Category Archives: Christian Warfare

Notes on Christian Warfare! (31)

“Fighting the Good Fight”

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The way, the truth and the life!

The Conflict is a Spiritual One  (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verse 18)

We are thus instructed, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (v18). That is with the help of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). Now this has nothing to do with speaking in tongues as some would have us to believe. It is praying with a reliance upon the Holy Spirit to supply the necessary help, energy to pray. There are times are there not when we just don’t know what to pray, it may be just simply a sigh. But the Holy Spirit knows how to present that sigh at the throne of grace in terms that God fully understands our state and our need. We are told here we must persevere in prayer, not because God is slow to answer or because he doesn’t hear us. We just do not know the extent to which our prayers can set activity in motion in high places. It is in high and heavenly places where the real work of God is done and progresses. Think of the far-reaching effects of the prayers of former saints. And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation” (Daniel 9:20-21). “Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words” (Daniel 10:12). We are assured our prayers are heard. The value and significance of our prayers are seldom realised. Think of a small insignificant group of Christians gathered, “just to pray.” The prayers of the saints are the decrees of God beginning to work. It is nothing short of unbelief that caused the church prayer meetings in the West to diminish. It is the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the Christian, without whom a person is not a Christian, who prompts and encourages us to pray. Without this divine Enabler, we would not know what to pray for, he is our inspiration (Romans 8:26).

We see in the book of Revelation just how much the prayers of the saints on earth is so effective. There we see them being worked out on earth. We see the heavenly Lamb seated in the midst of his throne surrounded by his angelic helpers. The one who makes the throne a throne of grace, “seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession…Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14, 16). It is there we see our poor, feeble, stammering, limited prayers mingle with heaven’s incense. And reaching the throne of God in perfection, a sweet aroma in his nostrils. Beloved, if this is prayer in biblical terms then how important is our praying? Its nature and its significance. We must see this aspect of our Christian warfare as the deepest secret and strongest power, and engage. If praying is something that Christ ever lives to do (Hebrews 7:25), it must be important, it must be worth doing. Daily, hourly pleading our case before the presence of God. If God be for us, will he leave us alone to pray (Romans 8:31), never. If he has given us his Son will he not give us all else we need for this so great conflict that we’ve called up and into (Romans 8:32)? And since we pray in his name, not our own, will he not give us those things which ask for? He will indeed. 

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2014)
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THE END

Notes on Christian Warfare! (30)

“Fighting the Good Fight”

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The way, the truth and the life!

The Conflict of Prayer  (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verse 18)

There are many aspects to prayer, worship, adoration, praise, thanksgiving and intercession. There are two things that prayer most certainly is not. It is not preaching and it is not for the correcting of others. I have heard people using prayer to both these ends, this is a great evil and must not be tolerated. But, prayer is warfare. It could be said that this is the very epicentre of the battle, where it is won and lost. Our praying should be uttered in a way that all can understand and all can say a whole-hearted amen to at the close (this, of course, excludes what people call praying in tongues). If we are taking part in a prayer meeting we should stand and speak clearly and loudly so all can hear what is said. The early church gave itself to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1ff). If any of them were persecuted they would pray for them. When they prayed stuff happened, society was shaken, prison walls were breached, lives were changed. In the Old Testament, we have the example of the battle ebbing and flowing as Moses prayed in direct proportion to the direct support given (Exodus 17:8-13). This surely emphasises the importance of our attendance at the church prayer meeting. The Lord Jesus sees the needs of the people and he bids his disciples pray, “this kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29). Whatever the need or the situation we are instructed to take it to the Lord in prayer. Because we are always on a war footing and so our eyes and hearts need to be focussed upon the Captain of our salvation.

We have this privilege, we go to him, wait upon him in confidence. But we do so prepared to obey his orders whatever they may be. We are told here to pray “with all prayer and supplication” (v18). With all kinds of prayers, that is. It  doesn’t always have to formal, but simply speaking to God in general terms as go through our day. This is the means by which our relationship, our friendship with the Lord is established and maintained in freshness. It is vital. This is the Christian’s life. Where there is no prayer there is no life. We can be on the move, walking, driving etc. We may be sitting, kneeling, the posture isn’t the most important aspect of praying. We could very simply call chatting to God as we go about our daily chores. Supplication is getting down to specifics. If we are going to pray about world affairs we need to make it our business to know about world affairs. The needs of people near and far. People in our own families, churches, our Minister. Then the needs of missionaries that we have a particular responsibility for and others the world over. There is no place in this Christian warfare for a cosy, self-centred isolation. We are in this fight together, all the Lord’s people. Prayer is work, it is hard work, it takes effort. We need to remain alert. It is so easy to fall asleep at the wheel. Satan would rather rock you to sleep than come at you in a direct confrontational way. You know the penalty a soldier pays for falling asleep on duty? “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2014)
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Notes on Christian Warfare (28)

