The Battle, the War

Posted on 06/22/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)

Good morning and welcome to Abundant Living Ministries CyberChurch!

I want to welcome our visitors, and remind you to touch the welcome sign in the foyer before you leave.

I'm sure you must be looking around and possibly instant messaging someone asking where I am. Well, I'm here, just not there. Unfortunately, the fee for this island is past due, and since it's attached to my account, I cannot login to Second Life until everything's paid in full.

The Lord always provides, and if he leads you to be one of his vessels and pay toward the $194.65 we still owe, I would like to encourage you to click one of the signs up by the pulpit that say, "Click this sign to give your offering online."

If you're listening later and the signs are gone, you can click one of the overheads and when the webpage loads, click the offering plate. Or if you're listening to the podcast, you can point your browser to almcyberchurch.org and click the offering plate there.

By the way, when you give through the website, you may be able to deduct your donations from your tax returns, since we are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

You're also invited to write down this URL: infinitymerchandise.com. It's our mailorder business, and it's another way to help support this ministry. That's infinitymerchandise.com.


Let's all stand to our feet, and start this service with prayer.

Lord, thank you for being here with us in this place. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, and for sending your Son to die in our place so that we could be made right with you.

Thank you for our brothers and sisters, the body of Christ, the family of God, and that each of us has a purpose and a place, and you have a plan for every single one of us.

We pray for Bella, who has been having panic attacks. We know this isn't of you. We ask that you would establish your peace in her heart, and that you would lead her and guide her into that place of peace in you.

*** other prayers, listen to the audio to hear ***

Amen.


Please remain standing, as we worship God with our giving.

Generally my wife asks you to turn around and click one of the offering plates by the door to give. Certainly you can still do that, and you can go ahead and do that now, honoring God with what you have in Second Life.

But we also ask that you consider helping to bring the island fees up to date by giving a donation through the website. All your Linden dollar donations will go toward next month's island fees, but cannot be used until this month's fees are brought up to date.

So ask God what he would have you give, then click one of these signs by the pulpit. And if the signs disappear before you click them, simply click one of the overhead signs and, when the webpage loads, click the picture of the offering plate.

Go ahead and worship God with your offerings.

Click the pulpit for a notecard, and let's continue our worship with song.


A REASON TO REJOICE

I have a reason to rejoice
I have a reason to clap my hands
I have a reason to lift my voice
and sing praises to the great I Am

I have a reason to move my feet
and take the Gospel into the street
I have a reason to lose my will
and let Jesus take full control


For you have set me feet to dancin'
You have filled my heart with joy
You have freed me from my passions
and filled me with the Holy Ghost

You have set my heart on fire
Fill my soul with your desire and
Melt me Lord 'til only you remain!

SING A NEW SONG

Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth
Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth

For God is great
and greatly to be praised
God is great
and greatly to be praised

I EXALT THEE

For thou O Lord art high
above all the earth
Thou are exalted
far above all gods

And I exalt thee
I exalt thee
I exalt thee O Lord

*** listen to the audio for the introduction to the message ***


Today's message is titled, "The Battle, The War."

How many of you know today that we're in a war. And as it rages all around us, we find ourselves in battle after battle.

It's very important that we remember who our enemy is. If we don't, we're very likely to make his job easier.

Let's take a look at what the Bible reveals to us about who our enemy really is.

Ephesians chapter six, starting with verse ten.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

So here we see that our battle isn't against flesh and blood. If flesh and blood is struggling with you, just remember that they are not the source of the struggle. Rather, our struggle is against these:

Principalities, Powers, Rulers of the darkness of this age, and Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

So what are these things? Let's take a look.


Principalities

This word "principalities" is the Greek word arche (ahr - kay') which means "beginning, origin." It is defined as "that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause."

So first this verse tells us that we don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the active cause of what we see.

Now this can be applied in many different and accurate ways. We could apply this to a terrorist attack, realizing that the actions of the terrorists is usually caused, at least in these days, by their strong belief that they are doing the will of their god, and that belief may be the cause of or the result of hatred; that belief system came from the teachings of a man; the teachings of that man came from what he thought, the desires of his carnal flesh, and possibly from demonically-inspired visions; and all those things resulted in the anti-Christ false religion of Islaam because of the influence of demons, who answer to satan.

We therefore can see that, while we must protect the innocent with force, and those appointed to use force to protect against evil are ordained by God and are doing his will, we really aren't wrestling against flesh and blood, not really. Rather, we can realize that we are wrestling ultimately against satan, who works through demons, who work through false signs and wonders and through our own fleshly, carnal desires.

You can think of an example that's closer to home. Perhaps a struggle through a co-worker, or a member of your family. And as you consider these people and the struggles through which you've gone, consider the source, the principality, or, the principle cause, the source, that which is really behind it.

