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Spiritual Warfare - Part 3

"Feet Fitted With The Preparation Of The Gospel Of Peace"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2014 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'[NOTE: This is a transcript of a similar sermon to the recording above, but preached on a different occasion] We're going to read Scripture together, and before we do that let's pray - all right? I don't know what kind of week you've had. I'll not go into my week, but we are in a spiritual battle, there is spiritual warfare going on. As we said last week, the big deal is whether or not we recognise it. We need to realise the fight is on, as Corrie Ten Boom said: 'The first step to victory is to recognise that we are in a war'. So we want to just attune ourselves to that, even in our own hearts now - I don't know what kind of disposition you're in in your own spirit, or indeed in the meeting here today, but we need to know that we are attuned to what God has to say to us. So let's come, we need the Lord - if I thought this meeting was just going to be another church service, I'm probably at the stage now where I would just close the Bible and go home and leave you all sitting there. It wouldn't be very polite, I'm sure, but I'm fed up with just being polite for the sake of politeness - we want to encounter God, we want to know that we are breaking through into spiritual reality. I hope that's why you're here, that's certainly why I'm here, and I'll be very disappointed if that's not our experience today.

So let's come together corporately and individually, and bring our hearts toward the Lord. You know your own personal need, whatever that is, you bring that need to the Lord now. Maybe you were here last week, and He was speaking to you last week, and you want the Lord to build on that now. Maybe that has been outworked in the week that has gone by to a certain degree. Let's come to the Lord and ask Him to really meet with us now, and penetrate the atmosphere with a sense of His presence. Let's pray together:

You could liken these pieces of armour to constant lifestyle patterns, or ingredients of our lives that will make us better fitted to face the enemy...

Holy Heavenly Father, Abba Father, we come to You in the name that is above every name, Lord Jesus Christ. We want to extol and lift up the name of Jesus. We want to declare that He has been given the name high over all. Father we thank You that because He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even on the cross, You have exalted Him to the highest place that heaven affords. We thank You, Father, that You have put all things beneath His feet, all principalities and power, all might and dominion. Lord, we thank You that that is the reality in heaven just now. Lord, we are wanting the reality of heaven to be the reality on earth. Father, we are asking that Your will would be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are asking that what You bind in heaven will be bound on earth, we are asking that what You release in heaven will be released on earth. Lord, we are asking that heaven would invade earth. Lord, just right where we are at this moment in time, heaven could seem light years away - and, Lord, certainly if we were to operate in the things of sense and emotions and feelings, we don't feel like we're in heaven at all, and there might be some of us here would have to say we feel like we're in hell. But, Lord, You are the God of the impossible, you are the God of all flesh, You are the God who is the Alpha and Omega, You are the Eternal One who is neither bound by time nor space - so I ask You now, Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that You will come to us now, that You will drive out the death and the deadness and the stench of flesh, and that You will invade this space, and indeed our very beings, that You will saturate and penetrate with Your Spirit. Lord, nothing else will do, nothing else is going to do me, Lord, for my need - I've got nothing for these people. Lord, it's not my job to lift them out of where they're at - but, Lord, we know that it's not by might nor power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord. So, Lord, we are casting ourselves in Jesus' name upon You and Your mercy, Your provision and grace - and we're asking You, Lord, to do something here today: do something in our lives and in this gathering. For the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

Come with me and we will read the whole portion again, verse 10 of Ephesians chapter 6: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles", or the schemes, "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, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour 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" - and we end there at verse 18.

