Posted on 03/03/2013 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***
HOLY IS THE KING
He is worthy, and we proclaim
The name of Jesus
is far above every other name
He is holy and we declare
His glory fills the earth
and there's rejoicing everywhere
He is mighty, and sovereign over all
He's coming for who's ready
when they hear the trumpet call
He is Jesus, the ruler over all
And every soul in worship
to the King will fall
Holy, holy is the King who reigns
The Son of God,
heaven and earth proclaims
In joy we bring to you our offering
(In spirit and - in truth we sing)
(And so to you - our lives we bring)
(As a li - ving offering)
ALL OF ME
I give you all of me
I give you all of me O Lord
I give you all of me
Come fill this place
Fill me with your Spirit Lord
So I may do your will and walk in your way
Keep me in your presence
Every moment, I pray
So I will always love you
So I will always love you
YOU ARE MY ALL
You are my life
You are my strength
You are my song, Jesus
You are my heart
You are my soul
I want the whole world to know
That you are everything to me
And for all eternity
I will sing your praises
I give you my life
I give you my strength
I give you my song, Jesus
I give you my heart
I give you my soul
For you have made me whole!
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
How many of you know that we ARE in a war today? And that war is made up of many battles. But no matter what battles you've lost, we can rejoice in the fact that in the end, our side has already won the war, because Jesus Christ has sealed our victory! Amen?
Today, I'd like for us to spend the next few minutes looking at spiritual warfare, and we're going to dig just a little bit into how it works and how we can put ourselves in the position to win more of our battles.
And the title of today's message is, "Making War."
Ephesians 6:12 (KMV*)
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 For this reason, put on the whole armor of God, so you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Okay, but what about our politicians who are trying to take away our freedoms? Don't we wrestle against them? Well, according to this passage, no, we don't.
What if someone breaks into our home and is trying to harm our loved ones. Won't we be wrestling against them? According to what we just read, no, we won't.
How about our law officers. Aren't they daily wrestling with flesh and blood as they fight to "take a bite out of crime?" According to the word of God, no, they aren't.
Our fight is not with flesh and blood -- human beings. Rather, our fight is with spiritual forces.
But doesn't that fly in the face of reality? Well, let's consider this: from the very beginning, satan's approach on earth is to gain the cooperation of mankind.
In the garden, he took the form of a snake, and sweet-talked Eve while Adam just stood there not saying a single word. Satan tricked Eve, and tempted Adam to ignore God's command. And if they had not agreed to partner with satan in this transgression against God, satan would have had no power on this earth.
Did God curse only satan? No, He also cursed the woman, and He also cursed the man. You see, it wasn't a case of "the devil made me do it" (which, by the way, is NEVER the honest truth); instead, it was a partnership of the man and woman with satan. Without that partnership, there would have been no curse, because there would have been no sin.
And therein lies the description of how satan works to this very day: his power comes when we give him power through partnering with him. At least that's usually the case, and we'll take a look at an exception in just a minute. But that's his M.O. -- partnering WITH man to work evil and destruction AGAINST man.
Consider Judas. He's a pretty good example of partnership with satan, wouldn't you agree?
Jesus and His twelve disciples were sitting together for a meal. At that point, satan hadn't yet entered Judas. But Jesus knew his heart, and He knew the path on which Judas' heart was taking him.
Luke 22:3-4 (NKJV)
3 Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.
4 So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them.
So Judas didn't act on his own to betray Jesus. And satan did not act on HIS own either. It was a partnership.
Was Judas just an innocent victim? Was it just his fate that satan would posess him? Did he really have a choice in the matter? Or was it less of a partnership and more of a case of "the devil made me do it?"
There's a popular country song that talks about giving credit where credit is due. The singer says
"I got to thank momma for the cookin'
Daddy for the whuppin'
The devil for the trouble that I get into
I got to give credit where credit is due
I thank the bank for the money
Thank God for you"
Obviously, while he's right to thank God for a person, he's really confused about where some of the other stuff comes from, since he credits "the devil for the trouble that I get into." It's not the devil's fault when he does something stupid. If the devil's involved at all, the devil is only 50% of the picture. If he's getting into trouble and the devil's involved, it's only because he has partnered with satan. Sorry if you love that song and are offended by my sacrilege, but that's the truth of the matter. The devil can't MAKE you do ANYTHING without your participation. And before he takes control of someone, he is given permission to do so.
