Talk for St Edward’s Church as an intro to Spiritual Warfare.
Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20
This evening we are going to look at spiritual warfare. I am going to give you really just a brief intro – I’m going to talk for a little bit but we will really just do a whistle stop tour. It’s an important subject – recommend further reading.
The first thing I want to say is that we must remember we have a Saviour in Jesus Christ. Jesus won the victory over death – over the devil – on the cross.
Hebrews 2:14 for example – talking of us as children of God:
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he [Christ] himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…
So we hold on to that truth before we delve into it all. However we also remember we are halfway to eternity. We know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour but we also know we will fully know him when we get to heaven, once we have died. In this great story, that we are part of – from creation onwards – we are not yet at the finale.
What is Spiritual warfare?
Essentially spiritual warfare is recognising that while the ending is already written, we’re not there yet. The enemy is defeated but not finally sentenced if you like. He’s angry, knows he is defeated and is simply trying for a last hurrah! He seeks to accuse, to tempt, to draw us away from God, to lead us to spiritual death if you like. and we need to be aware of that and defend ourselves.
Some of us might be a bit concerned at the label ‘spiritual warfare’ but I am going to break that down for you, hopefully help to bring a wider understanding. We don’t often talk about the devil in church and yet we need to understand what he is about in order not to be led down his paths. It’s not something to be overly worried about – remember Jesus has the victory.
We are going to really build a bible based foundation for this tonight – The word of God is living as active Hebrews 4:12 says, so we use the bible as our focus, and again it’s short so won’t cover everything but I will pick out a few bits to focus on.
The enemy comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.John 10:10
So who is our enemy? names of the devil…
The Devil is referred to in many ways in the Bible,
‘Devil’ comes from old English – derives from ‘diabolical’
Hebrew – Satan means simply accuser or adversary
And he is the accuser in the book of Revelation
In Genesis takes the form of a snake – the Serpent
Ruler of the air in Eph 2,
Roams the earth – eg: Job 2,
Tempter and Ruler of demons in Matthew:
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matt 4:3)
But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
The evil one – 1 John 5
I think it is really helpful not to think of the enemy as some kind of red imp with horns and a pitchfork, but as the force of evil in this world or, for us personally as the accuser. As the bringer of Fake News! If you like
One of the biggest things he does is makes us believe things that are not true about ourselves…
In Revelation of a great battle where the enemy – here as a dragon – was hurled out of heaven.
7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed overhim
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
Key phrase here is: They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.
The blood of the lamb – Jesus – overcoming death/ Satan
And testimony – sharing the good news is powerful…
What does Satan do – draws us away from God. He cannot affect our spiritual end but we can. He wants to lead us away from God in any way he can.
He seeks to lead us away from Christ – how?
Through lies and deceit. Through temptation – offering us a better way, we all know I am sure the passage of Jesus temptation in the wilderness which we looked at a few Sundays ago. The devil tempts us into all things that are not of GodHe is the one who accuses us before God.
Imagine a court room if you will, God as we know is judge and Satan stands for the prosecution. And yet Jesus as I reminded you has already taken any punishment we may deserve, letting us go free.
We can be put to the limit:
Job – put to the test in – Ch1 we read
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.
The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
And goes on to test Job to the limit
And yet Job still gives testimony to who God is – even in his anger and confusion he holds on to God
The Devil also seeks to confuse us:
We see all this from the very beginning – leading Eve towards the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Know what did God say about this tree?
Gen 2:16 – to the man
You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’
Gen 3 serpent says:
He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ 2 The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.”’ 4
God didn’t say don’t touch it – just don’t eat from it – so the serpent is crafty and clever and confuses Eve in deceit. That leads her away from God –
But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ 6
A blatant lie but she’s already confused so goes along with the serpent.
She gives some to her husband, so now she is engaged in the work of the enemy, bringing Adam away from God too.
They realise what they have done and are filled with shame – they cover themselves.
And then there is division – in fact the man blames the woman and God
The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’
The woman who you put here!
And the woman blames the serpent.
