Just to kind of let you know where we’re going to go today, this idea of talking about the spiritual forces of darkness, came from last week’s study in John chapter 8, so, if you would, turn to John 8, and I’m going to let somebody read verses 42 to 44. Everybody there? Jimbo, would you read those for us?
Jimbo: “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God, and now am here. I have not come on My own but He sent Me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’”
RS: It got a little warm in here; I thought I’d lower the temperature.
Jimbo: I thought you were refusing to hear.
RS: Guys, I don’t know about you, but I find it interesting, and I’ve had several people make this comment, that a number of ministers or teachers never teach or speak on the issue of Satan and the forces of darkness, and, I was wondering, why do you think that might be?
Unidentified audience member: Run people out of the church. And no more donations.
RS: Any other thoughts? You know, I wrote down this. I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but, I think first of all, modern people don’t really people believe in him, in Satan. Or, they don’t see him as being much of a threat, and maybe they think since, maybe the minister thinks, since my sophisticated audience doesn’t believe in this stuff, I’m not going to talk about it. I don’t know, but it seems like it causes discomfort to go there. This is the question that I would throw out to you, though, today. Do you see him as a threat to your life, and to your family?
RS: I guess that’s a yes. From some of the noise that I just heard. I want to share with you two stories. One is a story and one is not so much a story. Do any of ya’ll – we had a guy that worked here and he left about five years ago to go to Johannesburg South Africa where he now is the pastor of a large church. His name is Glenn Campbell. Did any of ya’ll ever know Glenn? Glenn is one of the most credible people I know, and he, you just think about somebody that you just, you know, anything somebody tells you, that this person is telling you the truth.
Glenn shared with us, and I’m recalling this from memory about six or seven years ago. Glenn at one point worked for Young Life. He was at a Young Life camp, or maybe he was just a volunteer leader. I don’t remember, but he did work with Young Life a good bit, and they were at a camp, and Glenn was fairly young, and he said the head of the deal, he was an older man who was head of the camp, and I think maybe he was a speaker, asked Glenn and another one of the leaders to come with him into his office, and he said, I need your help. He said, we think one of the campers here is possessed by a demon. And Glenn’s first thought was, well, what do you want me to do? I mean, you know, and he said, I need you guys, I want you guys in here, and I want you to be praying, and I want you to pray out loud, and, again, I’m recalling this from memory. They brought this young boy in, and the head guy, and I think another person started, and they laid hands on him and started praying out loud, and this kid, Glenn says, you had to be there to see it. He said this kid, all of a sudden, it was like this force, threw him back against the wall, and these were Glenn’s words, he was two feet off the ground. Back against the wall, eyes shut, making all these noises, and they kept praying out loud, and I don’t know what they, you know, Satan, and I command you, in the shed blood of Christ, to leave this boy. Something like that. And Glenn was, he was terrified. And he said, then, all of a sudden, the boy drops to the ground and he said, Richard, I swear he looked like he was dead. He just went limp, like he was on the ground dead. It was like he then woke up, slowly woke up, and he was changed. Glenn said, you had to be there to really believe it.
Now, the second thing I want to mention is a guy by the name of Scott Peck. Any of ya’ll know the name of Scott Peck. It was a, I didn’t realize he died about ten years ago, but a very well-known psychiatrist. He wrote the book, The Road Less Traveled, and sold millions of copies. Great book, by the way. And he didn’t believe in demon possession as a psychiatrist, because that doesn’t just happen, until he witnessed two exorcisms. And he documented them both in his very last book. He wrote about one of them in his book called The People of the Lie, but he, and I read this, he said, “I felt like,” he was kind of at the end of his life, and he said, “I felt like I needed to document this before I died,” and, if you’re interested in the book, it’s called Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist’s Personal Account of Possession.
And Peck says, “The devil is as real as you and I are.”
