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  7. By the Flesh or By the Spirit

Capturing America 
"By the Flesh or By the Spirit?"

  • "Let every person be in subjection to governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." (Rom.13:1) 

Many will agree that we are in the last days of the church's history before the day of the Lord's coming. Consequently, we are to be alerted to the Lord's Kingdom purposes for our nation and the world. In our country and throughout the world, evil seems to be abounding in an unprecedented manner.

The United States of America is fast becoming a nation lost and adrift from solid moral standards and ethical values. Evil is increasingly seen as good, and good is considered evil. Such a spiritual climate is dangerous as our values become polarized, creating a chasm between Americans. 

God declared through Isaiah the prophet,

  • "Woe to the people who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness" (Isa. 5:20).

When that happens, the Lord's attention is aroused, and His judgmental plumbline is set in place.

The mercy of God cries out that the perpetrators of such evil be restrained, lest their wickedness destroys those who are His vessels of righteousness and mercy. 

In contemporary society, Christianity and its virtues and values are being assaulted by the so-called "new morality of the new age." Man's opinion is becoming the sole measure by which we determine values, setting aside the Word of God. 

God is considered non-existent, irrelevant, or impotent to restrain man from the lifestyle of his choice. The concept of sin is thus discarded as an outmoded and naïve notion that has no place in determining personal or social values. Biblical scoffers malign the book they have probably never read and reject it as containing any absolute truth. 

The spirit of anti-Christ is working feverishly to promote anti-Christian values. This spirit influences society through movies, television, music, publications, the Internet, and countless other sources. Satan is attempting to seduce the church away from a pure and simple devotion to Jesus and a stable walk in the Word of God. 

Those with true hearts unto the Lord are trying to stay faithful to the Lord and His Word, but it is becoming difficult. Many are alarmed, confused, disoriented, and depressed as a result of unrelenting temptations and oppressions. Many are vexed in spirit to an unbearable degree. 

Consequently, many Christians are pressured to respond to this anti-Christians activity with some sort of action. But what activity should we take? What is causing this unprecedented flood of evil? What or who is to blame?

Let's Explore

Jesus was a simple man. He grew up obscurely in ancient Israel, a nation chosen by God to be a holy nation amongst the countries. It was distinctive because it was created by the One True God of the earth, unknown to the other nations. 

Jesus was sent to further declare God's unfolding purpose for all of humanity, prophesied by the Hebrew prophets. The success of His ministry and mission from God was critical to God's redemptive plan. Surely His words would be immortal and would truly reveal the way of righteousness and truth. 

In this crucial time in history, Israel was a nation that intently anticipated its coming Messiah. Its civilization was threatened, and its future dismal because of Rome's oppression. The Roman Empire dominated Israel with a heavy hand. Israelite culture was being destroyed by the influence of pagan Roman values and lifestyles. 

These values conflicted with those of the Israelites' God, as revealed in their scripture. Their liberty was choked, their God abased, their incomes were taxed, and their religion was manipulated to serve Rome's agenda and interests. Surely the Messiah would come and set them free from such unjust tyranny.

Now, Jesus came on the scene and revealed Himself to be Israel's long-awaited Messiah. He was a man of no distinctive social status, but He preached with an authority that even the most articulate scribe or Pharisee could not imitate. He preached passionately; they listened intently. 

Ironically to some, considering He preached prolifically but said little about the Roman Empire and its influence on Israel. He rarely spoke on political issues but of such things as sin, righteousness, and judgment. Jesus spoke of spiritual matters, and His words were with power as the Holy Spirit confirmed His Word with demonstrations of great miracles. 

He said God was His Father, He was His Son, and His sole purpose was to do His Father's will, obey His authority, and reveal His true nature. But the religious leaders of His day felt that He was not relevant and seemed to be missing the point.

Nothing was said about Rome's oppression. He did, however, speak against most of their religious activity, and He was often found in the company of sinners. He would do things that their religion said was unlawful. 

He did not involve Himself with most of their religious activity. Jesus cared little about impressing the influential, and He did not concern Himself with their religious and political agendas. Somehow, they hoped their Messiah would be a bit more "politically correct."  

The revolutionaries of His day repudiated His peaceful and non-violent teachings with His talk about love. They could not identify with His spiritual emphasis. Besides, He consorted with tax collectors and even brought them into His inner circle.

