When travelling in south-eastern Tasmania, I was fascinated by a place that was the gateway, or the exit point for Port Arthur. The leadership of the original penal colony had realised that there was only one way out of the settlement, and that was through a very narrow strip of land. To stop prisoners from escaping they made a line of 9 dogs that prisoners had to get through to get from "hell" to a place where they could live a life free from torture, fear and pain. This was a place where soldiers would live and look after the dogs and ensure that no one could exit.
When thinking about this, I realised that Satan has a similar plan. In Colossians 1:13 we read:-
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,
Jesus has come to rescue us from the kingdom of darkness or of this world, and He has done all that He has to do to take us into His new kingdom. Satan, in 1 Peter 5:8 is said to be like a roaring lion. Lions roar to scare their prey and force them to run.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8.
We do not have to fear this roar as he tries to scare us, as we know He is powerless when we belong to Jesus. At Port Arthur, the dogs were chained up and powerless to hurt the prisoners, but the barking and fierce teeth were enough to discourage them from escaping from the settlement.
The 9 Hounds
When looking at the concept of the 9 dogs, I started asking God what are the 9 dogs that stop us from moving from the kingdom of this world to the Kingdom of God. I know that there are more, but this is a good starting point. What is stopping you from fulling living in the Kingdom of God?
1. Not knowing who God is.
We often know of God, but it is so easy to make God into a god of our own image. This god we have created is safe and we are in control. When we come to God we realise that we have no way of fully understanding who He is. All we can do is start to get a glimpse of the awesomeness of our creator, redeemer and father. Here are some things that remind us who He is.
a. Creator: In John 1:1-3 we read:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made."
I love reading that Jesus is the Word and all things were made by Him. He knows who we are because He made us!
b. God became a man: In verse 14 we read:-
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
Jesus is the Word and He created the world and US, and then came to earth to live as a man.
All things were made through Him and for Him. One of my favourite verses is Colossians 1:16 where Paul writes
"16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him."
I love knowing that Jesus made all things for His plans and purposes. We can be confident no matter what you are going through God will use it for His glory and your benefit. We understand life when we learnt to see the world through God's eyes and not through our eyes. We pray for God's will to be done not ours. Then we can relax as we trust God through knowing Him.
2. Not knowing who we are in Christ.
Only when we have a revelation of who God is, we can start to understand who we are. God wants us not to know ourselves through what others say or what we think (image), but by what He says we are. In 1 Peter 2:9, we read:-
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light".
God has chosen us to be His special people that praise Him. We now can live in His marvellous light. In Romans 8:14 we read:-
"14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."
We can live as sons of God and be led by His Spirit. There are so many scriptures we can read that remind us who we are in God. Have fun researching who He has made us to be.
When we join the family of God, we are given a spirit that ensures we are no longer living in bondage to fear. In Romans 8:15 we read
"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together."
Jesus is now our Father and we can call out to Him any time we need. We have been given the Spirit of adoption and are no longer bound by fear.
When we are part of God's family we can know that we are no longer bound by shame. In Romans 8:33 we read:-
"As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
Ensure that you understand that "believe" actually means to do what He says. We are called to not just acknowledge that Jesus is who He says He is, but listen to Him and live our lives according to how He has called us to live.
5. Being Alone
In Genesis 2:18 God realised that He created us so we would not be alone.
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
in Ecclesiastes 4:9 we read:-
"Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labour."
God wants to surround us with people that will encourage and build us up. Satan wants to isolate us and pick us off one by one. As soon as I was struggling I asked God for 4 good men to surround me. Immediately I had 4 that I could trust to talk with, pray with and ensure I was not going off the rails. Sometimes we have to be humble and ask people to support and to help out. It is hard to say that we need help, but it blesses others to find out what we need and to support us through difficult times.
6. Living Without Power
In Danny Silk's book "Keep Your Love On" he talks about the difference between being a weak and a powerful person. In Chapter 1 of his book, he defines a powerful person as one who does not try to control other people but only controls themselves. They live not demanding respect, but respect others and set a standard for how they want to be treated by how they treat others. They act consistently in a responsible, respectful and loving way and people who get close to them can also show respect, be responsible and love well. They are not affected or infected by their environment and are not victims of others. Powerful people require others around them to be powerful and when they encounter powerless people, the powerless people will either need to change so they can live more powerfully or find someone else to dump themselves on. In Exodus 5:2 we can be encouraged:-
The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
In Psalm 121:1-3 we also can be encouraged to walk in victory:-
I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
7. The Flesh
In Romans 8:1-8 we read that we are called to put to death our flesh and to learn to walk in the Spirit. We read
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."
To know that we are no longer condemned when we walk according to the Spirit is exciting news. The process of having our flesh die is very painful and often happens over time, but I encourage you to allow God to complete the process of dying to your flesh so you are able to live fully in the Spirit and become all God has made you for.
8. Anger and Offence
It is so easy to be angry when we are treated badly. An offence is like a brick wall that stops us from being able to deal with something and move forward. In Proverbs 19:11 (The Passion) it says:-
11 A wise person demonstrates patience, for mercy means holding your tongue. When you are insulted, be quick to forgive and forget it, for you are virtuous when you overlook an offence.
Being angry is an emotion, but it is important to work through things so you are not offended.
It is easy to think we are right and we have all the answers. Being humble causes us to realise that we only know what we know. Our lives are enriched as we listen to other people's perspective and are quick to say sorry when we are wrong or even when people think we are wrong. In Proverbs 11:2 it says:-
When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.
In James 4:6 we learn that we are to live in the grace that God gives us and that God actually opposes the proud.
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
There are so many verses that talk to us about pride. Our current prime minister, Scott Morrison walks into a meeting with the attitude that he is not the smartest person in the room. He finds that he can make the best decisions when he is open to listen to others and to then make decisions based on all the information that he can get from everyone present. What a great example of humility
God is calling us to move to live, think, act and love based on how He has called us to in HIs Word and through His Spirit. The 9 dogs have huge teeth and their barking is terrible. (their breath is …... you do not want to know!) You are very safe, though, as Jesus has chained them up and you can get past them and escape from the kingdom of darkness or the world and move to live in the Kingdom of God. Satan is a roaring lion BUT He cannot touch you. Jesus has chained Him up. Come through the 9 hounds and enjoy all God has for you in His Kingdom!