Recently, I’ve discussed with a few people about the four voices we must learn to discern, that of: God, self, the adversary, and godless influences. I heard this taught on several occasions and thought it would be helpful to revisit. I believe if we get any of these mixed up, we can have some major issues in our lives, where blessings become curses, and curses would be registered as blessings. This must not be so with us. In “A Portal Called Prayer”, we read about how God’s blessings come with no pain because we are to be conduits of His blessings, and not containers. How neglecting it would be if we started seeing God’s blessings as something from the devil, and we banished it from our lives, and others! But how tragic it would also be if we saw the blessings of God and thought it was earned by our own strength!
Why do I bring up the concept of the four voices?
Because without spiritual clarity, we can be 100% sincere, yet 100% inaccurate. This is the challenge with being and becoming individuals of passion. It’s that we can become passionate, yet distracted – yielding fruit of frustration and unable to serve in God’s kingdom at the level of effectiveness He designed us to operate in.
Distracted by what, you may say? Well, self, the adversary, and godless influences. We must be mindful that the distractions of the flesh aren’t dealt with in the same manner as distractions of the adversary. The Scripture gives us initiative to “[put to death] the deeds of the [flesh]” (Romans 8:13). In contrast, there is no Scriptural inspiration to “put to death” the adversary. Throughout the New Testament, believers and disciples of Jesus Christ are instructed to SEVERELY deal with the flesh. The flesh and its self-seeking desires are something that must die, be destroyed, be crucified, be enslaved, and be dissatisfied (Romans 8:13, Galatians 5:24, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Galatians 5:16).
Why such harsh dealings?
Because the flesh of mankind – that is, the self-seeking desires – will ALWAYS want to override the plan, will, person, and blessings of God in our lives. (For more on understanding the work of humanity’s flesh against God’s will, read “Humanity’s Problem With Love”, alongside “The Blessing of Losing Control”). On the other hand, when it comes to adversarial conflicts, we are COMMANDED to put up a fight, put on God’s armor, war in the Spirit, be aware, cast down, cast out, and resist (1 Timothy 1:18, Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Matthew 10:8, James 4:7).
I find it necessary to distinguish these two approaches because we can fall into a cycle of sin and defeat by dealing with the adversary how we are supposed to deal with the flesh, and dealing with the flesh how we are supposed to deal with the adversary. With the flesh, we are supposed to sever its influence, while with the adversary we ought to confront and defeat. It’s like a minister once said, “Nobody has yet ever cast out flesh. Devils are easy to cast out. But flesh takes years to train, sometimes”. Might I add, the disciples could cast out devils WITHOUT the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10). While it can be claimed that both battles require vigor, I want you to consider the fact that there is an area of the flesh that we definitely must not deal with, like we do the adversary.
The Scriptures command that we ought to FLEE fornication, idolatry, covetousness, and youthful lusts (1 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Corinthians 10:14, 1 Timothy 6:5-11, 2 Timothy 2:22). Apparently, there are youthful lusts and elderly ones. So what are youthful lusts? The characteristics that define adolescence typically fall under the pursuit of temporary pleasures and fame.
Consider this! Why does the Scripture tell us to FLEE these things? If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s because these are works of the flesh, not of the devil. Galatians 5:19-21 states, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery (characterized by temporary pleasures and a lack of faithfulness), fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings (works with seeking fame), murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”. I believe many times, we think we are dealing with devils, but we are really dealing with our own flesh. Therefore, we try to CONFRONT and RESIST our own flesh when we should really be FLEEING or HAVING IT DIE. I believe this is so vital to living a victorious life in Jesus Christ. The adversary finds an anchor in our lives via the flesh’s self-seeking desires, because the flesh is the greatest enemy of God’s work in our lives (Romans 8:7). In Galatians, Paul denotes the works of the flesh, but John, in 1 John 3:8, breaks down the works of the devil. And guess what? JESUS HAS TAKEN CARE OF THAT. It is affirmed in Colossians 2:14-15, how Jesus spoiled principalities and powers, humiliating them through the work of His cross. What WE must do is surrender OUR will to God’s Spirit that we may destroy the works of the flesh, also putting to humiliation the works of the devil through OUR own cross.
From these discoveries, I have learned more about how the flesh is a much more present challenge than any devil is; and that people fall into the same sin because they try resisting, when they should be fleeing. Similarly, people don’t have breakthroughs in God’s kingdom because they flee the devil, and not resist him. So what’s the major consequence of living out this revelation? We end up realizing that WE CAN confront and defeat the adversary, bringing him under our feet. WE CAN tread on serpents and scorpions and NOTHING shall by any means hurt us. I challenge you to reevaluate how you process the thoughts and voices you face, because we have a vast liberty to conquer through Jesus Christ. What are you fleeing from, that you ought to be resisting? And what are you resisting, that you ought to be fleeing?