We Must Live a Life of Holiness
In chapter twelve of the book of Hebrews in the Bible, the writer addresses our need to pursue peace with all people and to walk in holiness before the Lord.
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled”.(Hebrews 12: 14&15)
This word for “bitterness” in the Greek is translated “pikria” meaning “acridity (especially poison), literally or figuratively: —bitterness.” The word “trouble” is translated “Enochleō” meaning “to crowd in, i.e. (figuratively) to annoy: —trouble.” The word “defile” is translated “miainō” meaning “to sully or taint, i.e. contaminate (ceremonially or morally): —defile.” – Strong’s concordance.
The writer is warning us, don’t let any bitter or poisonous root come into your midst. Don’t let it spring up, crowd in and begin to bring trouble. Don’t let it sully, taint, contaminate or defile the holiness of Christ. He specifically warns against fornicators and profane people.
The word fornicator in this particular verse is translated “pornos” – meaning “to sell; akin to a (male) prostitute i.e. (by analogy) a debauchee (libertine): —fornicator, whoremonger.” The word profane here is translated “bebēlos” – meaning “wicked.” The writer goes on to use Esau as an example; how after despising (or deeming worthless or failing to esteem) his birth right (See Genesis 25:34) he sold it for a morsel of meat. Though later he sought the blessing that he had foregone with tears, he found no place for repentance.
“Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birth right. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears”.(Hebrews 12: 16&17)
The writer also warns us, to be “looking carefully” lest anyone fall short (“be deficient): —come behind (short), be destitute, fail, lack, suffer need, (be in) want, be the worse” – Strong’s) of the grace of God.
We Come to Christ for Help
The writer of Hebrews goes on to tell us, when we come to God in pursuit of His holiness, we don’t come to Him in fear, but we come to Him through the finished work of the cross; through the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, Who shed His blood on our behalf. That is why Jesus Christ is declared to be the mediator of the new covenant by the sprinkling of His blood.
“For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them any more. (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling).” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel”.(Hebrews 12: 18-24)
- This Jesus, this mediator of the new covenant, declares the power of the cross to be a completed work on our behalf.
- There is absolutely nothing that Christ has left undone.
- All our needs were made complete at the cross in advance.
- His power is able to free us.
At any point where we have fallen short; at any point where we have been unable to complete something or have left something undone; Christ has already completed it on our behalf. This means we come boldly to His throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”.(Hebrews 4: 14-16)
The Battle Takes Place in the Heavenly Realms
In the same chapter of Hebrews, the writer exhorts: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Hebrews 12:4 NIV)
But the Apostle Paul also warns us, that as believers in Christ, our warfare is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in the heavenly realm. for this reason, we are told both to take up and put on the whole armour of God, so that we may be able to withstand (“stand against, oppose, resist” – Strong’s concordance) in the evil day and having done all, to continue to stand (“abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present, set (up)” – Strong’s).
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”.(Ephesians 6: 10-13)
For each one of us to be able to walk in holiness before the Lord, we need to learn how to persevere in spiritual warfare so that in His Name we can overcome the powers of darkness around us.
Overcoming The Powers Of Darkness
When the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel were sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan, they came back with a report that the descendants of Anak were there. These descendants of Anak were giants, translated “nĕphiyl” in the Hebrew, or as “Nephilim” in the NIV version of the Bible.
“Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there”.(Numbers 13:28)
“There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight”.(Numbers 13:33)
These giants were not just a people group that the Israelites had to drive out of the promised land they were about to inherit, but were aligned with the demonic principalities and powers contained in that region. Genesis 6 tells us that giants came about when “sons of God” – translated “angels” in parts of the Septuagint and the dead sea scrolls (See also Job 1:6) went in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them.
