Sunday Sermon: ‘Spiritual Warfare – Beware!’

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Audio Version

This week started out really crazy for me. I got up Monday morning with every intention to step away from the book of Ephesians until after Easter, and to focus on some messages concerning the Passion Week. Yet I was soon to discover that the Lord had a different plan.

It all started out with the difficulty I experienced in trying to begin preparing the special messages. There are multiple passages of scripture that I could have studied, yet the Spirit did not lead me to any of them. Then something really bizarre happened. A pop-up screen appeared on my laptop informing me that a virus was trying to invade my computer and that I needed to update my virus protection software. And so I did, I thought. Soon I discovered that this was a trick and something not developed by Microsoft, but by the inventors of a computer virus. In other words, I wasn’t downloading protection against a virus; I was downloading a virus.

As you can imagine, there was immediate panic and chaos on my part. The more I tried to get rid of it, the more it invaded my computer. Finally I stopped and prayed and asked the Lord to help me. It was during that prayer that the Lord began to give me special guidance, not only about my laptop, but about where He wanted me to go in my messages. It was as if I could hear Him say – “Terry, don’t worry about your laptop. I know all about it and I will help you. I have allowed this to happen in order to steer you in a special direction. What you are experiencing physically with your computer, many of My children are experiencing spiritually in their lives. Terry, I want you to continue on in Ephesians 6, and warn My people about the reality of spiritual warfare.”

Sure enough, the Lord helped me to resolve the problem with my computer and it was amazing how He began to guide me from that point on in my study of this passage:

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

As I began to meditate on Ephesians 6, the Lord brought to my mind a passage from the gospel of John –

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The thief Jesus refers to is the devil and much like a virus that attacks our computer, Satan attacks our lives with invasive plots and schemes designed to destroy our homes, our marriages, our children, our finances, our health and especially our relationship with the Lord.

I. The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

Ephesians 6:12 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.

A. Our Three Enemies:

As Christians, we have three primary enemies: the world, our flesh and the devil. Note what Paul wrote in chapter 2 –

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

1. The course of this world is the world system. It’s the mindset and philosophy by which much of this world runs.

2. The lusts of our flesh and mind which is a reference to our fallen, sinful nature.

3. The prince of the power of the air is a reference to the devil.

B. The Reality of Satan

Is a spiritual attack a reality? Here’s a terrible truth about the virus that got on my laptop; I have virus protection software loaded, but turned off. Sometime back I turned it off because it seemed to slow down my computer. I thought – ‘A virus will never attack my computer.’ Right!

Unfortunately many Christians have the same attitude about the work of Satan. AW Tozer was right when he wrote –

“Men think of the world, not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight, we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land, we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, we are already living. And the best that we can do is to rid ourselves of our inhibitions and frustrations and live this life here to the full.”

Yet consider what Martin Luther, of the 16th century, wrote in his great hymn – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

The Bible teaches us that the believer’s life is a battlefield. It is in constant combat with the forces of evil. Their aim is to rob us of the abundant life Jesus promised and to destroy us.

Consider these three facts about Satan and his activity:

1. Satan’s territory

a)  2 Corinthian 4:4 refers to him as the ‘god of this world.’

(1) By that Paul does not mean that Satan owns this world. He did not create this world, nor does it belong to him.

(2) The word ‘world’ is the Greek work ‘kosmos’ and it refers to the world system. It is the mindset and philosophy of fallen mankind. John wrote that the – ‘whole world lieth in the wicked one.’ (1 Jn 5:19)

b) Scripture also calls him ‘prince of the power of the air’ (Eph 2:2) and the ‘prince of this world’ (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). David Jeremiah defines this as Satan being the ruler of fallen angels in the air and fallen men in the world.

2. Satan’s troops

Ephesians 6:12 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.

a) We know that God created all of the angelic beings. We see also from scripture that many, perhaps all of God’s angels have been created with rank and responsibilities. There are archangels, cherubim, seraphim and those who are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation.

b) Demons are fallen angelic beings.

(1) We learn from Revelation 12 that when Satan fell, he took with him 1/3 of the angels with him.

(2) The book of Hebrews tells us that God created an innumerable number of angels. How much is 1/3 of an innumerable amount?

(3) Jesus referred to the ‘devil and his angels’ in Matthew 25 and they are also mentioned in Revelation 12.

(4) Therefore we may assume that even as God has His good angels assigned to roles and responsibilities, so does the Devil. Paul seems to make reference to them:

(a) Principalities – Greek word ‘arche’ which means: {chief, first place}

(b) Powers – refers to authorities and rulers

(c) Rulers of darkness of this world

(i) David Jeremiah states that these are ‘divisional commanders.’ (Study Booklet – ‘Spiritual Warfare’, p 11).

(ii) John MacArthur in a message on this passage stated that this phrase actually means – “the world rulers of this darkness.”

(d) Spiritual wickedness in high places – demonic hosts or fallen angels. Perhaps more like privates in the army as opposed to those who might be generals.

