Light of men

forest-657903_640John 1:4: In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (ESV)

Before Jesus came men were living in darkness, their understanding who God is was warped at best. Jesus become the revelation of the father, the full revelation (Hebrews 1:1-3).

He journeyed from heaven as the light of men. The bible says that in him was life and life was the light of men (John 1:1-6). Therefore in him, life and light are intrinsic linked.

When Man died spiritually in the Garden of Eden, he retreated into the darkness. But in Jesus we are taken from that place, and now we can know God and be strong because it is those who know their God who will be strong and do exploits (Daniel 11:32b).

With the seed light of the knowledge of Christ in our heart, we can grow more and more in the things of God. Peter said we need to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of God (2Peter 3:18). That takes a deliberate effort. We cannot just say we are saved, that we have the light, we should seek to grow in that light, because the bible says that the path of the righteous shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.

You grow in the light by pursuing truth. When Mary the sister of Martha sat at the feet of Jesus she was soaking in light listening to the words of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). We need to pay attention to the word of God. And that takes time and effort, powered by spiritual hunger.

While Paul was in the land of Ephesus preaching for two years at the end of that the bible says so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed, because the light intensity was very high. Again I say, it takes time (Acts 19:10-20).

Apart from hunger and thirst for truth, we also need to prayer for spiritual enlightenment. Paul prayed that the eyes of the heart of the Christians in Ephesus be enlightened, so that they come into the knowledge of God’s truth about themselves (Ephesians 1:15-21).

The devil has a vested interest in keeping us in darkness, he blinds people’s heart not to allow the light of the word to shine there for salvation and I dare say that to a limited sense he still wants to keep Christians in bondage so that we do not gain the full freedom that we have in Christ (Philemon 1:6, 2Corinthians 4:4).

We may not walk in the reality of what we do not know and the right walk crushed the head of the devil in our life. Paul said that the God of peace will soon crush the devil under the feet of some people (Romans 16:20). With the feet with which we walk in the reality of the presence, power, and purpose of God, we defeat the enemy’s wiles.

The devil wants to keep us from light, even though we have come to Christ. He erects different barriers on our path into more light. With prayer, we confront him. Paul asked a particular church to pray for him so that the word of God (which is the light because Jesus is the light and the Word) will have free course and be glorified (2Thessalonians 3:1). That prayer was necessary because of the opposition of Satan to that reality. There was a time he said he wanted to go somewhere but, he said, Satan hindered him (1Thessalonians 2:18). He was going their bearing the light of Christ but Satan will have none of it. But with prayer we come out tops.

We are meant to be light bearers. Just as Jesus said that the father sent him (to be the light of the world) so he has sent us (John 20:21). The disciples were first called Christ in Antioch and that meant: follower of Christs (Acts 11:26).

Paul said that the goal of the Christian minister is to teach every man, present every man perfect tin Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:28). he wrote to the Ephesian church that God has set some in the church: apostles, prophets, teacher, evangelist to equip the saints for the building up of the body of Christ and till we are no longer children tossed to and fro by any wind of doctrine, by the evil machination men or corrupt minds, speaking the truth in lie, but we grow up in all things to the full measure of the stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-22).

So if Christ is light, Christians are to manifest the light in our multiplied number. That was why he told the disciples that it was good he went away, departing from them to heaven, because without that the Holy Spirit will not why come.

Why?

Because Jesus in his life was given the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). The Spirit without measure is not upon any other individual.

As he has the spirit without measure, so he is light without measure, and we are light in a measure, with a limitation. Paul said we have received the measure of faith according to the measure of Christ’s gift and we should use that gift in proportion to our faith (Romans 12:1-8).

To the limit that we use the gifts we have received from Christ, we shine his light, represent him and be a blessing to others. There is no light in any other, in any other and what you have is darkness. He came so that we will not walk in darkness.

