Operation PineTree

Operation-PineTree

Jacksonville is the “River City” because the St John’s divides the downtown and dominates the landscape and directional characteristics of the area. Beginning in the marsh lands in the middle of Florida, the river runs north. When it arrives at Duval County, it begins to take over, opening a wide expansion of water as it enters the downtown only to narrow as it reaches the Main Street Bridge. Here, at this narrow spot, the cattle were forded the river in the early days, and the originating name, “Cowford,” was a moniker for the city.

As the river passes this pinch point and slithers further toward the ocean, it forms a very obvious dragon’s head appearance, and dredging the channel has created an eye for the dragon.

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The dragon displays the Leviathan spirit that the enemy has developed on the point of originating purpose for the nation. The Leviathan is the king of pride, and the Leviathan spirit produces prideful deception. (Refer to Job’s description of the Leviathan.) At the cultural level, Leviathan produces a systematic delusion based upon prideful deception and captures the people of a culture with strong delusions. America presently suffers from this spiritual ruler, authority, and cosmic dominator identifiable by the character of the spiritual condition it produces.

Timucua Defeat Alligators

The first nation’s people of North Florida defeated alligator, the natural Leviathan, by attacking its open mouth.

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They would cut down a pine tree, trim its branches, and run the tree into the open mouth of the alligator until the exposed internal organs were pierced through and the alligator died. As depicted in this drawing made at the time of this incidence, the impossibly powerful Leviathan protected by impenetrable skin, operating with overwhelming speed and strength, was vulnerable when he opened his mouth.

The Appeal to Heaven Movement

We are presently engaged in a kingdom strategy of prayer and warfare to reclaim the covenant purposes of America called “An Appeal to Heaven” led by Dutch Sheets who was assigned to lead this movement by a revelatory dream confirmed many times by other prophetic leaders.

The Appeal to Heaven recalls the first flag of the US used by Washington in the Revolutionary War. The flag depicted an evergreen tree with “An Appeal to Heaven” written on it, referring to presuppositions of liberty upon which the Declaration of Independence had been based, fundamentals of law and government that called for a new nation with the God’s purposes written into its foundations.

appeal-t-shirt

Upon this prophetic symbolism, Operation PineTree will fly the banner over the river while a boat sails into the city making a renewed Appeal to Heaven for the origination purposes of our nation from the First Coast. Operation PineTree will occur July 4, 2016. This is the 240th anniversary of our Declaration when the appeal became official.

Meaning of 240

Meaning of 240 is “The Tree of Life!”

 

 

 

Kingdom Ecclesia

[Following up on previous posts concerning Jesus’ use of the word, ekklesia, in reference to His kingdom, and how what Jesus says and what modern churchanity assumes varies in massive ways, I wish to consider how to define Ecclesia in terms of assignment, location, coverage of a region, and kingdom legislative function.]

We know that Ecclesia has definable application to the entirety of the kingdom, as it is in any given moment internationally, a reference to kingdom citizens en mass as it were, as the dwelling place of Holy Spirit wherever they assemble in ways identifiable from a kingdom perspective. We also know that Ecclesia can meet in a house, a plurality of Ecclesia in a city, region, or nation identifiable by its kingdom makeup and assignment.

We see Jesus bringing accountability to seven city-states, or regional jurisdictions in the Revelation, the stars He holds in His hands in the vision He shares with Apostle John. We have learned from Scripture that Jesus builds His Ecclesia, that He has one. We learn that we can gain understanding of its spiritual function from metaphors like building, body, and bride. We also learn that internal protocols within the Ecclesia may rise to the place of legislative and governmental consideration from two or three witnesses to “the entire Ecclesia,” presumably an Ecclesia definable as “the whole one” in some specific measurement as opposed to the idea that the “entire Ecclesia” worldwide wouldn’t deal with a one-on-one reconciliation even if the communication of that judgment decision was more universal.

