February 19, 2016

Strength in Weakness

It is important to point out that the devil left Jesus alone until “an opportune time.” Satan is an opportunist. He often strategically waits to attack until we are hungry, weak or tired. Although the devil is insane, he is not stupid. But the Holy Spirit is the most brilliant strategist. He knew that the easiest way to draw Satan into His trap was to weaken Jesus. The plan worked perfectly!

Christ’s main strategy in the wilderness was to fast. It seems crazy to put yourself in a place of hunger, weakness and vulnerability before going up against an enemy—unless you understand that the goal of the wilderness is to uncover God’s unfailing ability to deliver you. That is why Jesus fasted. He wanted to remove any temptation that He might have to try to defeat the devil in His own strength. All that was left after forty days was a choice—God’s strength, or the devil’s false offer of power. In His weakness, Jesus simply refused to listen to the devil and fully entrusted Himself to God. As Jude said, God “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). It is our responsibility to trust God. It is His responsibility to deliver, protect and save us.

Greater Levels, Greater Devils

An old saying continually circulates throughout the Body of Christ: “Greater levels, greater devils.” The adage basically means that every time God promotes someone, He exposes them to more demonic assaults. Entire Christian camps actually believe that sickness, relational conflict and troubles are a sign that you have been promoted. What these folks fail to realize is that when God promotes you, He protects you.

Just think about it: The most protected person in the United States is our president. He receives the protection at the same time he receives the promotion. Nobody in his right mind would take the office of presidency without the protection that the promotion deserves. How much better does God, who has legions of angels at His disposal, protect the people He promotes? Of course nobody, no matter their status in the Kingdom, is immune from the troubles of life or the weaknesses of their own personhood. That is why Paul wrote,

He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9–10

God does not want our confidence to be in our own ability. Philippians 3:3 puts it this way: “For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” It is vital that we put our confidence entirely in the work God has done in us. Self-righteousness or any assurances that are not rooted in Christ will only lead to temporary solutions that always backfire.

The Purpose of Battles

The clear purpose of wilderness battles is to test and establish our faith. The apostle James told us to rejoice in trials because of what they produce in us—the same maturity and perfection that Christ displayed in His complete dependence on God: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4, emphasis added).

Did you notice that trials do not test our character, they test our faith? Faith is fundamentally a relational term—it is not first a matter of what you believe, but whom you trust. The battle for our trust is as old as Adam and Eve. In the midst of battle, it can seem so complex, but when the dust settles and the smoke clears, the real war is always over the same question—whom will we believe? Whom will we listen to, God or the devil?

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they did not just disobey God . . . they obeyed Satan. Regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the Lord had said, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.” But the devil had said, “You surely will not die!” (Genesis 3:3–4). They chose to obey the devil instead of God and eat from the wrong tree. When they made that choice, they changed masters. Trials are designed to help us determine who our master will be, whom we will trust, who our Lord will be and which kingdom we will put our faith in.

For more on this subject, check out my book Spirit Wars.

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Have you experienced the Lord’s strength in weakness? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Topics: All TopicsFreedom


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