You see, Judas was in charge of the ministry finances, and he frequently stole money out of the offering plate, if you will. That's pretty good evidence that, just God's giving someone a position of authority is not necessarily a seal of His approval on their character or level of integrity. After all, the book of Romans tells us that those in governmental authority are given that authority by God. Hitler certainly wasn't on God's good side, and I'll plead the fifth today concerning those in power today (even though they're doing their best to strip away the first and second, but anywho...)
Back to the topic. Judas was not just an innocent bystander. He was already partnering with satan by surrendering to his desire to steal. And when satan wants something done, all he has to do is call upon one of his partners.
I have a feeling that, before that night that satan entered him, Judas had no idea that he would betray Jesus. He saw the miracles. He witnessed the intense love. He was present when Jesus displayed His selfless, sacrificial nature of a servant, as He accepted hatred and rejection and mourned over the great moment in time that hatred caused them to miss.
But when you've partnered with satan, when you've partnered with demons, there may very well come a time in which you're needed for evil to have its way in a capacity that is more than you would have ever imagined. And if you've partnered with demons by your compromise and sin, they have all the permission they need to make you do things you would never have even considered.
Okay, so we've considered man's partnership with satan in the garden, and the partnership Judas had with the devil which enabled satan to enter him at will. Let's take a look at the book of Revelation, and see what's coming in the near future.
I'd like for us to read the ninth chapter of Revelation, and then we'll talk about it in light of today's subject.
1 Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit.
2 And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.
3 Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
4 They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man.
6 In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.
7 The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men.
8 They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth.
9 And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle.
10 They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months.
11 And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.
12 One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.
13 Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."
15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.
16 Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone.
18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths.
19 For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.
20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.
21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Okay. Now this is some weird-sounding stuff, I'm sure you'd agree. First we have the locusts; but they're not just little bugs, they are part bug, part, animal, and part human. Something you'd see in a really wild sci-fi movie. But I believe, while there might be swarms of physical locusts that accompany this plague, the creatures described here are spiritual in nature.
First, a star falls from heaven to earth. This sounds similar to what Jesus said about satan, that he saw him fall like lightning. But this doesn't seem to be talking about satan, but about another being. There really isn't any description given to this being, just that it fell from heaven, was given the key to the bottomless pit, or the abyss, and then it used that key to open it.
Let's back up just a little bit for a moment. Up until this point, four seals have been broken. There are earthquakes, famines, and other things that are things we've seen for a long, long time on earth, just ramped up to a whole new level. But now we go beyond the physical into the spiritual.
And the fallen star opens the abyss. This very likely is a place in which many fallen angels have been imprisoned. Second Peter and Jude mention the abyss, and the demons who have been locked away there. We can assume that these were demons who were so vile, that they were locked away to protect mankind. And we know from the passage in Jude that some of these are bound with chains of everlasting darkness. They're not getting out. Their chains are eternal. They must have been so incredibly evil that God determined long ago that they would never again be allowed to roam free on the earth.
But when the abyss is opened, a great, black smoke rises and blocks the sun. Perhaps that is a spiritual darkness. And maybe it will be accompanied by some sort of physical counterpart. But the sun and the air will be darkened by this smoke.
Are we starting to see just the very beginning of that darkness? Maybe not. There has always been evil on the earth. In fact, thousands of years ago, God destroyed all people on earth except for just a few, because they had become so wicked.
But it seems as though people's minds have become so much more dark than they were even just a few decades ago. Not all that long ago, a married couple couldn't even sleep in the same bed on television. It was just too racy to show to the public. Today, people think nothing of it when they see two people, not even portrayed as being married, naked in bed appearing to have sex. And it's becoming less and less shocking for those two people to be the same gender.
And if you say something in a public forum about how wicked that is, people think you're a religious freak, while just a few years ago, your reaction would be been expected, while their acceptance would have made them look like the morally degenerate heathens they really are.
How about abortion? Not all that long ago, the idea that it's okay to murder your child just because he or she isn't born yet would have been viewed by the general public as the satanic, vile, demonic, and murderous depravity that it really is. But now, if you say you believe in defending the life of the unborn, people are certain to attack you for supposedly trying to deny women their rights to choose.
Depraved immorality is seen as something acceptable and even good, and murder of helpless, innocent babies is seen as a woman's free choice, while those who embrace morality are called extreemest homophobes, and those who try to defend the lives of millions of babies are labeled as enemies of freedom.
