BREAKING THE SHAME BARRIER

Hebrews 12:2 – Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

A simple definition of shame is – a painful feeling of having lost respect of others and of oneself because of improper behavior, failure not to meet the expectation of another, and not living up to your own expectation of yourself.

Many Bible figures had to overcome shame. Abram felt shame not having a child for whom he could leave an inheritance. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning “father of many.” God not only gave him a child, He multiplied his seed so His posterity was like the sand of the sea. Jacob was shamed because he deceived his father into thinking that he was Esau, his older brother, from whom he stole the birthright. Later, God changed Jacob’s name, which meant “deceiver” to Israel, meaning “Prince with God.” Joseph was shamed by his brothers who sold him into slavery. In Egypt, God raised him up to serve Pharaoh and save the nation in a time of famine. Some others I could write about would be Moses – shamed from Egypt and shame that he was inarticulate. Saul felt shame because of his persecution of the church and Timothy because of his age. Then there is Peter, who denied his Lord three times.

People do shameful things because they live from a shame base in their life experience. They are acting out what they believe about themselves. Many see themselves as a failure, evil, rejected, ugly, unworthy of love, and a host of other things.

Jesus broke the shame barrier once and for all in life and death. He gave us power in our life to rule over shame. He has empowered us to receive His forgiveness and acceptance. He wants to equip us so we too might help others break off shame from their lives. The Lord’s call for each of His children is to break shame’s power and be free to serve in humility.

One of the strongest proponents of shame is religion. Religion can put the expectations of others upon an individual. In Christianity, one can come to church feeling shameful. When they hear and receive the gospel they experience the freedom Christ has for them. Shame lifts, but as they hang around the church, shame begins to creep back in as others put their expectations on the new believer. We should never shame someone into being a follower of Jesus. God certainly doesn’t.

Father, I thank You for taking my shame upon Yourself. I thank You for the covering You have given to me in the Lord Jesus Christ who causes me to know I am loved and cared for by the power of the Holy Spirit. Help me to communicate that love to others as well.

THE TABERNACLE OF GOD

1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

The Old Testament gives us illustrations that are types and shadows of those things which were to come. The Tabernacle beautifully illustrates the triune make up of man. The Holy of Holies in the tabernacle is symbolic of the spirit of one who has been born again. The spirit in a person is the dwelling place of Christ through His eternal Spirit. God has met us in mercy as the atoning blood of Jesus is applied to our life. We have daily access to God by the Spirit.

The Holy Place, where the priests daily ministered to Lord, represents our soul and our daily service to God. The priests would bake fresh bread each day and offer it before the Lord. The priests would trim the candle wicks and supply fresh oil to fuel the candles. Each day, incense would be offered to the Lord as a praise offering. What a beautiful picture of our daily and priestly service to the Lord. Giving one’s self to the word of God daily is very important in receiving fresh bread from God. That bread may take the form of instruction, encouragement, and perhaps new insights into the nature of God. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Each day, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, keeping our vessels supplied with the fresh oil of God so we might be His lights in a darkened world. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14-15). Paul admonishes us, “to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).

The altar of incense serves as a beautiful type of our daily worship unto our heavenly Father.  “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). Paul sums things up for us when he instructs God’s people saying, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-19).

The Outer Court symbolizes our body and what the world sees. To the world we testify of the sacrifice of Christ and join Him in baptism as we testify to death with Him and the power of His resurrection. Paul states “We know that if our earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). 

Father, today I ask to be filled with Your Holy Spirit. Feed me Your word, cause me to have sufficient oil and to have my candles trimmed. I stand before You as a priest of God, offering to You the sacrifices of praise.

PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

Ephesians 6:10-11 – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God.

Paul finishes his letter to the church at Ephesus by instructing them concerning spiritual warfare. Acts 18 – 20 records the founding of the Ephesian church and the spiritual warfare which the believers faced. Those struggles came from the Jewish religious community and the occult religion of Diana which filled Ephesus. These struggles produced riots against the believers who were being set free from Satan’s power through the power of God.

Paul brings clear instruction to the established church at Ephesus saying, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” This was a clue that the battle was not over and their victory would not be in their own strength, but in the Lord’s. The battle is not over for us either. In fact, it won’t be over until the Lord comes. “Then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” 2 Thess. 2:8 (KJV).

