Fastnesses

For though we walk in the flesh,
we do not war according to the flesh.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal
but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
casting down arguments and every high thing
that exalts itself against the knowledge of God,
bringing every thought into captivity
to the obedience of Christ,
and being ready to punish all disobedience
when your obedience is fulfilled."

(2 Corinthians 10:4-6)

1. Military Strongholds

  In the ancient world “strongholds” were mountain fastnesses where a few men could defend against an army for long periods of time. Food and water were essentials of course, lest a besieging army was willing to wait until the fortification ran out of food. The assault on Jerusalem in 70 AD by Roman General Titus lasted well over a full year; city inhabitants not only ran out of food but were driven to make terrible sacrifices.
 
Caves and tunnels are often used as refuges in war time. Corregidor Island at the entrance to Manila Bay, Philippines, sheltered a retreating army of Americans in 1942. Osama bin Laden took shelter in the caves of Tora Bora in 2007. Underground bases, bunkers and shelters are common everywhere nowadays. But there is no hiding place where one can hide from God. 


 
“Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty.
The lofty looks of man shall be humbled,
The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down,
And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
 
For the day of the Lord of hosts
Shall come upon everything proud and lofty,
Upon everything lifted up—
And it shall be brought low—
Upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up,
And upon all the oaks of Bashan;
Upon all the high mountains,
And upon all the hills that are lifted up;
Upon every high tower,
And upon every fortified wall;
Upon all the ships of Tarshish,
And upon all the beautiful sloops.
 
The loftiness of man shall be bowed down,
And the haughtiness of men shall be brought low;
The Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
But the idols He shall utterly abolish.
They shall go into the holes of the rocks,
And into the caves of the earth,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
 
In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver
And his idols of gold,
Which they made, each for himself to worship,
To the moles and bats,
To go into the clefts of the rocks,
And into the crags of the rugged rocks,
From the terror of the Lord
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily.
 
Sever yourselves from such a man,
Whose breath is in his nostrils;
For of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:10-22)

 
Yet fear of one kind or another drives people underground in nearly every generation. Home fallout shelters were common in the U.S. after the first two atomic bombs were released upon Japan. Within a few years, most Americans realized that emerging from their fallout  shelters into a devastated, radioactive world after a nuclear holocaust was not to be desired. But no peace in the world has transpired to this day. 
 
During ancient Israel’s lowest season in their national history, 2600 years ago, God said to the Jewish prophet Jeremiah:


 
“For I will stretch out My hand
Against the inhabitants of the land,” says the Lord.
“Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely.
They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
 
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed;
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time I punish them,
They shall be cast down,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 6:12-16)

God retains sovereign control over every individual, tribe and nation. There is no such think as chance and there are no accidents in history, or in our lives! Jesus Christ exercises full control of the dark side management as well as what is out in the light.
 
“Strongholds” are not only fastnesses for the beleaguered defenders of an assaulted kingdom, they can be safe houses for enemy intruders, hiding places for gangsters, and terrorists, or walled-off towers of the selfishly rich and famous (that is, for those who shun the poor, ignoring persons God cares highly about). 
 

“Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:5-19)

There is much more that can be said about defensive strongholds where all followers of Jesus find safe haven in a dangerous, malevolent world.

 

But, earlier articles include, “The Strongholds of Inner Space” (1984). A second article “Strongholds” (2003) is about strongholds in the created universe, in the invisible. 

2. Strongholds in Nature


One way to see the many references to defensive towers where Jesus shelters His own, as a mother hen guards her chicks.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:37-39)

A helpful passage is found in Proverbs 18:10,
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe."
And, “Blessed be the Lord my Rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle—
My lovingkindness and my fortress,
My high tower and my deliverer,
My shield and the One in whom I take refuge,
Who subdues my people under me.” (Psalm 144:1-2)

3. Strongholds in Society

There is much said in the Bible about “strongholds” of safety, places of safety and refuge for followers of Jesus as they live day by day in a hostile world where they are constantly under attack by the Evil One. “A man’s home is his castle” is a legitimate proverb. But today's infrastructure features towers, hotels and office buildings of enormous size.

Biblical revelation enables us to see many things that are found behind the visible and the circumstantial in our present four-dimensions reality of the universe. 
 
Science has also shed light on the unseen realm which may encompass ten or more additional dimensions beyond our meager four. The ancients modeled the “heavenly places,” as three-tiered, that is, the earth’s atmosphere as the First Heaven, space with sun, moon and stars as the Second Heaven, and the Third Heaven as the abode of God and the angels. It is better today to think of earth as embedded as a substrate of the whole cosmos. It is convenient to think of God as “up” but that view leads to the common presumption that our Creator is detached, remote, uninvolved in our affairs. Not only is our observable world embedded in “hyperspace” but we too as persons are embedded as well!
 

“...Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
 
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
 
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31)

Sad to say, we don’t see very well, hear very well, sense very well, in our present fatally-flawed mortal bodies, in our limited space-time realm. Adherence to the strict protocols of the scientific method helps a lot, but science is not infallible, as most of us know. Human beings are both “conscious” and “unconscious” according to modern psychology. (Some people are more unconscious than others, it is said). Apparently we humans are influenced by genetics, upbringing, environment and culture, as well as being molded and shaped by parents, peers, education, and experience. Universal influences known in psychology as “archetypes” operating in us, behind the scenes, may control us more than we like to think. These archetypes seem to be related to the Biblical strongholds mentioned above. There are evidently strongholds in the world around us, in us, outside of us, outside of the “self.” There are fortifications everywhere in the world, to protect one subgroup of society from the rest of us.
 
Giant corporations, syndicates, iconic companies and their brand names, government entities, lobbying groups, terrorist cells, special interest groups, are everywhere nowadays. One results is that our once placid nation has turned into a mine field of opposing institutions. Perhaps most are mere “Ivory towers”? The situation in other nations is not much better. In all this disarray God has been marginalized big time. The one, true, God is not welcome —but many false gods are. Corporations are usually managed “top down,” with a well-paid CEO at the top and layers of VPs and department managers all the way down to clerks and janitors at the bottom. This system has worked (sort of) for generations, but God moves mainly by “servant authority” among his people. When Jesus returns to take over, many changes will be made of course. Jesus is already King of kings and Lord of lords.

Skeptics are welcome to wait and see. In other words, help is on the way. This is made evident in the New Testament. Human beings are to a large extent influenced to their own harm by strongholds within and without, by strongholds now in enemy hands.

An enigmatic but profoundly insightful passage is found in 2 Corinthians 10:   

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

Ray Stedman has written concerning our strategy in attacking offensively the strongholds of evil in the world system,

“...Our Lord was indeed meek and gentle, but there were times when he spoke very severely. When he drove the money changers out of the temple his eyes were blazing and his arm was lifted up in violent action against those who were destroying the people of God. Paul says, ‘When I come, that is the way I will behave as well. I am fully prepared to employ all the weapons at my command.’ The great question, of course, we have to ask about this passage is, what are those weapons that Paul refers to? ...

"For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 RSV)"

I do not know why the Revised Standard translators substituted the word "world" for "flesh" here. The text does not say, "We are not carrying on a 'worldly' war." What it really says is, "We are not carrying on a 'fleshly' war for the weapons of our warfare are not 'fleshly.'" But in a sense I can understand why they have changed that word, because "the flesh" and "the world" are very closely linked. The "flesh," as you might define it in the Scriptures, is what we would call inherited selfishness, that self-centeredness of life, which all of us have without exception that wants to pursue our own interests at the expense of everybody else. Now when you put a lot of self-centered individuals together and ask them to work and plan together you get a fleshly governed society. That is what the Bible calls "the world," a society committed to the defense of its own interests, to protecting its own rights. It is thus, inevitably, engaged in eternal conflict. That is "the world," and that is what the translators undoubtedly had in mind when they used the term "world" here.

So Paul says we do not employ the weapons of the flesh. What are those weapons? What does the world use to try to solve the problems it recognizes in society? Well, you know what it uses: Coercion, manipulation, pressure groups, compromises, demonstrations that ultimately result in raised voices, in clenched fists and outbreaks of conflict, boycotts, pickets and strikes, in attempts to pressure people into doing what others want. These are the weapons of the world. It does not have any others. So it is understandable why those who are governed by the flesh would seek to employ fleshly weapons to get things done. But the universal testimony of history is, these do not work. We still have the same problems we have had for centuries. We never will get rid of them. We only rearrange them by these methods so that they seem to take another form for a little while but soon we are right back with the same problems, if not worse. That has been the unbroken experience of history. No one can deny it.

Well, then, what are our weapons? Paul makes it clear that they are not those. Christians are not to use coercion, manipulation, pressure groups, compromises and conflict to oppose the evil in our midst. We have other weapons, he says. They are mighty, they are powerful, they accomplish something. They will "destroy strongholds" of evil, he says. But when you ask yourself, "What are these weapons?" you find that there are no answers in this passage. The apostle evidently understands that the Corinthians know what they are. He has referred to them in various places in his letters. We find them scattered all through Scripture so we have to go to other passages in order to understand what he is talking about here. But we do have spiritual weapons that are mighty against these forces of darkness.

The one we would put first, I am sure from the Scriptures, is truth. The Christian is given an insight into life and reality that others do not have. We know what is behind the forces at work in our society today, and we ought to know how to go about overcoming them. As Paul put it in Ephesians, "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood..." (Ephesians 6:12a KJV). Our problem is not people, much as we identify, like the world around us, with people as the problem. Scripture says, "No, it is not people," but rather, "principalities, powers and wicked spirits in high places, the world rulers of this present darkness..." (Ephesians 6:12b RSV). We wrestle with spiritual powers behind the scenes. We need to understand that.

That is what truth is all about. Truth is realism. The wonderful thing about the Word of God is that, when you understand the world as the Bible sees it, you are looking at life the way it really is. I do not know anything more valuable than that. That is why it is so important that we understand the Scriptures, that we refresh our minds with them all the time, for, in this constant bombardment with illusion and error that we face every day, it is easy to drift back into thinking the way everybody around us thinks. Unless we are finding our minds renewed by the Spirit, and refreshed by the reminder of what life is really like and what it is we are really up against, we will find ourselves acting just like everybody else. So, the first and greatest weapon of all is truth: Truth as it is in Jesus.

