You Shall Not Pass!

Two trilogies later, I still consider the first movie the most epic in the series.

“The Fellowship of the Ring” was the first time we saw the Shire and Hobbits on the big screen. It was the first time we realized elves were essentially ninjas, but with cooler costumes. It was also the first time we saw a wizard get down and dirty in an all-out brawl!

In the movie, there’s a monumentally epic scene where the wizard, Gandalf, confronts a fiery demon Balrog in the mountains of Moria. In that scene, “Durin’s Bane” pursues the fellowship to the bridge of Khazad-dûm. Realizing they can’t escape the demon on foot, Gandalf decides he's done running and turns to fight the demon of terror, allowing the fellowship time to escape.

Facing off with this great adversary, Gandalf stands his ground and asserts his authority. The Balrog has a fiery lasso/whip, and Gandalf carries a staff and a sword. But those weapons don’t impress us as much as Gandalf’s confidence when he stands on the bridge between his beloved fellowship of friends and this great demonic enemy. Staring it down, Gandalf declares, “You cannot pass....I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You shall not pass.”

Though the movie doesn’t show it, the book actually indicates that the demon, at first, shrinks away at Gandalf's command. Moments later, they get in a deadly tussle. Gandalf gives the demon a beat-down, but they both sustain fatal injuries. (Gandalf, however, was “sent back”, resurrected as Gandalf the White).

It’s been almost a decade and a half since that movie came out in the theaters, yet that scene remains one of the most powerful and spiritually impacting scenes movie I’ve ever watched. It was, and is, impactful because it not only pictures a very real battle every follower of Christ is engaged in today, but also quite possibly reveals to us how we can win that battle each day.

The Bible tells us that we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. In other words, the hectic week, hectic month, or hectic life you’ve been living these pasts few years may very well be more than meets the eye. Dare I say, there are Balrog-like spirits behind the scenes of your life, orchestrating schemes to rob you, exasperate you, and isolate you (from God) for the ultimate purpose of destroying you!  

If you’re inclined to blow that last statement off, then you might already be at a disadvantage in this battle because the Bible says the enemy of your souls apparently has the power to “blind” people so that they are unaware of his behind-the-scene scheming!

We live in a modern secular world today that has an intellectual, naturalistic approach to viewing reality. For many, evil is merely the absence of good or the absence of light. They've chosen NOT to believe that evil is in fact, an active force in its own right, with an active persona (and personas) behind it. As a result, many people tend to reject the notion that there are actual spiritual forces operating behind the scenes dominating their lives. The irony is that Satan and his demons THRIVE on this kind of ignorance. As one shady character from the movie, “The Usual Suspects” once insightfully said, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.”

Biblical theology teaches us that every influence we experience in this world has a spiritual basis, and everything that is not of Jesus Christ is ultimately of the devil. 1 Timothy 4:1 says, “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.” The fact is, unless you place yourself under the authority and banner of Jesus Christ, you remain in a state of slavery under the teachings of the elemental spiritual forces of this world.

You, my friend, are at WAR!

More importantly, like Gandalf, you need to get to a point where you stop running. Like him, you will, at some point, need to face your spiritual enemy and assert a similar spiritual truth where you declare, “You may no longer do with me as as you….I am an adopted child of God, seated in heavenly places with Christ and entrusted with His authority. In the name and authority of my king, Jesus Christ, YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASS!! Like Gandalf, you will need to assert this authority, not only on your behalf, but on behalf of your loved ones who, though unaware, may be engaged in the spiritual battle of their lives!

Now, here's some top secret intel the enemy doesn't want you to know about. The authority and power behind that statement comes from the Spirit of Christ residing in you. The Bible says that He (Jesus) is seated “FAR ABOVE all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” Those terms, "rule", "authority", power" and "dominion" refer to the organizational structure of Satan's kingdom in the spiritual realm, sorta like an army. Now, did you catch where Jesus Christ is positioned in relation to those evil powers? Waaaaaaaayyy faaaaaaarrrrrr ABOVE them! This of course explains why we see demons in the scriptures falling at Jesus' feet, begging for mercy that their lives may be spared. 

