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The Invisible War Preached by: Matthew S. Black Text: Ephesians 6:10-13 Series: Rooted in Christ Date: October 28, 2012, 10:30am Living Hope Bible Church of Roselle, IL Introduction: Open your Bible to the book of Ephesians 6:10-13. We are continuing our series: “Rooted in Christ”. The title of the message is: “The Invisible War”. Ephesians 6:10–13 (ESV), “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Struggle and Pain a Blessing: the Butterfly Pain is a blessing in disguise. Struggle and affliction are necessary in God’s plan. Pain and struggle must run their course in order for proper growth to occur. I learned of the man who found a cocoon of the emperor butterfly. He took it home to watch it develop. One day a small opening appeared. He observed the caterpillar struggling for several hours to pass it’s body pass a certain point – a very small opening. Finally, this well intentioned scientist concluded there must be something wrong. So he took a pair of scissors, and snipped the remaining top of the cocoon. The moth emerged of course very easily. The body was large and swollen, it’s wings small and shriveled. He expected in a few hours that the wings would spread out in natural beauty, but they didn’t. Instead of having the natural ability to fly, the moth crawled around dragging around shriveled wings and a swollen body – without the ability to fly. Only later did the man understand that the constricting cocoon and the struggle was necessary to pass through, because the struggling through that constricting hole was God’s way of passing fluid from the body into the wings – that the wings might be large and developed and the caterpillar be transformed into a butterfly able to fly with ease. God wants you to live a transformed life, and that only comes through struggle, pain, and difficulty. If we cut it off, we will be walking around with swollen fleshly habits in our life with shrunken spiritual wings, and no power to fly. Outline The Invisible War has four characteristics… · Loyalty · Weaponry · Strategy · Victory I. Loyalty: Be Strong in Christ Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord [Christ] and in the strength of his might.” Let me tell you why you ought to be loyal to Christ and be “strong in His strength”. The Crown of Scotland Some of you know my family’s heritage is from Scotland. My son would like to learn how to play the bag pipes. Now, none of us boys in our family have yet put on a Scottish kilt, but our missions’ conference is coming next year! You may not know this, but my Grandfather came from Scotland after fighting for his country in the First World War. The World War I was an awful battle. Hundreds of soldiers would be encamped in ditches. Rain, cold, and hunger could not stop them. Their motto was “for the Crown of Scotland!” They would think of their homeland and their families and they would cloth themselves in loyalty for the crown of Scotland! A Time when We were NOT STRONG! There was a time when we were taken captive by the enemy. We were “dead in our trespasses and sins”. We were bound by the wicked one. The strong man had us. We were headed to destruction FAST. We were “without strength” and “dead in sins” the Bible says. We had no righteousness of our own, and we could not save ourselves. According to 2 Corinthians 4:4, because of our rebellion against God, Satan was given legal right to harm and harass your life. And because of this rebellion, the “god of this world’ was given the power to “blind…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”. Eric Ludy describes it this way: THE GOSPEL. You were a rebel against God, taken captive by the wicked one. You were behind the prison bars and you could not free yourself. Your prison was impenetrable. You cannot escape. You’re doomed – because when the enemy comes in, at the very end, he’s going to finish you off. He has legal right to destroy you, and he relishes moment your final destruction comes. In comes your Intercessor, your Advocate – your Warrior. And He stands between you and your accuser. And He takes the hit that was rightfully yours. He takes the blow that was intended for you. This is an extraordinary reality, that Jesus Christ was turned to a pulp for you. God’s very Word, His very Expression took on human form and God in human flesh – He died for you! Condemned Over your prison cell, it has always said “condemned” – “separated eternally from God” – “Guilty!” But suddenly it switches. In a moment everything changes. It now says, “Justified” – “Forgiven” – “No Condemnation” – “Redeemed”! Here’s the Problem That’s not where the good news ends. The blood of Jesus Christ was shed for you when he was crucified by Pontius Pilate, and He died in your place. And that is amazing news, isn’t it? But forgiveness is not why God saved you. He saved you to do so much more. You are no longer bound by your sins. He wants you to walk out in the liberty. You are no longer under the authority of sin to obey its impulses. You are no longer a slave of sin. Walk out of the prison cell! Be strong in Christ! Ephesians 6:10, “…be strong in the Lord [Christ] and in the strength of his might.” Adoption: the King Beckons You - the robe of sonship! Outside of the prison cell, there is a chest. In it you see there is a robe. It is a beautiful robe of righteousness! God beckons you to put it on! It is the robe for every son and daughter. It is the robe of Christ’s purity. Your sins are cleansed! You were a rebel, but God beckons you and calls to you as His son or daughter. He calls you to put on the robe of sonship! sit and eat at His table. He robes you with the royal robe of sonship, the robe of Christ’s righteousness – you are now