10 - The War is Won, but the Battle Rages

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1 The War is Won, but the Battle Rages For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Cor. 10:3-6) Today we come to the end of this series on Battlefield Basics as we look into the battle itself. There is a sense in which the battle is the Lord s and we must sit back, praising Him as He fights for us. But there is also that sense in which we are to engage the enemy directly, in Jesus power, to cooperated with Him in our liberation. In basic training as well as in advanced, the soldier must become proficient in the use of his assigned weapon. Whether rifle, mortar, communications, or driving tank, the soldier must master his weapon. In spiritual warfare the same is true. To fight and win, you must know the weapons at your disposal, how to use them with excellence, when to use them, and where the power resides. What I am going to share with you this morning is just a glimpse of what would require weeks and months of training, but it is a part of our Battlefield Basics. There are four things that I wish to leave with you from this portion of God's Word. First of all, we have spiritual weapons. Secondly, we can shatter strongholds. Third we can cast down any argument or high thing that opposes the Truth of Christ, and fourth to do so we must have submitted minds. Thought #1 God has equipped us to join Him in the fight. He has give us Spiritual Weapons As we come to the first of these - spiritual weapons - let's read again verse 3 of this chapter: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh" (v.3 - text). The apostle is saying here that you and I, we walk in the physical world but as we war in the physical world we do not war in a physical way. What are our spiritual weapons? READ with me from Ephesians 6: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints Fleshly, carnal, worldly weapons are guns and knives and bombs, or lies and gossip and deceit. But we will not use those weapons. They are useless compared to ours! They belong to this world and Satan. ~ Spiritual Armor Helmet of Salvation Breastplate of Righteousness Belt of Truth Sandals of Preparation to share the Gospel Shield of Faith Sword of the Spirit the Word of God

2 2 Prayer All kinds of prayer and supplications (praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession) With Watchfulness and Perseverance The Name of Jesus The Blood of Jesus Taking our Position with Christ in the Heavenlies Claiming His authority Matt. 28:18-20 Claiming His adoption into His family and His joint-heir Thought #2 We join Him in pulling down strongholds. Paul says, "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds" (v.4) This word 'stronghold' means a fortified town, a castle, a fortress or a fortified walled city. It is a very defensible position, apparently impervious to attack. What is a stronghold (personal) in our lives? I have been talking to many of you about this very question this week. Some offered fear of failure, lust anger, or pride. All of those are correct. How did it get there? (Toehold, foothold, to stronghold) Many times strongholds are built in our lies due to some hurt we have suffered, or some habit that we can t seem to break. When we give Satan an inch he will take a mile! He only wants to establish a toehold in your life, heart, character. Then he will hollow that out until it is a good foothold. In time, if he is not stopped, he will build a fortified stronghold AND have you defend it!!! I want you to know something, dear friend. If you are a Christian, if you are a Christ follower, Satan has no right in your life other than territory you surrender to him. Once you grant him permission then he has squatter s rights. How do we surrender territory to him? Bottom line: sin in our life. An unforgiving spirit, a hurt habit or hang-up that we can t get over, perpetual sin (blatant acts of disobedience from adultery and alcoholism to gossip and cheating). We naturally fear attacking strongholds in our lives. Often we have tried and tried to tear them down only to be defeated. Other times they contain so much hurt we don t want to open our hearts to that pain again. How can we be liberated? How can these strongholds be pulled down? Thought #3 We join Him in exposing false beliefs. Casting down Arguments and any High Thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. What is that? In a word lies! Half truths! Imagined truth! Let me illustrate. If you have a stronghold in your life called fear of failure, you tell yourself lies. You say things like, I could never do that! If I tried to do that I would surely fail. If I tried and failed, people would laugh at me. I would be ridiculed. I would never be able to show my face again. I am a failure and failures always fail. Is any of that familiar? Would it surprise you to know that I have that stronghold in my life? That is why I know those things you believe about yourself. I know because I have said that to myself over and over again. What results is paralysis! You are paralyzed! You can t do anything for fear of failing! So you do nothing. You attempt nothing. You only do that which you are relatively guaranteed you will succeed at and those opportunities are few and far between! But those are all demonic lies! They are not true. You have to put TRUTH in their place. Where is truth? In the Word of God! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Josh. 1:9)