As we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus is a man who understands life. He does not act like anybody else because he really sees what is happening. He ignores much of the visible symptoms and strikes right at the heart, at the cause of certain events. That is why what he did was so different from the world around. If we are going to follow him, we will not adopt these methods, and fall heir to some of these fatal approaches to problems. We will begin to see things differently. And, everywhere in Scripture, the Word of God links truth with love, "speaking the truth in love..." (Ephesians 4:15). Love is a powerful weapon. When you begin to treat people with courtesy instead of anger, when you accept them as people with feelings like yours, and understand that they too are struggling with difficulties and see things out of focus as you yourself often do, when you begin to treat them as people in trouble who need help -- that is what love is -- then you change the whole picture...

Then linked to that, everywhere in Scripture, is faith. Faith is the recognition that God is present in history. He has not left us alone to stumble on our own way. God is at work. The Lord Jesus sits in control of all the nations of earth. "He opens and no man shuts. He shuts and no man opens..." (Revelation 3:7 RSV). Faith believes that, and expects him to do something. In the 11th chapter of Hebrews we have the great record of the plain, ordinary men and women like you and me who found, by faith, that they could stop the mouths of lions, open the doors of prisons, and change the course of history. Faith is not a religious entity merely for churchgoing people. Faith comes right down and lays hold of ordinary, human events and changes the course of history through them.

Linked to faith is prayer. The power of prayer is everywhere held before us in Scripture. We are constantly exhorted to expose the situations in which we find ourselves to the prayers of believing people, both individually and corporately, praying together that God would move in and change things. Again and again the record testifies that events have been drastically altered by Christians who pray.

With that we would also link loving service. Scripture says, "Do good to those who hate you; pray for those who despitefully use you..." (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-28); and minister to those who treat you wrongly or misuse you. Do something good back. When is the last time you did that? That is what changes history, when Christians act differently. You will never find non-Christians doing that. Their demand is to get even, to demand justice. Christians are to remember that if we had justice all of us would be in hell. Therefore, mercy is what is required. To return good for evil is a potent weapon that we can employ.

Paul uses a very vivid word to describe the errors that we are attacking. He calls them "strongholds." That is a word taken out of the military life of the time, and it is used only once in the Scriptures. It describes a castle with its moats, its walls, its turrets and its towers, that is defended by a handful of resolute, determined men. History records that many times a castle like that has held out for weeks and months and years against an attacking force because it was so difficult to dislodge its defenders. So that word vividly describes some of the evils we are talking about this morning. Why is it so difficult to handle the homosexual issue today? Why do we find it so hard to get hold of this matter? The break-up of the home and the rising divorce rate is another stronghold of evil. Drug traffic is another. What do you do against these things? Paul describes in Verse 5 some of the things that lend strength to these powers of evil. He says, "We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5 RSV)

The first is arguments ("Reasonings" is literally the word). It means the rationalizings by which a point of error is supported and defended. Have you ever noticed that when you get upset about some of the things that are happening in our day and you decide to do something about it, you are soon confronted with arguments that the other side uses to defend itself which sound almost unassailable? ...

That is where a Christian can come with a loving touch, and a truthful word, and point out that that is exactly the case. That is what the Lord Jesus did with the woman at the well at Samaria. He dealt with her unending search for happiness in marriage by showing her that she was on a wild-goose chase that could never end in anything but utter frustration. But he had the true gift of satisfaction that he would give to her if she would take it. That is the Christian approach. It destroys these arguments, these reasonings.

The second thing Paul mentions is, "proud obstacles to the knowledge of God." Do you know what they are? If you read the writings that defend error in our day you will see, every now and then, some arrogant statement of the ability of man that is far beyond reality. You will read claims that men are smart, that they understand life, that they can handle all their problems, and do not need any help. These arrogant assumptions of right, or might, are what Paul is referring to, this strange insanity that makes men think they can handle the world, and handle life, without any wisdom beyond their own. Again and again you run into this, and people get offended if this is attacked in any way.

Then the final thing is a very personal matter, the thoughts that come into our own minds and hearts. We learn to, "take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ." The word Paul uses and the reference he is making here is to the imaginings of our minds. These are the fantasizings we indulge in, the daydreams of power and of accomplishment that we feed upon endlessly, the lustings by which we attempt to satisfy inward sexual desires by feeding upon pornography, mentally if not openly. You will never win the battle as long as you allow yourself to indulge in those kinds of fantasizings. That is why the apostle, with all realism, faces us with the fact that we must bring these things captive unto Christ, and no longer permit them to engage our minds and hearts. These are conquered by truth, by love, by faith, by righteousness, by prayer and service. These are the weapons of our warfare.

Now, once these things are conquered, once we really face up to them, and no longer permit them to govern our lives because of the truth that God has shown us, then we must be quick and alert to maintain a promptness to deal with the return of any of these evil things. That is what Paul is referring to in Verse 6: "...being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete." (2 Corinthians 10:6 RSV)

That means that once you have been delivered from your inner weaknesses which make you unusable in the spiritual warfare of our day, then you must maintain an alertness to deal promptly with any return of these things. I do not know anything more practical than this. Many people struggle for years against weaknesses in their lives and wonder why they can get nowhere. But they are trying to stop the act, not the inward thought that precipitates it. They permit themselves inward dalliance with ugly and hurtful things, ambitious projects where they see themselves as the hero on the white horse, always riding out to deliver the damsel from distress, winning the attention of all the multitudes around, or giving way to lust and playing it over on the record player of the mind. Then they wonder why they are so weak when an opportunity comes to indulge in an act. The battleground is our thought life, that is what Paul is telling us. When we win that battle then we must be careful to punish every disobedience after our obedience has been made complete, after we have learned what it takes to walk with God.

The problem is not the world. It is the church, isn't it? It is we who do not use the weapons at our disposal. Instead, we give way, and go along with worldly approaches, using pressure-group tactics, and petitions, to seek to overcome with legislation the wrongs of our day. May God help us to understand the nature of spiritual warfare. The weapons of our warfare are not those kinds of worldly tactics. They are mighty. The cause is not hopeless. We are not helpless; there is much we can do. Let a single Christian begin to act along the lines of the revelation of Scripture in this regard, and things will begin to change.

Any one of us can begin to change things, in our lives individually, in our homes, in our communities, where we work, whatever. Let us begin to learn the truth about life from the Scriptures, to act in love instead of in rivalry and competition, to trust God that he will work as we work in faith, to pray, and to join others in prayer, that he will do so. Let us begin to live righteously ourselves, to see that we maintain integrity in the midst of these deviations, and lovingly serve those who are opposing us. We will find tremendous changes beginning to occur quickly as God allows these weapons to destroy the strongholds of darkness and evil around us. Do you know anything more challenging for our day and time than that? God has placed in our hands the opportunity to change our nation, our communities, our homes, wherever we are. May God grant that we will do it.” (Ray C. Stedman, Secret Weapons)

Strongholds Within Each of Us

4. Interior Strongholds

Some of the biggest strongholds anywhere are within us! Everyone has hangups and glitches. A minor faux pas may signal deeper issues. Ego problems are everywhere! Many of us are very broken and need a complete overhaul and reconstruction. Actually profane versus holy is a one way to see the range of brokenness in the world. In today's world Father Wounds are ver common.

"...For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. ‘For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." (Leviticus 11:44-45)

Listed below some of the symptoms and behavior patterns that are good clues that there may exist within us strongholds of the enemy that rightfully belong to us in Christ and are thus in need of liberation. These include:

Phobias and Fears. Scripture says, "perfect love casts out fear and he who fears is not perfected in love." (I John 4:18) There are a thousand phobias and fears folks suffer from. Discovering what they are, where they came from, and why they haven't disappeared can lead to the surprising discovery that any one of us can be operating in a badly crippled life style because of deep seated strongholds of walled-off fear. Love is the cure, since love, properly administered, "casts out fear."

Extreme Self-centeredness. The Bible says none of us should "think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned to him." (Romans 12:3) The excessively self-centered person often has an exaggerated sense of his own self-importance. This in turn is usually a cover-up for low self-esteem and for a feeling of chronic failure in life. Self-centeredness is hard to recognize in oneself, easy to see in others, and of course something we often stubbornly hold onto thinking we are thereby safer and better off in life. The cure is to allow God to put to death the self-life in us, not just once, but daily.

Self Deception is a common human weakness by means of which we deny our sin, overlook our flaws and tend to think better of ourselves than we ought to think. The age we live in is one of extreme deception in religion, education, social affairs and philosophy. Unfortunately our hearts are susceptible to schemes and imaginations. Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?" (17:9)

Compulsive Behavior Patterns. The compulsion to steal, to lie or behave in accordance with superstitions (avoiding the number 13 for instance, or fearing the number 666) can hide strongholds that need attention.

Compulsive-Obsessive patterns are often strange, peculiar and frustrating, hence those so afflicted usually go out of the way to hide these failures from others to cover their embarrassment. A good part of the cure is always having at least one trusted friend who knows one's secrets no matter how bizarre they may seem to us. It is helpful to read about Jesus' tender concern for those who were social misfits or troubled with problems that opened them to ridicule by others.

Sexual Disorders. The Christian man or women who does not naturally move towards a normal heterosexual life style or contented celibacy, or who suffers from unresolved abnormal sexual desires---molestation, wife or child abuse, compulsive masturbation, or homosexual acting-out, etc.---has almost certainly strongholds that need attention. Since human sexuality encompasses body, soul and spirit these strongholds are among the deepest areas of distorted and self-centered behavior we face as Christians.

Repeated Intense Dreams, Sleeplessness. Dreams of unusual intensity, especially repeated dreams or prolonged periods of lack of sleep are warning signals that often call attention to activity springing from enemy-held territory within that needs redemption.

Anxiety Attacks. Anxiety attacks cripple conscious behavior and usually indicate that a previous buried neurotic "complex" is surfacing with resulting spill-over of excessive energy into conscious life. The "complexes" or "neuroses" familiar to the psychologist are known to be energy-laden to a greater or lesser extent depending on the intensity of the unresolved conflict and the degree of repression. Anxiety attacks are frightening because we fear loss of self-control and because the energy leaking up from the unconscious problem area provokes irrational fears. Many verses of scripture tells us how to directly deal with anxiety with guaranteed results.

"Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6, 7)

Acute Depression. Everyone gets depressed at times, however there are persons in our world who must be hospitalized because their depressions are so severe or prolonged. Depression is hard to deal with in many cases, and can have many causes but strongholds of the enemy should be suspected. Depression could be buried self-hatred in some instances, or guilt from unconfessed sin (Psalm 32), or a result of the loss of a loved-one or a personal tragedy in life beyond one's control. Modern medical research has shown that depressed persons show certain chemical imbalances in the brain and so sometimes doctors can prescribe medication to restore the brain's chemical balance until the root cause is discovered. Thus, we can at least begin to function again in society.

Arrested Emotional Development. Sinful behavior, especially in adolescence, tends to arrest normal emotional and spiritual maturation. This means a person can get "stuck" at a certain stage of growth towards adulthood and retain childish, immature, inappropriate ways of responding to life long after others have moved on. One example would be sexual promiscuity which opposes one's ability to form strong and lasting intimate relationships. When we deal with an area of disobedience or failure in our lives, spiritual and emotional growth resume.

Regression: When a person refuses the grace of God over time he or she will not only stop growing up emotionally, but may revert to the "safer" behavior patterns of childhood. It is always sad to see a person made in the image of God who reverts back to behaving like a dependent and helpless child long after they should be serving others as a mature adult and productive member of society.

Manic-depressive behavior. Extreme swings of emotion from excessive elation to depression when there appear to be no direct causal factors in the environment call attention to our need (in most cases) to deal with personality roadblocks within. Use of stimulating drugs like cocaine crack, or "speed" produces elation and well-being that are unrelated to the real circumstances of one's life. The price to be paid eventually is a psychosis or at least a compensatory season of depression which simply has to be endured until it has worked itself out. One form of serious mental illness requiring a physician's care is a manic-depressive, or bi-polar psychosis. Those afflicted can harm themselves and others inadvertently so they may need protective hospitalization. A host of effective anti-psychotic medications is now available to the trained psychiatrist to help restore normal behavior.

Split-Personality. The famous fiction story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has made everyone aware that some individuals do suffer from the inability to be self-consistent. While all of us change our persona as we change our clothing (to suit the occasion), a rigid upbringing with much repression may force some people to "act-out" their repressed and unlived selves privately or secretly as a compensatory mechanism. Extreme personality changes resulting from perhaps only a couple of alcoholic drinks is a good sign of onset of the physiological disease of alcoholism for which the only cure is life long total abstinence from further drinking.

Multiple personality behavior, though rare, can be a sign of demon possession. After all other possibilities have been exhausted, experienced help should be sought and the demons cast out. Demon possession usually occurs because a person has deliberately involved himself or herself in the occult, witchcraft, Satan worship, or hard-core pornography.

Excessive day dreaming or fantasy life. A delightful movie made in the `40's, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was all about a quiet, shy, unassuming hen-pecked husband whose secret fantasy life was full of swash-buckling adventures in which he was hero extraordinary. Persons who fail to live out in real life who they really are in Christ may find that their unlived selves show up in excessive day dreaming and fantasies. Sexual fantasies usually reveal feelings of sexual incompleteness and are a special case. Those who feed on pornographic literature are letting the world know that they feel inadequate in interpersonal relationships and are virtual prisoners of destructive lusts and sensual desires.

Inferiority complex and low self-esteem. As mentioned above, low self-esteem may masquerade behind the person who is bold and self-confident or egotistical in real life. In other cases a person who is excessively shy may be a secret sufferer who hopes no one will notice but also longs for help and is afraid to ask for it. Unconfessed sin, uncleansed shame, and a sense of spiritual nakedness underlie many cases of personal low self-esteem.

Often we meet lonely people who simply need affirmation and someone to show an interest in them and to encourage them. Many friends I have met, who once were lonely and lacked a good opinion of themselves, have blossomed as a result of a little interest shown in them on behalf of God. All kinds of folks who have poor self-esteem are actually delightful persons and have much to offer. Since Jesus taught us that we would lose our own lives if we held onto them, and find our salvation if we gave ourselves away to others, I have found great value in asking God to bring into my life people who need a word of encouragement or some basic human acceptance, or a sympathetic listening friend. It is difficult enough to believe that God loves us, and often easier to believe another person cares. In any case, the incarnation of Christ obligates us to share His humanity with others through our actions.

Some people are naturally shy, or especially modest, or introspective. These are personality traits, not abnormalities!

Violent behavior. Any Christian under duress can lose his or her temper, or be subject to regrettable fits of anger, bitterness, or hatred from time to time in life. For others a strong temper is a personality weakness needing to be worked on for a life time. Most of these problems can be dealt with by confession and prayer. Wife-abuse, child-abuse, attempts at suicide, or various forms of self-destructive behavior are good indicators that the one whom Jesus called "the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning" has made his home somewhere in our hearts and needs to be dislodged and thrown out. Because the person who commits sin is temporarily not his own master any longer, but is controlled by another, he or she can not behave in the meek, gentle ways of Jesus until the control of the Holy Spirit is restored through confession and repentance.

Drug and alcohol abuse. Persons who drink too much or use illicit drugs to avoid coping with reality are often snared, not only by bad habits, but have been trapped into self-destructive behavior patterns that are the result of enemy activity in one's life. The Greek word pharmakeia, usually translated "sorcery" in the New Testament, implies bondage from seducing spirits than can occur because of abuse drugs or alcohol. The psychedelic drugs, and such as PCP, LSD, pot, Ecstasy, and the like open the mind to seducing spirits and interfere with the boundary-layer controls between the conscious and unconscious mind that God built into us for our own healthy self-regulation.

Excessive thrift, excessive spending. Men and women who chronically mismanage their worldly resources, either through not using then at all, or by spending sprees and living beyond their means usually have trouble within. Managing money is a big deal for many of us--whether we are rich or poor.

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:6-9)

Compulsive eating or drinking. Not all fat persons are signaling to the world that they need spiritual help, but it is certainly true in many situations that those who over indulge are trying to fill up unmet emotional needs in an inappropriate way. Getting such people to lose weight may mean dealing with a stronghold-within that resists discovery and change, surprising though this may seem.

Excessive self-denial; work-alcoholics. Individuals who are overly legalistic and deny themselves all recreation and enjoyment of life are often broadcasting to the rest of us their need for inner liberation that they might find the freedom that God longs to give them. In other cases individuals have grown up in legalistic churches and need help in gaining the freedom Christ has earned for them. Since God has given us all things freely to enjoy, and Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, Christians who avoid the risks and adventures of living and enjoying real life may have inner bondage from which they can, and should be, set free. Individuals who are driven by insecurity, secret lust for power or excessive fear of failure have problems that need attention as well. Wholeness in Christ implies balanced living.

Gender Confusion. Quite a number of young men and women these days are confused about their gender! The human genome is enormously complex allowing a wide range of of characterics traditionally seen as male or female. Yet biological sex is determined by a specific chromosome received by one's father. One's sense of identity and place in society can become confused by social pressures, peer influence, poor role models, sexual abuse and poor role models at home.

Excessive passivity. Just as certain persons are offensively rude, aggressive, pushy, so some people can be seen to be totally lacking in the ability to take the initiative, to pursue worthwhile goals or to venture forth into the world of relationships (in spite of hazards and fears). Quite a few men and women never grow up in today's world and expect someone else to feed and cloth them as mommy used to do. Jungian psychologists write books on young men whom they refer to as "Puer Aeternis" types. These tragic young men can be wonderfully charming, innocent-appearing, and loving, but most can not cope with the demands life makes on adult manhood; neither can they believe that bad things can happen to them. Many perfectly wonderful young women accept reclusive living, leading to "old-maidhood," not realizing that God would like to use them in wonderful ways even though they might prefer not to marry. Obviously there are underlying reasons for such cases of arrested development.

Difficulty in interpersonal relationships. In this category should be included fear of authority figures reflecting on poor childhood relationships with one's parents, fear of the opposite sex, and constant need for peer-group approval. Closely related are those relationships where one person finds he or she "can not live without the other." Something may be wrong in a person who can not hold a job very long or who moves constantly and never keeps friends very long. While we all need each other, we need God most of all, and to force us to grow up God may find it necessary to pry us loose from excessive dependence upon other people in some cases. Such dependent-relationships are usually two-way or they would be soon broken by the other party and ended. The test of healthy relationships is that they should overflow to the benefit of others and be outgoing rather than turned inward. Unfortunately many Christian marriages are turned inward to the detriment of all involved. Relationships based on the axioms, "I'll love you if you'll love me", "we both are lonely so we might as well be lonely together" may be better than no marriage at all, but they are certainly not very fulfilling relationships. It may be difficult to start over again after the failure of a marriage of many years, or to think of oneself as being useful to God or man after serious sin has befallen us, but God is always ready to get us started forward again.

On my kitchen wall is a plaque that means much to me, it simple says, "Prayer Changes Things".

The list could continue, but perhaps these few illustrations are enough to convince that we are all badly flawed, and that we are both weak and helpless before God, if we could but admit it to ourselves, to Him, and to each other. There is nothing wrong in being weak, in fact the Apostle Paul writes that Christ's strength is made perfect in our weakness. He speaks of us as earthen vessels with a treasure inside. What counts is the treasure not the container!

Yet we owe it to ourselves as redeemed men and women to vigorously devote time and energy to the conquest of the promised land of Canaan, to the redemption of the kingdom God within that has granted us as our inheritance in Christ. This "conquest of the land" is of course the theme of the book of Joshua. We Christians have no claims to a plot of land as the Jews do, nor even to any earthly inheritance, and we do not (usually) find our real enemies are other persons external to our lives. Neither do we claim our rightful inheritance in Christ by means of conventional warfare. Rather instead we must proceed by the ground rules laid down in the scripture for the conquest of the territory within.