Now, hopefully, this has got your attention a little bit, but I want to see what the Bible has to say about this, because, if you pay close attention, you see teaching about the forces of darkness throughout the Bible, but particularly in the New Testament. Now, to get a really good big picture of all of this, we’re going to, guys, just bear with me, because we’re going to be jumping around today. I’m going to probably divide the room in two, and have different people read different scriptures, but, where I want to start is in the book of Ephesians. The book of Ephesians is right after the Gospels; Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. Go to Ephesians, and go to chapter 6.
Unidentified audience member: Richard, I was in Sunday School Class on Sunday with Doug Carpenter, not Doug Carpenter…
RS: I know who you’re talking about; Doug Webster.
Unidentified audience member: And he said, he said he’d been to Africa about eight times, and they are much more attuned to the spirit world than we are, and they have no trouble believing in the devil, and he said, the devil doesn’t worry about the west because they’re a secular world, because they’re oblivious of him [unintelligible 08:28-08:30].
Unidentified audience member: Interesting.
RS: Doug’s very good, by the way, great teacher. Ephesians 6:10-12. Ken McPherson, you want to read those for us? Ephesians 6:10-12.
Ken: “I may be strong in the Lord, and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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.”
RS: Great. Let me read this; he read from the NIV, and let me read a verse or two from the Amplified. I’m going to do this a couple of times. He says, “Put on God’s whole armor, that you may be able successfully to stand up against all of the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood contending only with physical opponents, but against the despotisms, against the powers, against the master spirits who are the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly supernatural sphere.”
Guys, Paul is speaking of a spiritual battle, a battle that most Christians are totally unaware of. I don’t know if you remember, last week, I closed our time together by reading from Tim Keller, and he says that all humanity is lined up on one side or another. And this is why Jesus says in Matthew 12:30 and Mark 9:40 and Luke 11:23, He says, “Either you are with Me, or you are against Me.” There is no neutrality. And then, two weeks ago, one of, I don’t know if you are here or not, I know the summers kind of get sporadic, we talked about light in darkness. You remember that? And I quoted from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, II Corinthians chapter 4, verses 3 and 4, and it says, “Even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving that they might not see the light of the Gospel of the Glory of Christ.” But notice what it says. He blinds the minds. That’s why He’s called the god of this world. You need to know this. It’s very important. He’s not a god, but he has deluded people into giving their allegiance to him and his cause. Kind of like money is not a god, but we can, very unknowingly, give our allegiance to it so that it is our god. But, if you think about it, he doesn’t have to work very hard. I love what Jim said, particularly here in the west. He doesn’t have to work very hard to win our allegiance, because, you remember what we read back in John 3:19? Because men love what? The darkness. The true light, in John 3:19 it says, “The True Light has come into the world,” but the problem is, men love darkness. Humans naturally love the darkness.
Now, over in the book of Mark, you might want to turn with me, go backwards to the book of Mark. Let me just share with you again, this is so significant. One of the most famous parables in the Scripture is The Parable of the Sower and the Seeds.
Remember that parable? And in Mark, chapter 4, verses 3 and 4, it says, listen to this, “Behold, the sower went out to sow, and, as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road and the birds came and ate it up.” Remember this? Let me read to you the interpretation of that first seed. Verses 14 and 15. “The sower sows The Word. These are the ones that are beside the road, where The Word is sown, and when they hear it, immediately, Satan comes and takes away The Word, which has been sown in them.” So, guys, do you see the desperate plight that humanity is in? Humans love the darkness and then, in addition, there are spiritual forces of darkness that seek to keep us in the darkness, and they blind the minds of the unbelieving, and then often, when the Word, the Gospel is presented, it says, he takes The Word away upon its presentation. Now, I’m sure that as we sit here today, that it’s hard to think of, you can probably think of people that you know, who are decent, respectable people. They might not necessarily be Christians, but surely they, how can you say that they are on the side of the devil. That they’re promoting the cause of the devil of hell?
Unidentified audience member: That’s my problem. When we’re sinning, is it, it’s our own doing, or, are we going to blame it on the devil? Do you understand where I’m coming from?