“There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown”.(Genesis 6:4)
These verses tell us that the children born out of the union between the sons of God and the daughters of men, became mighty men of old; men of renown. The word “mighty” in this verse is translated “gibbowr” in the Hebrew, meaning “powerful; by implication, warrior, tyrant: —champion, chief, excel, giant, man, mighty (man, one), strong (man), valiant man.” The phrase “of old” in this verse is translated “`owlam” meaning: “properly, concealed, i.e. the vanishing point; generally, time out of mind (past or future), i.e. (practically) eternity; frequentatively, adverbial (especially with prepositional prefix) always:—alway(-s), ancient (time), any more, continuance, eternal, (for, (n-)) ever(-lasting, -more, of old), lasting, long (time), (of) old (time), perpetual, at any time, (beginning of the) world (+ without end) .” – (Strong’s Concordance). This meaning infers that unless destroyed, these giants had the potential to live eternally.
Giants continued to be mentioned in the Old Testament, but were given different names by the different people groups (See the people of *Moab and *Ammon in Deuteronomy 2:11 & 20, the kingdom of Og in Joshua 12:4 & 13:12; the valley of the giants (Rephaim) in Joshua 15:8 and 18:16; the perizzites in Joshua 17:15 and the Philistine giants in 1 Samuel chapter 17 (Goliath) and 2 Samuel 21:15-22 – including the brother of Goliath.
Fallen angels are also referred to in the New Testament of the Bible in the book of Jude 1: 6&7 and in 2 Peter 2: 4-8, where their judgement is mentioned alongside the judgement of the ungodly acts of those in the days of Noah and in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah – Who had “given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh” (Jude 1:7).
But Noah, a preacher of righteousness; and Lot, who was vexed by their wicked conduct, were removed from harm before these judgements occurred.
The Battle Belongs to the Lord
In the book of Second Chronicles in the Bible, is the wonderful true story of a major battle fought against some of these same people groups inhabited by giants. When king Jehoshaphat heard that the people of Moab, Ammon (See references given above*) and others with them besides the Ammonites were coming up to battle against them he was afraid and sought the Lord, proclaiming a fast throughout all of Judah.
“Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord .(2 Chronicles 20: 2-4)
As a people they sought the help of the Lord and because they knew the survival of the next generation was at stake, they came with their families, their wives and their little ones. Together they placed their eyes on the Lord.
“O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You. Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the LORD”.(2 Chronicles 20: 12 & 13)
As the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahanziel the son of Zechariah, the Lord spoke through him telling king Jehoshaphat and all the people: “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” 2 Chronicles 20: 15).
“You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you”.(2 Chronicles 20:17)
Preparing the Warfare of Praise
Just like king Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, there are times in our lives when the battle we are facing belongs to the Lord. In response to the word of the Lord the Levites and the children of the Kohathites and Korahites stood up to praise the Lord. King Jehoshaphat appointed those who should sing to the Lord, who would praise the Beauty of Holiness.
“Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high. So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.”.(2 Chronicles 20: 19 – 21)
The Israelites knew something about the power of praise in spiritual warfare. They proclaimed in advance the holiness of the Lord and declared aloud their expectation of what the Lord was about to do. As part of our warfare we too must look to the power of praise. For with our hearts we believe, but with our mouths our confession is made.
“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”.(Romans 10:10)
Whilst worship is the admiration of our hearts, praise is the exuberant expression of that heart of worship, expressed through our mouths in praise.
- It is given to man to approach the throne of grace ~ not light-heartedly, but in the power of praise.
- Though worship is the attitude of our hearts, our victory is won through the power of praise.
It was when the Israelites began to praise, that the Lord set ambushes against their enemies and their enemies were totally defeated on their behalf. Not one of the people of Judah lifted a hand in physical warfare.
“Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped”.(2 Chronicles 20: 22-24)
This battle was an exact representation of the anointing of Christ that comes to defeat our enemy and “do the work of deliverance” as we begin to praise His Name.
The Anointing of Christ Comes as we Praise
Our praise precedes the anointing. The Name “Jesus” in the Greek is translated “Iēsous” meaning “Jehovah is salvation.” The Name “Christ” in the Greek is translated “Christos” meaning “Anointed.” After Jesus had been tempted by Satan in the desert, He stood up in the Synagogue in Galilea to read from the Book of Isaiah.
