Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fight With Everything You've Got!

This video is a great lead in for this subject...

Ephesians 6:10-20

Fight With Everything You’ve Got!

Once you become a believer, you become an enemy of the kingdom of the air and the war on our lives intensifies. Everything heats up and Satan would love nothing more than to neutralize us in the battle for the hearts and minds of men and women. Writing in prison, Paul would not have to look far to gain his inspiration for writing this part of his letter. He knew that the believers were targeted by the state as well as the religious establishment. Following Jesus was seen as an all out threat to everything that was good and right about the world at the time. So, they needed to be exposed, taken out and dealt with in a way that anyone thinking about contemplating Christ would know the cost. Paul turned it around and used it as an opportunity to teach the believers everything they needed in terms of a defensive and offensive preparation in becoming defiant soldiers of Christ.

1. Take A Stand!

BE strong in the Lord. Entering into the battle is not optional for the believer. It is a battle and we are called to keep advancing, to be strong in the victory that is ours in the Lord. Put on the full armour

Matthew 16:18 upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Know what you are taking a stand against and we can know this by recognizing the playbook of the enemy

We are up against the schemes of the devil and there is nothing better for him than to have us fascinated and or immobilized by him. Every time that he can get someone to go to a medium, a horoscope or allow other voices in their life to rise above God’s, he is delighted. Anytime he can get our eyes off trusting the Lord we our future, he succeeds.

His schemes speak of cunning acts, his deceit and trickery. He loves to trip up believers, especially those in places of leadership to cause many to doubt and fall away. How does he develop his schemes? Most of the time he works from within through a spirit of discouragement and frustration, the root of bitterness.

He also wants us to be ignorant of the way he works. He would love for us to just believe that he is a non-factor in our sophisticated Western society where we can explain everything away and diagnose every problem and addiction. It is a place where the power is in ourselves and we can do it by our own belief in ourselves, our own positive thinking, our own telekinesis, He also encourages us through the spirit of discontent and the desire and accumulation of things.

When we value and hold up people or possessions before God they become idols

2 Corinthians 2:11 – don’t be unaware of his schemes

The enemy wants you to substitute yourself for God.

It was the lie that he spoke to Eve in the garden and it is the same lie that he tells people today. ‘You will be like God’.

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (KJV)

The enemy wants you to believe that people are the real enemy. He loves nothing better than to see us consumed by the actions of others and get us completely twisted in a knot by all of it. Take for example Michael Moore and his movie Fahrenheit 9/11 where his did his absolute best to convince everyone that George W. Bush was the real enemy and I think that is the smallness of the human condition to try to make it that simplistic when it comes to the real challenges that we face. It is human nature that wants to narrow it down instead of really recognizing the invisible enemies that we face.

Paul wants us to realize that more is going on here than meets the eye and while yes, the enemy can use people as his pawns, we have to pray for the pulling down on strongholds in the spiritual realm.

v12 What does Paul say....we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. WE WRESTLE - in Roman times the winner would place his hands on his arch rival’s neck and usually gouge out the eyes of the loser resulting in blindness. Here is the parallel, our enemy, Satan, rules the air and it is ultimate goal to keep men blinded to the light of the glorious gospel.

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

He is the accuser and he loves to sow disunity and bitterness between believers as well. Anything he can do to drive wedges into solid Christian community, he will do it. He loves to destroy marriages as well. Every time we choose to malign another person, speak ill will of them, the devil gains a foothold.

2. Stand Your Ground!

• The belt of truth

The first piece of armour that Paul speaks about is the belt of truth because the enemy is the father of lies and he wants us to doubt, he wants us to deceive us and he’ll twist even Scripture to that end. We also need to be people of our word and being dishonest with ourselves and others will open the doors to Satanic influence.

• The breastplate of righteousness.

Where the belt of truth might refer to an internal quality the breastplate of righteousness refers to an outward quality of our life. We will never be free from sin entirely in this life, but this quality speaks to us not becoming entangled in twined with it...throw it off. Hebrews 12:1

This plate protects one’s most vital organs, the places of our greatest vulnerability as well and so in order for the HS to do His work, we must guard our heart for our of it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

This is the very quality that Gord spoke to yesterday morning at our men’s breakfast. Don’t even entertain lustful thoughts for even a moment.

On another level, we must remember to put on the breastplate. We must never get to the place where we substitute our own righteousness for the righteousness of Christ. We do that when we take more stock in our own good behaviour than realizing where that righteousness comes from. It is not our own...our own righteous acts are like filthy rags Isa. 64:6.

• Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
There is a readiness that we take into battle. We have a firm foundation and we are here to steal back from the enemy the souls he has tried to rob of that very peace with God. We are called to bring the light into very dark places much like what Crossings Community Church in Acton did with ‘Manny’s Roadhouse’ which was a crack house and a placed filled with all kinds of deviant behaviour. The police were always on hand there.