RS: Yeah. Well, there are three issues that cause us to struggle. The world, the flesh, and the devil. All three of those, all right, so, okay, it could be a combination. But, you know what, I can’t help but think that we don’t realize the incredible deception that’s out there. Let me give you an example of deception, that’s, you’re talking about magnified, and the unbelievable destruction that it led to. You remember, I don’t know how many of you are historians, but after World War I, the nation of Germany was devastated. They’d lost the war. And then they had to subscribe to The Treaty of Versailles, which was incredibly harsh in its demands on the nation of Germany, and then, the Great Depression hits. And so, here, you have a nation that was absolutely devastated, and Adolph Hitler comes along, and he appeals to the pride of Germany. He preached a message of nationalism. And he preached the hope of a better life. And, over time, they followed his mission. Because it seemed right. It seemed good. But they had no idea they were giving their allegiance to such a diabolical leader. And I can’t speak German, but I’ve heard him, and listened to him, some of the speeches he gave, and they were magnificent. And people just bought right into it. And look where it led them. It’s amazing how the forces of darkness can be so appealing. It’s interesting, turn to II Corinthians chapter 11, if you would. II Corinthians 11. Who’s got the NIV? I really like this in the NIV. Mike? II Corinthians 11, verses 14 and 15.
Mike: “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, that his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
RS: They come across as this angel of light, or an angel of righteousness, something that’s good, just like Adolph Hitler. Let me stop here. Any comments or questions?
Unidentified audience member: Richard, you talk about us being attracted to the darkness. Do you think it’s just….
RS: I didn’t say attracted. We love the darkness. Now, once you become a Christian, and the light comes inside, there is a difference. That doesn’t necessarily hold true, but we’re still, I think that’s a good word, we are attracted to it.
Unidentified audience member: I think we’re challenged all the time, and, do you think that’s because of our flesh and the world? I mean, we live here, we’re human, and we’re certainly…
RS: Where the forces of darkness come in in this whole equation, you know sometimes, he’s won the battle when we basically think he’s not a factor in our lives. When we’re not worried about him. We need to be concerned. When we get to the application, you’re going to see, though, that guys, there is a great application for us if we will apply it. If we will live it out.
Unidentified audience member: I was going to say, I’m reminded when Jesus was telling the disciples He was going to the cross, and Peter tried to talk Him out of it, and Jesus said, get behind Me, Satan. So, here’s a guy who’s a disciple, and an apostle, and he’s under attack by Satan.
RS: Great point. Great point.
Unidentified audience member: Temptation and deception really hit home with me a week ago.
RS: Yeah, that’s very good. In fact, we’re going to come back to that. All right, I tell you what, guys, go back to where we started in John 8, and, as you look at verse 44 and, what do we learn about Satan?
Unidentified audience member: He’s a liar.
RS: He’s a liar. He’s not only a liar, he’s what?
Unidentified audience member: A murderer.
RS: A murderer. And he is the father of all lies. In John 10, we learn he’s referred to as a thief and it says he comes to kill and steal and destroy. Now, for time’s sake, I want to do this. From Terry on this side, I want ya’ll to look up I Peter 5:8. Brandon, on this side, Luke 4:13. And, if you’re writing these down, you might want to write down Luke 10:17 and 18, and II Peter 2:4. And then Matthew 25:41. If you’re writing verses down. All right, this side of the room, ya’ll got your verse? I Peter 5:8? Jase, you want to read that?
Jase: “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.”
RS: He’s like a roaring lion. One translation says, “he prowls about” looking for somebody to devour. All right, Jim Boyer, how about Luke 4:13.
Jim: “When the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”
RS: Isn’t that interesting? He, Christ had been out in the desert for 40 days, and he tempts Him, and, of course, Jesus does not, I mean, He does not yield to the temptation. And it says, Satan departed. But it doesn’t just say he departed. He departed waiting and looking for another opportune time. In Luke 10:17 and 18, this is what we learned. “The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your Name, and Jesus said, I was watching Satan fall from the Heavens like lightning.” He was referring to Lucifer. And then, in II Peter, chapter 2, verse 4, it says, “For God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to the pits of darkness reserved for judgment.” And then in Matthew 25:41, very interesting scripture. It says, anybody there, anybody got it?
