Embrace the Warfare (Battle)
As previously noted, most of the church today has become complacent, and is not prepared for spiritual warfare. Paul exhorted Timothy to be a good soldier;
II Timothy 2:3, 4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
How are you pleasing God, who chose you to be a soldier? We cannot, unless we come out of the sea of flesh, and cease to be entangled with the things of the flesh. Just as the old phrase says “there are no atheists in fox holes”, there are no TVs, no movies, no fleshly pleasures. This is the war within, as we yield to God’s control, and not our own.
When you take a secular job, what does your job consist of? Do you write your own job description, or set your own responsibilities? Do you refuse to do certain tasks for one reason or another? No, we do what our employer wants us to, or get fired and look for another job. We must learn to also obey God in everything;
Matthew 7:21 – 23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
We must learn to hear and do the works of God. Rebellion, stubbornness, or simply disobedience is sin, and separate us from God. What is the example Jesus gave as he walked on earth?
John 8:28, 29 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
The church needs a new “Pentecost” tarrying, but we are not prepared for it. We must come out of the sea of flesh, and return to repentance. From the example of the prophet Isaiah, this repentance/preparation is not first for the congregation, but for the ministers. If you see complacency in your life you may need to return to spiritual boot camp. As a soldier in boot camp is trained to shed excess flesh and gain muscle, so it is in the spirit. We must quit entangling ourselves with the affairs of life, shed the things of the flesh, and prepare to embrace the warfare.
I would like to use another Old Testament example;
I Kings 18:30 – 39 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again, Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
Elijah was not responsible for the consuming fire, but was obedient to repair the altar that was broken down. Is the altar of your heart broken down? What have you allowed in your heart or life that is hindering your walk with God? Can you come out of the sea of flesh, and like Isaiah find a place of repentance that God can use you in a greater way? The glory was not in rebuilding the altar; the people did not see a physical manifestation of God.
Elijah was not responsible for the consuming fire, but was obedient to prepare the sacrifice. How have you sacrificed to be the man or woman of God? Are you walking in complacency due to things of the flesh? The glory was not in preparing the sacrifice; the people did not see a physical manifestation of God.
Elijah was not responsible for the consuming fire, but was prepared to glorify God with watering the sacrifice. Logic would not have us trying to start a fire with wet kindling; but Elijah heard from God, and obeyed God. Are we hearing and obeying the voice of God? How are we defeating pride, and giving God the glory for everything he uses us in? Can we find a place of humbleness, self-denial, prayer, and worshipping and acknowledging God for who he is? The glory was not in watering the sacrifice; the people did not see a physical manifestation of God.
Elijah was not responsible for the consuming fire, but was obedient to pray “… at the time…” and acknowledge God; acknowledge that he was God’s servant; and acknowledge that all the things he had done were at God’s word. Nothing was done at Elijah’s will, and he readily gives God the honour for it. Are we truly hearing the voice of God, obeying it, and honouring him for it? With Elijah obeying God, but out of the limelight or glory, God answered.
The people had spent most of the day looking for a manifestation of who the true God was. This occurred when “… the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, …” The manifestation and the glory were in the consuming fire, and the people then truly recognized God, and fell on their faces. If we can find the total obedience and servanthood of Elijah, hearing and doing the things God calls us to, the fire of the Holy Ghost will fall in our lives.Elijah was not exalted, and did not touch the glory, but we see in the next verse that as Elijah continued in the warfare, the people then followed the servant of God.
I Kings 18:40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
Elijah’s response and actions here are an excellent example of the verse included above from II Corinthians;
II Corinthians 10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
With the people returned to God, Elijah is quick to revenge their disobedience, when their obedience was fulfilled. This is necessary to keep us from returning to the bondage we were delivered from. God has given me a hatred of the sin I used to love, to the point where my teeth grind when encountering those sins. Whether it is the Isaiah feeling of cleanness we receive at salvation, or the scrubbed clean feeling inside of giving up an iniquity, or the hatred of sin, we did not receive these of self. This is only God given, and only if we will receive it with each disobedience that we give up. We need to give up all, not in a partial or diminished measure, to receive and continue a walk of victory in God (The Master’s Walk).
We are frequently exhorted with Romans 12:1 and 2 to change our walk, but very seldom do we consider the verses before and after with them;
Romans 11:36 – 12:3 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
So we see that … of him, and to him, and through him, are all things. And it is because of this that the word says “… to whom be glory for ever.” God is our answer and sufficiency in all things. We know that our righteousness is as filthy rags, so it is only “… by the mercies of God …” that we can become the living sacrifice. The words “living” and “sacrifice” are a contrast in terms, because the sacrifice is always killed. In order to be the living sacrifice we must allow him to crucify the flesh continually. When we truly realize that it is only through him and his sufficiency, we should have no issue with thinking too highly of ourselves!
