we don’t see more healings in America is because it’s too easy to pop a pill and trust that the doctors can heal us. That misguided faith has been devastating in its impact. The majority of our lives as true Believers exists in the invisible realm of the unseen—in the realm of confident belief.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (NKJV) 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
For the Believer, the unseen realm has more substance than what our five senses pick up. For the Believer it’s easy and normal to believe the report of the Lord ahead of the report of human experience or human perception.
Church, it’s time we stop hoping and wishing our way to victory. Hope deferred makes the heart sick! We have to put an end to demonic thievery. Pumping ourselves up and cheerleading our way to a low level confidence in God’s Word must give way to a peaceful assurance of breakthrough. We don’t contend for victory, we start at the point of victory. Now, we don’t have to play catch up as we focus on personal identity and success. We can launch with great faith from the platform of success into the world changing missions that God has assigned us to. As champions and authorities in the Earth we don’t ever allow the enemy to steal anything—instead we take dominion over his camp, his domain!
I see a day coming in the church where everybody who simply yet fully believes is wildly joyful, prosperous, healthy and free—strong and ready to annihilate the kingdom of darkness with force!