There is a memorable scene in the movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” “Indy” is battling loads of bad guys in a Middle Eastern market. He seems invincible as he easily dispatches them with his whip, that is until the ultimate bad guy appears – an Arabic warrior wielding a massive sword. Indy and his whip are doomed to be cut to shreds! Indy freezes for a moment. All seems hopeless until he remembers something. He smirks, and pulls out his six-shooter and kills the menacing swordsman.
That scene reminds me of the Christian life. Our enemy is powerful and bold, threatening us with what appear to be unbeatable tactics. We stand in fear, worried that our defenses have been overcome. But all the while, we have an even more powerful weapon that will always destroy the enemy. We just seem to forget that it is right there, strapped to our hip.
This is the fifth sermon in the series “Once Captive.” We already talked about the Armor of God from Ephesians 6. Today we will discuss the reality of spiritual warfare and how to fight it.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
This passage reminds us that spiritual warfare requires training. Here, Paul provides us with three Ws concerning spiritual warfare. To prepare for the fight, we must engage in these three activities.
Walk “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.” Our waok is our commitment to live for God. In Colossians 3:1 we are told to “set our hearts on things above.” This is the eternal perspective we talked about in our first message in this series. This means living an examined life. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,” (Ephesians 5:15, ESV). We need a biblical worldview.
This commitment is lived out with CHRISTIANS. We walk in this way with other Christians, not just alone.
The second “W” is Weapons “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh.”
Our weapons are not of the flesh, but of the spirit. Fight with God’s armor. It is a spiritual battle, not a physical battle “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV). Do you remember the armor that God provides for our spiritual victory? The key here is not the analogy, but rather the spiritual weapons themselves.
- Gird with truth (Ephesians 6:14)
- Breastplate of righteousness (Ephesian 6:14)
- Shoes of the Gospel (Ephesians 6:15)
- Shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16)
- Helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17)
- Sword of the Spirit which is the WORD of GOD (Ephesians 6:17)
- PRAYER in all things (Ephesians 6:18)
The third “W” is Warfare. The weapons God gives us are “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”
It may not sound very delicate, but we are to destroy something! We are destroying strongholds or speculations raised up against God. The word “speculations” refers to the mind. We are to Expose darkness and bring it into the light.
APPLICATION: What have you done in the past 2 weeks that would be considered spiritual battle?
- A conversation about spiritual things?
- A change in the way you spend your time or money?
- A deliberate action to put away sin?
- An act of service for another Christian or a person in need?
- Going to prayer concerning an important decision or struggle?
- A testimony shared with someone else lifting up the Lord?
Spiritual Warfare Requires BATTLE INTELLIGENCE. In order to be victorious, we need to know our enemy.
On his first full day in office, President Trump mad a point to introduce himself to the CIA and thank them for their service. There were many places he could go as a “first,” but he chose the intelligence division of our government. He praised those officers for their commitment and the vital role that they play in keeping America safe.
Every commander relies on good intelligence of the enemy. The same is true in the Christian life. We forget that there is a threat. Colossian 2:8 reminds us to “see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception.”
Believers must take every thought captive otherwise we will be taken captive by the false ideas of the world.
The source for this cultural captivity is our minds. We are created in the IMAGE of GOD: We can THINK and REASON. But unlike God, our thoughts are not PERFECT. Our THOUGTS are influenced either by the SPIRIT or the FLESH (God or Satan).
People without Christ have no choice – their thoughts are under the control of Satan. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, ESV)
But a Christian can also be influenced by his or her own flesh, if we allow ourselves to be taken captive. “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” (1 Corinthians 3:1–2, NIV84)
How do we recognize whether we are thinking God’s thoughts or the Devil’s thoughts? One way is to compare your thoughts to the principles in God’s Word. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV84)
- Are you aware of your spiritual enemy?
- Have you examined your thinking and your living to see whether you have been influenced by the SPIRIT or the FLESH?
This battle is a LONG WAR and not a skirmish.
