Our Mighty God
About 700 years before Jesus was born the prophet Isaiah introduced Jesus to the Jewish people in a time of great darkness. There was something in Isaiah’s words that spoke to his people and gave them hope. The message of a “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” was somewhat strange to God’s people at the time, none-the-less, this Son that was given, was to take the weight of government upon his shoulders. Last week we looked at the Wonderful Counsellor who is able to take an offended heart and make it right. In the last days we are told there will be much offence and yet as God’s people we can come to the Wonderful Counsellor and become free from our sins and of the traps of the enemy. God is truly wonderful in his counsel.
This Advent season, I was thinking about the phrase “and the government will be upon his shoulder” as I was preparing for today’s sermon. This reminded me of the responsibility that was to come upon Jesus. Literally, this little child would grow up to carry the weight of the world upon his shoulders. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus would carry the weight of mankind’s sin and the defeat of the enemy as a result of his death on the cross: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col 2:13-15). It is hard to fully imagine carrying the weight of sin and Satan to the cross. However, Jesus was able to do so because he is the Mighty God.
The Weight of the World
The word picture that comes to my mind is of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders. In Greek mythology he had to carry the weight of the cosmos for eternity as a result of his loss in battle. Many people today feel that they have to carry the weight or responsibilities of life beyond their human strength. There are times in life when we feel like we are lost, unable to carry on, overwhelmed by sickness, under the weight of debt, in a relationship that is broken. Scripturally speaking, that is what the Israelites were feeling in Isaiah’s day. The weight of their captivity was too much to bear. They were lost in darkness and gloom. They were not able to carry the weight of their circumstances themselves.
We live in a day and age where everyone demands for the personal rights to be upheld but not everyone is willing to be responsible in life. We demand for that our rights be validated even though they contradict Scripture. We demand that our voices be heard but if someone else has a contradictory voice we riot. When everyone demands that there rights be affirmed but there is no standard by which we agree to there is chaos. In the context of personal rights and responsibilities we must maintain a biblical mindset. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col 3:23–24). Personally, in our own lives the temptation to sin and the struggle to resist the enemy can be overwhelming - like a great weight or burden. However, our Wonderful Counsellor has told us - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).
The key thought here is to “learn from me.” Not only do we need to spend time with our Wonderful Counsellor, we also must encounter our Mighty God. So the question remains what can we learn today from our Mighty God?
Our Mighty God
The Jewish people in Isaiah’s day needed more than a Wonderful Counsellor due to their situation. They needed to know that they had a Mighty God who was able to deliver. I am sure they reminded themselves of Psalm 24:8 - Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. The battles in the Old Testament were fought with soldiers and armies facing off against each other. The word for “mighty” in the Hebrew language carries with it several perspectives. Firstly, there is a power present, some form of strength. This is described in the OT as manly when it came to those who fought in war; they were mighty, strong, valiant heroes. Secondly, there is a showing of power as in the authority of leadership, whether militarily or politically. Our Mighty God would have brought great encouragement to the Israelites under Assyrian captivity.
When we speak of might or power in the New Testament were tend to move from the physical to the spiritual realms, especially when speaking of Jesus Christ. Mary speaks of Jesus - “for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name” (Luke 1:49). The Immaculate Conception of Jesus is a mighty and powerful work of the Holy Spirit. The literal translation can be stated as “the one who is able or capable of doing anything.”
In our Care Group we are learning about who Jesus is through our study in the Book of Mark. There are five points that describe Jesus’ power and authority and mightiness.
- His power and authority to teach and cast out demons (Mark 1:21-27).
- His power and authority over sickness (Mark 1:29-31, 32-34; 3:22).
- His power and authority to forgive sin (Mark 2:1-12).
- His power and authority over nature (Mark 4:35-41).
- His power and authority over death (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43).
We serve a Mighty God. AMEN!!! This morning I want to focus on one aspect of our Mighty God - his power and authority over the devil and demons.
Our Mighty Deliverer
Last week I spoke about our Wonderful Counsellor helping us break free from offences and hurts in our lives. He brings healing to our lives through wise, biblical counselling and it is wonderful. However, there are times when the process of being set free or sanctified can be opposed by the enemy. In that light I would like to take a look at some Scriptures that bring honour to our Mighty God and his deliverance in our lives.
The Gospel of Mark does not waste any time introducing Jesus’ public ministry; his baptism and temptation, the calling of the first disciples and his teaching in Capernaum on the Sabbath. Mark 1:21-27 highlights Jesus as he was teaching in the synagogue and confronts and evil spirit. Mark emphasizes several key points of this encounter.
- Jesus taught as one who had authority, Mark 1:22,27.
- Secondly, Jesus’ teaching confronted the demonic realm, Mark 1:23-24.
- Jesus exercised authority over the demonic spirit and the man was set free, Mark 1:25.
Signs of Spiritual Attack
Not only is Jesus our Wonderful Counsellor who can give advice and direction to our lives, both practically and spiritually. He is also the Mighty God who sets the captives free. There are times in our lives that we are held captive in our thoughts, emotions or actions. We feel like we can not break free. We can struggle in silence or sometimes we act out in sinful ways. We repent… We ask forgiveness… And yet we seem to repeat the same struggle over again. Why? We could be under spiritual attack.
