#4 Prepared for Battle
“PREPARED FOR BATTLE”
(Foundations Discipleship Series)
Session #4 Westgate Chapel
PROPOSITION: The Christian life is a life of faith, empowered by the Holy Spirit, but clearly lived in a battle zone with an outcome dependent on our active engagement in the war.
- LOOKING back on it from the perspective we now have, the cost of World War II was tremendous.
- MILLIONS of lives were lost.
- SOME nations lost their independence, their national spirit, and with that their productivity, that have never been regained.
- 6 MILLION Jews were humiliated, starved, persecuted, and eventually murdered in one of the worst atrocities in human history.
- INDUSTRIAL, medical and technological advances in non-military services stopped while the free world frantically tried to supply the war front with the needed materiel.
- MANY who survived carry to this day the scars in their bodies or emotions from that war.
- AND the tragedy of it all is that from 1932 to the day that England finally declared war against Nazi Germany (Fall of 1939) there were numerous times and ways in which the aggression of Hitler could have been stopped and the tremendous pain and losses to the whole world avoided.
- WITH public sentiment in support only of appeasing Hitler, the politicians in England would not listen to Winston Churchill's constant pleas to refortify the Royal Navy, Air Force, or Army.
- FRANCE had a chance to stop Hitler when he made his first move and retook the demilitarized Rhineland region between Germany and France… with a small rag-tag army that lacked training and supplies.
* The entire French army was marshaled on the border and had the training, materiel, and force to wipe out the Nazi army in a day, but the history books record that "there was no Bonaparte" in leadership to rally the French nation and steel them for the battle. So Hitler took the Rhineland uncontested.
- IN one year, in 1938, England and France who, combined, could still easily have stopped Hitler's aggression, allowed him to humiliate, intimidate, and finally subjugate the people of Austria and Czechoslovakia.......even though England and France had bound themselves by treaty to defend them.
- BY 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland, England didn't have the troops or the military hardware to stop him even though they had over nine months warning that he was getting ready to attack.
- POLAND was convinced that their battle tactics and equipment from 20 years prior was adequate against Hitler. So when he attacked with his new Panzer tanks, they rushed down the hills at him on horses with lances against the armor plating. The massacre was incredible.
- THE French were complacent because they thought that their defensive line (A system of barricades and bunkers) was strong enough to keep them out of the war. Their army was not ready for battle and the Maginot line had a huge gap which is exactly where Hitler planned to come through....and did.
- IT wasn't long before all of Europe was overrun by the Nazi army and England left standing alone, ill-prepared to try and stop him from taking over the world.
- NOW, one of Churchill's speeches to his countrymen, given years before the declaration of war, takes on special meaning. He said,
"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win. If you cannot fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly....you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you, and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case; you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."
- CAN you see the parallels between this little bit of history and the spiritual warfare that is of far greater consequence than even World War II?
- LET'S go back through the history listed above and see how many similarities we can identify.
* Appeasement of enemy, in the hopes of being neutral.
* Neglect of arsenal and preparation for war.
* Dependence on stationary defensive position.
* Vulnerability of gaps in defenses.
* Complacency leading to morale and discipline problems.
* Lack of aggressive leadership in attacking the enemy.
* Trying to buy off the enemy with calculated losses, sometimes at others expense.
* Using out-dated weapons.
- THE fourth and final session on the Foundations of the Christian life, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, is spiritual warfare.
- AND the Christian life is lived in the vortex of this battle.
- IN 2 Timothy 2 the apostle Paul is instructing his protégé, Pastor Timothy, in pastoral priorities, and concerning unbelievers who oppose the work of God, Paul says,
“Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, (26) and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
- IN 1 Timothy 5, Paul is instructing Pastor Timothy concerning young widows in the congregation in Ephesus whose “sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ” (vs. 11). In verse 15 Paul says,
“Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.”
- SO, whether unbeliever or Christian, satan’s objective and strategy in all of our lives. . . is to trap us and take us captive to do his will.
- THAT is the reason this message is one of the foundational lessons of the Christian life . . . on spiritual warfare.
ii. what is spiritual warfare?
