James 022 – The Essence of Spiritual WisdomJames 4:7 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 7, 2021 • James
The book of James 4:7 — we are continuing with our verse-by-verse study of the book of James. This book was written to believers to encourage them how to live as Christians. The first part of the book is about walking by faith as a Christian which involves understanding trials from God’s viewpoint; obeying God’s Word, not showing favoritism; allowing our faith to manifest itself in good works, and controlling the tongue. I wish that James was more practical (said in jest).
The second part of the book is about walking by wisdom. James 3:13-the end of the chapter defines wisdom, which is basically knowledge applied. What James does with the rest of the book is to explain the walk of wisdom in all these categories. We are just looking at the first one, which has to do with spirituality. The spiritual life involves avoiding two things: Wrangling per James 4:1-3; and worldliness per 4:4-6, both of which we discussed last time. One of the things I have always appreciated about the Bible is that it isn’t just a book of ‘don’ts’ or of ‘nos,’ but a book of betters. In other words, stay away from wrangling and worldliness, but there is something better with which to replace it, and that is the essence of spiritual wisdom per 4:7-12.
There were two negatives earlier in the chapter, and now there is a stated positive — what to pursue in lieu of wrangling and worldliness: true spiritual wisdom. Pursue the essence of spiritual wisdom. The essence of spiritual wisdom is six things, and you will see these mentioned in 4:7-12, so if you start pursuing these things, you will be doing well in terms of growing as a Christian.
The first of the six is:
1. Submission to God (4:7a) — “Submit therefore to God.” One of the things we teach here at Sugarland Bible Church is lordship sanctification. Submission to Christ as Lord is necessary to grow as a Christian: there is no way around it. We believe that the concept of lordship, submitting to Christ as Lord, is something relevant in the middle tense of our salvation. We don’t teach lordship justification; also known as lordship salvation because we believe it wrongly mixes faith and works as necessary for justification (salvation). There is only one thing that a lost sinner must do to be justified before God: to believe in Christ; to receive by faith the free gift of salvation. The more we take commands from the middle tense of salvation and drag those into the first tense of salvation, the greater the chance of teaching a garbled message to the unsaved. They will get the feeling that they have to do x,y,z by way of works in order to become a Christian.
You can watch some of these evangelists online, one, has online videos available, Ray Comfort. Personally, a lot of what he says I appreciate, but when watching his videos, I see that he is confused on this subject. There are live interviews where he confronts unsaved people telling them how to become Christians. One of the things he tells them is that they must repent of all of their sins to get saved. That is a false gospel because Paul is very clear that we are not justified before God through the works of the Law. In these videos, you can see the unsaved person demonstrating confusion regarding what he is telling them. He says that they are saved by grace, but then he says that they must submit to Christ and repent of all their sins to be saved.
The basic problem is that he isn’t keeping the tenses of salvation separate. Salvation takes place in three tenses: justification: deliverance from the penalty of sin at the point of faith alone in
Christ alone; sanctification is being delivered from sin’s power, which isn’t something that happened in the past; it is happening now (prospectively) in our day to day lives as Christians. Finally, glorification occurs either at death or the rapture — the future tense of salvation, where we are delivered from sin’s presence.
Have you been saved? The answer is, ‘I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved.’ What is necessary for the first tense of salvation? The Bible, at least 160 times, says ‘faith alone in Christ alone’ plus nothing.
What is necessary to make steps in the middle tense of your salvation? Under God’s resources, we learn to obey His commandments. There are all kinds of conditions that God gives us:
· forsake not the assembling of yourselves together;
· put on the full armor of God;
· study and show yourself approved as a worker that need not be ashamed but accurately handles the Word of truth;
· pray without ceasing;
· do not let sin reign in your mortal body;
· as newborn babes, crave spiritual milk, which is the Word of God, etc.
Those are not conditions for the first tense of salvation; those are conditions for the middle tense of salvation. The only condition necessary for the first tense of salvation is ‘faith alone in Christ alone.’ Then the only condition necessary for the third tense of salvation is that you must die, or be raptured, whichever comes first — I am praying for rapture first, but I can’t guarantee that.