The strongholds discussed thus far are those of the "personal unconscious" to use a term borrowed from modern analytic psychology. The largest problems we face as men and women coping with the problems of "this present evil age," are problems of the "collective unconscious." Social and political movements, cults and sects are examples of human organizations governed by collective forces that draw together more than one individual. Unless such groups or movements are grounded in scripture and in fellowship with God, they are bound to be deceptive stratagems of the god of this world. If so, they represent larger strongholds that need to be evaluated and aggressively addressed by Christians. Dealing with the collective strongholds in society is the subject of spiritual warfare proper, as discussed by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians Chapter 6. However many of the same principles of general-spiritual-warfare apply to attacking and reclaiming the personal strongholds in ourselves as individuals. A very key passage is found in Paul's second letter to the Christians in Corinth:

"For though we live in the world, we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience when your obedience is complete" (II Corinthians 10:3-6)

What this passage reveals is that the strongholds of evil in ourselves (and in others) are buttressed and fortified with rationalizations and arguments, with defense mechanisms and illogical patterns of thought based on ignorance, tradition, or the false philosophies of this world. The core of the strongholds is always pride, whether it takes the form of arrogance, self-exaltation, or touchiness and resentment (pride turned inward). This passage is most helpful, for it shows us that the problems we deal with in our unconscious and in the lives of others are like castles built up and defended (by the "strong man") in a certain way. To successfully attack, invade, and destroy enemy-held strongholds is really not much different from storming a medieval castle, but in Christ we have been armed with a better set of weapons than the best knight in armor would wear:

"...be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray 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 6:10-18)

If one keeps in mind that God's goal for us in life is that we should become whole persons, and that the Enemy's intentions are to destroy us, the nature of the war we are in can better be kept in mind. While many believers content themselves with second-best, there is no need for doing so, considering the unlimited nature of the life God offers us in Christ and the mighty weapons He gives us for helping one another to fullness of life now. (See The Beast in the Basement).

In applying the above passages to our emotional and spiritual roadblocks, it is only necessary to note that all of us resist change and even cooperate most of the time with the enemy in his maintenance and preservation of the castles he has built within us. The on-going efforts of the enemy to keep us from giving over these areas to Christ are popularly known as "defense mechanisms", and, unfortunately we all have them and resent (at first) anyone interfering with what lies beneath them. Not only are we defensive when the outer periphery is approached, we often find a whole host of reasons, or "rationalizations" for not allowing Christ to penetrate more deeply or probe further into the heart of our problem - that is, we might decide it can wait for "another day." We all resist truth to some degree and we resist living in reality also, though the more reality that breaks in and the more truth we accept the more glorious is our freedom and joy in Christ! So it is true that "we are our own worst enemies." Even as Christians we must learn "that men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil."

Pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness are not sins that once dealt with never recur. It is the testimony of the people of God in all ages that these root evils are at the heart of our constant resistance to growth. The weeds grow back in the garden faster than the flowers! But then who enjoys being humbled, or even humbling himself, though it is a fixed truth that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. So we ought to be willing to "Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God so that in due time He may exalt us."

Of course we must move tactfully, lovingly, and patiently as we help each other recognize the strongholds of the enemy in one another's lives. Then it is up to us to give God permission to move in, to tear down and to redeem these areas of our lives that we have lost to ourselves through sin. God does not force Himself on us, neither should we force ourselves on another - even when we want to help meet what is an obvious need. In helping others we must not meddle or pry where we are not welcome, nor violate another's will or God-given "territorial boundaries". In helping others know themselves better we must realize that we too will be changed by the process. In life we have no mirror to see ourselves except through the scriptures, fellowship with God and learning how to see ourselves as others see us. We shall not succeed in helping another if we perceive of ourselves as superior to our friend, nor will we gain his trust and confidence if we harbor attitudes of judgment and condemnation in our hearts, however subtle:

"Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own Master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:4)

In dealing with the strongholds of the personal unconscious it is well to keep in mind certain conditions of the inner man that may need specific attention through prayer, instruction, or changes in life-style before healing can set in. Some of the these include: Ignorance of the Scriptures. It is useless to pray for things God has already said "no" to in scripture. Similarly many Christians stay defeated because they are unaware of the hundreds of promises (conditional and unconditional) in the Bible free for the claiming! There is real life changing power in the Word of God, those who do not feed on the Word remain sickly and anemic and can not expect to become whole except to an insignificant degree, no matter how sincere their efforts. Especially in regard to healing and wholeness the Psalms have always been of infinite worth to the people of God down through the ages. In my darkest hours I have turned to the Psalms and found them rich treasures of encouragement, hope , comfort, and healing.

A sad commentary on many of our churches today is that they do not teach the scriptures or perhaps give only a verse or two when the congregation is starving for a decent meal. Other churches specialize in excessive emotionalism, charged appeals, and hours of chorus-singing. These worship activities provide a temporary lifting of the spirits but do not give us the "strong meat of the word" we all need to survive the rest of the week. In regard to worship Jesus said, "God is spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Obviously He wished us to strike a balance between music, prayer, testimony, open sharing and the preaching and teaching of "the whole counsel of God."

Conscience. The conscience can be "seared" so as to be grossly insensitive to right and wrong. Unless programmed with scripture our consciences can mislead us by making us feel guilty when we have not erred, or by allowing us to rationalize heinously wrong behavior without providing us with strong warnings:

"By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith..." (I Timothy 1:19)

"As I urged you...charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the diving training that is in faith; whereas the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and sincere faith." (I Timothy 1:4, 5)

"...How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself to God without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God." (Hebrews 9:14)

"...Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness, and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." (I Peter 3:15,15 )

Hardness of heart. It is useless to try to help people who are resistant to truth and change because of this common affliction. In such situations we need to ask God for humbling and breaking experiences, or for patient love to soften the heart so that it becomes receptive again. A related problem is stubbornness, a form of pride. God often sends us adverse, painful experiences to get our attention when all else fails.

"The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." (Psalm 51:17)

The will in bondage. Every wrong choice in life weakens our ability to resist evil in a given area, every right choice builds up the will. Many individuals have so little "will-power" that they need lots of help to get back on their feet walking with God. In recovering a will from bondage, the smallest initial right choices are the place to start and repeated failures are common even for long periods of time. Persons with broken-down wills need especially close accountability to other members of the Body of Christ. Frequently the Old Testament speaks of the Jews as a "stubborn and stiff-necked people." The neck is a symbol for the will, and a strong will (towards God) is called a "strong tower" in the Song of Solomon.

Uncircumcised heart. Just as unconfessed sin festers in the unconscious causing all sorts of problems and subsequent defeat, so all Christians need to draw upon their circumcision in the cross of Christ, by faith, in order to experience the cutting off of the flesh and the old life. The figure of circumcision means that we need to deal radically with our consecration to God, especially in regard to sexuality, emotions and related affections. Physical circumcision is a vivid symbol given to show us that our sexual lives, which we would like to claim as our own to be controlled by no one else, are to be given to God for the purpose of serving both Him and our partner in marriage. One ancient legend is that wedding rings were first modeled from the circular ring of flesh removed from the male generative organ in circumcision.

"And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the (legal) bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them triumphing over them in the cross." (Colossians 2:13-15)

Backsliding. This old-fashioned term simply means persistent disobedience or rebellion to the revealed will of God, and failure to walk with God on a daily basis. Carnal Christian living guarantees an inevitable harvest of death, since God is not mocked. In addition our walking in the flesh increases the territory ruled over by Satan in us and threatens the entire "kingdom within." (A good illustration is Psalm 79). Though Abraham loved his nephew Lot like a son, the latter was a compromised believer who was saved "but only as through fire". I often wonder what we can talk to Lot about in heaven. It would be indiscreet to inquire about his daughters, and empty to ask him to describe what life living in Sodom was like. Peter tells us that Lot was vexed night and day by moral conditions in Sodom. Having been justified by his faith along with the rest of us, he will arrive in heaven without sin or blame remaining.

Seducing spirits. In an evil world, all of us are buffeted about by activity in the "heavenly places" which involves good and bad angels, and hosts of falling spirits: unclean spirits, lying spirits, deceiving spirits, impersonating spirits, and the like. Persons who have been involved in the occult, though now Christians, may find bondage from such spirits is hard to be freed from and that persistent efforts are required. I do not believe any Christian can be possessed by evil spirits since God is sovereign over the temple of our bodies, however Christians do from time to time need relief from the world of oppressing spirits. Such oppression should not be suspected until all other possible problem areas have been explored and eliminated. Deliverance from enemy oppression has been t]he experience of many of God's people through the centuries.

Pride. Pride is at the heart of all sin. Arrogance, haughtiness, egotism, and self-righteousness are her bed-fellows. Outward pride, showing up as self-exaltation, arrogance and egotism is easier to spot than stubbornness, touchiness, or resistance to change which can be signs of inward pride. It is important to always be aware that meekness, lowliness and humility mark the fruit of the spirit. God's work with us is not finished until we have been repeatedly broken, brought to the end of our own resources more than once, and until we have been made-over into the likeness of God's own Son. Only after knowing God twenty-five years did I realize that I would be increasingly humbled by God for the rest of my life, if I was willing to keep following Him! Since pride blinds, it is well to ask God to show us what He sees about us that we do not:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Psalm 139).

Summary:

The stages of Christian growth, theologically speaking are justification, sanctification and glorification. The above discussion has largely to do with our part in working towards sanctification. (Sanctification is another name for wholeness, spiritual maturity, well-roundedness).

Colossians 3 sums up this by showing us that our life in Christ involves daily choices in identifying fleshly responses in our life, and then dying to them. For an excellent commentary on this passage see Ray Stedman, --Colossians Series.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (3:2-17)

Strongholds in the Government of the Universe

5. Cosmic Strongholds

In the government of the universe God employs a vast number of angels arranged in hierarchical tiers. Around his throne are four mighty archangels (the "living creatures" in Revelation 4-5, Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1ff). Also there are twenty-four "elders" around the throne of our Father in heaven. (These beings are probably not men but angels since the Apostle John would surely have been among them if they were men--RCS). Lesser angelic orders, labeled in Scriptures as thrones, dominions, principalities and powers, serve in the affairs of men and they are involved in events in the natural world as well. So called "guardian angels" care for each of us who are in the family of God.