3. Satan’s tactics

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

The word ‘wiles’ is an interesting word. It’s the Greek word ‘methodeia’ from which we get the English word methodology. We don’t accidently bump into Satan periodically along the way. He is constantly planning and scheming how to attack us. Satan’s methodology can be viewed from two aspects:

a) His Craftiness –

The word ‘wiles’ literally means: {cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery}. Paul used this same word in chapter 4 –

Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.

(1) Genesis 3 tells us that the serpent was more subtle (shrewd and crafty) than all the animals.

(2) We can see the craftiness of Satan in the way he attacked Christ.

(a) In Matthew 4, Satan quoted scripture. Keep this thought in mind for next week’s study. The ‘sword of the Spirit’ Paul refers to as a part of our spiritual armor is more than beating the devil over the head with the Bible. It refers to the skillful use of scripture. If Satan is going to use scripture against us, we better make sure that we’re in the Word so that we can rightly divide it.

(b) We know that Satan also used Christ’s disciples against Him. Scripture says that when Jesus told His disciples what would happen in Jerusalem, Peter pulled Him aside and began to rebuke Him. The word rebuke is a strong word and it indicates that Peter began correcting the Lord on the error of His intentions. In other words, Satan tried to use Simon to keep Jesus from going to the cross. Note how Jesus responded to Peter’s rebuke –

Matthew 16:23 Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me…

We get the word scandalize from the Greek word here for offence. It means to cause someone to trip and to stumble. It can also means to trap or to snare.

That was a very crafty attack and it was also a calculated attack.

b) His Calculating

In his study booklet on Spiritual Warfare, David Jeremiah describes the wiles of the devil as – ‘organized conduct.’ It’s Satan’s methodeia; his methodology. Note Paul’s response to Satan’s tactics:

2 Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Again I warn you, you’re not going to see a pop-up screen that says DANGER! DESTRUCTIVE SPIRITUAL ATTACK AHEAD. Instead, much like a stealth bomber, Satan is going to try to sneak in under the radar and attack you when and where you are least expecting.

C. Reality of the Struggle

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle

1. Here’s something that most non-believers don’t know about Christianity – Christians still struggle with sin. Perhaps some more than others, nevertheless, all believers still have areas of weaknesses and vulnerability.

2. Satan appeals to our natural weaknesses and sinful appetites.

a) Satan filled Ananias and his wife Sapphira’s hearts with greed.

b) Satan attacked David through pride.

c) Satan waited for 80 years to attack Moses with anger and with that one attack he kept God’s servant and friend from enjoying the Promised Land.

I.   The Reality of a Spiritual Attack
II. The Resource of a Supernatural Armor

Ephesians 6:10 finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

The first thing I would like to point out is Paul’s admonition to stand.

A. ‘Stand’

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…

The word ‘stand’ means to be fixed or established. The Lord does not want His children to be tossed about to and fro. He does not want them giving into the devil. The Lord wants us to be able to stand against the attacks of Satan.

Paul was not the only one who believed that God’s children could and should stand against our enemy.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith…

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Both Peter and James used an intensified form of the same word Paul used for stand. To resist means to ‘stand against; to stand in opposition.’ Yet at the same time we must recognize that we are no match for Satan. Martin Luther said in his hymn- “His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal.” Again quoting David Jeremiah from his study concerning spiritual warfare – “Next to God, Satan is the most powerful being in the universe.” How then do God’s people stand against the devil and his demons?

B. ‘Be Strong in the Lord’

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Literally Paul is saying, “be strengthened with God’s supernatural power.’ This is the same word Paul used when he wrote –

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

So often I hear people who are going through a difficult time say, “Lord, give me strength.” The Lord can give us strength, but notice how He does so:

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me

The strength God gives is His own presence. To be strong in the Lord is the same thing as to abide in the Lord.

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

It is through our relationship with the Lord that we find strength to stand against the devil. The armor that we put on is not something external, but rather something internal.

C. ‘Put On the Whole Armor of God’

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

What is this armor of God? It is the Lord Jesus Christ as He lives through us.

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

The armor of God is the Holy Spirit manifesting in our lives the character and nature of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther wrote in the second stanza of his hymn –

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

What is the armor of God? It is the Holy Spirit producing in and through us the character and nature of Christ. How do we put on this armor? We put on God’s armor by abiding in Christ. You want victory over the world; the flesh; and the devil – make much of Jesus in your life! Glorify Jesus. Spend time with Jesus. Learn about Jesus. Sit at His feet. Learn of Him. Be yoked with Him. Become one of His disciples. Have fellowship with Him through His Word.

Next week we are going to begin looking at the various components of this supernatural armor, but for today let me give you a brief overview:

It is:

1. A life guided by His truth

2. A heart that delights in His righteousness

3. A lifestyle that is ready to share His Gospel of peace

4. A faith in Him and His perfect will

5. A mind that meditates on His salvation

6. An intimate knowledge of His Word

7. An all encompassing prayer life to Him

In other words, a relationship with Christ that is so real and personal that it affects the way you live and think, and therefore enables you to resist the temptations of the devil and to yield to the perfect will of God.

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