New Wine for New Wineskins April 2014

By , April 1, 2014 5:51 am

loosingthestrongman5logoLoosing The Strongman (Part 1)

Matthew 12: 29

29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

It is commonly accepted that in this instance Jesus was speaking about binding the strongman of darkness but I believe that there is a principle here that also reveals that as the strongman of darkness is bound, the strongman of righteousness and faith is loosed.

In the word of God the house often refers to the church.  Paul said that the house of God is the church of the living God.  I believe that for far too long many of the strong men and women of righteousness and faith have been bound and so their house has been plundered by the thief who Jesus said only ever comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  The church has been stripped of much of its power and authority as the strong man has been bound and rendered powerless to do anything.

I believe Jesus was teaching a principle here that reveals how the church is weakened in order that we could do something to turn that state of affairs around.

Matthew 12: 43 – 45

43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first…

There is no spirit more unclean than a religious spirit and he has plenty of cousins who can bind a man up in chains.  There is nothing they like better than to be squatters (illegal occupants) in the house that God created for himself.  Remember when Jesus went into the synagogue and the unclean spirit began to cry out?

Mark 1: 21 – 27

21 Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. 22 And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.  23 Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”  25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27 Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”

I can get excited about doctrine like that!  I don’t know about you but I have had enough of seeing the strong men and women who God created in his image to have dominion in the earth bound by chains of religious weakness, and I have had my fill of seeing the church plundered of its inheritance and its place of authority and blessing in the earth.  We are
here to do good and bring healing to all who are oppressed – not to be the oppressed.  We are here to destroy the works of the devil and not to be destroyed by his works.

Jesus came to demonstrate the authority that belongs to us as the family of God, and as the strong men and women of faith who are blessed to be a blessing in the earth.

As the Lord began to speak to me on this subject he led me to the following Scripture.

Colossians 1: 9 – 23 (NLT)

9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. 11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. 15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.  Everything was created through him and for him.  17 He existed before anything else,  and he holds all creation together.18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.  He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.  So he is first in everything.  19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself.  He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Is that awesome or is that awesome?  But it doesn’t end there…

21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions (take note – evil thoughts lead to evil actions) . 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result (When someone has tests done, what are they most interested in?  The procedure?  No!  The results!) As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

You are right there in the presence of Almighty God and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.  What accomplished this miracle?  The blood of Jesus!

The results have come back clear!  There is absolutely nothing between you and your heavenly Father that can hinder your relationship as you live out your life exercising the authority that is yours as a son or daughter of Almighty God – as strong men and women of faith who go everywhere doing good and ministering healing to the oppressed!  Amen?

This is where our strength comes from as we have nothing to prove and there is no performance necessary!  There is absolutely nothing that we can do to make God love us more than he already loves us, and there is nothing that we could do that will make him love us any less than he already loves us.  He loves us simply because he loves us.

And so, our enemy employs religion to try and sap our strength by moving us from our position and place in God’s presence to a place of hiding; from our identity as holy to feelings of uncleanness; from a verdict of blameless to the debilitating effects of guilt and condemnation; from the confidence of being without a single fault to the powerlessness and hopelessness brought about by a sense of unworthiness.

So what can we do?  Listen up!

23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.

This is not a disclaimer – it’s a reclaimer!  Don’t you hate disclaimers?  Small print and exclusion clauses?  God’s word doesn’t have disclaimers or exclusion clauses!  I was reading a book recently and I was really getting into it.  But about two-thirds of the way through I reached the disclaimer chapter where a lot of what had excited me up to that point took a hit.  The next chapter tried to recover but the book had lost its impact on me.

Do you know all that a backslider has to do?  Slide back!  Come home!  Do you know all that a drifter has to do?  Drift back!  Get back into position!

It is easy to drift unless we are programmed to stand!  We have spent too long cowering under instead of standing over!

A few months ago I was in the USA.  I hired a car while I was there and so after a lifetime of driving on the left I had to reprogram myself to drive on the right.  Do you know how easy it is to drift back to the left, especially at junctions and crossroads?

And so, I kept thinking, “KEEP RIGHT”.  You see, if you think right you will act right.

Did I occasionally drift?  Yes!  Did I sometimes need God’s mercy?  Yes!  Did I ever think there was no point in getting back to the right side of the road? No!  If I drifted I got back as fast as I could!

We have to THINK RIGHT if we are going to KEEP RIGHT.

Right thinking aligns itself with what God’s word says about us: God has brought us into his presence, and we are holy and blameless, as we stand before him without a single fault.

The problem is that we have lived a lot of our lifetime on the wrong side of the road.  But now we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love.  Will we drift?  Sometimes, especially at junctions and crossroads. But all we have to do is get back into position and to THINK RIGHT because God has brought us into his presence by the blood of Jesus and we are holy and blameless as we stand before him without a single fault.

If we get it wrong we don’t have to hide, we don’t have to feel unclean, we don’t have to come under condemnation, and we don’t have to return to a worm mentality.

If we drift into sin we don’t have to run and hide. We stand firm in our place of being holy, blameless, and without fault and we confess our sin and receive cleansing through the blood that has made us holy, and blameless, and without fault. We obtain mercy and find grace to help us to stand and not drift.

Do folks sometimes get it wrong?  Do people tend to hide?  To “stuff” their sin and continue as though nothing has happened?  Sadly, yes.  And so, their strength is sapped as they come under guilt and shame and condemnation and are rendered powerless as they wrestle against feelings of failure, unworthiness and hopelessness.