Imagine studying a subject for 100 years - take mathematics for instance. My eldest child is now 11, and in first-year, and she's doing her first ever big exams at the moment. As you can imagine there's a lot of stress and tension, and she's very nervous, and she's studying every moment that she can get - but imagine studying for 100 years, mathematics, or English, or some science, or spending thousands of years reading the theories of Einstein or Newton. You would imagine that you would be an expert. Well, generally speaking, Satan, the adversary, the accuser of the brethren, has been studying human nature for between 6 to 10,000 years. We'll not argue over dates, but for thousands upon thousands of years he has been studying us, he knows how we tick. Whilst you, of course, are unique, and every human being is unique in their identity before God - but just as a human being there has never been anyone quite like you (there is no doubt about that!), yet you are of a kind, you are of humankind. Though there is uniqueness in our individuality, the fact of the matter is: there is a generality in our temperaments, in our personalities, and you take into the equation our race, our culture, and our background and so on - and so Satan really knows what human beings are like. All across the globe, and the different personality types and traits and so on, he really knows what he needs to know about us to do a number on us.

I really want to guard against being demon or devil-conscious in this series on spiritual warfare, because this is a great danger we can fall into...

I really want to guard against being demon or devil-conscious in this series on spiritual warfare, because this is a great danger we can fall into - and the devil loves attention, and he would love us to spend all our time talking about him. But nevertheless we can't be ignorant of him either. Scripture is clear: do not be ignorant of his devices. The intelligence corps is vital in any warfare, and so we have got to know our enemy, we've got to understand how he works and manoeuvres against us. We certainly must not wait until what is spoken of here in verse 13, 'the evil day', in order to decide: 'Well, how is he coming against me here? And what type of stuff do I need to put on me to protect myself?'. If you wait until the evil day, or the fierce day of battle, it will be too late. This armour that is spoken of here in Ephesians 6, that we are taking piece by piece, I suppose I haven't said this to you yet - but you could liken these pieces of armour to constant lifestyle patterns, or ingredients of our lives that will make us better fitted to face the enemy. To summarise it in two words: life conditions. These pieces of armour are essentially life conditions that we need to establish in our everyday experience in order that we can stand when the evil day does present itself to us, when the wiles and the schemes, and the methods of the enemy come against us in a very concerted way.

This is central, I believe, to understanding spiritual warfare - because people have this idea that God just gives us an armoury, or some kind of toolkit, and whenever this problem comes along - well, we reach in for a particular weapon, or a particular tool, and they have a very mechanical or formulated way of understanding the spiritual life. We miss this fact that really God isn't interested in what we do, as much as He's interested in who we are. Even in the realm of spiritual warfare, if He does give us resources; He wants, essentially those resources to change us, not just to change our circumstances, or to beat the enemy - at the end of it all He wants a difference to be made to our character. So these spiritual pieces of armour, they are life conditions, and if they are established in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, they will fit us to live a life of godliness - and when the eventuality comes along that the enemy attacks us, we will be ready.

Now you look at each of these pieces of armour: the belt was what? The belt of truth. So God wants to establish truthfulness in our lives. The breastplate was the breastplate of faith - wasn't it? Of course, there is the shield of faith that we will look at tonight, God willing. God wants faith in our lives, this faith, the Christian faith is - from start to finish - a faith to faith exercise. That's what the Bible says: from faith to faith. It begins with faith, it ends in faith, the just shall live by their faith, without faith it is impossible to please God. So the Holy Spirit wants to engender faith in us. We are given a helmet, and the helmet - as we will see next week - is called the helmet of hope, and He wants to breed hope in our minds and in our hearts, not hopelessness or despair. He wants us to use the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, declaring the word of God - it's actually the rhema word of God, which is the spoken word of God. He wants us to be people who live our lives grounded and strengthened in faith in the scriptures. He wants us to be praying in the Spirit, as we will see next week as well.

It's not just about putting all these pieces on, or flicking a switch in the spiritual realm and all of a sudden I'm protected...

