The Reality of the Spirit Realm

The Men of Steel looked into this topic; how often do we wrestle with God?

  1. The Enemy within Me
  2. God Sparing Your Life
  3. Refuse to be a Target
  4. God Wrestles with You… Alone
  5. Why Does God Wrestle with Men?
  6. The Reality of the Spirit Realm

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. — Ephesians 6:12

I’m doing a funeral this Saturday morning at 11:00 and so I began thinking about life and death issues this week. Just what is man, and why is God mindful of him? (Psalm 8:4) This world is not all there is.

There is a world about which many of us know nothing about or of which are even aware, but it’s real, and I’m not talking about the Matrix. While skeptics may doubt it, it is more real than the world we can see, touch, taste, hear, or feel. It is the realm of the spirit.

The most real part of a person is the spirit inside. Men often seem to think the real part of them is their body, but no matter how much you build it up, dress it, or feed it, you are not first and foremost a body. You have a body, but you are a spirit. Your body is a temporary home.

Men also have a soul. From my research, the soul area of man is where most of the problems occur; this is the area of the mind, the emotions, memories, appetites, and desires. The mind of man, including the mind of the Christian, is often trapped between the physical and the spiritual—flashbacks to memories of the former life in the flesh can fill the mind. The result can be a tremendous wrestling match with each force, spirit and flesh, trying to dominate the other. In fact, it is only when a man receives the Word of God and allows it to transform his mind that he is able to save his mind from the shackles of the flesh.

There’s more to the spirit realm. Demons are disembodied spirits. They don’t have a body, and they don’t have a soul—they have no mind or will of their own. Their will is totally subjected to the enemy. They are vessels and carriers of Satan’s nature. They are filled with his desires, his lusts, his passions, and his unclean thoughts.

Because demons don’t have bodies, they are seeking one to inhabit. They are seeking a vehicle through which they can express their lusts and passions for evil.

Jesus once said to Peter, “Behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31). The King James Version says that “Satan desires to have you…” He was basically saying to Peter, “Satan desires to possess you, to have you, to dominate you.” Men know what it means to lust after a woman in order to have her. I think that’s the way Satan looked at Peter. He lusted after him, that he might completely take Peter’s mind and body—to satisfy his cravings through him. Satan’s demons desire the same thing regarding you…

  • To use your body, your temper, your lust, your passions.
  • To work through the broken places of your childhood to fulfill your starved desires.
  • To possess you so that he might sift you.

I would guess that before Satan makes a move to have you, he studies you. He learns all he can about you—your moods, your attitudes, your background, your past hurts and painful memories, your private desires.

He’s like a stalker. You’re under surveillance, and he’s watching for an opportunity to move in to take you. He longs to possess, dominate, control, rule over, and act through you.

That’s the reason you must walk closely with Jesus. Cling to Him. Become a disciple of Him. Never believe that you can make it on your own strength. David—one of the bravest and most capable men who ever lived—cried out to God, “Hide me under the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 17:8.) Ask God to tuck you under His wings… which is the only place you will ever feel fully secure.

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Why Does God Wrestle With Men?

The Men of Steel looked into this topic; how often do we wrestle with God?

  1. The Enemy within Me
  2. God Sparing Your Life
  3. Refuse to be a Target
  4. God Wrestles with You… Alone
  5. Why Does God Wrestle with Men?
  6. The Reality of the Spirit Realm

Last time I wrote about Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32:24) because wrestling is a man thing, lots of testosterone. I regularly listen to a syndicated Christian radio station called K-Love, and they play a song called By Your Side by a group named Tenth Avenue North. Here are the lyrics:

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying, let me lift up your face
Just don’t turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough
To where will you go child, tell me where will you run
To where will you run

‘Cause I’ll be by your side, wherever you fall
In the dead of night, whenever you call
And please don’t fight, these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world’s sin, so I could carry you in
And give you life, I want to give you life

What does this have to do with wrestling? I sense this song pictures us wrestling against God, while He wrestles with us to help us realize that we need Him more than we could ever imagine. As men we are often striving, trying, and fighting the hands holding us.

