THE LORD IS A WARRIOR
Original first-century Christianity was known for the spiritual power of the apostles and early disciples. They had a powerful Leader.
“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” [Acts 10:38]
There has never been any greater or stronger Man in all of history than the Lord Jesus. In the Hebrew language He is Yehoshua HaMashiach. The definition of His Name contains the Tetragrammaton—YHWH-Savior, or Yahweh sets free. And this is what He came to accomplish, to save people and free them from the evil power of sin and bless them with abundant life.
He is the Messiah, the Anointed One. No one was ever more powerfully anointed. He was both a man’s Man and a tender compassionate Man who loved and cared for others. He was a Leader of very strong men, men with independent minds and powerful bearing. He would build on their natural strength and transform them into stouthearted spiritual men, the greatest men, men unafraid to act, bold men willing to take the Good News into every hell hole of the nation and rescue those to be saved and redeemed among the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
They would not need just His training though. As a Coach and Mentor He would show them the ropes and teach them all they needed, but He must also impart a greater strength made possible only by His powerful Holy Spirit. In this He would be a spiritual Father imparting His indwelling Spirit and giving them both a personal strength of mind and manner as well as a spiritual strength far greater than that of dark sinister forces and demon-possessed rulers.
The Lord’s men must be trained and empowered to do spiritual battle against mighty spiritual enemies. They would have to take on the devil, the world, and their flesh and deal properly with the flesh of others. They must be powerfully equipped to do so.
They were. He saw to it. That’s what Pentecost was all about. Once Pentecost happened His people were off to the races. The evidence of their success is historically obvious and evident: They turned the world upside down. They upset the normal business-as-usual status quo order in a way no group of people had ever done. It was, of course, an extension of the Lord’s earth-shaking ministry as He continued working with them.
The Lord’s first intention was to set people free from slavery to sin, demonic influence, and evil authoritarians who used people as mere cattle. His success in this objective was off the charts.
THE WORLD, THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL
Yet here we are in the present, living in a world far more wicked than that world of two thousand years ago. There are far more people needing salvation and spiritual freedom. Followers of the Lord Jesus must therefore be just as spiritually equipped as His original apostles and the first-century Community of believers in order to be as successful.
But sadly, American Christians in general have largely rejected the only means by which to do this and have substituted non-spiritual alternatives that do nothing to address our greatest need, that of winning spiritual victories and defeating spiritual enemies. This must change.
For starters, Christians will never be able to defeat the strong influence and temptation of this fallen world unless they effectively leave it, exactly as the Lord and His disciples taught.
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. [James 4:4]
Exiting the “world” was clearly illustrated in the story of the Exodus. Egypt is a type of the world and the first major thing the Israelites were commanded to do when the time came was get out. This they did, en masse, in the dramatic event we call the Exodus. Their exit was sealed once they walked through the divided Red Sea on dry ground to the other side and watched as the sea came crashing back together as a slamming door. There would be no going back and that’s how it should be for all believers.
Then, from that point forward throughout the Sinai wanderings, the Lord did His best to get all the Egypt out of them but was unsuccessful with that first generation and it paid an eternal price. In our day, many Christians, a possible majority, have done the same. They have compromised their walk and made peace with a sinful world rather than flee as commanded. Having never left Egypt in their hearts nor allowed the Lord to get it out of them, they instead joined the equivalent of Pharaoh’s kingdom with no remorse. Such soft pretenders are filled instead with the spirit of the fallen culture. They are as worldly as the day is long and have no understanding or concern of the penalty which awaits. They will die out in the Sinai. They will never enter the Promised Land. Their choice disqualifies them from the following:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. [1Peter 2:9-10]
Christians will also never be able to defeat the devil unless and until they can defeat their own flesh. Remember, the Lord was not shy in His instructions regarding this—He effectively stated we must crucify the flesh. He said we cannot properly follow Him unless we do so while carrying our cross. The cross is a constant reminder that our flesh must be defeated, it must be put down, and it must be ever-crucified. He showed us how to do it.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [Galatians 5:24]
Prior to ministry, as a manual worker, the Lord was an incredibly strong and dynamic Man, working long and hard each day out in the elements, laboring as a skilled builder and carpenter. His skin was bronzed and tanned by the sun. He was Man of rippling tendon and sinew and muscle. And yet when the time came to begin His ministry, His purpose for being here, He gave it all up over the course of a 40 day fast. He transferred His natural strength, suited to His prior purpose, for spiritual strength suited to His new purpose. He became thin and likely somewhat drawn but only in the natural. In the Spirit he was heaving 500 pound boulders like baseballs. The fasting never stopped, of course, though He practiced it at intervals. Scripture does not say how far He went in this regard after His initial fast but along with mighty ongoing prayer which often came forth in solitary all night prayer meetings, fasting was an overall part of His spiritual lifestyle. And the results were historic (understatement alert).
