“But thanks be to God! He give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” ~1 Corinthians 15:57
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ . . . ” ~2 Corinthians 2:14
Dear Followers of the Victorious Christ,
Several of my friends have recently asked my opinion of the rash of prophetic “words” that circulate in Christian circles. I am very reluctant to enter that debate, since I sought to surrender all “opinions,” that are part of my carnal mind, to Christ and to “live by every word that comes from the mouth of God” [Matt. 4:4].
Still, there are, I believe, some general principles that guide my thinking on these matters, that I will share for your consideration.
First, Scripture says “…not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy…” [2 Thess. 2:2]. Also, we are taught, “… do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything…” [1 Thess. 5:20-21].
In our evangelical/charismatic subculture, there are those who portend to bring “prophetic words” to God’s people. After sifting out the larger culture’s “profit” mentality we may test them by the witness of the Holy Spirit given by Jesus Christ to “guide us into all truth.”
Many popular “words” warn of eminent hardships and judgments on our culture’s departure from righteous principles. I don’t think it takes a prophet to know that we should be prepared for such things. We are encouraged “not to be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be over-joyed when his glory is revealed” [1 Peter 4:12,13].
In the normal course of our walk with Christ, we are to have a mindset that accepts as fact that “in the world you will have trouble.” Jesus told us this, He said, “so that in me you may have peace.” Instead of being “unsettled” and “alarmed” by threats of trouble, His word to us is “Take heart! I have overcome the world” [Jn. 16: 33].
It seems to me that those who are, in fact, attuned to heavenly realities are mostly hidden by the Lord, lest their publicized proclamations become the plagiarized corruptions of ego driven performers.
It occurs to me that the Master has put these “hidden ones” in a sort of heavenly “witness protection plan” to come forth at the appointed time when He passes judgment on this present evil. Hiding their true identities, they walk among us as carpenters, farmers and other lowly positions on the world’s scale of importance.
They do not preface their “hearings” with “thus saith the Lord.” They are restful in the authority of knowing that ‘those who know God, hear them.’ They only speak what the anointed of the Lord already know and the Spirit of truth in them bears witness.
These who have ‘not bowed the knee to Baal’ (Cultural gods of pleasure and ease) refuse to play the part of “ticklers of itching ears.” They speak a wisdom that none of the “princes of the world” have known. But among those maturing, “growing up into Christ” followers of the Lamb, the Word of God is alive and active and accomplishing that for which He has sent it.
Finally, we are to concentrate our attention on a “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” [2 Cor. 11:3]. Instead of filling our thoughts with speculations about the “times and dates the Father has set by his own authority…” our calling is to seek the power that comes on us by the Holy Spirit to witness Christ’s presence in our world. [Acts 1:7,8].
You may rest in the assurance that if you are awake and alert to His Presence, the “day of the Lord” will not “surprise you” and slip up on you “like a thief.” The reason for this is not that we know all the theories or the latest fad “words” of prophecy. It will be because “you are all sons of the light and sons of the day [and] since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…" [1 Thess. 5:4-11].
“Watch and Pray So That You Will Not Fall Into Temptation” Mark 14:38
What are the deeper, spiritual implications of this exhortation given to Jesus’ “sleeping” disciples on the dark night of his betrayal? The common-sense interpretation deals with keeping an alert mind to “what is happening” in the world of what “meets the eye.” That is, we deal with this on the surface level of the apparent. Jesus warned us to “stop judging by mere appearance and to make a right judgment.” He was speaking of getting the “mind of the Spirit” in order to interpret what simply appears to our natural sight.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” [Romans 12:21]. Everything that God creates is good. Evil is the lie of the carnal mind that something apart from God has power. When we allow that “illusion” to prevail in our outlook, we are overcome by it and fall into the grasp of the tempter. Instead of being part of the Answer, we become part of the problem – we are overcome by evil. It is for this that we must “watch and pray.” We must practice letting our spiritual “eyes of the heart” pierce through the darkness of the lie and behold our Father’s face. Only as His Light shines on us can we “see” how we are to respond to what appears as evil.
Instead of entering the silence to see and hear God, we often walk in our own thoughts and according to our acquired human wisdom. We simply react out of habit to what is suggested by the appearance of evil. We become part of the illusion or dream state that evil operates in. The call to us is, “awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead slumber of illusion, and Christ will shine on us.” Walking in His Light we will not stumble into Satan’s snare.
Instead of praying from the horrible pit of problem perception, we are called to wait on the Lord to lift us on to the Rock of revealed Truth. [Review previous teaching on Psalm 40:1&2.] Standing there, we overcome in prayer by agreeing with the Lord and speaking heaven’s Word over what appears. “It is good” is the only Word God speaks over His creation! Everything that appears as evil has no foundation in truth and is therefore temporary and passing. It has no power over the Truth of God. To every threatening appearance we may say, as Jesus did to the proud, presumed authority of worldly government, “You have no power over me, except it were given to you from above.”
So the first step in prayer may be stated in the conclusion of the prophet Habakkuk when faced with the awful appearance of evil in His day. After God reveals to him that He was doing a work that could not be taken into the belief system of his time, even if God himself should try to explain it, the prophet concludes, “I will watch to see what the Lord will say to me.” He is saying, “I must get to a higher point of perception where I can see clearly and my heart can receive the Word of God in this situation!”
This is the “prayer of faith.” This is “praying in the Holy Spirit.” This occurs only after we have heeded the call of the Spirit to “come up here and I will show you the things that must come to pass after this” [Rev. 4:1].
Instead of focusing on “former things” or things that have appeared to our carnal senses, we are to “behold” the “new things” or the things of the New Creation that God has prepared to manifest in our day. Instead of focusing on problems in prayer, we are called to “see” answers and declare them. The “answer” is always there before we call. In fact, the “answer” is eternal and is reality. The “problem” is a temporary appearance that we encounter on the way to the “new heavens and the new earth” that is coming down from God out of heaven.
What a relief this can be to our praying! Instead of trying to meet “evil” on its “home field,” we play the game on our ground! Instead of “resisting evil” in the way it dictates, we declare that Satan has forfeited his control and we are starting a new game based on the “rules of heaven.” When Satan protests, we “resist him steadfastly in the faith.” And after a while, having resisted his attack, he runs away [flees] revealing himself to be the imposter he really is!
Jesus set the example in facing temptation in the wilderness of his human experience. He overcame Satan by the Word of his testimony even in the face of apparent destruction. After his victory, Angels ministered to him, and he “returned in the power of the Holy Spirit” to reap the spoils of his victory.
This is the victory that overcomes the world – this faith in our Father’s authority over every false claim.