Christian Grapevine    




True Christian believers, if they are a threat to the evil one, can expect attacks. Jesus taught the parables of the „sower‟ in Matthew 13 telling us that we have an enemy if we are children of the Most High God. In this particular chapter Jesus explained some of the dangers facing believers and reassuringly also tells readers of the ultimate end of evil. Two big weapons in the evil one’s arsenal are discouragement and a religious spirit.

1. A Religious Spirit

Jesus contended with and later warned His disciples about the ‘religious spirit’ in his dealings with the Pharisees. In Matthew 15:1-20 and Matthew 16:1-12 the reader can conclude that the ‘traditions’ or leaven of the religious can stop the blessings from flowing in our lives (Matthew 16:8-12). The religious spirit is also seen in the fanatic who seeks to kill and destroy anything or anybody not agreeing with them. The religious spirit can be stirred up with mischief, strife, envy, anger, revenge and even murder; all these fulfill the evil one’s work. Remember, people may use all kinds of zealous excuses to justify attacking others, but God’s Word tells us to let God fight on our behalf (Romans 12:19-21, Deut. 32:35). (He can definitely do the ‘job’ better with more knowledge, insight, justice and mercy than we can even hope for!) It was a religious spirit that crucified our Lord but even so it served God’s purpose.

When traditions of men are more important than obeying our Lord’s commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves we are in danger of a religious spirit.

2. Discouragement

His Servant would not be discouraged …Isaiah 42:3 Looking to the Old Testament we see some of the qualifying attributes of the Messiah in Isaiah 42. God’s Servant would not fail or be discouraged/ broken until He established judgment on the earth (verse 4). Therefore, when God’s Word makes a point of saying His Servant would not be discouraged< it seems wise for any servant to look to follow Jesus in this qualification. We can learn from Jesus how to fight spiritual battles against the enemy of our souls.

People can become discouraged for a variety of reasons. It’s not a new thing. Joshua, who had seen Moses’ struggles as leader with and for Israel, was told to be strong and of good courage, (Joshua 1:6). King David too encouraged himself in the Lord as revealed in writings like Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Goliath would have been discouraging prospect without the right focus of knowing and encouraging oneself in the Word of God Almighty. Later, David was discouraged with some major “people problems” when King Saul wanted to kill him, reducing him to living and hiding in caves. Actions of other people can be a major source of discouragement. God’s answer for us is to love.

Love handles even the most extreme case of discouragement from “people sources”. Jesus tells us to love our enemies in Matthew 5 (especially verse 39). As one grows in the knowledge of God’s Word, the power of love and The Almighty fighting our battles reassures, inspires and blesses us. We learn this powerful truth as we read the Word and experience the fruit of this choice in our own lives. Our obedience to God’s command to love opens the way for encouragement and victory because we are keeping our part of the covenant. The real enemy is unable to beat love!

Where lack of courage may have more obvious symptoms and solutions, the onset and progression of discouragement can be more insidious or subtle. It follows then, that one should consider how to guard against tactics like discouragements (and religious spirits) which the wicked one may generate to use against us.

Learn from the lesson of the Juniper Tree

After the mighty experience on Mount Carmel where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal showing God’s great power the prophet ran away from a woman named Jezebel. He lay discouraged under the Juniper (broom) tree crying out to God that he was all alone and not able to fight, wanting to die. Read the account is in 1 Kings 18 & 19. God sent His angels to minister to him and later showed how He, Jehovah Jireh, does see and provide because there were seven thousand like minded individuals left in Israel beside him. God also showed Elijah Himself and then told him of another prophet appointed to help him. God sees and provides so we can know we never need be discouraged.