We receive the light and we lead others into the experience of it. Jesus did not have a local agenda for his message. He said that when the disciples have the Holy Spirit come upon them, he said that they will be his witnesses everywhere from Jerusalem to far-flung places, all by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

That was why it was important that he goes because when he goes then he will send the Holy Spirit, which he was filled with when on earth. And just as the Holy Spirit moved Christ to meet the needs of others we will be stirred in a similar direction, and become light of men.  Paul said Timothy should be light, be an example to others; similarly, you should be a light bearer (1Timothy 4:12).

 

 

 

 

 

Curing those who had need of healing

church-753815_640Luke 9:11: When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.

In the ministry of Jesus, there was healing galore. From head to toe people were touched with the healing presence that manifested through his life. The number of the sick did not intimidate nor the severity of the condition. He even raised the dead. He was God in the flesh on a restoration mission to help us out of our quagmire and set our feet on solid rock.

At a time, Jesus was teaching, and it was noted that the power of God was present to heal (Luke 5:17-26). And a man was brought in by his four friends who had enough faith to break through the roof of the house where Jesus was to get to him, because there was no way at the door because of the crowd.

And Jesus first said to the man: “your sins are forgiven you,” before saying “rise up and walk.” He told him to do what he was not able to do before. Jesus demonstrated his power both to forgive sin and heal the sick, to do both the in-tangle and the tangible things. Here we see the evidence of his lack of limitation. He can both lift the burden of sin and also the burden of sickness. He is without limit either to restore relationship with God through forgiving sin and restoring health to the body. Anything God can do, he can do because he is God.

There was a woman who suffered for 12 years from an illness and had become pauperised because of it, having spent a lot with physicians (Luke 8:43-48). None could give her a solution. She saw her solution in Jesus and pressed through the crowd when Jesus was passing to reach out to him. And immediately the flowing blood stopped, the problem of years ended in a moment. What her money could not do, Jesus did. Her lack of money was not a barrier to receiving from Jesus. Here was a woman who was at the end of herself, with nowhere to go to get solution and no money to go there, but she got solution through Jesus, the walking goodness of God.

There was another man sick for 38 years that Jesus healed. He had been in that condition before Jesus was born. It shows that regardless of the length of time, Jesus is able to heal him (John 5). The man was raised from his sick bed by Jesus with merely a word of command. Jesus said his words are spirit and life (John 6:63). They are not empty words.

He said that he was anointed to meet needs (Luke 4:18-19). When he came back from the wilderness after he was tempted by the devil, he entered into the synagogue and opened the scroll of prophet Isaiah that was given to him, he said: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to preach recovery of sight to the blind, and deliverance to the captives.

His was an healing and deliverance and gospel. That is what he embodies. He says that he is the light of the world (John 9:1-5). What that a means is that without him we are in darkness, we will not see our ways, we will be injured, fall into the pit. He said the enemy came to steal kill and destroy, but he came to give us life (John 10:10), he came to destroy the works of the devil.

While he was on the earth he sent disciples to cast out devils, as his representatives, bringing relief to many people. He gave them power such as he had and they were able to reproduce the mighty works in his life.

He is “designed” to meet our needs. He was called the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He was called the word, the revelation of God to us, because since the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, man lost full contact with God, and Jesus, as God the Word, became man to teach us about the Father, being himself the revelation of the father.

The book of Hebrews says that in time past God in a limited sense spoke to us by the prophet, but in this last days he has spoken to us through his Son, who is full manifestation of the glory, the complete expression of his person (Hebrews 1:1-3).

The bible says that God has invested his son with the right to judge because the world needs justice (John 5:22).  And Isaiah wrote about Jesus, he said: the Spirit of the Lord is upon him, (that means he is invested with God himself), the spirit of wisdom and understanding, knowledge and counsel, might and fear of the lord, and his will not judge by the hearing of the ears but will judge righteous judgment (Isaiah 11:1-6).

He did all things while maintaining a close relationship with the father, obeying him, resisting the temptation of the devil, with living a life of prayer featuring prominently in his life.

He prayed all night, prayed early in the morning, prayer at intervals in the day. He manifested the glory of God because he had connected with the glory in a vital immediate sense in the place of prayer. There was a time the bible says that people were rushing to touch the garment of garment and everyone who did, was healed, but just before then he was involved in many hours of prayer (Luke 5:19). Prayer was the source of his power as was the source of the power of Elijah who also did great things in his time.

