Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Introduction to series from PART 1.
Part 3: Spiritual Warfare…
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, Interlinear Bible).
Focus on Jesus Christ; be filled with the Holy Spirit; remember to fight–it’s spiritual warfare out there, brothers and sisters, but we are not without “weapons”!
According to the Matthew passage above:
“Seek“: in this context, means “to aim at, strive after.” I picture a race horse with blinders (blinkers) to prevent the horse from looking behind and to the sides. Without being slowed up and/or distracted by who or what is going on elsewhere, the horse has a much better chance to achieve the objective; to literally stay on (the) track, to achieve The Win. Our focus? Jesus Christ. Our track? Following Him. Our win? His kingdom…
…”His Kingdom“: the “blessings and benefits, whether present or future,” obtained by faith* in Christ, which is…
…”His righteousness“: i.e., “the condition acceptable to God” (read: our faith in Jesus Christ accomplishes this), so that…
…”All these things shall be added unto you”–what things? Linked here are several commentaries underscoring God’s provision, which, in short, is “a distinct promise that if God’s cause is made the first aim, all the necessaries of life shall be provided” (Pulpit Commentary).
Some of those “things” are “spiritual weapons” with which to fight mankind’s real adversary, i.e. the spiritual dark force behind visible wars, and how to obtain such weapons.
That is, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Scriptures indicate this is both a permanent indwelling, commencing when we convert to Christianity at our “spiritual rebirth” and a phenomenon that occurs on specific occasions. For a few Scriptural examples and illustrations of both, read here.
Now for a little controversy; thus, read at your own risk.
Consider also what is known as the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, i.e., an experience similar to the events described concerning Pentecost— the day often referenced as “the birthday of the Church.” See also, however, Acts 19:1-6, which chronicles the “after salvation,” as it were, event of an additional “filling” of the Holy Spirit with reference to two of the so-called “gifts of the Holy Spirit”: speaking in other “tongues” or languages and prophesying.
This manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the after-salvation event in those who are already indwelled by the Holy Spirit due to conversion is the controversial one.
Many believe such “gifts”/phenomena resulting from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, that include, in entirety, the following: 1. The Word of Knowledge 2. The Word of Wisdom 3. The Gift of Prophecy 4. The Gift of Faith 5. The Gifts of Healings 6. The Working of Miracles 7. The Discerning of Spirits 8. Different Kinds of Tongues and 9. The Interpretation of Tongues. stopped when the Apostles died.
Read here for a basic description of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that also leaves open the question as to whether or not it exists today.
See here for a chart detailing the Scriptural references cited by those who do believe this experience continues to be available to believers and why.
However, regarding the words of encouragement that are the purpose of this series of 4 posts, consider: whether or not this teaching is controversial, i.e., for believers today or just for the first believers in Jesus Christ, learning the pros and cons and meditating and praying about the subject in its Scriptural contexts will only edify.
A personal testimony. When my father was dying of pancreatic cancer and right after he had expressed his desire to be born again (my sister Nancy and I prayed with him), it “occurred” to me to at least tell him about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in case he might be interested. A clear metaphor came to mind. I was able to explain it to him like this: the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and its benefits is like being in a room where there is already enough light to see everything you need to see, but the “light” of this “Baptism” is like turning that light up to “bright” where all the nooks and crannies are illuminated even more... Why was I inspired suddenly with that metaphor? Probably because Dad was a builder, a remodeller. He could likely relate well to the analogy.
Dad decided he wanted that experience, too. He had further questions in his remaining ten days on earth, but there was a dramatic shift in his pre-salvation outlook (anger) and his last days, even on his hospital bed (peace…joy, even). The entire story of Dad’s last days is posted here.
The Baptism is more illumination from the exact same and complete Source of help we have already received at salvation, the Holy Spirit, Who gifts us through this phenomenon as well with inspiration, encouragement, direction, wisdom, comprehension, healings, miracles, discerning of spirits, speaking in other languages for the benefit of self and others, interpretation of the “tongues” for same, and prophetic knowledge (prophecy not just in the sense of “foretelling events,” but as in edifying, exhorting, and/or comforting other believers).
So, “how” to “fill”?
You already are filled with the Holy Spirit if you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, by faith.
And I can only encourage you to check out the “filling” via the (controversial in some sectors and sects) Baptism of the Holy Spirit, too, perhaps praying for guidance and confirmation, first.
Little else needs to be added to the following “weapons” of our (spiritual but manifest in struggles that are very real) “warfare” aside from the list of such weapons found in Ephesians 6:14-18. For other Scriptures on how to overcome our real adversary (Satan) who influences real people, philosophies, and governance systems) read here.
Note: praying “in the spirit” (verse 18) also indicates praying in other languages–and interpreting them, if both are done in an orderly fashion in an assembly or service–as prompted by the Holy Spirit, to edify the body of Christ as well as in private prayer/intercession. For a good explanation of this gift of the Holy Spirit through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the reader might be interested in considering this explanation.
PART 3 of this series will cover just how, exactly, spiritual preparedness and spiritual armor helps in real time, against real enemies, in a world that just now seems heading fast in the direction of implosion! There are definite parallels to several very practical tactical battleground strategies detailed in one of history’s famous warcraft manuals, Sun-tzu’s The Art of War.
*For Scriptural elaboration on “faith,” here is a sampling.