Tag Archives: Truth Pressure

Your Flesh is Your Enemy

Romans 8:6-8 (NKJV) or to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

The word “enmity” in verse 7 means hostile opposition or hatred toward God. The carnal mind, our flesh, is God’s enemy; therefore, it should be our enemy. We must all come to the place where we see our carnal nature as our enemy. If we don’t see our carnal nature as the enemy, we will tend to treat it like a pet.

God has promised to deliver us from our enemies, not our pets!

Many don’t realize we are feeding our carnal, fleshly desires. We think that what we are doing is no big deal. It is a huge deal! Let me give you some examples:

If you have been delivered from drugs and you know that it has a strong pull on your flesh, anything that would stir up old memories and desires should be avoided. Movies with drug abuse, talking about your old lifestyle, or even driving through the part of town where you used to buy drugs can all be triggers that let “the cat” in the door.

If you struggle with overeating or binging junk food, it is much easier to win the battle if you stay out of the junk-food aisle in the grocery store. If it stimulates any of your five senses, it has the potential to pull on you. If the shortest route to your destination is through an area that stirs up memories of past sins, take another course! The long way is better than the wrong way.

What about being addicted to entertainment? Surfing the internet, social media, and video games? Wasting hours every day on mindless foolishness? Is that harmless? Or is it stealing the life right out of you, keeping you from things more important, and warring against your soul?

If you think it is no big deal, or if you think you are strong enough to handle it. You may wake up one day and realize that the little thing that is “no big deal” has now become your enormous pet and is demanding to be fed! If we feed our enemy, he gets stronger and has more power to harm us. If we feed our spirit, it will grow stronger and overcome the flesh.

What we feed grows. What we starve dies.

James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

This scripture verse may seem like a two-step program to victory over the devil, but it is not. It is a one-step program. Submitting to God IS resisting the devil. Remember that Jesus has already defeated the enemy. Submitting to God, by obedience to His word, embraces and enforces victory and makes dying to the flesh much easier.

“Sin takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and cost us more than we want to pay.”

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Overcoming Your Pet Sins

Many of us have pets—an animal to keep, feed, and care for. We can become so close to our pets that we consider them family members. They provide companionship and comfort when we are hurt, depressed, or suffering from anxiety. Pets are always there when we need them, and they never fail to give us that dose of “feel good” when we seem to need it most.

Many Christians have the same mindset toward particular sins and they keep those sins as pets. Familiar habits or old crisis mechanisms that give them relief, comfort, and satisfaction when their flesh screams at the top of its lungs to “FEED ME!” 

A pet sin is the one we run to when we are tired or feeling weak. The sin we defend, protect, and get angry over when we are confronted about it.  A sin that torments us at our most vulnerable point and yet the one we can’t seem to get free from. A sin that we quickly yield to, even though we know we shouldn’t. A pet that we make provision for and feed in secret. We run to it for instant gratification and then feel guilty immediately after we yield to it.

It is a dangerous deception to our souls and one that can hinder our spiritual growth and progress. It can destroy our confidence, compromise our witness, keep us from realizing our full potential, and disqualify us from God’s abiding presence.

The most significant battles are always the internal ones, the struggles we fight when no one else is around. Even with help and accountability, we must take up the sword of the Spirit for ourselves and conquer the things that torment us in our souls.

Before King David killed Goliath in front of two nations, he won victories over a lion and a bear when no one else was around. Getting victory over a lion and a bear is much like overcoming a pet sin. Sometimes, it can seem as difficult as fighting a bear or a lion. The successes we have in private prepare us for the type of public victories that will turn the hearts of men and change nations.

Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Suppose we are battling to keep the flesh under control, struggling to deny it from dominating our lives. In that case, it is likely, that we have not given ourselves entirely to walking in the Spirit. We must be honest with ourselves and ask, “Am I feeding the flesh more than I am feeding the Spirit?”

We must be honest with ourselves and be willing to make the changes necessary to get victory one very area of our lives. Walking in the Spirit has two distinct characteristics and can be easily measured in our lives. Obtaining freedom from tormenting sin must start with this simple, two-part assessment.

  1. Am I walking faithfully in what I have learned from God’s written word?

Obedience to what we learn from the Lord is the foundation of walking in the Spirit and gives us the spiritual ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying in our hearts. If we do not start with this first step, our hearts can become hardened, and our consciences will become seared, our spiritual ears and eyes will be dulled and darkened.

This prevents us from embracing the second step of walking in the Spirit, which is hearing God’s spoken word and being led by the Spirit.