So all of these are life conditions that are central to spiritual warfare. It's not just about putting all these pieces on, or flicking a switch in the spiritual realm and all of a sudden I'm protected with this spiritual force field. It's more than that! These are deep character traits that God wants us to ingrain within our lives, if we're ever to protect ourselves from Satan's armour. You remember I pointed out to you from Luke chapter 12, I think it was, last week, that Satan has an armour as well - he has got a panoply. 'Panoplea' is the word used for his armoury there. What is it? Well, we saw that it's the opposite of all these character traits that are meant to be found in the Christian life. So if you go down the list I've already given you, if the life conditions that God wants to bring into our experience are truth, righteousness, peace, faith, hope, declaring God's word, praying in the Spirit; the life conditions that the enemy wants to bring into our experiences are the opposite. Come with me, you know what they are: rather than truth, he wants untruth, he wants us to sow seeds of deceit and lies to ourselves about him, and toward others. Instead of peace, he wants there to be strife, contention, and disturbance. Instead of faith, he wants us to mistrust what God has said, he wants us to show suspicion and doubt and scepticism to spiritual realities. Instead of hope he wants us to despair, he wants us to be depressed, he wants us to give up.

You see, we've got to be careful using the analogies that the Holy Spirit has given us here, and all the metaphors and descriptions, that we don't put this into a realm that is unreal to everyday existence. These are life conditions that God wants us to have, in order to cancel out the life conditions that are the weapons of the enemy that he wants to bring into our life, to bring destruction and death. Now, the enemy's life conditions, if you can identify with them, are often a sign that our Christian defences have been compromised, and the devil has gained access somehow. We said last week, he's got under the armour somehow. So if you can discern that there is deception, there is lying, there is strife, contention, disturbance, there is mistrust, suspicion, doubt, there is hopelessness, despair, and depression - that's a sign that the enemy has got in somehow, that your armour has not been secure enough. Over a period of time, you will then be able to discern that these are life conditions that the enemy has been sowing in your lifestyle, day by day, in order to counteract the influence that God would have upon you through His protection and His wholeness.

Satan has an armour as well - he has got a panoply...

I hope that helps you in understanding this a little bit more. I want us to look now at the shoes of the Gospel of peace in verse 15: 'having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace'. We will only look at this this morning, and tonight, God willing, we will look at the shield. Now the Roman soldier - you have to understand this is what was most likely in Paul's mind as he was writing here - the Roman soldier, we're used to seeing him adorned with sandals. We ought not to think of them like Moses' sandals, or flip-flops, they were sturdy shoes - in fact, they were hobnail soles - in order that the soldier would have a better footing for battle, in order that he could dig his heels in. Also these shoes would have protected him from sharp traps. So they were sturdy soles with hobnails on them, and he would have marched in these shoes, and he would have stood for many hours perhaps in these shoes. They also had two or three straps that he would have wound up the leg several times to keep this standing secure.

There are two applications I want to bring out of this truth, the shoes of the Gospel, this morning. The first is: a Christian has to stand - stand - and withstand the enemy in the finished work of the cross. The Christian has got to stand firm in what Jesus has given to them. I said to you last week that this is not ground that we are fighting for in this battle, this is ground that we already have, and we're just to stand our ground in the victory and the liberty of the Lord Jesus Christ - not let the enemy push us off the victory, which many of us are allowing him to do, but to stand firm on the finished work of Christ. It's the gift of grace that He has given to us, we just receive it, and we enjoy it, and stand firm.

The second application is: a readiness to go forth with the good news, to invade enemy territory and to take the Gospel of peace to others - but we will leave that for later. Let's look first of all at what it is to stand firm on the Gospel victory ground, on the finished work of Christ. Well, the reason why this is so necessary is that many Christians are so restless. I have found from personal ministry, preaching and also praying with people, that one of the greatest problems that Christians face is restlessness and fear, anxiety and worry. Whilst we may be delivered from certain lifestyle habits and sins when we come to Jesus Christ, a certain sin that we have tended to sanitise and sugar-coat is more acceptable is that of fear and worry. We don't realise that this is one of the deadliest weapons of the enemy, that he uses to rob from us the peace of the Gospel of Christ. I would go as far as to call it the Christian sin, where Satan has bound many believers with anxieties and all sorts of fears and phobias.

