Vladimir Putin is a modern day Pharaoh in his treatment of the Ukrainians and in praying and interceding on their behalf it makes one wonder what it will take to make him relent from his grievous intentions.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12
“You can’t defeat the enemy unless you identify the enemy.” Those are the very words I heard myself declaring in a dream I had several months ago. It was one of those morning dreams you recall just as you are waking up. All I could remember was the setting, a church, and I was preaching. Beyond that the only other fragment of the dream I retained was that phrase, and it was reverberating again and again in my soul. It impressed me as being a very important sermon and I wish I could have heard myself say more.
Being at a stage in life when I have kindly been classified as a senior, I have come to appreciate the scripture that says “your old men will dream dreams.” (Joel 2:28) It is a wonderful promise for any man whose hair is thinning, receding and/or turning gray. Check, check, check, yep, all the above. So when I dream, it could be God speaking and I’ve learned to listen.
As it turned out, it was indeed a very timely word from God for me and necessary reminder of an important spiritual principle. In the spiritual realm we have enemies and we are at war. And as in any natural war, unless we can clearly identify the enemy, we will always be vulnerable, under attack, on the run and ultimately defeated. That is rule #1 in spiritual warfare.
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew16:23 (NIV)
Recently I found myself battling a mixture of worry, fear and discouragement over a direction I felt God leading me to take. It was like I had come to a roadblock warning me to stop and redirecting me to consider another way to go. You know how roadblocks appearing out of no where have a way of threatening your plans and upsetting your equilibrium? Especially when you are on a tight schedule and are already feeling pressed to reach your destination on time. That is how I felt.
First off, worry, fear and/or discouragement are often tip offs that a person is under spiritual attack. Our enemy the devil and his evil spirits work mightily using tactics like that to hinder us from pressing ahead into God’s will for our lives. In so doing they seek to not only thwart our plans but also to rob us of our peace and joy by undermining our faith. (Romans 15:13)
As I began to pray about what I was feeling I found the Spirit of God rising up within me to speak to the devil with the same words Jesus used – “Get behind me, Satan!” The more I prayed this, the greater the force and conviction of my words became and the more directive! I found myself moving from repeating “get behind me, Satan” to repeating phrases like “get out of my way, get out of my way” and “you are not going to block or hinder my future!” In the process I began to see with such clarity that the fear, worry and discouragement I was feeling were direct roadblocks thrown up by the enemy to try to stop me from pressing ahead into the plans and future God had for me.
In my last blog post I raised the question “Where have all the demons gone?” It was generated by the noticeable contrast between the pervasive demands for deliverance in Jesus’ ministry versus the diminishment of such ministry in the church today, particularly in the West. Albeit it is a perception, but demons are not as in-your-face today as they were two thousand years ago.
First let me say, I don’t believe demons have not gone anywhere. The devil and his horde of demons are alive on planet earth and as wicked as ever. Since Jesus’ plan of redemption for human kind has not changed, neither has the devil’s plan for our captivity and utter destruction. Jesus told us that the devil comes “only to steal and kill and destroy,” but to counter that He came so that we “might have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)
While on earth, Jesus gave us critical insight into the devil’s strategy: “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44 NLT)
The devil’s modus operendi therefore is deception. Again and again in the Bible we are warned that we must not be ignorant of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11) We are told plainly in the book of Revelation that when “that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan” was cast down to earth his goal was to “lead the whole world astray.” (Revelation 12:9) If that is not the epitome of deceptive intent what is?
Based on these facts about the devil’s strategies provides understanding as to why his tactics are different today than they were in Jesus’ day. Warfare has changed significantly over the centuries to where now it is often difficult, if not impossible, to identify the enemy. Spiritual warfare today is the same way. Battling demonic powers is not unlike trying to defend against suicide bombers and double agents. It is guerrilla warfare at best and subterfuge is the order of the day.