Let's take this a step further, and get even closer to home. Consider a struggle within your own self. Perhaps you struggle with, or even just surrender to, some type of addiction, or with a hot temper, or with a secret sin. Maybe it's a bad attitude, or laziness. Maybe it's a struggle with spending the time seeking after God every day that you know you should be spending.

This struggle is not one of flesh and blood, but has a principle cause, a root. It's not a matter of flesh and blood. Maybe that's why Paul wrote these words in Colossians 2:20-23:

20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations;
21 "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,"
22 which all concern things which perish with the using, according to the commandments and doctrines of men?
23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

You see, the carnal nature is not a matter of flesh and blood. It has a principle cause, a root, and dealing with the physical results of that root, "do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," does not address the principality behind it.

So what works? Let's keep on reading and find out, starting with the next verse, the beginning of chapter three.

23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Colossians 3:1-11

1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,
7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.


So Paul was addressing the notion that you can effectively wrestle against the flesh with rituals and religious practices, for these deal with flesh and blood and do not have power over the principle cause, the principality, behind it.

Some people believe in doing pennence for sins, performing rituals for spiritual wellbeing, eating blessed wafers for spiritual sustenance, and giving up marital romance as a requirement for leading others. And yet these are things that have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body. But they are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Others, such as those following the Emergent Movement, believe that you can choose whatever spiritual practice helps you the most, whether that is Eastern meditation, Yoga, or some time of spiritual discipline of your own design. And yet these are things that have an appearace of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and sometimes neglect of the body. But they are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh, and they are counterfeits designed to deceive and to lead away from the straight and narrow that leads to life.

And so the Holy Spirit, through Paul, goes on to point out the things BEHIND the fleshly indulgences: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil esire, and covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, and lying.

Now if you're like me, you might be saying, "Wait a minute... fornication, blasphemy, filthy language, and lying are all things you do with your flesh and blood... What's the difference?"

Okay, let's consider these things.

Fornication. Jesus said that if you look upon someone with lust in your heart, you've committed sexual sin with them in your heart. The actual act is simply the RESULT of fornication of the heart. The state of heart is the principle cause, while the action is the outer result.

The same goes for blasphemy, filthy language, and lying. The Bible says that "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." All of these things have a principle cause. That cause is not flesh and blood, but something deeper.

And the principle cause, the principality, is not always the same thing. It's not always a demon, and it's not always the carnal nature. The root of your struggle might be unforgiveness toward someone, bitterness, resentment... Or it might be something that happened to you many years ago, and you have held on to its pain instead of bringing it to Jesus and surrendering it to him so he can begin to heal you.

Then again, it may very well be a demonic stronghold in your life. And even a mental stronghold, a way of thinking that has grown to dominate your mind because of habitual entertaining of certain types of thoughts, is a doorway through which demons can gain a foothold.

But the important thing here is to realize that there is an underlying cause, and to address that principality in a way that will have the desired effect.


The next thing mentioned after principalities is powers. The word here translated as "powers" can mean authority, strength, rulership, and, more appropriately, the one who possesses such authority and power, specifically the more powerful among created beings superior to man.

And this brings up another meaning of principalities, which is a level of authority and power of certain spiritual beings.

On the other hand, the definition of powers also holds within it the designation of the free will. And certainly the powers of darkness have influence over mankind because he has a free will and can decide for himself.

How often have we used our free will to bring ourselves into bondage? Realizing that a bondage or addiction or some other struggle in your life is the result of years of using your free will to do something that was not God's will, can be a step toward winning that battle.

But just as principalities can be our carnal nature and powers can be our choices to surrender to that fallen nature, so principalities and powers can also refer to demons, and we need to know how to recognize and defeat both of these enemies.


After principalities and powers, we have a clear-cut spiritual reference: rulers of the darkness of this age, spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

We've discussed many times the rulers of darkness of this age, the spirit that is behind the coming one-world government, behind the false peace movement, behind the false unity movement, behind the whore churches such as the emergents and others who bed with demons while leaving the sound doctrine of the Word of God locked out in the rain.

These are filthy, twisted, perverted, murderous spiritual forces, demons of varying ranks, working through the carnal nature, the misdirected free will, and any vessel which is willing to compromise with the world even the tiniest little bit.

As we saw just a few moments ago, even if your struggle is with unforgiveness, or a history of habitual mental sin, or any other thing of the flesh, when you start giving in to those things, you open the door for these demented, hell-bent spiritual forces of darkness.

But in just a moment, we're going to find out the starting place for successfully combatting all of these things; and if you heed the Word of the Lord to you today, you will win the battle, and you will be victorious over whatever the enemy brings your way.


Let's go back to our first passage in Ephesians chapter six, beginning with verse ten.

Ephesians 6:10-18

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness 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.
14 Stand therefore, [how?] having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.


