Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Battle Belongs to the Lord


The Battle Belongs to the Lord

A short exposition on Spiritual Warfare in the 21st Century.

Outline


  1. Introduction
    1. We are at war
    2. Everyone is a part of this war.  No exceptions. No Switzerland.
    3. Spiritual warfare.
  2. There is an enemy
    1. Names:
      1. Tempter (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5)
      2. Evil one (Matt. 13:19, 38; 1 john 2:13; 3:12; 5:19)
      3. Adversary (1 Peter 5:8)
      4. The deceiver (Rev. 12:9)
      5. Great dragon (Rev. 12:3)
      6. The serpent (Rev. 20:2)
      7. Father of lies (John 8:44)
      8. Murderer (John 8:44)
      9. Beelzebub (Matt. 12:24, 27; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15, 19))
      10. The accuser of the brethren  (Rev. 12:10)
      11. The god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4)
      12. An angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14)
      13. The devil (Matt. 4:1-11, Rev. 20:2)
      14. and, of course, Satan (Job 1:6; John 13:27)
    2. Satan is real
      1. If he is not, then Jesus is a liar or delusional
      2. The apostles assumed a real devil
    3. Many Christians now claiming Satan, demons and Hell are not real.
    4. Remove satan you might as well remove Christ and the gospel.
    5. Invisible enemies.
    6. Satan is real, demons are real, the war is real.
  3. Tragedies of war
    1. Some things Satan does or inspires others to do
      1. Demon possessions
      2. Abortion: over 1 million  babies murdered this past year in the US, 50,000,000 worldwide.
      3. War
      4. Some Sicknesses and diseases (Not all.  Compare Matt:17:15-18 and 4:24)
      5. Death
    2. This is serious business.  Not playing games.
    3. The worst and most effective weapon the enemy has in his arsenal: Deception
      1. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
    4. So that you don’t fall into despair, let’s talk about what our role is in this war.
  4. Taking a stand
    1. 1 Peter 5:8
    2. lulled to sleep.  Easy to forget.
      1. American peace, bibles, radio, T.V.  Music styles.  What if we only sang hymns?
      2. A.W. Tozer once wrote: "It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God"
      3. This is why scripture exhorts us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17)
        1. All called to be prayer warriors
      4. This is why we must study (not just read) scripture
        1. Matthew 4:1-11
          1. Satan knows his Scripture even if he doesn’t believe it.
          2. Rightly handle the Word of Truth.
        2. 2 Timothy 2:15
      5. This is why we must obey (Eph. 4:25-32)
        1. Opportunity to the devil.
        2. read the last verse. You do that and you will be successful in this war.  You will be a champion.  You will be a hero.

    1. Now, let’s talk about God’s role in this war
  1. And The Winner Is...!
    1. 1 Samuel 17:23-26.
    2. 17:41-47
    3. The lion and the bear
      1. David knew God would save the day because he knew God.
    4. 2 Kings 6:8-17
      1. Did Elisha actually see?
      2. Blessed are those who do not see, yet believe” (John 20:29)
  2. Conclusion
    1. Be alert!  Satan is a very real, very powerful, very dangerous enemy.
    2. Be prepared!  Pray, obey and study God’s word.
    3. Believe!  God is in change.  Satan is under his thumb and not only can Satan not do anything without God’s permission, Satan, in God’s eyes, has already lost the war.
    4. Romans 8:31-39.


Introduction


We are at war.  We have been for some time.  A vast and complicated war wh
ere the casualty count has been in the billions.  Every man, woman and child that has ever lived or who will ever live is a part of this war.  There are no exceptions.  You are either on the winning side or the losing side.  You are either on the side of the enemy or you are not.  There is no neutral territory. There is no Switzerland.  There are no sidelines.  If you aren’t on one side then you are, by default, on the other.  Period.

I am talking about spiritual warfare.  A phrase that I am afraid has been so overused that it either holds very little meaning or has been given such meaning from fictionalized accounts that it has lost its edge.   Let me say, that this war is very real and it is vital that Christians understand its ramifications for their own lives and the salvation of their souls.

There is an Enemy

Let me start off by telling you that there is an enemy in this war.  This enemy is “hell bent” on inflicting as much damage on us as possible.  He goes by many names,

Tempter (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5)
Evil one (Matt. 13:19, 38; 1 john 2:13; 3:12; 5:19)
Adversary (1 Peter 5:8)
The deceiver (Rev. 12:9)
Great dragon (Rev. 12:3)
The serpent (Rev. 20:2)
Father of lies (John 8:44)
Murderer (John 8:44)
Sinner (1 John 3:8)
Beelzebub (Matt. 12:24, 27; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15, 19)
Belial (2 Cor. 6:15)
The accuser of the brethren  (Rev. 12:10)
The god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4)
An angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14)
The devil (Matt. 4:1-11, Rev. 20:2)
and, of course, Satan (Job 1:6; John 13:27)

It is important that we establish right off that Satan is, in fact, real.