The bible says that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we can ask or think according to the power at work in us (Ephesians 3:20). That means God is not limited.

Rain of righteousness

water-209901_640Hosea 10:12: Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

God wants to rain righteousness. His plan is that righteousness flows like a mighty river (Amos 5:24). But for that to happen we need to operate in the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord, we are told, is the foundation of wisdom and wisdom is doing the right thing to get the right result (Proverbs 9:10). The fear of God is to consider that doing the right thing, according to God’s definition of what is right, is the wise thing.

The bible says: there is a way that seems the best to man, but the end is destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Because God sees the end from the beginning, we will do well to submit to his perspective.

There is power in doing the right thing. Doing right is not for nothing, it establishes the rule of God around us, empowers the angels to act on our behalf since they act on the word of God (Psalm 103:20). And doing the right thing is acting on the word of God. When your life lines up with the word, angels line up with you.

When our life is marked by the will of God, we become living sacrifices, living proclamations of the will and word of God, we create the atmosphere for the operations of angels, for the operation of the supernatural around us.

The rain of righteousness allows us to flourish. Following the example of the man described in Psalm 1, we become like a tree planted by rivers of living water. We flourish because we make the word of God our guiding light and are able to do the right thing at the right time for the right results.

God told Joshua: this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, and the result will be great success (Joshua 1:8). So for Joshua, success was not automatic, it was not the default mode, it will be by a rain of righteousness powered by the life plugged to the word of God.

When you do the right thing you attract the presence of God. Jesus said that if we obey him, he and the father will have their dwelling with us (John 14:21-23).

We are called to bear fruit and for our fruit to abide (John 15:1-5). Bearing fruit is about the lifestyle that is linked to the will of God. Jesus said without him we can do nothing significant, nothing worthwhile, nothing of ultimate relevance i.e. of eternal relevance, something that we will be rewarded for at the end of time.

And it is when we allow God to work in us, that we are primed to do his will in every way. Paul says: God is at work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). His good pleasure is about righteousness, about holiness with Peter writing that we should be holy as the Lord our God is holy (1Peter 1:15-16). The word of God represents him. As we dwell in the word we dwell in God. Paul said we need to have the word of God dwelling in us richly, then we can speak right (Colossians 3:16).

Rain in the natural is something beyond us, it is not something that we generate ourselves. After a time of siege in the land of Samaria, famine was rife, there was a “drought” of provision, and what they needed was a “rain (2Kings 6:24-7:20).” The one who does not believe will perish like the king’s aide in the time of famine in Samaria did (John 3:16).

Two women decided to kill their children one after the other, because of the severity of the need for food. They ate one child the first day but the next day the other woman was not forthcoming, and she reported to the king, who tore his cloth in utter helplessness.

If he could do something about it, he would have done something. Soon after, God spoke through Elisha addressing the situation. He said within twenty-four hours, there will be a total transformation, there will be a “rain” of provision, and the drought will be no more. And it came about by a supernatural supply from outside of the city.

Similarly for righteousness. We do not have the ability to produce righteousness in ourselves. We are helpless in that regard. We have a drought of it. Paul puts it this way: the good I want to do I cannot do and the bad I do not want to do that is what I do (Romans 7:14-25).

Isaiah said that our righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). For example, if oranges represent righteousness, there is no getting oranges from an apple tree. But within a moment when we believe the gospel and are born again (John 5:24), instantly we come from the drought of righteousness to the surplus of righteousness, having the righteousness of Jesus Christ invested in us as a gift, and there is no greater supply of righteousness than the righteousness of Jesus.

Through Jesus we become new creatures (2Corinthians 5:17), enabled to live right by the power of God. Jesus is the gate to the full realisation of the plans and purposes of God for humanity, which starts with being righteous, and “being” righteous is the gateway to “living” righteous.