I would go as far as to call it the Christian sin, where Satan has bound many believers with anxieties and all sorts of fears and phobias...

What Paul's analogy is showing us here is that we are meant to stand in the Gospel of peace. It's important that Paul calls it here 'the Gospel of peace'. One of the characteristic life conditions of a child of God is that they know the peace of God. Are you knowing the peace of God today? Paul describes the peace of God as ruling our hearts and our minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. In fact, the peace of God is a blood-right of the child of God. In other words, Jesus died on the cross - yes, He died to save us from our sins, to cleanse us, and to justify us, and that's so often where evangelicals stop - but, you see, our salvation is a full holistic salvation in the right sense, for spirit, soul, and body, mind, emotion, and will. One of the fruit of the shed blood of Calvary is that we would have peace of mind and peace of heart - is that what you've got today? It's your right as a Christian.

You remember I spoke last week of the illustration and the truth of Israel who were delivered from the bondage of Egypt, and went through the Red Sea, and into the Promised Land after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years - but do you remember that Israel's fearful enemy, Pharaoh, he was absolutely bent on their destruction, just like Satan! As I said to you last week: he hates you, he wants to destroy you, he wants to wipe you out! But the night, the Passover night that the death angel was going to go through the whole nation over Egypt, the Israelites - you remember they were to take that lamb without blemish and without spot, shed the blood, pour it into a basin, take hyssop, and paint it on the door posts and the lintel of the house - and they had to stay under the blood! We saw last week that there had to be obedience to the word of God in order for the blood to protect them. But when they were under the blood, there was no need for fear, there was no place for restlessness - why? Because God had given His word, God had promised them protection: 'When I see the blood, I will pass over you'. The Bible actually recounts that they were able to eat the Passover in peace.

Satan desires to rob us of peace. Peace is one of the great benefits of our salvation: peace of mind, peace of heart, and the enemy wants to rob you of it. He wants to fill your heart with fear, anxiety, and all sorts of worry. I want to ask you today: why are you not experiencing the peace of God? The Israelites had to apply the blood, they had to take the hyssop like a paintbrush, dip it in, and put the blood on. I emphasised this last week, and I'll do it again: I believe it is appropriate right throughout the whole Christian life for us, by faith, to apply the blood. It is our job to appropriate what Jesus Christ has done. One of the greatest myths that the enemy has sown in the ranks of the church, particularly in evangelicalism, particularly in fundamentalist, conservative evangelicalism, is that when you get 'saved', you get everything - that is a myth and a lie. Now, yes, you do get everything in Jesus Christ, and potentially all that you need has been given to you - but you've got to work out your salvation by fear and trembling. There is something for you to do, and that is appropriate everything that God has promised you and given to you, potentially, in Jesus Christ - but if you think you've got everything, and that you've arrived and you're there, you are being deceived, you're being deluded! A lie from the enemy himself.

Peace is one of the great benefits of our salvation: peace of mind, peace of heart, and the enemy wants to rob you of it...

It says in Revelation 12 verse 11 that the saints overcame the devil, the dragon, by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives unto death. That's how they overcame the devil! This is New Testament now, it's a future day, and they are overcoming the enemy through the power of the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony - which I believe is what the blood of the Lamb says about them, or what the word of God says the blood of the Lamb does for them. Do you know what the word of God says the blood of the Lamb does for you? Maybe I could have that slide up - I said I would give you plenty of warning there at the back, but I haven't done that, apologies! I'll get this slide up now - and up here is going to be statements of what the Bible, what the word of God says the blood of the Lamb does for you.