adopted, and you have all the legal rights as an heir of God. Have you ever thought, are you sure you have the right guy here? I was a rebel! I stood against God! I spat in His face! How could He want me? Yet the King beckons you. And so we are taken right out of the filthy prison, and the King gives us a place in His very near presence. He wants us to live right where He lives in His very NEAR presence. And God adopts you as His own child. We are brought into the very family of God to share His heart. You cry out to God: “I don’t deserve this. Why have you done this for me?” God’s only reply: “I love you.” And in those words is all the power and all the glory of God. God loves to make rebels into His own sons and daughters. I. Loyalty – be STRONG in the Lord! II. Weaponry: Utilize on God’s weaponry Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”. · Jeremiah 17:5, “Thus says the LORD; Cursed be the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD.” · David tells us: “vain is the help of man” (Psalm 60:11). · God commands us to “lean not to your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). You get to God’s very near presence, robed in His robe of sonship, that robe of righteousness. But then something amazing happens. Something extraordinary. The Commission He gives you a commission. We are now His sons and daughters. The Living God has paid the ransom price for our souls. We were held captive by Satan and awaiting God’s righteous judgment against our treason against him. And God in “His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive!” And so He gives us a commission. Are you ready for it? God says, “I want you to go back to the prison because there are a whole bunch more that I’ve ransomed. Shall not the Lamb who was slain receive the full reward for His suffering? He died for others. Will you go and rescue them? “Me God?” But I’m weak! You have no power in yourself, you are right! But God has called us to prepare for war! Ephesians 6:10, “…be strong in the Lord [Christ] and in the strength of his might.” It’s the same battle cry that God gives to the Prophets. Look at Isaiah 42, Joel 3, and Hosea 11. The OT frequently portrays God as a Great Warrior · Isaiah 42:13 (ESV), “The LORD goes out like a mighty man [warrior], like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes.” · The Prophet Joel charges the Philistines with having invaded Judah, captured the inhabitants, and sold them as slaves. Here God is seen as the Great Warrior who calls for war. Joel 3:9-10, “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war; wake up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up. 10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am strong.” Will His people fight? No they will not, and a hundred years later, the Assyrian Empire comes and slaughters the northern Kingdom. This is the constant picture of the Old Testament, and it is the very theme that Paul picks up. This is my hope this morning. Our Lion, our General roars, and we need to come trembling. Ephesians 6:10-11, “…be strong in the Lord [Christ] and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”. Tank Operators Have you ever seen a tank operator? They are usually small! But they are operating this massive tank. That’s how we are. We are weak. We are small. 2 Cor. 12 – when I am weak, then I am strong. You’ve got to be small in order to be one of God’s tank operators! The War Chest Now just outside of the very near presence of God is a war chest. God says, “What I’m doing My children will not lose. Give me your Body, and I will come in and make it my own. Your hands, your feet, your mouth, will be my hands, feet, and mouth. And I will take out your heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh and I will give you my burdens to bear and you will speak my words and go forth in my power and you will be my instrument! Now go into that war chest and put on the whole armor of God. Put on… · Belt of Truth · Breastplate of Righteousness—righteousness of Christ · Shoes of Peace—sharing the Gospel · Shield of Faith · Helmet of Salvation · Sword of the Spirit If you go in your own power you will fail. “Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord”. I Came Not to Bring Peace Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with a call to Battle. What? I thought Jesus was supposed to bring me peace! Wait a minute! I became a Christian for God to heal me. What’s this about fighting? That’s right. God has called you to fight. There is an invisible war going on! Jesus said, “I came not to bring peace but a sword.” God has called you to fight against His enemies, but His greatest enemies are unseen. Indeed Christ came to “destroy the works of the devil”. In the Christian life, there is a necessary struggle. In a moment we are going to see how Paul uses the metaphor of a soldier to describe how to fight the enemy. Today’s message is meant to give you a vision of the Battle, the Enemy, and the Victor. You must put on God’s armor. You must have a wartime mentality. If you do not fight, you will be taken captive. You will be mocked. As a Christian, you can go forward without God’s armor, but you will be like a Samson. Strong Samson Remember Samson? He had taken the vow of a Nazirite at birth. The Hebrew word nazir means to be "consecrated" or "separated" Samson had been set apart to God. As part of that vow, he could have no wine. He could touch no death thing. And of course you know, his hair was never to be cut. Because of Samson’s vow, he had great power. But you remember he took his power for granted, and he got involved with a Philistine girl named Delilah who deceived him, cut his hair, and called for her people to take him captive. Remember what happened to him? Look