So, we can set some parameters for Ecclesia as “more than two or three or small group” and “less than worldwide” when we discuss Ecclesia in a functional sense. As a building, body, or bride metaphorically, we understand Ecclesia to have internal systems, structure or order, shared passion, focus, role, relationship, and covenantal bond with Jesus in ways that cannot be functional as a worldwide Ecclesia nor a two or three or small group without the essentials of kingdom leadership.

“We Are the Church”

We cannot be so hasty in our generalizations that we include “whatever and whenever” in our design and definition of Ecclesia. We have allowed for error in this regard for some time by allowing for the two or three of Matthew 18 to be “church” when Jesus makes this impossible by His own words; so, we cannot fall into the trap that an Ecclesia can be two or three people simply because what two or three are doing is kingdom business: the opposite would be Jesus’ point, in fact, that He is involved in kingdom business involving two or three even when it is not “the entire Ecclesia.”

On the other hand, we cannot be so hasty in our generalizations that we assume “everybody born again” in any geographical or cultural sense all belongs in or to a particular Ecclesia. We cannot design and define “ekklesia” based upon statements often made that use the boundaries of man to set the boundaries of kingdom. To claim, for example, the Ecclesia in a state, city, or neighborhood is the only way Jesus sees His Ecclesia – “there is only one Church in the city” or “you cannot have an Ecclesia here because there already is one” – ascribes expressions of Ecclesia to a category that lacks legitimate Biblical authority. Jesus speaks to Ecclesia only from a kingdom perspective with geographic identifiers secondary to cultural assignments.

That is, Jesus assigns us to disciple “ethnos,” and kingdom is itself a spiritual culture, so we need to understand His design and definition of “ekklesia” in the context of kingdom culture confronting natural culture with an aim to disciple cultures by spiritual influence to better represent the culture of His kingdom.

We have reacted to the idea of “going to church” in ways that move us into dangerous territory. We overreacted to the idea that “church” is a weekly event so dramatically that we are willing to assume that “being the church” can mean anything we personally wish “church” to be. That would be, and is, a grave error!

Church is not your family. Church is not you and yourself. Church is not two or three. Church is not small group gathered for any form of “doing this for Jesus” motif. Church is “ekklesia.” [We previously discussed how the word changed dramatically to mean “building” because of religious and political considerations, and how these considerations make “church” something foreign the word “ekklesia” in the mouth of Jesus.]

We should say, “We are part of the Ecclesia, and part of an assembly of kingdom ekklesia by assignment of the King.” Remember, “ekklesia” does not mean “called out of the world.” Ecclesia means “called together into assembly from within the kingdom.” So, technically, the Ecclesia can be called together in conference with some type of universal assignment as it was in Acts 15, kingdom leaders making judgment decisions from Scripture, experience, and revelation that expands the scope of implementation of a kingdom establishing blueprint. Generally speaking, however, Ecclesia is more commonly definable by cultural assignment and represented by a geographic location in which that culture exists.

“The Ephesian Ecclesia” would refer to a city-state region in which kingdom of God citizens were called into assembly to represent kingdom culture, follow the apostolic and prophetic blueprints to construct a spiritual building, be prepared and positioned as in a body to function in a body system, enter into spiritual covenant with the King as His bride as the representation of the image of God on earth in a kingdom sense. This identity would include the entirety of Ephesian culture, the surrounding region supported by and part of the bounded city, commerce, culture, and politic that Jesus wishes to confront with kingdom and kingdom culture through the powerful spiritual influences that displace rulers, authorities, and cosmic dominators – the strategically positioned authorities of Hades that currently have the greater influence over the people of that identifiable culture and region.

Acts 19 helps us see this blueprinting more clearly, and how in a rather short time, through the leadership of Paul and many leaders he was training, Ephesus and the entire region of Asia Minor were so influenced by kingdom purpose that they became kingdom centers for more than two hundred years!

So, we can’t say, “We are the Church” when we are not accomplishing these goals at some level of cultural influence and impact. We cannot say, “We are the Church” by designing and defining a subculture to avoid confrontation and lessen the discomfort of opposing forces (avoiding the riot that Ecclesia produced in Ephesus recorder in Acts 19, for example). We cannot say, “We are the Church,” when we accumulate believers without influencing the arena of spirit that prevails over the region in which Ecclesia functions.

