1 John 1:5
God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all
Nobody loses control to Satan overnight; it’s a gradual process of deception and yielding to his subtle influence. It is my observation that no more than 15 percent of the evangelical Christian community is completely free of Satan’s bondage. These people consistently live a Spirit-filled life and bear fruit. The other 85 percent are struggling along fruitlessly at one of at least three levels of spiritual conflict.
First, a believer may lead a fairly normal Christian life on the outside while wrestling with a steady barrage of sinful thoughts on the inside: lust, envy, greed, hatred, apathy, etc. These people have virtually no devotional life. Prayer is a frustrating experience for them, and they usually struggle with interpersonal relationships and a problem-filled thought life. Most Christians in this condition have no idea that they are in the middle of a spiritual conflict. Approximately 65 percent of all Christians live at this level of spiritual conflict.
The second level of conflict is characterized by those who are plagued by condemning evil thoughts and strange “voices” which seem to overpower them. They wonder if they are mentally ill. Yet the majority of Christians at this stage still fail to see their struggle as a spiritual conflict. Approximately 15 percent of all Christians fall into this category. Most of these people are depressed, anxious, paranoid, bitter, or angry, and they may have fallen victim to drinking, drugs, eating disorders, etc.
At the third level of conflict, the individual has lost control and hears voices inside his mind which tell him what to think, say and do. These people stay at home, wander the streets talking to imaginary people, or occupy beds in mental institutions or rehab units. Sadly, about 5 percent of the Christian community falls victim to this level of deception and control.
I don’t say these things to frighten you but to encourage you to walk daily in the light. As you walk in the light, you need not fear the darkness at any level. Every child of God can and should be free in Christ.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I choose to walk in the light today and set aside the sinful thoughts and deeds that so easily entangle me.
By Neil Anderson
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
“If our identity in Christ is the key to wholeness,” you may ask, “why do so many believers have difficulty with self-worth, spiritual growth and maturity?” Because we have been deceived by the devil. Our true identity in Christ has been distorted by the great deceiver himself.
This deception was brought home to me a few years ago when I was counseling a Christian girl who was the victim of satanic oppression. I asked her, “Who are you?”
“I’m evil,” she answered.
“You’re not evil. How can a child of God be evil? Is that how you see yourself?” She nodded.
Now she may have done some evil things, but she wasn’t evil. She was basing her identity on the wrong equation. She was letting Satan’s accusations of her behavior influence her perception of identity instead of letting her identity–as a child of God in Christ–influence her behavior.
Sadly, a great number of Christians are trapped in the same pit. We fail, so we see ourselves as failures which only causes us to fail more. We sin, so we see ourselves as sinners which only causes us to sin more. We’ve been sucked into the devil’s futile equation. We’ve been tricked into believing that what we do makes us what we are. And that false belief sends us into a tailspin of hopelessness and defeat.
Don’t be deceived. You are not a product of what you do or don’t do. You are a product of who you are in Christ and His work on the cross. You are not saved by how you behave but by how you believe. God’s Word assures us, “Beloved, now we are children of God… And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2, 3).
Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that my mind will be renewed by Your Word today so I may overcome the old, fleshly programming I have believed and lived by.
By Neil Anderson
2 Corinthians 2:11
For we are not ignorant of his [Satan's] schemes
We generally agree that Christians are vulnerable to the enemy’s temptation, accusation and deception. But for some reason, we hesitate to admit that Christians can lose their freedom and can surrender to demonic influences. However, the evidence of Scripture is abundant and clear that believers who repeatedly succumb to Satan can come under bondage.
Demonic control does not mean satanic ownership. You have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb, and not even the powers of hell can take your salvation away from you (1 Peter 1:17-19; Romans 8:35-39). Satan knows he can never own you again. But if he can deceive you into yielding control of your life to him in some way, he can neutralize your growth and your impact in the world for Christ.
Since we live in a world whose god is Satan, the possibility of being tempted, deceived and accused is continuous. If you allow his schemes to influence you, you can lose control to the degree that you have been deceived. If he can persuade you to believe a lie, he can control your life.
The term demon possessed never occurs in the Bible after the cross. We lack theological precision as to what demon possession constitutes in the church age. But don’t come to any conclusion that you can’t be affected by Satan. We are more a target than we are immune to his strategies. However, we have all the sanctuary we need in Christ, and we have the armor of God to protect us.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the armor You have provided to protect me from Satan. Keep me aware of his schemes today and help me resist him in the power and authority You provide.
By Neil Anderson
2 Peter 2:9, 10
The Lord knows how . . . to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
The apostle Peter reveals two ways by which we can identify false prophets and false teachers who operate within the church. First, they will be involved in immorality of some kind, indulging “the flesh in its corrupt desires.” They may be discovered in illicit activities involving sex and/or money. They may be antinomian, claiming that God is all love and grace so we don’t need to abide by any law. Their immorality may not be easy to spot, but it will eventually surface in their lives (2 Corinthians 11:15).