The devil resents this and does everything to prevent it by keeping us as busy as possible with everything else that we never have any time to meet with others.

When we share the gospel and some one fails to respond, we give up. We think “we did it wrong” or “they just aren’t interested.” Then we become disheartened and are no longer ready to share the gospel. This is warfare beloved! We have to understand and recognize that rejection of the gospel is demonic. It is inspired by the enemy. So how do we fight this? We fight it by being ready to share the gospel! Adrian Warnock

The fact is that most people have to hear the gospel 5 or 6 times in different settings and often from different people just to grasp the truth. As Galatians 6 states, ‘don’t be weary in will receive a reward in due time’

• The shield of faith

The shield that Paul would have seen in his day would be about 4ft by 2.5 ft and curved inward. The shields were made of animal skins that were saturated with water to quench fiery darts.

The darts that God has called us to extinguish are doubts on every side, as well as deceit, pride, independence, self seeking... In the heat of the battle, never cease trusting in God. When you are backed into a corner and you feel you have no resolve and nothing left, keep your faith in God. It is in those times when our burdens are the heaviest that God shows up and does the miraculous and somehow we take flight on wings as the prophet Isaiah calls us to wait on the Lord and renew our strength!

• The helmet of salvation

The helmet speaks to our hope and no matter how the enemy seeks to destroy, he cannot crush our hope. We are more than conquerors as Romans 8 proclaims

It is our mindset that sets the tone for our day. It is with our minds that we choose to either look back on past defeats or look forward to new victories.

The morning is a critically important time of th day. You must never face the day until you have faced God, nor look into the face of others until you have looked into His. You cannot expect to be victorious, if you begin your day in your own strength alone.

L.B. Cowman Streams In The Desert

3. Stand up and be counted

• The sword of the Spirit
Jesus counter attacked the enemy with the Word. However it is the sword of the Spirit because it is not mere reading of the Word that makes the difference, it is the living, active, power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of God who brings revelation, who makes the words leap off the page, who teaches us new things!

On the other hand, the devil would love nothing more than to breed passivity in us, to just get us to believe that people really don’t care and it really is not worth the effort. The devil would rather breed doubt, fear and mistrust.

• The power of prayer. Paul concluded by telling us to be alert and keep on praying for all the saints.

Like that old hymn...

Stand up, Stand up for Jesus
Stand in His strength alone
The arm of flesh will fail you
You dare not trust your own
Put on the gospel armour
Every piece put on with prayer
Where duty calls or danger
Be never wanting there!

In Acts 19:1-17, we read about great power encounters that took place in Ephesus.

• First of all we see the real power of God coming down in the power of the Holy Spirit among the believers. It was following their baptism into Christ, a water baptism, that they began to walk in the fullness of their gifting. Paul prayed over them, placed his hands on them and the resulting change was immediate. The two gift that they experienced were speaking in tongues and the prophetic.
• The second power encounter is seen in the 7 sons of Sceva who merely tried to imitate the power of God and went face to face with an evil spirit. They were overpowered and took on a huge beating.

The Why were they overtaken? They were not prepared for the battle. You cannot merely profess the weapons of your warfare, you have to possess them and appropriate them.

I’ll never forget dealing with the enemy manifesting himself to me head on in a previous ministry. However, what we learned in that situation was that there was no way we were going to walk into that home in a nonchalant want. As a pastoral team we prepared ourselves in prayer and fasting. At Southside we have been in homes and had to pray the blood and presence of Christ over the home as well as be incredibly sensitive to items in the homes that may have carried an evil presence.

Some of you will remember that we had to deal with an evil presence in our home after learning that one of the bedrooms was set up as a shrine

• The third power encounter is the act of repentance. When you see the power of God on display, the enemy’s tricks are a cheap substitute. A significant number of those who practiced sorcery had turned over and burned

1 drachma = a day’s determine what you make in a day and multiply that by 50 000. On an average wage we are talking about $20 million dollars. This act of repentance was a complete turning over of an idol in their life.

The Takeaway

Take a stand in the power in the Lord and stand your ground in your heavenly armour

But don’t stop there

Stand up and be counted in the battle for the hearts and minds of men and women.

This week coming up is the most Holy week on our calendar and there are times in a believer’s life when the battle really heats up and intensifies. One of those times especially is before and after water baptism because it is public confession of faith.

Speak to Good Friday, Sunrise, Breakfast and Easter Service.


Leonard Ravenhill – Why Revival Tarries.

Questions For Discussion

1. To what extent have I put on the whole armour of God?
• Personal integrity and honesty
• Godly character
• A readiness to speak the gospel of peace
• A sense of security in my relationship with Jesus

2. What does wrestling in the spiritual realms look like to me?
3. When was the last time you had to use your sword in battle and what did that look like?

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