Now you look at that, I hope everybody can see it - if you can't read it, apologies. I want to read it for you, and then I'm going to get you to read it. What you're doing here, effectively, is: you're putting on the shoes of the Gospel of peace; you're taking what the blood of Jesus has done for you, and you're appropriating it to your life by faith:

"Through the blood of Jesus, I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil. Through the blood of Jesus, all my sins are forgiven. The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, continually cleanses me from all sin. Through the blood of Jesus, I am justified, made righteous, just as if I'd never sinned. Through the blood of Jesus, I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed by the blood of Jesus".

Now that is not an exhaustive list, by any means - but the blood of Jesus does a lot for us, doesn't it? That ought to bring us peace, when we consider the sins that we have done in our past, the guilt and the shame of it. Provided we have confessed them, and we are desiring to walk in the light, in transparency and truth with God, we can know that the blood continually goes on cleansing us from all sin. Everything is dealt with, even our bodies can be sanctified as the temple of the Holy Spirit through the blood of Jesus. Could you say this with me? Say it together:

"Through the blood of Jesus, I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil. Through the blood of Jesus, all my sins are forgiven. The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, continually cleanses me from all sin. Through the blood of Jesus, I am justified, made righteous, just as if I'd never sinned. Through the blood of Jesus, I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed by the blood of Jesus".

You're confessing what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does for you...

All you're doing there is: you're confessing what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does for you. That's what they did in Revelation 12 verse 11, they overcame the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. What you're doing is, by confessing, you're agreeing with God, agreeing with what God's word says about you, about your sin, about your holiness, and about your future if you're believing in Him. So you're appropriating what Calvary has done for you. For a lot of Christians Calvary is nothing but what they believed the night they were saved or the day they trusted Christ - that's as far as Calvary has gone for them. They believe their sins are forgiven, and they are justified, but they're not day by day appropriating the power of the blood and the victory of Calvary in order to defeat the enemy in this spiritual battle - whether it's overcoming temptation, or the oppression of the enemy that comes against them, or in particular, specifically here, in relation to fear, anxiety, and worry.

You see: we've got to appropriate the blessings of Calvary for them to be practical and instrumental in our lives. Is that what you're doing? There is so much I could say this morning, and I have loads prepared - but I really don't want to go anywhere, or say anything, or do anything that the Lord doesn't want me to do. I want us to think for a second or two about the word 'peace'. Can you tell me what the Hebrew word for 'peace' is? Shalom - and it doesn't just mean 'Hello', or 'Bonjour' in French, it's different than that entirely. It actually means not just a 'peace', as in when we shake hands with one another, and the ancient legend says that it's because we're putting down our arms and declaring friendship with each other - that's why we shake hands in our culture. Saying 'Shalom' in Hebrew is much more than that. It speaks not only of the absence of war, but it actually speaks of the presence of wholeness.

Would you turn with me to 1 Thessalonians 5 - I can't remember if I read this to you last week or not. Verse 23, Paul says: 'Now may the God of peace', that's interesting, isn't it, 'the God of peace', the God of Shalom - although it's Greek here, of course, but that's what it is in Hebrew - 'the God of Shalom Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ'. I think I explained to you a little bit of spirit, soul, and body: 'He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it'. Now this tells us here that God's will for us, is for us to be holy, to be set apart for God, to be sanctified - and the God of peace wants this for us. Now The Message, which is not a translation but it's an interpretation, Eugene Peterson's interpretation of the Bible - it's very graphic here, and I believe instructive. Listen to how he renders verses 23 and 24 in The Message: 'May God Himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together - spirit, soul, and body - and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If He said it, He will do it!'.

God's will for your life is not just that you have a ticket to go to heaven, and know your sins are forgiven; God's will for your life is that you should be holy - did you know that?