- WHO is it exactly that we are fighting and where did the battle start?
- WELL, to answer that we have to go back to Genesis 3, where Satan enticed Adam and Eve to sin against God.
- AND as a consequence of satan’s role in this sin, God says to satan, in Genesis 3:15,
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
- THAT enmity, or hostility is the essence of spiritual warfare from then until now.
- THE “seed” of the woman is all humanity, you and me, created in God’s likeness and image for the purpose of glorifying Him.
- THE “seed” of Satan is includes demons and anyone serving his kingdom of darkness, those whose “father” is the devil (John 8:44).
- THIS is the center of the age old conflict.......God crushing satan's head through the seed of the woman (ultimately Jesus) and satan striking at the heel of humankind.
- LUKE 10:18 teaches us that satan is a created angelic being whose original home was heaven, and that he was thrown out when he rebelled against God.
- SATAN’S rebellion against heaven is recorded in Revelation 12.
* Archangel, Michael, is the leader of the hosts of the Lord, and that he throws satan out of heaven (it didn’t even require God’s direct action).
* A third of the angels who followed satan in his rebellion in heaven, and are also cast down to the earth with him (12:4).
* These are the ones who are behind the pressures and attacks against believers, the Church, and the plans of God on earth.
- EZEKIEL 28:11-19 gives us a poetic description of the "king of Tyre" that most Bible scholars believe is a secondary reference to satan and his fall. Verse 12 says,
"You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty . . . (13) every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. (14) You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. (15) You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. (16) Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.”
- PRIDE was at the heart of satan’s fall and is at the heart of what he does in the world today.
- HOW bad is he?
- IN his book on spiritual warfare, Dean Sherman writes,
"Think of the most evil, grotesque things people do to one another. Think of the ovens in Nazi concentration camps, or lamp shades made of human skin. Think how many horrible ways men have conceived of torturing and murdering one another....tying people atop a pile of logs and watching them burn, or binding arms and legs to four horses, which gallop in four directions, tearing the victim apart. Remember the Gulag Archipelago, or the bombing of black churches in the South, killing little girls in their Sunday best. Think how some parents can rape their four month old baby or pour scalding water on their children. Every day in prisons around the world, eyes and fingernails are plucked out and people are forced to eat their own excrement. In witches' covens, babies are killed and eaten." 4
- THESE are things that satan inspired, but he is far worse than anything we could imagine or comprehend.
- HE is a destroyer, a liar, a thief, a cheat, a deceiver, and a murderer (John 10:10) . . . who can even disguise himself as a messenger of light.
- HE can't attack God directly. That would be like trying to carry Mnt. Rainier off in a tinker toy truck.
- SO he attacks God's children. We are more vulnerable. He wants to get at God through us.
- HIS main objective is to draw us into sin that will defeat us, destroy us, and ultimately discredit God. The fact that we live our lives "to God's glory" drives satan crazy. That is the very glory that he wants for himself . . . and since he knows now he will never get it his goal is to steal it from our lives.
- THAT is our enemy, and all the fallen angels who scurry around to do his bidding.
- THE battlefields in which the fight takes place are:
1. The world in all of its rebellion against God.
2. The flesh in all of its selfish cravings and desires.
- LET'S not pass off satan’s attacks with "natural" explanations and let him hide in our lives any longer.
- SPIRITUAL warfare is front and center of God's story in the Biblical record, and has been ever since that day in the garden.
- THE outcome of the battle is not in doubt. The Cross and resurrection of Jesus were a decisive victory, which we in faith can appropriate.
- BUT God has seen fit to allow the mopping up exercises to continue as training for the child of God, until satan is dealt his final blow and cast into the lake of fire for all eternity (Revelation 20:10).
- UNTIL that day the battle is constant. There is never a let up, never a cease fire, and no neutrality or immunity.
- YOU and I either oppose him in the power of the Holy Spirit or you become one of his victims.
iii. WHY do we fight the battle?
- THE battle is all around us and involves us 24/7, whether we want to admit it or not, or agree with the Bible or not.
