Our call as the church to resist the Devil is not dependent upon what we [i]do[/i], but what we [i]are[/i]. It is something in the [i]character[/i] of the church. Our victory will be related to the quality and continuous character of the fellowship itself. So long as there is any surrender or condescension to the wisdom of those powers, for example, fear, intimidation, threat, concern for ones life and security, then the powers have a place of penetration. When they see a people who are resolute in their faith, and know that their security does not come from the world, or from their employer, or from the State, but from God, then the powers are without any weapon. There is nothing that can be attacked.
Paul and Silas imprisonment in Acts 16 is a wonderful demonstration of the wisdom of God. At midnight they were praying and singing praises unto God. They believed that their suffering was the very consequence of their obedience, and that even though only one woman was affected by their ministry, they were in the place of obedience to the heavenly vision. It did not matter whether they would lose their lives or not, because that was not the issue. They had such a deep faith in the sovereignty of God, and the privilege of sharing in His sufferings, that they rejoiced, and it was expressed in praise.
When you can praise God in the midst of adversity and suffering, you have the most powerful release from the powers of darkness. They cannot stand it, or bear to hear it, and they flee, because it is the overwhelming evidence of the reality of the invisible God. It contradicts their wisdom which says that when you are suffering, you are to be mourning, pouting, feeling sorry for yourself, blaming God, and accusing this man or that. But when you can praise God in the midst of your sufferings, you have ruined them. You have taken their last weapon, and they have nothing they can use anymore to threaten or to intimidate. You have broken through onto a heavenly ground. They are absolutely helpless to adversely affect you, and so they are required to flee.
The one thing that the powers of darkness are required to acknowledge is authenticity the thing that is real. I am an enemy, therefore, to what seems to be real in worship and praise that puts such emphasis on musical ability, on instruments, on loudspeakers, on electronic technology, on song and on worship leaders. One of my greatest battles as a prophetic person is with worship leaders. Oftentimes, it happens that I have a speaking engagement, and by the time the worship is over, I am completely depleted and drained. I get up and it is a pathetic beep next to what I knew the Lord was wanting. The worship, so-called, that should have enhanced the word actually [i]robbed[/i] and blunted it. There is so much emphasis on worship that almost makes the success of the church depend upon it. "Did you enjoy the worship?" instead of it being the spontaneous expression of the redemptive work of God in the life of the believers, personally and corporately.
Jesus endured all of His suffering for the [i]joy[/i] that was set before Him, in the anticipation of what would be the consequence of His suffering for eternity. This is the wisdom of God, because rejoicing in suffering is a contradiction. It is contrary to reason and [i]everything[/i] we think natural to man. What is natural to man is survival, "Take care of number one." But the wisdom that can rejoice in suffering is another wisdom, and it is that wisdom which defeats the powers. It is the greater wisdom, but it is not enough just to speak it. It has got to be made manifest, to be demonstrated, by a church whose inner life is itself her proclamation of Gods manifold wisdom. Whether she speaks it or not, the very inner life itself is that thing. It becomes that through trial, through testing, through the Lord allowing oppression, heaviness of spirit all of the kinds of things against which we have to struggle and work out in our relationships. It is becoming one as He is one, in all of the differences, all of the personalities, all of the things that come up that take the guts out of you, where you want to run and find the first Charismatic and Evangelical fellowship you can, just to be relieved from the tension of all of these demands. It is in those tensions, however, that God forms [i]His[/i] character.
[b][u]The Manifold Wisdom of God[/u][/b]
I have already hinted at it manifold wisdom of God that is to be demonstrated by the church. It is the very antithesis of the wisdom of the rulers of darkness who celebrate force, violence, brutality and power. God celebrates weakness, foolishness and humility. God has chosen the foolish and weak things to confound the things that are mighty and wise. Are we majoring in foolishness? Are we willing to suffer the humiliation of weakness? Or are we reflecting more the wisdom of the powers themselves, and therefore constitute no threat to them at all? If we have any intentions of becoming an apostolic presence upon the earth, we will not only incite against ourselves the persecution of these powers, it will also be of an unspeakably vehement and cruel kind. It has historically been so, where men are not merely put to death, they have been flayed alive, sawn asunder and burnt at the stake. There is a particular kind of viciousness, cruelty and diabolical hatred that fumes in mankind against God, and wants to make those who are [i]His[/i], surrender and give up to [i]their[/i] terms. But instead, it gets another response, namely, those who love their enemies, and who pray for their persecutors, and say in their dying breath, [i]"Lord, do not hold this sin against them."[/i]
When Stephen sighed his last breath with those words, the eternal power of that statement broke something in the powers of the air overhead that released a certain angry Jew (Saul), who experienced a prick against his spirit on the road to Damascus to which he finally had to surrender. Something happens when meekness and humility meet utter viciousness. It is a demonstration of the manifold wisdom of God that these powers are obliged to recognize. For nothing else can impress them than the very nature of God and the holiness of His character under supreme duress and pressure. What is more, only suffering and extremity reveal it.
