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Violence and Suffering

04 Sep

 “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”  -Jesus

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”  -Jesus

“…encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”  (Acts 14:22)

“I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus…”  (Revelation 1:9)

This may be one of the most important blogs I have written, because it exposes one of the most persistent deceptions and hindrances facing those who are truly seeking to know and honor God.  It’s a deception I’ve faced myself.  The deception is basically this: passive faith is all that is needed to access God’s Kingdom and to fulfill His will.  It’s simply not true.  Both Jesus and the first apostles told us multiple times that we must be diligent, strive, suffer and be violent to access the Kingdom of God and to do His will.  But today, for whatever reason, there seems to be a prevailing attitude that we simply need to “believe,” and God will do and give us everything.  Certainly we need to believe, but certainly not is everything “automatic” after that. 

In pursuing God and understanding the new covenant which Jesus brought, it’s helpful to look back to the old testament, because the old testament is full of physical examples that represent spiritual realities for us today.  The following scriptures (and many more) demonstrate this: 

“Now these things happened to them (ancient Israelites) as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”  (1 Corinthians 10:11) 

“Now if He (Jesus) were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law;   who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (spiritual realities which Jesus taught about)…”  (Hebrews 8:4-5)

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself…”  (Hebrews 9:24 ESV)

If the physical “promised land” which in the old testament God promised to the Israelites represents the spiritual Kingdom of God today, it’s helpful to see how God gave the physical land to Israel and how they came to inhabit it.  Between the time God promised the land to Abraham and his descendents and coming to actually inhabit the land under Joshua, Israel faced years of hardship such as enslavement and oppression in Egypt, wilderness wandering, brutal wars with surrounding nations, etc.  And even once Joshua led them into the land, there were enemies there that needed to be conquered and driven out.

Thus we see clearly that in the spirit realm all believers in Jesus are going to have to wander and seek and fight and strive, at least for a season.  The enemies faced by spiritual Israel, the church, are religion, fear, pride, self-preservation, disapproval of family, desire for worldly success, security and pleasure, distractions, boredom and dryness, bitterness and unforgiveness, discouragement, etc.  We fight these enemies with spiritual weapons.  Once the church finally cries out to God and persistently, diligently and violently follows Him, as Jesus did, the promised land will be taken spiritually.  I believe that day is coming.  Seek Him while you can, from a motive of love.  God bless you.

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4 Comments

Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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4 responses to “Violence and Suffering

  1. A sister in Christ

    September 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    How does one fight these battles in the spirit?

     
  2. firstthekingdom

    September 4, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Hey sister. That’s a good question. Obviously, spiritual battles require spiritual weapons. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4 that since our enemies are spiritual, we must use spiritual weapons, and that using “carnal” weapons will prove ineffective. Let me tell you what I believe some of these “carnal” weapons are: accountability partners, small groups, book studies, church services, psychological counseling, etc. These things are based on human wisdom, which God calls carnal, and while they can change behavior and even feelings, they can’t touch the spirit. I believe the two primary tools we need to fight battles in the spirit are the Word of God and faith. I’ll try to explain this.

    I can think of two scriptures which explicitly list a spiritual weapon – these are Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17. In both cases, the Word of God is likened to a spiritual sword. Hebrews 4:12 states that this sword is to pierce our inner man and divide soul from spirit. This means that whatever beliefs, perceptions, ideas, concepts, etc. which are from the human mind and one’s own understanding (in other words, the soul) can be seperated from the things that are divinely revealed from God (the spirit).

    The word of God isn’t the Bible. I’ve written of that in prior blogs. The word of God is God’s voice, His divine expression, spoken or revealed to you spiritually. This doesn’t have to happen dramatically, it will come often as an inner “enlightenment,” perhaps an understanding or a statement to you which you know you didn’t come up with. The word of God often comes as one intentionally sets their heart before God in a state of humility and desire to receive. Silence is probably best, but you can receive God’s word driving in your car, washing dishes, or any other time. It’s about the attitude of your heart and waiting in His presence inwardly, no matter what you may be doing outwardly. When this word comes to you, you have a sword with which you can confidently march into battle with and attack the fears, doubts, selfish desires, religious doctrines, etc. which oppose the development of the Kingdom of God within you. I’ll simply add this also – faith is very important as well. Faith in the spiritual sense isn’t simply believing whatever you may want to or what you’re comfortable with. True faith is all about being persuaded by truth which has been revealed to you, and standing firm on that. Paul calls faith a shield – it protects one’s spirit against attacks, often from “wicked” people (people who have their understanding twisted) who oppose what has been revealed to you by God. The main issue though is dividing soul from spirit. Until that happens, there will be lots of mixture of the two, which leads to great confusion, which is rampant in the church today. Hope that helped. Feel free to follow up further : )

     
  3. onethousandsingledays

    September 6, 2013 at 7:04 am

    You wrote this just for me.
    You did.
    I know this because every word you wrote struck my heart and singled me out. I won’t sleep tonight.

     
    • firstthekingdom

      September 6, 2013 at 10:03 am

      Hey Vanessa, thank you for the comment. I appreciate how you try to respond to each of the many comments on your blog, and I am going to try to do the same, though I’ll likely never get as many as you do (which is ok) 🙂

      Your writing often seems to elicit emotion but stifle verbiage, if that makes sense, so I don’t fully know what to say. The reality is I wrote that blog for myself along with anyone and everyone who wants to follow Jesus, but has found the way to be cloudy and obscured. But I suspect God orchestrated your reading of it, knowing it would speak to you personally. And I believe it is the seed of God’s spirit within your heart that so responded to the Truth. I take little credit, but I am extremely encouraged and blessed by your response. You know as well as just about anyone, battles aren’t won in a day, so let’s keep pressing in… Thanks again.

       

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