Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

How to Fail

Refuse to see it for what it is.

John 15:26–16:4a

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”

As rough as this “boot camp for disciples” has been so far, Jesus manages to crank it up a notch. Things aren’t just going to get rough; they’re going to get creepy.

“The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.”

The coming persecution will be so extreme it’ll almost seem impossible. It won’t be normal human evil.

And, yet again, we see a purpose construction in the Greek. “But these things I have told you, [for the purpose] that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”

Absent such a clear warning, the bizarre actions of their persecutors would be even more terrifying. Imagine how confused the disciples would be when this kind of insane persecution hit. It’s one thing to deal with attacks that are vicious, but they will deal with attacks that don’t even make sense.

Welcome to spiritual warfare.

Spiritual warfare is rarely taught, because it’s so creepy that folks don’t even want to think about it.

But spiritual warfare is too important to be ignored. Today people are aware of scams, cyber-security, and other modern dangers, but we ignore the ancient danger of spiritual warfare at our peril.

Our spiritual enemies are much older than we are, smarter than we are, and more powerful than we are. The latest, most clever scams are nothing compared to what these guys cook up. They can trick people into almost anything. We are pawns in their eyes.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the point. We are pawns. The disciples were pawns too.

We must always act appropriately—act like pawns. That means being dependent on the one who is competent and able to overcome these enemies. That dependency generally takes the form of prayer.

This is not easy. Being dependent, and praying dependently, means admitting weakness and relinquishing control. That doesn’t come naturally. I don’t even like turning my luggage over to baggage handlers.

But when dealing with spiritual warfare, clinging to control is failure in a can.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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