During the early days of the Second World War, England was in a dire situation, fearing that Germany would invade and overrun their country just as it did the rest of Europe. During the darkest moments, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill gave a speech to Parliament that unified the nation and gave them hope. He made no pretending that this would be a short or an easy battle. Instead, he assured them that victory would be theirs, but that they must fight on, in spite of the difficulties. He said,
The dangers we face are still enormous, but so are our advantages and resources. I recount them because the people have a right to know that there are solid grounds for the confidence which we feel, and that we have good reason to believe ourselves capable, as I said in a very dark hour two months ago, of continuing the war “if necessary alone, if necessary for years.”
We are still toiling up the hill; we have not yet reached the crest-line of it; we cannot survey the landscape or even imagine what its condition will be when that longed-for morning comes. The task which lies before us immediately is at once more practical, more simple and more stern.… For the rest, we have to gain the victory. That is our task.
For my own part, looking out upon the future, I do not view the process with any misgivings. I could not stop it if I wished; no one can stop it. Like the Mississippi, it just keeps rolling along. Let it roll. Let it roll on full flood, inexorable, irresistible, benignant, to broader lands and better days.
These were powerful words. But even more powerful is the fact that he gave this speech on August 20, 1940. That was 16 months before Pearl Harbor! England would be at war for another five years, with hundreds of thousands more casualties. But they persevered until the end, not in small part because they were confident of their victory.
In this long spiritual conflict, remember these things:
Life is a test. The words (trials, testing, temptation, etc.) appear more than 200 times in the Bible. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12, ESV). “Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:3, NIV84). Testing in the Bible is often compared to the refining of precious metal. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23:10, ESV)
Life has TRIALS. We should not see trials as strange or unusual. They are part of the Christian life. EVERY part of our life is producing something good. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV). That doesn’t mean that everything that is happening IS good! Evil, pain, and suffering are in the world because of sin and the Fall. God is using the actions and circumstances in the world for good in our lives. Paul reminds us that this promise is for “those who are called according to His purpose.” It is not a promise for all of humankind. It is a promise only for believers. What is His purpose? Our purpose should be to become more like Christ.
Christians will face Temptations “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-14
First, don’t think you cannot fall. If you think you are immune to temptation, you are probably in dangerous territory. Many godly men and women have fallen into sin even when they thought they could not fall.
Second, temptations can overtake you. Temptations can grab hold of you and pull you down.
Third, your temptations are not unique. They are “common to man.”
Fourth, God is faithful. God will not abandon you. He won’t let the temptations of the world destroy you.
Fifth, God limits the temptation so that you can stand!
Sixth, God provides a way of escape.
Seventh, God will help you bear it.
Churchill encouraged England that they would ultimately be victorious. Christians have an even more sure promise. God has told us that the OUTCOME is ALREADY DETERMINED! Satan will be defeated, and we will share in Christ’s glory!
This victory comes from God’s Word, which is truth (Psalm 119). “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
HOW to be EQUIPPED for BATTLE
- First, make an appointment with God’s Word.
- Set a consistent time to study the Bible.
- Keep a journal to reflect on what God is teaching you through His Word.
- Keep a PRAYER LIST.
- MEMORIZE Scripture. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11, ESV)
- Share God’s word with others.
- Finally, apply God’s Word to your life.
- The Bible teaches that: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23).
So let’s recognize that we are in a spiritual battle. Let’s have an attitude of TRAINING. In the military, training begins at BOOT CAMP. We can compare that part of our spiritual train to discipleship. Every Christian should be disciple by a mature Christians when they first come to know Christ.
But we also need ongoing training. In the military, training does not stop after boot camp. It continues throughout all of a soldier’s career. Likewise, Christians must always continue in the attitude of training. This is our Walk, our Weapons and our Warfare.
We need INTELLIGENCE (know the enemy)
And we need DILIGENCE (It’s a Long War)
Let’s grow in God’s Word and fight the good fight!
FOOTNOTE: Material in this sermon is from the “Once Captive” series by Kerby Anderson and Probe Ministries (www.probe.org)