The spiritual warfare over our souls becomes very painful when we are hurt. This “pain” can cause us to miss the joyful fulfillment of our life mission. We must be on guard and understand how to claim our victory in Christ. It is not automatic, it is warfare!
When there is a battle, there are wounds. These wounds come through sin—of our own actions and the actions of others. In warfare, the battle is over jurisdiction. Jurisdiction refers to “territory”. As we covered in the previous VCM issues, God gave jurisdiction over the earth to man-dominion. Man in turn, through sin, forfeited this jurisdiction to Satan. This was demonstrated when Satan offered to give Jesus all of the kingdoms of the earth (Matthew 4:8-9). In fact, upon the sin of Adam and Eve the ground was cursed (Genesis 3:17-19). Even though, man was created from the essence of God Himself, our bodies are deeply connected to this ground. “…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19). The good news is that through the blood of Jesus Christ every Christian has been redeemed from the curse of sin and rule of Satan. However, the battle continues for the jurisdiction of our souls.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” ~Ephesians 6:12
Satan strikes through sin to wound us and others through our actions. Wounds of selfishness, jealousy, anger, revenge, neglect, deception, manipulation, rejection, lust, abuse, pride, lies—the list goes on. Through the blood of Christ, our spirit is made alive by the Holy Spirit that works within us to heal and restore these wounds–although, our souls remain in conflict between our selfish desires (sin nature) and the Spirit (God’s nature).
“For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” ~Romans 7:22-25(NKJV)
I’m sure you wonder how a Christian can lose ground at becoming all that Christ has for them and end up being a bitter, rude, angry, withdrawn or defensive person. The Apostle Paul’s warned the church in Ephesus about this very thing.
“..throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:22-27(NLT)
One primary factor to explore is the phrase “don’t sin by letting anger control you”. In a broader sense, the Greek word for anger—orgizo, relates to what provokes or exasperates us. Paul is telling us to not hold onto these frustrations beyond the today. Release them to God before the day ends, otherwise, we will literally give Satan access to part of our soul. The Greek word for place is topos, which means territory, location or opportunity. Having experience as a real estate broker, this illustrates an interesting perspective to me. In order to build something, before you can even begin to do any ground work, you must own or have legal access to the ground you wish to build on. This is what God’s Word is warning us about. The other critical factor in this passage tells us “do not let the sun go down” before you have released your frustrations, hurts and anger, because when you don’t you give Satan a deed right to that territory of your soul for him to build a stronghold. In our spiritual battle for jurisdiction, we actually allow the enemy of our souls to set up camp and take control of that particular “ground”. These strongholds of the enemy actually become part of our soul and character which has been taken over by the enemy, giving him opportunity to control part of us for his mission to hurt us and those around us. A stronghold is a military structure—a fortress used to defend and attack from. It’s amazing to see when someone points out a character flaw, how often the one being singled out becomes defensive and fires back. This is the manipulative work of the enemy in our soul posing as an ally… I’ll defend you.. who do they think they are to point the finger at you.. look at their faults.. I’ll show them… This is the work that Jesus came to destroy. This is the order of cosmos and dominion that we as Christians must take back through true repentance. It is upon the battleground of our minds for the territory of our souls, which God desires to build strongholds of righteousness.
Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5(NRSV)