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Stand Firm I

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22 April, 2007                                                                                                                                                    4/27/2007

Larry McWherter

 

I grew up watching Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Underdog,  Mighty Mouse, The Lone Ranger, Green Hornet all Heroes…some of them human…My kids watched Power Rangers, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Computer generated Versions of Batman, Spiderman, Superman…consistent desire to be a hero.  The hero was guy who bravely fought against overwhelming odds to see the rightness/good prevailed and evil was destroyed.  I always wanted to be the hero…to overcome evil…to dissolve the darkness…and bring the light of life…on this spring day, with the light present and the warmth of the suns rays activating the life giving mechanisms created and installed by God…we’ve come to the topic of overcoming evil…of shedding the light of truth and life on the activities of the evil one and His forces.  Let’s pray…dispel the darkness…truth, righteousness, good news of peace with God, faith/trust in you,  salvation and your Word would prevail.

 

o       You and I have been given the task of declaring to the powers and principalities the eternal plan of God…to bring them into submission  to the Lord by exercising delegated authority in union with Christ   Ephesians 3:10-11 (NIV)10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:10-20 (NIV)

 

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.             Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)

¨ Be strong in the Lord…be strengthened in the Lord  (use the Force Luke)

 

o       A choice to engage power from outside ourselves…POWER

§        Indwelling Christ and the Holy Spirit…walk, sing, act in the Spirit

 

o       Jesus reigns as Lord at the right hand of the Father above all the cosmic forces of evil you are facing…you are seated with Him in the heavenlies…AUTHORITY

 

¨ Be strong in His mighty power… Paul has spent a considerable amount of time in this letter to the Ephesians talking about power

¨     Incomparably great power (1:19)…it is the supreme power (rock paper scissors)

¨     Mighty Strength – from the dead all the way to heaven resurrection power (1:20-21)

o       Above all rule authority powers and dominion power (1:21)

§        The church age and the one to come (1:21)

o       Head of the church – which he fills to fullness

¨     Power to raise us to His throne and seat us with Him (1:22-23)

o       We are created to walk in good works (2:8-10)

¨     Power to become our peace – peace with the Jews – peace with God (2:14-18)

¨     Power that that strengthens our inner being (3:16)

¨     Power to understand the wide, long, high and deep is the love of Christ and to be filled to all its fullness (3:17-20)

¨     Power to do beyond what you can ask and even think (3:20)

¨     Power to gift us to grow the Church through specific responsibilities (4:11-13)

¨     Power to love and build up the body of Christ in unity as each part does its work (4:3;16)

¨     Power to live as light; to sing and make music in our hearts and to submit to each other/yield in relationship (5:16-17; 21)

¨     Power to love our wives…to submit to our husbands…obey/honor our parents…to obey our bosses and honor our employees… (5:25-6:9)

 

Larry, I hear you and its real good of you to try and encourage me with this…but I can’t get through even half a day without failing miserably in at least one of these areas!...how am I going to declare anything of value in the heavenlies?  I seem to suffer the agony of defeat all of the time!   It seems that sometimes when I repent or try to do good…all hell breaks loose around me.

 

In our Spirit’s we are willing….but the flesh is weak.  The fact is that we still live in our skin…our bodies at this time are still fallen in their nature.  Sinful nature…flesh…sin…, but there an additional problem. 

 

11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.                                                                                            Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)

 

¨     Put on the full Armor of God…(so that you can take your stand)…Paul takes up a militaristic theme – including armor and taking a stand.  Warfare…the word stand here means that you maintain your place…continue to stand…stand firm…against the devils schemes…Imagine yourself as a Sumo wrestler and your opponent Sumo wrestler (the devils schemes) is attempting to throw you out of the ring…to get you to back down and get out…putting on the full armor of God will enable you to keep in the game

 

 

o       Against the Devil’s schemes (strategies, TTP’s)

§        Wait just a golden moment there partner…I’m not wearin a huge diaper and who is the devil?... that red guy with a pitchfork?