Taxes were a despised Roman oppression, yet He said nothing about them until confronted; then, He said to pay them. He said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's," seemingly telling them to bow to Caesar's authority. Well...this Messiah was not for them. You know the rest of the story. 

Almost two thousand years have passed, and God's people, the church, are waiting and watching for their Messiah. The time seems right, the problems acute, and surely someone needs to take control of our oppressive circumstances to deliver us from the culture of moral anarchy threatening our faith, lifestyle, and institutions.

It seems we need an intervention of some kind to change the course of events. As in Jesus's day, God's people need to be careful as to how we expect the Lord will come to us. Jesus was rejected by most of God's people because He came to them in a manner they did not expect.

Because of their preconceived ideas and expectations, and because they did not understand the true nature of their bondage and oppression, they rejected Him. 

They were not prepared for the day of their visitation. They made the mistake of seeing their captivity as political rather than spiritual. They viewed their shackles as social rather than personal. They hoped for a salvation that was of the flesh rather than what Jesus brought, a salvation that is of the Spirit. 

Today, the church is confronted with a similar dilemma. Already there is a spirit working in the church that appeals to our carnal way of thinking and attempts to convince us that our bondage is political rather than spiritual. For the most part, the bondages of the church are the same as they were for ancient Israel, that is, sin and sickness. 

Much of the unrighteousness of the world has crept into born-again Christianity. Backsliding is epidemic. And still, we in the church finger-point at the world for its unrighteousness and remain blind to our own self-righteousness, which is an equal abomination to the Lord. 

The Church looks for a soon-coming Lord while at the same time embraces worldliness, the spirit of entertainment in our worship, the love of money as well as other sins.

The scriptures tell us the love of money is the root of all evil. (1Tim. 6:10). Actually, this is the foundational sin of America itself. Such sins bring bondage.

In many ways, the love of the lust of the flesh and the eyes and the pride of life still lurks in our hearts. Unrighteousness and self-righteousness still have a foothold in the church today; as we would discover, should we scan all the denominational, nondenominational, and vast numbers of unchurched people who claim to be Christian. 

If we are the salt of the earth (the preservative), maybe we need to take some responsibility for the world's spiritual condition in our day. I believe it's time for us in the church to get on our faces, humble our hearts, and seek our God as never before. 

We need to stop and take the time to let the Holy Spirit examine our conscience and convict us of sin where necessary.

Prepare Now for the Lord's Coming

We need to confess our sins before the Lord and our brethren (with wisdom). We need to ask the Lord to create in us clean hearts and renew in us an upright spirit. We may not stop all our sinning at once, but if we get our hearts right, the rest of us should soon follow. 

Sin and sickness are truly oppressing God's people, not the political systems of men. Let's prepare ourselves now for the Lord's coming, whether it is any minute or through a great revival. We need new hearts to contain the Holy Spirit and truly shine as lights in the world. 

Let's start living a lifestyle of repentance; this is the true pathway to liberty...but we have a problem. As in the time of Israel, there is a view that our problems are outward, demanding an outward solution. 

Israel thought their oppression was by Rome, but Jesus identified it as the sin in their hearts. As in Jesus's day, many incorrectly perceive the problem.

The issue for the church today is still sin, righteousness, and judgment. But the point is being missed. Born-again Christianity is being mingled with political agendas because "something" has to be done. 

We are being seduced into believing that the solution is to change civil laws instead of human hearts. Creating good laws can be a good thing, but it can't change the disposition of an individual to be law-abiding, except through fear.

Some think the Kingdom of God is about gaining control of social institutions and imposing God's righteousness through the implementation of religious Biblical law, thus creating fear.

God wants us to be law-abiding because we love Him and have a healthy fear of God. He doesn't want us to be afraid of man. He saved us from the law because we couldn't keep it.

The radical fringe would go so far as to say we need to do away with American democracy and create a Biblical theocracy, by force of arms, if need be, all in the name of the Lord. 

Most Christians wouldn't agree with this, but a few can lead many astray; this is not what Jesus and the Bible are all about.

Such are misguided souls who would use their own strength and wisdom to birth an "Ishmael," instead of waiting on God to miraculously birth an "Isaac," which will be God's true solution to solve the problem in America.