Now listen, this is God's will for your life: God's will for your life is not just that you have a ticket to go to heaven, and you know your sins are forgiven; God's will for your life is that you should be holy - did you know that? Without holiness no one will see the Lord. People want heaven without holiness, and there is no such a thing in the Bible. I'll let the theologians argue over the doctrine, but the Bible is clear: there is no heaven without holiness. Now, yes, there is an appropriated holiness that we have by grace, but there is a practical holiness - a working out of the grace that God has put in us - that needs to be there. The Bible says that nobody who practices this, that and the other - and you know the lists in Corinthians, the lists in Revelation and other parts of the New Testament, Ephesians, Galatians - nobody who practices these. Don't be deceived, Paul says, by what anybody tells you: anybody who practices these lifestyle sins, and claims to have the grace of God, will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So there is a holiness, God wants to make you holy - but what a lot of people miss is: there can be no holiness without wholeness. You see, God doesn't just want to make you holy, He wants to make you whole - but here's the catch, as it were: you cannot be holy without being whole, and you cannot be whole without being holy. There are Christians and they want to be fixed, they want their head and their heart and their actions to be fixed, but they don't want to be holy. I've got a few problems with folk coming at the moment to me for prayer, and I'm starting to discern that they want to be fixed - but do they want to be holy? Do they want the Lord Jesus and His Lordship in their life? Do they want to be completely submitted and surrendered? And I think the answer is no - they just want to be fixed. God doesn't just want to fix you, He wants to make you holy, but He wants to make you whole.

Part of being whole is knowing peace in your mind, peace in your mind. Is there someone here this morning - and you, if you ever knew what peace of mind was, you've forgotten. It was a very fleeting thing. Was it here last week that I said to you what meditation was? Was it here? What was meditation the same as? I can't hear you: worry! Worry is a form of meditation, where you take an untruth - specifically with worry, anxiety, and fear - you take an untruth, a lie that the devil has sown into your mind and heart, and you decide: 'I'm going to receive that, I'm going to think about it, I'm going to meditate and ruminate on it' - and that's what meditation is. We are meant to be doing that on good things, and yet we do it on the lies of the devil, and we allow him to get in and rob us of our peace. That's how it works.

I think there's a very graphic instruction given to us here as to how to know the peace of God and victory over fear and anxiety...

Turn with me to Philippians chapter 4, Philippians chapter 4. Now this is what I call God's medicine bottle of peace, and I know we want to be careful of mechanisms and formulae that are divorced from actual everyday life conditions and living - we don't want to make the mistake I've cited already - but it's helpful to think of this as a little medicine bottle with the instructions written on it, how often we take it, and when we take it, and what dosage we take it in. I think there's a very graphic instruction given to us here as to how to know the peace of God and victory over fear and anxiety, or to put it another way: how to put on the shoes of the gospel of peace, how to stand firm in the victory that Jesus has given to us through the blood of Jesus, to know we're justified, to know that we are secure, to know that we are safe and set apart for God, and even our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit sanctified by the blood of Jesus.

Here's the instruction, verse 6: 'Be anxious for nothing'. You say: 'You're having a laugh! What? You're saying the first instruction is 'don't worry'?'. Well, that's right, that's what the first instruction is - and here, you need to be brought down with a bump. You see, Christians think: 'Oh, I can't do this, I have been worrying all my life, and Mummy worried before me, and Granny worried - and we've just all been a family of worriers. This is second nature to me, I don't know how to do anything else!'. Listen: by the very fact that Paul comes right out here first and foremost with a command, shows you that you can do it or not do it, that you do have a choice. One of the greatest lies of the enemy is: 'Oh, I can't help this. The devil made me do it, he drives me to it. Oh, it's just the way I am, it's second nature, I can't help it' - and you're exonerating yourself from responsibility, when what you need to do is actually stand up. OK, there are forces maybe in your life that are driving you, and there are all sorts of hurt and pain that maybe allow you to use worry and fear as a coping mechanism to deal with that - I'm not saying those aren't realities, but what I am saying is: all of us, in every area of our lives, need to own up and embrace the ungodly behaviour that we have engaged in. We need to say: 'I have co-operated with the enemy', in however we have done that. We need to stop blaming others, and saying 'Oh, I didn't have a rattle as a child'. I'm not saying things in your childhood don't affect you, they do affect you, but we cannot exonerate ourselves of responsibility for choices that we have made in our lives by pointing to our past, by pointing to our parents, by pointing to the government, society, or the church. All those things are broken, and they have contributed to the state that we are in, but we've got to take our own responsibility.

