Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT
We face spiritual attacks upon our lives daily – but once we have Christ in us, these “attacks” shift into being tests, into challenges – and once we set our hope firmly upon Jesus Christ as our Savior, we can recognize them as opportunities.
The world might ask, in what kind of mad, twisted realm do trials, sufferings and persecution become opportunities? And we can explain to them that our own nature, we can understand the normal reaction of the flesh towards these things – we understand that being hurt by another, the flesh cries out for payment of revenge in return. But we also have another voice that is active and alive in our lives, which tells us that even when it is to our clear detriment in this life, even when it will not clearly benefit us in any way, that we have the opportunity to choose to bring love, peace, patience, joy, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control into this world even as a response to the evils of this world.
And when we do, and when it is clear that it was not for our own benefit or gain or manipulation – what clearer and undeniable testimony might we raise up so that another might realize the truth of Christ who lives in us? How can someone who considers themselves or enemy and considers themselves an enemy of God deny our pouring out blessing upon their lives as repayment for the pain and hurt and disappointment they have dealt or to us? But isn’t this the very example of Christ, that He loved us even when we were still sinners – that He went to the cross for each and every one of us who might choose to turn to Him and bear His name upon our hearts and our lives?
So we have a great encouragement for standing guard against the attacks of the enemy, but we have a great opportunity to see them with open eyes for what they really are – moments on this earth in our own lives where we might be like Christ in the garden at Gethsemane – where we might say, take this cup from me Lord if you will, because it is bitter for me to drink, but it is better that your will be done than my own.
And what is amazing is that once we are on other side of the trial, once the Lord has moved that mountain and cast it into the sea because of our faith as small as a mustard seed that proved us faithful and clinging to Him firmly – we find that He is faithful and true and that He does bring us through and provide for us and bless us. And as we learn to do this, moment by moment, decision by decision, as we serve the one that we have chosen to be our master, we are molded, we are shaped to be more and more like the thing that influences and directs our actions, more like whatever is master over our lives.
So we remain on guard because we should know who is in control. Are we still a slave to sin that is holding us captive and controlling or lives? Then we need to find freedom from our captors, we need to ask Christ to break those chains, and we need to walk out of that prison cell as we are sent on our mission to bring Christ to the world by being Christ in the world. We are the body of Christ, being led by the Holy Spirit, bringing His good work and love and truth into this world – or we are dead flesh, waiting to be tossed into the flames with the sin that we have chosen to worship by allowing to have mastery over our lives.
If you admit that you have sinned, that is good, because otherwise there is no truth in you and you would be a liar in the deep depths of darkness. But do you realize that there is one who offers you a spirit of power and strength and confidence over sin? Do you realize that the Holy Spirit is not a voice of timidity or fear or guilt or shame – but one of deliverance, of renewal, of victory over sin and temptation and the tricks of the enemy?
So how do we walk in strength when we are so weak ourselves in the flesh? We choose to walk in His authority and power, we choose to accept His annointing upon our lives. We seek for His will to be done in our lives, knowing that whatever the cost, He is the only prize worth receiving.
Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
Luke 10:19-20 NLT
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord ’s favor has come. ”
Luke 4:18-19 NLT
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:7-12 ESV
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:14 ESV
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Romans 13:8-10 ESV