Whether the abyss is being opened, and whether what we see today is its dark smoke beginning to rise, a darkness certainly is filling the air, the environment, the mindset of the masses, and is blocking the sun, the light, the truth.
And out of that smoke, locusts will come. But they have some major differences from locusts -- differences which make it safe for us to assume that these are demonic forces which were so vile that they have been exiled from the earth for thousands of years.
Verse four says, "They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads."
How many of you know that locusts eat grass, and other green, growing things. But these are targeting human beings. And not just any humans, but specifically those who are not sealed by God.
Let's skip ahead a couple of verses, and consider their description.
First of all, they're shaped like horses. They're wearing golden crowns. And, as if that's not weird enough, their faces appear human.
This takes them from being bad bugs to being something much less earthly and much more dangerous.
Next, it says they have women's hair and lion's teeth. A woman's hair has always been considered a thing of beauty. So we can expect that these creatures will be seen as beautiful, and will have a great power of allure and attraction. Of course that makes me think of the news anchor who said Obama sends chills up his leg. But all the great and wicked leaders throughout history who drew masses into their adoring fold, saw the leader and what he stood for as beautiful, attractive, and alluring. And these beings will be the epitomy of that draw on all those who do not have the Spirit of God dwelling within them, and on all those who are compromising and who are in the position to be drawn away.
Next, it says that they had breastplates of iron. Throughout Scripture, iron symbolized a strong power that could not be broken. It could not be defeated. It could not be stood against. Does that sound like any political powers in the world today?
Well, what we've seen up 'til now is nothing compared to what's about to come upon the earth.
And there are two things I'd like for us to take special notice of here. First of all, these creatures tormented men for five months. That's the typical life span of a real locust. But that's also the number of God's Grace. Which ties into the second thing: they were not allowed to kill the people they tormented. In fact, verse six says that people will seek death and will not find it. They will desire to die, and death will flee from them. People will try to commit suicide. But the failure rate will be something we've never seen before. And I believe this is because of the Grace of God that defines the time they're allowed to stay.
You see, up until this point in Revelation, mankind has gone through worse and worse things, but has still not turned back to God. They have continued their immorality, their idolotry, and have continued to reject and rebel against God.
And if God just wanted to torment the people as punishment, wouldn't it make more sense to just let them die and send them to hell? Instead, the torment is an opportunity for them to finally reject their wickedness which has brought them to this point, and to turn to God for help.
In fact, God's grace is so strong through this plague, that He will not allow them to die and enter eternal damnation. Instead, He keeps them alive so that some might repent and be saved.
But at the end of the chapter, we see that as a whole, mankind gets worse.
And how does this fit in with our subject today? Well, the broken seals up to this point were broken because mankind is evil and continues to become more and more evil as their rebellion against God continues to grow.
In other words, mankind will go deeper and deeper into partnership with demons. And those demons will become their tormentors for this period of final grace.
But then verse twelve says, "One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things."
After this time of torment, this time in which mankind is brought to their knees and kept alive so they will have the time to repent, the next seal is broken. And one third of all people on earth are killed. That's more than two billion people. Dead.
And verse 20 says, "But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts."
All of these horrible, terrifying, nightmarish things that are worse than anything ever seen in the history of mankind, all these things were the direct result of their partnership with satan. And yet they will choose to partner with him still, holding on to their sin and depravity tooth and nail as it drags them into the everlasting torments of hell.
THAT is ultimately what you're holding on to when you're holding on to your sin. Your flesh wants the wrapper, the frosted icing; but there's something sinister and venomous underneath, and it's simply wearing the things that fan the flames of your lusts.
Don't partner with demons. Partner with God and with His righteousness today.
You're probably familiar with the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. He challenged them to call down fire from heaven to decide who is the true God. Did the demons they worship have the power to produce fire? Yes, they did. But God did not allow them to use their power. He wanted to make it obvious who He was. And He protected His people from the level of deception with which they would have been confronted if satan were allowed to exercise his powers.
But in the book of Revelation, we clearly see that, after these seals are broken, satan will be allowed to perform many signs and wonders, to even deceive, if possible, the very elect.
Let's back up a bit to the garden. Were there demons on the earth before the fall? Well, satan was certainly there, in the form of the serpent. He was on earth BEFORE man sinned. But, before the fall, man was completely immersed in the glory of God. And that glory of God that filled the whole earth insulated mankind from the evil of satan and the other fallen angels.