Paul then instructs, “Put on the whole armor of God.” The people were used to seeing the Roman soldiers, dressed in their full armor, so this provided a wonderful picture of the spiritual armor each believer is to put on. It is not automatic; one must “put on the full armor, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).  Paul established the reason for this absolute necessity in the following verse. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Ephesians 6:14-17 describes each piece of the armor we are to put on. First, gird your loins with truth. It is “truth” that holds all the armor in place. Next, put on the breastplate of righteousness. It is the righteousness of God that will protect our hearts. After this, put on the shoes of the gospel of peace. Only a walk of peace can protect us from the enemy’s attacks of “anxiety and worry.” In addition, take up the “shield of faith.” It is the shield of faith that protects us from all the enemy will throw at us. The Roman soldiers linked their shields together creating a solid wall against what their enemy was throwing at them. We need each other beloved! As we walk in covenant relationship, the enemy is less likely to get through and defeat us. With a shield, which is defensive, one needs a sword, which is offensive. The Sword of the Spirit which has been provided to us is a two edged sword. It is “the Word of God.”

Father, today I put on the whole armor of God. Thank You for Your protection in the battle against the schemes of the wicked one. Help me to stand strong in the power of Your might. 

PAUL’S INSTRUCTION CONCERNING OUR WARFARE

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 – Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 

Paul was responding to his critics that accused him of walking in the flesh. He acknowledges that he is still walking in the flesh, but that he is not fighting this spiritual warfare by means of his flesh. Paul helps us understand, as believers, we are not using fleshly weapons in our battles. God has given us weapons to defeat the enemy which are “divinely powerful.” Jesus promised that we “would receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).

Paul understood that the minds of people were in bondage to spiritual forces that exercised influence through the world and its systems. Paul calls this influence on the minds of people “fortresses.” The enemy establishes ways of thinking, belief systems, and controls over humanity by his dominions known as “principalities and powers.” Unbelief, false religion, and lust in the flesh are a few of the fortresses. Paul preached the good news of the kingdom of God to religiously bound people, primarily the Jews. He also preached to Gentiles bound by sexual and occult strongholds.

Paul knew the fortresses were established in people’s thoughts. As he preached the gospel with power, he understood he was “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Many believers think they are reasoning with others simply by logic and are trying to convince unbelievers to accept biblical truths by simply seeing the logic of their presentation. A well-presented message is important, but the battle in the reasoning of people’s minds is spiritual. In the power of the Holy Spirit and by the authority of God’s word, we too, like Paul, destroy fortresses set up in the minds of the unregenerate.  This makes it possible for them to receive God’s grace of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many believers who have been able to believe for their own salvation still need deliverance from the world’s views. They are controlled by principalities and powers that are under Satan’s domination. This is one reason why the study of the Word of God is so important. The word, by the power of the Holy Spirit, continues to wash our minds and set us free from the world’s views to see and understand from God’s perspective.

Father, in Jesus’ name, I ask You to reveal anything in my reasoning which does not line up with Your Word. I pray that every fortress of the enemy would be destroyed in my thoughts and that the Holy Spirit would rule supreme in me so I might walk in faith, pleasing to You in every way.

JESUS, OUR WARRIOR KING

Mark 1:23-24 – There was a man in the synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!”

What a powerful beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The enemy’s dominions could not hold their peace in the presence of their judge. When the Scripture says, “he cried out” it is speaking of the unclean spirit in the man using the man’s voice to communicate. The man was not some mentally deranged individual. That kind of person would not have been allowed in the synagogue. He appeared normal, as many do, but he had an unclean spirit that controlled areas of his life.

The spirit in the man recognized Jesus as his destroyer. He asked Jesus, “Have You come to destroy us?” He spoke as a representative of other spirits in the man or spoke of the demonic realm in general. The spirits knew a day was coming when God would put an end to their existence. He knew that they would be destroyed by “the Holy One of God”. As you continue in this passage you find Jesus did not accept the spirit’s confession of His deity or His humanity, but rather “rebuked him, saying, ‘be quiet, and come out of him’! Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him” (Mark 1:25-26). The scene was messy, noisy, and a bit violent. This is not what most people want to happen in a church meeting. This kind of scene happened quite regularly in Jesus’ ministry. When the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of God collide, it is a violent encounter.

In Matthew chapter 12, we receive more understanding concerning these two kingdoms. Read the whole chapter for context. We find the religious leaders of Jesus’ time telling the people that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons. Jesus countered their views with powerful responses, one of which was a parable. “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation” (Matthew 12:43-45). Jesus is saying that generation was demonized. Later, in Mathew 23:13-39 Jesus gives eight scathing woes to the religious leaders. In Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem, He cries out that “your house is being left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).

As the Gospel is preached in power, as supernatural manifestations of God’s Holy Spirit increase, as we draw nearer to the Lord’s coming, the kingdom of darkness will also manifest its evil, its violence, and its absolute resistance to God and His people. We are called to set individuals and nations free, those held captive to Satan’s power.

Father, I pray for increased understanding of the unseen world. Help me to know how to pray and to be used to set those free who are held captive by the enemy’s power. I pray for Your divine protection as we encounter the enemy and his dominions. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done.