I’ve had one of those weeks where God has shown me something and I have to do something about it.
A friend of mine recommended the book The Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson, an older book about spiritual warfare.
It’s not silly or over the top. It doesn’t encourage exorcisms or power encounters.
Instead, the book provides a simple, biblical approach for standing up against spiritual darkness.
It’s really good, and I recommend it.
After reading the book, I was convicted. Here’s why:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)
In ministry to the poor, I have often found myself wrestling against flesh and blood – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for widows and orphans.
Don’t misunderstand me. The things listed above are really, really good things that Christians ought to be doing out of obedience to Jesus.
But those acts of service won’t set anyone free.
This isn’t a theory of mine, it’s a truth I’ve seen first hand.
And it’s a truth we can deduce from scripture.
For example, Jesus came to preach good news to the poor and to set captives free (see Luke 4:18). Yet Jesus doesn’t give money to beggars and he never visits a literal prison to release the incarcerated.
For Jesus, good news for the poor was: “You are blessed, because the kingdom belongs to you.” And setting captives free looked like driving out demons and defeating the power of Satan on the cross.
So what does all of this have to do with ministry to the poor?
In my neighborhood, many families and individuals have lived in spiritual darkness for generations. Satan, whose native language is lying, has bombarded many of my neighbors with deception, falsehood, and fear.
And no matter how much food, clothing, and material resources the Church gives them, the darkness remains.
In light of Paul’s words from Ephesians, I think we need a more wholistic approach.
We need to challenge Satan’s lies with the truth of the gospel.
We need to stop talking about praying and actually do it.
And, according to Paul, we need to put on the full armor of God… truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God.
These things are for our protection.
I can speak from first hand experience, ministry in the margins is not a spiritually safe place, it’s a war zone. In fact, I’m in a season of healing and renewal after the subtle lies of Satan started to get to me.
This stuff is real.
And all of the sudden, I realize why God has provided the Holy Spirit, the scriptures, and the Church.
It’s not to make us feel good, it’s our equipment.
As we engage in the dangerous mission of God – whether in the margins or elsewhere – we must remember to pray and we must arm ourselves with the full armor of God.
And we must not forsake Christ’s body, the Church.
Without these supernatural resources, we are likely to believe the enemy’s lies.
For my own sake, for the Church’s sake, and for my neighbors sake, I sure don’t want that to happen.
3 thoughts on “Are We Wrestling With Flesh and Blood?”
I love the way you think. Your blog says stuff I wish I had said A LOT. You bring it.
Questions like your post here poses have shaped my ministry. I will not claim that I have it all figured out, but I have faced such questions and responded the best I know how. In fact such questions have a lot to do with why/how I came to embrace PROPHETIC ministry. Prophecy is not something my heritage dealt with well. So, I have always felt a bit like a small child holding a loaded gun as I seek to minister prophetically.
Like you, I see value in giving/helping the physical needs of the poor. Feeding 5000 a fish for a day is both biblical and Christ-like. Thus, I believe it is Spiritual, actually, but dropping off food at the shelter really is not. Ministry? Yes. Spiritual? maybe “Sorta” on its best day.
I wrote a series of posts last February/March celebrating my time with the Vandelia church in Lubbock. But the ministry I described in that series was largely the transformation of my ministry from that of non-spiritual to that of prophetic. We took worship to the streets! I spoke in tongues one time (another post), and we stopped a murder one night with a communion service!
I don’t really expect you to read my blog or weed through all those posts, for at the least, they were not written to be in dialog with your post here, but I think in a round about way, they show how I have addressed the question your post poses. Not nearly as well as you do, but certainly they attempt it.
Good post. It seems so much of the time we rely on what someone else tells us we should think and not on what our hearts through the Spirit are pointing us to. The war is all about fighting through our own minds.
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