by Carl H. Stevens
Bringing mankind into the realm of truth is the most difficult task for God to perform in our midst. Often when God is moving in an amazing way, people become familiar with the supernatural because they have become familiar with the natural. For example, I notice that no matter how the Spirit of God moves in a service, people react very naturally at the rap session that follows. I’m not condemning anyone – this is natural. But within eight to ten minutes, the room is filled with so many voices that I can’t hear myself think.
If I were to go to a session with a lot of women, I doubt very much that I could hear one person speak. I don’t mean this to be offensive to women, but I doubt you could hear a person speak unless you were right next to her. If someone were to say, “Let’s pray,” no one would pray, and there would be no Spirit-filled prayer.
After I have preached a good message, some people come up immediately and say, “Pray for me; I’m in trouble” – even after a deliverance service! What is wrong in the hearts of individuals? It is natural to be natural; but, it is unnatural to have a supernatural intervention from God quietly.
The average person in every congregation is a forgetful hearer. Within ten to thirty minutes after going out the door, most people become forgetful listeners. Do you know why? It is because we’re dealing with the natural disposition as it is affected by Satan’s atmospheric cycles.
The Great Adversary
“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).
When God says “let thy words be few,” He means it.
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is a folly and a shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13). People are often so anxious to talk that they will interrupt before you’re finished speaking. They can’t wait to tell you how they feel and never hear your thoughts. They have an insatiable desire just to talk for the sake of talking. Matthew 12:36 calls it “idle” conversation.
If I am going on a long trip, I like to bring people (when God allows me to) who are not afraid of silence. We may talk for hours; we may not. But I prefer to be with people who do not become insecure in the midst of silence. Let your words on earth be few. We don’t always have to talk, sounding like animals in a zoo.
An educated Christian will study to be quiet, but will speak words of wisdom in season. He will study to be quiet, only expressing words of wisdom to those whom God directs him to.
Satan’s Rank and Organization
Satan is second only to God. This is why in Jude 9, Michael, one of the highest ranking angels in the heavenly host, would not deal with Satan but said, “The Lord rebuke thee.” Michael deferred to the order of God’s authority.
Satan takes advantage of your natural life, your natural feelings, and your natural preferences. Too many people make evaluations when they know nothing about what they are evaluating; others express opinions through ignorance. Satan is quick to take advantage because he is highly skilled and, in the universe at this hour, second only to God.
A very intelligent, skillful, confederated host form Satan’s government, his kingdom, and his army. He has specialists in every department of human endeavor and skilled operators in every field of human exchange. The Bible calls him the god of this world’s system (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). He is referred to as Beelzebub, Belial (the evil one), Satan, the devil, the great red dragon (Revelation 12:3). He is the attorney for the world system and the accuser of the brethren – the one who separates through discord. He is the roaring lion, likened to the king of the jungles, because he is constantly seeking whom he may devour.
Satan is our great adversary, yet the average Christian does not know him. People will fight with each other this week because they don’t know their enemy. People will be paranoid this week because they don’t know their enemy. They will say things before they go to bed or think certain things, not knowing the source of what they’re thinking. It is a mystery of the mind.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord…” – stand in His kingdom, under His dominion; “…and in the power of his might” – in His ability manifested to you (Ephesians 6:10).
Bondage to the Old Nature
Every Christian should know that Satan is his personal adversary. Satan likes to use our old sin nature to spread his spirit into high places against leaders in the church. The devil attacks prominent places, where there is a Word of God revival. He wants as many people as possible to be in bondage to the old sin nature so he won’t have to work; he’ll just let them reap the problems that come from their old nature.
Satan deals with us through the old sin nature to take advantage of us in five areas: our needs, wants, relationships, circumstances, and environment. He uses the old sin nature with regard to natural affections within a family and with people who are proud, stubborn, and impatient. The devil uses the old nature against Christians in relationship to the world system, which includes the liberal government, the liberal media, religion, and people who would cheat and deceive you.
Marrying the World
Beyond confronting people with their old sin nature, Satan tries to get people to function in his system of evil by drawing from each other. For instance, an inadequate person will draw from the proud person to promote himself above someone who is weak but following God. These people join together in a conspiracy, combining their efforts to fight against true spiritual authority that is delegated and given by God.
Satan uses the atmosphere for the purpose of having the Christian’s old sin nature “marry” the world – in situations where you work, going to cocktail parties, having illicit sex. You can mark this down: Those who practice immorality will go to hell and burn forever. No one who practices immorality will go to heaven unless he repents and forsakes his sin. I can’t make it clearer than that.