Satan ("the Adversary") was once among the highest of all angels. James Boice calls him, "the Prime Minister" of the universe.  Satan's rebellion against God brought ruin and destruction into the natural order, and also the fall of the human race into sin and death (Genesis 3). Yet the fallen angels still populate the invisible spiritual realm which surrounds us and is within us (Job 1). Satan and his angels will be cast of heaven to earth during the coming seven-year tribulation period which is to take place before the public return of open Jesus Christ to rule the nations from Jerusalem. For now the destructive actions of the devil are everywhere. 

In the era of history we live in now Satan is in fact in charge of human affairs! He is "the god of this present world" (system). Nevertheless, the devil, his angels, the unfallen angels, and every one of us is under the sovereign rule of Jesus, "...who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him" (1 Peter 3:22). All that Satan does is strictly by God's permission. His activity is allowed for the present age with the result that most of mankind remains deceived and blinded to eternal realities. (2 Corinthians 3, 2 Thessalonians 2). Satan is known as a murderer from the beginning, a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44) His deceptions are increasing rapidly as we near the end of the age (2 Thessalonians 2). Jesus has been "declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4).  Our Lord now rules from the highest throne in the entire universe. He has full authority even to raise the dead and to judge men and angels (John 5). "...God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)

About the Angelic Conflict

In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose  name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in  linen, whose waist was  girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color,  and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, “O Daniel,  man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me,  “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God,  your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold,  Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people  in the latter days,  for the vision refers to many days yet to  come.” When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. And suddenly,  one having the likeness of the sons of men  touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, “My lord, because of the vision  my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.” Then again, the  one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly beloved,  fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight  with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these,  except Michael your prince. (Daniel 10)

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—." (Daniel 6:10-18)

The world we live in now is a world of shadows and dark places. The physical universe (which we sense and relate to through our physical bodies) is actually embedded within the greater unseen spiritual world. (We sense, or relate to, the spiritual realm through our spirits). Ultimate, eternal realities reside in the spiritual dimension. At Mt. Sinai, for instance, God told Moses to built a tabernacle fashioned as a copy of an eternal temple which is in the invisible realm. In our present state of being we Christians are mere ghosts. Our ultimate destiny as the children of light will be glorious indeed.

Ray Stedman says,

"...the physical things which God has made are reflections of an inner and greater reality. Do not turn that around. It is not that the things that take place in the inner life are shadows or reflections of the physical universe around. It is quite the other way. The physical universe was made to correspond to the inner reality. It is the inner truth, the truths that affect the soul and spirit of man, with which God is primarily concerned. He made the physical universe in order to reflect these so that, as we look around us and observe and assimilate with our senses, we are constantly reminded of the great things that are taking place within us, and around us, in the invisible kingdom that surrounds us on all sides."

The Origin of Evil

The root issues in the fall of Satan center around that archangel's proud challenge to the throne of God.
The fall of Satan occurred in the early history of the created universe, and of course prior to the fall of man.

"How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:

'I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will
ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will
be like the Most High.'

Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
to the lowest depths of the Pit."
(Isaiah 14:12-15)

Working in the human race through many deceptions, Satan has long been in the business of building "strongholds of evil" everywhere in the world. These invisible strongholds are like well-fortified, heavily-defended medieval castles. The Apostle Paul talks about them in 2 Corinthians 10. Our assignment as Christians is to be partners with Jesus in the destroying these strongholds:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 NKJV)

It is I Paul who call upon you--and I am doing it in the gentleness and the sweet reasonableness of Christ--I, who, as you say, am a poor creature when I am with you, but a man of courage when I am absent. It is my prayer that, when I do come to you, I may not have to be bold with that confidence with which I reckon that I can boldly face some who reckon that we direct our conduct by purely human motives. It is true that we live in a human body, but for all that we do not carry on our campaign with human motives and resources (for the weapons of our campaign are not merely human weapons, but God has made them powerful to destroy fortresses). Our campaign is such that we can destroy plausible fallacies and all lofty-mindedness which raises itself up against the knowledge that God has given, such that we capture every intention and bring it into obedience to Christ, such that we are prepared to punish all disobedience, when your obedience has been fulfilled. (William Barclay's translation)

For more on the weapons we are to use in spiritual warfare, see Ray Stedman's commentary, Our Secret Weapons.

What and where are these enemy-held fortresses, or strongholds, we are to assault and tear down? Evidently these unseen entities "reside" in government and politics, in commerce and industry, in schools and in churches--and inside of each of us as well.  Wherever these fortresses prevail, men are held captive to superstition, to empty tradition, to the exaltation of self.  The influence of strongholds in our lives can be seen when we continue to "act out" the unresolved conflicts which developed earlier in our lives. Any of us can get stuck in the past and find that we are unable to move on to maturity. The strongholds that affect us the most are probably those within our own "unconscious," and in our immediate environment of family and friends. Strongholds bring bondage; Jesus brings liberty and fullness of life.

The strongholds of evil in ourselves (and in others) are buttressed and fortified with rationalizations and arguments, with defense mechanisms and illogical patterns of thought based on ignorance, tradition, or the false philosophies of this world. The core of these strongholds is always pride, whether it takes the form of arrogance, self-exaltation, or, alternately, as touchiness and resentment (i.e., pride turned inward).

Successfully attacking, invading, and destroying enemy-held strongholds is somewhat analogous to storming a medieval castle. "In Christ" we have been armed with an infinitely better set of weapons than any earthly, historical knight would possess:

"...be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray 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 6:10-18)

God's goal for us Christians is that we should become whole persons. The enemy's intentions are to damage or destroy us. While many believers content themselves with second-best, there is no need settling for less, considering the unlimited nature of the life God offers us in Christ, and the mighty weapons He gives us for helping one another to fullness of life now. The on-going efforts of the enemy to keep us from giving over these areas to Christ often show up as our "defense mechanisms."

Unfortunately we all have strongholds in our lives, and we usually resent anyone interfering with what lies beneath them. We are likely to become defensive even when the outer periphery our defenses is barely approached. We often find in our very make up a whole host of reasons, (rationalizations) for our not allowing Christ to penetrate more deeply into our motives and our deep instinctive self-centered beliefs inherited from Adam.

Pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness are not sinful roots which once dealt with, never grow back. Covetousness and lust and hatred in our hearts are all too common among Christians. These root evils (strongholds) are at the heart of our resistance to spiritual growth. The weeds grow back in the garden

Most of us also tend to resist God's humbling processes--do we not often seek only to justify ourselves or to rationalize our behavior? The Bible says, "Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God so that in due time He may exalt you."
Because our own strongholds can easily blind us, we must be careful in meddling in the lives of people around us. Jesus told us to remove the plank, or log, in our own eyes before attempting to remove the speck from our brother's eye. In helping others by "speaking the truth in love" we help the entire Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:15). "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own Master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:4)

For both He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are being sanctified (us) are all of one (body), for which reason He is not ashamed to call them (us) brethren, saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You. And again: "I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me." (Hebrews 2:11-13)

A sad commentary on many of the churches of our day is that they no longer teach the scriptures in any depth. The result is that whole congregations are starving for want of a decent spiritual meal. Some churches compensate by specializing in excessive emotionalism, charged appeals, and endless chorus-singing. Such worship activities provide a temporary lifting of the spirits but do not give us the "strong meat of the word" we all need to flourish the rest of the week.

But especially, the New Testament theme of spiritual warfare is seldom taught today. We need knowledge and experience in this aspect of the Christian life now more than ever in all of history. 

God has called us, (we who follow Jesus as our Lord), to be conformed to the image of Christ. We are being made whole (holy), in the process known in theology as "sanctification." Obviously all the strongholds in our lives must be dealt with eventually. God has already "qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints of light" (Colossians 1:12).

The letter to the Hebrews assures us that God will soon purge the heavens (and the earth) of all evil--destroying all the works of fallen man, and all the strongholds of Satan--leaving only those things God has built.

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:25-29)

Daily life seems to be accelerating now faster and faster for all of us. Surely the world's problems are about to cascade into the great judgments predicted in the book of the Revelation. Man has had "his day" to run things here on this planet--and man has failed very badly.

A mere seven years from now, Jesus Christ could well be reigning on earth from Jerusalem. Meanwhile, "...be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:10-11)

 

Daniel 9-10

God employs a vast number of angels arranged in hierarchical tiers. Around his throne are four mighty archangels (the "living creatures" in Revelation 4-5, Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1ff). Also there are twenty-four "elders" around the throne of our Father in heaven. (These beings are probably not men but angels since the Apostle John would surely have been among them if they were men). Lesser angelic orders, labeled in Scriptures as thrones, dominions, principalities and powers, serve in the affairs of men and they are involved in events in the natural world as well. So called "guardian angels" care for each of us who are in the family of God. (More on the angels). Satan ("the Adversary") was once among the highest of all angels. James Boice calls him, "the Prime Minister" of the universe ().  Satan's rebellion against God brought ruin and destruction into the natural order, and also the fall of the human race into sin and death (Genesis 3). Yet the fallen angels still populate the invisible spiritual realm which surrounds us and is within us (Job 1). Satan and his angels will be cast of heaven to earth during the coming seven-year tribulation period which is to take place before the public return of open Jesus Christ to rule the nations from Jerusalem. For now the destructive actions of the devil are everywhere.  (Revelation 12, Ray Stedman).

In the era of history we live in now Satan is in fact in charge of human affairs! He is "the god of this present world" (system). Nevertheless, the devil, his angels, the unfallen angels, and every one of us is under the sovereign rule of Jesus, "...who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him" (1 Peter 3:22). All that Satan does is strictly by God's permission. His activity is allowed for the present age with the result that most of mankind remains deceived and blinded to eternal realities. (2 Corinthians 3, 2 Thessalonians 2). Satan is known as a murderer from the beginning, a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44) His deceptions are increasing rapidly as we near the end of the age (2 Thessalonians 2). Jesus has been "declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4).   Our Lord now rules from the highest throne in the entire universe. He has full authority even to raise the dead and to judge men and angels (John 5).

"...God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)

The world we live in now is a world of shadows and dark places. The physical universe (which we sense and relate to through our physical bodies) is actually embedded within the greater unseen spiritual world. (We sense, or relate to, the spiritual realm through our spirits). Ultimate, eternal realities reside in the spiritual dimension. At Mt. Sinai, for instance, God told Moses to built a tabernacle fashioned as a copy of an eternal temple which is in the spiritual realm (Revelation 15 Ray Stedman,). In our present state of being we Christians are mere ghosts. Our ultimate destiny as the children of light will be glorious indeed.

