Tag Archives: identity

The Believer’s Fight

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

It can sometimes feel like there is a lot to DO to follow Jesus. If I want to be a “good Christian”, I need to…pray, read my Bible, go to church, volunteer, be generous with my money, be friendly all the time, have my life together and not need anything, serve all the time, and (fill in the blank with your own definitions).  …Exhausting! The aforementioned things aren’t bad in and of themselves, but when they are performed out of a sense of duty or obligation, it is religion, and religion brings death.

Religion is the outward form or appearance of righteous living, but doesn’t necessarily indicate that there has been true interior transformation.

Some read the Scriptures daily because they are proud of themselves for being so disciplined. If they miss a day of Bible reading, they feel bad about themselves (condemnation) and their relationship with God. This is religion and it values form over relationship.

Some read the Scriptures daily because they love encountering God and learning about who He is through the words of the Bible. If they miss a day of Bible reading, they know that the Father is faithful even if they are not always faithful (no condemnation) and they start up again the next day. This is living connection and it values relationship over form.

Here’s the thing about these examples…it is great to read the Scriptures daily! What matters here is the place on the inside where actions are flowing from.

Everything we do flows out of a belief we have on the inside.

A person may have a value of treating others kindly. He might say, “I believe that it is right to treat people kindly.” Then, when someone is unkind to him, he responds unkindly and feels justified in his behavior. His actual internal belief has just been revealed in his actions, which is, “I believe that it is right to treat people kindly, except when they don’t treat me kindly, then I have the right to treat them unkindly.”

This type of scenario happens all the time, and we know what it is…hypocrisy! Everyone hates hypocrisy, and to some degree, we are all hypocrites. What then can we DO? How do we fight hypocrisy in our own lives?

I feel like the Father has shown me a new way of waging war against this internal battle lately. A way to battle that is much more fun than introspection and much more effective than behavior management.

Before I get to the specific battle method, I’m going to break down the Scripture at the beginning of this post…

“We live in the world, but we don’t wage war as the world does”- We know how the world wages war, with physical weapons and physical violence- this is not the methodology that will be successful in the type of invisible battle that Christians have (because we know from the Scriptures that our enemy is not flesh and blood). This is why…

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”

“On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” The weapons of the Believer seem foolish and weak to the world, but they actually have divine power. Some of our weapons are 1. The Scriptures (called the sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:17) 2. Declarations of Praise (Psalm 8:2) 3. The word of our testimony and the blood of Jesus (Revelation 12:11 where believers overcome the devil with these 2 things). All of these things are…WORDS! (Except for the blood of Jesus, but it is “applied” through our words when we pray and speak it out.)

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Arguments, pretensions (a claim to something) and thoughts are made up of WORDS!  These are internal realities and beliefs that then express themselves externally.

The truth is, we can’t help but leak on the outside what we really believe on the inside. “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

The primary battle of the Believer is that our internal world (beliefs, thoughts, emotions) would line up with the reality of who God is. This is why our battle is to demolish arguments that are “against” (or opposed to) the “knowledge of God” (the truth about who God is).  We use TRUE words (the weapons mentioned above) to demolish UNTRUE words.

So, here is my new strategy:

When a thought comes into my mind that causes me to feel arrogant or fearful or irritated, I stop and ask, “If this thought is true, then what does it say about my Father?” Or, “Who is the enemy trying to get me to believe that my Father is?”

For example, let’s go back to our friend earlier who has a belief that it is okay to treat people unkindly if he is treated unkindly. “If this belief is true, then what does it say about the Father?”

This belief says that the Father is not able to defend me, I have to defend myself with angry words.

This belief says that the Father is not able to justify me, I have to justify myself before people.

This belief says that the Father is not protecting me, I have to protect myself by being defensive.

All of these things are against the knowledge of God…they’re just NOT who He is! I get to tear down these false beliefs by proclaiming (even literally out loud), “My Father is a Defender, He is the One who justifies me, He is my Protector, my refuge is in HIM! I don’t find my security in other people’s opinions about me, I find my security in being His dearly loved daughter! (see Psalm 18)

When we spot hypocrisy in our own lives, the enemy likes to get us swirling around in the disappointment of our failure. We get caught up in ourselves and what WE did wrong and what WE need to do better. It becomes all about…me, me, me, me, me.

But under the surface, the enemy is trying to distort the way that we think about our Father.

If the enemy can tear down and distort the way that I think about the Father, then he takes me out at the same time.

Being made in the image of the Father, if I have a distorted view of who He is, then I automatically have a distorted view of who I am. 

Who we believe the Father to be is the most important thing about us, because only in knowing Him rightly can we know ourselves rightly. As we believe more and more that we are indeed His beloved sons and daughters, our external life reflects the peace, security, joy, freedom, and love of simply belonging to Him.

