[An Advanced Study]
You should remember as workers of Absolute Bible Study that all teachings placed under the category of ‘Advanced Study’ could also be placed under the category of Dealing With The Adversary. The difference is that Advanced Studies may be slightly more difficult to understand by the person somewhat new to the Word. The more you have your mind renewed to God’s Word, the greater understanding you will have. In other words, God will only teach you what you need to know and what He knows that you will understand. A key to reading your Bible is to read through the parts you do not understand and simply keep reading. There will come a time in your life, depending on your commitment, that God will open up the eyes of your understanding and you will then understand the section that you previously could not
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. – James 3: 16
This will be the foundational Scripture which will lay the groundwork for this teaching. Let’s work it.
How dangerous is envy? Oh, some will say that it’s not so bad. Envy led to the first murder ever committed. Because Cain was envious of his brother Abel, he slew him. I would say we cleared up any confusion about the implications of envy.
Strife is an easy one. This is in reference to hostility between and among people. Surely, we are all familiar with this in almost every facet of our lives. But what is the end result? This same Scripture simply spells it out for us. The result is confusion and every evil work. And this type of confusion is well-organized in a fashion that can deceive even the very elect.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive even the very elect. – Matthew 24: 24
Envy and strife are the results of ambitious rivalry devil spirits and they run rampant. Of course, it appears like plain old competition, but that is the deception. Most people today will do almost anything to get ‘ahead’ in their career, social status, and especially financial success. They will hurt people, cause confusion and every evil work. This is why there is so much confusion in the world today. II Corinthians 4: 4 tells us that the god of this world is the devil. Until Christ comes back, he runs this world. The only thing that defeats him is the rightly divided Word. Don’t even try any other way. Believe me, I tried it all. I am not afraid of the god of this world and he knows it. He brings people to my neighborhood that reflect the greatest of his strength and yet the God in Christ in me defeats him every time. I actually look forward to taking him on – it gives me something to do that I find exciting and stimulating. What good is the power of God if you do not use it? But don’t get carried away with that attitude. Keep it in balance and perspective. Remember, it’s God’s power – simply believe and act upon it.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. – James 4: 10
Now, we need to ask ourselves what is one of the underlying reasons, in its least common denominator, as to the cause of ambitious rivalry? Let’s take a look at something very important and relevant in the Book of Ezekiel. In this section, God is referring to Lucifer and the origin and reason for his fall. The first word of this Scripture can also be referring to the circumstances of Adam, but remember, it is the adversary that is the subject matter.
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. – Ezekiel 28: 15, 16
Now watch carefully the next verse. This is the main cause of ambitious rivalry which possesses and controls business people, the complete professional arena including law enforcement, religion and especially politics, right down to the shelf stocker on third shift in the department store. We will later go through some actual examples.
Thine heart wast lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I [God] will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more. – Ezekiel 28: 17 – 19
How was Lucifer lifted up and why? Lucifer was quite outstanding in appearance at first. The Word says that he had beauty and brightness. Ladies, have you ever met a really handsome man who was in love with himself? And men, have you ever met a stunning woman that had a miserable and cocky attitude? This is the same type of situation here. Lucifer’s strong points went to his head and his wisdom was corrupted. So he turned on God and told God that he would rise above Him. Mistake.
Many people, especially in different careers, seem to have an advantage. Some come from prosperous families and are able to get better educations. Some people are physically more attractive than others. Yes, I can go on and on. But God Almighty looks on the heart and we are to imitate Him and to look on the heart also.
Now here is quite a controversial subject – prejudice. Do you know how many acts of violence were done as a result of prejudice?!! They may be countless. This is the result of one race believing they are better than, and more intelligent than another race. Now from a spiritual point of view, you tell me where this influence and mind control originates? Lucifer loves to afflict people with PRIDE because that is how he fell. Pride is basically fear. And yet it contributes to a very high percentage of problems in the world today. Ambitious rivalry is fed by pride.
