The unseen but effective & all pervasive enemy
by Mark Heatherly 4/28/2009 / Christian Living
The most dangerous & damaging enemy one could have is the one that you cannot see. Much like a flu virus that spreads from one person to another infecting the whole society without a visible clue or trace, other than seeing the after effects in the visible manifestations of the illness.
The enemy of which I speak is all around us. It is present from the day we are born. It is in fact embraced as good & needful for the well-being of society. It is encouraged for all to participate in & even required by law in some instances! It is so powerful it shapes & determines what values & morals we have & even what are our discriminate likes & dislikes, our interests, our hopes, passions & dreams. It's reach & effect has also infiltrated the church & the individual's practice of Christianity. These become so deeply engrained within our person that it in effect makes us who we are if we let it. The trouble is, it is like the saying "How do you boil a frog? You place it in a pan of water at a comfortable temperature & increase the heat at an unperceivable rate until it is cooked". In other words, you impose your will upon someone in an unperceivable manner, beyond the detections of his natural senses.
So how does the enemy effectively defeat the Christian? Please read the following.
Every nation, tribe or village in all of history has had it. We refer to it simply as CULTURE. It is the culture of the "world". The bible refers to this phenomenon of cultural influence simply as "the world". It is formed, fashioned & integrated by the ruler of this world so as to entice & enslave the soul. It is like the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil to Eve it is very appealing & perfectly natural to the inclinations & desires of the soul of man. God is on one side trying to capture & save our souls while Satan stands on the opposite end to capture our souls to kill, steal & destroy. (Notice what Jesus told the people concerning His purpose for coming into the world, so as to undo the devices of Satan … Lk 4:18 “He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind”. ) The captives & the blind are the conditions of man due to the cultural influences imposed by Satan upon the earth.
This thing I can only refer to as culture, is such a powerful & hideous entity that John the Baptist was compelled to live apart from it altogether in the wilderness so as to be kept unblemished by it. He had to consecrate himself from not only the world but also the religion which had become influenced by the world at that time. His very mission was to baptize which implied a separation from the world through a symbolic death. This was imperative for John & his ministry that his soul might be unencumbered, free & available, thereby a vessel given up to be fully used by the Lord. Just as it is written, "when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light". Concerning "light" it says "In His light we see light" & also " In Him was life, and the life was the light of men".
What does light have to do with culture, you ask? Everything, because it is the opposite & only other alternative to light. There is darkness & light, there is no other. Just as there is God & Satan, there is also the tree of life & the tree of the knowledge of right & wrong. Just as with Adam, there are only two options for the life you choose to live, whether it be out from the soul relating to the realm & environment of this world (cultural environment) or there is the choice of living out from your spirit which transcends this realm & environment. The latter conforms to the image of Christ & His will. The former is complicity with Satan & his will. In it, one conforms to his philosophies, ideologies, systems, forms of wisdom (education), & etc. It is self-centered & self serving. A life lived out from the soul is thereby cloaked in darkness. The more soulish the person, greater the darkness, just as the further from the light you go, the darker it gets.
This is & always has been Satan's most effective strategy, to cause men to live out from their souls instead of the spirit. To live out from & walking in the spirit is Satan's greatest concern because in it he is defeated. Most people think his chief aim would be to cause people to sin. Satan wouldn't waste his time on such a thing when he knows that a man who walks according to his soul is one outside the light of God & is given over to sin. He is in darkness (without understanding), & is confined to the realm of the world & is without power to overcome the world & him. The soulish man is Satan's food. He has complete influence over such a one, much like a cat with a mouse.