I suppose that God also wrestles with us so that we will discover what we are made of. He already knows what He created us to be and He knows what we’ve done with His creation. He’s waiting for us to discover who we are, so He wrestles with us so we will know His power and our weakness, His wisdom and our error, His strength and our frailty.

God wrestles with us to make us realize that we are wasting our lives; that we are mistreating our wives; that we really aren’t the “greatest” or the center of the universe.

God wrestles with us to make us see that we need to persevere and not quit in life, our jobs, our marriages, our spiritual lives, or our church.

God wrestles with us until we face the facts. He doesn’t sugarcoat what He has to say. He wrestles with us until we admit, “Yes, I’m unstable. Yes, I’m making excuses. Yes, I was wrong.”

God wrestles with us so that we will start searching for Him and hunting for what He wants us to find. Man is a hunter by nature. God’s commands to the first man were to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion … over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

To subdue means to control or conquer, to have dominion means to maintain one’s conquest. Deep inside of men is the need to subdue, the need to conquer, the need to track down and bring something into dominion. There’s a hunter inside every man.

  • We may be hunting for a contract or business deal.
  • We may be on the hunt for a woman.
  • We may be hunting for the perfect new house or car.

Sometimes we don’t even really want what we’re after; we’re just hunting because it is our nature to hunt. Fishermen often catch fish, unhook them, and throw them right back. They say, “Look what I caught,” and then they toss that fish back into the lake. That doesn’t make the man any less a fisherman. It means that he is merely fishing for the sport of it, not for dinner. He is just “hunting.”

Unless we allow God to step in and give us the right goals and guide our “hunting” instinct, we can spend our entire life hunting for the wrong things. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). He promised that if you seek for it, you’ll find it. (Matthew 7:7). I hope that the Men of Steel can help each of us navigate through this thing called life.

God Wrestles with You… Alone

The Men of Steel looked into this topic; how often do we wrestle with God?

  1. The Enemy within Me
  2. God Sparing Your Life
  3. Refuse to be a Target
  4. God Wrestles with You… Alone
  5. Why Does God Wrestle with Men?
  6. The Reality of the Spirit Realm

I am still fascinated and challenged by the wrestling match between God and Jacob, the father of the twelve sons of Israel (Genesis 32:22-28).

I feel that God encounters men in a lonely place where He can deal with us personally. He wants to be alone with us, rather than in the context of cliques and clubs that can keep us from hearing Him at all. When God gets a man to the point of dealing with the deep issues of life, He does so one-on-one. It’s just you and God.

Ask yourself, “Who are you really?” When nobody’s looking … when you aren’t “prepared,” when all the camouflage has been removed, when you don’t have an ego to defend or anything to prove, when you aren’t concerned about your status? Who are you?

When God is ready to do open-heart surgery, He brings you to an “alone” place. Nobody invites a guest into an operating room, and neither does God. His work on you will be done in private.

When God begins to move in your life, you may feel very uncomfortable. I believe the first response of any man at that time is to surround themselves with more people. We feel restless, frustrated, and lonely in our spirits. We feel a greater need to have somebody with us, to protect us, shield us, walk with us, and encourage us. We will soon discover that the presence of other people doesn’t meet the deep longing we have. The loneliness and restlessness we feel in our spirits is God’s call on our lives. He is reeling us in for our one-on-one encounter with Him.

  • You can be surrounded by people … and still be alone.
  • You can have sex with your wife … and still be alone.
  • You can have dozens of close friends … and still be alone.
  • You can have hundreds of friends on Facebook … and still be alone.

It’s like we finally admit that we are lonely and need something that other people can’t provide, and then we discover we need Someone to fill a part of us that nobody else seems to be able to fill—that’s when God steps in.

