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Rules of Engagement

iraqwar.jpgThe Iraq  War has inundated our military forces with chaotic conditions on a daily basis.  When an innocent-looking ten-year-old boy may have a bomb strapped to his waist, no soldier can be too cautious about who approaches him.  Tragic situations have occurred because of the uncertainty of the enemy.  Fighting men are constantly reminded of the “rules of engagement”, that is, what is permissible in engaging the enemy and what is not.  

Lieutenant General Ron R. Vines who commanded the Multinational Corps Iraq in 2005 said the following about the use of force : “The loss of any innocent life - indeed, any life - is tragic. But we continually evaluate and investigate those, the loss of each life, to determine whether or not the rules of engagement were applied correctly, whether or not the rules of engagement are still valid, whether additional training would have precluded the loss of innocent life, whether additional equipment will do that. So we continually assess that.

“What we must never do is deprive a soldier in harm’s way of the ability to protect himself and his fellow soldiers. And so we’re not going to deprive them of that right, to make the decisions based on the threat they believe they have on the ground. So we will continue to do everything we can to provide them the best training that we can, the best equipment that we can and the rules of engagement that allow them to operate with maximum safety.”

Apostolics often find themselves frustrated by the battle of living for God, as though there were rules of engagement when fighting the devil. They pray, read the Bible, come to church, worship, give and get involved in ministry, and yet still seem to have a hard time. They wonder why they don’t have more joy, peace, love and other spiritual graces in their lives. Pastors often counsel with embattled saints until it seems that no stone is left unturned. They analyze issues, exegete scriptures, research books and magazines, and talk to colleagues. Still, certain problems persists.

The problem is that we fight the real battle in the realm of the Spirit, not on the level of human effort, human wisdom and understanding. Despite our intellectual grasp of the issues, we will not find comprehensive answers without spiritual insight and power. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12. We must engage, cognitively and spiritually, the forces that fight us in the realm of the spirit.

One wise man said that the devil would like nothing better than for his prey to deny his existence. We must not become obsessed with demons and devils, but neither should we push them off the radar screen. Jesus acknowledged their presence on numerous occasions without diverting glory or ceding superiority to them. He intended only to identify the source of opposition to his mission. Of the religious leaders who resisted his ministry, he said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44. With this statement and others like it, Jesus laid out the battle of spiritual warfare for the church.

We ignore the reality of this battle at our own peril. Opposing spirits will not respect human efforts, but will flee only as we wage spiritual war against them. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

For example, why do some people become jealous? Or why do others continually suffer from a heavy heart? Or why do still others fall into adultery? The scriptures reveal the origin of these conditions:

  • The spirit of jealousy. Numbers 5:14
  • The spirit of heaviness. Isaiah 61:3
  • The spirit of whoredoms. Hosea 4:12
  • The spirit of an unclean devil. Luke 4:33
  • The spirit of divination. Acts 16:16
  • The spirit of bondage. Romans 8:15
  • The spirit of the world. 1 Corinthians 2:12
  • The spirit of fear. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • The spirit of antichrist. 1 John 4:3
  • The spirit of error. 1 John 4:4

The operative word in each of these instances is spirit. Such unseen spirits often lie at the root of our problems. They stay one jump ahead of our fleshly analysis. Bible study and research are vital, but these elements of the battle defy understanding. Spiritual enemies must be attacked through spiritual means. Scriptures learned must be scriptures applied. The devil still trembles when the church falls to her knees.For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4

How can we be mighty through God? There is only one rule of engagement you need to remember—no holds barred! You can unleash the powers of intercessory prayer, fasting, boldly wielding the sword of the Spirit and separation from the world and its influences. We must adjust our thinking from the natural to the spiritual realm. Victory and revival burst forth from spiritual endeavors, not from human works. A church in prayer will become a church on fire.

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