Elements of Ecclesia

Ecclesia calls together into assembly the kingdom citizens who share assignments given by the King that represent portions of His blueprint designs for building, systems of operation for His body, or covenantal roles and relationships of His bride. We could say we have done well in representing Him when marriage has kingdom meaning in a culture. We could say we have done well representing Him when have revelation sight, power of miracles, signs, and wonders touch the culture through our hands, when the nervous system of the kingdom body assimilates information and communicates it clearly to every body part and extremity and produces coordinated movement, exercise, work force, and mobility. We could say that we have done well representing Him when the land itself has site preparation that provides for building kingdom culture in a place with a people so that a generation in that geographic location produces more and more cultural likeness to the culture of heaven.

We should expect kingdom leadership dynamics to be present and functional: apostles, prophets, teachers, evangels, and shepherds. We should expect these functional leadership dynamics as kingdom leadership for the Ecclesia so that all the leadership dynamics of Jesus, the King, are represented in the Ecclesia. In this way, His representative leaders make Jesus more involved with and within His building, body, and bride than could be possible in any other way! He is Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Evangel, and Shepherd, so all these leadership dynamics of the King must be present for a kingdom Ecclesia to learn obedience and submission to the King. We should expect this to be very much like the discipling and fathering leadership provided by Jesus as a basis for resetting God’s kingdom on earth so that His finished work on the Cross, overcoming victory in the Resurrection, all-inclusive authority in heaven and earth in the Ascension, and ever-present positioned Intercession with the Father becomes a reality in every kingdom citizen’s life.

We should expect that any and every citizen who refuses to become such a representative faces the process of personal transformation that identifies clearly their hearts so that no misrepresentation of the kingdom culture or misrepresentation of the King becomes a new cultural norm for the Ecclesia. We should expect a clear identification of wolves, bitter rooted people, frauds, perverts, addicts, and rebels as Jude, Paul, Jesus, and John clearly demand. Kingdom leaders should exercise their responsibility and authority to protect the sheep, train each citizen in calling, gifting, and assignment, hold ever citizen accountable through personal relational integrity, and rid the Ecclesia of schism, faction, division, and corrupting leaven by the means Jesus describes.

We should expect that the kingdom expansion comes when born anew individuals begin the process of life change, breaking away from the natural culture to live in kingdom culture (behaviors based upon His righteousness), and taking on a gradually increased responsibility equal to the King’s assignments for their lives.

Alignment, Alliance, Agreement, and Authority

[While to some extent we seem unable to clarify what should be obvious in modern churchanity, remaining in infantile pouts, saying, “Mine, mine!” about toys that represent real trucks and babies while missing the larger kingdom building leadership dynamics that would do more than placate our personal penchant to be someone when we grow up, the kingdom dynamics Jesus uses to build His Ecclesia remain just as real today as they ever have! We can get this right!]

Alignment means that all expressions of Ecclesia, and functional units of Ecclesia, align with the kingdom movement through leadership alliances to forge agreements on strategy so that greater authority becomes available regionally and nationally to gain greater spiritual influence. Knowing that no legitimate conflict could occur between what Jesus assigns one kingdom leader and what Jesus assigns another kingdom leader, we recognize that all conflicts come from human inadequacy, works of flesh dynamics, misrepresentations of the King, and usurpations of territorial integrity such as those to which Paul refers in terms of “going beyond the boundaries of my apostolic assignment.”

Every legitimate expression of Ecclesia best functions in kingdom and kingdom culture when properly aligned with the regional Ecclesia as it aligns with the national Ecclesia so that every expression of Ecclesia, called together into assembly to fulfill a kingdom purpose, has and exercises kingdom authority.

