Before we get into the sermon this morning I have a joke for you...
Jesus and Satan are having a competition on who can finish an essay first. 1, 2, 3, GO. Jesus starts and takes his time while Satan is typing up a storm. Satan is typing so fast that the power goes out and both computers are shut off. They start back up, and Jesus states that he is done with the essay. Riddled, Satan asks how he wrote that fast. Jesus turns to him and simply says, "Jesus saves."
The struggle against the forces of evil, which is a constant feature of the life of faith. Scripture locates the origins of spiritual warfare in the rebellion of Satan and his angels against God and affirms the hope of God’s final victory over such forces through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.
Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.
Earlier this week my son Parker asked me a series of questions: “Why does God allow evil? Why did He create Satan? And why did He put the tree in the garden in the first place?”
These questions in themselves have been questions that scholars have debated and tried to answer for years.
And to answer them in a quick conversation was not easy.
As a couple days went by, and I’m preparing for this topic on “Spiritual Warfare”, I couldn’t help but realize that this topic really couldn’t be complete without first answering some of those very questions Parker asked.
So before we dive into the topic of Spiritual Warfare we’re going to look at God’s Word to answer these questions.
For some this might be a review, but I’m willing to bet that for many this will be new.
Knowing where evil and Satan originated from is crucial in how we understand God, and have faith in Him.
I’m not quite sure as pastors we often explain these hard questions before we preach on Spiritual Warfare or other similar topics, we may just assume people know these things, but today we’re going to take the time.
Keep in mind this verse throughout today’s message.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Satan did not evolve as a personal being; he was created just like everything else by God.
Satan is not eternal, only God is.
So where did Satan come from?
We can find more about this through a few passages (Ezekiel 28, Jude 6 & Isaiah 14):
1. READ EZEKIAL 28:11-19
From these passages we can gain some important insight as to who Satan is:
Now it’s important to note that there has been a debate for a long time on whether Ezekiel 28:11-19 talks about Satan or continues the description of the king of Tyre at that time starting in verses 1-10.
I would say this that because of the following descriptions in the verse it solidifies the argument that it is actually talking about Satan, not the king of Tyre in verses 11-19:
These verses mention the words “full of wisdom and perfect beauty”- when God created Satan he originally created him by this description.
Next it is mentioned that this angel lived in Eden.
The Eden mentioned in this passage is not the same Garden of Eden you are thinking about.
It is thought to be a far earlier time because the description of the Garden of Eden in Genesis did not reference gold or precious stones in it.
The passage also notes that the angel was an anointed cherub that covered.
It was a reference that this angel was an angel that was in a position of superiority among other angels.
The Ark of the Covenant was overshadowed or covered by Cherubim angels which guarded the presence of God.
Next it is said that the one mentioned in the passage was in God’s holy mountain, the king of Tyre was not.
This angel here was said to have walked in the midst of stones of fire which speak of the nearness of God’s throne.
Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky.
To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
These descriptions are the same as in Ezekiel 28.
It is mentioned in Ezekiel 15 that this angel was perfect in all of their ways until he fall, the king of Tyre was far from perfect, he was evil.
He sinned because of his pride and corrupted wisdom, his position in heaven was degraded and he was thrown off of the mountain of God.
He was thrown to the earth which speaks to his initial judgement or future judgement when Satan will be thrown to the earth in the middle of the Great Tribulation which we read in Revelation.
Either way he has a certain judgement.
And lastly in verse 19 we read that this angel, Satan became the adversary and the enemy of humanity.
2. The next passage that gives us some insight is Jude 6:
And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
And in Revelation 12:4 it mentions that Satan took 1/3 of the angels with him as he was expelled from heaven.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;
Though there has been debate surrounding Jude 6 as to who these angels were, we can obviously see they once made their dwelling in heaven, and now have been bound with chains until their day of judgement.
Regardless, Satan took a great number of angels with him when he left heaven, through corrupting their minds with the pride he had.