Unless American Christians in general also embrace the spiritual discipleship and dynamic ministry of the Lord and His originals they may just as well quit altogether because their efforts are largely worthless. Such amounts to nothing more than going through religious motions in the natural, in the flesh that should otherwise be defeated and crucified. In fact, their flesh is for the most part coddled and embraced. Thus, many Christians of whatever stripe have no means to defeat spiritual enemies.
This denotes, of course, that their spiritual enemies are defeating them. It is why so much has been lost. It is why America has fallen. American Christians in general refuse to get equipped to fight. Most won’t even start the program. They are content to play church while everything goes to hell around them. They refuse to engage.
But when they are actually faced with the enemy—when he comes to their town, to their church, or to their very home—they will need to engage and want to engage but will be unable. It will be too late. They will have no means with which to fight. They had previously rejected spiritual weaponry and chose powerless religion as a worthless substitute. They made no plans for any such enemy assault upon themselves. They never prepared. Their wimpy defensive posture renders them defenseless.
Why? Here’s why: The Lord Jesus created a dynamic spiritual army, one that goes on the offensive, is proactive, and attacks the gates of hell. He thus provided no armor for our backside. However, once Christians accept living in an anti-spiritual-fight mode and at best adopt a purely defensive posture, withdrawing from the fight instead of going on the offensive, they will soon find themselves unable to defend anything. The devil will have a field day. Sound familiar?
THE NEW TESTAMENT MODEL
It could all be so much different. Real Christians serve a very powerful King. There is nothing He cannot do. His spiritual enemies greatly fear Him. They each know He has the means to destroy them. He can obliterate them and make them pay. He can send demons to the abyss. Yet the Lord has decided to make things interesting by not fighting from the advantage of heaven only but also through the veil of humanity. He defeated the devil as a Man, as a Human Being. But before that He had already defeated the world and illustrated the process of defeating one’s sinful flesh. His flesh was never sinful so He never had to defeat it but He illustrated what it takes to do so.
His sinlessness, of course, made Him the perfect and only candidate to be the Sacrifice Lamb who would take away the sin of the world but it took extremely great courage and powerful determination to face the cross. No human being can ever know how difficult it was for Him. No one can possibly relate. But He was willing to face the cross in part to give His people the means to defeat spiritual enemies also. Sadly and inexplicably, however, the majority of Christians in the world have largely wasted the Lord’s great sacrifice by never appropriating this spiritual power. The likely culprit is sinful flesh unwilling to die. Therefore, if one wants to fight against and defeat spiritual enemies one will never be able to do so until one defeats one’s own flesh. Sinful flesh is a potent enemy and does not go down easy.
As a test case imagine the following scenario: On a Monday morning, when a never or rarely fasting Christian decides to do a simple half day fast from midnight to noon on Tuesday, he will suddenly likely want to head to the grocery store and load up as if a natural disaster is coming and then chow down even possibly unto the midnight hour “in preparation” as if he’s on death row and it’s his last meal. Then when Tuesday comes he spends the longest and most dreadful few hours of his life having no idea how he will ever get through such a difficult and trying procedure.
Of course, if this person, on Monday, never thought about fasting and never intended to fast on Tuesday, then skipped breakfast on Tuesday morning for any reason other than spiritual, it would be no big deal, the morning would fly by, and he would probably never even be hungry.
This is how the flesh operates.