The number one question we should ask is: what does God say? Living in alignment with that is living based on truth. Before Jesus came we were lost, we had lost the essence of God, lost the word and the presence of God. Though God is everywhere, we were in a spiritual sense disconnected from him.

God told the children of Israel: you have committed two evils; you have forsaken me the fountain of living waters and hewed for yourself broken cistern that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13). Leaving God landed us in the parched places of the earth, in a state of drought.

David wrote that he thirsts for God, for the living God as the deer longs for the water-brooks (Psalm 42:1-2). Jesus agrees with him saying those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6). We thirst for what we lack, for what we believe our life depends on, which true righteousness, being right with God.

It takes these two things to rule

robot-507811_640Psalm 110:2: The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!

There are two laws to obey for us to rule

1. Obedience, 2. Word of power

Obedience

Jesus was called to have dominion on the earth, but he did not start that way, he was born in the manger (Luke 2:7). There, he identified with his calling as the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

It was a lowly place, but it shows us that our temporary circumstance is not the determinant of what our end will be.

Saul never thought he will be a ruler in Israel. He was not planning on it, not scheming like Absalom and Adonijah, two sons of David did, who later died in their bid to get to the throne.

He was not looking for the throne, the throne was looking for him, but later on he lost his sense of nothingness, started thinking he was a big deal and got the attitude of disobedience. He forgot that the position is not about him but about God and what he wants to accomplish on the earth through him. He began to set his own agenda, do his own things, and he lost his rulership.

That was why Jesus, later on, was called the son of David and not son of Saul. He was associated with David who was described as the man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22), meaning he did not have any other purpose except God’s. He was God’s preferred ruler.

He set his heart to build a house for God, but even in that, he was still submissive to the will of God when it was made clear to him that his son, and not him, will build the temple.

It was a purpose God has chosen for Solomon, David’s son. Therefore part of being in the purpose of God is  to know what you are not meant to do, what you are not to get involved with, where you are no to go, who you are not to be with.

Knowing what is not for you is as important as knowing what is for you. Jesus knew what he should not do, he did not embrace the demand of the people on him, when they sought to make him King, choosing rather to carry the cross and die, being the will of God for him.

Some asked him to give them a sign to gain their approval, but he said: an evil and adulterous generation seek for a sign but none shall be shown to him except that of Jonah (Matthew 12:28-40) who spent three days in the belly of the fish. Jesus was hinting at what will happen to him based on his obedience to God, dying and becoming raised up from the dead.

He was not a people-pleaser, not interested in moving to the rhythm of human demands. He was in connection with God in every way and would not be pressured by men to satisfy their need for control.

The temptation of Jesus was also about the devil testing him if he has the tendency to be pressured into wrong action by another will, contrary to the will of God (Luke 4:1-12).

He tempted him in different areas of self-will: self-preservation, self-expression and selfish ambition, saying he should turn stones to bread to satisfy himself (pressuring him with what he was feeling), jump from a height to prove himself (pressuring him with the need to be prove himself to others), bow to him to gain things for himself (pressuring him with what he wanted to achieve) respectively.

Jesus would not rule if not in alignment with God, just as Adam and Eve stopped ruling when they disobeyed God, when they went out of alignment with him.

After Jesus had fulfilled the will of God on the earth, he was given the dominion. He said: all power in heaven and on the earth has been given to me (Matthew 28:18-20). He became the bread of life indeed (giving life to others) (John 6); before, the devil wanted him to turn bread to life just to feed himself.

While the devil wanted him to jump from a height for self-glorification, he busted up from the grave, and he was lifted up to heaven after his resurrection, to the glory of God (Acts 1:9, Romans 1:4). He was declared the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead.

He got everything the devil tempted him with and much more when he maintained his alignment with God through obedience. But the devil got Adam and Eve to move away from the rule of God with the false promise of wisdom, and they lost the wisdom they had to start with, they were taken from the place of dominion that God created them to be in (Genesis 3).

The devil offered Jesus the earth, but after Jesus obeyed God to the point of death and he got all powers in heaven and on earth, which was a better deal.