You've got to realise that you have got a choice whether to worry or not - and that's hard for some of you to take, especially if you are a worrier. You've got into this way of going, and you've sort of spun out of control - and that can be the case, you maybe feel you are out of control, but what you've got to admit is: when initially the enemy came to you with a parcel that was filled with lies, and God came to you with a parcel that was filled with the truth of what He says about you, what the blood of Jesus Christ declares about you - you received the enemy's parcel, didn't you? You opened it, and you started to dissect it - I was nearly going to say enjoy it, but how could you enjoy it? Yet there is a sadistic irony to worry, because you actually do come to the moment where, like a child with a dummy or a rag, it becomes something you can't do without. It becomes a love-hate relationship, where you get and derive a certain amount of security from worrying. That's often why we do worry, and why we fear, because 'If I don't worry about this and I don't fret about this, well then, it's like being irresponsible, the thing is left undone - if I don't, who's going to?'. What you're doing is, you're not believing in God, you're not trusting in God - because that's what worry and fear is, it's unbelief! You're not trusting your Heavenly Father to protect you, to undertake for you, to look after you.

What's the first thing you do when you've got a dilemma or an issue?

So look at the medicine bottle. The command is: don't worry. So first of all you've got to recognise that this is actually sin. I think it was John Wesley who said it's every bit as much a sin to worry, as it is to commit adultery or murder - it's a sin. It's the sin of unbelief, and it will bring a curse upon your life. 'What's that?', you say. It will rob you of the peace of God. It's as simple as that, it's not complicated - it's sin, let's call it sin, let's confess it as sin, and let's repent of it as sin and renounce it as sin. It's also a spirit of fear, there is a spirit of fear - and I believe Christians can have it on them. You've got to choose: 'I'm going to confess and repent of worry and anxiety'.

'Be anxious for nothing', verse 6, 'but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God'. Be thankful for anything, and pray about everything. There are two more instructions: pray about everything. What's the first thing you do when you've got a dilemma or an issue? Well, maybe you've got a best friend and you lift the phone to them - but why don't we pray to God? If He is our Heavenly Father, and if He is meant to be our Best Friend, why don't we go to Him first? Why is He the last port of call for many of the issues and crises of our lives? Let's be honest!

It says worry about nothing, but pray about everything. C.H. Spurgeon said: 'Turn your cares into prayers' - that's effectively what you're doing. You see all that energy that the devil would ask you to expend and invest in all that ruminating meditation over worry around the devil's lies that he's telling you? Why don't you take all that same energy - it's neutral, there is nothing immoral about it, it's just neutral human, physical, emotional and spiritual energy - why don't you channel it into your prayer life? People say: 'Oh, my prayer life is wick, I can't pray for longer than two minutes, and it feels like holding my breath beneath water'. We get all these lists and these strategies, and I'm not against them all, but why don't you try channelling your worry and energy into your prayers, and you'll become Praying Hyde overnight, some of you! You'll be prayer warriors within a week if you channelled all your worry energy into your prayers!

The wonderful thing is that, like the psalmists - and I love the Psalms, like I'm sure you do, because they are so real, they are so gritty, they are so human - the psalmist gets this burden, and he brings it to God, and he can be really vehement with it, and he can be scathing toward other people. But where is he doing it? He's not doing it over the coffee table, he's not doing it over the Sunday roast, he's doing it in the presence of God, and he's pouring out his soul about others in the presence of God - and you often see this great change in the tempo and the mood of the Psalm, because he gets it off his chest in the presence of God, and then he starts praising God because he's got rid of it in the right place.

