Sunday, July 03, 2005

Michael’s Example

.... The Book of Jude contains the story of Michael, in his own spiritual warfare with Satan:

.... "Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

(Jude 9)

.... In revisiting spiritual warfare, two points may be made from this passage. First, we are not to rail upon the devil as so many Christians do. It is unfitting to call him names, belittle him, taunt him, etc. In fact, the context of this quotation shows that railing on demons and sneering at them is the preeminent trait of a false teacher, who has no idea what he’s talking about:

.... "Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves."

(Jude 8-10)

.... Michael is mindful of the fact that Satan was originally a very high creation; and whatever he became afterward, that original part of him remains and does not warrant our disrespect. So in following his example, we need to leave the personal pejoratives out of it.
.... For our second point, let’s contrast Michael’s statement to our modern concept of spiritual warfare. When we feel ourselves tempted, or when we've participated in a prayer group, etc., we’ve all been taught to say, "We rebuke you in the name of Jesus!" Yet Michael approached it differently, saying, "The Lord rebuke you!"
.... This difference illuminates a vital point at the heart of the entire contest:

.... "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

(James 4:7)

.... In this passage, Michael is acting as a spokesman. He has clearly submitted to God, heard from Him, and has passing along God's message. In other words he spoke from a place of submission, and the real warrior in this case was God.
.... In our modern approach, when we say to the devil, "We rebuke you in the name of Jesus!" we have technically submitted to the Lord, because we have spoken in His name. And yet . . . is that really where our heart was at? Or has this phrase become a formality, a reaction, and might it be true that we’ve learned to delight in the spiritual conflict itself now?

.... ‘Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven".’

(Luke 10:17-20)

.... Jesus is telling us about a subtle danger in our spiritual warfare. Our hearts can be caught up in it very easily, as warriors of old who gloried in the battle. It is mysterious. It is action-packed. It is enticing. Because of this, it can become a focus in itself – and when this happens, our eyes are taken off of Him.
.... As often as we engage in spiritual warfare, we must be certain to keep our heart on the things that are above, where Christ is (Col 3:1). We must always speak from a standpoint of submission to God, in which we are hearing His voice. Like Michael we must learn to become spokesmen, and follow the Lord as our captain, rather than our trying to lead Him.

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