However, do not fall prey to the prevailing distraction and substitute for kingdom alignment best understood by the phrase, “the accumulation of believers.” Do not assume that the number of the crowd gathered, when increased to larger numbers, equates to greater authority, power, influence, or impact. Do not fall prey to the idea that bigger in terms of natural methods, machinery, men, or marketing means bigger spiritual influence when it does not.

Alignment, alliance, and agreement release greater authority, not greater accumulation.

 

Identity and Ministry

Identity comes from the Creator, through revelation – He reveals who He created us to be – not through creativity, through imagination – working to reveal what you imagine in yourself through your own imaging as if what you can do or say revealing who you were created to be.

Doing miracles, as Jesus does, does not make you Jesus. It means that Jesus created you to be someone who He could gift, grace, and anoint to represent Him, but it does not produce an identity; identity, when fulfilled by obedience and submission to a process of personal transformation, emerges by the Same One who Created you.

You can no more create your identity than you can create yourself.

Identity in Position

You know that you are gaining identity from ministry when you imagine that what you do earns you a position inconsistent with your identity. Suppose that you are a watchman, but you imagine that seeing means you should have a place at the table to determine what to do with what you’ve seen. Suppose you are a prophet, but you imagine that seeing means you should be a king. Suppose that you have gifts of hearings, but you imagine that healing people means you should be in “full time ministry.”

You are building identity from your imaging, instead of obeying and submitting to a process that reveals the identity the Creator shaped before there was anything of you outside His imagination. You are jumping to conclusions about who you are from what you do instead of embracing identity revealed to you from who God makes you to be.

If you grew up with feeling of inadequacy, you may imagine a pathway to cure than perception in your spiritual power and authority. You may assume “walking with Jesus” means “I will sit on the right hand.” This is an identity crisis based upon a syndrome or even pathology of internalized inadequacy: and, if you are not careful it will become a full-blown Judas syndrome: “What’s in this for me?”

Here is the point Jesus makes with washing feet: your identity isn’t your ability to cast out demons and heal the sick; your identity is serving others.

Let the equipping pass through you without telling you who you are. Allow one voice, speaking through the leaders God has aligned you to follow, confirmed by revelatory experiences, interpreted through a process of application and implementation – One Voice – to be your source of identity. He created you, so He alone can reveal your identity.

Separate what you do and are capable of doing – that big dream of ultimate ascendancy when your highest performances reveal to everyone who you really are – separate that from identity by washing feet. Remember that all you ever do will gain you a “well done, good and faithful servant.” No heavenly Oscar. No heavenly American Idol. No special suite at the Ritz or showcase in Vegas. God will measure more from your feet washing than your crusade ministry.

Inadequacy as a Syndrome

Consider that all leaders, naturally born with leadership traits, maintain a level of frustration with the present and the obstacles that stand between them and their visions. Usually, because of limitations with parents, school, church, peer groups, and repeated failures necessary to the preparation of a leader, some level of inadequacy motivates the leader toward overcoming obstacles. Or, they settle into a funk of blaming “them” for their inadequacies, or the feeling thereof.

Then, as God begins to work them through the preparation process, this sense of inadequacy meets God’s adequacy! However, leaders may maintain some sense of “I can make this happen” at some level, based upon the years of frustration and fear that the obstacles will remain as limiters of their visions. They keep a “just in case” posture, even with God!

Then, when ministry leadership begins to mature, they apply this level of compensation for inadequacy to their ministries, stepping into a “I must not allow any more failures.” And, the moment they do, they begin to apply their own identity creation to what they do instead of resting in obedience and submission to the process God puts into place to produce identity by revelation.

Over compensation for a sense of inadequacy mars the best ministries with human strength and wisdom, pushes success into prideful delusions, and feeds dreams that should die so the dreams of God can live.

 

 

 

Enforcing God’s Decisions

Jude says God has already long ago passed judgment. The term in verse 4 is “krima,” the Greek term for judgment decision with emphasis upon the verdict: “A long time ago God recorded His judgment decision about people like this.”

God made a decision about people operating in these spiritual conditions, a judgment verdict handed down in writing. We should be able uncover these spiritual conditions because of the influence and impact they have upon the internals Remnant, Kingdom, Ecclesia, and because this influence limits revival moving into awakening.