If God is not ruling through you then you are not ruling since he is the true king. All other dominions are derived from his dominion (Colossians 1:16).

King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the total dominion of God on the earth. He said he is the true ruler. But before that he had become arrogant and got punished for it. What he had, his position, “entered into his head” and he was “confused” about who truly is “the mighty one, the King” (Daniel 4).

He thought he was something special because he had such a great palace. And had crushed many kings, but he was judged for the pride of his heart and his dominion was taken away from him and he became like an animal for seven years and was restored to his own rule when he acknowledged the rule of God.

The Bible says that God has given Jesus a name that is above every other name and that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every mouth confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:5-11). Not to willingly acknowledge the rule of Jesus will lead to being made to forcefully recognise it.

Word of power

The rule of a king manifests in giving commandments that are obeyed. That is why there is power in the word of God. When he said let there be light, there was light, as he ruled through his word (Genesis 1:1-3). His rule is about light and he dispels another kind of rule, the rule of the devil, which is darkness.

When the word of God is declared, his rule is declared; because the word encapsulates his power. To establish the rulership of Adam on the earth, God asked him to declare words over the creatures, what he named them that was what they were called (Genesis 2:18-20), and his words carried that much power determining things, and that is what it means to rule (Ecclesiastes 8:4).

Dominion as a spiritual term means existing in an higher order above others. The word of God, representing an higher order, the order of heaven, creates the atmosphere of heaven, it pulls down the works of darkness, establishes the rule of heaven over the earth.

Finding God, finding man

man-122968_6402Chronicles 34:15: Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan.

Finding God

The whole bible is about the rediscovery of God.

In the Garden of Eden God made himself available to man. God was unveiled. There was rapport being God and man as they made steady progress in the knowledge of God.

But when God cut off Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, human beings began to degenerate in their knowledge of God.

In the midst of that degeneracy, the nation of Israel was picked to incubate the oracles of God (Romans 3:2), the words written in the different books of the bible. 66 of them have been delivered to the world as divine window into who God is. The contain words that have great spiritual implication in the rediscovery of God by humanity.

While the devil had a gateway into the earth through his deceit of Adam and Eve to spread his influence, the Lord was preparing his own influence in the written word, delivered by prophets. The bible is right now the bestseller in the world, it has changed culture and is changing culture. It is the book of the largest religious adherents in the world- Christians.

When the word of God comes into us, we are able to rise up above all the negative influences around.

The word in the mouth also makes us a tool of influence in the hand of God. God said: thou art a battle axe and a weapon of warfare, with you I will break in pieces the nations (Jeremiah 51:20).

God is ready to do mighty things in us and through us, via his word. When Paul spoke for two years in Ephesus, the bible says: so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed (Acts 19:9-21).

It prevailed over the demonic practices of the people so much so that many who practised “curious arts” brought their books and occult materials to be burnt.

They bowed to the supreme power inherent in the word. They found out that all the discoveries they thought they were making in those books, were nothing more than evil traps. The discovery of God via his word was better.

When Philip went to Samaria to proclaim Christ, a sorcerer was there who had amazed the people with his magic (Acts 8). But when Philip proclaimed Christ, there was greater manifestation of the supernatural than anything the people could imagine or has experienced with numerous people getting healed.

The word dominated in that city and many swore allegiance to Jesus. Jesus described himself as not coming to cancel out the law but as the embodiment of its fulfilment (Matthew 5:17). As the fullness of the Godhead bodily, he is the embodiment of divine revelation, discovery (Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 1:1-3). The words of the scripture reveal him, reveal God, as He is God (John 5:39).

We need more than a lifetime to find the knowledge of God that was lost in the first Adam. But not to worry, we have eternity to come fully into the knowledge of God, as Jesus as secured eternal bliss for us in his death (Romans 5:21), so we can find God. God said if we seek him we will find him, as we seek him with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Finding man

Man was lost and Jesus came to find us. Jesus defined his mission via the incarnation as coming to save the lost (Luke 19:10). And in a series of parables Jesus described how that job will be done. He gave the parables of the lost coin, lost sheep and lost son (Luke 15).