The salvation of America is impossible through the arm of the flesh. It can only come by the power of the Spirit. 

The heart of the problem is the human heart, and changing hearts is what the new covenant and Jesus are all about. To resort to the arm of the flesh is to act in unbelief of the Word, and such a soul needs to seek the Lord to learn His true nature and the Holy Spirit's ways.

May we not be so naïve as to believe that the nation's moral problems should be fully blamed on the unbeliever. We Christians have our share of repenting to do.

As we vigorously debate who is wrong and who is right, we lose sight of the fact that we are all wrong. The truth of the matter is that only Jesus is right, and only His righteousness is acceptable to the Father. 

Only as we walk and talk in His righteousness and keep His commandments in scripture we can safely say we are right. 

True social change comes with revival, renewal, and restoration from the Lord by an outpouring of His Spirit. It is a result of Spirit-led prayer, worship, and obedience to the Word of God in simple faith in the name of Jesus. 

To be certain, we are under attack and are in warfare of a spiritual nature. To be certain, the failure to fight effectively in the spiritual realm is causing us legal problems and defeats our rights in the courts. But a move of God's Spirit upon the nation and effective spiritual warfare can change that all around. 

Our warfare is not political but spiritual. We are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the ruler of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high and heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). 

Jericho Needs to Be Taken

In an anti-Christ spirit, those who control political institutions, social institutions, corporate institutions, religious institutions, or any other type of social structure are controlled by demonic powers. They operate in heavenly places as they yield their hearts and minds to sin and all its bondages. 

Many of these principalities and powers are not just flying around in the atmosphere over this city or that. Rather, they are entrenched in the souls of men, thus bringing their power and authority to the natural realm and affecting human relationships. We are in warfare indeed. 

Man's carnal way was to muster up an army, take up arms, and lay siege to the city until they breached the wall. God's way was spiritual and quite unconventional, even absurd to the natural mind.

He had humble, believing, and obedient vessels with the presence of God in their midst walk seven times around the city, blow a trumpet and then SHOUT! The rest of the battle was God's as He flattened the walls of Jericho; then His people entered and took a very astonished city.

Demonic powers and spiritual entities, with spiritual power and authority, operating in heavenly places, some strongly entrenched in the souls of men and women who influence our political, religious, and economic systems, are the stronghold walls of Jericho to us today.

Their spiritual power is of the occult and can only be broken by the power of the Holy Spirit; this will occur as we find out from the Lord what He will have us do to bring about His divine intervention. 

In the old covenant, Joshua had to slay the city's inhabitants but praise God for Jesus Christ and the new covenant.

We get to save the modern-day Jericho's inhabitants (captive Americans and those of other nations) after the walls come down. The mercy of God will prevail and bring salvation, healing and deliverance to countless lives. 

Yes, the church of Jesus Christ is called to do spiritual warfare, thus breaking the power of these powers of darkness. As we walk in His righteousness and are led by the Spirit, He will show us what we must do to call forth His intervention to break and displace their sovereignty.

His tactics may be unconventional, even absurd to natural thinking, but the battle belongs to the Lord, and He fights the fight before us. All God requires of us is to show meekness of spirit and be quick to obey what He says to do.

However, to God be the glory; it will be Jesus's victory. Our faith and obedience will break occult powers, thus loosing people, institutions, and organizations from Satan's power. They will consequently come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. He came that He, and we with Him, would overthrow spiritual government.

The same people, institutions, and organizations will be able to be used of the Lord for His kingdom purposes. When we win the battle in America, we thus take to battle to the world. Jesus did not come o overthrow civil or religious government. He came that He, and we with Him, would overthrow the spiritual government.

Satan and his kingdom are our adversaries. We must take the warfare to the spiritual plane, thus breaking the powers of darkness, witchcraft, and occultism that control and energize the children of disobedience with their power and influence (Eph. 2:2).

These are the roots of the anti-Christian trend in society today. Violence must be used for certain, but it is Spiritual violence and not a carnal one. 

Jesus Christ is the Answer

Jesus said,

  • "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force" (Matt.11:12). 

A carnal interpretation of this scripture would seemingly lead people to think Jesus was talking about armed insurrection, but this is not the case. Otherwise, He would have joined the revolutionaries of His day but spoke about a violent spirit that refuses to bow to sin.