Here's why that intel is a secret weapon for you. The same Bible also says, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus..” This means that YOU have, not just the authority to pull off a Gandalf-like-resistance, but you have every weapon (spiritual power that can possibly only be measured on a nuclear scale) you need to fight back against the spiritual enemies of your soul!

The issue for many of us Christians, however, isn’t that we’re not aware of the spiritual resources available to us in Christ; the issue is that we’re not angry enough. 

So, hear me on this.

If the relative safety of your life has lulled you to spiritual sleep, might I sound off an alarm urging you to wake up and put in a little more fight?

Seriously. You need to get angrier!

Ed Welch, in his book titled, “A Banquet in the Grave” writes this about the Christian adopting a wartime angry mentality, “…the only possible attitude towards out-of-control desire is a declaration of all-out war…there is something about war that sharpens the senses…you hear a twig snap or the rustling of leaves and you are in attack mode. Someone coughs and you are ready to pull the trigger Even after days of little or no sleep, war keeps us vigilant.”

Author and pastor John Piper was a little more curt in his charge to Christians. In a sermon titled, “Make War!” he says, “I hear so many Christians, murmuring about their imperfections, and their failures, and their addiction, and their shortcomings. And I see so little war! Murmur, murmur, murmur. Why am I this way? ….MAKE WAR!

Their point? YOU. NEED. TO. GET. ANGRY!

  • You need to get angry that sin has jacked this world up!
  • You need to get angry that you're struggling so much with your particular area of sin!
  • You need to get angry that there are evil spiritual rulers and authorities of the unseen world who plot, scheme, and war against you and your family daily!
  • You need to get angry that those spiritual mighty powers in this dark world and evil spirits in the heavenly places are stealing stuff from you!
  • You need to get angry that God’s name is not revered with the honor and glory He deserves!
shegznstuff - angry God.jpg

You need to get so angry at the spiritual battles taking place all around you that you start praying some imprecatory prayers against those spiritual forces! In other words, you need to transition from praying timid prayers like, "O Lord, please help me get by today and don't let me fall into Satan's trap" to praying like you believe your GOD IS MIGHTY IN BATTLE, “O God, break the teeth in their mouths. …and send the angel of the LORD to hunt them down!”.

See the difference there?

Now, to be clear, imprecatory prayers (invoking evil or a curse on one’s enemies) are NOT to be prayed over human enemies. That would go against everything Jesus said about how to deal with people who oppose us. But assuming you’re ready to engage in this spiritual battle, you will need to become more intentional about prayer.

You can’t simply make prayer something you do during transitional moments of your day. You will need to set aside time to actually call out to God to do battle on your behalf. When you do, might I suggest you pray as David the Psalmist oft prayed? These prayers I'm about to suggest are not magical or formulaic prayers. They're more like prayer guides. Also, remember, you’re NOT praying against your co-worker or neighbor you can’t stand. Rather, you are praying against evil spiritual demons in unseen realms that are warring against your soul.

  • Psalm 69:22-23 – “[LORD, I pray] Let their table become a snare before them, and their well-being a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see; and make their loins shake continually.”
  • Psalm 35:19 – “[LORD, I pray] Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.”
  • Psalm 55:15 – “[LORD, I pray] Let death seize them; Let them go down alive into hell, for wickedness is in their dwellings and among them.”
  • Psalm 35:6 – “[LORD, I pray] Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor who seek after my life; Let those be turned back and brought to confusion who plot my hurt. Let them be like chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the Lord chase them. Let their way be dark and slippery, and let the angel of the Lord pursue them.”
  • Psalm 58:6-7 – “[LORD, I pray] Break their teeth in their mouth, O God! Break out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord! Let them flow away as waters which run continually;..”

This, my friends, is how you GET IN THE FIGHT!

I leave you with the encouraging and timely words of a modern day pastoral poet: “Though my enemies surround me, my God surrounds my enemies. Though they may come at me one way, they will flee seven ways because no weapon formed against me will prosper and every evil thing that rises against me I will condemn, I will fight. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nether height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation shall be able to separate me from my God. And if my God is for me, who can be against me? I. WILL. FIGHT!”