- AND I think it is important, at this point, to also tell you that no specific attack in the battle will be allowed to touch your life but what God has allowed . . . and therefore must be ultimately for your good.
- SATAN cannot attack you . . .
1. Unless you open the door to him and give him a foothold in your life through sinful choices (Ephesians 4:27).
2. Unless God has given approval to satan for the purpose if testing and strengthening your faith and those you influence (Job’s testing in Job 1:6; Peter, in Luke 22:31)
- BUT why do you suppose God allows us to be in the fight? Why aren’t Christians exempt?
1. Because satan is doing everything in his power to get the glory he tried to steal in heaven . . . and Christians and the Church of Jesus are God’s chosen vehicle for accomplishing the purposes of God’s Kingdom on earth.
2. Because the kingdom of God is in a violent confrontation with the forces of darkness in the world and the citizens of God’s kingdom have to learn how to fight.
“These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (2) (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience).” (Judges 3:1-2)
3. Because the outcome of your Christian life depends on your participation in the battle.
* This does not negate the fact that it is by faith and not by works that you are saved.
* It simply means that you were saved for the Christian life, which includes engaging in the battle of the Kingdom of God with the weapons God provides and with the assurance that He has already won the victory.
* This is not a contradiction. It is why we are told to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). It is why the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:27,
“I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
iv. how do we fight the battle?
- WHAT are we supposed to do about this battle we are in?
1. BELIEVE that Jesus won a complete and eternally decisive victory over satan, sin, death and the grave through His death and resurrection. Satan is a defeated enemy.
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15)
2. LIVE the Christian life as a soldier in the battle and not a passive spectator.
* Romans 13:12 says, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."
* Paul says to his son in the faith in I Timothy 1:18 and 6:12, "Fight the good fight of the faith."
* Paul says of himself, in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight....."
* In 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, Paul tells about the unbearable circumstances in which they continued to faithfully minister, "....with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left...."
* In Ephesians 6 Paul devotes an entire section of the chapter to the armor of God and the attitude needed to "stand against the devil's schemes."
* The writer of Hebrews, in 10:32, speaks of the believers "standing their ground in the great contest."
3. RECOGNIZE that the targets of our offensive or defensive actions in spiritual warfare are not ever to be people.
“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.” (Ephesians 6:12)
- IT really isn’t important that we know much more about these “rulers, authorities, powers and forces of this dark world” other than that they are demonic emissaries of satan who prosecute satan’s agenda for the world.
- THOSE who are not “in Christ” through faith (Christians) are totally under the power of these demonic forces.
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
4. REALIZE that “in Christ” you and I have been given spiritual weapons that have divine power.
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4)
* Ephesians 6 lists some of our weapons as the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the shoes of the Gospel, the sword of the Spirit and prayer.
* Some of the other weapons at our disposal are:
- Worship (Psalm 149).
- Being together regularly with believers for spiritual purposes (Hebrews 10:25).
- Resisting the devil (James 4:7).
- Putting off sin (Ephesians 4:22).
- Making no provision for the sins of the flesh (Romans 13:14).
- Take the escape route that God provides every time you are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13).
- Make righteous choices . . . all in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
- THERE is no doubt as to the reality of the battle.
- THERE is no doubt as to satan’s intentions for you, your family, your ministry, your heritage.
- THERE is no doubt as to Christ’s victory over the devil and all his demons and plans.
- THERE is no doubt as to the final outcome of the war and satan’s final destination. Revelation 20:9 says,
“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison (8) and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. (9) They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (10) And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:7-10)
- THERE are only two things in question today:
1. Are you on the winning side of the conflict through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ?
2. Are you actively engaged in the fight and using the weapons God has provided so your life, and those of the people you influence are experiencing the day-to-day victory God has provided?
- THIS is the Christian life!
- RESULTS will vary . . . according to your role (not God’s) in the battle.
Walvoord, J. F. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Ge 3:14). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
4 Dean Sherman, Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian, (Seattle, Washington: Frontline Communications, 1990) p. 34.