I suppose that when we feel alone, it means that somebody we thought we could count on for protection has disappeared. We feel isolated, separated, and alone. When we feel left alone, our hope is usually that someone will come along and comfort us. In fact, we expect that “comfort” is what a loving God would do to a man who is left alone. But God says that He is not coming to comfort us, but to confront us. God came to challenge Jacob, and to wrestle with him (Genesis 32:24). Jacob’s first reaction was, no doubt, “Oh, no, not You too!”

  • Everybody is wrestling me.
  • My wife is wrestling with me.
  • My children are wrestling with me.
  • My boss is wrestling with me.
  • My creditors are wrestling with me.
  • My co-workers are wrestling with me.
  • My church is wrestling with me.
  • My own mind is a wrestling match.
  • And now, You, too, God?

The Bible says that the wounds of a friend are faithful (Proverbs 27:6). A true friend is one who “wounds” you for a good reason. What he says may hurt you, but in the end, it helps you. What he does may seem painful to you, but in the end, you’ll thank him for doing it because it was for your own good.

A good friend doesn’t agree with you all the time. No matter how brutally you object, a good friend will stand right up in your face and say “You’re still wrong.”

You don’t have real help until you have someone who will confront you about what needs to be changed in your life. That’s why I feel strongly about Men of Steel. We each need other men to stand up to us, and to force us to face our sin, to confront us about our lies, to make us uncomfortable about our bad habits, to move us away from mediocrity, to challenge us toward excellence. I value your participation each Saturday! I pray that each of us will find another man in whom we can invest our lives, and that someone else will seek to invest their life in us.

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Refuse to be a Target

The Men of Steel looked into this topic; how often do we wrestle with God?

  1. The Enemy within Me
  2. God Sparing Your Life
  3. Refuse to be a Target
  4. God Wrestles with You… Alone
  5. Why Does God Wrestle with Men?
  6. The Reality of the Spirit Realm

Men, if we don’t confront our frailty and capacity for sin, we will always have a target on our back, just ripe for the enemy to shoot his flaming arrows into and make us fall – Ephesians 6:16. Beware guys; this is another depressing post about being on your guard against the enemy. This is part three of the wrestling match series.

I read a great book years ago called, Ordering Your Private World. Years later the same author wrote another book called, Rebuilding Your Broken World. The basis for the first book was to help Christians order their lives in such a way that they live on purpose and for God. The second book was written after the restoration process the author went through due to a moral failure. He mentions the one thing he could never see himself doing was committing adultery… and that’s what took him down. A prominent pastor and author did not see himself as vulnerable to the enemy’s attack.

We need to admit to ourselves that we are vulnerable. There’s something in every man of steel that acts like kryptonite, which has a sole purpose of bringing each of us down. If you don’t believe that you can commit a certain sin, you remain vulnerable to it. Why? Because if we are so sure we will never do it, we never set up safeguards against it. Without safeguards, you are vulnerable to any sin.

  • You never thought you could get that angry.
  • You never thought you could get that aggressive.
  • You never thought you could have an affair.
  • You never thought you could be that weak.
  • You never thought you could be addicted to porn.
  • You never thought you could be an alcoholic.
  • You never thought you could leave your family.
  • You never thought you could be that hurtful.

For many men, they never thought they could… so they did. You’ve got to look square in the mirror and say to yourself, “I could commit every sin.” Whatever your problem may be, there’s always a problem behind your problem, and the Bible calls that problem sin.

  • What is it that makes a 40 year old married man try to act like he’s 20 and single?
  • What makes a man try to drown his trouble in alcohol or illegal drugs?
  • Why does a man need to prove himself by doing daredevil stunts?

It’s called our sin nature! This is the part of you that wants to do the bad stuff rather than what is right. When we accept Christ, this old nature is trying to fight back for control in your life. But it is this sin nature that is supposed to be put to death while we are made alive in Christ – Galatians 2:20. If we continue to sin, it shows where our loyalties really lie – 1 John 3:8.

