God is sovereign, and we are one with Him, seated with Christ in heavenly places. As believers, we are tasked with establishing the rule and reign of King Jesus in every sphere of society on Earth, as it is in heaven. However, we need wisdom as we proceed. To be more specific, we need a spiritual covering.
Entering the Battle
There are two kingdoms at war on the earth: the kingdom of this world (an eternally defeated kingdom where Satan rules) and the kingdom of God (where God rules and reigns, the family of God). As soon as you make Jesus Lord of your life, you enter into the kingdom of God and the war between the opposing kingdoms. This is why a spiritual “covering” should be highly desired and sought out by every follower of Jesus.
In the words of J.K. Alley, “A spiritual covering is a spiritual force field which helps to bring in good things (blessings), and helps to keep out bad things (protection).” We need God’s covering if we will be victorious in the battle. A spiritual covering allows the blessings of God to flow and provides protection to keep the evil out. Consider a covering something like a shield, or a cloak of invisibility. When under it, we can do what God’s asked us to do without being exposed to the enemy.
“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.’” –Deuteronomy 33:12
Ultimately, Jesus is our covering. Jesus administers His covering over our lives through biblical, relational theology. Relationships are founded in trust, and trust is founded on shared values, integrity, and accountability which allow vulnerability and trust. In God’s sovereignty, He chose to work by grace through people (including Jesus as a man and Savior). We are to choose these relationships wisely as they are important for covering and also great sources of encouragement, correction, prayer, support, counsel, and fellowship.
Please consider these relational protocols, the ways of the kingdom of God.
“… Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…” –1 Samuel 15:22-23
How do we receive a spiritual covering? First, we submit to a healthy Christian community. God made the world and people to operate within a beautiful, interdependent, relational design. We are designed to need one another and are meant to live as a family. The body of Christ living and working together is an amazing covering. It’s easy for the enemy to attack us if we are alone or isolated. But there is strength in numbers! Together, we are strong. The enemy cannot attack everyone at once. When someone in the body is under siege, we can come together to provide spiritually, relationally, emotionally, financially or any other way required.
A healthy Christian community looks like honor. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of honor.
We honor by demonstrating love, respect, acceptance, appreciation, and forgiveness, regardless of others’ flaws or weaknesses. This doesn’t mean we allow sin to flourish in our midst. But it does mean we address sin with care and wisdom.
We also honor by showing submission to authority. We follow the law. We listen to our leaders and do our best to obey those in charge, whether at home, church, or government. We honor God by honoring relational structures.
In summary: When we honor others, submit to authority, and stay in a healthy Christian community, the result is the covering and blessing of God!
The Father’s Covering
As a healthy rule of thumb, no spiritual covering is ever imposed; rather it is to be sought out by the one desiring covering. Christlike authority figures create a safe, trusting, and loving atmosphere through relationships that generate free will submission. This allows for the protection and blessing of Jesus to be realized in our lives and ensures we do not go astray. The purpose of the five-fold ministry (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher) is to equip and also to provide safety and protection for the body of Christ. These leaders act as spiritual mothers and fathers, something we all need and should desire. Spiritual mothers and fathers are servant leaders who point their spiritual children to Jesus. Every believer is part of the “body of Christ,” with males and females being the “bride of Christ.” Hence, sonship involves both male and female, each adopted as sons and daughters. While we should seek spiritual mothers and fathers, we are also called to become spiritual mothers and fathers, reproducing in other what God has produced in us.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” –Hebrews 13:17
There are three key fathering relationships we all have:
- Our heavenly Father,
- Our spiritual father, and
- Our earthly father.
One of the roles of the spiritual father (who in no way replaces or takes away from the natural father) is to be an agent of reconciliation for the Holy Spirit to turn hearts to the heavenly and natural fathers. This relational reconciliation moves into the family as the spiritual son is discipled and generational righteousness restored.
I believe and strongly recommend that every son and daughter need a spiritual father or someone deeper in the faith who commits to opening their heart to do life together to serve as a mentor, prayer partner, and friend. (Had I known the need to have a spiritual father in my life sooner, I would have made much better choices earlier.)