Long after that I saw people coming to meet us. Because they were bright I saw them while they were still very distant, and at first I did not know that they were people at all. Mile after mile they drew nearer. The earth shook under their tread as their strong feet sank into the wet turf. A tiny haze and a sweet smell went up where they had crushed the grass and scattered the dew. Some were naked, some robed. But the naked ones did not seem less adorned, and the robes did not disguise in those who wore them the massive grandeur of muscle and the radiant smoothness of flesh. Some were bearded but no one in that company struck me as being of any particular age. One gets glimpses, even in our country, of that which is ageless-heavy thought in the face of an infant, and frolic childhood in that of a very old man. Here it was all like that. They came on steadily. I did not entirely like it. Two of the ghosts screamed and ran for the bus. The rest of us huddled closer to one another...Moved by a desire to change the subject, I asked why the Solid People, since they were full of love, did not go down into Hell to rescue the Ghosts. Why were they content simply to meet them on the plain? One would have expected a more militant charity.

"Ye will understand that better, perhaps, before ye go," said he. "In the meantime, I must tell ye they have come further for the sake of the Ghosts than ye can understand. Every one of us lives only to journey further and further into the mountains. Every one of us has interrupted that journey and retraced immeasurable distances to come down today on the mere chance of saving some Ghosts. Of course it is also joy to do so, but ye cannot blame us for that! And it would be no use to come further even if it were possible. The sane would do no good if they made themselves mad to help madmen." (The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis).

Ray Stedman says, "...the physical things which God has made are reflections of an inner and greater reality. Do not turn that around. It is not that the things that take place in the inner life are shadows or reflections of the physical universe around. It is quite the other way. The physical universe was made to correspond to the inner reality. It is the inner truth, the truths that affect the soul and spirit of man, with which God is primarily concerned. He made the physical universe in order to reflect these so that, as we look around us and observe and assimilate with our senses, we are constantly reminded of the great things that are taking place within us, and around us, in the invisible kingdom that surrounds us on all sides." (http://www.raystedman.org/genesis/0303.html The root issues in the fall of Satan center around that archangel's proud challenge to the throne of God. The fall of Satan occurred in the early history of the created universe, and of course prior to the fall of man.

Working in the human race through many deceptions, Satan has long been in the business of building "strongholds of evil" everywhere in the world. These invisible strongholds are like well-fortified, heavily-defended medieval castles. The Apostle Paul talks about them in 2 Corinthians 10. Our assignment as Christians is to be partners with Jesus in the destroying these strongholds:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled." (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 NKJV)

Another translation puts it,

It is I Paul who call upon you--and I am doing it in the gentleness and the sweet reasonableness of Christ--I, who, as you say, am a poor creature when I am with you, but a man of courage when I am absent. It is my prayer that, when I do come to you, I may not have to be bold with that confidence with which I reckon that I can boldly face some who reckon that we direct our conduct by purely human motives. It is true that we live in a human body, but for all that we do not carry on our campaign with human motives and resources (for the weapons of our campaign are not merely human weapons, but God has made them powerful to destroy fortresses). Our campaign is such that we can destroy plausible fallacies and all lofty-mindedness which raises itself up against the knowledge that God has given, such that we capture every intention and bring it into obedience to Christ, such that we are prepared to punish all disobedience, when your obedience has been fulfilled. (William Barclay's translation)

(For more on the weapons we are to use in spiritual warfare, see Ray Stedman's commentary, Our Secret Weapons

What and where are these enemy-held fortresses, or strongholds, we are to assault and tear down? Evidently these unseen entities "reside" in government and politics, in commerce and industry, in schools and in churches--and inside of each of us as well.  Wherever these fortresses prevail, men are held captive to superstition, to empty tradition, to the exaltation of self.  The influence of strongholds in our lives can be seen when we continue to "act out" the unresolved conflicts which developed earlier in our lives. Any of us can get stuck in the past and find that we are unable to move on to maturity. The strongholds that affect us the most are probably those within our own "unconscious," and in our immediate environment of family and friends. Strongholds bring bondage; Jesus brings liberty and fullness of life. The strongholds of evil in ourselves (and in others) are buttressed and fortified with rationalizations and arguments, with defense mechanisms and illogical patterns of thought based on ignorance, tradition, or the false philosophies of this world. The core of these strongholds is always pride, whether it takes the form of arrogance, self-exaltation, or, alternately, as touchiness and resentment (i.e., pride turned inward). Successfully attacking, invading, and destroying enemy-held strongholds is somewhat analogous to storming a medieval castle. "In Christ" we have been armed with an infinitely better set of weapons than any earthly, historical knight would possess:

"...be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray 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 6:10-18)

God's goal for us Christians is that we should become whole persons. The enemy's intentions are to damage or destroy us. While many believers content themselves with second-best, there is no need settling for less, considering the unlimited nature of the life God offers us in Christ, and the mighty weapons He gives us for helping one another to fullness of life now. (See Individuation and The Biblical Concept of Wholeness, by Kenny Ammann). The on-going efforts of the enemy to keep us from giving over these areas to Christ often show up as our "defense mechanisms." Unfortunately we all have strongholds in our lives, and we usually resent anyone interfering with what lies beneath them. We are likely to become defensive even when the outer periphery our defenses is barely approached. We often find in our very make up a whole host of reasons, (rationalizations) for our not allowing Christ to penetrate more deeply into our motives and our deep instinctive self-centered beliefs inherited from Adam. Pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness are not sinful roots which once dealt with, never grow back. Covetousness and lust and hatred in our hearts are all too common among Christians. These root evils (strongholds) are at the heart of our resistance to spiritual growth. The weeds grow back in the garden faster than the flowers! Most of us also tend to resist God's humbling processes--do we not often seek only to justify ourselves or to rationalize our behavior? The Bible says, "Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God so that in due time He may exalt you."
Because our own strongholds can easily blind us, we must be careful in meddling in the lives of people around us. Jesus told us to remove the plank, or log, in our own eyes before attempting to remove the speck from our brother's eye. In helping others by "speaking the truth in love" we help the entire Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:15).

"Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own Master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:4)

For both He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are being sanctified (us) are all of one (body), for which reason He is not ashamed to call them (us) brethren, saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You. And again: "I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me." (Hebrews 2:11-13)

A sad commentary on many of the churches of our day is that they no longer teach the scriptures in any depth. The result is that whole congregations are starving for want of a decent spiritual meal. Some churches compensate by specializing in excessive emotionalism, charged appeals, and endless chorus-singing. Such worship activities provide a temporary lifting of the spirits but do not give us the "strong meat of the word" we all need to flourish the rest of the week. But especially, the New Testament theme of spiritual warfare is seldom taught in churches today. We need knowledge and experience in this aspect of the Christian life now more than ever in all of history. God has called us, (we who follow Jesus as our Lord), to be conformed to the image of Christ. We are being made whole (holy), in the process known in theology as "sanctification." Obviously all the strongholds in our lives must be dealt with eventually. God has already "qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints of light" (Colossians 1:12).

Many of the enemy-held strongholds of evil in society are found in politics, business, education and religion. Some of these fortresses of the evil-one have been in place for hundreds or thousands of years. The letter to the Hebrews assures us that God will soon purge the heavens (and the earth) of all evil--destroying all the works of fallen man, and all the strongholds of Satan--leaving only those things God has built.

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:25-29)<

Daily life seems to be accelerating now faster and faster for all of us. Surely the world's problems are about to cascade into the great judgments predicted in the book of the Revelation. Man has had "his day" to run things here on this planet--and man has failed very badly. A mere seven years from now, Jesus Christ could well be reigning on earth from Jerusalem. Meanwhile, "...be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:10-11)

Additional Notes on Toppling Strongholds

"Who is this who looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?" (Song of Solomon 6:10)

Dominion and control over our planet was originally given to our forefather Adam. But he lost it. In more ways than one. One only has to look around everywhere today to see clearly that we humans do a lousy job of caring for the planet, safeguarding our natural resources, living peacefully with one another, and managing the affairs of the household on behalf of the owner of the Planet (who is out of town for a season).

The Epistle to the Hebrews speaks God's plans for restoring man's lost dominion over the earth.

"For it was not to angels that God subjected the world [age] to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou carest for him? Thou didst make him [man] for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him [man]with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet." Now in putting everything in subjection to him, [man] he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him."

The writer continues by describing the incarnation of the Son of God who was born into our race as a son of Adam. By His perfect life and sacrificial death, Jesus has regained the title deed to earth (as can be seen in Revelation 4), and He has purchased back (redeemed) from the slave market of sin those of us who now name His name as Lord.

"But [now] we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies [makes whole] and those who are sanctified [made whole] have all one origin [body]. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, "I will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Here am I, and the children God has given me." Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:5-18)

Colossians tells us that when He died on the cross Jesus not only paid for our sins, but in a cosmic court room He won a total victory over all visible and invisible powers of evil, annulling any claim they may have had to our lives or to the planet. Any alien force, or power, or entity (angelic or human) anywhere in all creation was dealt with, with finality, once and for all, on the cross.

"Jesus has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him" (1:13-22)

"And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him." (Colossians 2:13-15)

In our materialistic culture "educated" people don't talk about angels, nor discuss the invisible realm of the spirit. Actually the Bible describes the spiritual world as more solid, more substantial, and more permanent than the world we live in now. The physical, material world is actually embedded and immersed in the spiritual realm (i.e., "the heavenlies"). Earth is really just a small sub-domain of heaven. We live in a world of shadows, while all around us are eternal realities which can never fade away. Because our present bodies have not yet been redeemed we only perceive these invisibilities of the universe through the eyes of faith.

Notice that Hebrews 2:5 (quoted above) says that the age to come will not be subject to [the control of] the angels. By implication, this verse implies that the age we live in now IS managed by the angelic hosts. This default mode for the government of earth is part of what happened when Adam forfeited his Prime Minister's role over the creation. That is, angels took over. Chief of these spirit-beings was a very bad guy--Satan--known as "the god of this world [age]. He is not alone. The Bible mentions four tiers of angels (principalities, powers, world rules, and hosts of wickedness). One might be tempted to think that these malevolent agencies live somewhere beyond outer space. But the reality is they are deeply involved in all the social institutions of world cultures. For this reason what the Bible calls "the world" or "the world system" is fully opposed to God. (1) (The Christian's three enemies are: the flesh, the world and the devil, remember?) For many centuries now these evil angels have shaped molded and influenced every man-made organization on earth.

