Since we’re in a spiritual battle, you can’t afford to indulge the “luxury” of strife. If you think that a certain amount of strife is just normal—the way we’re supposed to live—you’re wrong. God is a God of peace (Rom.15:33; 16:20), and we were created in His image. (Gen.1:27.) The fruit of His Spirit working in our life is peace. (Gal.5:22.) Therefore, our life should be full of peace, not strife. I’m not saying that we will ever live totally free from all strife from every source, but you should never just accept it, indulge it, or promote it. You ought to actively stand against and fight it, recognizing that every time you get into strife a door is opened for any- thing the enemy wants to do in your life. Satan has access to you when you’re in strife.
I remember being drafted as a soldier in the army. During basic training, there were many situations where explosions were going off around me all the time. We’d go out on maneuvers, pass through low-crawl pits (with machine guns firing overhead), learn how to use grenades, practice firing our weapons, and many other things. Over a period of six months’ time in training, I became accustomed to all the noise. It didn’t bother me because I knew that we were still in our own country, it was training, and nobody was trying to kill me. So I hardened myself to the noise, and got to the point where the explosions just didn’t mean anything.
Then I arrived in Long Bien, Vietnam. We got out of our plane at two in the morning, right in the middle of a mortar attack. We literally had to low-crawl from the plane to a bunker and hide in it until the attack was over. After we’d been processed a couple of hours later, I remember lying down in a temporary barracks. My cot was actually bouncing up and down from the explosions. Even though I’d heard many similar noises in basic training, it suddenly dawned on me that this wasn’t friendly fire anymore. Somebody out there was shooting rockets at us, and I was close enough to hear the explosions. As I lay there on that bouncing bunk, I realized, I’m at war! There’s an enemy who is trying to kill me. That really sobered me up.
Gone was my half-hearted listening to instructions. My instructors didn’t have to do anything to get my full attention. When they started the week of training once we arrived—how to adjust to the country, what would be happening, and things like that—I was all ears. The difference was I realized that this was truly life and death. I recognized that I was now in a battle.
Seeds Are Being Planted
Whether you realize it or not, you are now in a battle. Remember, Satan is walking about as a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour.”The devil is trying to destroy your life today. You could become overwhelmed with that and fearful, but God is also going about seeking who will respond to Him. He’s trying to get His anointing, power, and blessings into your life. There’s no reason to panic and freeze up in fear, because the Lord is infinitely greater than the devil. However, you do need to sober up and realize that we’re in a battle. You can’t afford the luxury of indulging your negative emotions and getting into the flesh.
I minister to people all the time who desire the results they see in my life, but aren’t willing to do what I do. They want to sit and watch “As the Stomach Turns” on television. They watch R- and X- rated movies, indulging negative emotions that I would never indulge. I recognize that there is a spiritual battle going on, and if I ever began to open up and allow such things into my heart and mind, Satan would take advantage of it. So I live a very restricted life, refraining from many things that other people do. (Ps.101:3.)
Although many people would like to see blind eyes and deaf ears opened, terminal diseases healed, the dead raised, and financial blessings manifest the way I have (by God’s grace),they’re not willing to spend the time yielding to and fellowshipping with the Lord in His Word, prayer, and obedience. They’d rather be out in the world, indulging their flesh and thinking, It’s not hurting me to do all of this stuff. It may not hurt them at that moment, but seeds are being planted.
You can’t be tempted with something you don’t think. (Heb. 11:15.) If you would quit opening yourself up to envy, strife, division, and all the other negative things our society uses for “entertainment, ”Satan wouldn’t have these inroads into your life.
Once I led a man to the Lord who had a pretty rough background. After being born again, he joined our church and began criticizing everything. He criticized people for using soap because it wasn’t natural. (He could have used a lot of soap too—he needed it!) He criticized people because they peeled their potatoes, and the skin was the most nutritious part. This guy just had an opinion about everything!
I didn’t find out until later, but this fellow had been the first person ever indicted by the California Grand Jury three times before he was a teenager. He had lived in reformatories since the age of five. Because of all this, and growing up around so much strife, there was a tremendous amount of anger and resentment in him.
After a couple of months, he came to me one day and said, “I’m leaving this church. I’m going back out into the desert because there’s too much strife here.”