You say, “But, I thought I was saved by grace.” If you are practicing immorality, you never received grace. The Bible says in Galatians 5:19-21, Revelation 21:8, Mark 9:42, 44, 46, and Matthew 5:28-32 that if you are living in immorality, you will go to hell and stay there forever. That’s a promise. The best thing to do with that sin is to repent and never go near it again. I gave you the verses – look them up.
You say, “But I thought I was eternally saved!” Sure, you’re eternally saved if your life is revealing God’s Finished Work. But the question is, were you ever saved to begin with? People who have been truly saved are eternally saved, but if they fall into sin, they will be so chastised that they are persuaded to repent. Chastisement has a way of persuading people to repent.
Are You Saved?
Anyone who practices drinking is a drunkard, and the Bible says he will go to hell. The pathological liar will go to hell. A person who lives in fear all the time will go to hell. That’s what the Book says:
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
There won’t be one lesbian in heaven, not one. There won’t be one homosexual in heaven, not one. If I live in the characteristics of these sins, obviously I am not saved. It’s one thing to fall and rebound, but if these sins are my life, then I am not saved.
Galatians 5:19-21 catalogs a number of sins and teaches clearly that those who practice these things “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The original Greek text plainly reveals that two of the sins listed deal with fornication and perversion.
If you know some people who are practicing these sins, I want to tell you that they are not saved! I cannot make it any more clear. I hope this doesn’t take away your joy, but I do hope it makes you a realistic, honest person.
Because of chastisement, a person who is saved and lives in one of these sins will be so miserable that they’ll say, “I don’t even enjoy thinking about this sin. I don’t want it. I repent, God. Now, let up with the chastisement.” This is what will happen if a person is eternally saved. No Christian will live in the characteristics of sin when he is truly saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and living in the light of God’s Word.
Letting the Word Have Dominion
Satan takes advantage of people to make them poor and to make them feel insecure. He takes advantage of them to put diseases upon them and make them sick.
After hearing revival messages, I can guarantee that some people get negative because they are forgetful hearers. The Word of God was not received because the soil of their hearts was not prepared in meekness.
Listen, what I am after is some God-loving, God-fearing, Bible-loving, Holy Spirit-following Christians who will let the Word have dominion in their lives – Christians who will listen with care, tenderness, and compassion; Christians who will listen in faith, hope, simplicity, and humility; Christians who will respond in faith and follow Christ in love, led by the spiritual power of God’s principle of divine guidance. We need people who can stand in the Lord.
Worn Out by Negativity
In Revelation 13:7, Satan was against the saints, trying to wear them out (Daniel 7:25). If I understand this, I won’t make negative confessions after God’s Spirit has come in and moved in a service.
When water came into the boat, the disciples said, “Lord, save us: we perish” (Matthew 8:25). That’s negativity. How can you perish when Jesus Christ, the One who made the oceans, is on your boat?
When Jesus said He was going to the Cross to die, Peter rebuked the Lord, saying, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22). Peter didn’t want to hear a Cross message, just like a lot of Christians today. When it comes to the Cross, many Christians say, “Pastor, where’s the grace message?” That statement reveals negativity.
Jesus Christ met with the disciples before He died. There, Mary broke an alabaster box of ointment and poured it on His head, filling the room with fragrance. But in Matthew 26:8, the disciples were indignant and said, “To what purpose is this waste?” That’s negativity.
After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples gathered in the upper room behind locked doors because they feared the Jews. They were filled with fear and negativity. By the grace of God, I will not be that kind of Christian.
God wants us to be whole, free from the dominion of sin and delivered from the power of sin – living in the power of grace, loving in the power of righteousness, following Christ in the power of the Spirit, listening to the Word of God with concentration, and following Jesus Christ in the application of truth.
Victory is Normal
God wants us to understand that victory is continual for a child of God; a life of victory is the normal way to live. Confessing the truth about Christ is normal. Building people up in Christ is normal. Believing God is normal. But Satan takes away the normal (which is really supernatural) and tries to stop the application of truth, so he deals with people in the natural realm.
Living clean is normal, now that I have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. For me, to be healthy and well is normal. For me, to have power over sin is normal. For me, victory in prayer is normal. I am the child of a supernatural God who is Number One in my life.
Know Your Enemy
We must know our enemy. In Luke 14:28, what person would build a building without first sitting down and counting the cost to see if he has what is needed to finish the job?
What leader going to war would not first sit down and consult to see whether his army of ten thousand can beat the enemy who has twenty thousand (Luke 14:31)?
