Focusing on the True Battle
Preached at Main Street Church on March 11th, 2018
Our Problem: We tend to focus on the wrong things
Proposition: Since we are in a spiritual battle, we must fight a spiritual fight
- The Public Battle
- The Personal Battle
We tend to focus on the wrong things. Oftentimes we focus on the wrong battle. Perhaps some of you came today carrying anxiety, depression, anger, laziness, purposelessness, that has plagued you for some time. And you’ve looked at those obstacles and you’ve focused on them and you’ve thought, “If I could just…” When in reality, there is an intense spiritual battle going on that we can’t see with our eyes.
Ephesians 6:12 says: “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.”
What is the Spiritual Battle?
- Demons are evil angels who sinned against God and who now continually work evil in the world.
- Jude 6 says, “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—”
- The purpose of Satan and his demons is to destroy all the good works of God. Pagan worship thus is characterized by destructive practices.
- Some people, influenced by a naturalistic worldview that only admits the reality of what can be seen or touched or heard, deny that demons exist today and maintain that belief in their reality reflects an obsolete worldview taught in the Bible and other ancient cultures.
- Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
- Paul’s use of ‘elemental spirits’ in Greek culture means ‘demonic spirits.’ Even though it is from human tradition, it’s ultimate origin is demonic teaching.
- Many people in our ‘enlightened’ Western culture who are committed to science as the ultimate authority on all knowledge are actually following demonic teaching. And they play right into Satan’s snare. Let me give an example:
- On the ghost hunter shows they never find anything (Satan using Science to keep people from believing in him)
- The Bible teaches that there are demonic forces, led by Satan, at work in the world at this moment, and that we, as children of God, need to be prepared to stand against them. We need to focus on the true battle.
- There are two primary ways we can focus on the true spiritual battle that is going on in the world today, and that is by looking at the public battle, and the personal battle.
- The Public Battle
What is the Public Battle?
Ephesians 2:1-3 says “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
- Here Satan is called ‘the prince of the power of the air’ and Paul equates following the course of this world to following Satan.
- If you follow the philosophies, the values, and the ethics of this world, you are actually following Satan. In fact Paul is saying before you started following Jesus, you were following Satan.
- V. 3 “3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
- This is a public battle, because this is the spiritual battle that is going on in our culture. This is corporate. This is a humanity thing.
- This is a public battle because in Revelation 12:9 Satan is called “the deceiver of the whole world” In John 14:30 he is called “the ruler of this world” And in 2 Corinthians 4:4 “the god of this world.”
- So this isn’t about one individual person, this is about the whole world. This is a public battle.
What does the Public Battle Look Like?
- The public battle is entire cultures worshipping at the feet of false gods.
- In 1 Corinthians 10:20 Paul says, “What pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God.”
- In other words, when I would go to countries in Asia and see people offering food and burning incense in front of carved wooden and stone idols, they were actually offering those things to demons.
- False gods are really demonic forces.
- Deuteronomy 32:16-17 “They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known.”
- Demons are behind the worship of false gods.
- Psalm 106:36-37 “They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons.”
- This is in reference to the ancient pagan god Moloch, which was a large hollow bronze statue of a humanoid figure with the head of a bull, and the statue would be heated with fire, and the Israelites would then throw their children into the oven to be burned. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, we are told.
- Here in the West we might think that we have certainly moved far beyond the savagery of ancient uncivilized people.
- We may not sacrifice children to Moloch, but every day 3000 babies are sacrificed to something. Demons are behind that. The destruction of those made in God’s image.
- In the Public Battle in America, we have demonic Gods, they just look different than our ancient forefathers.
- We worship at the altar of American liberty
- We pour out offerings to the god of consumerism
- We dedicate our worship to Sundays spent at the peewee soccer field instead of in church
- We meditate on the holy word of social media
- We praise sexual images and sensuality
- We bow before the authority of education and academia
- And then we preach the gospel of the American dream to our children: Get good grades so you can get into a good college so you can get a good job so you can make good money so you can buy good things and live a good life. That, my friends, is a life sacrificed to demons.
- The public battle in America is not about political control, but it is a spiritual battle.
- “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.”
- The Personal Battle
What is the Personal Battle?
Ephesians 5:6-8 “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”
- While the public battle is about the battle we face together, the personal battle is about how we wage spiritual war in our own lives.
- God’s word tells us here that we are to walk as children of light, even though we were once darkness.
How much power/control do Satan and his demons have?
- There is no clear instance of casting out demons in the Old Testament
- Jesus explains that his power over demons is a distinguishing mark on his ministry to inaugurate the reign of the kingdom of God among mankind in a new and powerful way: “But if it is by the power of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you…” Matthew 12:28-29
- After his disciples returned and had cast out demons: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Luke 10:18
- Very little space in the New Testament is given to discussing demonic activity in the lives of believers or methods to resist and oppose such activity.
- At the cross God “disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him.” (Col. 2:15). Satan hates the cross because there he was defeated forever.
- Jesus took on flesh and blood, “that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” Heb. 2:14
- So while Satan and his demons have a great degree of power and influence over the world, they have absolutely no power over the kingdom of God.
How much influence can demons have over me?
- The short answer is: as much as you give them. But let’s take a closer look at what the Scripture says.
- We should not think that demons can know the future or that they can read our minds or know our thoughts. Only God can know the future, which is what makes him God.
- Isaiah 46:9-10 “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done.”
- 1 Timothy 4:1 Paul warned that in the latter days some would “depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” Paul thus saw some false doctrine as being demonic in origin.
- 2 Tim. 2:24-26 Paul implies that those who oppose sound doctrine have been captured by the devil to do his will.
The question of demon possession:
- The Greek New Testament can speak of people who ‘have a demon’ or it can speak of people who are suffering from demonic influence, but it never uses language that suggests that a demon actually possesses someone.
- Believers have complete authority over Satan and his demons through Jesus.
- 1 John 5:18 says “We know that any one born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keep him, and the evil one does not touch him.”
- If we have areas of continuing sin in our lives, then there are weaknesses and holes in our ‘breastplate of righteousness’ and these are areas in which we are vulnerable to demonic attack.
- For example: Eph. 4:26 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity for the devil”
- There could possibly be some demonic influence contributing to and intensifying a sinful tendency. Bad temper, sense of depression, unwillingness to submit to rightful authority, lack of self-control in eating, laziness, bitterness, envy.
How do we fight in the personal battle?
- Ephesians 6 says we have one weapon, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
- Every time Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he quoted Scripture to rebuke the lies of the Devil.
2 Cor. 10:3-4 “For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds”
1 John 4:4 “You are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
James 4:7 “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.”
When Jesus came preaching the gospel in Galilee “demons also came out of many” Luke 4:41). When Philip went to Samaria to preach the gospel, “unclean spirits came out of many…crying with a loud voice” (Acts 8:7). Jesus commissioned Paul to preach among the Gentiles “that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18). Paul’s proclamation of the gospel, he said, was “not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” 1 Cor. 2:4-5; 2 Cor. 10:3-4
1 John 3:8 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the Devil.”
Ephesians 6:12 “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.”
Ephesians 1:19-23 “And 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 laces, 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.”
Luke 10:20 “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
This is our hope, that our names are written in heaven, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. In his famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God” Martin Luther wrote:
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
The kingdom of God endures forever, and Christ has won the battle. Let us focus on the true battle that rages on, and know that we are victorious in Christ.