It does not seem too glamorous to say our battle position is lifeguard, pulling men out of the sea of flesh, or even a fisherman;
Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
It is a sad commentary on the church today that it is bound in the sea of flesh. Too often we are just playing catch with a life saver, that round, donut-shaped, flotation device. We cannot pull them out, and they cannot pull us out, if we both are in the sea of flesh ourselves. It is not total deliverance if we are left in our prior condition, but with a flotation device. We must come out of the sea of flesh.
In addition, we often fish at random, trying to find “where they’re biting”. We need to fish where there are fish;
John 21:5, 6 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
We need to fish where God tells us to; he knows the fish he wants us to catch. It doesn’t matter if we are sent to only one Ethiopian eunuch as Philip was (Acts 8:26 – 40), or to a city of 120,000 as Jonah was. Jonah ran from his calling, and instead of catching a whopper, the whopper caught him; God still sent him to Nineveh and they repented in sack cloth and ashes.
God will also prepare and equip us if we allow him to. In the first instance that Jesus told Peter, James, and John where to fish their net brake (Luke 5:4 – 10), but in this instance, after spending three and a half years with Jesus, their equipment did not fail;
John 21:10, 11 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all that there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
Fishing as an occupation must be learned or you could starve to death. With Jesus the learning curve can be made short. We must learn to hear and obey, and our learning and equipping will occur through the Word of God (Jesus).
Our Weapon; The Word Of God
After establishing the spiritual warfare in verse 12 of Ephesians Chapter 6, Paul exhorts to put on spiritual armour, and in the last part of verse 17 provides our spiritual weapon; “… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” Jesus told the disciples to take up the sword, and we need to as well.
Smith Wigglesworth said there were four principles we need to maintain; 1. Read the Word of God, 2. Consume the Word of God until it consumes you, 3. Believe the Word of God, and 4. Act on the Word of God. After reading his principles, I frequently wondered what the Word of God “consuming” you meant. I knew the Word says God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Jeremiah speaks of a fire he could not stop;
Jeremiah 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
As I pondered being consumed by the Word, I did not realize I was not yet prepared to receive that. I had too many things preventing me from understanding it.
As previously noted, the natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit;
I Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
We were each that natural man, and had no means to change our condition, except the Father draw us, and we were born again, Then and only then can we receive, and we should be greatly humbled, and rejoice and worship God for the things that are freely given us;
! Corinthians 2:12, 13 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
To the depth that we remain in the flesh we will be unable to receive the things of the Spirit;
Romans 8:5 – 8 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
There is also then the reverse of how dark it becomes as you go deeper in the sea; as you come out of the depths it will get lighter, and your spiritual vision will increase or return. However, it is not just a matter of reading the Bible, but also studying it;
I Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
We also need to ask the Spirit to reveal it to us. The word must be quickened to our spirit;
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, 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.
The anointed word of God is for the Day, Hour, and specific church or individual. God did not say the same thing to all seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. If the word is given at the wrong time, or to the wrong people, it will not have its intended effect.
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
When we come out of the sea of flesh we must hear and obey God; and God provides our spiritual sustenance;
Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.
Let us consider the physical example of the manna provided to the children of Israel;
Exodus 16:14 – 16 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
Exodus 16: 19, 20 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
The spiritual example for us is that God wants us in his word daily, and God does not feed his children with leftovers. The word (sustenance) he provides is to be collected every day, and studied (eaten) that day. Absent the leading of the Spirit, a misinterpreted word can also hinder our receiving (breed worms and stink).
I experienced some of this as I wrote the Sea of Flesh. When God would open a scripture to me I would scribble down notes of what he had provided. I would then store the notes in a stack with the others I had written, waiting for God to order the words. God let me know I was not waiting on him, but I was to write it as he led. When I returned to my notes I frequently had to seek him to regain/open the anointed word he had given.
Magazines used to have small pieces of paper that if you scratched it would let you smell a sample fragrance. The church today is trying to live with a “scratch and sniff” anointing. They want to come into the services, hear an anointed word, rejoice, and then return to their walk in the flesh. God does not intend this to suffice. We are spiritually starving ourselves if we do not follow the example he has given, and get in his word every day.
John 6:48 – 51 I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The fathers ate of the physical manna and are dead. We have the word, the bread of life, if we will receive it; not in the letter of the written word, but in the spirit of the word, as the Spirit gives us the knowledge of it.