I have said that this is an Advanced Study and targets only the believer who has matured in the Word of God and stood for year after year regardless of persecution and tribulation from the world. Before we move on to one or more of some real life examples of ambitious rivalry, we are going to look at a Scripture in Ephesians that, when taken literally, will change your life. I never mean to scare anyone, but if the rightly divided Word does that, it is because you have not yet sufficiently renewed your mind.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places [from on high]. – Ephesians 6: 12
If you work this Scripture, you will gain great and valuable spiritual insight into spiritual matters. In the first place, these principalities and powers are literally ‘the world rulers of the darkness of this age’. This consists of the devil and all his devil spirits. But remember, the Christ in you is greater. Turn to I John 4: 4 and study and learn that verse by heart. You are going to need it if you are going to stand against the god of this world. Your understanding and believing of I John 4: 4 will make the enemy’s attack just a big roar with no bite.
Notice how many times the word “against” is used in the verse. This is the figure of speech Anaphora or Like Sentence Beginnings and is used to emphasize the fact that our conflict is spiritual. The importance of understanding this cannot be emphasized enough. Satan is after the Word of God – the only thing that can defeat him. If you know and apply and especially teach that Word, then the adversary will do everything in his power to hinder you. It’s the Word of God that defeats the adversary, not anything that we can do by ourselves. It’s the Word that we know that matters.
Now this is what you need to remember:
It’s ALWAYS a spiritual conflict. It is ALL SPIRITUAL.
YOU COMPETE AGAINST PEOPLE INFLUENCED BY DEVIL SPIRITS.
Think this through logically. If a person does not live by what the Scriptures say, there are only two (2) influences – two (2) ways to go. That person is then influenced by the god of this world and that god controls his or her actions. You have to be very sharp spiritually to recognize this in your everyday living.
Ambitious rivalry on this spiritual plane disguises itself in many ways. ‘People’ may say “Oh, that’s only competition”. Competition minus evil intentions and methods is a very healthy thing. But when people approach this subject from the standpoint of ambitious rivalry, it becomes devilish and harmful – contradicting the Scriptures. It’s source is the god of this world who always tries to hide his actions and make them appear socially acceptable. Those who don’t know the Word of God rightly divided are blind to his deception. How hard I tried to help so many people with God’s Word and yet they chose not to believe. I had to turn my head away because I did not want to see the destruction that I knew they would bring upon themselves.
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. – Proverbs 26: 11
A person that was witnessed to with me decided, by his own free will, not to pursue the situation that introduced me to the Bible. He eventually lost his wife and children, his business, lives alone and works at a job that he hates. Being a very good friend at one time, I tried again to help him. We spoke once on the phone to set up a meeting and I never heard back from him. He was always someone who loved himself a bit too much. He was the macho ladies man and he was deceived into believing that he would lose his social status if he turned to the Bible. What is this? Remember?……. PRIDE. This pride eventually destroyed his life. It caused him to give place to ambitious rivalry and other devilish influences.
A woman moved in my neighborhood and kept calling the police on me even if I was working on my driveway with a floodlight. I knew it was Satan and I kept going at her defending myself. This woman had to always prove to herself that she was better and more powerful that everyone else. Actually she is insane based on my knowledge and experience working in a State Mental Hospital. Her actions were influenced by ambitious rivalry devil spirits among many others. The police, in time, saw that it was this woman that was harassing me – not the other way around. Here was a person that I never even spoke to and didn’t even know her name. Now this is when the adversary is getting desperate. She eventually made a total fool out of herself and took a major stroke. No, I didn’t rejoice in such iniquity, but NO ONE and I mean NO ONE messes with a Son of God. The wheels of God grind slowly, but they grind finely. Look above at Proverbs 26: 11 again and read it, ok? (This same woman started to smoke again!). A fool returns to their folly. Can you believe it?
My point is that you will always come out a winner when you stand on the Word of God.
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy [doctrine] and vain deceit [ego], after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. – Colossians 2: 7, 8
When I first got involved in God’s Word, I used to attend home fellowships that were taught by my fellowship coordinator who happened to be the Branch Leader of 40 people who were visiting my area for one year. This brilliant woman of God, oftentimes, would bring up actual examples of what happened to her, and incorporate them into her teachings. I would always listen up since this was such an effective method of teaching and means of getting the point across. Since then, I too, often use this teaching technique because of it’s effectiveness in holding a listener’s attention.
Ambitious rivalry and how it can take it’s toll is clearly reflected in the following true story.
This record has a lot of meaning to me and yet it is an excellent example of ambitious rivalry – one of the best I can think of. It involves the destruction of a beautiful natural nature trail that was sacred to me, lots of money, and months of construction work. All for nothing! Of course, the main ingredient was the competition of two Pennsylvania Counties as to who could outdo the other. Let’s go to John 10: 10a
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: -- John 10:10a
That’s Satan’s ministry – three things – and he uses men to carry out his dirty work. In this case, his choice of action was ‘destroy’.