“Fighting the Good Fight”

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The Preaching of Scripture  (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verses 10-20)

There is an emphasis here, the provision of Scripture as a means of grace, but with much importance, the preaching of those scriptures. This is the primary means of grace. TDhe Christian warfare is not just about having the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, but wielding that sword. It is for this reason that the apostle Paul asks for prayer as he himself wields the sword in proclamation (v19). That he may be given utterance to boldly preach the word of God. This is the church’s most vital weapon in her missionary endeavours, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). And, “how then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching” (Romans 10:14)? It is not a matter of human eloquence, competence, or personality. But as the Holy Spirit empowers the preaching of the word and applies it to the hearts of the hearers. Of course, there is no benefit if people do not hear, and hear in faith (Hebrews 4:2). But it is the preaching of the word that brings conviction, that converts people (John 16:8-9). It is the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the word of God that leads us into the truth (John 14:25-26). He, the Holy Spirit is our God-given librarian, remembrancer, he brings to mind the necessary truth as we most need it, in every circumstance, on all occasions. Whether it be the pulpit, the Sunday School, the Bible class, at home, in personal testimony, in public street preaching. He affirms, assures, he watches over his word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12). God has promised and declared that it, his word, will accomplish his divine purpose in sending it forth, “for as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Therefore it is vital that we handle the scriptures properly, correctly, “remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:14-15). That is with openness and honesty. Not with a show of cleverness, “for Christ did not send me to baptise but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17). “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). In confidence we can take up the sword of the Spirit, knowing that he can make use of it as he only can, with much power unto salvation even. And that confidence comes more and more as we study and get to know our Bibles more accurately, thoroughly, comprehensively. As we come to and end of this note take the time to read and meditate on Joshua chapter one, and the first nine verses. Not forgetting of course prayer (v18). It is said that the best form of defence is to attack. That way we keep the devil on the ropes, reeling even, with a constant barrage of effective thunderbolts from the word by prayer. When Jesus was being tempted in the desert by Satan it is almost as though he is baiting the devil. “Go on, have another go.” He has such confidence in the word of God and ready to answer and defeat every argument thrown at him. “It is  written.” “It is written.” Never mind the “I think” or “I feel.” IT IS WRITTEN!

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2014)
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Notes on Christian Warfare (26)

“Fighting the Good Fight”

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The way, the truth and the life!

The Sword of the Spirit  (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verses 10-20)

This is the one singular offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit (v17b). The helmet and the sword are distinctive, ‘of’ possessive, the Spirit’s sword. And therefore invincible. The Christian’s warfare has to do with the mind, thinking. But with a Bible in hand, 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” (Romans 12:1-2). This is the means that the Holy Spirit uses and particularly the word of God preached. The deadly scythe to cut down the enemies of God and his people, the undiluted word of God. It is powerful and revealing, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). For Christ is in it, it produces faith that leads to salvation, “so then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). By it, we taste of the heavenly world (Hebrews 6:5). It is the Christians weapon before which the demons flee (v12). The truth is our belt (v14). The gospel is our righteousness (vv14b). Peace tranquilises the mind (v15). The shield protects us from the father of lies (v16). The sword of the Spirit is the word of God and is our principle means of grace. What does grace mean? It is an attribute of God, it is his attitude of favour towards undeserving sinners. Grace is the power by which the sinner is saved, delivered from the bondage of sin and corruption. It is by grace we are regenerated, sanctified and made pleasing to God. Grace is a spiritual blessing and virtue bestowed, by God. And the means by which it is bestowed? The preaching of God’s word.