I just got bold and told him, “Yes, there is strife in this church, but it’s all coming from you. There wasn’t any strife among the members until you came in here and started criticizing everybody. You’re the source of this strife!”
“Really? I didn’t realize it.”
“You didn’t realize that when you criticize people over everything they do that they aren’t going to like that?”
This brother just sat down and began to tell me about his background. Then he said, “I guess I just didn’t realize it was strife. I just thought it was normal.”Then he continued, saying, “If you were to tell me to act healed when I feel sick, I can do that because I’ve felt healed before. But when you’re telling me to walk in love, I guess I don’t know how to do that. I’ve never felt love before.”I had to take this guy and start teaching him through the life of Jesus what it’s like to love people.
Some folks come from a background where screaming, yelling, and throwing things were normal. There are plenty of families like that, but it’s not the way God wants us to be. (James 3:16.)
Viper in Your House?
Do you treat strangers better than your own family? Many people wouldn’t dare to treat me the way that they treat their own children, yet they wonder, Why am I having these problems with my kids? Yell at me, “Go make your bed you lousy kid!”scream at me, “Why haven’t you done this yet?”and see how our relationship gets along. If that’s how you treat your family, you have a double standard.
When you blast your family members—the people you’re sup- posed to love more than anybody else—it’s no wonder you’re dealing with rebellion, strife, and division. If you want godly relationships, you have to start guarding your tongue. You have to realize that you can’t tolerate such strife. Satan comes in through the doors of envy and strife and works every evil work in your life.
Would you allow a poisonous snake to run loose in your house? If it got into the heating vent, perhaps you wouldn’t see it for a week or two, but if you knew it was still lurking there, somewhere, you’d probably say, “I don’t care how long it takes, I am not going to live in a house with a dangerous, venomous viper on the loose!”It might not be an immediate threat, but if you never knew just where it was…hunting….
Strife is much more deadly than a poisonous snake! Along with envy, strife opens up an inroad for every evil work in your life. It’s time you snap out of complacency and recognize that you’re in a spiritual battle. You can’t tolerate envy, strife, unforgiveness or any other negative emotion.
Some people look at pornographic images and think, Well, I’ll never act that out. Every time you indulge your flesh, you are releasing spiritual powers into your life. As you give more and more of a place to the devil, I guarantee that it will cost you something. Sin will take you further than you want to go, cost you more than you want to pay, and keep you longer than you want to stay.
Every one of us is exposed to the forces of the kingdom of darkness each and every day. We aren’t on R&R (rest and relaxation).We aren’t in a secured area where our actions don’t really count. We’re in a spiritual battle, with a real enemy who wants to take advantage of us any way he can.
Raised From the Dead
God’s Word says, “Neither give place to the devil,” (Eph.4:27). You are the one who gives Satan inroads into your life. He takes whatever “place” you give him through your thoughts, words, emotions, and actions.
Your emotions can give Satan a place. Perhaps every once in a while you feel like you should just give in and let your guard down. It would just feel good to have a pity party.
I’ve felt that way before. One night my older son called on the telephone and told me that my younger son had died. Immediately, my wife and I agreed in prayer, spoke our faith, and commanded him to come back to life. As we got dressed and drove the hour into Colorado Springs, I had some negative emotions. I felt like, How long can you stand? How long can you be strong? Every once in a while you just need to run up the white flag of surrender and let it out. Why not just gripe and complain? However, I knew that if I started speaking forth my fears and unbelief that it would have negated my faith. Even though I felt like saying, “We lost this one. We’re beaten. Let’s give it up and quit,” I started building myself up and speaking positive words like, “He will not die but live and declare the works of the Lord, ”and “You’re a good God. I love You!”
All the glory to Jesus, we arrived in Colorado Springs at the hospital to discover that God had raised him from the dead. He had been dead for almost five hours, but about five minutes or so after we received that phone call from my older son, my younger son just sat up and started talking right there on the slab in the hospital morgue. Praise Jesus!
I firmly believe that if I had given in to and vented my negative emotions, we wouldn’t have seen the victory. If I had spoken forth my frustration and complained, saying, “It’s not fair,” my son wouldn’t have been raised from the dead. Satan will take advantage of whatever we give him. We are often hung by our own tongue.