Unidentified audience member: 41?
Unidentified audience member: “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.”
RS: Hell is a place that has been prepared for the devil and his demons, or angels. Guys, you can see that this is a huge issue in the scriptures, and where I want to bring this is back to us. What does this have to do with me? And I think it’s important to consider the venue in which the enemy operates. Back in II Corinthians 4, verses 3 and 4, do you remember what it said? He blinds the what?
Unidentified audience member: The minds.
RS: The minds of the unbelieving. He blinds the minds of the unbelieving. Turn over to II Corinthians 11:3. I tell you what let’s do; this side of the room, II Corinthians 11:3, and this side of the room, Ephesians 4:17-19.
Unidentified audience member: It’s an interesting concept you’re talking about with the angels sinned. Because we can peg the sin nature of man on what happened in the garden of Eden, however, before all of that happened, there was…
RS: We’re going to come back to that. I’m going to come back to that, too.
Unidentified audience member: What was it? I got lost in that.
RS: You got lost in that?
Unidentified audience member: Yeah, would you explain it?
RS: He was saying that angels, in fact, I tell you what, hold on to that because I’m going to talk about angels in just a minute. Ephesians 4:17-19. All right, who’s got it, over here? Terry? II Corinthians 11:3.
Terry: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
RS: That your minds might be corrupted. And then Ephesians 4:17 through 19. Ed, you got that?
Ed: “This I say, therefore, This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”
RS: It talks about the dark, their minds are darkened. Guys, Satan works in the realm of the mind and the imagination. This is where his strategy is oriented and where it is focused. And though you and I, we live this life on the visible level, the main battle is in the inner life. Let me read to you, I’m going to read this from the Amplified. II Corinthians chapter 10, verses 3 through 5. It says, “Though we walk or live in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh in using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons of flesh and blood, but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds. Inasmuch, we refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God. We lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one.”
I want to talk about the weapons of our warfare just a minute, but it strikes me, guys, that if in Romans 12, verse 2, which we read a couple of weeks ago, it says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, and see, logic would tell you conversely, that Satan seeks to kill and steal and destroy by corrupting our minds and our thinking. He truly seeks to impact our thinking. He, you need to hear this, he puts thoughts in your minds. Have you ever had just a real dark thought and wonder, where did that come from? I mean, it could be the world or the flesh, but it could be the devil! Because I think that’s, again, where he operates. The flesh is more our desires or the sensual side of life. He works in the realm of the mind and the imagination. I know, I knew, two men who both took their lives. It’s been a number of years, but I’ve shared this, I’ve known more than two, I’ve known a lot of men that have taken their lives, but these two, particularly, this I know. They both, before killing themselves, over the weeks and months prior to that, kept saying, I’m hearing voices. I’m hearing voices. Voices that are saying…what are the voices saying, you’re no good, you’re a failure, you’re worthless, and one of these men, I met with several times. I’d say, well, I can tell you this. That’s not the voice of God that you’re hearing.
“Our basic problem as human beings is that we do not realize how valuable we are.”
One of the great preachers of the 20th century, a guy named Derek Prince, I read one of his old sermons just the other day, and he says, “Throughout many decades of ministry, I’ve tried to help people with enumerable different problems in their lives. Eventually, I’ve come to a surprising conclusion. Our basic problem as human beings is that we do not realize how valuable we are.” These men that took their lives; they thought their lives were of no value. They kept believing, I am worthless, I am a failure. It’s so crucial that we realize, guys, how valuable we are to God, and how significant our lives are. We’re created in His image. No other creatures are, and yet Satan wants us to believe that we ain’t worth squat. That we’re worthless. And when a person thinks that their life is worthless, they lose the will to live. And this is what Satan desires to accomplish. Jim?
Jim: I don’t think we’re in this by ourselves. These men met with you. I think the power of prayer can have a big impact.