So in just a few verses, we are told how to win these battles we face every day. In fact, this is the ONLY way to win over all the things with which you wrestle. You're not going to find answers in some false religion or spiritual practice. All the enemy's counterfeits will leave you bound. Only Jesus can set you free, and only his Word can point you in the right direction and shine light upon your every step.

And it's all right here, how to win against the principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkess of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

And it's summed up in these words: "Put on the whole armor of God."


It's no mistake that this passage uses the elements of war to point to spiritual elements of battle. And in light of this, let's back up for just a moment and get a broader picture of the battles we face.

In an earthly war, there are many battles. World War II was just one war, but it consisted of many, many battles.

The same is true for our lives. There is only one war, one which will end when Jesus returns. But in that one war, there are many battles, and sometimes it seems as though we face new battles every single day.

Some battles we win. Some battles we lose. Some battles we lose when we already knew how to win. Some battles we lose because we have no idea how to win.

Some of us lose more battles than others. And yet the outcome of the war, the bigger picture, is sure. While in an earthly war the battles are all for the purpose of winning the war, in our spiritual war, the battles are all for the purpose of sharing in the victory that Jesus has already won.

He has already won the war. He has already defeated hell and the grave. He has already overcome sin. He has already overcome the world. Our battles are not to win the war, but to share in the victory Jesus has already won.

And I promise you, the enemy will do everything in his power to take you out of the race. He wants you to be disqualified. And while he can't win the war, he can win the battle, and he WILL win the battle if we compromise the Word of God and what God has told us to do.

And when the enemy wins a battle in your life, he steals your peace, he steals your joy, he steals the life Jesus came to give you, he steals your witness, and he steals eternal life from those you've been called to reach. Ultimately, he will try to drag you from the path of life so you will not enter into life at all.

But there's not only hope, but there is clear instruction from God himself, telling us how to win our next battle, and the one after that, and the one after that, so we can share in the victory and the reward of winning the war.

And we just read it. It's called "putting on the whole armor of God." Let's take a look at each part of this armor, and as we go through these elements of battle, think of how you will apply this to your life. In fact, as we discuss each one, apply it to your life right now. Let these things change your heart and your mind.

Just as our battle is not physical but spiritual, so our armor is heavenly and not of this earth. So don't wait until it's time to put God's Word into action on the outside -- apply it right now to your heart, to the actions of your inner man, and let's gird up right now together, so that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The very first element of spiritual armor we are to put on is this: "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace."

Now, we generally see these as separate things: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the sandles of the gospel of peace. But notice how this is worded.

He says, "Stand therefore." And he then tells us HOW to stand: "Stand therefore, [how?] having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace."

That's how we stand! Along with the rest of the armor of God.

The postmodern church and postmodernism itself will say that truth is relative, that there is no absolute truth. But even in the premodern age, the Holy Spirit started his instruction on how to stand by saying we must gird our waist with truth.

A girdle, or a belt, holds everything else up. And it is in the very center. I cannot stress to you enough just how important it is that you are firmly rooted and grounded in the Word of God, and that you know what is true and what is outside of that clear definition of truth we have which is called the Holy Bible.

The truth must be at the very center, and it will hold everything else up and together.

Without solid truth, we cannot put on the breastplate of righteousness which protects our very heart, for we will not be certain or will be deceived about what true righteousness is.

Without solid truth, we cannot shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, for we will not be certain or will be deceived about what that gospel really is.

So we need to hide God's Word in our hearts, meditating upon it day and night, reading it, listening to it, singing it, memorizing it, and internalizing it by immediately applying it to our inner attitudes and actions, and putting it into practice.

If you choose to ingnore part of the Word of God, you are lacking in truth, and you cannot put on the whole armor of God. You are vulnerable to attack. You can be and will be defeated.

But if you choose to embrace the whole Word of God, attending your ear to understand it, inclining your heart to embrace it, and moving your feet to walk in it, then the truth will begin to be established in your life, and the foundation of the armor of God will be in place.

So first, let's dedicate ourselves to truth. Lord God, we commit ourselves right now to walk in your truth, to accept your written Word as the absolute authority, and all of it as true, and to walk in it and obey it, as we walk in and obey your voice in every area of our lives.

So once we have made that first decision and are daily growing in the truth, we can put on the breastplate of righteousness. The idea that it doesn't make that much of a difference how we live our lives is in opposition to the truth; in fact, it's a lie from hell. Without your breastplate, your heart is vulnerable. You can easily be taken down. God wants us to live holy lives, walking in the righteousness Jesus died to give us.

And in the same way, it's vital that our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. This will keep our feet from blistering until we're unable to walk. And this means that wherever we go, we are prepared to unashamedly and accurately present the gospel of peace, the good news that there is reconciliation with God through the blood sacrifice of Jesus.