As long as it’s in control and thoroughly satiated the flesh will be relaxed and happy and even sassy and won’t go nuts and fight back having no need to. But the flesh WILL go nuts and fight back when:
(1) Its authority is challenged
(2) Its comfort level is threatened
(3) Spiritual means are suggested and are intended to be applied
(4) It’s confronted with its greatest dread—conviction of sin
Sinful flesh hates being reminded of what it is and equally hates and fears the idea of any opposition toward sin and especially fears and hates the process of repentance. It also hates the entire idea of the Gospel. Again, the flesh is a potent spiritual enemy.
Now, for a positive example made for those who desire to make the correct application and gain victory over sinful flesh, here’s a quick illustration you won’t find anywhere else of what overcoming the flesh looks like:
In the movie The Wizard of Oz, the wicked witch of the west (who is worse than the wicked witch of the east), at her very worst and most evil represents the flesh in its greatest strength (“I’ll get you, my pretty!”).
The wicked witch of the west frantically crying out while being evaporated toward nothingness is the flesh being fought against and overcome (“I’m melting! Melting!”).
The wicked witch of the east under a house with her stockinged feet sticking out and toes curled up is the flesh defeated. Likewise, the wicked witch of the west, after she was reduced to a flat steaming heap of black witch apparel, is the flesh defeated.
THE OLD TESTAMENT MODEL
When one walked in the fenced tabernacle enclosure, the first structure seen was the Altar of Sacrifice. This represents Repentance. It entails total destruction, death, and consummation by fire.
The next structure immediately after this was the Brazen Laver. It was where the priests washed after making sacrifice. It perfectly represents Water Baptism.
Right after this was the opening to the Tabernacle itself. This represents the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Before one could do the work required within the Holy Place (the first section of the tent), he had to be equipped and qualified. In the Holy Place was the large seven-branched Golden Lampstand, the Table of the Bread of the Presence (KJV: shewbread), and the Altar of Incense. Each of these has a spiritual meaning and represents the specific work of the Lord’s Community post Pentecost.
It is why the apostle Peter used the following exact words at the end of his initial message, the very first of the Church. In it, he portrayed the greatness of the Lord and His unprecedented accomplishment on the cross on our behalf. He explained how the Lord defeated His spiritual enemies and why His followers must follow in His footsteps. And He announced the arrival of the Promise, which was on full display that very morning, moments before, when the Upper Room was filled with the presence of the Lord and in which each person there was also filled and became spiritual warriors.
The greatest of Warriors won the greatest of victories and would pass on the spiritual means to do the same for whosoever was willing from that point forward. Remember, every single real member of the Lord’s Community—His Kingdom—is a spiritual priest. And just as it was in the Old Testament when only priests could enter the tabernacle and minister (an allegorical type and shadow of New Covenant ministry), each spiritual priest must also be qualified to enter the Lord’s spiritual tabernacle and minister (listed in four parts in the following passage). And each priest of the Lord is subject to the only King and High Priest and reveres His holy Name.
He is the Door through which one enters the Holy Place—the Lord Jesus Messiah:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. [Acts 2:36-42]
© 2023 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
THE TEARS OF GOD
For all the senseless sins of humanity
For all the hate
For all the children
Whose lives are snuffed out
By their parents.
And other beautiful children
Born deaf or blind
Who love their lives
And give their might to prove their worth
While privileged ones
Throw theirs away
For so many so rebellious
No one can reach them
Intent on evil
Who deceived them?
And on it goes
Century after eon
Nothing ever changes
Man’s inhumanity to man
Brings untold misery
And hard, hard work for nothing
Destroyed in a day
She said it wasn’t worth it
And darkness descended
But what of another choice?
What of beauty?
What of kindness and love
What of joy?
Why the hate and discontent?
When air can be so pure
And nature so rich?
How can creatures so bright
Descend into such a pit?
Day after day after day
Misery upon misery
And evil people in power
Will no one ever stand to save?
Will we let it all slip away?
Day after day, tears fall
Year after year, tears fall
The dry void receives the wet
Salty, salty tears
The levels rise
And continuing upward
So much sin
So much pain
So much flat out rejection
Of the cure
Of the means to stop it
To live right
To get it right
To stop the bleeding
But they would not
And the levels rise
More tears, flowing daily
Won’t you stop?
Won’t you try to live right?
Won’t you take care of one another?
