Spiritual Warfare

Sermon Titled “Strong In The Lord” (Ephesians 6:10-13) – Sunday 8th June, 2014

Last weekend’s sermon was a powerful one, but one that might also be difficult for some to comprehend or even believe. In Ephesians 6:10-13, Paul takes us into the spiritual realm and warns us against the powers of darkness – here’s what he says:

  • 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

We can see from the verses above that there are a lot of evil forces against us and Paul says, that unless we are wearing the “full armor of God” we really don’t have adequate defenses in place to protect ourselves. Some of you might be skeptical of Paul’s words, and I don’t blame you – the “devil’s schemes,” “spiritual forces,” and “the full armor of God” – these all sound a bit far-fetched. Yet the bible is full of references to demonic forces in this world that are under the authority of Satan, the devil.

The bible also says that without the presence of the Holy Spirit, a person cannot understand biblical scriptures (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing” or in other words, to those who have not received Christ as their Lord and Savior). Anyone who therefore reads the bible, can only make sense of it with the help of the Holy Spirit and that is only possible through a relationship with Christ (John 16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”)

Still, there are some Christians who read the bible without seeing the full picture. They fail to comprehend or acknowledge that the Christian life is a spiritual battleground, one which they entered into the minute they said “Yes!” to Christ. Christianity isn’t a “feel good, do good” religion; it does entail these things but it also involves a very real element of evil which requires us to be on guard at all times – suited up in God’s armor and ready to fight.

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Bishop J.C. Ryle said in one of his sermons that true Christianity is a fight. He claimed that many of the men and women who call themselves Christians and make a profession of faith in Christ, actually know nothing of spiritual strife or conflict. The true Christian he said, is “not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence, and security.” Rather, the true Christian “must fight,” and there are three enemies to be fought:

  1. The world – we live in a world system which caters to our lusts and sinful desires, but 1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” It is an ongoing battle for the Christian but we are not to conform to the world’s standards and ideals. We are to resist worldly temptations by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and align our thoughts (and attitudes) with those of Christ (Romans 12:2).
  2. The Flesh – we are born with a defiant nature which opposes God and everything about Him. The scriptures tell us however, that if we choose to follow Christ then we are given a new nature, one which wants to turn away from the things that we used to lust after. This new nature will also cause us to seek answers in the bible, and we’ll eventually discover that while scripture is comforting, it is also challenging. Colossians 3:5-6, for example, challenges us to “Put to death…….whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
  3. The devil, also known as Satan – Christians believe that Satan is not some mythical creature, but that he is a very real being who seeks to dominate the world by fulfilling his one and only agenda: to kill, steal, and destroy. The bible has many names for him:
  • Accuser (Rev. 12:10) – he loves to make us believe that we are not worthy of God’s love, that we are unforgivable, and that we are pretty much useless.
  • Adversary (1 Pet. 5:8) – he is in direct opposition to God and to us.
  • Destroyer (Rev.9:11) – he attempts to destroy marriages, churches, homes and families, and virtually all relationships.
  • Thief (John 10:10) – he robs us of peace, hope, and joy.
  • Murderer and Liar (John 8:44)
  • Tempter (1 Thes. 3:5) – he tempts us so that we will fall and stumble in our Christian walk.
  • Enemy (Matt. 13:39) – he lures us into habitual and unrepentant sin, with temptations such as drugs and alcohol, and false religions and spirituality.

If all of these things are true, then we must accept that the Christian life cannot exist without conflict and strife. Pastor Reimer noted in his sermon how people who use Facebook rarely reveal the “bad” side of their lives. Instead, they use Facebook as a platform to create life stories that invite only praise, envy, and admiration. While it’s possible, though unlikely, that some people really do have perfect lives (no failures, no trials, no strained relationships), what good does it do them? Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good! That means you’ve stood up for something, some time in your life.”

Don’t waste your life looking for satisfaction in things that have no eternal significance. The bible clearly states (in the book of Revelations) that a time is coming when anyone whose name is not written in the “book of life” will be thrown into the “lake of fire.” This sounds like crazy talk if you are not a Christian, but have you ever considered that God’s word might actually be true, and if it is how might that change the way you view your life?

As for those of you already following Christ, are you doing as Paul advised? Are you putting on daily the “full armor of God,” so that whatever trials and temptations you face, you’re well-equipped to fend them off and stand strong in the name of the Lord?

If you’re not sure how to answer the above questions, then read this final passage by Bishop J.C. Ryle, and spend some time contemplating his words:

  • The saddest symptom about many so–called Christians is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity. They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services once or twice every week. But of the great spiritual warfare—its watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests— of all this they appear to know nothing at all. Let us take care that this case is not our own. The worst state of soul is when the strong man armed keeps the house, and his goods are at peace, when he leads men and women captive at his will, and they make no resistance. The worst chains are those which are neither felt nor seen by the prisoner (Luke 11:21; 2 Tim. 2:26).  

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