A Declaration of War
William Sherman is quoted as saying before he struck a path of destruction through Atlanta, “War is hell.”
I’m not saying that war isn’t tough and that it isn’t bloody, but hell is undoubtedly much worse. For the Christian, war isn’t hell, but it comes to us from the pits of hell.
I want to make something very clear this morning; we are at war. Now, I’m not talking about the war America is currently fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq. I’m not talking about the war we as American citizens are fighting against terror. Though it may be associated with it, I’m not even talking about the cultural war Christians seem to find themselves in these days.
The war I am referring to this morning is the war each and every one of us is in against Satan. If you are a Christian this morning, you are at war.
“Whoa! Wait a minute there! I don’t remember enlisting in a war! I’m a Christian, but I don’t see myself at war. War is such a harsh word. What about, ‘struggle’ or even ‘fighting’, but I don’t see myself at war.”
Isn’t that funny? Not, ha, ha, funny, but bewilderment funny. You may not see yourself at war, but Satan defiantly does.
The day you were saved, you began to be in the cross-hairs of Satan. He is literally “hell bent” on defeating and destroying you. One of the things that is commonly misunderstood today is that the child of God is in a war, and the war is being fought along spiritual lines.
Listen to what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
You don’t have to be a Christian long to realize that being a Christian is not lived out on the playground, but on the battleground. Satan, his demons, and our own sinful nature are struggling with us to surrender to temptation. The longer we live our lives ignoring the war around us, ignoring the desires of our flesh, and the schemes of Satan, we are going to live lives of defeat and not victory.
For the next nine messages, we are going to be discovering the war that we are in, the enemy we face, the protection we are given, and the offensive power at our disposal. I urge that you not miss one of these messages. Don’t go away. If you must be gone, get a CD and take notes.
This morning is in a way an introduction to this series: A Declaration of War: Spiritual Warfare, Spiritual Weapons, and Spiritual Winners.
I would like for you to turn to Ephesians 6:10-20. For the next nine Sunday morning messages that I will be preaching, we will be camping out here:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
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.
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.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare boldly, as I ought to speak.
We are given many aspects of spiritual warfare in this passage of Scripture. We will be looking at the following aspects one message at a time, but I would like to introduce them to you this morning, focusing especially on the first and the last.
First, we need to know: Our Strength.
The first thing a good soldier must do is to understand his strengths and his weaknesses.
Don’t you hate this question when you have a job interview? “Could you tell me what your strengths and weaknesses are?” For me, I have not problem with knowing my weaknesses, but I have a hard time coming up with my strengths.
As Christians, we know how weak we are, at least I do. I believe that’s a good thing. Paul wrote about a weakness he had in 2 Corinthians 12. He reported Christ’s answer to his plea about his weakness: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ may rest upon me.”
Beware Christian when you are quick to talk about your strengths, because that is your greatest weakness.
In the war we face as Christians against our enemies, we must realize our strength does not come from us, but from Christ in us.
When we are saved, we are given a special gift, Christ resides with each one of us. When we receive Christ, we receive His power. Earlier in Ephesians, Paul talks about this power. He wants the soldier Christians in Ephesus to realize . . .
“what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:19-23)
I hope you caught what Paul said, you and I have at our disposal the same power that God used to raise Christ from the dead. When we fight against Satan, it isn’t our power that gives victory- It’s God! We can have victory over Satan, sin, and self because Christ has already been made the victor.
Our strength to fight is God’s strength.
The Psalmist wrote:
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalm 20:7)
Relying on human or material strength is useless, but we are victorious when we rely on the power of God in and through our lives. In order to fight in the war, we must know Our Strength (Which is God’s strength).
Second, we need to know: Our Enemy
Every good, successful army is going to know whom they are fighting and what their enemy’s goal is; therefore, they need good intelligence.
We too, must understand that we have an enemy, know who he is, what he is up to, and how to defeat him.
We will go in to more detail next week, but lets overview what Paul is saying here:
Our enemy: Satan and his fallen angels (demons).
Our enemy’s scheme: To destroy us, steal God’s glory, and keep us from doing God’s will.
Our enemy has a particular way of going about achieving his goal.
Our enemy can be defended with the right armor.
Our enemy can be defeated with the right tools.
We will look at all of this in more detail next week.
Let me say one thing about our enemy before next week. He may be cunning. He may be clever. He may be powerful. But, he is very frustrated. Why? Because, he’s a loser and he knows it. He fights with all his might, but in the end, he loses.
In order to fight the war, we must know:
1. Our Strength (Which is God’s strength)
2. Our Enemy
Third, we need to know: Our Protection
Praise God, the Lord does not leave us empty handed. He gives us protection against the cunning of the devil. Look at verse 11 again:“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
We are given a good defense by God, but it is up to us to make sure that we have our armor on so that we can be protected. Each piece must be understood as to how it works and what it protects. Each piece must be inspected daily. Each piece must be put on daily.
We will spend seven of the nine weeks studying and understanding each piece of the armor of God.
In order to fight the war, we must know:
Our strength (Which is God’s strength)
Fourth, we need to know: Our Offense
I had a football coach whose favorite saying was, “Boys, you need to understand something about football. The best offense is a good defense.”
While I can’t disagree with his passion for defense, but a team that plays all defense, but has no offense is going to be a team that loses every game. You have to score touchdowns. You have to be able to make field-goals.
God doesn’t expect us to be reeling at our heels against Satan. He gives us the best two tools to defeat Satan. Yes, I said “defeat” Satan.
First is found in verse 17:
and take up . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
God has given us the best offense to fight off Satan: His Holy Bible.
It is what Jesus used over and over to fight Satan.
The second offensive tool is mostly left out when talking about the armor of God, but it is the most important part of the armor.
The second tool is found in verses 18-19:
“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,”
The soldier of God is most powerful that soldier is on their knees in prayer. Satan trembles at the thought of the weakest Christian on their knees.
In order to fight the good fight in the war we are in, we need to know:
1. Our strength
2. Our enemy
3. Our protection
4. Our offense
Fifth, we need to know: Our Victory.
I want you to know something that will encourage you more than anything else: You are already victorious. Did you know that? The victory over sin and Satan has already been won.
Listen to what Paul said in Colossians 2:13-15:
“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, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
Listen to that last verse again:
He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
Satan is defeated! He was defeated on the cross! Sin was defeated on the cross! We have victory because of the cross!
Listen to what Paul wrote in Romans 8:35-39:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come nor powers,
nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are conquerors because of Christ!
We are victorious because of Christ!
JUST READ THE BACK OF THE BOOK: WE WIN!!!
It is, however, our victory of we fight the good fight, we run the race, and enter the battle. Church, it’s time to wake up and realize that we are at war! There is no more time to be sluggish and apathetic about God and spiritual things.
We cannot afford to not read our field manual (the Word of God). We cannot afford to miss getting our orders from spending time alone with God. We cannot afford to not get our ammunition from reading and memorizing Scripture. It’s how we are going to be able to shoot Satan out of the sky. We cannot afford to go out on our own, leaving the protection of the platoon (which is the fellowship of the Church). We can’t survive out in the open field. We need to be with our fellow soldiers in Bible study (Sunday School) and in worship. When you find yourself alone, you will find yourself dead.
You cannot afford to not be ready for war. Souls of the lost are at stake. Your personal walk with God is at stake. The mission of the Kingdom of God is at stake.
You are enlisted in the army of God. You may have gone A.W.O.L. (Absent Without Leave), but you can return to base. You can return to the battle. You can return to the war. You can be victorious in and through Christ.
War has been declared.
Are you ready?
Soldiers, it’s time to report to duty!s