And then they face their punishment…
God says to the serpent:
– I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’
So the offspring of the woman will strike the head of the serpent- ie the devil – when he attacks. It is written there from the beginning.
All of this from one phrase of the snake seeking to confuse Eve and it worked… How often do little things become huge when we keep them in the darkness not bringing them into the light.
What does it look like today?
Mental health here – sometimes spiritual sometimes not, sometimes both.
Mental Health issues affect people in different ways, and come in many different forms, however what it IS, is illness, it might be through chemical imbalance, result of trauma, response to a deeply felt situation or another reason.
Someone said to me recently, and I think this is a very simple but helpful description:
They said: ‘we live in a broken world and I have a broken brain. As a consequence of that other parts of my life can be affected, my physical health, my spiritual health, and like any other illness the devil uses it to pull me away from God.’
everything in our lives is spiritual, or has a spiritual element to it. We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image, with mind, body and spirit and we live in a world created by God too, in which the spirit is at work.
So if we can accept that everything is spiritual then we could say of a common cold for example, that it is spiritual – it’s not God’s intention that there is illness of any kind and it won’t be like that in heaven. But to be honest we wouldn’t say, the devil has given me a cold would we? And it would probably not be entirely helpful to attempt to cast out the cold would it? Might be better to go to bed and take a lemsip right?! But if that cold means we get overly angry at God for allowing us to be ill then something, potentially spiritually, is pulling us away from God.
Actually we can treat Mental illness in exactly the same way, it is not what God had planned for us, in the same sense as anything else then it is spiritual, but just as we would take lemsip for a cold, people suffering from Mental illness can and should be helped by medication – or therapy or by other means.
Now I’m not saying don’t pray, of course we pray and we seek healing for any sick person who wants it. We are always happy to offer to pray for healing and we should be open to doing that in compassion and grace and with sensitivity. I would always suggest that when we pray for healing we ask the person how they want to be prayed for first.
And I know of people in church (in the wider church) with MH conditions who have been hugely damaged by the suggestion that they are possessed or have a condition that is demonic. In some cases that has stopped them seeking medical help. So the spiritual attitude of someone else, has caused them to deliberately avoid seeking the medication that could help them become well. That doesn’t sound very Godly either does it…? So you could ask where actually where’s the force of evil in that?
Not really talking about this tonight except to say:
Not casting out – it can be dangerous if we don’t know what we are doing –we have a diocesan policy to follow
Not binding/casting out etc as in our prayer min policy; If you have concerns, come to me…
Sometimes we may feel under spiritual attack – have a sense of lots being focussed on us.
How do we know? Things going wrong, might be when you step out to do something for God. pray and sense God saying something.
I feel my back injury is spiritual, all about the core of my being. Not going into but really felt God say that. It flare sup when God is at work…
So really when we think about spiritual warfare we are dealing with the day to day actions of an enemy who we know who is defeated but is still having a bit of a go. He cannot affect our spiritual destination but he may affect the here and now.
So we might like to think about it that the ending is written and was begun at the cross. But just as we know we are not yet in eternity, not yet fully in the kingdom of God, so Satan hasn’t been so destroyed or defanged that he can’t do battle against the believer. But he cannot hurt us spiritually or bring a successful charge against us . Romans 8:33 says:
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one.
How do we ‘fight’
James 4: 7reminds us:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Asking others to pray
Bring things into the light key
2 Cornithians 10:3-5
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight withare not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine powerto demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,and we take captive every thought to make it obedientto Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete
So we can demolish the arguments of the accuser but we do not do this in world ways by force.
We can focus on scripture – Gods word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12)
1 Peter 5 tells us we should be alert because:
Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith
12 when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God[e] made you[f]alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14 erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed[g] the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.
16 Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. 17 These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling[h] on visions,[i] puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking,[j] 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.
And Armour of God – key
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our[b] struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these,[c] take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,[d] 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
Expand on this…
All elements of faith – tools we can hold on to – pictural might be helpful or just make a list, these are the things we use.
Key verse – Stand
Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Literally put on sp armour
When we pray – putting God front and foremost