He was for violent faith, hope, and love that stands firm against and slays the darkness of unbelief, hopelessness, fear, and hatred. 

This tells of the violent use of the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, slaying all the vain lies of people's egotistical imaginations which exalt themselves above the knowledge of God. Thus, our warfare brings every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 

The fruit of successful spiritual warfare is joy, peace, liberty, and salvation for multitudes and multitudes. Even with its horrendous, oppressive bureaucracy, the federal government (i.e., the executive, legislative and judicial branches) is not our problem, nor the source of the solution.

The kingdom of darkness is our problem as it expresses itself through individual souls in all strata of society, including the federal government. 

The Holy Spirit is the solution. We will not conquer the Goliath of sin in America in the power of our own name and efforts, but by the power of God as God goes before us, and we attack in the name of the living God.

God's army is not carnal but spiritual. Our weapons aren't guns, but rather Spirit-empowered words. 

Jesus will conquer by loosing a spiritual army of humble believers led by the Spirit, obeying His commands, speaking His Word with governmental authority, renouncing sin, proclaiming righteousness, and pouring forth deliverance, healing, and restoration to love-hungry, sin-bound, and life-lost souls. 

Jesus came forth to liberate the beggar, the broken, the bound, the blind, and the bruised with His love and will do it again. The glory of the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2) rises upon those who fear and revere the name of Jesus at the end of the church age, which is now upon us. 

They will be set free to minister His corporate anointing through a corporate people, conformed to His image, bringing salvation and deliverance to people at the grassroots level of the common man.

God sees the rebellion and pride in the American heart, in both the Christian and the non-Christian. He intends to break that rebellion and lower that pride. 

I truly believe God intends to transform the character of this nation and place His glory upon it that she may be a shining city on a hill and a light to the rest of a darkened world.

God continues to unfold His Kingdom purposes before the Lord's return. Every mountain (the exalted man) will be lowered, and every valley (the humble man) will be raised; that the glory of the Lord will be revealed so that man can see the reality of God.

They will see Jesus in a people that have become like Him. They will see that God is love, and many, many will weep in true repentance as He reveals Himself as the lover of men's souls.

They will be given a new life and live with a changed morality as they are taught the way of righteousness and as the law comes forth from Mount Zion, teaching men how to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord in a world gone astray. 

He is the Word of God

No doubt troubled times are ahead, even persecution of the church, but it will only serve to bring believers closer together to become the bride Jesus so wants. 

So, Christians, let us stay balanced in our spiritual and political beliefs. It is not wrong to be politically involved, and we should do the best we can through the legal system. If we lose in the courts, it doesn't mean we are hopeless. But keep your eyes and hopes on Jesus because His salvation will come from heaven. 

Always look continually to the Lord. Jesus still reigns from His throne. Do not look to those who exalt their names and are proud of their strength and wisdom. Many religious anti-Christs will appear in the last days as prophesied by John (1 John. 2:18), and they will have strong deluding powers. 

An anti-Christ is anybody who says they are Christ other than Jesus. They would seek to deceive us, having us believe they are the answer to the world's problems. Listen to those voices that exalt the name and lordship of Jesus as the one and only Christ. We must know Him by the words He has spoken to us through scripture.

Saints, start seeking and exploring who He is by His words which He has spoken to us in the Gospels. Only then can we stay in truth. Sin is the problem in our nation; grace is the solution. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Only Jesus has enough grace to save the world, and He freely gives it to those who ask in a humble spirit. 

Let's look to the Lord to bring forth a new America that is the result of an outpouring of His Holy Spirit and the manifestation of a devoted, selfless, and dedicated company of believers who walk in grace, love, truth, righteousness, purity, wisdom, and humility. 

A people approved of by the Lord because He has already dealt with them in judgment in the secret place of their hearts and prepared them to carry His glory to the nations. Simply put, look to Jesus, truly knowing Him by His words in the Bible. 

Look to those like Him, who walk and talk in His righteousness as taught in the Bible, especially the commandments of the Lord from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5,6,7). 

Look to those who ever declare Jesus to be the only Christ. They will bring great joy and celebration because of the salvation of our God. Look to such as these. They will capture America's heart for Jesus, and she will never be the same again. 

Brian McGrath

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