at Judges 16. You’ll find that Delilah had the Philistines shave his head while he was sleeping and cut the seven braids from Samson’s head. Look at Judges 16:20-22, “And she [Deliliah] said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him. 21 And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison. 22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” He was God’s child – God’s leader – God’s warrior! Yet he decided to toy with the enemy. He ended up getting his head shaved and his eyes gouged out. Don’t get me wrong – God still used Sampson, but only after he got the full brunt of the enemies weapons against him. He had a great victory at the end of his life. But he still had to deal with blindness. And he had weakness until his hair grew back. If you give Satan an inch, he’ll bind you the first chance he gets. He cannot destroy you, but he’d like to take away your strength! Share in Suffering 2 Timothy 2:5 (ESV), “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes [competes] according to the rules.” “Athleo Stephano” ἀθλέω στεφανόω Paul uses a phrase in 2 Timothy 2:5 which means “contending for the crown”. It was a term used in the Greek Olympics. · Athleo means “to contend, to compete, to go after” · Stephano – for “the wreath, the crown” – i.e. the glory, the achievement, the victory. Be strong in the Lord! Contend, fight, wage war! How? Be strong in the Lord! You are weak! 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and of a disciplined mind” (my translation). Paul says to the Ephesians, where Timothy would be the pastor – Ephesians 6:10, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Don’t be a weakling. Don’t fight with the pitiful weak armor of the flesh. Don’t fight with your own power. You are going to need this strength, because there is an evil day coming. You had better store up the strength and might of the Lord, so you’d better learn it now! I. Loyalty – be STRONG in the Lord! II. Weaponry – put ON the whole armor of God! III. Strategy: Expose the enemy · Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:11 (ESV), “we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” The Schemes of the devil Again he reiterates his warning in Ephesians 6:11-12, “11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” As Calvin said: He means that our difficulties are far greater than if we had to fight against men. Where we resist human strength, sword is opposed to sword, man contends with man, force is met by force, and skill by skill; but here the case is very different, for our enemies are such as no human power can withstand. Hughes, R. K. (1990). Ephesians: The mystery of the body of Christ. Preaching the Word (214). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. You cannot trust the enemy! The enemy is an invader. You have to drive him out! Numbers 33:55 (ESV), “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.” We Don’t Negotiate with Terrorists! “We don’t negotiate with terrorists”. This has been the policy of our country since its inception. We don’t talk about compromise with the enemy. The only way we talk with the enemy is on terms of surrender. And so it is with our spiritual enemies. All life is war. From the cradle to the grave, we fight. Before the new birth, we were held captive by the devil. Now we must “stand against the schemes of the devil”. Though Christ has delivered the death blow to the powers of darkness, they are not yet fully destroyed. At the end of Paul’s life he said “I have fought a good fight”. A. Why use God’s weapons? 2 Corinthians 10:3–4 (ESV), “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” B. What are God’s weapons? 1. Prayer 2. Words of Scripture - This includes the power of the gospel to break through sin and hardened opposition and awaken faith in the hearts of unbelievers (see Rom. 10:17; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23). Ibid., 888 3. Worship 4. Faith 5. Righteous conduct on the part of the members of the church Satan’s Schemes – the world, the flesh, and the devil The world is… · Lust of the flesh (wanting physical desires, sinful passsions) · Lust of the eye (wanting beautiful externals, possessions) · Boastful pride of life (selfish ambition, popularity) o Do not love the world (1 John 2:15) o Do not let it shape your values (Rom. 12:2) – not conformed but transformed! o You should live through Jesus as crucified to the world (Gal. 6:14) The flesh refers to our capacity and disposition to put self-interests above God. You are your own worse enemy. In short, the flesh is an internal resistance to obey God (Mark 7:21–23; Gal. 5:19–21; Col.3:5–8; James 1:14–15). · Recognize longer a slave to the impulses of the flesh. You are no longer a slave (Rom. 6) · Walk in conscious submission to the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16), and you will not fulfil the desires and passions of the flesh! · Put to death (mortify) sinful desires (Rom. 8:13–16). Forsake them and fill your heart with the things of the Lord that are far more satisfying. Satan is another enemy in the invisible war! · He is a created being. He is not another god. He is finite. He is no match for God, but he is far greater and more powerful than us. · He is a defeated enemy. Colossians 2:15 (ESV) At the Cross, Christ “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Satan’s weapons He is raging and roaring as Peter says in 1 Peter 5:8, “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour”. o John 5:19b, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (ESV). o There is “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). o “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Let me give you some specific references to sins that allow Satan to control our