     2. Am I walking faithfully in what I am hearing and perceiving, from God’s spoken word?

Being watchful and attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit is the second step. Learning to live by the unction of the Holy Spirit, the leading of peace, and being sensitive to the still small voice inside us, are all things we must develop as we mature. However, it is challenging to be led by the Spirit if we are not committed to obeying the written word.

God is always speaking to us in some way. Without our commitment to discover and obey what God has already said in His written word, we won’t have our ears tuned to hear what He speaks by the Spirit. Neither will we have spiritual eyes to see and discern when He is leading us by the Spirit. It starts with our intimate relationship with the Lord through His written word.

Being a disciple is to live a life governed by the written word, as well as the spoken word. Only then do we become a healthy expression of the living word, Jesus Christ.

James 1:21-25 (NKJV) Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which can save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

If we are not committed to doing what we have learned from God’s written and spoken word, we quickly become self-deceived. We forget who we are and why we are here. Our identity comes into question, and we lose the ability to discern the truth.

Self-deception then becomes our reality. We begin to live a lie, believing we are disciples of Christ while refusing to follow Him. We are no longer walking in the Spirit, so we continue to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We hang on to parts of our old nature and shackle ourselves to the enemy’s deception. We get stuck in a cycle of sin and make it our pet.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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Praying in the Spirit Explained

One of the greatest tragedies in the Church is the confusion we have about the Holy Spirit. Even among groups that emphasize the Holy Spirit and His role in the Church, we see different beliefs, expressions, and practices, many of which are contradictory.

The Bible shows the mishandling of holy things brings serious consequences. How much more severe is it when we have the Holy Spirit of God living inside us?

While some limit praying in the Spirit to praying only God’s written word, others say that praying in the Spirit is only praying with other tongues. Still, others reject praying with other tongues altogether. Our lack of agreement reveals our overall lack of understanding.

Effective spiritual warfare requires an understanding of praying in the Spirit, so let’s bring clarity to this from God’s word. We must first understand that praying in the Spirit is any prayer under the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit. Look at our instruction in Ephesians.

Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Our instruction is that all prayer and supplication are to be done “in the Spirit.” The prayer of salvation, prayers of sanctification, prayers of dedication, prayers of intercession, prayers of repentance, the prayer of faith, prayers of thanksgiving, and yes, praying with other tongues. They are all to be prayed “in the Spirit.” Supplications are specific requests. They are also to be prayed in the Spirit. So, what does that look like?

Everything God does is relational. Many of us have allowed our prayer life to become mechanical and lifeless, not relational at all, just religious and dead. We run through a prayer list and read our daily devotional, never spending time in silent reverence so we can connect with the one we are talking to. Having a daily devotional is commendable. Having a daily devotional and never actually connecting intimately with your Father is tragic. Praying in the Spirit requires communion, not just conversation.

com·mun·ion – the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.

If all we do is pray from our limited thinking, our prayer life will lack the authority to bear much fruit. I am not saying that praying with our natural understanding is wrong, but let this be a launching point, a positioning of the heart and mind to a place of stillness and quiet so we can be receptive to the influence of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians makes it clear that we need both.

1 Corinthians 14:15 (NKJV)What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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Praying in Tongues? Let’s be Clear.

There is more confusion over praying in tongues than any other type of prayer. Praying in tongues is a New Testament doctrine. I see no scriptural evidence of it ending or being “done away with.” However, I continue to see a lot of misunderstanding and unbiblical demonstrations throughout the Church, which need to be addressed. First, I will share my personal experience with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

On November 7th of 1988, I was born again. a few weeks after my conversion, being completely unchurched and having had no exposure to any teaching about praying in tongues, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues while alone in my bedroom.

I was reading the book of Acts for the second time. I saw that there was more available to me than what I was currently experiencing, so I prayed, “Lord if there is more of You available to me, I want it.” The Lord then baptized me in His Holy Spirit.

When the Spirit of God came on me, I felt power like electricity all over my body, and it felt like my tongue was as big around as a soda can. I could hear these crazy-sounding words and syllables in my head but resisted saying them out of my mouth because this was all too strange. When I finally yielded to what was happening inside me, I said a few sentences in an unknown tongue and then stopped because it freaked me out. I could not deny that I had a genuine experience and felt the power of God all over me. I just didn’t understand what had happened.

No one taught me, no one prayed over me, and no one laid hands on me. I simply saw it in His word and asked for it. God is good!