“And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”.(Luke 4: 17-21)
Jesus was rightly declaring that this prophecy spoke of Himself and His ministry to those on this earth. So, when we lift up the name of Jesus Christ in our praise, that same anointing of Christ will come as the burden bearer of praise.
Praise answers the distress call of our hearts by releasing the burden of our hearts in the power of praise.
When the Lord gave me this article to write many weeks ago, without warning, I found myself engaged in major spiritual warfare because the enemy did not want this Word to come forth and change the lives of men. Intermittently I began battling major confusion and intrusive thoughts of fear and defeat. The Lord began to warn me that much sorcery was being practised against me and for this reason He instructed me to “saturate myself in prayer.” Other attacks came in the form of sickness and demonically inspired dreams through which I was being attacked and defiled, but each time I worshipped and praised the Lord, these attacks would always subside. The final victory came one morning as I quietly began to praise His Name at home. Being led by the Holy Spirit, I began to declare aloud the words “Jesus be enthroned.” As I began to repeat this phrase, the anointing from Christ came upon me and all of those demonic powers that had been working against me began to go in His Name, as I violently vomited them out. This whole process took maybe a quarter of an hour as I repeatedly praised and confessed His Name. At the end of this time the Lord told me I had been set free from those things that were holding me back and a beautiful peace from the Lord came.
DO NOT USURP THE POWER OF PRAISE
The anointing of God is a precious thing and not to be taken lightly, so what is the purpose of praise? It is to bind us to the author of praise (The Lord God). Our praise is extremely powerful in overthrowing the enemy’s plans because we bind ourselves to the one that we praise. We bind our minds to the mind of Christ and we bind our spirits to the Spirit of Christ. We do this in the Spirit of praise. But while the Spirit of the Lord will always bring freedom, He will never point to man as our source of help.
True peace and understanding will never come outside the source of Christ.
We are not to look to the anointing of man but to look to the power of praise.
Praise is not of man himself, but is a gift of God for the purposes of God and not to be given to another. If we give praise to another other than Christ, we usurp (illegitimately take the place of) the purpose of praise. When we usurp the purpose of praise we also usurp the power of Christ’s Name. There is much deceit in the praise of man and for this reason we must be very careful in the giving and receiving of praise.
“As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise”.(Proverbs 27:21 KJV)
“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but people are tested by their praise”.(Proverbs 27:21 NIV)
(Proverbs 27:21 KJV)We Must Trust in The Power of His Name
A number of years ago, the Lord gave me a dream in which He was showing me the need to trust in the power of His Name. In this dream I stood in a large traditionally built church auditorium as a group of witches began walking towards me. Though in the dream I knew these people were witches, they were dressed as ordinary women and men. As they began to approach me I began to point at them and loudly declare: “At the name of Jesus the enemy is rendered powerless.” Each time I gave strong emphasis to the Name of Jesus and as I said these words, the witches began to fall backwards. But as the dream progressed I began to grow weak, so that it became harder and harder to say these words. And as I began to have difficulty saying these words, the witches began to encroach. When I awoke from this dream, though I had been repeating a phrase, all that my husband had heard me say aloud in my sleep was: “The Name!” “The Name!” “The Name!” The Lord was showing me through this dream, that I had become weak when I lost the ability to trust in His Name. As I began to lose trust in His Name, I began to lose the battle that I should have been winning.
Transformation Comes As We Praise
Whilst some of the recent attacks coming against me had arisen from the sorcery of others, the Lord showed me that I had also needed cleansing from the fruit of my own lips. He then told me He would protect me from the curses of others if I would obey His Word.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”.(Proverbs 18: 21)
Jesus explained this very principle to His disciples: “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:11)
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man”.(Matthew 15: 18-20)
For this reason, James warns us:
“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”.(James 3: 8-18)
So, what is the power of praise?
To throw off the old garment, obtaining one that is new!
Like gold refined in the fire is the redeeming power of praise!
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”.(Romans 8: 1-4)