Lost son

The lost son was the second born of a man. He demanded for, and got from the father, his inheritance while the father was still alive. The father in the generosity of his heart divided his goods and gave his portion to him, but at the end he squandered it.

He became lost to the father but he “allowed” himself to be found. He retraced his steps.

His needs were not being met where he went, then he remembered the father.

Jesus said that he has come to reveal the father to us, make us “remember” him, and discovered that our needs can be fully met in him, and that will cause us to retrace our steps back to the father, through Jesus the way (John 14:6).

The lost son came back to the father’s house, and Jesus said that he has gone to prepare a place for us so that where he is we would be also (John 14:1-3).

Lost sheep

The story of the lost sheep presents man as totally helpless. The sheep took the wrong turn, but the initiative is made by the shepherd to seek and save the lost.

The lost is pursued by the shepherd, who feels the responsibility to save him from the destruction he seemed to be walking into. The bible says while we were dead in trespasses and sins, Christ died for the ungodly (Ephesians 2:1, Romans 5:6).

The lost sheep was brought back to the fold.

Lost coin

This is about a woman who lost one of her precious coins. And she lighted a lamp to search for it, making every effort, looking everywhere for it. The light stands for truth and truth becomes the tool for finding the lost.  And Jesus has sent us with the light of the gospel to reach out to the lost and bring them into his fold (Matthew 28:18-20).

The lost coin was found and was put back among others. It gets to be useful to the owner.

Conclusion

All these stories give the picture of restoration- going back to where you were, what you had, where you belong, where you are celebrated, wanted, welcomed, protected, loved, valued.

There is celebration at the end in each case.

There is joy when a desire is met.

From the three parables, the desire of the father, the woman, and the shepherd, were evident and were fulfilled. And that gives the picture of the involvement of God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in the process of salvation.

The story of the lost son shows the disposition of the Father (Hebrews 12:9), that of the lost coin reveals the Holy Spirit, being the oil in the lamp (Acts 10:38), while Jesus is the quintessential shepherd (John 10). They are all involved in the process of finding lost man, since they were involved in the original making of man (Genesis 1:26-28).

The enemy’s plan

us-army-379036_640Exodus 15:9: The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’

The bible says that when the enemy shall come like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19).

The focus verse says three things which capture the direction of the enemy:

I will pursue

The devil pursued Jesus to the wilderness tempting him (Luke 4:1-13). He was not going to leave him alone to ravage his kingdom in whatever way he wants.

The devil is still the tempter, still in the business of tempting, and he is not retiring anytime soon. He comes with different suggestions. The devil pursued Eve with temptation, and she was eventually captured in the web of sin (Genesis 3).

If the devil has any vision at all, it is to entrap us in sin. He creates tempting situation around us. The persecution he sends our way is to tempt us away from allegiance to Christ, because he wants our allegiance of himself. If our allegiance is not to Jesus, then it is to the devil, no matter who/what he is manifesting through to capture our allegiance away from Christ.

The words of the focus verse were the songs of Moses revealing what was in the mind of the army of Egypt as they pursued the Israelites as they walked free from Egypt. They could not think of a life in which they will not have their slaves. And so they decided they’ll rather die than lose their slaves. Similarly, the devil will rather go to hell than not have people subservient to him.

The ultimate enemy (Satan) “feeds” on those who serve/worship him, through which human beings give him power, make his lord, give him authority. But when we submit to Jesus, we transfer the right to have authority over us to Jesus from the devil.

The devil pursues to the end. The enemy is not the enemy if he does not have anyone to oppress, he is not the adversary if he is not tramping on people.

Peter said that the enemy roars like lion looking for whom to devour (1Peter 5:8). He is called the devourer, the enemy, Jesus said, has come to steal kill and destroy (John 10:10). The bible says the devil has wiles (Ephesians 6:11), schemes, he is the harbinger of hate, having a lot of fury.

There was war in heaven and the Michael and his angel fought with the devil and his angel (Revelation 12:7-12), and was beaten to the earth having great fury because his time was short.