Then there are what we would call the wider means. That of good Christian reading, of Scriptures too of course, which brings us to a conscious faith. There is the godly conversation with other saints, fellowship in other words. Fellowship is so misunderstood these days. It is not conversing about the week’s work, our favourite sports team or activities. It is conversing with and sharing the things of God with other believers. This is a means of edification, strengthening our faith. Some would include prayer, one could wider still and include all things, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). The temptations we face, the lures of the world, the fight with the flesh, all our sufferings and afflictions. To be sure God uses all these for our growth in grace. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5). In Reformed theology, however, we see the preaching of God’s word as being the main means, the principle means of grace. It is by this means we are called of God to be Christians. It is by this means we receive the knowledge of Christ. And this without the sacraments, for they are added to the word, they are signs and seals of the promise of God. But it is the word that is primary that explains the sacraments. It is the word that is indispensable, we can live without the sacraments, but not the word. “But he answered and said, It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). It is the word that works faith, sustains our spiritual life, explains the sacraments. Without the word of God, the sword of the Spirit the sacraments would be meaningless.

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2014)
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Notes on Christian Warfare (25)

“Fighting the Good Fight”

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The Battle for the Mind  (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verses 10-20)

The great battle of every generation but particularly this one is for the minds of men and women. The enemy with his hosts operates in the intellectual, philosophical, theological and ideological arenas. Through the houses of learning, universities, colleges, the entire education system, seeking to poison the minds of our children and youth. They operate through the media, all of its outlets, advertising, soap operas, industry. There are no no-go areas for the enemy, we are fighting them on every level. And now the internet also, where anyone can freely almost unhindered can propagate their favourite cause. The devil knows how to use a computer too. He puts relentless pressure on the minds of our young people especially. The same evil genius was seen in the Nazi propaganda machine. It worked on the premise that if you said it often enough it would be believed. Thus we are bombarded with the lie of evolution, with immoral, anti-God and Anti-biblical propaganda. The advertising machinery is a process of conditioning that’s aimed at peoples feelings rather than rational thought. This way people become ‘feelings’ generated. People are moved by impulse, inclination rather than thought, fact. The advertising industry is an evil business. It affects Christians as with the world, for many life has become experienced centred. It is for this reason holy Scripture tells us we need to be renewed in our minds, not once, but constantly, daily, “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” (Romans 12:2). Our minds need to be saturated with Scripture, we need to learn to think biblically at every turn in our lives. But sadly these are days in the Western church when such is seriously missing. Christians are not reading as they should and therefore they are not thinking as they should.

So there is a lack of sound salvation doctrine abroad. No biblical patterns of behaviour, there cannot be such where there is no theology or standard of biblical ethics. Far too many who haven’t and neither are they willing to think through their faith. Enter many a church in our land today and you’ll find ‘professing’ Christians who cannot state clearly what they believe, nor the grounds for it. Ask the person next to you, “what is the gospel of which you speak”? The answers will vary, most wrong, if you get an answer at all. So what is the gospel then? “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1Corinthians 15:3-4). That’s the gospel. Tragically not the answer you will get by and large, just their own limited experience or church tradition. The Bible well speaks of end-time delusions and lies. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies” (1Timothy 4:1-2). And, “and for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2Thessalonians 2:11). It’s very easy to see how people can be led into all sorts of delusions and lies when people have surrendered in the battle for the mind. If we are losing this battle in the church how can we possibly expect to win it out there in the world? Because unless we get the minds of the masses of unbelievers we will have very little effect upon them. So the headgear, the helmet of salvation’s an indispensable piece of God’s armour, to be put on each day.

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2014)
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Notes on Christian Warfare (24)

“Fighting the Good Fight”

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The Devil’s Designs  (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verses 10-20)

The helmet of salvation (v17). The salvation is a present one, it saves, and it keeps us safe, protecting us from a fatal blow to the head which would be the end of us. The parts of Gods armour you will notice are all defensive bar one. They are designed to protect us, not from suffering, but from sin, that which would be the end of us. It becomes clear that a large part of this warfare is to do with our minds, there is a lot of hard and clear thinking to be done. We have to keep our heads in other words. God’s salvation is our sure hope, the same that keeps our minds, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1Thessalonians 5:8). And we are persuaded that we are, in this salvation, eternally secure, that, “neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his (Jesus’) own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12). This is our irreversible, guaranteed hope. In our dawning the helmet of salvation (v17) we are attuning to a biblical mindset. Our faith, belief is that salvation has dealt with our past, present and future sins. Therefore we are able to rejoice in the midst of trials and tribulations (James 1:2; Romans 5:1-5). We are able to think clearly, calmly, rationally and expectantly in regard to the whole of life and its experiences. We engage in right thinking in other words. This is a repeated emphasis in the New Testament teaching, to use our minds to think biblically and not in terms of the world’s mindset (Romans 12:1f; Colossians 3:1f; Philippians 4:7f; 1Peter 1:13). Think of all the Bibles references to the mind and to thought-life? Isn’t this how the devil attacks us? In times of mental tiredness, seeking to lead us into confused thinking and thus discourage and even depress us.