It was AFTER man partnered with satan, that that protection lifted.
Fast forward back to today. More and more of the world, including many of those in the Church, are compromising the word of God, sound doctrine, and personal integrity, and are compromising with sin; and by doing so, they are partnering with satan. And from looking at history both within and outside of the Scriptures, what is the result of that partnership? For one thing, it causes our protection from the influence of evil to be lifted.
Why are there mass shootings? Why are there so many corrupt politicians? Why are we losing our freedoms? Why are we seen by the world as mentally ill if we believe and obey the word of God?
It's because the peoples of the world have partnered with satan, and the are not protected from the all-pervasive influence of evil.
And all of us are tempted by evil.
Demons tempt. Just take a look at Jesus, and His time in the wilderness. The Bible tells us that satan tempted Him. So yes, some temptations can come from satan.
But satan's temptations are powerless unless they hit home.
Scripture says it like this:
James 1:13-15 (NKJV)
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
So temptation is only temptation because of our own desires. And what does this say? "Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin." Desire has to conceive. And for conception to take place, there has to be some sort of interaction. Desire can conceive and produce sin only when you entertain it. That's just some food for thought.
And then the end result of sin is death. Not SOME sin, or someone else's sin, or the sin that I'm so good that I wouldn't do THAT... No, it's ALL sin that, in the end, brings forth death.
And spiritual death goes hand in hand with your partnership with evil. If you want to be cut off from God, compromise. If you want to be part of the godless masses who usher in the release of pure evil on the earth, compromise.
But if you want to partner with God, with life, with everlasting happiness, peace, and joy, then walk according to the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
When a person gives into the temptations of his or her own flesh, even if no demon is involved in the temptation, that person is partnering with satan, and demons will be drawn to them.
It's as though a spiritual bulls eye is painted on their souls. Don't make yourself "open season" for demons.
But when a person submits themselves to God and resists the devil and the temptations that seek to partner that person with demons, then Scripture tells us that the enemy WILL flee.
And this is the warfare that we make. It is first of all with our own hearts and minds, with our own sinful desires. And it is also with spiritual forces, which we battle first of all by battling with our own fleshly desires and the temptations they bring.
And the truth of the matter is that we ALL will make war before it's all said and done. We WILL partner with one side or the other. And if you're not partnering with God by seeking after a life of purity and spiritual passion for Him, then you are partnering with demons, and just like Peter denied Jesus after being absolutely convinced to the core of his being that he would rather die than deny him, so you too do not know what you will do when it comes down to it, unless you are watching and praying and are actively partnering with God.
Okay, I'd like for us to consider one more example before we close with a time of prayer, worship, and ministry.
If bad things are happening to us, if disaster is striking, if we don't seem to be blessed in every area of our lives but instead see satan apparently doing whatever he wants to us, is that necessarily because we've partnered with him?
Well, of course I can't speak for you. You know deep down whether you're living in obedience to God and whether you're walking with Him on His terms. But we can point to an example of Scripture in which one particular man saw the devil play a big role in his life BECAUSE that man would NOT partner with satan, and instead lived right with God.
That man's name was Job. And you probably know the story. Satan was watching Job. Job walked uprightly before God, and, of course, satan hated him. And the devil talked to God about him, and insisted that, if enough bad things happened to Job, he would turn against God.
How many bad things does it take to sway us today? I've known quite a few people who, after having enough bad things happen to them, turned against God. They might not have renounced Him, but they're angry, resentful, and bitter. But I don't know one single person who lost as much as Job did.
His family was killed. His cattle and crops were destroyed. He lost his health, and was in constant agony. And God left him one of his family members -- a nagging, godless wife who, from reading what she said to him, had obviously partnered with satan.
"Why don't you curse God and die?" she said. And let's face it; if we thought God Himself killed our family, destroyed our livelihood, and destroyed our health, how many of us would keep our faith?
But Job thought it was God. That was a common false belief at that time, that everything that happened was God's idea and was a direct result of His hand.
And how did Job answer his wife? "Even if He kills me, yet will I praise Him." Even if He kills me, yet will I praise Him. THAT was the purity of Job's heart. And while WE know that God restored Job's health and gave him many times more than what he had before, Job DIDN'T know.
