One of the first things I learned in law school is that the key to victory and success as a lawyer is not knowing the law, but knowing where to find it! Sometime ago I handled a case as an immigration lawyer. My client, Richard, had been granted leave to remain in the UK for two and a half years as the spouse of a British national. He and his wife had two-year-old twin daughters. About one year into his visa, they started having serious problems in their marriage. Unknown to Richard, Lucy informed the immigration authorities that she no longer supported his application, and his visa was curtailed.
Six months later, Richard lost a cousin in Barbados and travelled for two weeks. On his return to the UK, he was arrested at the airport by the UK Border Agency. That’s when he found out his visa had been revoked six and a half months previously! He was detained and scheduled for deportation back to Barbados on the next available flight, which was in three days.
Richard contacted me and instructed me to act for him. I immediately lodged an appeal against the curtailment of the visa. After lodging the appeal, I contacted the immigration authorities, asking them to cancel the flight and grant him temporary release. The flight was cancelled because of the appeal, but custody was maintained. I continued to press for his release. I reminded the authorities that the appeal was unlikely to be held soon, and his daughters’ birthday was imminent—it would break their hearts if Daddy was not there. I also told them he would comply with any restrictions they might impose.
This went on for a few days. Eventually the authorities decided to grant him temporary release with a restriction on working. Mrs Jones, an immigration officer rang me to inform me of the good news. But just before Mrs Jones rang, I saw it! I came across a law that automatically extends a person’s curtailed visa as long as he has a pending appeal. The effect of this little-known law was that my client had valid leave! As you can imagine, this discovery changed the case. Previously, I had been pleading with the immigration authorities to grant my client temporary release, when in fact they had no right to detain him in the first place! Armed with this knowledge, I was no longer fighting for victory. I was now fighting from victory!
“Hello, Mr Okoro, I am happy to inform you that we have decided to grant your client temporary admission,” Mrs Jones informed me. “However, there will be certain restrictions on him.”
“Thank you, Mrs Jones,” I responded. “However, I am no longer asking for temporary admission for my client. I am asking for his immediate unconditional release.”
“What do you mean, Mr Okoro?” Mrs Jones interrupted. I could tell she was getting agitated.
“My client has 3D leave,” I began with a huge smile. I was trying very hard not to sound triumphant. “Section 11 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 added section 3D to the Immigration Act 1971. This is to prevent a migrant from becoming an overstayer while exercising a right of appeal against a decision to curtail or revoke leave to enter or remain. In those circumstances, you have acted illegally in detaining my client. Unless he is granted immediate, unconditional release, without any restriction on his ability to work, we will seek compensation for wrongful imprisonment.”
Eventually Richard was released…unconditionally.
Although spiritual warfare is real, you’ve got to realise that you shouldn’t be fighting a battle you’ve already won! That’s right. You defeated the devil in Christ more than two thousand years ago. You were nailed to the cross of Calvary in him. This became a reality for you the day you received Jesus into your heart as your Saviour and Lord. The Bible puts it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
You’ve got to always remember that the devil is a defeated foe. The battle has been won. You don’t need to fight him.So what do you do? You simply stand and exercise your authority. All you’ve got to do is exercise your authority. Simply stand your ground and speak the Word! You see, for the believer, spiritual warfare shouldn’t be a struggle.
In the great Bible passage on spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-20), the word stand appears four times, while the word translated wrestle, battle,fight, or struggle appears only once. In essence, God is asking you to spend the majority of your time in warfare standing! But what does it mean to stand? The word translated stand is the Greek histemi, which can be defined as “to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything.” That’s telling us something, isn’t it? God isn’t asking you to fight the devil. He is asking you to simply uphold or sustain the victory won by Jesus at Calvary and enforce hisauthorityover the devil. You’re like the traffic warden who raises his hand and the vehicles stop. They don’t stop because he can physically bring the vehicles to a halt, but because he is representing and upholding the authority of the state. God is asking you four times out of five, in this beautiful passage of Scripture, to uphold and sustain his authority. He is asking you to do so because you’re an overcomer. You’ve overcome already. You’ve defeated the devil.
So how do you uphold Christ’s authority? This wonderful passage of Scripture begins by enjoining us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” because God is the source of our authority. What you have is delegated authority. So to engage in spiritual warfare, you’ve got to be strong in the Lord.
The word translated strong is the Greek word endunamoo and means “to be strong, endue with strength, strengthen, to receive strength, be strengthened, and increase in strength.” In other words, to be strong in the Lord is to depend completely on God, relying on his resources and using his strategies. Finding your strength in God is an admission that you have no strength of your own.
To stand against the enemy is to rest in what Jesus has already done. It’s almost like saying you need to run a race from a position of rest. You make more progress by sitting behind the wheel of a car than by pedalling a bicycle. When you struggle with the enemy, you are pedalling with your own strength. You will have a lot of action but little motion. You won’t go very far. However, when you rest in Jesus, you are like an eagle. An eagle soars by using thermal currents of air. These warm air patterns are created by the surrounding terrain. The eagle spreads its wings and tail feathers and lets the wind carry it to new heights. From time to time, it glides down to catch another upward thermal. Soaring saves the eagle energy because it does not have to flap its wings often. It can soar to unimaginable heights without breaking a sweat.
Here’s another way to describe it: Resting is like being the pilot of a 747 jumbo jet. He sits down yet is able to fly the plane. He doesn’t need to run. He doesn’t need to try to push the airplane. He flies from a position of rest. He sits, yet he is able to fly at speeds of 565 mph. That’s what God wants you to do: rest in him.
There are four keys to to finding rest in God and walking in victory:
- Know who you are. You’ve been redeemed by the precious blood. You’re a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and a peculiar person. You’re a royal ambassador.
- Know whose you are. You’re a child of the Most High God. You’re God’s heir and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ.
- Know where you are. You’re seated in the heavenly places with Jesus Christ, far above principalities and powers.
- Know what you have. All of God’s resources, paid for by Jesus Christ, are made available to you. There’s nothing more to be done. Simply receive what has been freely given to you.
Don’t attempt to fight the enemy in your own strength. You will experience burnout, and you will fail. Don’t even think about it!
And don’t get sucked into thinking that spiritual warfare is a wrestling match with the devil. It isn’t. If you try to wrestle with him, you will fail. Unfortunately, that is the sad reality today for many ministers of the gospel who are in the front line of the enemy’s attacks. A 2010 article in the New York Times reported that “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”
The key is to engage in spiritual warfare God’s way. And that is by resting in him and fighting from victory, not for victory!
QUESTION: What is your number one tip for walking in victory as a Christian? Please click here to leave your comment:
*Excerpted from my new book The Ultimate Guide to Spiritual Warfare: Learn to Fight from Victory, Not for Victory! which is now available from all good book retailers. Request your copy today.