In the same context, Jesus said, “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:33-35).
Do you know what this passage is saying? The area that I am not crucified in is the area that I am not normal in my victory. The area where I haven’t forsaken the flesh is the area I have given Satan a place, so I can live in the natural realm.
What does it mean to forsake all? Forsaking all has nothing to do with selling your property – you need a house. Forsaking all has nothing to do with giving everything away. It means to have an attitude that agrees that all things belong to Jesus Christ, and you are a custodian with a purpose to glorify the Master.
Exposing the Liar’s Defeat
Let’s look at the amazing principles of Satan’s cycles. He does not want people to have relationships through the Cross. Satan wants people to have relationships through the air that do not include the Cross.
Satan cannot stand it when God’s people really believe who they are. When we believe that Jesus Christ is in us, we go forward making amazing progress in the process of grace. We go forward in humility, meekness, and power. We go forward into Satan’s territory, exposing his lies.
Satan always lies. He lies about your health and your future. He lies about your needs and wants. He lies about your self-esteem and about what has happened in your past. He is always lying, trying to keep you from realizing that Jesus Christ has come to give you an abundant life. The devil tries to take advantage of insecurity to make people fear what is going to happen tomorrow. He’s the father of all lies. He’s a liar!
Why the Obedient Suffer
My God will meet all my needs. My God will give me health as my soul prospers, unless His purpose is for me to fellowship with His sufferings and to glorify Him in the angelic conflict. It is possible that I may need to fellowship with Christ in a trial in order to have a capacity to help others in the future. I may need to suffer with Him so He can build a stronger capacity for my future call. These are reasons why I might have to suffer willingly.
If I’m not to suffer for those reasons, however, then God will give me good health, help me to prosper, and give me a life of victory – provided I know my enemy and know my God, who is over the devil and has defeated him. Satan wants to keep God’s people from implementing the fact of his defeat, and he does everything in his power to stop Christians from making his defeat publicly known.
I’m not going to be a whiner and say, “Oh, I’ve had two bad days.” I’m a saint of God, and I am a victor. I am living on the ascension side of Satan’s defeat! I’m living on the resurrection side of his defeat! I’m living on the forgiveness side of his defeat. I’m living in the power of victory over his demons. My victory as one individual will expose what Jesus Christ did to them because I’m just a sinner who needed all of His grace. I will need that grace forever in order to reveal God’s victory over Satan.
Decisions For Victory
Our relationship with God involves personal decisions. No one else can make these decisions for us. We have to take God’s Word and make personal decisions to implement Christ’s victory, or we will implement Satan’s lie.
I can picture Satan saying to his demons, “If we don’t watch out, that Christian is going to reveal our defeat to a whole group of people. Until someone reveals our defeat, let’s make believe that we’re not defeated! We can spread lies about situations and circumstances. If we can get Christians to be negative and whine, to live in yesterday (which is gone forever), or to worry about tomorrow (which may never come) – if we can just get them to live in other dimensions, apart from resurrection victory, then they will implement our lies, and no one will know we’ve been defeated!”
What night this week are you going to whine about something that happened? Will you go to your bedroom and cry again? Why not jump up and down and shout about your victory? Try praising God by living on the side of the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Blood, with the great High Priest and the great Advocate. Live on God’s side and expose the devil. Tell the devil, “You’re a liar! a liar! I will operate in the Truth.”
Beware of Counterfeit Wisdom
Satan has a program to counterfeit God’s wisdom. Wisdom is unusual. Wisdom is knowing God’s Word and applying it – practical understanding with practical application.
Satan, however, has a wisdom that is from below. His wisdom is filled with envying and bitterness. It’s filled with memories of everything anyone has ever done to you. James 3:15 says that the wisdom from below is “earthly, sensual, devilish.”
This counterfeit wisdom is first earthly (epigeios in the Greek text) but it is wisdom. Regarding its orderly nature, it is an intelligent, objective presentation according to earthly standards.
If a person isn’t delivered from earthly wisdom, that wisdom is transferred to the soul and becomes psuckikos – soulish, or, sensual wisdom having objective understanding and intelligent reasoning.
Finally, this wisdom becomes daimoniodes, devilish, which means the soul’s capacity for life is demonized. This person is still a Christian, born again, but he functions in wisdom from below. He has a strong ability to speak objectively about his “differences” in the power of his wisdom, but it comes from mental attitude sins – envying, bitterness, and comparison.
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be in-treated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). Wisdom from above is filled with meekness.