Wherever you walk, your shoes leave a print. Do you leave the print of the gospel behind you wherever you go? This is a vital part of the armor of God, and is part of your being prepared to stand in the day of battle.


Next he says, "Above all..." this must be really important, the most important thing... "Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one."

Wouldn't you like to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one? The fierty darts of doubt, the darts of fear, and the darts of demonic accusations? I know I would. Well, we can do all this and more if we only take the shield of faith.

What does the Bible tell us? "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." This seems to tie in to the first element, the belt of truth. Just as righteousness begins in truth and the preparation of the gospel begins in truth, so faith begins in truth.

It's also important to remember that faith without works is dead. If you're not putting your faith into action, you can't expect it to be of any good. So let's put our faith into action, and let's strengthen our faith by filling ourselves to overflowing with the Word of God, embracing it as THE authority, THE absolute truth, and THE very voice of God.

Next we're told to "take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

The helmet protects the head. Without it, the enemy can beat you over the head until you're dizzy and confused, your mind filled with confusion and doubt.

If you're not strongly rooted in the truth, for example, that we are not saved by works but by grace, then the enemy can beat you over the head with all your failures, and you can begin to doubt your salvation and be rendered ineffective against the attacks of the enemy.

If you are not strongly rooted in the truth that, for another example, only the blood of Jesus can wash away sins and make one right with God, and without receiving salvation through Jesus Christ alone, one will spend eternity in a real hell, and literally forever, then your mind can be poisoned with the lie that there are other roads to Heaven and that not believing in Jesus will not result in some type of eternal punishment; and you will be rendered ineffective against the attacks of the enemy, instead becoming his agent of eternal damnation.

So you need to know, and know for certain, what salvation is, rooted in the absolute truth of the Bible, and you need to know that you have given your life to Jesus and have really been born again. As the Scripture says, you need to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, and find that peace that comes with knowing that your sins are forgiven, forever under the blood of Jesus, and that you are made right with God.

After the helmet of salvation, we're told to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Doesn't this seem to be a recurring theme? The Word of God cannot be over estimated. It alone contains the Gospel of truth, which is the power of God unto salvation.

Remember Jesus, after he had fasted in the wilderness for fourty days, and satan came to tempt him. Time after time, satan swung at Jesus with a sword, quoting Scriptures out of context, and time after time, Jesus countered those blows with the Word of God IN context and in the Spirit of truth, sharper than any two-edged sword, and he defeated temptation from satan himself.

How often do we get tempted by far less than satan, and fall? We need to take the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Once again, we need to meditate on it day and night, so that we will be like a tree firmly rooted by streams of water.


Next we are told to "pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."

What does that mean? Pray always with all prayer? The word "pray" simply means "to pray, or offer prayers". The word "prayer" means specifically, in the original Greek, "prayer addressed to God," and also, "a place set apart or suited for prayer."

It's not enough to pray to "a" god, or to Allah or some other fake god. Rather, we must pray to God, Elohim, Jehovah, the God of the Bible, the God who sent his only begotten Son Jesus to die for our sins. Prayer is not enough. We must pray to the one true and living God.

"A place set apart or suited for prayer." Is your life a place that is set apart for prayer to God? Or are there parts of it that aren't quite suited for that purpose? We need to examine ourselves daily, and ask God as did the Psalmist, "examine me, and see if there is any unclean way in me, and lead me in the ways of everlasting life."

So our life must be a life of prayer, set aside and sanctified so that all of it is suitable for intimate communion with God.

And so we read, "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."

So in our life suited for prayer, we should pray, and we should make supplication for all the saints, and we should pray in the Spirit.

Jesus told the disciples the night he was betrayed, "watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation; for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." That hasn't changed. We must watch and pray with all perseverance, praying for other believers, and for the harvest to come into the kingdom.

And this is how we stand, overcoming every attack of the enemy, and being victorious through every single battle. We put on the whole armor of God, leaving nothing out, being rooted and grounded in the truth of the Word of God, and living a life that is especially suited for constant intimate fellowship with the very presence of God, being strong in faith, in the Word, and in the Spirit, watching and praying, and walking in the Spirit and not after the flesh.


The ministry team can come to the front now.


This altar is open. Feel free to come to the front and spend some time in the presence of the Lord. If God is speaking to you today, this can be an outward response.

If you need prayer or ministry, you can instant message someone on the ministry team.

You're free to go if you need to, and we ask that any conversations be held outside.

If you don't have this salvation we talked about today or you're not sure, please don't leave here today until you know that you know that you are right with God.

Just talk to him now in your own words. Confess your sins to him, and ask for forgiveness, and agree to turn from them with his help. And come talk with someone. If you're listening later by podcast, you can go to almcyberchurch.org and enter one of the pastor's offices and send us a message, and we'll get in touch with you.

Come, and let's seek the Lord together.