The enemies objective is to take our minds off of God, or to lead to wrong thoughts about God. He seeks to deceive and lead us astray by any means at his disposal. Thus either hindering us or restricting our service to God. One of his schemes is to lead us into an obsession about some aspect of our faith. It is right and proper that we have a concern for people, for the church but when it becomes excessive it is obsessive (2Corinthians 2:12f; 7:5). Or maybe some aspect of the truth, about church government, or eschatology or any other Christian doctrine, we can very easily be obsessive about such to the point of it being destructive to ourselves and others. The late Dr Martyn Loydd-Jones used to say frequently that the Christian life was always a matter of balance, healthy balance. Is there some aspect of the Christian life that is an obsession with you, is leading you into conflict with others, spoiling your joy and your witness? Nobody, not even the spiritually strong and mature are immune to the subtle, disturbing assaults on the mind, initiated by the devil, the enemy of our souls. The helmet of salvation is a necessity (v17). He can make the most innocents comments register as clear criticism, accusation or rejection of yourself that was never intended. That such thoughts come to us in a total and sweeping way and begin to cause destruction, dissension and division ought to tell you something of the origin.

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2014)
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Notes on Christian Warfare (23)

“Fighting the Good Fight”

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The way, the truth and the life!

The Devil’s Designs  (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verses 10-20)

With the shield of faith, you are equipped to deal with, to quench each and every flaming dart the devil throws at you. Not just some, all of them. You do well to remember also that in the noise and heat of the battle, no matter how fierce it becomes you are never out of the sight of the commander in Chief. And he is not just watching you but praying for you unceasingly (Luke 22:31-32). He is dynamically present with you at all times. To utilise the shield of faith is to believe that with all your heart. One of the attacks of the enemy is to get you to not believe that. To believe because he is attacking you that God has left you, doesn’t care. But this is not true, even if you do not feel it. It is the objective truth of God’s written word, he had it written in case you would forget. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). And, If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:31-34). The devilish insinuation that God is not with you is a fierce lie from the very pit of hell. And, especially so when you are in trouble of your own making when you have sinned, blundered, failed in some way. He will more than suggest that God has now cast you off. No, this is where your shield comes in, must be employed. In faith you affirm, shout it out from the rooftops if needs be, God is good! God is loving! God is caring! God is compassionate! And his call is always that you turn to him in faith and find refuge in him from the storm whatever the cause of it may be.

The thing we so often forget that God is ever seeking us. Back in the garden of Eden, it was God who went seeking our parents. They were frightened, terrified, in hiding, but he still wanted them and went in search of them in love. So tell me who is it that makes you feel rejected, useless, finished, or casts us into depression? Yes, the devil, the enemy of your soul. The one who hates your Saviour and hates you because you love him. Some of his flaming darts are slow-burners they’re not all fierce blazers. The devil’s design is to cause long-term dis-ease. But however long, in faith, we pray, we wait on the Lord, he will come, he will deliver. This dis-ease, is designed to cause dis-peace. You’ve lost the sense of peace, but remember losing the sense of something and losing the thing itself is two different things. But you flay yourself in rebuke, in shame, in agony. But this is not from God, this is not how he deals with his children. If something is wrong he may tell us firmly, but he show us, to correct us, “and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you” (Philippians 3:15). He will by his grace enable you to put it right. Be at peace child of God, for his thoughts towards you are thoughts of peace, “for I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). But Satan doesn’t like peace, he is the disturber of such and that’s why you and I need the shield of faith. This is why we need to go on as we started, in faith, believing. The enemy would have you to believe he is strong, he is not. But God is, and he is our strength and our lives are hidden in him, they are untouchable (Colossians 3:3). When we begin to grasp what God has provided for us this provision of his complete armour we begin to understand what king David meant when he spoke of God providing a table of refreshment in the presence of his enemies. He has so provided for us also.

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2014)
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