3. The last Scripture we will look at that gives us insight into who Satan was is Isaiah 14:12-17.
READ ISAIAH 14:12-17
Isaiah 14:12-17 is in the midst of passages that deal with the future restoration of Israel and the peace of the kingdom.
Like the passage in Ezekiel 28 with king Tyre, this passage in Isaiah parallels, but involves the evil king of Babylon.
Within its context it makes direct correlation to the evil that Satan accomplished when he was thrown from heaven.
But it is in these passages that we can see a more detailed view of who Satan was and what he is doing now.
Verse 12 explains that before Satan was thrown from heaven, he was called “Morning Star” which means in Latin, Lucifer.
Morning Star literally meant “Light-Bearer”, he was perfect in beauty and splendor as Ezekiel mentions.
But it is in verses 13-14 that we get Satan’s 5 “I Will” statements, that explain his thought to pursue his will instead of God’s.
1. “I will ascends to the heavens” (V. 13)
a. Satan was once the one in charge of guarding God’s holiness but wanted equality with God. He had a motive in his heart.
2. “I will raise my throne above the stars of God” (V. 13)
a. Satan desired to have God’s position of fame over all the angels, and all of the universe..
3. “I will sit enthroned on the mount of the assembly, on the utmost highest of Mount Zaphon” (V.13)
a. “Recesses of the North” NASB or “Mountain of the gods” NLT
b. In his pride Satan’s desire was to have complete authority and power over everything to govern the universe.
4. “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds” (V. 14)
a. Satan wanted the glory and majesty, that he witnessed, in God’s presence.
5. “I will make myself like the most high” (V. 14)
a. And ultimately Satan did not want to be like God, he wanted to be God.
We read that in Revelation 12:7 Satan’s sin affected other angels.
Ephesians 2:2 says that his sin in heaven affected people and still does today.
READ QUOTE ON PAGE 127 in Jay Vernon McGee’s commentary on Isaiah.
Satan’s fall was, as Jay Vernon McGee says, the start of the evolution of sin.
Satan was once in a position of the highest regard before God in heaven, but chose to feed his will and desire and was expelled from God’s presence.
This is because God is a holy God and can not be in the presence of sin.
Later after Satan’s fall, in God’s timing of His creation of the world, we read the first sin of man in Genesis 3, where it was Satan- disguised as a snake that deceived Eve and then Adam.
Because Adam was the head of God’s creation, he was responsible for the entrance of sin into the human race.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Now we ask why was the tree put there in the garden in the first place?
It is the same reason why Satan sinned.
God obviously placed a certain free will in His angels, as He did in His human creation.
If God forced His creation to love Him, that would not be perfect love, it would be forced love.
But in God’s eternal plan, knowing what would happen, because He is omniscient- He knows all, he allowed choices to be made, and at the same time had a plan of ultimate restoration through His son Jesus Christ.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
READ QUOTE FROM PAGE 63 in DFD, BOOK 5 “FOUNDATIONS FOR FAITH”
So, now as we transition to our topic of Spiritual Warfare, how did we get into Spiritual Warfare?
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
What Paul is saying is that Satan, in this current point in time, is the ruler of this world- yet God is still over all, He allows Satan a time of reign so to speak until his final judgement.
Satan wants nothing more than for unbelievers to never give in to the truth of the gospel and he wants nothing more than for Christians to sin and turn from God.
In relation to non believers, this is how he distracts them from the gospel...
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
In relation to believers he uses other methods:
Conforming to our culture and society, becoming like the world instead of God’s Kingdom principles.
He try's to get us to justify our selfishness. (Like Acts 5:1-11 with Ananias and Sapphire)
He will do what it takes for us to commit immoral acts.
Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
This is a part of Scripture where Paul is speaking about husbands and wives separating for a time in order to work things out.
But his warning is that it should not be a long time because Satan will tempt each spouse to commit immorality.
When there is no sexual relationship in a marriage, Satan is pleased and doesn’t have to work so hard.
So, Paul urges the husband and wife to come back together quickly as to not be tempted.