Now the reason for Jude writing this letter is not to announce that someday God will do something but to warn the kingdom leaders that God already decided what to do with people who function in these spiritual conditions so they can enforce, apply, implement, and lead.

The idea of this written Scripture isn’t “do nothing because God will take care of them.” Just the opposite! This Scriptures says, “God already decided that people like this shouldn’t be allowed to infiltrate His kingdom assembly without an application of God’s verdict being communicate to them so that they can no longer function in hiding.”

Here’s the “do not judge” scenario completely disassembled. The reason we do not judge is because God already did. The “judge not that you be not judged” scenario isn’t that God doesn’t want any judging! We know that isn’t true because Jesus says, “Judge righteous judgment.” The judgment we don’t need is decision making based upon anything other than God’s principles and protocols.

We need God’s judgment decisions: communicated, understood, applied, implemented. Kingdom leaders should be able to identify by discernment people who operate in the way of Cain, the error of Balaam, and the rebellion of Korah, to bring personal deliverance to them or to quarantine the Ecclesia of their internal influences when they refuse to change.

How Kingdom Leaders Deal with Accusations

Problem solving is a leadership dynamic. The wisdom to govern was the request of Solomon, for example, because he needed to make decisions and solve problems if he was to be king. Obviously, we are not kings, but we do represent the King as kingdom leaders.

As a kingdom leader, you deal with false accusations as a leader. I’m not talking about making this personal, because it is kingdom when a kingdom leader is falsely accused.

You cannot allow false accusations to take on a life of their own because you have authority and responsibility as a representative of the King. Saying, “Well, Jesus didn’t answer His accusers,” doesn’t fit the scenario if the false accusations our against your leadership assignment. Being passive is just another excuse to justify cowardice. On the other hand, dealing with the situation in fleshly anger, vengeance, unforgiveness, or pride makes your leadership response worse than the false accusation.

You don’t step back and allow someone else fill the capacity He has given you. You lead! And, if there is anything that makes you vulnerable to the false accusations, you make this an opportunity to step toward the flaw and become a better leader. You allow your life and leadership to stand the scrutiny of those to whom you are accountable even when the accusations are false. You will certainly discover another opportunity to be improved in this moment of testing.

“Do not listen or receive an accusation against an elder until two or three witnesses establish is validity.” [See 1 Timothy 5:19.]

This particular is usually ignored by people because they are so unaware of the principle, think they have the right to be part of the process when they have no leadership standing to listen, and because people simply love to diminish leaders in order to feel more important.

False accusations pretty much come with the territory of leadership. Some measure of blending usually occurs between accusations and false accusations. Seldom is the false accusation void of a twisting serpent’s tongue of deceit, using actual events, prevailing impressions, or available information.

I’ve been dealing with both accusations and false accusations all my ministry life, the “how to” of dealing with false accusations becomes part of leadership life.

Step 1 – Release the gift of forgiveness first, not after you get the facts or understand the motivations. Forgive. If you wait, you may get into denial as a means of dealing with the pain and neglect the fundamental responses of kingdom leadership. Forgive. If you do not do this first, your Father will not forgive you when you overreact or internalize your defense. You may step into anger, frustration, fear, or retaliation; so forgive first and short circuit the enemy’s offense trap. Forgive first so you have a completely forgiven heart before God.

Step 2 – Make yourself accountable to spiritual leaders who have the place and position to confront your true feelings. Make yourself available. Don’t wait to prepare your defense, and then call them in. Immediately, go to them and confess openly your perspective on the accusations with full expression of your authentic feelings about the situation. Don’t be afraid of expressing your true feeling with those to whom you are accountable. If you are required to cover up your true feelings, you may need a different accountability group. You need to “get real” about the situation to avoid receiving a wound or dropping into disgust or despair about the betrayal. You should run right to your accountability group.

