Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Beware
August 15, 2017
In this study of understanding spiritual warfare the two most important foundational truths are the areas of the mind and the flesh. If we lack in the basic understanding that these are the first areas of opposition and our first line of defense, then it is certain that the devil will always get an advantage over us.
The next area that the Holy Spirit is leading, is in the area of the “bewares.” The “bewares” are; warnings of impending danger that lies in wait against our soul and our relationship with Father God and others.
We are to take action by keeping our eyes fully opened, by staying attentive and watching. It is also vital that we “keep our nose clean” so that we may smell with discernment those things that want to suddenly creep in to catch us “unaware.”
The first, “to beware of” that I want to talk about is a religious spirit. A religious spirit is; “pride cloaked in a robe of self-importance and self-righteousness.”
Let’s look at the profile or behavior of the Pharisees as an example of a religious spirit. In Luke 5, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and Scribes during a feast that they had prepared for him. In the time of Jesus it was an accepted custom to discuss the topic of religion. These conversations could often times lead to debate. Jesus lead the conversation with an open rebuke to his hosts, the religious leaders, and exposing who they really were. And boy, did they got hot about it! If a person today would have been sitting at one of the tables at that dinner, they would probably be of the opinion that Jesus was very rude to his hosts.
So let’s look at what Jesus said to them in Luke 5. The Pharisees were more concerned with “ritual” purity before God, such as in the washing of the hands before a meal and the using of the dishes. These washings are described in the Old Testament but are not commanded, thus adding burdens to God’s revelation. Jesus used the cup as an example to depict a truth telling them, “you may look clean on the outside but you are filthy with extortions and wickedness on the inside.”
The point was, God is more concerned with character and with matters of the heart. However, He was not condemning outward cleanliness. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees with three woes and three woes to the Scribes at this dinner. “Woe” is a very strong word to describe “grief.” Grief is great sorrow or great distress. It is a basic cry for God’s righteous, just judgments with the actions deserving a divine responce. The religious leaders not only brought the people great grief, they brought grief to the heart of God with their improper representation of Him. Jesus called them all hypocrites.
Woe to the Pharisees:
The first woe addresses “justice and the love of God.” Jesus said, “You give a tenth of your mint and all other garden herbs, but neglect justice and the love of God.” We find this in Luke 5.
The second woe addresses “Pride.”
Jesus said, “You seek the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the market places.” Judaism had embellished greetings for rabbis and the exclusive seats drew attention to the leaders status.
The third woe is very direct, the height of uncleanliness when Jesus described “Burials of death and uncleanliness.” Jesus said, “far from being paragons of piety, are bearers of burial, death and uncleanliness.” They carry their uncleanliness in a sly underground manner.
Very few people knew how deadly they really were. They were peppered with pride, rules and the self assurance of ritual practices, while-ever neglecting the things that really mattered, which was the pursuit of the will of God and the issues of the heart.
A religious spirit wants us to think that we are beyond wickedness or the accountability of our conduct or practices.
Today, that religious spirit hides itself under the caption of “grace.” Grace is Jesus who became the final blood sacrifice for sin, not for the privilege to sin. Grace is for the humble and not for the proud. When we fall, grace picks us up and brushes us off, empowering us to continue pressing toward our high calling which is in Jesus Christ.
A religious spirit also says to us that we are not equal to others, nor do we have to show others value, thus causing us not to walk in the love of God. It wants us to pursue accolades, positions and statuses, so that others can see how important we really are. The truth is, that means we are dwelling in pride. Pride is hypocrisy. When in pride, we are deceiving ourselves and others while basically living a double life.
We can become deceived if we do not depend wholly, with humility, on Father God and His Word. Otherwise, at times in our obvious pursuit of what is scriptural, spiritual or right, we can often times end up being sincerely wrong.
Father God loves us and considers us very special, but even that simple truth can be an inroad for Satan, causing us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most qualified, knowledgeable, talented, and favored of them all?” Beware of that leaven!
Next time I’ll finish the last three woes addressed to the Scribes.
To God’s beloved, grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ who richly blesses us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.