The error that those like Ray Comfort and others make is that they take all of the commands that relate to growth in Christ in that middle tense of salvation and drag it into justification. Then the unsaved are being taught wrongly that it is a mixture between faith and works. It ends up as a distorted gospel to the unsaved. All of that to say, when you read a command here that says to ‘Submit therefore to God,’ that is not a command for the unsaved. The unsaved probably wouldn’t even know what it is talking about. That is a command for the growing Christian. The only command for the unsaved is to believe in Christ and trust in Him for salvation.
So, people who mix faith and works together end up teaching the doctrine of lordship salvation. We believe in lordship sanctification, but we don’t teach lordship justification (salvation). Some passages on this:
· Exodus 19:1 — This is the nation of Israel in faith; the same nation that passed through the Red Sea was in faith; the nation of Israel who put the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts in Egypt, was in faith. At a later point, God took them to Mt. Sinai and put them under the Law. So, if being under the Law was a condition for justification (salvation), He would have put them under the Law back in Egypt, because in salvation history, as God is dealing with the nation of Israel (largely a pattern for us, too), Israel is in faith first. It is at a later point when He puts them under the Mosaic Law, and by the time He put them under the Mosaic Law, they had already been redeemed.
The Mosaic Law was never designed to redeem Israel; it was given to Israel because they were redeemed. In other words, now that they were redeemed by faith alone, the Law showed them how they were supposed to act. The Mosaic Law taught them, as God’s nation, how to relate to God:
Commandments 1-4 of the Ten Commandments. Commandments 5-10 taught them how to relate to each other and also how to relate to the unsaved world around them, and that is under the Mosaic Law — they were called a kingdom of priests. It also taught them how to worship God — that is what all of the instructions for the tabernacle were for.
When God gave them the Mosaic Law, He wasn’t giving it to a bunch of unsaved people. He gave them the Mosaic Law, not for purposes of justification, they already had that, but for progressive sanctification. See the two steps (See Slide on Three Tenses of Salvation).
First, they were redeemed by faith as they applied the blood of the Passover lamb to the doorposts, and they continued to trust God as they passed through the Red Sea. Those are all types of justification; later on, He put them under the Law for purposes of progressive sanctification.
Here is the $20 question: How long of a distance chronologically was it between their justification in Egypt and their sanctification beginning at Mt. Sinai? The answer is in Exodus 19:1: “In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.” What I want you to see is that there are two months there in between the time they came out of Egypt… Were they saved when they came out of Egypt? Of course — that entire generation who passed through the Red Sea is in the Hall of Faith. So, they had trusted God, and they trusted Him through the Red Sea — no doubt they were saved at that point. But it took God’s dealing with them for two months before they were put under the Mosaic Law. So, there is a two-month period there where they’re justified and where they aren’t being sanctified at all.
All you must do is to read Bible history to find out what they were doing there. Were they walking with the Lord? Not really — they were like our kids when we take them on vacation, complaining all the time, to the point where every in crisis they faced, they would not trust God. At one point, if I remember right, they wanted to kill Moses; they were upset about the heat, the lack of water, food, etc.
Yet, though the people were in constant rebellion against God, there is no doubt in my mind that they were saved because they are now in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. They are in that condition for two months, and it isn’t until after those two months elapse, that they’re finally placed under the Mosaic Law for purposes of sanctification.
That is the pattern that you will see denied in lordship salvation; they do not believe that you can have a rebellious, unsanctified Christian, and what I am trying to show you is that if you read the Bible in chronological order, the pattern emerges. That being said, when James says, “Submit therefore to God,” he isn’t talking about getting people justified before God, he is talking about their growth (sanctification) as a Christian.
You will also see this pattern in the chronology of the life of Christ. If you have a good study Bible, you will see that between the two Testaments, there will be an outline of all the events in the life of Christ. Look up in that, if you have one of those, A Chronology of the Life of Christ, a good study Bible like the Ryrie Study Bible, and others have it in there; it is sandwiched in between Malachi and Matthew.