Step 3 – Get the facts yourself. Lead so someone else doesn’t. You heard about the false accusations from someone, so find out what was actually said or is still being said. Never listen to someone’s drama queen or king presentation of gossip, the story of someone flying off the handle, or fall into knee jerking. Don’t jump to conclusions about the accuser’s motivations and the meaning of what you initially hear without getting the facts. Many “false accusations” are actually someone’s poorly produced complaint system at work, a cry for help, a tantrum for attention that you feed if you don’t understand what really happened or was actually communicated. Reality and truth always walk together, so get some of both.

Step 4 – Shut down the lineup of defenders who wish to pick sides to defend you before there’s anything to defend, who get into false accusations of their own to discredit the person or persons falsely accusing you. Don’t allow people who love you to get out of position, out in front of you, defending what needs no defense. Stop the feud before it becomes a feud, so the enemy doesn’t have the opportunity to feed the situation or control the agenda and message of the moment. Lead! Leaders lead in crises so someone else doesn’t gain leadership in their places. Be as aggressive as is needed, without anger or overt intimidation in our voice or behavior, but be certain that everyone realizes God’s representative will represent God in this situation, not some bozo on a ego booster high. Do not remove yourself from the situation unless your accountability group finds that this will be the next step in bringing a Biblical response.

Step 5 – Answer all false accusations at the appropriate level of exposure. Don’t make a private matter public; don’t leave a public matter to private discussion. The reach of the accuser’s communication is the scope of the leader’s response. The actual source of the false accusations is where you start. The wording of your response is not nearly as important as your heart in the matter. Seek to meet with the person or persons making the false accusations to see if they will retract or make it clear that their words were taken out of context or misunderstood, if that is the case. Try to avoid allowing them to lie their way out of the corner from which they falsely accused lest they simply repeat the behavior the next time they are angry or afraid. But, communicate your response without creating a sense of self-pity or victimization on your own part. Again, lead. Solve problems, as every leader is required to do. Seek to end the issue, put that thing in the grave, and settle it as much as is possible.

Step 6 – Establish some final definition to the relationships involved. Either the person responded to the opportunity to retract or clarify, and you can reset the relationship, or tragically, they chose to ignore every outreach of your leadership and must be identified for their behavior to protect the Ecclesia. Do this at the level of their communication; keep the scope as small as possible, but you must always settle the issue at the Ecclesia level when the person refuses to face the reality of such a serious misdeed. If the person or persons involved are not believers, the issue must be dealt with in a totally different way: in this article, I am speaking strictly of believers. If the believers do not acknowledge your leadership in this matter, other leaders must be involved to press for kingdom integrity. If that fails, you are left to settle the matter as best as you can and move on. since you have exhausted your leadership reach. Establish finality from that point of reference.

Step 7 – Establish closure in yourself, your family, and the other leaders in your scope of leadership so no residue of unsettled bitterness or unforgiveness clouds the atmosphere or leaves open doors to further hellish intrusions. As a leader, protect those you lead from unresolved issues so they don’t continue to process the situation without reaching a point of closure.

You will discover a great deal of dysfunction among kingdom leaders, and the most likely scenario of dealing with false accusations will find you watching other leaders accepting the false accuser in as a victim of abuse or “misunderstanding.” You will watch in dismay as other leaders justifying the accuser’s victimization with false mercy, placating them for being treated so unjustly and setting them up to repeat their behaviors. Other leaders will give them permission to be rebellious, even continue to speak the false accusation after it is obvious to those actually involved that it is a false accusation.

Do not allow the closure to be reopened once you’ve done all you can do. Let it go! Do not enter into accusation yourself against your accuser, but speak the truth in love. Do not operate in the same spirit, but don’t mince words about truth and reality. Allow the confrontation to speak for itself: the accusations are false, and the perpetrator of false accusations stands accused by his or her own actions. Don’t build a case and enter into a courtroom for punishment. Your goal is always reconciliation and restoration, but the people actually involved are the only one who can accomplish that process. So, if the process gets short-circuited, all you can do is all you can do.