Here is my concern from over 30 years of observation. Many who claim to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit speak a sentence or two in “tongues” and repeat the same things. This is the limit of their so-called “prayer language.” I have also seen people repeatedly give “messages from the Lord” by tongues and interpretation but use the same few words in tongues, maybe changing the order of the words a bit. However, the interpretation is always different.

 Praying in the Spirit requires communion, not just conversation.

This is not praying in tongues, it is a repetition and a parroting of what once may have been an actual utterance by the Spirit. I am not saying these people have not been baptized in the Spirit. I just question their understanding and their expression of it to the body of Christ. I believe that some things are out of order.

Praying in other tongues is a practice of listening with the heart, not a mindless repetition of past utterances. Speaking in tongues is a supernatural experience in which we should grow and develop. It should always be fresh, dynamic, and alive. Many people have gotten stuck in their initial experience, thinking this is all there is, and never made an effort to develop beyond that. Others, I believe, have simply been taught wrong and never actually experienced the true baptism in the Holy Spirit.

I still remember the first few sentences I spoke in tongues, but I rarely repeated them. Instead, I listen on the inside for the same voice of the Holy Spirit that I heard the first time and practice repeating what I hear. The utterance is almost always different. Sometimes the utterance is so unique and funny sounding that I laugh at myself.

Praying in tongues should be done with an understanding that we are handling holy things and representing a sacred God. Is what we are doing done in fear of the Lord? Are these things edifying us and the Church? It is a serious thing to speak publicly in tongues and claim these words are from the Lord.

My understanding of scripture is that praying in tongues should be limited in public unless accompanied by an interpretation. 1 Corinthians 14 addresses this issue.

1 Corinthians 14:22-25 (NKJV) Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

How we represent God in any setting is a serious thing. We are responsible for being an example to others to the best of our ability. We are all at different places in our journey with the Lord. We should not be too quick to follow others’ examples unless we are confident that they represent the Holy Spirit well.

We can all grow in our understanding, humility, and fear of the Lord. Let us not put God in the tiny box of our limited experience. Instead, let’s ask Him to elevate our experience and understanding to match what the Bible teaches.

Praying in the Spirit is a beautiful thing. It is yielding to the influence of the Holy Spirit, letting Him define us and shape us as we pray in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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Silence is Golden, but Duct Tape is Silver.

Some of the most powerful teachings of Jesus are when the religious leaders are trying to catch Him in His words to bring an accusation against Him. He always seems to use those opportunities to demonstrate the power of the kingdom of God. This is one of my favorites.

In John 8, we see Jesus’ teaching in the temple, and the Pharisees interrupt His reading to bring Him a woman caught in the act of adultery. Pay attention to how Jesus deals with this.

John 8:2-8 (NKJV) Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 

They were testing Jesus. They were squeezing Him, hoping for something to come out of Him that they could use against Him.

Our heart is revealed through testing. When we get squeezed by the circumstance of life, what is inside us comes out.

There is much to be learned from this passage, but we will focus on two key phrases in this verse: “they said to test Him,” and “He bent down and wrote on the ground.”How are they related? What was Jesus doing when He bent down to write on the ground? What is the Lord saying to us through this encounter?

James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Being slow to speak is just one of the many valuable lessons in this encounter. When Jesus got squeezed, what did He do? He bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground, giving us a living example of how to deal with testing and find the answers we need when our feet are held to the fire.

Most teachers would quickly get angry for bursting into the temple and interrupting the service. They would rebuke and correct such brash and irreverent actions, but that is not what Jesus did.

Instead of quickly answering, Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground, ignoring their badgering and waiting on what the Spirit had to say. I doubt that Jesus was writing anything significant. I believe He was simply checking what the Father had to say about it, how He should respond, and what He should do. I think He was seeking wisdom and understanding.

They continued to pressure Him. We don’t know how long, but when He finally stood up, He had the heart of the Father, and the Spirit gave Him the words to say. “He who is without sin, cast the first stone,” Then, once more, He bent back down and wrote on the ground, waiting for further instruction asking the Father about the next step, waiting for those powerful words to have their full effect.

This encounter is an excellent example of the Holy Spirit’s gift of the word of wisdom. The Father gave Jesus the very words that would diffuse the situation by a manifestation of the Spirit.

I believe we often miss out on the demonstration of Spiritual gifts by our lack of patience and discipline to wait when being pressured.

Remember that “Silence is Golden, but Duct Tape is Silver.” If you can’t keep your finger in the sand, keep your hand on the duct tape and apply as necessary. Do whatever it takes to give your heart time to tell your mouth what to say.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

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