Look up Christ’s dealings with Peter. Jesus told Peter in Matthew 4:18-19 to ‘leave your life of fishing and follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ That is not Christ’s first contact with Peter; in this Chronology of the Life of Christ, that is event #35 of all the things that happened in Christ’s life. Jesus’ initial contact with Peter is in John 1 where Peter got saved. In Matthew 4, Peter was called to be a disciple. Peter was saved in event #20 in the life of Christ, but he was not called into discipleship until event #35. Just as in the Lord’s dealings with Israel, when the Lord dealt with Peter, there is a timeframe where Peter was justified before God, but was not yet a disciple.
Lordship salvation denies this, and they take commands given to the disciple, and they merge that with the command given to the unsaved, and since they don’t see the two distinct phases here in salvation history with either Israel, Peter, or the three tenses of salvation, they merge everything together and end up preaching a confused message to the lost. That’s the result of the lordship salvation message from those like Ray Comfort who probably mean well, but who weren’t taught properly. He takes commands that are intended for the Christian and gives them to the unsaved person. To reiterate, this is the error of lordship salvation.
When the concept of lordship comes up, it is always in the context, not of justification but of sanctification. All of these commands are given to saved people. Romans 6:12-13, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies.” Paul isn’t talking there to unsaved people: an unsaved person doesn’t even have the Holy Spirit or the new nature yet; they have no ability to keep or shoulder that command; only a Christian who is indwelt by the Spirit could do such a thing.
Paul says in Romans 12:1-2, ‘Therefore I urge you, brethren,…Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but by the renewing of your mind.’ That clearly is a command given to a saved person because he uses the term, ‘brethren,’ not an unsaved person.
In Ephesians 6:10-20, when Paul says, to ‘Put on the full armor of God…,’ that is very clearly a command given to a saved person, not to an unsaved person.
The verse that I think should end this entire discussion about lordship salvation is 1 Peter 3:15, Peter says, “…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;…”
Notice that he says to ‘sanctify Christ as Lord.’ When he says to make Christ Lord, he puts in front of that, the word, ‘sanctify.’ “…sanctify Christ as Lord.” In other words, the command to submit to Christ as Lord, is something that takes place in sanctification, not in justification. So, when we are evangelizing people, what we are saying to them is that Jesus made an offer to you; He died on a cross for you, rose from the dead for you, and all you have to do to receive it is to trust in what He has done. Teach it as a free gift.
After they are saved and growing, then start to disciple them with God’s Word just as Jesus had Peter saved first and discipled him next. Just as Israel was justified first, and then went under the Mosaic Law, next we move them into sanctification, telling them about sin and ‘not to let sin reign in their mortal bodies, confess their sins,’ and other such things.
It is rather basic, yet, for whatever reason, this isn’t taught often enough. If a Pastor isn’t teaching you this, then you aren’t likely to know what to say to an unsaved person; you will take all of these
commands that are for the Christian, and throw them at the unsaved, and they won’t know what to do with them. Then you end up teaching something other than the gospel of grace.
So, we like to use this chart here (see slide on Lordship Sanctification) — all disciples are believers but not all believers are necessarily disciples. The nation of Israel was in that outer ring until they were put under the Law — they were in that outer ring for two months. Peter was in that outer ring in event #20, but he didn’t move into the inner ring until event #35 in the life of Christ.
Here is a chart from Charlie Bing (see Slide on Justification-Salvation Discipleship) that I found very helpful. I had to tweak it at a couple of points, and I will explain why later, but it is very helpful in that it clearly draws a distinction between justification-initial salvation and discipleship. To be justified before God requires that you give up nothing because what God gives to you is a free gift. If it is free, then you cannot earn it. It is like on my daughter’s 16th birthday, if I put in the front of the house a bright pink BMW with a big bow, and I tell her to come on out; there is a free gift for you out here. She respnds, ‘Great, this is so neat,’… she gets in it and drives it around, and then I say, ‘Ok, you need to start making payments on it; here is the payment schedule.’ ‘Dad, I thought you said it was a free gift.’
That is what lordship salvation does to people. You tell them from one side of your mouth that salvation is a free gift and from the other side you tell them that they need to submit, commit, renounce all of their sins, which doesn’t do anything except leave them with the view that they may not be going to heaven; there is no assurance of salvation when they’re taught lordship salvation. Telling them to renounce all of their sins in order to come to Christ— which sins? What about sins they can’t even remember that they’ve committed. How badly do they have to feel about their sins? How long does the repentance and emotion need to last? Those things are very subjective, and they go off into their lives of Christ with an unclear gospel and with all of these nagging doubts in their minds. Then they spend their whole life wondering if they have done enough— renounced enough, given up enough, etc.