Do not fear that this process will be repeated. Know that it will definitely be repeated, but do not fear it! Be ready to lead when it happens. That’s what leaders do.

Now, We War!

Why did Paul begin his discussion of God’s weaponry with a clear statement of whom we do not wrestle with? Could we discover in this statement, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood,” a first step to victorious warfare? Or, do we find here a statement that draw strong contrast with the methods, machinery, manpower, and meaning of spiritual warfare?

Isn’t Paul clarifying that believers don’t expect to win the spiritual battle with natural warfare? Doesn’t he make it clear that all the historic efforts to politicize the kingdom have missed the authentic kingdom warfare? Paul isn’t saying all natural warfare is wrong; don’t get me wrong – Paul isn’t an anti-war hippie, nor is Jesus. Nations have governments, and governments are given the sword by God to be a terror to them that do evil. So, war is a part of the struggle of nations on the natural level. Thank God the right nations won World War 2, for example, but also recognize that every war isn’t legitimate fulfillment of Romans 13 authorization: some nations are the source of terror and should be defeated by violent force when they use violent force, and they should be attacked, dismantled, defeated, and disarmed when their warfare is wicked, according to Romans 13.

However, our warfare isn’t natural. We aren’t hoping to amass bigger weapons to take over governments and conquer nations with bullets, tanks, missiles, and drones. We carry on a very different warfare with even greater historic potential for kingdom expansion!

Warfare in the Spirit

Paul uses the word, “pale,” to metaphorically describe warfare that he says requires God’s armor and produces more than a defensive position, rather an advancing and overcoming conquering of new territory. The word has the deeper meaning of “shake or vibrate,” and the meaning applies to “struggle, wrestle, conflict, and opposition.” The word is used by Plato to speak of getting your opponent by the neck by gaining a superior position.

Here’s the point: “victory comes from gaining position. “The translation of the word as “wrestling” may be a distraction for the point Paul makes, and we instantly start thinking of hand holds, throws, and leverage where we should be thinking about gaining a superior position from which to subdue the opposing force. We also err by assuming the application of “wrestling” is individual where it should be understood corporate.

God’s armor is Body armor, fitted to the entirely assembled Ecclesia, more than individualized armor fitted to each warrior. Paul describes what we do corporately in Ephesians 6.

The verb, “palo” is actually another form of the common word, “ballo,” which means “to throw, cast, rush, drop, or place.” We can see that the words denote activity, and in this sense, aggressive activity of the sort that can be associated with fighting, warfare, contention, contest, struggle, and battle.

Attack the Actual Enemy

Paul clarifies that we must battle with the principalities, not with flesh and blood, in this battle. Notice that I said, “In this battle.” Paul didn’t say, “You never have opposition from people.” Neither did Paul say, “You never enter into struggle or conflict with people.” And, Paul never says, “People are never your enemies.” We know, for certain, that we do have battles with people that people oppose us, and that people can be enemies.

The discussion Paul has in Ephesians 6, however, specifically details our conflict with spiritual conditions produced by the real enemies the produce those spiritual conditions: rulers, authorities, cosmic dominators of this darkness, who are the spiritual evil in the heavenlies.

Paul begins with this prophetic declaration and impartation: “Be empowered by the Lord and with His dominating spiritual power that overcomes all natural and spiritual conditions.” [This includes “dunamis, kratos, and ischuous.”] Standing thus in this condition of spirit, put on all of God’s armor so that you will have the capacity and power to stand against the devil’s methods.

Then, Paul describes who operates, from where, with these methods, to withstand, distract, deflate, defeat, wound, oppose, and even destroy us. So, we know that the devil designs and designates ways for his rulers to rule, his authorities to authorize, and his cosmic dominators of this darkness to maintain enslaving spiritual conditions. And, Paul says, “We are the ones who must win this battle.”

The “we” represents what is shared by those assigned by Jesus as the called together into assembly Ecclesia, to a place, at a time, where these evil representatives of hell oppose God’s representatives. We receive authorization to overcome in God’s power, through overcoming spiritual power to dominate the spiritual arena where these representatives of hell use the devil’s methods to maintain their dominion. We are in this thing together!