What is a spiritual attack? A spiritual attack is a series of coordinated events by the demonic realm in order to keep people in sin, to abort promises in God’s Word, shipwreck one’s faith, oppress a believer and keep people from their destiny. Spiritual attacks are performed by demons, which are fallen angels who resist God, war against God and God's people, and against unbelievers as well. Their goal is to bring as many people as possible into rebellion against God and condemnation in hell.
There are many ways the enemy attacks that affect one’s life. I have simply broken the spiritual attacks into two groups - physical and spiritual. Here is a short list, but not exhaustive list, that may indicate spiritual attack…
- Physical struggles or illness such as sleeplessness and or nightmares, strong anxiety, self-mutilation, addictions, and physical sicknesses. Sometimes the physical attacks can be seen in areas of constant financial pressure. Physical attacks can also be experienced mentally or emotionally; regular outbursts of anger, high and low mental or emotional levels, inordinate fears, hopelessness, abnormal obsessions…
- On the spiritual side of demonic attacks we can experience spiritual deadness that includes apathy and anger towards God, can’t read God’s Word, can’t stay awake in prayer, interest in false religions and or the devil.
We must be very careful not to make every negative thing we experience a demonic attack. Sometimes physical problems are caused by lack of proper sleep, poor diet, germs, or disease. As well, spiritual struggles can be brought on by physical problems. And as far as financial situations go, we have to be careful that we’re not spending more than we take in and then somehow blame our financial difficulties on demonic forces. Our choices play an important part of our growing relationship with God. Many times people don't have demonic oppression. We simply need to be mature enough to exercise self-control in areas of personal sanctification.
One of the areas of spiritual giftedness that needs to increase in the Body of Christ is that of the gift of distinguishing spirits; this is the divine ability to discern between good and evil spirits. The ekklesia
needs to be able to rightly evaluate and judge what is of the Spirit of God and what is not. A foundation is needed in the area of discernment between what is the sinful nature and what is the attack of the enemy. In other words, we all need our Wonderful Counsellor to help us in areas where we struggle with temptation and sin; hurts and pains and offence and unforgiveness as examples. However, we also need discernment in the area of spiritual attack where our Mighty God who brings deliverance and freedom; from a spirit of offence and or unforgiveness, a spirit of lust or a spirit of criticism for instance.
Questions have been raised by theologians over the years as to whether or not a Christian can have a demon. I would say without a doubt the answer is yes. There are several reasons for my belief. Jesus himself told the disciples to pray “deliver us from the evil one” (Matt 6:13) which tells me Christians can experience the attack of the enemy. I remember John Wimber stating, “it does not matter whether the demon is “in” a person, or “on” a person or “around” a person, the person needs deliverance.”
Keys to Freedom
One of the strategies of the enemy is to keep things in the dark or secret. Sometimes the enemy may try to trap us into embarrassment or shame, and or keep us in deception. This is where we need to experience our Mighty God who sets captives free and have the courage to come into the light.
In my walk with our Mighty God, here are some of my keys to freedom from the attack of the enemy.
- Just as Jesus has power and authority over the enemy so do we… Look at Mark 6:7 - “Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.” This has been passed on us as believers in Christ. I had to learn to spend time with our Mighty God.
- Resistance is essential: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We must be submissive towards God and intentional and forceful in our resistance of the enemy. Sometimes the spiritual attack feels so strong that I don’t have the energy to resist. This is when I draw near to our Mighty God BUT I also draw near to close brothers and sisters in Christ who can resist with me… Being accountable to one another is key as we resist the enemy. Personal freedom is never a private matter, it involves people along with our Mighty God.
- Faith must be exercised: One aspect of faith is to see into the spiritual realm and this is key when you are fighting an enemy you cannot see. We release our Mighty God to act on our behalf when we walk by faith. I had to learn to “see” into the spiritual realm and trust that our Mighty God would release deliverance… “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
- Break through with prayer and fasting: I learned that spiritual warfare can be overcome by prayer and fasting. The deliverance from the spiritual attack can take time; sometimes there was an immediate relief and in other situations it took a longer period of time. This is where prayer comes into play - “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph 6:18). In one situation Jesus said to his disciples “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Matt 17:21 NKJV; Mark 9:29).
My hope this morning was to inspire our faith in our Mighty God. We have a God who is powerful and mighty and has all authority over the powers of darkness. This Advent season is a great time to reflect on our Mighty God. It is also a time to come into a renewed place of freedom. Our Mighty God desires to bring us into a place of victory over the enemy. There are seasons of warfare and seasons of freedom. In both we worship and serve a Mighty God.
Our relationship with God is one of right thinking but also right practice. We must know beyond a shadow of doubt that God is mighty and that God is for us. And then we must put into practice our walk with Jesus in the area of overcoming the enemy by resisting, praying and fasting. It is my prayer that we experience our Mighty God this Christmas season and find ourselves walking in greater and greater personal freedom.