Satan has counterfeited wisdom, the individualization process, doctrine, relationships, services, and preaching. He has even counterfeited grace and prayer. Satan is the great counterfeit, but remember: In the order of authority he is second only to God.
He counterfeits your needs by communicating impulses to your central nervous system, making you confess to the atmosphere what you “think” is true about your need. The “need,” as well as the confession, has a supernatural source. Like an infectious disease, Satan uses the air to spread these vibrations among people.
Do you know why people are affected by what others say? It is because what we consider “natural” has supernatural meaning that is from the earth, the soul, and the devil. This is why we must let our words on earth be few. This is why we must study to be quiet and humble ourselves before God.
Proving What is Good, Acceptable, and Perfect
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
Outside of Romans 12:1-2, there isn’t a single area of our lives we can adequately approach if we are to win a victory over Satan. It is our “reasonable service” to present our bodies as living sacrifices unto Him. We are not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And what else does God want us to do? “Prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” We are to prove it.
If certain things happen by the intervention of God – if, for example, He tries to stop a relationship you’re in – don’t trust your feelings. Don’t trust your needs or your walk. Don’t trust your plan. Instead, operate in Romans 12:1-2. Present your body as a living sacrifice, just as though you have no will in the matter. What is a living sacrifice? It’s not a dead one. It is a sacrifice that just went through death. Sixteen times in the book of Revelation, reference is made to the fresh wounds in Jesus’ glorified body. He is a living sacrifice.
As a living sacrifice, we have nothing to lose in any situation because we have already died to it. The trouble with many Christians is that they are dead sacrifices, God bless them! They believe in the theology of the sacrifice, but they have not become a living sacrifice.
Someone who is a living sacrifice has been through death, and now is alive in every detail of life. He can lay down his life through resurrection life. He is on the Resurrection side of death, the Ascension side of death. A living sacrifice is on the “will of God” side of living.
Waiting upon God
Every time I have to do something important, I wait upon the Lord, as a living sacrifice. After my first wife died, I waited seven years to get married again. Seven years! I didn’t say to God, “I have a need! I have a need! God is going to meet my need.” Sure, He’s going to meet my need – by having me die to it. Death is a great way to have a need met when we know we are crucified with Christ.
I can’t understand how people can come to Bible college, just get started, and within two months they become involved in a relationship. Didn’t they come here to get to know God? If you are a teacher, your fervency for teaching subsides when you enter a relationship that doesn’t produce meekness and humility. Your work ethic is just not the same.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice.” Notice this verse says “bodies,” because the body is the thing that is always wanting. We want to satisfy our taste buds with foods we shouldn’t eat. We want to satisfy our egos with words we shouldn’t say or listen to. The mind doesn’t have to have something it doesn’t need, but the body wants it now! So, the mind cooperates with the body.
What is it that we present to God? Our bodies “…as a living sacrifice.” In essence, God is saying, “I want your bodily senses to go through death, because those senses always tend to implement natural, human wisdom; but I want you to live on the resurrection side of life, not in empiricism through bodily senses.”
Present Your Bodies
The word “present” is an aorist active infinitive of paristemi. It’s a very beautiful word, the same word used when Jesus, as a child, was presented by Mary and Joseph in the temple (Luke 2:22). The phrase “your body a living” is a present active participle, which means that we are to continually produce the action of presenting ourselves as living sacrifices, as opposed to being “dead.”
There are Christians who keep saying, “I’m dead to this, I’m dead to that.” “Okay,” they will drone on, “I know I’m supposed to be dead!” “I’m dead. I’m dead.” But, they are not presenting their bodies as living sacrifices. They’re making psychological confessions without presenting themselves. When we present our bodies, we are dead to self, and we move to the resurrection side of the Cross.
When I present my body, I recognize that Christ crucified it. I don’t have to die; Christ crucified my body. I just experience His death. I don’t have to wonder, “How did I do last night?” or, “How will I do today?” I don’t need to be counseled into victory; I just need to experience the victory through His counsel.
“Well, Pastor, I’m trying to die,” I have heard people say. Have fun! – I haven’t met anyone yet who has made it.
I read in the Bible, “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20).
I read in the Bible, “Nevertheless I live.”
I present my body to Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice through the resurrection power of God. That’s how I present it – through Him. I don’t present my body, trying to die; I present it as one who has already died.
As I present my body to Him, I make sure there’s no place for the devil to take over on any subject, with any need or want. “The Lord is [shepherding me], I shall not want,” wrote the Psalmist (Psalm 23:1).
We are delivered through death, not unto death. Let me repeat that: We’re delivered through death, not unto death. Until I understand this as experiential truth, all I can do is to keep confessing positional truth without experiencing the victory.
