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.
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.
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.
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.
Psalm 74:18-23 – Remember this, O Lord, that the enemy has reviled, and a foolish people has spurned Your name. Do not deliver the soul of Your turtledove to the wild beast; Do not forget the life of Your afflicted forever. Consider the covenant; For the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence. Let not the oppressed return dishonored; Let the afflicted and needy praise Your name. Arise, O God, and plead Your own cause; Remember how the foolish man reproaches You all day long. Do not forget the voice of Your adversaries, the uproar of those who rise against You which ascends continually.
As we remember September 11, 2001 and the heinous crime committed against humanity, know that God too remembers. Before evil manifested on earth, it manifested in heaven when Satan and his hosts set themselves against God and His kingdom purpose. The next few days we will devote ourselves to three men who understood the true warfare. This will serve to help in understanding the battle in which we are engaged.
Daniel 9 and 10 gives us insight into the warfare happening in the heavens. In the book of Jeremiah, Daniel discovered God’s timing for the completeness of judgment upon Israel. Daniel gave his attention to the Lord to seek Him by prayer and supplications with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. I suggest reading the prayer of Daniel 9:3-19. We read in verse 20, Gabriel brings an answer to Daniel’s prayer. In chapter ten, more insight is given to Daniel after he had been mourning and fasting for three entire weeks. This time, Gabriel told Daniel that “from the first day that you set your heart on understanding . . . your words were heard” (Daniel 10:12). In verse 13, Gabriel told Daniel, “the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. In Verse 20, Gabriel informs Daniel, “he now will return to fight against the Prince of Persia and that the prince of Greece is about to come.” In Verse 21, Gabriel revealed to Daniel that there is “no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.”
Today, we are still battling these princes of Persia and Greece. Persia is represented in the “false religion of Islam” and Greece with its “humanistic philosophies” that fill western culture and our educational system. The battle is not in the natural realm, as Daniel learned, but in the heavenly sphere. Today, Daniels are needed who will set their heart on understanding and on humility before God. The two big fronts that God’s people face are “false religion and humanistic philosophy.” Their sources are not natural, but supernatural. The true warfare is the kingdom of darkness set against the kingdom of light. Our strength and courage comes from knowing our God has overcome, “He is head over all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:10).
Father, I ask You for understanding and courage to enter into my part of the battle. Strengthen me in faithfulness to pray with knowledge about the true warfare. I ask for the Holy Spirit to open up Your word to me so that I might know how to answer those who oppose Your truth. Lead me in prayer and supplications for myself, Your people, and the nation.
Ephesians 4:13 – Growing to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13 describes precisely God’s intention for each believer. In every conceivable way, the Lord wants Christ to be revealed in us. The measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ is a statement that fills eternity.
Throughout the Scriptures, we find different ages revealed. Noah’s flood was the end of one age and the beginning of another. God’s call in Abraham’s life was the beginning of an age and a new thing God was about to do in the earth. Abraham was the beginning of a nation and became known as “the father of us all” (Romans 4:11-12). The age of faith began with faithful Abraham. From Abraham, God created an entire nation. The nation Israel was named after Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whom God renamed Israel, meaning “prince with God.” Israel came to full age with the emergence of the Christ, God’s promised Messiah. Unfortunately, that generation did not walk in the faith of Abraham. “Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:54).
God’s purpose in all the ages was to reveal His Son and to create a people in the image of Christ Jesus, the Lord. He purposed that all of Israel would come to know Him in faith and be recreated by the Holy Spirit as the sons and daughters of God. He intended through Israel’s recreation in the Spirit that the Gentiles too, would be recreated by the Spirit and be joined with all of Israel as God’s Covenant people in the earth. God’s intent in this age is for Christ to be revealed to the nations though His people born of the Spirit.
A remnant of Jews believed and became the foundation of the “new creation”. Believing Gentiles were added and “one new man” in the Spirit is filling the earth. “Abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:15-17). God’s work was completed in Christ. He is the fullness of God. Now we are called to be formed into His likeness and grow up into His fullness, “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Receive His work into every area of your life today.