Second, false prophets and teachers “despise authority” and are “daring, self-willed.” These people have an independent spirit. They do their own thing and won’t answer to anybody. They either won’t submit to the authority of a denomination or board or they will pick their own board which will simply rubber-stamp anything they want to do.
There are historic leadership roles in Scripture: prophet (preaching and teaching), priest (pastoring and shepherding), and king (administration). Only Jesus in His perfection is capable of occupying all three roles simultaneously. I believe we need the checks and balances of a plurality of elders in the church, distributing the three critical roles to more than one person. No one can survive his own unchallenged authority. Every true, committed Christian in a leadership role needs to submit himself and his ideas to other mature believers who will hold him accountable.
We need spiritual leaders like those described by Peter: “Shepherd the flock of God among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock” (1Peter 5:2, 3). Are you praying for your spiritual leaders to be conformed to God’s standard of leadership or yours?
Prayer: Great Shepherd, protect me from irresponsible spiritual leaders, mere “hired hands” who run away in times of crisis, instead of shepherds. Give my pastor a true shepherd’s heart.
By Neil Anderson
Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name
It was an eye-opening experience for the disciples to discover that the demons were subject to them in Jesus’ name. Subject ( hupotasso ) is a military term meaning “to arrange under.” It pictures a group of soldiers snapping to attention and following precisely the orders of their commanding officer.
Perhaps the disciples suffered under the same misconception which blinds many Christians today. We see God and His kingdom on one side and Satan and his kingdom on the other side. Both kingdoms seem to be very powerful, and here we are, stuck in the middle between the two, like the rope in a tug of war. On some days God seems to be winning and on other days the devil appears to have the upper hand. And we don’t seem to have anything to say about who wins the battle.
But the disciples came back from their mission with a new perspective, a true perspective. Spiritual authority is not a tug of war on a horizontal plane; it is a vertical chain of command. Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18); He’s at the top. He has given His authority and power to His servants to be exercised in His name (Luke 10:17); we’re underneath Him. And Satan and his demons? They’re at the bottom, subject to the authority Christ has invested in us.
Why, then, does the kingdom of darkness exert such negative influence in the world and in the lives of Christians? In a word, the lie. Satan is not an equal power with God; he is a vanquished foe. But if he can deceive you into believing that he has more power and authority than you do, you will live as if he does! You have been given authority over the kingdom of darkness, but if you don’t believe it and exercise it, it’s as if you didn’t have it.
Authority is the right to rule based on position. You have the authority to do the will of God because of your position in Christ. It’s an authority you could never have independent of God, so you need to remain dependent on Him to live victoriously.
Prayer: I praise You, Lord, for the inexhaustible supply of power to defeat the enemy which You have provided for me in Your Son, Jesus Christ.
By Neil Anderson
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God
Being in Christ, and all that it means to Christian maturity and freedom, is the overwhelming theme of the New Testament. For example, in the six chapters of the Book of Ephesians alone there are 40 references to being in Christ and having Christ in you. For every reference to Christ being in you, there are 10 to you being in Christ. Being in Christ is the most critical element of our identity.
But we weren’t born in Christ. We were born in sin, thanks to the first Adam. What is God’s plan for transforming us from being in Adam to being in Christ? We must be born again (John 3:3). Physical birth only gains us physical life. Spiritual life, the eternal life Christ promises to those who come to Him, is only gained through spiritual birth (John 3:36).
What does it mean to be spiritually alive in Christ? The moment you were born again your soul came into union with God in the same way Adam was in union with God before the Fall. Your spiritual union with God is complete and eternal because it is provided by Christ, the last Adam. As long as Christ remains alive spiritually, you will remain alive spiritually–and that’s for eternity.
Contrary to what many Christians believe, eternal life is not something you get when you die. You are spiritually alive in Christ right now. That’s how you got to be in union with God, by being born again spiritually. You’ll never be more spiritually alive than you are right now. The only thing that will change when you die physically is that you will exchange your old earthbound body for a new one. But your spiritual life in Christ, which began when you personally trusted Him, will merely continue on.
Salvation is not a future addition; it’s a present transformation. And that transformation occurs at spiritual birth, not physical death. God’s Word promises, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12). Eternal life is something you possess right now because you’re in Christ. Believe it. Rejoice in it.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that my eternal salvation is a present-day reality. I rejoice in this wonderful security and assurance.
By Neil Anderson
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
The reason so many Christians are not enjoying the maturity and freedom which is their inheritance in Christ is because they hold wrong self-perceptions. They don’t see themselves as they really are in Christ. They don’t understand the dramatic change which occurred in them the moment they trusted in Him. They don’t see themselves the way God sees them, and to that degree they suffer from a poor self-image. They don’t grasp their true identity. They identify themselves with the wrong Adam.
Too many Christians identify only with the first Adam, whose sad story of failure is found in Genesis 1-4. Sure, you inherited physical life from Adam. But if you’re a Christian, that’s where the similarity ends. You are now identified with the last Adam, Jesus Christ. You are not in Adam; you are in Christ. You are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6). The difference between the two Adams in your history is eternally profound. You need to be sure you’re identifying with the right one.