I’ve given all I can give
I can give no more
And the levels rise
Filling the earth
Overcoming all bounds
An unending stream
Of the Creator’s anguish
Oceans of tears
© 2020 by R.J. Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
THIS MEANS WAR
“The LORD is a warrior; The LORD is His name.” [Exodus 15:3]
The LORD will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies. [Isaiah 42:13]
“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” [Zephaniah 3:17]
In the above passages, the word LORD is used instead of the actual word — YHWH. The Hebrew scribes considered it sacrilegious to write down the name of God so they substituted the Hebrew word Adonai, which is translated into English as “LORD.”
YHWH is truly a great Warrior. He is the greatest of all warriors. When He became a Man, He never stopped fighting, but actually upped the ante several million times and began to fight all the more. When the Lord Jesus arrived on this planet, He effectively declared war like He had never declared war before.
He declared open warfare against the devil. He declared open warfare against the world constructed by unrepentant sinful mankind in league with the devil. And He declared war on sin, sinful human nature, and the binding power of sin upon humanity.
He determined to set the captives free.
As a result of His declaration of war, He suffered libel and slander. They said He was the fruit of a sinful liaison, that He was illegitimate, and that His blessed and pure mother had done the unthinkable.
They said He was crazy, that He had a screw loose, and that He was missing a section of His mind.
They said He was a common drunk because He drank wine.
They said He was a glutton, despite His very thin frame and a forty-day fast.
And they said He was demon-possessed, that He was filled with and controlled by filthy demonic entities who gave Him His power and spiritual standing.
Have you suffered any of these things because of your Christian stand? When you became a real Christian, did people (mainly other “Christians”), say the same kind of things about you?
If so, you can relate to God. You understand what spiritual war is all about. And you understand why war is necessary.
Spiritual warfare is not to be avoided but embraced.
The Lord began His warfare by becoming as one of us, born into the world the way all humans are. He lived a quiet life of preparation until the age of thirty. He then made a public show of Himself, coming out into the open, answering His calling, and positioning Himself for the warfare He would embrace. Though He needed no repentance, He came to John and was immersed in water as everyone else was commanded to do. He then received the infilling of the Spirit of God, as all those believers on the Day of Pentecost would later receive.
Then He left “Egypt.” He left the world of man. He went into the wild lands alone to fight the devil. But before He fought the devil He had to defeat His flesh, not that He was sinful or would ever be sinful, but to show forth the correct example of what spiritual warfare required. One cannot fight the devil while also indulging his or her own passions. He defeated His flesh in this sense by fasting for a full forty days.
Only two other men are listed in Scripture as having undergone a forty-day fast. This does not necessarily mean others did not do it, but only two men, Moses and Elijah, are listed. Moses did it twice. These three men were later present on the Mount of Transfiguration, representing the Law (Moses), the Prophets (Elijah), and Grace (the Lord Jesus). The other two men also had powerful anointings and were able to work miracles. But the other two men were not God.
Defeating “the World” by leaving it and refusing to partake of its lusts is something most “Christians” never do.
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. [1 John 2:15-17]
Outside observers see little difference between Christians and non-Christians because there IS little difference.
Once the Lord left “the World,” He began a back-breaking fast that would put Him in the stratosphere of spiritual power. He would fight His flesh by denying it. He was already holy and pure and always had been. But as our example, and to solidify and concentrate His spiritual power and authority, he fasted away His outer humanity.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [Galatians 5:16-25]
After defeating the world and the flesh, it was time for the Lord to go toe-to-toe with the devil himself. Through speaking forth the Word of God, he defeated Satan, answering each temptation with powerful spiritual resistance and truth. When He returned to begin His ministry, He had defeated all three enemies and had established the means through which to keep them defeated. Everywhere He went from that time on He had power OVER the world, the flesh, and the devil. And used this power to openly attack His enemies, hitting them head-on with ballistic missile after ballistic missile, giving no quarter, and destroying them at every turn.
In the end, He even destroyed death.
He showed us how it’s done.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. [Ephesians 6:10-13]
The fact that we are at war with very powerful spiritual forces explains everything.
Then the Lord awoke as if from sleep, like a warrior overcome by wine. He drove His adversaries backward; He put on them an everlasting reproach. [Psalm 78:65-66] 
© 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.