Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16 share the same advice about the Kingdom of God. They say, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing and forceful people take ahold of it.” This means that, as far as the Kingdom of God is concerned, we can’t just sit on our laurels and wait for it to happen upon us. We must go out and grab it. The advancement of the Kingdom of God is the responsibility of all those who call themselves disciples of Jesus Christ.
What does advancing the Kingdom of God actually mean? It means that the Kingdom of God is taking over new territory. The problem with taking over new territory is that the entity that already occupies that space isn’t likely to go willingly. When the people of God begin to advance God’s Kingdom we can expect that the enemy will come at us even stronger than before.
If before your advance you were getting a few minor temptations, as soon as you become a threat to the evil powers that be, you will receive a full on frontal attack from the evil that is in this world. Things that normally would be easy will probably be a little more difficult. Things you thought that already were taken care of are going to come undone. Relationship issues that you had experienced and dealt with will be brought up and thrown in your face.
The difference you will experience when you begin to do something great for the Kingdom of God is the difference between being scratched by a kitten and being scratched by a lion. Satan is going to bring the fight to you! You can expect it as you expect to file your taxes by April 15th! Many people automatically assume that if they meet resistance it means they are doing something wrong. The reality is that when you are forcefully advancing and occupying the ground of the enemy, the enemy is going to fight back.
Many people give up! Many people throw in the towel. Many people succumb to the temptations! Many people allow the advancement of the enemy to overthrow their willingness to accomplish what God has asked them to do. DON’T GIVE UP!!! In these adversarial moments with enemy, we must pray and ask God for strength. We must depend on God’s strength to carry us through, and we must lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance.
In Philippians 3:12-14 it says, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is straining to advance God’s Kingdom in the world. The Apostle Paul has laid everything that is good in his life on the altar. He has given God permission to use him in whatever ways God sees fit. But Apostle hasn’t just laid those things that are good down on the altar before God; he has also made a conscious choice not to go backwards when he says, “forgetting what is behind.” Paul has laid down his shortcomings, his failures, and hurts. How many people have failed to become all of what God is calling them to become because they have become fixated on something from the past? They have allowed the past to become an obstacle in their future. How many future opportunities are we going to allow our past to take from us?
I don’t doubt that there have been circumstances that you have faced that have overwhelmed you. Some of you have been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused. Others have been in toxic relationships with people whose only motivation was to use you for their own gain. No doubt, some of us have made poor financial decisions that have plagued us into the present. Many of us can pinpoint a specific moment in time where we made a decision or a series of decisions that have led us to where we are today. Even when these circumstances are not our current circumstances, they still envelop our minds.
Satan uses what has happened in our past to keep us from fully experiencing God’s Will for us in our future. Satan knows that if he can keep your mind enveloped in situations from your past, he can continue to steal energy and God’s strength from your future. Part of giving God your everything is also giving God all of your hurts, all of your pain, and all of your sorrow! When our minds do not “forget what is behind”, we use energy that is meant to be poured out in the transformation of others for ourselves (and our self-loathing).
There also seems to be a petrifying fear that God cannot use us in our brokenness. Our minds begin to say “because I have done this or that, or because I have not lived this way or that way, I am unworthy to be used by God.” You see, being used by God is a mindset. As long as we allow our mind to be plagued by negative self-talk we will not present ourselves to God as a vessel He can use. We’ve got to stop basing our usability by God on our emotions. Our emotions are up and down. Sometimes we are going to be confident in our ability to do what God asks, but most of the time we are not going to feel like God can accomplish a monumental task through us. We must center our thoughts around this statement: “Because God said it is so, therefore it is so! Because God said it is, it is! We must take God at His word.”
Many of us feel that our struggle is just against ourselves but Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Our battleground against sin exists within our minds. You see, it is not a sin to be tempted. We all are tempted every day to do things that we know we ought not do. The problem with temptation is beginning to dwell on the thought. We begin to think that the thought sounds enticing, and we begin to replace God’s will and God’s plan for our lives with the action the temptation desires to bring about.
We find in John 8:44b, “He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The only power that Satan has is the power of his lies. His sole purpose of existence is to get us to believe in a lie for so long that it becomes the framework for our reality. He desires to get us to believe a lie for so long that it begins to govern how we feel. Now feelings are powerful things; and when Satan has us basing our feelings on his lies, he defeats us every time. I am sure your feelings sometimes overwhelm you; but unless your feelings are based in the truth, you will slip up every time.
II Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” How do we take captive every thought? We can only take captive every thought by verifying its truthfulness. The surefire way to overcome Satan is with the truth. We can overcome Satan with THE truth. I’m not speaking of our human truth, but of God’s truth. Depending on God’s Word and praying for God’s strength will enable us to win the battle against the enemy. My prayer is that you will take the fight to the enemy rather than allowing the enemy to take the fight to you!