If you’ve messed up… forgiveness is ready for all who submit to Christ, putting their faith in Him and allowing His Spirit to help us to repent of our sin. It’s a conscious effort to repent, which is to turn from sin and turn toward God. Remember that He is ready and able to forgive – 1 John 1:9. Restoration of relationships takes more time, because while we are forgiven for our past sin, the consequence of our sin may remain for a long time.

I’m glad that you are a part of the Men of Steel. It shows a commitment to being the best man that you can be, for God’s sake, for your wife’s sake and your kids’ sake.

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God Sparing Your Life

The Men of Steel looked into this topic; how often do we wrestle with God?

  1. The Enemy within Me
  2. God Sparing Your Life
  3. Refuse to be a Target
  4. God Wrestles with You… Alone
  5. Why Does God Wrestle with Men?
  6. The Reality of the Spirit Realm

Years ago at a youth conference (anybody remember Bill Gothard’s Institute for Basic Youth Conflicts?), anyway, I saw a “campaign” button that read, “PBPWMGINFWMY.” Confused? It stood for, “Please be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet.” Men today need to listen to that advice. We want to be fixed, and want God to do it now. But the problem is that it has taken so long to develop the habits that have made us as “lame” as we are that it is going to take a whole lot of time to undo what we have built and start fresh on a new foundation.

Men, none of us has arrived. There is always more work to be done, more home improvement that can be accomplished, more areas in life that could be made better… don’t think so? Let’s go visit your wife! She will likely come up with a bulleted list, or pull out the hidden list she has been working on since you came back from the honeymoon!

God needs to work on each one of us. That should not surprise any man when he takes an honest look at himself… desiring to be the best husband and father he can be for his family’s sake. With all the mistakes of life, we should be grateful that God has kept us alive long enough so He can continue to work on us, in us and sometimes in spite of us. I’m personally grateful for what He has poured into me over the years.

Perhaps you can see God’s hand on your life. He’s brought you through some events in life that made you wonder why He ever saved you? Maybe at some point you were driving home drunk, just an accident waiting to happen… maybe you were arguing with your wife, just on the verge of getting physical… maybe you were friendly with a woman at the office and the flirtatious invitation to get a bite to eat after work was a bit too tempting. God was there, even when you did not realize it.

Some men are grieving over having already fallen, but remember God was still here, ready to forgive and help you get back on the right path. He continues to have you in His grasp. Pray as we have been directed in the Bible, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).

If God had not been merciful to us when we were sinners, we’d all be dead! Some men have been through so much that they are amazed that they are still alive. Other men would have self-destructed much earlier. Some men get depressed too easily. Others become discouraged too easily. A few become suicidal too easily. Men need to reach deep inside to find their inner Rambo! Put on your camouflage face paint, tie a bandana around your forehead, and grit your hunting knife in your teeth… it’s time to fight! Fight the enemy whose sole purpose is to see you fall. Seeking biblical support for all this fighting? Check out 1 Timothy 6:12, and 2 Timothy 2:3-4.

I am reminded of another man, in the Bible, whose life was spared… the wrestler, Jacob (Genesis 32:30). This is the story where Jacob wrestled with “God” all night, and he eventually dislocated his hip in the process. Jacob came away with a limp, but he also came away a changed man; this event had a spiritual impact on his life. The point is that Jacob needed God. His name meant “deceiver” or “swindler” and he lived up to it. His brother was out to kill him for his treachery. But God was not finished with Jacob yet. His name is changed to Israel, which is the name that is echoed throughout the Old Testament, representing the people to God, specifically the twelve tribe of Israel.

Are you ready to rumble? God has brought you this far for a purpose. He wants to spare your life, if only we will submit to Him. How often have you found yourself wrestling against God, and after it was all over you were amazed that your life was spared? Change may not come quickly, but hang in there; God is not finished with you yet.

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