RS: That’s where we’re going with this. It’s what, you know, Paul tells us, we’re responsible for being proactive in defending ourselves against the devil, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Anybody else?
Unidentified audience member: The scenario you just mentioned with these particular guys, it reveals how they were measuring their life with the wrong indicators.
RS: No doubt.
Unidentified audience member: So, they lost hope.
RS: No doubt. And I think that’s really one of his great strategies is to truly tear us down, and he does it in our minds and making us think thoughts that are destructive, that are wrong, that are false. But, I’m going to come back to that. And, as you go through this, you begin, I hope you don’t feel in any way despaired, because there’s a very hopeful message in all of this that we’ll get to in just a second. You looked like you were about to talk. No?
Unidentified audience member: My time…
Unidentified audience member: His allotted time is up.
Unidentified audience member: The floor is yours.
[Laughter and comments]
RS: The question that came up when we were looking at John 8:44 is that, you know, why does God allow Satan such latitude? It’s one thing to allow him to exist, and it’s another thing to allow him such influence in the world. Why would He allow that? And I’ll have to tell you this. There is not a real pat answer on this. But this is what we do know, coming back to what Jase brought up a minute ago. That angels are created beings and demons are fallen angels. Satan himself is a fallen angel. They are created beings. They have intelligence. They have emotions. They have a will, but they are spiritual beings without true physical bodies, even though you see Jacob wrestle with an angel. In reality, they are spiritual beings. Now, because of a lack of time, I’m going to give you a handout. If you have any interest, and there is a lot of scripture in here if you have any interest in knowing more about angels. And this goes, and what Jase was saying is that you don’t realize that angels, in one sense, are like people, but they are not created in the image of God, and that what makes us set apart from them, but they have the ability, they have a will, and what Jase was saying, they have ability to sin, and that’s what you see, that’s what happened. But they were led by Lucifer, who was basically the most beautiful and grandest of all the angels. Here, let’s pass these out. If any of these are left over, if you would, just put them in the middle.
Unidentified audience member: But aren’t there good angels?
RS: Oh yeah.
[Multiple comments and laughter]
RS: In fact, let’s go with that. This side of the room, over here, again, I know we’ve got a lot of Scripture, look up Psalm 91:11, and this side over here, look up, if you would, Matthew 4:11. Now, I want to tell you, Psalm 91:11 is part of, Psalm 91 is, this is something, I prayed this this morning. I prayed for me and my wife, our marriage, and our kids. 91:11. Alfred, you want to read that?
Alfred: Sure. “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”
RS: That’s the first thing I pray. God, I pray that you would give charge to your angels that they would guard us in all of our ways. And then, and by the way, the sheet that you have, there is a ton of scripture about angels. Matthew 4:11. Bobby? As in Chandler.
Bobby: “Then the devil went away and angels came and cared for Jesus.”
RS: Angels came and cared for Jesus. My point is, if you’ve got…let me give you another verse. Hebrews 1:14. Angels are active creatures. They’re active creatures, but as JK said, the angels of God are there for the people of God, to encourage, to minister to. I want to encourage you to call upon God, in Psalm 91:11, that you would give your angels charge concerning me, that they might guard me and my family. And for some people, this might sound a little hokey, but that is what it says in the Scripture. But just as God allowed, and this is the only thing I can come up with, since angels, including fallen angels, are active creatures, and just as God allows evil human beings to exist in the world and allows events like the Holocaust, He also allows the evil one and his minions to exist and He allows them to exert their influence until the Judgement Day.
“Greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world.”
And guys, we’ve just barely scratched the surface on this because there is so much scripture on it. And yet again, isn’t it amazing, there’s so much in the Bible, and yet, this is rarely taught. People don’t want to touch this. But, this is where I want to go, and to let you know, there’s, I want to give you some real encouragement. And I’m going to give you something that you can really apply to your life, and if you do, it will make a huge difference. The first thing you need to know. In I John, chapter 4, verse 4, we are told, “Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world.” Think about that for a second. “Greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world.” He’s talking about the Holy Spirit in you is greater and more powerful than he that is in the world. Talking about Satan. The battle is won, and, as Christians, we have aligned our lives with the stronger advocate. Now, second, if you would, turn to, yes?