·        Paul calls him the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient Ephesians 2:2

§        Satan is the Chief of the demons (rebellious angels) and ruler of this world/age by way of the fall of man

§        He leads a very large army of demons against God

·        “There is a massive, complex hierarchy of evil supernaturalism with which the believer is at war.” P. 406

§        He and his followers continually devise strategies, Tactics, Techniques and Procedures, methods and strategies that will keep as many individuals from coming to Christ as possible and failing that, to marginalize the witness of as many individuals as possible.  To keep us from praying….the devil is locked in a Titanic war with God and we’re in-between

 

§        Dominion of Darkness – Human Institutions and Social Structures that are designed and cultivated to induce evil into the world…instituted idolatry…all based on deception…the possibilities/permutations are seemingly endless…anything to discredit God and dissuade people from loving Him.

 

 

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

 

¨     Columbine…Virginia Tech:  Nursing Hate to the point of murder…our struggle is not with flesh and blood…it is with evil itself.  Evil  - personal, high level cosmic powers manipulating men and their social institutions toward ultimate satanic evil…school massacres  are visible manifestations  of cosmic powers manipulating people toward evil demonic goals on earth.

 

o       In the midst of these events…it is natural to assume that people are the source of our struggle…God tells us that in fact are struggle is not with people.  Our struggle is with an evil army in the spiritual realm.  Against this backdrop of darkness, Jesus has stated that we are to love our enemy and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

 

o       Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)  30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

 

o       Lauren McCain a freshman from Hampton Virginia who was killed last Monday in the rampage… had written on her My Space page that she had two heroes…Jesus, Christ and her brother…Lauren fought well in the battle

 

¨     High  level - Cosmic Spiritual Warfare in the Heavenlies:  Between Jesus – His Believers and Powers and Principalities…location of spiritual warfare…both in the Heavenlies as we are “in Christ/seated with Him” and on this earth…the amphitheater of the play for the powers and principalities

 

o       Foes of mighty rank…nobles and chieftains of the fallen spirit world whose domain is this darkness,…not limited by animal or human frame…spirit.   Their “Nature is evil, their commission is evil, their work is evil” they are evil in essence and they work to see evil prevail over and destroy the work of God.

 

¨     People can be and are influenced by doctrines of demons…we are influenced by them…it’s a question of degree

 

¨      Whereas demons of old were tied to idols with names…  “Today we have demons of materialism, intellectualism, self–worship,  the pursuit of power, position, pleasure, and possessions.” P. 407

o The bottom line here is that at some point there is an intersection of  good and wholesome participation in these pursuits and activities and participation in these elements that are under the influence of demonic or supernatural entities.  When do we cross over the line and become clear participants in demonic activity/plans?...becomes the question.  Should we avoid all activities that have any kind of demonic influence?  Rock and Roll is an example that comes to mind…a subject of much debate in the 60’s/70’s & early eighties.  Clearly there are demonic influences with the world of Rock and Roll, but can drum beats be used to honor God?  Some have seen an element of demonic influence and rejected Rock and Roll outright. Drum beats become the source of evil…while pianos and pipe organs are free from demonic influence.  This is faulty thinking and misses the point.  When we place such restrictions on created things we re-establish a legal/law based system that none of us can satisfy.  Many have attempted to define the line clearly by proscribing particular behavior… set up rules.  In such a system, behavior that breaks the rules is participation with demons and behavior that does not is considered to be safe.  The reality is that neither drums nor organs are any more or less sacred or evil.  A rule based system is a problematic and unsatisfactory solution…because rules cannot get to the core issue….the very heart of it.  In fact mankind is caught in the middle of battle for hearts and minds.  The question is who do we worship?  Who do we honor? God, the Creator God or the devil/satan the no-god.    This struggle  intersects with and reaches to intentions of the heart…Jesus’ expansion of the 10 commandments points to this issue…while we might not pick up a weapon to murder (behavior) there can exist such malice in our hearts toward others that we are truly guilty of murder in our hearts.  Similarly I can play drums for God or for satan (the no-god – a created being)/ or for myself – which plays into the hands of satan. Or I can sing Gods praises or declare things that have the pit of hell as their origin.  Lauren McCain’s mother said this Wednesday night at a gathering of 350 people about what she might say…"Come on guys. This is so exciting! Let's praise Him! Let's praise Him!"  The dilemma can only be resolved in the light of truth – that is as we discern the motives in our hearts as they relate to Christ.   When we consider the many “isms” that are out there, Each of us must ask these kinds of questions…