My dog and I found a nature trail that was one of the most beautiful five mile trails I have ever seen. It was set in a rural setting surrounded by farms and meadows. But it was the trail itself that was majestic in an unexplainable way. This, at one time, was a railroad bed that was used to haul coal from one part of PA to another. When the route was discontinued, they took up the railroad ties and decided to leave the bed alone. It became a historic walking trail natural in all its aspects. There was green grass growing in the middle and along the sides. The trees had a tendency to droop over the trail making the trail look almost like a tunnel. The sunlight trickled through the overhanging trees, but the shade dominated mostly all of this beautiful black and green path that was about as wide as a small road. The bed consisted of ground up silt mixed with coal from the railroad cars that once traveled the path.
My dog and I walked this trail almost every day and sometimes about 50 miles per week. We did this for about seven (7) years. The trail was blessed and we had some of the greatest times we have ever had in our life. There were wildlife all over and we met many nice people and made friends. Buddy was later 14 yrs. old and my vet told me she never in her career saw a dog at 14 that did not have one bit of arthritis in his body. When my foot touched that trail, anything that could possibly be bothering me just seemed to disappear. We would finish our walk every day totally set free and in peace – God’s peace and it did pass all my understanding.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall [absolutely] keep [guard] your hearts and minds [thoughts] through [in] Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4: 7
Past the five mile point was an extension of this trail and it too was very beautiful and all natural. This was now in a different County. To make a long story quite short, this County decided to widen the trail and completely redo it. They brought in heavy equipment and tore down many trees and put a 6 inch high level of small gravel over the natural trail. They ran this new trail for about 5 miles. To me, it was a disaster. They ruined the natural setting and instead of it being God-made, it was now man-made. Man and his machines destroyed it’s natural bed and most of the surrounding trees and bushes. It became a bicycle trail mainly. My dog and I avoided it and were so thankful that we had our 5 miles of natural scenic trail. Surely they would never destroy this natural rail trail.
This trail was one of the few natural trails left in this part of Pennsylvania. No one in their right mind would even think of altering it in any way. To my horror, about a year later, rumors were surfacing that they were going to copy what the neighboring County did to their part of the trail. I tried to brush it off as hearsay. As time went on the rumors worsened.
One evening, my dog Buddy and I went to the beginning of the trail for a late walk. It was just like a nightmare. There were the heavy machinery in the parking lot. I could not believe what I was seeing. Slowly but surely, they destroyed our sacred natural trail and built it up with a gravel bed. They cut down hundreds if not thousands of overlapping trees and bulldozed the bushes. They destroyed a historic site and why? Because the neighboring County did the same and they were possessed to compete with them by devil spirits of ambitious rivalry. And that is the God’s truth. The trail also turned into a haven for bicycles and was uncomfortable to walk. All the memories seemed to be gone as we tried to walk this new trail. I was sickened to the point of being nauseated. My dog and I had to find a new trail and we did.
You have to look behind the scenes to see what really happened here. A teaching like this can only be understood by a mature believer walking on the Word. I only hope you will never forget this true story. My dog passed away about a year after this took place. I struggled to go on and God carried me.
This is how deadly and devastating ambitious rivalry can be. I don’t see how further extensive examples would have much profit. However, before going any further, I must quote a Scripture in Timothy that, besides pride, is another major factor that also feeds ambitious rivalry and that is not money. It is the LOVE of money which is the root of all evil.
For the love of money is the root [system] of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. – I Timothy 6: 10
Saving this part for last, it is the love of money which can open a person’s mind to devil spirits – especially devil spirits of ambitious rivalry. Some people will do almost anything to advance in their career. They will lie, cheat, steal and the list is almost endless. Obviously, you have heard of ‘sleeping with the boss’ to move up the corporate ladder. So moral depravity is now added to the list. There are too many examples to mention. What we’ve gone over should suffice.
You should be able by now to be able to recognize ambitious rivalry. If you do, do whatever you can to counter the enemy’s moves. When I see this evil action, I try to avoid it and get far away from it. Ask God what to do and never forget this concluding Scripture, (the reference mentioned previously) which I have repeated and taught maybe thousands of times. It will help you to stand up to your personal adversary and defeat him every time.