First, Jesus believed in Satan.  If Satan isn’t real then Jesus was delusional at best or worse, a liar (Matt. 4:1-11; Matt. 16:23; Lk. 22:31,32).

Second, the apostles all assumed a real devil, a real enemy of our souls that strives to thwart God’s plans and keep people as far away from Him as possible (Eph. 4:27; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 Jn. 2:13; 3:8-10).

I am surprised at how many Christians and Christian leaders are coming out denying what the Bible teaches as fact.  They say that the Satan and hell are faerie tales of a bygone age, invented by well intentioned, or perhaps not so well intentioned, religions leaders in order to scare little children, foolish women and superstitious old men into submission.

Know this, brothers and sisters: if you strip the bible of Satan, his armies and his battle plans as they are presented to us, you not only strip the Word of Truth of any truth value but you give the enemy what any enemy of any war loves: the ability to move about freely and to do whatever he likes without ever being challenged by his victims.

Satan is real.  Demons are real. The war is real.  An no amount of playing “let’s pretend”, indifference, or sticking our fingers in our ears will ever change that.  It will only result in you becoming another casualty of war.

The tragedies of war


So, like any war, there are casualties.  These can be seen in such things as:

Demon possessions (Matt. 8:29,31; 12:45; 17:15; Mk. 5:2-4; 1:24, 26, 34; 5:2-13  Lk. 4:41; 8:26-33). A better word is demonization.

Abortion:  over 1 million  babies murdered this past year in the US, 50,000,000 worldwide.

War

Sicknesses and diseases (Not all.  Compare Matt:17:15-18 and 4:24)

Death

These are all things that Satan has his hands in and, many times, is directly responsible for.  This is serious business.  We aren’t fighting against the imaginary.  We are fighting  against a being that, contrary to what you may have been told, thinks he can actually win.  He doesn’t act like someone who knows his end is near, desperately thrashing about, fighting against the inevitable.  He is fighting to win.

As terrible as these things are Satan has another tactic that is probably his worst and most effective one.  Deception.  

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 ESV)

I have heard many of you cry out in frustration that no one seems to hear and respond to the message of the Gospel any more.  Maybe a couple here and a couple there, but nothing like what was seen in the past.  Here is, in part, the answer.  Satan, the god of this world, has blinded them.  

However, so that you don’t fall into despair, let’s talk about what our role is in this war.

Taking a Stand


Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
(1 Peter 5:8 ESV)

The scriptures tell us this for a reason.  As Christians, especially christians living in relative peace, in one of the world’s richest countries, we can become careless.  We take things for granted.  

I am always amazed when I read accounts of persecuted Christians in countries like China or Russia before the end of the cold war.  They would find a page of scripture and pass it around like it were a priceless treasure.  They would memorize chapters and books of the bible at a time in order to recite scripture to one another when bibles were hard to come by.  They would gather together, huddled with their heads almost touching, and whisper a hymn for fear the authorities would hear the singing and arrest them.  

But in free, safe America, where most Christians own several bibles, have access to multiple radio stations broadcasting songs and sermons, we have a tendency to forget to even read the Word, sometimes for days or weeks at a time, never mind memorize it.  We forget to pray except when desperate enough to remember.   

We bicker over music styles and simply hop to another church that satisfies our musical tastes better.  If we announced next week that we were no longer going to have a worship team but instead sing only hymns from our hymnals and only a capella, you would most likely find that a large number of people would leave this church to go to one that did have a contemporary worship.  But fear not, you would also probably find that those people would get replaced by those who hate contemporary music and instruments and are thus leaving their current church for ours.  
 
A.W. Tozer once wrote: "It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God"

It is easy for us to...forget.  And this is just the opportunity Satan is waiting for.  We must stay alert!  

I remember a pastor once gleefully preaching that although it was true that Satan is a roaring lion, nonetheless he is a toothless lion.  Unfortunately this is not true as anyone who has been careless and suffered at the hands of the enemy can attest.  If he were toothless why worry?  But here Peter tells us that he isn’t just a roaring lion.  He is a devouring lion.   