 

§  Materialism: Am I honoring/worshipping material things or Christ 

§  Intellectualism: Am I pursuing knowledge for its own sake and placing it above Christ or am I endeavoring to gain understanding in the light of who He is?

§  Worship: Have I made myself the measure of all things?  Have I placed my own welfare above His kingdom and His commands?

§  Pursuit of Position/Power: Am I engaging my gifts with a servants heart or am I seeking position to improve my own lot/value apart from considering the will and aim of God first?

§  Pursuit of Pleasure: Have I placed pleasure above my Lord and serving Him?  Has the pursuit of the pleasures in life supplanted Him or are they natural outcomes of living life for Him?

§  Idolatry: Have things/systems…any created thing become my idols?

 

The extent to which we have placed anything above God is the extent to which we can come under the influence or outright direct effect of demons and their doctrines… Lauren had written in a Birthday Card to a friend about how wonderful she thought heaven would be…the enemy of our soul’s don’t want us to think in such terms

 

¨     Of course there is also the question of outright demonization – we see many examples of demons afflicting individuals in the Bible…demons, who are spirit beings, exist today and still intersect this world in an overt fashion.  How can we ensure that we are not ourselves demonized?

 

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

                                                                                                           Ephesians 6:13 (NIV)

 

Individually and Corporately…we are to be a unified, warring, praying church

 

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:14-20 (NIV)

Stand Firm – to take your place in the army “Roman wedge”

 

There’s no need to fear…

¨     We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  Romans 8:37

 

¨     Cosmic Christology:  Again the power of God raises the slain Jesus to the position of  highest power…that power raises and places the believer on the throne with Him…that same power.

o       Christ is head over the Church (and the principalities) – the Church’s greatest sin is rejecting his all inclusive and sole headship.

 

Lauren McCain seemed to have put on the armor…she fought well…Jesus was her hero and she said so.

Truth:  John 14:6-7 (NIV) 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Righteousness:  2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NIV) 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Gospel of Peace: Romans 5:1-2 (NIV)  1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Faith:  Romans 10:8-10 (NIV) 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Salvation: 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (NIV) 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

Sword of the Spirit: Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV) 12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Pray in the Spirit: Romans 8:26-27 (NIV) 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

 


¨     Love Joy, Peace Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control

¨     Words of Knowledge; Prophecies; Healing Gifts; Administrations; Teaching; Preaching; Evangelism; Church Planting; Pastoral Gifts; 

 Ministry Time:

¨     Confusion

¨     Doubt

¨     Disbelief

¨     Idol Worship

o       False deities

o       Inanimate/Created Things

o       False Systems

¨     Satisfaction

¨     Distraction

¨     Pleasure

6947 Lindbergh On Truth

In my youth, science was more important to me than either man or God. I worshipped science. Its advance had surpassed man’s wildest dreams. It took many years for me to discover that science, with all its brilliance, lights only a middle chapter of creation.

I saw the aircraft I love destroying the civilization I expected it to save. Now I understand that spiritual truth is more essential to a nation than the mortar in its cities’ walls. For when the actions of a people are undergirded by spiritual truths, there is safety. When spiritual truths are rejected, it is only a matter of time before civilization will collapse.

We must understand spiritual truths and apply them to our modern life. We must draw strength from the almost forgotten virtues of simplicity, humility, contemplation and prayer. It requires a dedication beyond science, beyond self, but the rewards are great and it is our only hope.

—Charles Lindbergh

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[1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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