Justification is a free gift that is received by faith. When the Lord takes a saved person and calls them into discipleship, that is different. The disciple must pay some kind of price; it becomes costly. That is where all of the commands of Christ such as the one where Jesus replied to the man who told Him, ‘I can’t go with You on this journey, I have to bury my parents,’ ‘Jesus says, ‘Well let the dead bury the dead. You follow Me. Peter, I want you to give up your life of fishing and follow Me, and I will make you a fisher of men.’ Peter had to give up his vocation, but he didn’t give up his vocation as a condition for life; he gave it up as a condition for discipleship.
So, discipleship is entered into through commitment and obedience, through the Spirit’s enablement. That is where I tweaked Dr. Charlie Bing’s list because at first glance the way it read initially (probably unintentionally) is that one becomes a disciple through human willpower, which is not true. One becomes a disciple through the Spirit’s enablement that is inside of you. Through that power, then you start to obey God’s commands. An unsaved person has no ability to obey those commands because they don’t even have the Spirit inside of them yet. The only thing they can do is to trust in Christ, thereby receiving the Spirit.
Justification is not by works, but discipleship involves a greater degree of volition and cooperation. There are multiple commands to be obeyed; justification is something that happens in an instant
— the moment one trusts Christ; discipleship is a lifelong process, a process that, as Christians, we are all in and will never end until death or the rapture, whichever comes first.
Justification is the first tense of salvation; discipleship is the second tense. In justification, there is a recognition that Jesus paid the price for us, but in discipleship, there is a recognition that we are paying a price; we are giving up something, allowing the Lord to replace it with something better, but there is always something that God asks you to give up in order to be His disciple.
Justification involves trusting Christ as Savior; discipleship involves following Christ as Lord. ‘Are you telling me, Pastor, that there are people out there who have trusted in Christ for salvation, but they aren’t following Him as Lord?’ I am not telling you that, the entire book of 1 Corinthians says that. The entire book of 1 Corinthians is dealing with people in that condition. The condition for justification is to believe the Gospel; the condition for discipleship is to obey Christ’s commands under His power. How many conditions are there that are necessary for justification? There is one condition. Faith alone in Christ alone.
When you see the word, ‘repentance’ in a justification context, where Peter says things such as he did in 2 Peter 3:9, that ‘God desires all to come to repentance and a knowledge of Him.’ There, repentance is used as a synonym, not an antonym, for faith. Repentance means to change your mind, which is literally what repentance is. You must stop trusting in human works or religiosity and trust explicitly in Jesus Christ. When that happens, your mind just changed. It really is impossible to believe in Christ without repenting. When someone is saved, did they repent or believe? Yes, both. They happened at the same time, because when they trust Christ for salvation, their mind automatically changed. That is the way to understand Acts 17:31. ‘God commands that all people repent everywhere;’ 2 Peter 3:9. That is not an antonym for belief, but a synonym for it. To reiterate, there is only one condition necessary for justification, and it is to believe the gospel. But the conditions necessary to become a disciple is to obey Christ’s many other commands. One condition for justification, multiple commands for discipleship.
Justification is experienced by all Christians; if someone claims to be a Christian, yet they’ve never been justified before God, then they aren’t a Christian. Discipleship, as the chart here indicates, is experienced by some Christians. All Christians are justified; some Christians become disciples. What happens when a person is justified before God? They receive the gift of eternal life — immediately. They have a relationship with God that they didn’t have before because the Holy Spirit is inside of them forever. ‘If that is true and I have that, then why become a disciple?’ The answer is that becoming a disciple involves other benefits such as greater rewards at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ; also greater authority wielded under Christ’s delegated authority in the Millennial Kingdom. All Christians are going to be in heaven, but some will be more rewarded than others. All Christians will be in the Millennial Kingdom, but some, it is very clear in the Bible, in Luke 19:15,17 speaks of how some are given greater degrees of cities to rule over than others. All Christians are in the Millennial Kingdom, but some have a greater degree of authority than others. Whether we graduate to those higher levels of reward and authority that God has for us depends on if we will volitionally cooperate with Christ and move into discipleship.