There is no hope for such a Christian as this because to live out from the soul is to live outside of Christ. The greatest mistake the Christian makes is to assume that because we have accepted Christ for our redemption , that we are automatically now of the tree of life. This is simply the first step of a life long journey of many, many steps of faith that leads to the tree of life. It is only to be realized from a walk in the spirit. This can only be realized through the resurrection power of Christ. Death is the pre-requisite to resurrection. Jesus said, "anyone who wishes to come after Me MUST deny himself, take up his cross & follow Me" & also, "unless a grain of wheat fall into the earth & dies it abides in itself alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit". Jesus being the perfect example went so far as to say "I can do NOTHING of myself but I only speak what I hear from the Father".
What does all this mean in practical terms? First of all, to die to self or to lose your life means to stop living by the "life" of the soul. The soul (the combination of the mind, will & emotions) has a way of living that is apart from God as it is the way of the world. It is of the same constitution & make up of Satan because it is infected with the disease we call the flesh. The flesh, we know sets itself against the spirit & the spirit against the flesh. As Christians we need to constantly be about rendering the flesh out of commission. The flesh cannot die until our physical body dies so we have to halt it's powerful influence. We do this by faith in the Lord Jesus. By faith are we in Him so that when He was crucified, we were crucified. One who is dead is freed from the slavery of the flesh. This is an objective & undeniable fact however the subjective or personal & literal experience of this must be worked out. This is the "working out of our salvation" that Paul referred to.
This brings me back to the main topic here concerning the evil influence of Satan's worldly cultural devises. The main way towards a walk in the spirit is the denial of the soul life. Unfortunately, this is not merely a one time choice but a daily one that requires us to " take up our cross daily" unto the dieing of self (or the soul life). The world has a gravitational pull on the soul which Satan uses to ensnare & enslave. As we entertain or indulge our soul with it's innate inclinations for self we are plunged deeper into the world of darkness & chaos. Thus, the saying is true that you will reap what you sow. If we sow unto the spirit we will from the spirit, reap eternal life (which is Jesus Christ). This means we will walk in the light as He is in the light.
Back to the culture thing. Culture is where one engages his soul in the activities of the world such as in sports, education, arts, music & other forms of entertainment as well as in philosophies & ideologies and even in the practice of religions. It is the pursuit of status & esteem among people, the good life, a life of success, accomplishments & refinement & even yes, the pursuit of all things GOOD. Culture also contains various forms of "self" development of which there exists hundreds & thousands of so-called self help books. Library's & book stores have entire self-help sections. This is really nothing more than the development Satan offered to Adam & Eve through which they could supposedly be like God. They could develop themselves into God likeness through the powers of the soul (soul power!).
Through traditions & peer pressure, culture can also shape general as well as specific attitudes, opinions & practices. These in turn effect our whole lives & the way we live, including the practices & beliefs of Christians! Jesus touched on this when He rebuked the religious people for setting aside the commandments of God in favor of the traditions developed & passed on by men. Think this couldn't possibly happen today in our advanced & learned churches? How about the "development & establishment" of the very foundation of today's churches?
The church is supposed to be the body of Christ in its meetings & its function & that where two or more are gathered together in His name, there He is. Today's tradition is one where all the members must not speak or participate at all but instead are to only listen to one who is appointed as a pastor or teacher. This was not the structure of the early meetings because it prevented true fellowship & participation in Christ. The spirits of the saints need to fellowship with the spirits of the other saints to both grow in life & to function. Today's church however, is the devise of Satan to keep the saints away from the truth, the way & the life! Today's church is not church at all. It is nothing more than the outward formal practice of religion. This is referred to in the last days in which they "hold to a FORM of godliness but have denied the power thereof". The forms, consisting of the outward or external teachings, practices & methods are there, but the inward power; the reality & expression of the inner Spirit within our spirit is not experienced & manifested.
It also says that they "are ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth". What is truth? Jesus said He is the truth! Another word for truth is reality. Unless & until we come to this knowledge of the truth we are merely living as men. We are merely living out from our souls & know nothing of the reality of Christ. The reality of Christ is a life & a way of living & it is not only in stark contrast & opposition to the life & the way & the reality of this world but it is of such a kind that without divine revelation, it cannot be understood or touched nor experienced. It is such that when you experience it, you know it but if it has not been revealed to you in your spirit by way of experience you will never know. You cannot say you haven't experienced it, nor can you say you have. It remains a complete mystery to such a person. You might say that when you know it, you know it but when you don't know it, you simply cannot know it. This is not meant to be a cute play on words but rather it is a sober spiritual truth.