In the third book of his science fiction trilogy, "That Hideous Strength," C. S. Lewis depicts earth as the "Dark Planet" ruled over by a "Bent Angel." In comparison with earth, Lewis sees the rest of the universe as far less unscathed by evil.

Because evil has so thoroughly corrupted all of society, when Christ comes back it must all be overthrown. The writer of Hebrews says that everything which can be shaken will be. He talks about the overthrow of rulers on earth but also of a severe shaking of the heavens. Only what God has built directly or put into place through His people will remain.

"See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. His voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven." This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of what is shaken, as of what has been made, in order that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire." (12:25-29)

The prophet Isaiah made the same prediction 2700 years ago.

"Behold, the LORD will lay waste the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants. Terror, and the pit, and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth! He who flees at the sound of the terror shall fall into the pit; and he who climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble. The earth is utterly broken, the earth is rent asunder, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man, it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again. On that day the LORD will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before his elders he will manifest his glory." (Isaiah 24:1, 17-23)

Evil is society is concentrated in cities. This is a phenomenon that began after the Flood of Noah when Ham's grandson Nimrod built Babylon (and other cities) in the Fertile Crescent area. (Genesis 10:8-10). Nimrod's motives, his presuppositions, and his methods were in opposition to the ways of God. Since the Fall of Adam, and since the Flood of Noah, we have lived in a world where all falsehood and evil in society ultimately springs from wrong theology, from religious error. The well-spring of false religion and ideology which began at ancient Babylon has now spread throughout the world, infecting all of society everywhere, like a virus.

For 2000 years, God has been planting small colonies of people among the nations. These people are sons and daughters of the old Adam, but they have been reborn and re-created in Jesus the Last Adam. It is through these small groups of people drawn from every nation, (Christ's true church), that God has plans for the recovery and total rehabilitation of the planet. The church of Jesus Christ should really be thought of not only as a place of refuge from impending judgment, but as the beach head landing force of God's coming liberation army. Her weapons for warfare are unconventional by ordinary military standards (see below), but enormously powerful even against overwhelming odds. The church will not win the battle single handed--that will take place when Christ returns--but meantime small numbers of Christians following what God has called us to do can make a world of difference. (3, 4)

Lots of local churches today act like retirement communities or country clubs. They provide a refuge from the world, safe forms of entertainment and a sheltered environment. This seems to be the default mode of many churches today. These churches are really quite harmless, and pose no real threat to the devil's work.

A smaller group of churches is savvy enough to perceive they the local church was intended by our Lord to evangelize the surrounding community in every generation. This mean the members are to thoughtfully and actively interact at all levels in their community to the end that people in the surrounding community clearly understand and respond to the gracious offer of God's salvation and so are added daily to the Body of Christ. (Actually spiritual warfare [5] is very much involved in the salvation of individuals and in their subsequent growth into maturity in Christ).

A third, rarer type of local church takes seriously the clear call of the New Testament to be actively busy assaulting the strongholds of evil in society. It is in the society around us that the angels of darkness hold sway, rarely challenged by anyone. Spiritual warfare in its broadest sense includes protecting oneself and one's church from the devices of the god of this age, while aggressively assaulting, attacking and pulling down these dark towers in the culture and infusing them with the light of truth and love. It makes all the difference in the world how the church engages in this deliberate assault of the world system.

The Apostle Paul sums up the nature of the church's call to attack the world:

"For though we live in the world [ we are not carrying on a worldly [fleshly] war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly [fleshly] but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

We live in a world governed by theories, ideologies and philosophies. Each social institution began with presuppositions or assumptions which may be compared to the foundation of a castle. Human pride, human ambition is the core motivation of fallen men living under the control of Satan in a fallen world. But because the ways of the world are actually diametrically opposed to God's intentions for the human family, each organization or entity in the world system has to be shored up with arguments and rationalizations so that the core selfish ambition and pride is not obvious.

On the above passage Ray Stedman says, Paul says we do not employ the weapons of the flesh. What are those weapons? What does the world use to try to solve the problems it recognizes in society? Well, you know what it uses: Coercion, manipulation, pressure groups, compromises, demonstrations that ultimately result in raised voices, in clenched fists and outbreaks of conflict, boycotts, pickets and strikes, in attempts to pressure people into doing what others want. These are the weapons of the world. It does not have any others. So it is understandable why those who are governed by the flesh would seek to employ fleshly weapons to get things done. But the universal testimony of history is, these do not work. We still have the same problems we have had for centuries. We never will get rid of them. We only rearrange them by these methods so that they seem to take another form for a little while but soon we are right back with the same problems, if not worse. That has been the unbroken experience of history. No one can deny it.

Well, then, what are our weapons? Paul makes it clear that they are not those. Christians are not to use coercion, manipulation, pressure groups, compromises and conflict to oppose the evil in our midst. We have other weapons, he says. They are mighty, they are powerful, they accomplish something. They will "destroy strongholds" of evil, he says we do have spiritual weapons that are mighty against these forces of darkness.

The one we would put first, I am sure from the Scriptures, is truth. The Christian is given an insight into life and reality that others do not have. We know what is behind the forces at work in our society today, and we ought to know how to go about overcoming them. As Paul put it in Ephesians, "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood," (cf, Ephesians 6:12a KJV). Our problem is not people, much as we identify, like the world around us, with people as the problem. Scripture says, "No, it is not people," but rather, "principalities, powers darkness," (cf, Ephesians 6:12b RSV). We wrestle with spiritual powers behind the scenes. We need to understand that.

That is what truth is all about. Truth is realism. The wonderful thing about the Word of God is that, when you understand the world as the Bible sees it, you are looking at life the way it really is. I do not know anything more valuable than that. That is why it is so important that we understand the Scriptures, that we refresh our minds with them all the time, for, in this constant bombardment with illusion and error that we face every day, it is easy to drift back into thinking the way everybody and wicked spirits in high places, the world rulers of this present around us thinks. Unless we are finding our minds renewed by the Spirit, and refreshed by the reminder of what life is really like and what it is we are really up against, we will find ourselves acting just like everybody else. So, the first and greatest weapon of all is truth: Truth as it is in Jesus.

As we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus is a man who understands life. He does not act like anybody else because he really sees what is happening. He ignores much of the visible symptoms and strikes right at the heart, at the cause of certain events. That is why what he did was so different from the world around. If we are going to follow him, we will not adopt these methods, and fall heir to some of these fatal approaches to problems. We will begin to see things differently.

And, everywhere in Scripture, the Word of God links truth with love, "speaking the truth in love," (Eph 4:15). Love is a powerful weapon. When you begin to treat people with courtesy instead of anger, when you accept them as people with feelings like yours, and understand that they too are struggling with difficulties and see things out of focus as you yourself often do, when you begin to treat them as people in trouble who need help -- that is what love is -- then you change the whole picture. Love is a mighty force. We pay lip service to it in quoting First Corinthians 13, but how often do we put it into practice?

Then linked to that, everywhere in Scripture, is faith. Faith is the recognition that God is present in history. He has not left us alone to stumble on our own way. God is at work. The Lord Jesus sits in control of all the nations of earth. "He opens and no man shuts. He shuts and no man opens," (cf, Revelation 3:7 RSV). Faith believes that, and expects him to do something. In the 11th chapter of Hebrews we have the great record of the plain, ordinary men and women like you and me who found, by faith, that they could stop the mouths of lions, open the doors of prisons, and change the course of history. Faith is not a religious entity merely for churchgoing people. Faith comes right down and lays hold of ordinary, human events and changes the course of history through them.

Linked to faith is prayer. The power of prayer is everywhere held before us in Scripture. We are constantly exhorted to expose the situations in which we find ourselves to the prayers of believing people, both individually and corporately, praying together that God would move in and change things. Again and again the record testifies that events have been drastically altered by Christians who pray.

With that we would also link loving service. Scripture says, "Do good to those who hate you; pray for those who despitefully use you," (cf, Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-28); and minister to those who treat you wrongly or misuse you. Do something good back. When is the last time you did that? That is what changes history, when Christians act differently. You will never find non-Christians doing that. Their demand is to get even, to demand justice. Christians are to remember that if we had justice all of us would be in hell. Therefore, mercy is what is required. To return good for evil is a potent weapon that we can employ.

Paul uses a very vivid word to describe the errors that we are attacking. He calls them "strongholds." That is a word taken out of the military life of the time, and it is used only once in the Scriptures. It describes a castle with its moats, its walls, its turrets and its towers...defended by a handful of resolute, determined men. History records that many times a castle like that has held out for weeks and months and years against an attacking force because it was so difficult to dislodge its defenders. So that word vividly describes some of the evils we are talking about this morning. Why is it so difficult to handle the homosexual issue today? Why do we find it so hard to get hold of this matter? The break-up of the home and the rising divorce rate is another stronghold of evil. Drug traffic is another. What do you do against these things? Paul describes in Verse 5 some of the things that lend strength to these powers of evil. He says,

We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. {2 Corinthians 10:5 RSV}

The first is arguments ("reasonings" is literally the word). It means the rationalizations by which a point of error is supported and defended. Have you ever noticed that when you get upset about some of the things that are happening in our day and you decide to do something about it, you are soon confronted with arguments that the other side uses to defend itself which sound almost unassailable?

Paul says that is what the truth and love and prayer and faith will do. They will reveal that behind these arguments are vain suppositions, unrealistic assumptions that are not true. That is where a Christian can come with a loving touch, and a truthful word, and point out that that is exactly the case. That is what the Lord Jesus did with the woman at the well at Samaria. He dealt with her unending search for happiness in marriage by showing her that she was on a wild-goose chase that could never end in anything but utter frustration. But he had the true gift of satisfaction that he would give to her if she would take it. That is the Christian approach. It destroys these arguments, these reasonings.