Our cover is compromised if there is a compromise (unrepentant, ungodly behaviors) in the apostolic covering or by the church pastor or senior leader. Jesus is the direct covering of all ministries and all spiritual leadership. Every leader needs a spiritual father who is regularly involved in their lives. Every Godly leader must be submitted to Jesus. At the end of the day, we are all accountable directly to Jesus alone — but the Bible is clear that leaders are called to a higher standard and are even judged more strictly than those not in leadership (James 3:1).
Marriage as a Spiritual Covering
Marriage is a covenant set forth by God, resulting in spiritual covering or protection over the family. When a man and woman come together as one flesh, in closeness and intimacy, truly bonded, they represent the essence and nature of God.
The church is not responsible for the health or success of a marriage or family. We are accountable directly to God when it comes to our closest relationships. When the marriage covenant is broken, the entire family pays a price. Even worse, divorce leaves children far more exposed to attacks from the enemy.
As parents, we are the covering for our children. A strong, unified marriage provides the foundation for the family. As the father is the spiritual head of the household, we are the covering over our marriage and children. If a father compromises, there is a compromise in the covering of his family. I learned the hard way what happens when a father compromises, and I’m sorry to say that my children paid a heavy price for it.
I left the church when I was about 18 and had my first child when I was 27. During that time, I did not have a spiritual father, much less a pastor guiding me. Therefore, I had no spiritual covering at this level. It took 20 years of inching back until I fully surrendered to the Lord that I was blessed with spiritual parents.
Due to multiple failed marriages, the primary covenant of marriage was broken in my life, as well as the covering associated with this covenant. I also had opened doors to the enemy by aborting my first child while in university out of fear and what I considered “convenience.” My life was full of compromises, including sex before marriage, relationships with non-Christians, and quickly moving my children into living arrangements with significant others before we were married.
For our children, having sex before marriage removes them from our parental cover as they assume the covering of their chosen union. This is why it is important to wait until marriage for the two to become one flesh and for the protection of the covenant of God to be in place. Marrying a non-believer will have severe implications for any children the relationship produces. If the husband is not a believer, the wife will not have a spiritual covering in her marriage through her husband but will still have the covering of the marriage covenant. All of these scenarios are a recipe for family disasters. In contrast, living God’s way produces abundant life, safety, and peace!
In short, I made it easy for the enemy to do his work and was also reaping the harvest of my pride-based rebellion and ignorance. Years of pain and addiction resulted in the death of my firstborn, Abbe. By God’s grace, my youngest, Bryn, is alive and free. I know the truth of the prophet Hosea’s words, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”
If we fall into sin, we compromise our children in the process. I encourage you, then, to be quick to repent if there has been compromise. If you have an ongoing struggle with sin, the source or the root may very well be generational or the result of unhealed trauma. If so, I encourage you to pursue inner healing through ministries like HeartSync (which I highly recommend!).
As a father, healing trauma in my life was critical to closing the door to demonic influence in my life. Like the church (family paradigm), living a life of godliness and prayerfulness while maintaining unity is important for covering our families.
Are You Covered?
“My beloved ones, just like you’ve always listened to everything I’ve taught you in the past, I’m asking you now to keep following my instructions as though I were right there with you. Now you must continue to make this new life fully manifested as you live in the holy awe of God—which brings you trembling into his presence.” –Philippians 2:12
Are you submitted to the spiritual leadership of a pastor, minister, senior leader, or mature believer? If not, begin finding a Christian, biblically-based base church to attend. If you know any other believers, ask where they attend and consider joining them this weekend!
Are there any areas of compromise in your life? Pause for a moment and ask the Lord to reveal any hidden sin or “mixing” with the world. Take time to repent and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness and covering over your life, marriage, and family.
What is one step you can take as a parent to begin leading your children in the ways of the Lord? (e.g., pray together at meal times, start attending church weekly, implement boundaries around the movies and TV shows you/your children watch, etc.)