minds. Puritan Thomas Brooks, in his book Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, speaks of the ordinary demonic as Satan coming to us as our Tempter and baiting our hook with various pleasure and temptations. These are beach heads, strongholds for Satan to control your life. Get rid of these things. · Sexual sin (1 Cor. 7:5) – Unless you are fulfilling your sexual desires in a healthy marriage relationship, then Satan will tempt you because of a lack of self control. He says married people need to have a close spiritual and physical and social relationship so that “…Satan tempt you not for your incontinency [lack of self control]”. · Marriage between Christians and non-Christians (2 Cor. 6:15) – what communion has Christ with Belial? Do not choose to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Caveat, you may have done it in ignorance. Peter says once you are married, work to win your spouse through a godly and quiet life. But don’t choose this, because it will give you years of heart ache and struggle against the wicked one. · False religion, false teaching, false Jesus (1 Cor. 10:14–22; 1 Tim. 4:1–2; 2 Cor. 11:1–4) – through this he keeps the eyes of unbelievers blinded! (2 Cor. 4:4) · Anger and Bitterness (Eph. 4:17–5:2) – we are told to put it aside or we will invite the counsel of Satan. Do not let the sun go down on your anger neither give place to the devil. · Life Dominating Sin (Eph. 5:8–21) – many strong holds and beach heads for Satan are listed here and elsewhere. · Gossip invites Satan’s activity (1 Tim. 5:11–15… because of Gossip “some have already strayed after Satan”. Gossip is the work of Satan, and it is this work that tears apart the church of Christ. If you have something against someone, lay your gift at the altar and go to them alone. Be reconciled. Do NOT Gossip! · Lies (John 8:44) – for Satan is “the father of lies”. The moment you lie you invite the control of the father of lies. · Idolatry (1 John 5:18–21) – “little children, keep yourselves from idols… the whole world lies under the power of the evil one”. Put nothing in the place of God, or you will become a slave to it. I. Loyalty – be STRONG in the Lord! II. Weaponry – Put on the complete armor of God. III. Strategy – We WRESTLE NOT IV. Victory – “stand firm”!! Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Cristus Victor, “Christ is the Victor” Christ is the Victor!! He is… · The Lion of the Tribe of Judah! · The King of all kings and Lord of all lords! A. We live in an evil day. Carnal weapons won’t work. B. Don’t just resist and withstand, but conquer and take ground. Stand firm! Christ has all power. Why would you want to be strong in anything else? · 1 John 4:4 (KJV), “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” · Romans 8:31 (ESV), “If God is for us, who can be against us?” · God has given us everything we need to win the battle. Romans 8:32 (ESV), “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” · John 15:5 (KJV), “without Me you can do nothing.” Verse 13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Christ is already the Victor! Colossians 2:13–16 (ESV), “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” 1. We are called to be pioneers, not settlers! Athleo to compete, to go after Stephano –the crown, the victory! Be strong in God’s grace. There’s coming a time when you are going to need it! Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. You may not think you are in God’s military, but you are if you are if you are in Christ. Go into the war chest! Get the armor. If you don’t, you will die!! You will be shredded by the enemy! There is a dying world out there that needs to hear about Christ! The church of Jesus Christ is crumbling around us. We need to take that step of obedience. Onward! Pull up the tent stakes. The church of Jesus Christ has stagnated. The church is stagnated looking at the Promise land, salivating over the land full of milk and honey. But we have to take it by force! Press on! This is not far enough! If you want to give up, you hear the words, “You are done. Rest awhile. You’ve arrived!” That’s the big burly Conclusion: Listen to the prayer of Jim Elliot, missionary who was put to death by the people he came to reach. (Tell the story of the angels who surrounded him) He died preaching the Gospel to those who put him to death. The Auca Whoudani Indians who killed him, said at the death of the five missionaries, the curtains were thrown back and they saw a host of angels and heard singing. How did he get to that place of such courage and boldness? How was he able as a very young man to go to war against the enemy and win? He understood that he had to release his grasp on all things temporal. All things on this earth so that he might wield the sword of God. Listen to his prayer as a college student: ======== Father Let Me Be Weak ======== ‘Father, let me be weak that I might lose my clutch on everything temporal. My life, my reputation, my possessions, Lord, let me lose the tension of a grasping hand. Even, Father, would I leave the love of fondling-how oft I have released grasp only to obtain what I prize by “harmless longing,” the fondling touch. Rather, open my hand to receive the nail of Calvary- as Christ was opened- that I, releasing all, might be released, unleashed from all that binds me here. He thought heaven- yea, equality with God- not a thing to be clutched at all- so let me release my grasp.’ - Jim Elliot You come today and say, “I am letting hold my clutch on all temporal things!” There’s a war going on and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has enlisted you! Open up the war chest. Take out God’s armor. Be strong in His strength!
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