Satan’s Defeat is a Fact
When I present my body by a living faith through the mercies of God in the application of grace, then I experience – in my body, mind, emotions, and circumstances; in my needs and wants; in my past and present – Satan’s defeat at Calvary!
There are so many people who are bitter about the past. The first thing you’ve got to do is to make sure you are saved. God says in Mark 11:25-26: “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
And, in Luke 6:36-38 a, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you.”
If you have a bad attitude when you stand praying, your prayers will never get through to heaven – until that attitude is crucified. If you remember and are negative about anything anyone has done to you, you are doing something worse than any sin that was committed against you.
“I don’t like that kind of Christianity,” you may be saying. I know you don’t like it, because it takes a supernatural God, using a supernatural resurrection through a supernatural Cross to make you supernaturally think His way in your attitude. You can’t face it, and you don’t like it because your sins find you out.
But when you’re a living sacrifice, you just feel like singing (something like this):
“There are no more yesterdays,
But ‘today’ is here with God.
All of my tomorrows
will be with my Lord.
The past is gone forever,
and now just passed by.
I don’t know what they’ve done to me,
I’m getting ready to fly!”
Come on, women, get right with God! Don’t confess “I feel terrible now!” but say, “I feel good now!” – we are more than conquerors.
Husbands, pray with your wives! They’re so busy talking that they don’t know how to enjoy five minutes of prayer. Pray with your wives. Teach them how to pray. Teach them how to be quiet. Pray, and have power with God!
Thinking about getting engaged? Think Romans 12:1-2.
Thinking about getting married? Think Romans 12:1-2.
Thinking about getting negative? Think Romans 12:1-2.
Worrying about tomorrow? Romans 12:1-2.
Feeling blue about how someone has treated you? Romans 12:1-2.
Tempted to go against bona fide spiritual authority? Romans 12:1-2.
Remembering the past? Romans 12:1-2.
Are you letting your sophisticated culture take over in the natural realm so you don’t have supernatural grace? Think Romans 12:1-2.
Renewing the Mind
Present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How is it done? “By the renewing of your mind.” Allow your new mind with Christ to take over your bodily senses and you will find that the problems you had yesterday don’t exist today.
In presenting my body, I prove what is the perfect will of God. If I don’t present my body, then I will never prove it. Instead of having His perfect will, it may just be something that I want.
If we don’t prove His perfect will, God will send trials to make it happen. The Lord will deliver us through death if we haven’t already been delivered from death. He will bring a crisis into our lives so that He can start the process of victory.
If you present your body by faith and by mercy, and do it because of the Finished Work, then anything God does will result in you revealing what has been done. When trials come to those who refuse to present their bodies as living sacrifices, they reveal what hasn’t been done and what they are like. All we can do is patiently sit back and hope the day comes when there will be a conversion. But, when trials come to a Spirit-filled Christian, the trials reveal what Christ has done and Who God is.
Atmospheric cycles do not have to control my life. Whether I work seventy or eighty hours a week, I can still be victorious. I can still be a conqueror because I have been through death. I may get weary; I may be a tired saint, but I am still victorious.
What are you looking at right now? Your husband’s temperament? Your bills? Your bad right leg that isn’t what it used to be? Present your body and God will deliver you.
Perhaps, you have professed to be saved, but you have been living like the devil and now you realize that you may not be saved. Scripturally speaking, you can’t be sure if you are going to heaven. Pray to receive Christ now. Bow your head right where you are. Mean business with God. God won’t put up with your sin forever. God forbid that you think that you can continue in sin that grace may abound (Romans 6:1).
I pray for deliverance for those who need it, once and for all. I pray for victory and power in their lives. I pray that lust and perverted thoughts will leave those who are plagued by them. I pray for victory over drugs. Let victory come in and triumph over secret sin in every area.
I preach the way I do because Satan is trying to make people operate based on his lies. Very few Christians detect or discern this. The devil’s atmospheric cycles must be defined if we are to see hundreds saved and healed. We must have a clean local assembly. We need people who are real, who are not forgetful hearers. God wants a revival in our midst, and every revival must go to Calvary and come out in resurrection power.
As a rule, preachers do not preach the old-fashioned way today because of church-goers who can only take twenty-minute devotionals presented with a lot of music, especially on Sunday nights. That’s never going to happen with this pastor and this church. I don’t give up my pulpit for concerts. I love music, but no choir will ever take the place of preaching. I preach the Bible – Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights. It’s been this way with me for over forty years and it’s not going to change.