3 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deut. 38:1) Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27) Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. (Luke 12:11-12) I could go on and on! The Word of God is replete with promises and encouragement. When you do battle with demonic, lying spirits you have to match their lies with the truths of God s Word. Can I tell you a little bit more about your Pastor? I know many of you may find this hard to believe, but I am really shy and insecure in many ways. I have been all my life! And fear of failure had me hog-tied and gagged for years. But with the lord s help and the power of the Word of God, I chose to believe what God said about me rather than what I said about myself. Now having a fear of failure and running for President of the Georgia Baptist Convention doesn t seem to go together, do they? You would think that one could not exist where the other did. No so! They are both right here in my heart! I am so far out of my comfort zone! I couldn t reach my comfort zone with an inter-continental ballistic missile! Well, pastor, if you were so afraid of failure, why did you allow your name to be put in nomination? Because I would rather fear God that fear men! I would rather be disappointed that to disappoint Him. I would rather fail trying to obey Him than to be safe and out of His Will for my life. I would rather trust in what the Bible tells me than in what men tell me (or what I tell myself!). So you pull down strongholds of lies with the bastion of truth. You cast down arguments and any high thing that exalts itself against Christ with the truth. Next you must confess and repent of any known sin ask Holy Spirit to reveal to you what you are not aware of. Protect your liberated territory by occupying it with spiritual disciplines. Don t let Satan tempt you into the darkness. Walk in the light as He is in the light, and you will be safe win Him. Thought #4 Caution: We are not ready to join Him in the fight until we have submitted our minds. and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (v.5) Does it surprise you to learn that most of the battles we fight, whether we win or lose, are fought between the ears? Yes! He who controls the mind wins the battle. So, as part of our Battlefield Basics, we must understand the war is waged first in our minds and then in the world around us. Have you yet learned that all sin begins first in the mind? Let me show you. Think of a sin that does not first originate in the mind. Have you found one? No! Because all sin begins first in the mind. When you win, it is usually because you have already surrendered your mind to Christ. You have already learned His perspective and committed to obedience to Him and His Word. Friends, that is what it means to first submit you mind to Christ. These strongholds are made strong by the lies we choose to believe. These arguments are demonic suggestions that are designed to incapacitate us. These high things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God are values that are contrary to the nature and character of Christ. 3

4 For instance, if I fear that my reputation might be ruined if I speak out the truth of Christ where I go to school or work, then I am putting my reputation higher than the reputation of Christ! I am making an idol out of what people think of me, and it is more important to me than what people think about Jesus! So we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. That is what Paul calls us to do in Romans 12:1-2. How does that happen? 1 - With Holy Spirit s help, we take every thought captive and force it to obey Christ. I want you to select a thought that you already know Satan has a habit of throwing into your mind. Maybe it is a lustful thought. Maybe it is the temptation to lie or cheat. Maybe it is anger or even hatred toward someone who has wronged you. Doesn t matter for right now. Just select one of those thoughts. Let s say be on the watch for an opportunity to get revenge on someone who has hurt you. Now consider the setting that he might toss that thought into your mind. Say, you just saw the person who hurt you hurting someone else. Then pow that thought lands in your mind. Are you with me? Let me assure you of a truth what you entertain in your mind you will eventually do in your body! That is true! So here you are entertaining the thought of taking revenge on that person who hurt you. That line of thinking starts plotting how and when you can do it. In time that thought bomb will explode. You will find yourself acting out what you have thought out. I want you to think of that demonic thought as a hand grenade that has been tossed in your mind. The pin is pulled. The handle is released. It is only a matter of time before that bomb explodes. What would you do if someone threw a bomb into your lap? Would you sit there examining it. Wow! What ornate structure! And listen to it ticking! NO! You know that is a bomb! Immediately you get rid of it. You throw it out. Now let s apply the Word here. When you catch that demonic thought, first you must recognize it for what it is a thought bomb! It is designed and thrown into your mind to destroy you! What must you do? After you recognize what it is, you must immediately destroy it before it destroys you. How? You take it captive to the lordship of Jesus Christ! You defuse it with the truth of the Word! You refuse to allow it in your mind. You refuse to consider it, dwell on it, entertain it even for a moment! Out it goes! Arrest that thought bomb! Send it to the pit where it belongs! 2 - Discipline ourselves to look at life through His perspective (the Word) This is called having the Mind of Christ. Once again there is much more to this than we have time to thoroughly examine today, but this is part of the successful campaign for your island. Volitionally submit my way of thinking (world view, sense of right or wrong) to Him and His Word. Consider, reckon, that His perspective is more truthful and realistic than yours. Accept it and claim it as your own. 3 - Agree with Him regarding our weaknesses and lay hold on His strength As the Apostle Paul dared to face and admit his weakness, God could then instill in Paul holy strength, wisdom, perspective, and success. As we come to the end of this short series, let me encourage you to spend some quality time studying spiritual warfare. It is part of our discipleship process we are using here at FBC. Some of you today have been victim of these thought bombs going off in your mind, and have even acted upon them in sin. Don t despair! Confess that to God right now and repent of it! Ask Him to cleanse your mind and body. Dedicate yourself to Him and His way of thinking. Admit your weakness and beg Him to supply His strength. Lay claim to who you are in Christ. Resist the devil in the power of Christ Name and Blood and he will flee from you. 4

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