Unidentified audience member: What was that, I John what?
RS: I John chapter 4, verse 4. And second, second important point. Turn, if you would, to I Peter chapter 2, and we’re going to read verses 9 and 10.
Unidentified audience member: Richard, isn’t that what the crucifixion is all about?
RS: Absolutely. The shed blood of Christ is so significant. I Peter 2, 9 and 10. John Windham, you want to read that for us?
John: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were ____, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
RS: I want to focus on that, what he said, he has called us out of darkness, as Christians, out of darkness, into His marvelous light. One of my favorite verses is Colossians 1:13, “He rescued us from the domain of darkness and has transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son.” Guys, this is the, this is very crucial to grasp. Darkness cannot overcome light. Darkness cannot overcome light. You know, think about it. Darkness exists only when light is extinguished, but if there is light there, there is no darkness. John 12:35, Jesus says, “If we walk in the light, the darkness cannot overtake us.” You see, our great enemy would seek to draw us back into the darkness. Every single man in this room, so that the light of God slowly diminishes in your life. So, that’s his desire. Now, I want to get into and talk about what this idea of us being proactive and what that really means, and what we’re really called to do. So, if you would, turn, and I know we’ve jumped all over the place, so forgive me, but, turn and go back to Ephesians chapter 2. I think this might be the last verse you have to look up. Ephesians 6. Everybody at Ephesians 6? Ben, you want to read for us? Verses 13 to 17. Don’t you remember, we read 10 through 12, now we’re going to keep going.
Ben: “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor, so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. And after the battle, you’ll still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith, to stop the fury of the arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
RS: We can spend a whole lesson talking about the armor of God. He is telling us to put on the armor of God. You know what he’s saying? By the way, if we had kept reading, verses 18, 19, and 20, he talks about the role of prayer. I need to make sure I mention that. The role of prayer. And Paul is speaking very clearly guys, that you and I have to be, we have to intentionally protect ourselves. We have to, it’s like a battle, and that we put on armor, and he lays out the armor, by first speaking about the important of truth and righteousness, and he talks about the shield of faith, that we need to grow in our faith and strengthen our faith. The helmet of salvation he talks about is salvation, and this is my opinion, I think he’s talking about the importance of having that assurance of salvation, that I know that when I die, I don’t have to question, where am I going? Where am I going to be? Now, have any of ya’ll seen the movie, Troy? Have any of you seen the movie, Troy? I saw the end of it the other night. I watched the end of it, where Hector is fighting Achilles, and right before he goes, he puts on all of the armor, but it struck me, the armor that you put on your body, the helmet, the breastplate, the shoes, the things you put on your legs, all of that, is important. It’s defensive armor, but it struck me that if all you had on was the armor, the defensive part of your armor, it ain’t any good, unless you have the offensive armor, which is the sword. If you don’t have a sword, you’re dead. And what is the sword, the very last thing he read in verse 17? What is the sword?
Unidentified audience member: Spirit?
Unidentified audience member: The Word of God.
RS: The Word. And then after that, he speaks of prayer. You know, I believe the offensive weapons, the Word of God and prayer, are critical, because, again, guys, Satan desires to draw us into the darkness and fill our mind with lies. And yet, remember what God’s Word is? It’s light. Psalm 119:105, it says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, but we’re also told that God’s Word in Psalm 119:160 says, “the sum of your Word is Truth.” God’s Word is light and Truth. And that’s why I love Psalm 43:3. It’s a great verse to pray right before you open the Bible. It says, “Send out Your light and Your Truth and let them lead me.”