He is out to trap people in more and more bondage using the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). But Jesus has come that we might live in abundance, that we might move above the principalities and power, embodied with his power, and his name, shining with his light, expressing his glory.

While Jesus went about healing those who are oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38), the devil stands as opposer to everything good. But with the name of Jesus we get to set people free from the bondage in which he puts them.

Since he is darkness the bible says that we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, the kingdom of Jesus (Colossians 1:13). We are no longer alone but greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world (1John 4:4, 5:4). We have authority to trample upon snakes and scorpion (Luke 10:19).

I will overtake

Overtaking means to take over. The devil does not just want to steal but he wants to kill and destroy. The devil does not just want a foothold he wants ten miles. He does not just want to deceive, he wants to control. The enemy said: I will pursue (talking about his effort) I will overtake (talking about his intention) I will divide the spoil (the endpoint).

Paul said if we are ignorant of the devices of the devil, he will take advantage of us, overtake us (2Corinthians 2:11).  We have need for wisdom for us to be able to stay above the wave of Satan’s intention.

When we walk in the light, we are able to overcome darkness. When we walk in the truth we are able to overcome the enemy whose forte is deception. Without the tool of deception, the enemy cannot do anything, without the gates of lies, there is no gate of hell, and the devil cannot keep us imprisoned. When the door of deception is closed, the door to the devil is closed. And change and freedom come when we come into the light when we come into truth.

I will divide the spoil

Just as God has a kingdom, and he wants to divide different inheritances to his children (Acts 20:32), the devil, who at best attempts to be a copycat, does something similar.

When the devil became the god of this world (2Corinthians 4:4) he divided it among his demonic forces.  Hence there were the prince of the Persia and the prince of Greece (Daniel 10:20). There are principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:10-12). These all give personality to the darkened influence in the world.

“Divide the spoil” is also a statement about the plan to maintain what has been gained. So also we need to have plans to maintain the territories that we have gotten through the preaching of the kingdom of God.

Jesus is the model. After the work he did on the earth, he did not just wish his followers the best, but he gave them an instruction, on how to divide the spoil.

He said that they should make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Through the process of discipleship, they maintain and expand the territory. It is true the saying that if we are not moving forward, we are moving backwards. We not only help those who believe to grow but also help them to grow others.

That was what Paul told timothy. He said: the things you have heard from me, commit to faithful men who will also be teach others also. It is a chain reaction caused by the process and principle of discipleship (2Timothy 2:2).

The devil also have his own kind of discipleship. His own mentorship programme.

He extends his influence, multiplied it, by messing up the family. That was what he did in the first few chapters of the bible. He was after the family, because, he thought, if he messed up the parents, the children are all but guaranteed to be messed up, at least at the beginning.

In the same way God set the family as his discipleship platform, he said of Abraham I know him, which he will instruct his children to continue in my word (Genesis 18:19). And in the establishment of the nation of Israel, God said that the older ones should teach the younger to learn and do the word (Deuteronomy 32:46). And the church should also be a family and in that context, discipleship goes on.

Dealing with Satan’s fiery darts

arrow-160075_640Ephesians 6:16: In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

The fiery darts of the enemy come in different forms. It can come in the form of the words spoken through Satan’s messengers (whether they know it or not).

That was the way Elijah experienced the fiery dart of the devil from the words of the Jezebel (1Kings 18:27-19:4), and he ran for his dear life, feeling that he was rotten and worthy of death.

Before then he was on top of the world figuratively and on top of the Mount Carmel literally where he dealt a major blow to the worship of false gods in the land of Israel. While Elijah put a sword to the neck of those false prophets, Jezebel struck at him with the piercing sword of her mouth.

But there is the shied of faith, so that in the face of the fiery darts of the enemy. But you cannot deal with the fiery dart of the enemy if you are not on guard. If you do not see it coming, how can you defend against? Jesus told us that the enemy “has come to steal to kill and destroy (John 10:10),” because he does not want his disciples to be ignorant. He does not desire numbed-eyed Christians who are ignorant of the devices of the devil, and so fall prey easily.