This basis can be said of anything really- when we get our focus on other things, we can easily become immoral in our thoughts or actions, when our hearts and minds are not focused on God.
2. Satan also uses the method of being an adversary, an opponent.
a. He does this by opposing us as we share the gospel with others, by confusing the listener with thoughts in their minds which are worldly, or counter to God’s Word.
b. He try’s to instill in us thoughts of shame, spot lighting our past sins.
c. He throws on us burdens and pressures that we can’t bear.
But we must remember that God only changes hearts through the gospel of Jesus, that when we confess our sins before God and turn from them He removes them/forgets about them, and when we have burdens and anxiety Jesus says this...
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
I love this quote by Tony Evans an excellent preacher and author, regarding our victory in Christ! ...
READ QUOTE FROM PAGE 59 in DFD, BOOK 5 “FOUNDATIONS FOR FAITH”
We’ve surveyed the origin of Satan and evil, talked about the entrance of sin through Adam, and the redemption from sin and death to life through Jesus.
We’ve begun to understand how Satan works to distract us from God’s plan and now we’re going to look at how we, as believers can stand against the enemy by the tools that God has given us.
Paul describes the Spiritual war that is being fought in the unseen realm in Ephesians 6.
GRAB YOUR BIBLES AND LETS READ EPHESIANS 6:10-12
We’ve already talked about Satan’s fall from heaven and how he brought other angels with him.
To this day there is an unseen war where God’s angels and Satan’s demons are constantly fighting behind the scene.
This may sound crazy to some, but if you believe in other parts of the Bible to be true, you can not deny this truth.
The unseen Spiritual war is often questioned today, however it was not surprising to those Jesus walked with, as they witnessed His power exorcising demons- and freeing them from the bondage of the evil one.
This still happens today, more-so in third world countries, but also here in America at times.
The enemy is alive and well, and so as we go through the Armor of God now, we would do well to pay attention and remember these things.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
READ EPHESIANS 6:13-18
As we read the Armor of God I want us to see how it all goes back to Christ.
Paul’s command, not suggestion, to the believer is “to stand therefore”.
This implies a ready position- we are not to be outwitted by the enemy but to be ready for any attacks thrown our way.
BELT OF TRUTH (VERSE 14)
And so Paul starts with “the belt of truth” around the waist.
The belt is what holds the soldiers uniform in place and it was essential.
We’ve seen comedy routines where the persons pants fall down because they aren’t wearing a belt but in this case it wouldn’t be that funny.
It is a life or death matter to have everything secured by the belt.
Truth is what holds all things together in our lives. God’s Word is truth.
In other words, we should put on Christ down here on earth because He is our example. Christ is truth.
As we go through life we can often boast in ourselves because of the accomplishments we’ve made.
When we tell our testimony we boast of how strong we are but tend to leave out the main ingredient, Christ.
As Christians we are held together day to day by Christ and when we tell our story it should always reflect and give glory to Him, not us.
We need to stand and be buckled with this belt of truth that only comes from Jesus who is the way the truth and the life.
BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (VERSE 14)
Who is the righteousness of the believer? Christ is.
The filthy rags of a self-righteous person would not do well as a breastplate in battle.
But underneath those rags should be a solider for Christ that has a heart and conscience that is right before God.
When we are carrying out sin in our lives it is impossible to be right before God, let alone fight a Spiritual battle.
We must take the time each day to come before the Lord to ask for forgiveness and trust Him to help us in our sin.
FEET FITTED WITH THE READINESS FROM THE GOSPEL OF PEACE (VERSE 15)
Have you ever tried running a race in steel toe boots? No why would you!
Having our feet fitted with the right equipment is a must and we can’t compromise that.
Our feet are our foundation and help keep us standing.
In hand to hand combat you are to have your feet planted, not wobbly- our shoes matter.
So here’s the question- are your feet standing on the rock who is Christ?
Christ is the foundation of our faith and for which we stand on as believers- apart Him we are not stable.
TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH (VERSE 16)
The shield is what covers all of the armor and it is not small.
The Roman shield was the size of a door and protected the soldier from arrows or other attacks.
Christ is the door to salvation and the door that protects the believer from the enemies attacks.
Christ is salvation and security and faith enables us to enter that door.
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
The shield repels the fiery arrows of the enemy.
These arrows could be false doctrine through worldly wisdom and beliefs that are contrary to God’s Word.
These arrows could be the things that the enemy puts in the middle of godly relationships where God is not the center.
They could be pride in our job where we boast how much we work, yet neglect our families and God.
Often the flaming arrows come in the form of a critical spirit, pretending to have it all together, but always finding faults in others- never really maturing in our faith.
The shield of faith is salvation and security, and is only offered through Christ.
Only Christ has the power and authority to repel these flaming arrows in our lives but we must first pick it up.
THE HELMET OF SALVATION (VERSE 17)
The helmet obviously protects the head.
God gave us brains for a reason and He appeals to our intellect through our minds.
He of course appeals to our hearts, but also to our minds.
But the enemy also wants to take over our minds with worldly thinking and impure thoughts.
The apostle Paul talks about this in Romans 12:2.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
If we conform to the world’s standards then we aren’t pursuing Kingdom principles in our hearts and our minds.
As we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us in our earthly bodies, He begins to renew our minds to know and do God’s Will.
The helmet is usually the last piece of equipment to put on when going in to combat and it is also one of the most important
It must be fastened tight and to keep it on we do a few things:
Renew our minds as we read in Romans 12:2- allow God’s Word to wipe away any doubts, fears or lies from the enemy.
Keep an eternal perspective when life gets really hard. We have the hope of salvation in the future but also each and everyday as we are saved from the enemy’s schemes.
As Tony Evan’s quote reminded us- we must remember that the victory is already won. We were dead to sin, but now alive in Christ Paul tells us in Romans 6:11.
Our hope is in Christ. When we strive to please the Lord in our lives it’s harder to be distracted by the enemy’s lures.
Each day when we put on the helmet we are guarding our minds from worldly influence and instead choosing to honor Christ and receive His peace.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So far all of the armor has been for the defense, the last two have been given to us for the offense.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT (VERSE 17)
Christ is the living Word of God.
As Josh read a couple weeks back in Matthew 4 of Jesus’ temptation we are reminded that every time Satan attacked it was contradictory to God’s Word.
But because God’s Word never returns void, it is alive and active- sharper than a two edged sword, and it is truth Jesus used it to fight off the enemy.
How well do you know your Bible?
If you’re not sure, then you need to get in and study it.
You will have nothing to fight back with if you don’t hide God’s Word in your heart.
And if we do know it, but choose not to use it then we are open season.
The last weapon for offense is prayer.
PRAY IN THE SPIRIT ON ALL OCCASIONS WITH ALL KINDS OF PRAYERS AND REQUESTS (VERSE 18)
Have you ever thought of prayer as a weapon in additional to communicating with God?
Praying in the Holy Spirit is not running through your Santa list, so to speak.
Praying in the Spirit is recognizing who our enemy is and what He is capable of but knowing that God holds all the Spiritual resources that we need in life.
Paul uses two terms; prayer and supplication- prayer is general and supplication is specific.
But all effective prayer can only be accomplished through God’s Holy Spirit.
We are not being asked to take on the enemy, we are asked to stand in battle, put on the armor and pray.
Jesus said it this way in John 17.
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
If we do not put on the full armor of God we will be destroyed by the enemy, he will try to ruin our testimony, our lives and take our families with Him.
We can’t sit around and become complacent, we must be alert and stand.
We’ve gone over a lot today but I hope that we have learned one thing- Satan chose not to submit to God’s authority and plan but we can learn from his mistakes and choose to submit to God.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
We must first submit to God before we resist the devil because he is ready for battle.
I am thankful for this armor that God has given us and I hope you are too, now let’s continue to put it on each day and be alert!