Thus, all of this to say, when we see this command in James 4:7 to ‘Submit therefore to God,’ that is not a command to become a Christian. That is a command to grow as a Christian. That is why we made such a big deal that when James wrote this book, he was writing to believers. In fact, if you back up into 4:5, it is clear that he is addressing believers. It says that ‘He jealously desires the
Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.’ These people had the Spirit in them just as James had the Spirit in him and that is why he used the word, ‘us.’ Once the Spirit is inside of someone and they have the power to obey that they didn’t have as an unsaved person, then the call to discipleship—‘Submit yourself therefore to God,’ etc, become very relevant. However, if you say to this to an unsaved person who does not have the Holy Spirit inside of them, then you are mishandling the Word of God.
What we should tell an unsaved person is ‘Jesus died for you on the cross, rose from the dead, paid for all of your sins; trust in Him for salvation. Change your mind about Him. As you trust in Him, your mind will change as you shifted confidence away from yourself and your own good works to what Jesus did in your place as His ultimate good work.’
When I was sixteen, I heard that gospel of grace, and I recognized at that point that prior to that time in my life, I was trusting in my own works of righteousness. I heard the gospel of grace and I trusted in Christ, and as I trusted, as a sixteen-year-old, my mind automatically changed, in other words, I repented. I wasn’t trusting in myself and my own goodness any longer but in what Jesus did. By the way, repentance in the sense of justification, has absolutely nothing to do with emotion. At some of these evangelistic crusades, the camera focuses on people in the audience, who are crying and coming forward with tears flowing. We have this idea that unless people are worked up into an emotion state, then they aren’t sincere believers. The fact of the matter is that you just placed an obligation on someone that God never does. He never says to emote. Now, if you do emote when getting saved—I had some euphoria, I don’t know if I cried,— that isn’t wrong; sometimes that is a natural reaction, but God never makes it a requirement. He says, metanoiao, change your mind. Meta as in metamorphosis, or your cancer has metastasized, meta means change in Greek, and we connect that with the compound word, two words making up a single word, noaio, we get the word notion or ideas. Ideas comes from the mind. The Greek noun for mind sounds like that, so metanoaio is change of mind; that is the only thing that God requires, and you change your mind when you believe. When you believed, you changed your mind because of who you are placing your trust in. In a nanosecond, not a process, you are justified before God. It has nothing to do with emotion. In fact, in Greek, there is an entirely different word for emotion: metamelomai — recognize the word, mello, as when you tell your kids to mellow out; to settle down; mellow, metamelomai means change of emotion. That isn’t what metanoaio is — it is a change of mind. If God said that you had to be emotional, then He would have used the word, metamelomai, but He did not. He used the word, metanoaio.
What is the essence of spiritual wisdom? Instead of wrangling and worldliness, as Christians, we should submit instead to the authority of God. This is a command for the believer.
2. The second thing to do to experience the essence of spiritual wisdom is to resist satan (James 4:7). “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil [here comes a reciprocal promise) and he will flee from you.” So, ‘Pastor, how do I resist satan?’ Look at the first part of the verse. If you are submitting to God, you are doing more than you can possibly do to resist satan simply by submitting to God. Why is that? Because satan cannot possess you as a Christian since your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and satan and God cannot be roommates. Satan wouldn’t be a very good roommate with God and visa versa. So, he cannot possess you in the sense that he can come in and control you in the way you see demon-possessed people in the gospels who are totally controlled by a demon. That cannot happen to a Christian. But what satan can do is to take an inroad that we give to him as we cater to the flesh. So, when I am not in submission to God, I am giving satan
permission to work in my life to a lesser degree; he isn’t possessing me, but he can certainly influence me. By the way, satan loves to use Christians, he is allowed to use non-Christians all the time. Where is the challenge in that? But if he can use a Christian to do his will, he will take that, and we allow him to have influence over us because we have gone back to the sin nature, and satan takes the inroad. Is this found elsewhere in the Bible? Yes, in Ephesians 4:26-27, “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, [I like to joke, that is why moving to Alaska might be good because I could be angry all the time, since the sun may not go down as quickly there as in other areas. That is tongue in cheek] …and do not give the devil an opportunity.” In other words, do not harbor grudges, don’t be steaming and go to bed in that condition. The reason I am angry is because I am demanding justice from people when God has decided to treat me with grace. The Bible will say something like it does in Ephesians 4:32, “Forgive as you’ve been forgiven.” If you are a forgiving person, there is less of an inroad to become bitter, and if there is less of an inroad for bitterness, then the influence that satan has over you starts to shrink. As the saying goes, ‘hurt people will hurt people.’ When I am angry at or bitter against someone, then satan can use that because out of my mouth will come cantankerous words which satan will use to tear down my wife, my daughter, my church. It is all related to the fact that I am bitter about something, and I have let the sun gone down on my anger, and I haven’t forgiven others as I have been forgiven. Satan says, ‘I cannot possess you, but I can take an inroad into your life, and I can use you to tear down someone else.’ That is why it says here in Ephesians 4:26-27, “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Tie it in with our verse here in James 4, that is why the instruction to “Submit therefore to God” comes first and “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” comes second. Simply by not going back to the sin nature, I can do a lot to restrict satan’s influence in my life. I think the command is as simple as that.