The second thing Paul mentions is, "proud obstacles to the knowledge of God." Do you know what they are? If you read the writings that defend error in our day you will see, every now and then, some arrogant statement of the ability of man that is far beyond reality. You will read claims that men are smart, that they understand life, that they can handle all their problems, and do not need any help. These arrogant assumptions of right, or might, are what Paul is referring to, this strange insanity that makes men think they can handle the world, and handle life, without any wisdom beyond their own. Again and again you run into this, and people get offended if this is attacked in any way.

Then the final thing is a very personal matter, the thoughts that come into our own minds and hearts. We learn to, "take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ." The word Paul uses and the reference he is making here is to the imaginings of our minds. These are the fantasizings we indulge in, the daydreams of power and of accomplishment that we feed upon endlessly, the lustings by which we attempt to satisfy inward sexual desires by feeding upon pornography, mentally if not openly. You will never win the battle as long as you allow yourself to indulge in those kinds of fantasizings. That is why the apostle, with all realism, faces us with the fact that we must bring these things captive unto Christ, and no longer permit them to engage our minds and hearts. These are conquered by truth, by love, by faith, by righteousness, by prayer and service. These are the weapons of our warfare.

Now, once these things are conquered, once we really face up to them, and no longer permit them to govern our lives because of the truth that God has shown us, then we must be quick and alert to maintain a promptness to deal with the return of any of these evil things. That is what Paul is referring to in Verse 6:

...being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. {2 Corinthians 10:6 RSV}

That means that once you have been delivered from your inner weaknesses which make you unusable in the spiritual warfare of our day, then you must maintain an alertness to deal promptly with any return of these things. I do not know anything more practical than this. Many people struggle for years against weaknesses in their lives and wonder why they can get nowhere. But they are trying to stop the act, not the inward thought that precipitates it. They permit themselves inward dalliance with ugly and hurtful things, ambitious projects where they see themselves as the hero on the white horse, always riding out to deliver the damsel from distress, winning the attention of all the multitudes around, or giving way to lust and playing it over on the record player of the mind. Then they wonder why they are so weak when an opportunity comes to indulge in an act. The battleground is our thought life, that is what Paul is telling us. When we win that battle then we must be careful to punish every disobedience after our obedience has been made complete, after we have learned what it takes to walk with God.

The problem is not the world. It is the church, isn't it? It is we who do not use the weapons at our disposal. Instead, we give way, and go along with worldly approaches, using pressure-group tactics, and petitions, to seek to overcome with legislation the wrongs of our day. May God help us to understand the nature of spiritual warfare. The weapons of our warfare are not those kinds of worldly tactics. They are mighty. The cause is not hopeless. We are not helpless; there is much we can do. Let a single Christian begin to act along the lines of the revelation of Scripture in this regard, and things will begin to change. Any one of us can begin to change things, in our lives individually, in our homes, in our communities, where we work, whatever. Let us begin to learn the truth about life from the Scriptures, to act in love instead of in rivalry and competition, to trust God that he will work as we work in faith, to pray, and to join others in prayer, that he will do so. Let us begin to live righteously ourselves, to see that we maintain integrity in the midst of these deviations, and lovingly serve those who are opposing us. We will find tremendous changes beginning to occur quickly as God allows these weapons to destroy the strongholds of darkness and evil around us. Do you know anything more challenging for our day and time than that? God has placed in our hands the opportunity to change our nation, our communities, our homes, wherever we are. May God grant that we will do it. You are the salt of the earth, (Matthew 5:13a RSV). You are the light of the world, (Matthew 5:14a RSV). ­Ray C. Stedman, Our Secret Weapons

In times past the Christian church was more vigorous and more faithful in her calling to confront and oppose and destroy the strongholds of evil in the world. But, for many decades now the church has lived off the spiritual bank account of accumulated by our forefathers. As a result we are now fighting a merely defensive battle, or in most cases not fighting at all. Because of this cop-out one can look around on all sides and see major battles that have been lost (at least for now). The darkness has encroached and the enemy has rebuilt his fortresses. A few examples on my list of areas where the church has "lost" or has refused to fight are:

The public school system.
Universities and colleges, private and public
Theological Seminaries.
Anti-Family values.
Movies, television, news reporting
The Pornography industry

In addition to saving individuals, God is saving a church, His bride, who will be "without spot or blemish." He has special plans for the nation Israel with whom He has an ongoing covenantal relationship (Romans 9-11). God also saves (blesses) individual nation-states when they emulate the relationship which God has established with Israel as His model nation. Therefore Christians, "God's secret government" in society (4) must be involved in government and the institutions of culture.

At this time in our history we are now suddenly aware that a world-wide war of religious values has come upon on from the other side of the planet. The church now needs to actively engage Islam. Allah is not the God of the Bible, the Quran is not a Holy Book and the teachings of Islam run counter to the Biblical revelation at many crucial points.

In embarking on spiritual warfare, which is part of our clear calling as Christian soldiers, our war is never against other people. Men are not our enemies. We fight against invisible demonic foes who imprison men and hold them captive. Whether all men are saved is not the only issue. The entire planet belongs to our coming King Jesus (5) and we are supposed to be working with His purposes not against them.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

The Debris Fields of Life

Just a couple of miles from my home in Silicon Valley, California I  recently passed a large vacant lot where condos built just a few years ago once stood. The demolition debris had mostly been carted away but bulldozers were at work leveling the lot before excavators could dig. Billboards announced the architect’s bigger and better coming new condos. I asked my friend how much  all this was costing. Many millions for sure, but who cares. High wages and soaring costs of living drive all this nonsense. The condos will easily rent for at least $5000 a month.
 
Who cares? Conservationists care, and Jesus cares infinitely more. (Jesus owns the whole universe by the way and He will soon be back with a vengeance as the absent Investor, Landlord, and Property Owner.)
 
After WW II and again after Korea and Vietnam, our military dumped helicopters, planes, and gear into the ocean, resulting in enormous long-term contaminated sea water. The cost of goods and raw material was billions of dollars of course. Dumping was cheaper than shipping the gear home. War Surplus stores could only handle so many uniforms. C-Rations, tarps, tents, uniforms. 
 
It was, and is, too costly to recycle houses, cars, furniture, apparel and slightly used electronics equipment scrapped here in SV. Huge land fills with grass on top do generate useful methane. So what, it’s but a drop in the bucket. Americans throw away into the dumpster of life 40 million unwanted babies and tons of debris, per year, with no regard to the seriousness of such horrendous waste (and the huge offense this is to God. He owns the place, we don’t.)
 
The rise, downhill course, and approaching doom of Silicon Valley is a story yet to be told. The gleaming towers and mirrored walls don’t come cheap. But today’s major corporate headquarters will be tomorrow’s debris fields. For many living here it’s unthinkable to even bring this to mind. Yesterday’s startups are but forgotten tales for our Millennials. All since WW II. 
 
One landfill “hill” near here was economically mined for gold computer chips and cables, and on and on...
 
Sewage treatment plants are now enormously expensive. Flushing, washing, rinsing and showering quickly use up the available water supplies. The water table keeps dropping and the once bountiful fields and orchards here are long gone! War consumption now higher than ever. 
 
What about garbage and trash disposal and recycling? I hear Americans waste about half of our available food. Our cemeteries are full, and the land they occupy is very valuable. Grave sites are sometimes reused. Cremation is very common these days whereas it was once considered sacrilegious and pagan. In big cities like London. Paris or Roman great galaxies of millions of stacked bones may be found in miles of tunnels. See: The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank

 

“You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury;
you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
You have condemned, you have murdered the just; 
(Jesus) he does not resist you.
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.
You also be patient.
Establish your hearts,
for the coming
 (rapture, parousia) of the Lord is at hand.“ (James 5:5-8)


"You are the salt of the earth; You are the light of the world," (Matthew 5:13-14)

While waiting for major changes, and the removal of all the evil in our world, followers of Jesus Christ to act like citizens of another kingdom in their affairs in this mortal coil. 

“I beg you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove (in experience) what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2,3)

All this discuss presupposes that the reader has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. |
Please grant Jesus permission to wonderfully change you from the inside out so that you will be sure to be around when the new Administration arrives.

Drought

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.
They shall wander from sea to sea,
And from north to east;
They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
But shall not find it.
“In that day the fair virgins
And strong young men
Shall faint from thirst.
Those who swear by the sin of Samaria,
Who say,
‘As your god lives, O Dan!’
And, ‘As the way of Beersheba lives!’
They shall fall and never rise again.” (Amos 8:9-14)


Very important history for us in California! Our rainfall is way lower than it used to be. Our summer wild fires (and smoke) are worse each year. PG&E is in a state of bankruptcy. Some believe the wild fires are not natural. No one is praying about this apparently?

Where is Elijah when we need him?

Elijah was a man with a nature (homoiopathes = passions) like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.

And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” (James 5:17-18)

 

EARLY POLITICAL CORRUPTION IN CALIFORNIA!!
 
Some water wells are now badly polluted because of huge unseen plumes of poisoned ground, requiring expensive remediation. Many other wells are dry or have reached the salt water table. Aqueducts such as our Hetch Hetchy (c1923) push fresh melted snow from our magnificent Sierra Nevadas to quench the thirsty hordes in San Francisco and on the equally Pagan Peninsula.\

Few realize that California’s climate is “Mediterranean Dry” —much like Israel’s. Winter and Spring rains, with hot summers. Not many wells or springs. Rainfall amounts decrease from Eureka in the North to San Diego in the South. We have floods in wet years, drought in dry years. A huge study in “Cadillac Desert” by Marc Reisner in 1986 shook me to the core, though I did nothing about his warnings. The book is about the theft of Northern California water (in the 1920s) now carried by great aqueducts to Los Angeles.

The book Cadillac Desert (1986) by Marc Reisner is excellent!

Subject: How Los Angeles Gets Its Water: A Complete History of The Los Angeles Aqueduct

L.A. Times: U.S. West prepares for a worst-ever water shortage declaration (April 20, 2021)

 

Additional Reading

The Elements of the World System
The Secret Government of Earth
The Dragon Lady
There's a War On, Folks!
The Strongholds of Inner Space
A New Creation
Resources on Prayer
Intercessors

Prayer 101
Corporate Prayer is not an Option
Let us Pray
Prayer Changes Things
The Biblically Illiterate Church

 

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April 21, 2021