We need God’s Word. We need His light and we need His Truth to deal with the lies and the darkness that’s out there. I remember a number of years ago reading about ministers. It’s been a while back. Ministers who fell into adultery, and the primary contributing factor was that their devotional life slowly died. They were busy doing good things, but the light and the truth had been kind of left out of their lives. Question. How is your devotional life? Are you in the Word of God every day? Is His Light and His Truth filling your mind and your heart? Do you remember what Jesus says to Martha in Luke 10:38-42 when they were both in his house and Martha was complaining to Jesus about her sister not helping her? And Jesus says, Martha, there are only a few things that really matter in life and you are worried about stuff that doesn’t matter. There are a few things that really matter, and there is one thing that is more important than everything else, and he points to Mary, and he says, “Mary was seated at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach.” Jesus is saying, the number one priority in your life and mine is that we hear the voice of God.
Now, praying for God’s protection in my life, and I truly believe this, guys, has been crucial. I pray for God’s protection every day, and I’m convinced that He’s answered these prayers. One of the things that I pray for is that God would protect me and my family against pornography. Think about the Lord’s Prayer. We’ve talked about this before. The Lord’s Prayer is the model prayer given to us by Jesus. He says, when you pray, He says, pray like this, and how does He end the prayer? Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. Guys, if Jesus is telling us to pray for spiritual protection, I think we need to be. Every day, I claim in prayer, this is a great verse. Everybody in this room needs to have it memorized. It’s II Thessalonians 3:3. It’s a promise of God. It’s a promise we should pray and claim every day. I prayed it this morning. It goes like this. “God is faithful. He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” But we have to claim it. We need to ask Him, and I thank Him. Memorize it, pray it, claim it, and thank Him. II Thessalonians 3:3. You know, Psalm 27:1 says, “God is the defense of my life.” You can’t leave now, this is the best part!
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from your heart flows the springs of life.”
RS: Psalm 27:1 says that, “God is the defense of my life”, and so, do we daily look to Him to protect us? Are we praying for Him protection? Jesus says we should. If Jesus says we should, we should. Now, the final thing, and again, we could spend a little time on this, as well. I’ve crammed a lot in here today, guys. Proverbs 4:23, anybody know that Proverb? It says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from your heart flows the springs of life.” Solomon is telling us we are responsible for guarding our hearts.
You know, in I Peter 5:8, I think that Jase read, that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, but you know what, he’s a lion in a cage, where our problem is, we’re so often drawn to go into the cage, and the question we have is, what is it that draws us? Where are our weaknesses? What weakens your spiritual resolve? I leave you with this thought. I had something else I was going to read, but I don’t have time. The enemy wants to destroy you, and you know what else he wants to destroy? He really would like to destroy your marriage and your family. And he would desire to draw us into the darkness. But hear this. He is powerless to do so if we are proactively strengthening our lives through Word and through prayer and we are vigilantly protecting our lives and our families from all the garbage that’s out there in the world. I was going to read. I’ve got two minutes left. I think I can do it. Everybody got two minutes? It won’t even take two minutes.
This is from A.W. Tozer, and I’ll read it, and we’ll close in prayer. He says, “Going no further back than the times of our founding and early development of our country, we are able to see this wide gulf between our modern attitudes,” by the way, this was written in the 1950s, “between our modern attitudes and those of our fathers.” He’s probably turning over in his grave right now as he looks at our world today. “In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men conceived the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell, as constituting one force, and they believed in God and righteousness and Heaven as the other. These were opposed to each other and the nature of them forever in deep, grave, irreconcilable hostility. Man saw our fathers held high to choose sides. He could not be neutral. For him, it must be life or death, Heaven or Hell, and if he chose to come out on God’s side, he could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below. Men looked forward to Heaven as a return from the wars, a laying down of the sword to enjoy in peace the home prepared for them. How different we are today. The fact remains the same. Nothing has changed, but the interpretation has changed completely. Men think of the world today not as a battleground, but as a playground. And that we’re not here to fight, we are here to frolic.”
I think we can rest in assurance that God desires to provide the protection we need, but we have to claim it. We have to do our part, and, if we do, it will make all the difference in your life. I promise.