Lord, we ask you today to purify our hearts. Shake us up, Lord. Remove the rocks from our stony ground. Soften our hard hearts. Reveal the dross in our hearts and minds and turn up the heat so you can skim it away. And give us hearts like Job, so that even if we were to think you were destroying us, we too would say, "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
So we've taken a look at the problem: each one of us has, at times in our lives, partnered with satan. And many of us are, in some way or another, partnered with demons right now. And collectively, this is exactly what brings in the judgment that's going to quite literally rock the whole world.
But what is the solution? Knowing the problem is important, but it's only half the battle.
Well, let me vastly over simplify it for you. The problem is partnering with demons. And the solution is: partnering with God.
But how do we partner with God? Do we say a sinner's prayer? Do we get on our knees and promise God that we're His partner?
Well, let's consider how we partnered with demons. We did things they like, such as compromise, indiference, spiritual laziness, complacency, prayerlessness, sinful habits and lifestyles, and both sins of commission and ommission, which is things we do and things we DON'T do.
And how do we partner with God? Well, we refuse to compromise; we take a Godly, active interest in the people and situations around us; we refuse to sit on our spiritual butts and we become passionate in our spiritual warfare, our prayer, and our pursuit of God; we turn our backs on all sin and everything that displeases God; and we study to show ourselves approved, searching the Scriptures for the nature of God and to learn what pleases and displeases Him.
Oftentimes it takes a shaking. A disaster. Something lost. Something destroyed. It often takes something so big that it totally shakes our world, for us to turn things around and get actively serious about our walk with God.
Of course, ideally we would get in gear without any of that. And that's what I encourage all of us to do today.
But some of us will have to be shaken first, harder and harder, until we either let go of the world, or we crumble into it. I suggest letting go.
Years ago, a song dropped into my spirit. I wrote it down. And over the next few months, I sang it every day as I drove to work. The words were: "The Spirit of the Lord comes before morning, bringing a wind of change. Change me; change me; Holy Spirit, let your wind blow."
And my world was shaken to the core. You see, I was living in deception and sin, and I had found ways to thoroughly justify my sin to myself and to those around me. In fact, I was convinced that what I was doing was good and right.
And while I could ask all of us here today if we're doing that in any area of our lives, we very well might not know. Deep, deep down, yes. But the Bible says our hearts are wicked and deceptive. They lie to us. And they get deceived. And our minds certainly can be deceived, as clever and all together as we might think we are.
But I truly wanted the Holy Spirit to blow, to blow through my soul, to blow away any junk, and to bring change. And because, in the form of a song, I continued to ask Him to do that day after day after day, He answered.
And let me ask you this: what do you think God's going to do if you keep asking Him, day after day, to bring a wind of change? What do you think He will do if you make a habit of asking Him every single day to change you, even if you don't know just how badly you need to change?
Well, Jesus said the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who persistently ask.
So today, as we close this service with a time of prayer and ministry, I'm not going to ask you to change your life. Instead, the invitation today is simply to start asking every day for God to change you, for Him to blow His wind of change.
And it might be uncomfortable. It might really hurt. But just like a parent taking care of a wound, we need the Holy Spirit to clean out the dirt so His healing oil can flow.
We ALL need to be changed. And we ALL need the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit blowing through our lives, blowing away the chaff, and bringing into the place God wants us to be.
This altar is open, and you're all invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front. And let's just ask God to do whatever is necessary in our lives to wake us up in any areas we might be sleeping, and to set us even more on fire for Him.
And I challenge you to write this down, put in where you'll see it every day, and when you see it, simply invite God to blow His wind of change.
The title of my message today is "Making War," and there's a lot we could learn about spiritual warfare; but turning your face like flint toward the mark of the high calling God has placed upon you is the posturing that you MUST take to be successful in battle, and it is battle in and of itself.
So embrace that wind of change. And ask God every day to change you and to shape you into the man or woman He wants you to be.
Lord God, thank you for speaking to us today through your word. Thank you for the amazing gracy with which you have showered the nations for thousands of years. Thank you for the things that are coming upon the earth, for they will shake us to the core and will separate the wheat from the chaff. And thank you for the things you're going to do in our lives as we continue to seek after you.
I ask that nothing you've said to us would fall to the wayside, but that we would take immediate action, today, right now, as we do whatever's necessary to set ourselves up for spiritual success and for seeking after you every single day.
And we ask these things in the name of Jesus, knowing that they are your will for us, and because of that, you will answer.