Friday, January 16, 2009

Spiritual warfare and the crucified life

Because Satan is a master at deceit and counterfeiting, we must encounter or confront him, rather than simply ignoring him. And we know as we confront him that greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world (I John 4:4), and we thank God that Jesus has "stripped the spiritual rulers and authorities of their power" (Col.2:15). This happened at the cross. But we are still at war and we are commanded to put on armor and fight against the "wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world" (Eph. 6:11-12). So, although we know how this war will end, many battles remain and we need to know our enemy and how to fight him. This battle begins with the crucified life. " ... come down from the cross and save yourself!" (Mark 15:30). Our common enemy says the same thing to us today. Living the crucified life is not popular in a self centered world. The cross is an instrument of death. God calls us to the cross in order that all the things that are alive in our flesh might die. Daily we are invited by the enemy of our souls to indulge the flesh and come away from the cross. The Apostle Paul stated "I die daily." I woke up one morning feeling overwhelmed with problems. It wasn't long before I discovered I had come down from the cross. The Holy Spirit gently invited me back to the cross. Here are some signs that we have come down from the cross. When you are overly concerned with appearance, you have come off the cross. When the words of others cause you to react and defend yourself, you have come off the cross. When you strive to have your world in manageable order, you have come off the cross. When you complain about circumstances, you have come off the cross. Statement like "I just had life where I could manage it and this happened" is a good sign you have stepped away from the cross. The way of the cross means placing your life in God's hands and letting Him have His way in every matter, every relationship, every outcome. The Lord will often do the unexpected in order to develop His character in our lives. Peter went from denying Christ to boldly proclaiming Him, stating "The Lord who you denied." Our Good Shepherd knows how to take care of His sheep. "When God starts to deal with the old nature He heads straight for the center of all that you hold most dear. Allow Him to bring you to the cross in the very center of who you are. Don't grumble and become agitated when the process starts. Silence and peace will help you much more than being upset. To bear the cross simply, without letting your self-love add all sorts of dilemmas to it, will make your life easier. When you accept the cross simply allow it to do the work God intended, you will be happy because you will see what good fruit is produced in you." Those were the words of Francois de Fenelon, a man who lived in the 1600s and was considered one of the most godly men of his time. The apostle Paul sums up the way of the cross: "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body" (Phil 3:18-21). Let the cross have its way in you. The cross is where Satan was defeated. The power of the cross is operative in those who "Are crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20).

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