John 6:53 – 58 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
Jesus is the bread of life, and the sustenance God has provided. We need to eat of it every day. The Word is Truth (John 17:17), Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6); Jesus is the Word (John 1:1 – 5, 14). These can be used interchangeably, and can become so spiritually awesome to you that the Word, the Truth, and Jesus consume or possess you! Oh, to be possessed in this way! This cannot fully occur while the flesh, or things of the world, consumes you.
It is told of Smith Wigglesworth that he was opening his home to Lester Sumrall, who was carrying a newspaper. As he reached the door of Smith’s house, Smith nudged the paper out of Lester Sumrall’s arm and told him something like “We won’t need that in here”. He did not condemn or berate Sumrall for having the newspaper, but it would not be part of Smith Wigglesworth’s life. He, and by his choice his home, were consumed by the Word of God! We need to reach the level of holiness that we can hear what God has called us to. However, we cannot hold our wife, our children or others to the standard or call God has specifically given us. God will call them to his purpose as well; your calling will only create strife.
As noted previously, Revelation 2:11 promises that those who overcome will eat of the hidden manna. Paul spoke of having limited knowledge that would be made complete;
I Corinthians 13:9 – 12 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
God has blessed us with spiritual blessings in his word, opening to us an ability (through him) to act, speak, and do the things that please him. Yet Paul speaks of the promise of an even greater knowledge and blessing God has for us in eternity. Do you desire to eat the hidden manna?
Continuing the Warfare (Battle)
We will never reach a point in this life where we have arrived and can quit the Spiritual warfare. Paul acknowledged this;
Philippians 3:13, 14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.
Forget your past failures, and the successes that are not your own; look forward to what God has before you, and always have respect unto the recompence of the reward;
Galatians 6:7 – 9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Have you become weary in your walk with Jesus? Hebrews Chapter 4 speaks of the rest that was available, yet rejected of the children of Israel by unbelief. Hebrews then speaks of our promised rest;
Hebrews 4:9, 10 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that hath entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
When God ceased from his perfect work he rested the seventh day. He also provided a rest for us if we come out of the sea of flesh and cease from our own filthy works. All of the struggle can be given up and true rest entered into if we yield and let him pull us out of the sea of flesh. This will give us the ability, as Paul, to die daily;
I Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
We read “die daily” and struggle with how to do it – we don’t have to! When we reach the ability to yield to God and die daily to self we will find an easy walk with Jesus, and enter into his rest;
Matthew 11:28 – 30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Do you remember the load that was lifted off you when you repented and gave your heart to Jesus? There remaineth a further rest in Jesus if we will only learn of him. If we are to be Christ-like we must also, through the Spirit, be meek and lowly in heart.
Why do we walk as though we have already learned everything about Jesus? The Apostle Paul, for all the faith, miracles, healings – operating in all the gifts of the Spirit, records a desire to know him more;
Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;
Paul not only expresses that desire to know him more, Paul also, despite all the miracles and healings, expresses a desire to know the power of his resurrection. Despite all the beatings, the stoning, the imprisonments, the ship wrecks, and the trials, Paul expresses a desire to know the fellowship of his sufferings. These things motivated Paul to a continuing walk in the Spirit. We need this same motivation; come out of the sea of flesh and receive!
Have you ever tried to mix oil and water? Stirring, shaking, even blending will not work; the oil and water will separate again with the oil on top. So it is with the Spirit and flesh. We struggle with a constant conflict in our members due to this daily battle between spirit and flesh. That is why the word speaks of crucifying the flesh, or dying daily. Most of us are on this continual path of struggle against the flesh to attain the things of the Spirit.
But an ultimate victory is possible; coming out of the sea of flesh, with humbleness, prayer, supplication, and complete and total yielding to God will bring you past that battle, and allow him to equip you for Spiritual warfare. If you can receive it and remain a servant, not having your own fleshly walk, he will bring you past the struggle.
After receiving an understanding of the sea of flesh, you will get a new understanding of the following scripture in Habakkuk;
Habakkuk 3:8 Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?
Before hearing of the sea of flesh, did you wonder why God had anger against the rivers, or wrath against the sea? Why would he need “… chariots of salvation …” against the sea? God is opening his word in these last days. Please read Habakkuk 3 again and ask God to open it to you. Verse 15 says;
Habakkuk 3:15 Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters.
The Lord does not go into the sea in this scripture, but through the parted waters, as a heap. Similarly, as Moses led the children of Israel through the heaps of waters at the Red Sea, the Spirit will lead you through the heaps of the sea of flesh. If only we can find this walk, we will truly find the place where nothing hinders or defeats us, and we will walk in high places, as Habakkuk notes;
Habakkuk 3:17 – 19 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.
God is calling you to these high places in him. What will you yield or give up to receive them?