Don’t waste your time screaming at satan or in giving satan giving a black eye and running him out of town. Don’t waste your time in your prayer life binding satan. Some Christians, when praying, will bind satan from here or there. I am wondering if you bound him then how did he get loose so quickly? Your Bible teaches, and this is where dispensational eschatology helps…your Bible tells you that satan is going to go through seven phases of defeat; four past, three future, and it isn’t until number 6, the beginning of the millennium, that he will be bound per Rev 20:2-3. Thus, the binding of satan does not actually transpire until Jesus returns to earth at the end of the seven-year Tribulation period, and he will bind satan for 1,000 years. Since the Bible is very clear that the binding of satan won’t happen until Jesus returns, binds him and starts His Kingdom, there is no point currently in the church age that we are in to waste time screaming at satan, giving him a black eye and running him out of town, binding him from anything.
Revelation 20:1-3, John writes, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.” Until this time in history comes, don’t use James 4:7 that says to Resist the devil and he will flee’ to get into a shouting match with satan. It is a waste of time. When you begin to mature and understand eschatology, a good use of your time will be to not return to the sin nature. When the temptation to go back to the sin nature arises, under Christ’s resources, you say ‘no!’ then the amount of wiggle room that satan has in your life starts to shrink and that is where you want to spend your time rather than yelling at the devil.
Our instructions in the church age related to satan and given this eschatological reality, are just two commands. One of these is in James 4:7, to “Resist the devil and he will flee…”It is repeated in 1 Peter 5:9, “Be sober, be on the alert, your adversary the devil roams about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith…” So, when you view the epistles, (and the epistles are not the wives of the apostles) …the epistles are the instructional letters for the Church. Paul wrote 13 of them and there are eight more of what are called universal epistles, one of which we are currently studying, James. When you look at all of that material governing the church, which is in the epistles, you will see two commands. The first command is to “Resist the devil and he will flee” in James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:9 and Ephesians 6:13 — three times to resist satan. I have tried to explain what that means: to not give him influence by not catering to the flesh. The other command is to put on the full armor of God. That is in Ephesians 6:10-20. Other than that, there is not a single command in the epistolary literature about binding and screaming at satan, giving him a black eye running him out of town. What it says is that you are on enemy territory, and as a Christian do two things: resist satan and put on the full armor of God. The pieces of armor are primarily defensive; we are defending ourselves against him because we are living on his turf. He has the home court advantage, and he will continue to have that until Jesus does something about it as he will in Revelation 20:1-3; only Jesus is able to do anything about it. Neither you nor I can do anything about him, but what we can do is to apply the resources that God has given us as his ambassadors living in satan’s terrain. By the way, that is why we are called ambassadors in 2 Corinthians 5:20. If I am America’s ambassador to Iran or Saudi Arabia or Russia, the only thing I am doing in that country is representing American values on foreign soil. I am not there to bring regime change to those parts of the world; I am merely representing American values on foreign territories. In the same way, you are called an ambassador because you are representing kingdom values in the world where satan’s kingdom is enthroned, and Jesus hasn’t yet set up His kingdom. We aren’t here for regime change or to take over the government, mandating that everyone gets saved. Jesus will do all of those things in His timing at His second advent. This is the error of post-millennialism, or today it is being taught as the seven mountains mandate. This is taught by many from Bethel in Redding California, such as Lance Walnow if you watch any of his YouTube, Facebook live feeds; it was taught, to some extent, by the late Bill Bright of Campus Crusade; by YWAM leader Lauren Cunningham. They were essentially teaching the seven mountains mandate. What kind of name is seven mountains? The only seven mountains I know of in the Bible are connected to the Antichrist in Revelation 17. What they were teaching is that the Christian needs to take over the seven influencers of the culture, so they had it down to media, (considering some of what is coming out of Hollywood, they aren’t making much progress there). Banking is another, politics, etc, and it was the Christian’s responsibility to subdue these seven mountains. That is post-millennialism — putting the responsibility of taking over and bringing in the kingdom on the back of the church. You will notice that in those groups they are always binding and screaming at satan, etc. They are on TV, yelling at satan at the top of their lungs. There is no such command in the epistles for reasons I have tried to explain.