Is that not what happened on the Cross? Jesus did not writhe and groan to preserve His protoplasmic life. He [i]yielded[/i] up the ghost, uttering the words, [i]"Father, forgive them,"[/i] but they were heard by a certain Gentile man, a Roman centurion. He was a professional brute, a man schooled in murder and who had seen many squirm and die on the Cross, and had spat at them in disdain and contempt, for they were only men clutching their lives. But when he saw [i]this[/i] God-man die magnificently under extreme duress and pain, words broke forth out of his mouth, even beyond his consciousness, [i]"Truly, this was the Son of God!"[/i] He had no Biblical background whatsoever, but he was compelled to make a certain recognition of the true identity of that One who was on the Cross, by what was exhibited in His ultimate suffering unto death. And it would not have been revealed [i]except[/i] at the Cross, and [i]except[/i] in a suffering unto death. However brilliant Jesus was as the Son of Man and the Son of God in what He spoke and the miracles that He performed, it required [i]this[/i] as a final and ultimate demonstration of the testimony of who He was and is. It constituted salvation for a man who would have otherwise eternally perished as a murderer himself, unless the acknowledgment came out of him that this indeed was the Son of God.
As Jesus walked, so also are we to walk in this world. God is waiting for one final demonstration that shall penetrate to the very heart of the cosmos itself, a demonstration through the church in the fulfillment of the eternal purpose of God. Verbally and doctrinally, we have agreed with the wisdom of God, namely, to serve Him and to love Him, but in the condition of our lives, and the way in which we conduct ourselves in the office, in the home, in bed or by whatever area of our life, we more or less consistently subscribe to another wisdom and another way. Manipulation, teasing, seduction, and flattery all seek to bend the will of another, and are therefore evil. We are actually subscribing to the wisdom of the powers of this world, bowing and serving their gods, and doing according to their works.
How we shall react under extreme duress and persecution is the issue that is before us now. Our little impatient moods, our critical spirits, and our irritation with one another, are already evidence of how little prepared we are for this final confrontation. The very things that we have complained about in the church, namely, the trials and the irritations that come to us from other saints, are exactly the provision of God for the shaping of His godly character in us. God is wanting to move us to that ultimate place of response, that when the ultimate persecution comes, we shall stand graciously and exhibit the wisdom of God. We shall demonstrate the triumph of the Cross, and by the eternal Spirit, we shall offer ourselves up, as Jesus did in that final moment. The eternal Spirit was offering up God Himself, so that in the ultimate moment in His trial and suffering, the demonstration that was being made to the powers was the demonstration of God being [i]all in all,[/i] and bringing to the core of the cosmos His quintessential Self.
When that same demonstration shall come from the church, the triumph will be complete, and the powers demolished. This is the eternal purpose of God for the church. The phrase to be crucified with Christ is not for us an option or a luxury, but the very basis for our overcoming. For once we have experienced [i]that[/i] death, and risen to newness of life, then of what shall we be afraid? This is a call for maturity, for a church to come into its fullness, according to the eternal purpose of God, which He has intended for us, and for which He has created all things. There is a purpose for our being beyond ourselves and beyond the earth, and that affects the ages to come. May we [i]see[/i] our calling, and rise up to meet it, and receive every difficulty, trial and experience that comes into our life as coming from Gods hand. This will give us a new view toward suffering, and a much more realistic anticipation of our future persecution�not something for which we should mourn, but something in which we rejoice at our privilege and high calling, eternally in Him.
[url=http://web.archive.org/web/20041101092929/www.benisrael.org/OnlineBooks/apostolic_foundations/princ_powers.htm]Chapter 3 - Apostolic Realities: The Principalities and Powers of the Air [/url]