As I’ve shared in several articles recently, I’ve been having a prolonged season of what I would describe as “high level spiritual warfare”. I’ve talked about how this warfare has caused me to examine my life once again, see if there were any open doors that I had given to the enemy, and shut any doors to the enemy through repentance, prayer, and shoring up my lifestyle according to God’s ways of holiness and sanctification found in the word. But even after I’ve done all of this, even after I’ve repented of opening doors, been very careful with content consumption, and have given no place to the enemy, some of these battles have persisted. So what does this mean? What do we do when we’ve done all that we can to live right, rebuke the devil, apply the blood, take our authority in Christ, but the enemy keeps coming? I hope to provide some of these answers in this written article here today.
PURPOSE IN PAIN
One thing that we always have to remember, no matter what we’re going through in life, is there is always a purpose in every season and every stage of our lives. There is purpose in the pleasure and there is also great purpose in the pain. We must always remember that the bible reveals God Almighty as a “Sovereign God”, who predestines us according to his purpose and plans (Rom.8:29). That’s not to say that we “accept” everything that happens to us as God’s will, or God’s perfect plan for our lives, but it should give us a measure of comfort and solace knowing that nothing that happens to us is a surprise to God. He has perfect foresight and perfect foreknowledge of all events which transpire in creation, including the events which occur in our lives. This means that He foresaw every occurrence in our lives, and according to that foresight He created a plan and made a way for us to come through victorious.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.â€
You see, according to the scripture our destiny is “predestinated”. That means that our calling, our destiny, and our ultimate purpose has been ordained and prescribed before we were even born, and as the Word tells us that destiny is according to God’s perfect “foreknowledge”.
A biblical example which is one of the clearest examples of this is found in scripture or in history is the story of Joseph. Joseph foresaw his own destiny through a series of prophetic dreams which God gave to him (Gen.37), but He could not foresee how this destiny would unfold. But God did! Joseph made it through Potiphar’s house, through the dungeon, and finally into the palace positioned to fulfill this destiny, and it was only after going through all that that he began to realize that all of this was for a purpose. He realized that it was all going according to God’s predestined plan for his life based on God’s perfect foreknowledge of events which would transpire. Joseph’s speaks of this revelation that He received when He finally confronts his brothers in (Gen.45):
5 “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.
7 And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.â€
This is a perfect picture of predestination according to God’s foreknowledge. One might ask, “So which was it? Was it Joseph’s brothers that sent him to Egypt or was it God?”. The answer is both. God does not absolve people of personal responsibility when it comes to their bad behavior and their sins, and indeed according to God’s holy standards Joseph’s brothers needed to repent for their actions for sinning against him and selling him into slavery. But because God foresaw their sin, their jealousy of heart, and what that would ultimately lead them to do, He decided to use it for his glory and for the ultimate fulfillment of not only Joseph’s destiny but the nation of Israel.
But do you see how important it was for Joseph to come to grips with this divine revelation? God gave him divine insight into his plans and strategies for Joseph and his people, and this gave Joseph purpose in his pain! Once you receive revelation concerning the purpose of your pain, then you can effectively transmute that pain into power and fully cooperate with the Lord whether you find yourself on the mountain top or in the valley.
FLOW WITH THE LORD, NOT THE ENEMY
This is where it can get tricky, which is why we really need to hear from the Lord about the things we’re going through and make sure we’re cooperating with him and not the enemy.
Many preachers and teachers in the charismatic spirit-filled church have come to teach that “everything good comes from God and everything bad comes from Satan”. Perhaps this is due to an oversimplification of theology which these preachers derive from scriptures like (John 10:10). They say that if it's life and life more abundant than it must be God, and if it’s classified as theft, death, or destruction, then it must be Satan. But any serious bible student would quickly recognize how weak this overly simplified theological trend is when judged in the light of scripture’s entirety.
The truth is Eve was tempted with “good” things by Satan (Gen.3:6). The truth is God killed people in both the Old and New Testament. God destroyed people and killed without mercy, and we’re not just talking about a few isolated incidents, we’re talking about story after story after story. Satan binds people with sickness, and that’s why Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). But the bible also says that God put sickness and disease on the Egyptians when He was ready to deliver his people (Ex.15:26). A lazy theologian would chalk this up as “Old Covenant”, but when you look at the New Testament you find Jesus (God) throwing Jezebel on the bed of sickness, killing her children, and casting those who sin with her into great tribulation (Rev.2:22-23); you find God putting his hand on Bar-Jesus, also known as Elymas the Sorcerer, in (Acts 13:6-12), and “blinding” him for several days in judgment for his resistance to the gospel and the work of the kingdom. You find God striking down Ananias, Saphira, & Herod in (Acts 5) & (Acts 12). So, you can see that such oversimplified theological trends are not helpful to the serious Christian, and they are not biblical. We need to hear the Lord about each situation we are in and receive divine revelation, insight, and instruction about how to flow with the Lord in everything.
The fear that these preachers and teachers have is that Christians will end up accepting Satan’s attacks and trespasses as “God’s will for their lives”, and they won’t take the authority that Jesus commanded us to take over the enemy. And I do concur, that this is a danger that we want to help people avoid. But where charismatics and pentecostals have taken it too far is in creating a theology which says you can rebuke your way out of every problem, “take authority” over every negative thing that happens in your life, and control every aspect of your life through faith. This may not be word for word how these teachers present this theology, but it is the consequence of their teachings if you follow them through to their logical applications. Like so many heroes of the faith in the scripture who have gone before us, we need to learn to flow with the Lord in the good times and the bad, and discern his plan which is at work for the purpose of divine destiny.
No amount of rebuking Satan would have worked for Joseph as He went through what He went through in the book of beginnings. No amount of rebuking was going to work for Paul in the situation He found himself in which is recorded in (2 Cor.12) where He prayed to God and God did not deliver him, but gave him grace to endure. They had to submit to the Lord and receive grace to suffice during their times of need. Job dealt with a similar situation when He lost everything in his story, which we will discuss as we pick this up again tomorrow with part two!
I pray this has been helpful to you. Please feel free to leave your comments or reply through email with your questions. I just ask that you be kind and respectful, for without kindness and mutual respect we cannot effectively relate to one another.
In His Service,