While a great deal has been made of the fact that armor is mostly defensive and the Sword of the Spirit is the offensive weapon, this ignores the fact that we need defensive armor because we are on the offense, pushing, pressing, charging, expanding, displacing, challenging, and overcoming the enemy! The idea that we are never offensive and wear armor to defend ourselves only when attacked completely ignores the message Paul is releasing, the lifestyle and ministry of Paul, and the mandate and mission of the Ecclesia!

We Fight on Offense, Not Defense

Nearly all my ministry life I’ve heard the same rhetoric about God’s armor being predominately defensive in application with the Sword being the only offensive weapon carried by the believer. Two things bother me about that repeated mantra: 1) God’s armor fits the Body of Christ and the picture given here has more to do with corporate armor than personal; 2) the only reason the believer wears God’s armor, to represent God in this battle, is because the believers are pressing, pushing, charging, combating, expanding, and displacing; the Ecclesia is on offense, not defense!

I’ve heard discussions of warfare that make me want to stand on the table and scream: “Do you have a Bible?” Mush mouthing and murmuring about “we aren’t supposed to oppose the devil or anything like that ’cause we are so wimpy and weak before the devil that we need to hide behind Daddy’s armor while He does all the fighting for us.” Intellectual honesty suffers from these devotionals on dereliction of duty.

We need armor because we are going to push the enemy off God’s land, push him back from where he has usurped, take territory and occupy it, and overthrow the rulers, authorities, and cosmic dominators who enslave the people in particular spiritual arenas applying the devil’s methods. We need armor because we intend to resist, pursue, overtake, overcome, and set up kingdom where hell has been in charge!

We aren’t called to passivity, weakness, and excuses to stay home and knit John 3:16 into our sweaters while hell takes our nation!

We need to get some blood on our hands swinging God’s Sword of authority and power at demonic opponents. We face the enemy because we are sent to pursue God’s purpose and run right into the usurping hellish hordes. We don’t back down and say, “Oh excuse me, I didn’t. Our spiritual violence is not just OK, it is demanded!

Jesus defeated the devil and destroyed his works. Now, we represent Him in enforcing His victory, challenging every entrenched opponent of His redemption, and taking back what hell has stolen. We establish kingdom “in the midst of His enemies” so He can rule in the earth.

Finally, let me say, that we should avoid “needless casualties of war” but never assume there will be no casualties. To insist that no believers get hurt or die, that no martyrs reach heaven for their faithfulness in the face of war is to blaspheme! I say, “To not go to war is to blaspheme the Power of the Cross, Resurrection Life, Ascension Authority, and Eternal Intercession of Jesus Christ!”

Live Right!

Consider the Bible mandate to live godly in this present age.

In order to successfully live out this mandate, “God’s grace brings salvation to all, teaching us through discipline to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions so that we live prudently, righteously, and godly in this present age.” [Titus 2:12]

While a host of false teachers and preachers have arisen to erase this idea from modern christianism, replacing it with false concepts of unconditional love and hyper grace, it appears that “salvation” is a process through which spiritual discipline strengths our wills and alters our behaviors. Grace enables us to live righteously, and this means behavior and lifestyle, not some nebulous “covering over my sinfulness that allows God to love me in spite of it all.”

Another pervasive assumption is that only death can position us to live right. Supposing that as soon as a person is born anew we shoot them in the head so they can be righteous, I suppose. As if the grace of God is really the mercy of God; a common misconception about grace is that it is mercy, the “time as opportunity” that God allows people to repent and produce right living. Grace is not mercy; it is the enabling power and capacity to do what God expects, strengthening the inner man through a process of passion pursuit, the man who is submitted to that process appropriating more and more of the enabling power of God in the moments when that submission is most tested.

Salvation that doesn’t teach us through discipline to live right is not the salvation of which the Bible speaks. Some consider the totality of salvation rescue to be “sins forgiven,” but there is much more to being saved than having our sins forgiven.