This is why we are exhorted to “pray without ceasing”  (1 Thess. 5:17).  I’ve said this before and I will say it again: the most important activity of every single Christian is prayer.  You have also heard me say that I do not particularly like the phrase “prayer warrior”.  I don’t like it because it sends the message that some people are called to a life of prayer while others are not.  It is true that some pray more than others, but let me stress it to you again: we are ALL called to be prayer warriors; every man, woman and child who claims Christ as their Lord and Savior.  

This is why we must study the Bible.  Notice I did not say merely read but study.  This is the word of the Lord.  I do not have time to go into an apologetic of the Bible being the very words of God.  If you do not know this then the rest of my message will mean nothing to you.  The Holy Spirit confirms to every true believer, in his or her heart, that this book contains the living, life giving words of God.

But knowing this is not enough.  We must go beyond knowing that the bible is the Word of God.  We must know the Word.  We must study it.

Turn to Matthew 4:1-11 and read it with me.

There are two things I wish to point out here.  First, Satan knows the scriptures.  It doesn’t here say he believes them or trusts them.  But he does know them.  

Second, we must be able to rightly handle the word of truth.  In each instance Satan quoted scripture, albeit out of context of its true meaning.  But scripture tells us:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)

This is why I said “study” and not merely read the bible.  We need to know it inside and out. We need to pray over every verse and seek God for help.  Help that Jesus promised would be ours for the asking (Jn 14:26; Lk. 11:13).  Jesus rightly handled the word of truth and won that battle.  So can we if we are willing to follow his example.

This is why we are told not to give an “opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:25-32).  We are called to be something.  That is, Christian isn’t just a name, it is a characteristic.  It isn’t just who we are, it is what we do that makes us Christian.  If we act out of character, if we do other than what our Lord has called us to, we will give the enemy a foothold.  We will give him opportunity or, as some translations put it, we will give him a foothold.  

What opportunity?   Opportunity to take us down. To bring damage and disrepair to God’s kingdom.  To strike a blow for the enemy.  When we lie, when we steal, when we let our anger get the better of us, when we let corrupt talk come out of our mouths like dirty and crass jokes, foul language, gossip or whatever else doesn’t build up other people.  

You want to help defeat the enemy?  Read the last verse of this text:

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

You do that and you will be successful in this war.  You will be a champion.  You will be a hero.

So pray, and love you neighbor as yourself.  Not very new is it?  I’m tell you old stuff because God is old, and his message is old, and I see no reason to give you anything other than what God has already said.  


Now, let’s talk about God’s role in this war

And The Winner is...!

This is where things get good. We know there is an enemy.  We know he has it in for us.  We know that we have responsibilities as soldiers in this war.  But it doesn’t end there.  It may seem like it is all up to us, but it isn’t. To be honest, we are fighting a war, the outcome of which has already been decided.  

Turn with me to 1 Samuel 17:23-26.  Do you think that David knew something here?  It sounds like he had some inside information.  The fact is, all of the Israelites should have known what David knew.  But instead we read in verses that follow that David’s brothers derided him for his stand.

You are going to find that when you take a stand of faith that people, even friends, family and fellow Christians are going to come against you.  Stepping out in faith can be a scary thing. But it is the ONLY way this battle can be fought.   Let’s read on:

17:41-47

Here’s the inside knowledge that David had:  “...the Lord saves not with sword and spear.  For the battle is the Lord’s”.  This is the knowledge that was the basis for David’s faith.  Do you want to know something else?  You and I have this same inside knowledge!

But this wasn’t just book knowledge.  If you read earlier in this account you will find that David had his faith tested while tending his sheep.  A lion and a bear attacked his sheep at different times and David successfully killed them and saved his sheep.  David knew God would save the day because he knew God.

Here’s another account I love.  Turn with me to 2 Kings 6:8-17.  You know what is really interesting to me?  We are never told that Elisha could see the chariots.  It doesn’t say either way.  But if I were allowed a bit of conjecture here, I like to think that he couldn’t.  That he only knew that God was there and that God was going to save the day.  It was the servant who needed to see with his eyes because he lacked the faith to see it with his heart.  “Blessed are those who do not see, yet believe” (John 20:29).

Conclusion

Be alert!  Satan is a very real, very powerful, very dangerous enemy.
Be prepared!  Pray, obey and study God’s word.
Believe!  God is in change.  Satan is under his thumb and not only can Satan not do anything without God’s permission, Satan, in God’s eyes, has already lost the war.

Let me close with the scripture passage we read at the beginning of church:  Romans 8:31-39.

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