The first thing we notice about Christ, the last Adam, is His complete dependence on God the Father. The first Adam was tempted to live independently of God and chose to believe the serpent’s lie about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Jesus was totally dependent on the Father (John 5:30; 6:57; 8:42; 14:10; 17:7).
A second vital difference between the two Adams relates to spiritual life. Adam was born physically and spiritually alive. But when Adam sinned, he died spiritually. Like the first Adam, Jesus was born spiritually alive as well as physically alive. But unlike the first Adam, Jesus did not forfeit His spiritual life at some point through sin. He kept His spiritual life all the way to the cross. There He died, taking the sins of the world upon Himself. Now in His resurrected, glorified body, Christ lives on today and for all eternity.
Are you identifying with Jesus Christ, the last Adam, today?
Thank You, Father, for the last Adam–Jesus Christ–through whom I am saved and sealed. I purpose by Your help to live in my true identity today.
By Neil Anderson
Colossians 2:6, 7
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith
Some Christians believe that walking by faith means being carried along by a mysterious, ethereal, indescribable inner sense called “faith.” But the walk of faith is much more practical and definable than that. Walking by faith simply means that you function in daily life on the basis of what you believe. Your belief system determines your behavior. If your behavior is off in a certain area, you need to correct your belief in that area because your misbehavior is the result of your misbelief.
“But how can I know what I really believe?” you may ask. Take a few minutes to complete the following statements as concisely and truthfully as possible.
I would be more successful if . . .
I would be more significant if . . .
I would be more fulfilled if . . .
I would be more satisfied if . . .
I would be happier if . . .
I would have more fun if . . .
I would be more secure if . . .
I would have more peace if . . .
Whatever you believe is the answer to these statements constitutes your present belief system.
Assuming that your basic physiological needs (food, shelter, safety, etc.) are met, you will be motivated in life by what you believe will bring your success, significance, fulfillment, satisfaction, happiness, fun, security and peace. If what you believe about these eight values does not line up with what God says about them, your walk of faith will be off to the same degree that your belief is off.
Prayer: Father, enable me to grow in my understanding of Your Word today so my faith-walk will be strengthened.
By Neil Anderson
But go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice”
I used to ask my seminary students two questions: What attributes, strengths and characteristics would you look for in a person with whom you could share your deepest personal problems? Would you be willing to commit yourself to become that kind of person–someone others could confide in?
The essential prerequisite for a Christian counselor is to become the kind of person with whom others feel confident in sharing the problems of their present and past. Christian counseling doesn’t require a college degree, although those who counsel professionally can be greatly helped by receiving Bible-based training. Whether you sit on the platform or in the pew, whether you sit at a desk in a counseling clinic or at a dining room table, God can use you to minister to people with problems if you are compassionate.
You can’t really help a person unless you hear his whole story, and you won’t hear it unless you are the kind of person he can trust. People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Compassion is not a question of learning a professional technique; it’s a question of Christian character and love.
Counseling seeks to help people deal with the present by resolving conflicts from the past. Many of these conflicts relate to areas of bondage where Satan-induced strongholds have been erected in the mind. People cannot grow and mature because they are not free. The goal of Christian counseling–whether done by a pastor, a professional counselor, or a friend–is to help people experience freedom in Christ so they can move on to maturity and fruitfulness in their walk with Him.
Prayer: Lord, increase my compassion so I can be an effective counselor of others. Keep me from jumping to self-righteous conclusions.
By Neil Anderson
2 Corinthians 3:17
The Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty
The Spirit-filled walk is neither characterized by license nor legalism, but liberty. Paul stated that we are “servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life . . . Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:6, 17).
I believe that our freedom in Christ is one of the most precious commodities we have received from our spiritual union with God. Because the Spirit of the Lord is in you, you are free to choose to live a responsible and moral life. You are no longer compelled to walk according to the flesh as you were before conversion. And now you are not even compelled to walk according to the Spirit. You are free to choose to walk according to the Spirit or to walk according to the flesh.
Walking according to the Spirit implies two things. First, it’s not passive. We’re talking about walking in the Spirit, not sitting in the Spirit. One of the most dangerous and harmful detriments to your spiritual growth is passivity–putting your mind in neutral and coasting. The Christian classic War on the Saints , by Jessie Penn-Lewis, was written to combat such passive thinking. Sitting back and waiting for God to do everything is not God’s way to spiritual maturity.
Second, we’re talking about walking in the spirit, not running in the Spirit. The Spirit-filled life is not achieved through endless, exhausting activity. We mistakenly think that the harder we work for God, the more spiritual we will become. That’s a subtle lie from the enemy. Satan knows that he may not be able to stop you from serving God by making you immoral, but he can probably impede your service by simply making you busy. Our service for God can become the greatest detriment of our devotion to God.
Prayer: Lord, I desire to walk according to the Spirit today at Your pace, not sitting passively through inactivity or running myself ragged by becoming too busy.