This is the sad & tragic state of the so-called church today. How could it have possibly gone astray from the truth. In the early church the Christian life was referred to as the "way". I believe this was because their "way" of living was so NOT of this world, so other worldly. It was so contrary to the way of the world that people hated & despised them. Even the religious people wanted to do away with them. They were true ambassadors of Christ for their kingdom & reality was in heaven. They did not care for the things of this world. Today's Christian not only cares for the world & it's things but indulges itself in it by some sort of self-righteous, religious entitlement. At this point I do not care to expound upon the evils of the so-called "prosperity doctrine" but rather guide the reader to the simple point of how this is the indulgence of the soul & the flesh in worldly desires. It is like running head long into the snare of the devil. We must remember that our Father has said that "he who loves the world, the love of the father is not in him". The reason He says this is because all the things of this world are under the domain & the systematized influence of Satan & used to enslave people within the confines of a living out from the soul life. The things of this world can be likened to fire. When used properly it is valuable for service in cooking foods, keeping warm, making products & etc. but you have to be careful not to touch it or it will cause harm & injury. The things of this world, have a drawing power which attract, occupy & enslave. This is why Jesus said "where your treasure is there your heart will be also".
Watch & be on the alert as the enemy is seeking to devour! We must humble ourselves before the Lord & allow Him to pull down the false ways, reasonings & concepts that have been placed there as traps from the enemy through the influences of culture (the world). These are obstacles that must be overcome as they prevent our spiritual well being & frustrate the will of God. Do not be deceived, as we all have cultural ways & concepts that are false. For it to be deception means that it must appear right or good in the first place. We cannot trust the powers of our souls in making spiritual distinctions & discernments. To attempt to do so will always lead to error & chaos because it employs the use of the soul powers once again. We must take head as it is written, " be still o my soul & see the salvation of the Lord".
In closing, I encourage all to become skeptical & leery of culture & the ways of the world. Become a true seeker who is willing to be willing to lose all that you may gain allHim! Purify your hearts you double minded!
Realize this truth. " In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." We reside in a world estranged from God & His light. It is full of darkness. He resides in unapproachable light but that light manifested itself in the humble form of a man & the darkness in men could not comprehend it. However, as we draw near to God in sincerity, He draws near to us. As we, by faith trust in Him to do what we cannot do, abiding in Him , we purify our souls (die to self & the soul life) & the lens of our eyes begin to clear up & we begin to see great & mighty things of which we knew not. In such a one the light begins to shine forth as the day dawns & the morning star arises in your heart.
You only have one heart. Guard it with all diligence as where your treasures are, there your heart will be also. Keep in mind that a treasure can be anything which you place or hold to be of interest, value or esteem. These include but are not limited to the following : family, careers, status & esteem from others (even simple acknowledgement for your good deeds), money, possessions, entertainment & pleasure seeking & even such things as a ministry or your religious views & practices.
We are too weak so as to accomplish the doctrine of the day which is to place God first, others second & so on. We do not have any kind of power to put things in any kind of order such as this. Instead we are to simply lose all for the surpassing greatness of obtaining Him. To love the Lord with ALL your heart, & soul & might. Think on thatALL. Instead of trying to place all your ducks in a row, instead of trying to keep your heart inappropriately attached to things which you treasure other than God by supposedly assigning them a pecking order somewhere below the Lord, why not instead just focus on loving Him with all your heart. Lose all attachments & encumbrances & you may just find yourself smack dab in the will of God, walking in the light as He is in the light. In so doing I think you will find that the things of this earth grow strongly dim.
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