Jesus told his disciple watch and pray so that we do not fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41), fall prey to the enemy. He wants us to have the watchfulness of faith, not the weariness of fear. He told Peter the enemy seeks to sieve you but I have been watchful over you in the place of prayer (Luke 22:31-32), so that after all is said and done your faith will still be standing, that when the fiery dart come, your shield (of faith) will be up.

When the fiery dart of the enemy came into the Garden of Eden in the first chapters of the bible, Eve was not watchful, and neither was Adam (Genesis 3). Eve allowed a demonic invasion of her mind, and she fell for the deception of the devil.

Similarly, Paul asked the Galatian church: who has deceived you that you have turned back from obeying the gospel (Galatians 3:1), the word of truth manifested through the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the release of the Holy Spirit from heaven and the intending judgement of the inhabitants of the earth and the devil? The fiery dart of deception came to the church and their shied of faith was not up

Jesus speaking by the Spirit said I saw the devil fall like lightning (Luke 10:18). So, he was not intimidated by the devil and not ignorant of him. He knew how to deal with him, keep him in his place.

When Peter spoke to him about not going through with the cross (Matthew 16:21-23), being his purpose on the earth, Jesus immediately recognised that as the fiery dart of the enemy, calling Peter Satan. He said to him: get behind me Satan.

Peter said that we should resist the devil, though he comes around like a roaring lion seeking whom to devour (1Peter 5:8-9). Those he can devour become “minus-you” when you put up your faith-shield, when you hide under the cover of the word that protects you, as your insurance cover.

But when Eve was willing to put aside the word of God she became a sitting duck for the enemy. Why is the word important? The words from the mouth of God outlined in the pages of the bible, when you affirm it (raise it like shield), is like the raising up the standard when the enemy comes like a flood (Isaiah 59:19).

Faith is stringed together with the thread of the word of God. As it is written, faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). The components of your faith are derivatives of the word of God. It is the life in it, countering the death-stream that comes from the words of the devil.

The attack of the devil in the wilderness on Jesus was mostly about his identity. It was: if you are the son of God do this, do that.

But Jesus upheld the word that was released to him before the temptation. When he was being baptised by John, the heaven opened and God spoke to affirm his identity as His son (Luke 3:21-23, 4:1-12). He was not like Eve who let down the word of God that they should not eat the forbidden truth.

Jesus put up in his mind the words about his identity so that the darts of the enemy attacking him at that point, seeking to introduce doubts into him, will not stand, that it would not pierce him but fall down.

As mentioned earlier, Jesus told his disciples to watch and pray. When they watch they know what to pray about and when they pray they change things to their favour.

The enemy is all about staking the odds high against you, but you should be unperturbed, because God works everything in your favour (Romans 8:28). After all is said and done, you will still be standing, hands raised as a victor (1John 4:4, 5:4).

Paul admonished us to put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). That is part of being on guard, part of being strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, part of being watchful.

We would not put the armour if we are not watchful, ready for battle, ready to take the battle to the enemies’ territory and not back down.

Jesus said: I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18).  That implies that the church must be aware of the gates of hell which seeks to overcome it.

Apart from the force of false doctrine, there are spirits of distraction, seeking to pull us away from the pursuit of the right things.

The persecutions that Paul faced were meant to pull him back from his mission. And even before Paul started, God told Ananias (his first contact with a Christian after he encountered God on the way to Damascus where he set out to destroy the church) (Acts 9:1-16) he was going to suffer much for the sake of Christ.

So that pre-knowledge helped Paul to stand strong. That is the real preparation for the gospel of peace. In making advance for the cause of Christ, we are prepared to charge forward no matter what.

We have the sword of the Spirit to deal with the enemy. Through the word we have the upper hand, because the origin of whatever demon and Satan that is against us is the word (Hebrews 11:3), before they defected, were corrupted through rebellion. So they are still amenable to the word of God from our mouth.

We are victors because we are light (Matthew 5:14) and ready to counter the darkness of the enemy, standing assured of the divine defence.