Our enemy knows that we are susceptible to drifting.  He is a master of distraction.  He knows that distraction can be the first step towards destruction.

When I was in the US I spoke at an event called “The Courage”.  When I started to meditate on what I would speak about I decided to have a fresh look at the definition of “courage”.

Couragethe strength and ability to do something in the face of fear, pain, or grief

My experience is that most of us don’t have a problem believing that God can do anything – our problem is with believing that we can do what he says we can do, and with believing that he can and will do anything for us…

Isaiah 40: 31 says that those who wait upon or hope expectantly in the LORD shall renew their strength.  The original Hebrew carries the meaning of those who are bound together with the LORD in covenant.  Remember 1 Corinthians 6: 17 says that he is who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.  This the LORD of covenant whose name declares him to be everything we need him to be whenever or wherever we need him to be.  This is the revelation that renews our strength, and supernaturally enables us to rise above our circumstances so that we walk and don’t grow weary and walk and don’t faint.

Our strength comes from trusting in his love and his faithfulness.  If we lose our hope we can never have the strength to be courageous in the face of fear, pain, or grief.

Joshua 1: 6 – 9

6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Be strong and of good courage (even in the face of fear, pain, or grief).

Joshua’s mentor and spiritual father Moses, who he had looked up to all his life, had just died, and Joshua was being asked to accomplish what Moses had failed to accomplish.

Do you think there may have been some fear, pain, or grief….?

I believe that it is significant that the LORD prefaced his exhortation for Joshua to be very courageous and to have good courage with the call to be strong.

I believe that many of the strong men and women that God created us all to be have been bound by the chains of religious tradition and the enemy’s lies that have been dressed up in religious language.  We have too often been programmed with weakness rather than strength.

Joshua had already shown forty years before that he didn’t doubt God’s ability to deal with a bunch of giants and most of us are the same – we don’t doubt God’s ability to do anything that he wants to do.

But it takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, pain, or grief) to believe that after forty years of failure and rebellion and flagrant unbelief that God might still have a plan to fulfill all of his promises and that all of the failure with its guilt and its shame cannot stand in your way. It takes strength and courage to believe that your history cannot prevent your destiny!

It takes strength and courage to believe that the God of all creation who sits enthroned in the heavens from all eternity – the God who is holy and righteous and just – actually wants us to know him as our heavenly Father, and that he wants us to know that there is nothing that we could ever do that would make him love us more than he already loves us and there is nothing that we could ever do that would make him love us less than he already loves us.

It takes strength and courage to believe these truths, especially if you have been programmed with performance-based religion with all of it rules, regulations and requirements, and if you have seen some of your mentors [good and faithful to what they believed as they were] fail to enter into the fullness of their inheritance in Christ.

It takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, pain, or grief) to believe that He loves you simply because he loves you, and that he demonstrated his love for you when you were doing the worst thing that you’ve ever done just so that you could know the full and inexhaustible extent of his love for you.

The Bible calls it the length and the breadth and the depth and the height of his love and tells us that the revelation of that love strengthens us on the inside so that we can believe in the God who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask or think and that he can do all these things through the power that works in us – it takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, grief and pain) to believe that.

God SO loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.  God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.  God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

If we never accept what he did on our behalf then our rejection of him will not cause him to love us any less than he already loves us, and if we choose to come to him and accept the offer of salvation it will not make him love us any more.

What it will do, however, is allow the good plans that have always been on his heart for us to begin to be realised.

It takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, grief, or pain) to believe that God’s plans are always for good and never for evil, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans for our success, plans to bless us and make us a blessing.

It takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, grief or pain) to believe that Jesus gave us authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy so that nothing shall by any means harm us (Luke 10: 19).

We were created to have dominion and as the Lord instructed me a couple of years ago to remind his people, we have the authority to say STOP!  It takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, grief, or pain) to believe that.

It takes strength and  courage (in the face of fear, grief, or pain) to believe that God will do what he said – that he really does have good plans for us to prosper and succeed.

It takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, pain, or grief) to believe that we can love our enemies, that we can bless those who curse us, that we can do good to those who hate us, and that we can pray for those who persecute us and spitefully use us.

It takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, pain, or grief) to believe that we are anointed to preach good news to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty the oppressed, and to announce the year of the LORD’s favour – the days when the free favours of God profusely abound, even to the point of extravagant excess.

It takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, pain, or grief) to believe that we are to go and preach the kingdom and heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons.

It takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, pain, or grief) to believe that we are to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, to take in strangers, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, and those in prison.

These are the manifestations of God’s love, the strong and courageous love that never fails, the love that if it doesn’t seem to be working there is nothing left to try and so you just carry on loving, the love that is patient, the love that is kind, the love that does not boast, the love that is not proud, the love that never dishonours others, the love that is not self-seeking, the love that is not easily angered, the love that keeps no record of wrongs, the love that does not delight in evil, the love that rejoices with the truth, the love that always protects, the love that always trusts, the love that always hopes, the love that always perseveres, the love that never fails.

It takes strength and courage (in the face of fear, pain, or grief) to believe that we can walk in that kind of love.

It is time for the chains that have bound us to be be broken and the army of strongmen of faith and blessing to arise.

Remember – he has brought you into his presence and declared you to be holy, blameless, and completely without fault as you stand before him.

Align your thoughts with his thoughts and you will align your ways with his ways.

He believes in you, so agree with him.

The power of God is present to heal.

Arise strong men and women of righteousness and faith!

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