As the people of God, our song is simple and childlike, and it literally shakes the heavens when we proclaim “I am His and He is mine.”

Reader Questions: Partnership with Holy Spirit

“How do I work with the Holy Spirit and what does it looks like to be led by the spirit and not my flesh?” 

I love this question because it starts from the place of relationship… how do I work WITH (not “for”) the Holy Spirit. This is a subtle but very important difference and shows an essential paradigm shift. In our self-sufficient humanity, we sometimes look at the Christian life as an act of obedience to God out of gratitude for everything He has done for us. When we think this way, we fall into a trap of trying to “pay back” a debt that we can never pay back on our own (atonement for our sins)!

IDENTITY

Choosing (and learning) to walk in the Spirit is not first about OBEDIENCE but IDENTITY. For saints, ones redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and now considered royalty in God’s Kingdom, walking in the Spirit is the most natural thing. In fact, walking in the Spirit is our truest nature. When I believe that I am who God says I am, it becomes more natural to walk in the Spirit.

What does “walking in the Spirit” mean?

In my understanding, walking in the Spirit means being sensitive to perceiving and then responding to whatever Holy Spirit says. In the most concise language I have so far, it means to “listen and obey” or “perceive and respond”.

 *Sidenote: I call Him “Holy Spirit” instead of “the Holy Spirit” because for me, it helps me remember that He is a person and not an impersonal entity. I think of His name as being “Holy Spirit”. People don’t call me “the Dani”… they just call me “Dani”. Small difference but it is helpful for me. Holy Spirit is not necessarily a person in the sense of being just like a human being, but He is a person in the sense of having a “personality”- thoughts, emotions, and capacity to act.

Just like you, Holy Spirit has times and places where He feels welcomed and times and places where He feels stifled. The Word says to not “quench” the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). Have you ever felt like you were in a place where you were not welcomed or heard? Holy Spirit knows what that feels like. We can learn to create spaces/opportunities, and learn to cultivate “space” within ourselves where Holy Spirit feels at home.

PARTNERSHIP WITH HOLY SPIRIT 

Being Mindful of His Presence:

My first favorite thing about Holy Spirit is the reality that HE IS ALWAYS WITH ME. Someone told me once, “Holy Spirit loves to be carried around by you.” I love that! It reminds me that I am a carrier of the Presence of the Living God, by default a releaser of LIGHT and POWER wherever I go. What a PRIVILEGE to be a carrier of the PRESENCE. I desire to be increasingly attentive to this reality of His constant Presence. The truth is, His Presence is the MOST REAL THING. More real than the ground I stand on, more real than the breath in my lungs (thanks for putting that in words, Jonathan David Helser!). One of the ways I do this is say these words out loud: “I am with You.” I don’t ask Him to be with me… He already is! It’s ME that needs to tune in again and again to the reality that He is ALWAYS WITH ME.

Knowing what He is Like:

Holy Spirit often moves in ways we wouldn’t expect- He is infinitely creative! He is FUN! He brings peace, clarity, and understanding. He likes to LAUGH and He is WILD! He likes to snuggle and He likes to dance and run in open fields. He likes to walk in forests and sit under waterfalls. He likes to tell us about who our Father is and what our Big Brother is like. He loves to reveal Jesus. He is HOLY and He is jealous for us to walk in the fullness of our royal identities. He convicts us of sin and even stuff that isn’t sin but just isn’t beneficial for us- He does this because He doesn’t want anything to come between us and Him. He is the COMFORTER and the LIFE OF THE PARTY. Ha!

When we know what He is like, it is easier to partner with Him. We learn to expect the unexpected. He has really good ideas and loves to share them with us! Read John 14 through 16 to learn more about what Holy Spirit is like.

Ask Him Questions, and Listen:

Holy Spirit is counselor, teacher, helper, and the One Who guides us into all truth. How awesome is it to have a 24/7 counselor! Not only did Jesus spare us from sin and death, but He gave us an AWESOME Present… His Constant Presence! You can ask the Holy Spirit about anything and everything. It is good to ask Him about specific things you want to know. It’s good to ask Him for whatever you need. It is also good to ask Him about what He is thinking and feeling, He wants to share these things with us because He is our Lover and Friend.

One of the things I do is write down things I feel like Holy Spirit tells me- things from His word, dreams He gives me, pictures of interacting with Him, and little phrases of encouragement that I feel He whispers to my heart. I don’t always write everything down, but I hope to get more and more faithful with this. It is such an encouragement to look back and see how God has answered prayer and just read about the history of our romance together.

Hope this is a good start to answering the question of what it looks like to walk with Holy Spirit.

Looking forward to more questions!

-Daniella