‘Pastor, didn’t Jesus bind satan?’ Well, are you Jesus? Jesus did a lot of things that I don’t do. Have you walked on water lately; fed the masses with a few loaves and a few fish? Jesus was one of a kind, and He did those things because He was the Son of God, and He was showing Israel (where Christ’s entire ministry took place)! Jesus never went on a missionary journey somewhere. We need to wait for Paul to get our first missionary journey into foreign territory. Jesus did those things in the life of the nation of Israel because He was showing them what could be a reality if they would receive the offer of the Kingdom. These miracles could be happening all over the world
with Israel as the head and not the tail. But we know from the gospels how that story ended: the offer of the Kingdom was rejected. So, don’t go into the life of Christ and try to develop strategies for spiritual warfare; go into the epistolary literature that deals with the age of the church during a period when the Kingdom had not been cancelled, but is in a state of postponement.
I want to talk about this because I get a lot of questions about deliverance ministries, and if we should be casting out devils and demons today. Much of that fuzzy thinking is because people have never been taught dispensations. If you understand where we are in the outworking of God’s program, and when the binding of satan will take place, then you won’t be involved with these practices that Christians shouldn’t get involved in. So, when I’m asked questions about deliverance ministries, casting out demons, binding satan, this is my favorite book that I recommend: there are three different book covers shown on this slide, because the book has gone through three separate printings under three separate titles, but it was originally called: A Holy Rebellion: Strategy for Spiritual Warfare. Then it was reprinted with the title, Overrun by Demons. Today, it goes by the title, Spiritual Warfare. It is my favorite spiritual warfare book written by two of my friends, co-authors, Thomas Ice and Robert Dean. I was a student of that book long before I met either of them. I am so fond of that book because it does what I have been trying to do here is to put spiritual warfare in a dispensational context. That isn’t what we get from typical spiritual warfare teaching. Even some of the Neil Anderson stuff doesn’t get it exactly right, although there are some good teachings in his stuff. The Peretti Volumes, This Present Darkness — my first foray into spiritual warfare came from reading this stuff and Neil Anderson, etc, and this was a big topic in the eighties and nineties, and the reason I like this book is because it does what none of those other books do: helps to understand spiritual warfare from our dispensation. If you can do that, you will start to obey what commands apply and which ones don’t. You won’t waste time trying to bind satan, etc.
What is the essence of spiritual wisdom? Avoid wrangling and worldliness. Pursue the essence of spiritual wisdom that involves six things:
1. Submit to God — then you will be on your way to doing number two…
2. Resist satan — and he will flee from you. There is a reciprocal promise which means not to give him any room by returning to the flesh, then there are only so many ways he can influence you. But going back to the flesh, for example, watching wrong things on TV, harboring anger and bitterness in our hearts, then don’t expect satan to possess you but he can oppress and influence you.
We will pick this up with Draw Near to God and Repent. With repentance, it talks about be miserable and mourn and weep — don’t say that to an unsaved person. That is what someone with the Holy Spirit should do when the Spirit convicts them of sin. That will be a middle tense issue also; in fact, all of these are middle tense issues.