Thankfulness is a great practice. You decide to thank God for even things that don't appear to be thank-worthy...

Be anxious for nothing, pray about everything, be thankful for anything - thankfulness is a great practice. You decide to thank God for even things that don't appear to be thank-worthy. Let your requests be made known to God, verse 7, 'and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding', it's beyond comprehension, in other words it doesn't follow, it doesn't make sense. It's not meant to make sense, so stop trying to work it out if you've got it when you feel 'I should be in pieces here', and you've got it, don't start working it out, just enjoy it. It's a gift of God, it's not meant to make sense. It 'will guard', garrison is the word, 'your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord'.  That's amazing, do you know what that means? That the peace of God, if you do these things - do what? If you choose and decide to confess worry as sin, to repent of it, to not do it, to choose not to do it, to not meditate on those thoughts. If the enemy puts those thoughts in, those insinuations, those doubts - you choose to say: 'No, I'm not doing that, I'm going to think on the truth, the corresponding truths of God I'm going to put in my mind'. If you do that, and you pray about everything, and bring everything to the Lord - not in unbelief, but in thanksgiving - some of our prayers are like unbelief in disguise: 'Oh, Lord, everything is going to pieces. Oh, Lord, you've got to come in, you've got to help me' - you know, that's unbelief in prayer.

We've got to get through to thanking God: 'Thank You, Lord, that You're in control. Everything around me seems to be going to bits, but You're in control' - you do that, don't worry, pray about everything, be thankful for anything, and the peace, the Shalom of Jehovah, will stand sentry over your mind and over your heart. Isn't that priceless? Can I tell you: that's what the blood of Jesus purchased for you, the Shalom of God standing sentry over your mind and over your heart. Do you have it? Look at verse 8, I think I mentioned this last week, and this just re-emphasises what you put in your mind: 'Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you'.

So worry about nothing, pray about everything, be thankful for anything - verse 8 - think about good things - and verse 9 - do the right things; and the God of peace will be with you. Not just the peace of God now, not the Shalom of God now, it's the very God of peace who will be with you - wow! Have you got the shoes of the Gospel of peace on? Have you? Are you standing firm on the victory ground of what Jesus has done for you through His shed blood at the cross?

Are you standing firm on the victory ground of what Jesus has done for you through His shed blood at the cross?

Now quickly, the second application here is the preparation of the Gospel of peace. There is a preparedness. Now let me just quickly say this, I'm not going to go into it: your healing salvation and wholeness is not for you to just lie back and enjoy it. God does want you to enjoy it, and it's not unforgivable in Christianity to enjoy it! It would be terrible to enjoy it, wouldn't it?! You ought to enjoy it, but it's not just for our enjoyment, it's for us to take this peace and share it with others - that's why we've been given it. It has to be said that there are a lot of broken folk, we're all broken if we're honest - but sometimes broken people with issues, they get so self-obsessed that they fail to see the big wide world out there, and they're always navel-gazing at their own problems, and their own issues, and their own baggage and crises. They fail to see that the Lord does want to heal them, He does want to restore them, He does want to put them together and make them holy and whole - sticking them together, spirit, soul, and body - but it's with a view to take that peace that they have been filled up with, and allow it to overflow to the world around them for the glory of Jesus Christ. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news, who publish peace.

Beware of just wanting your own healing, your own wholeness. You see, what the Lord wants is: the strong man has been bound at Calvary, and He wants us to go and spoil the enemy's goods. He wants us to strip the devil of his kingdom. 'I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it'. He wants us to take the kingdom of heaven by force - is that what we're doing? Is that what we're doing?

Don't miss part 4 of Spiritual Warfare: "The Shield Of Faith" Jump To Top Of Page

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins
Preach The Word.
December 2013
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at Ards Evangelical Church in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the third recording in his 'Spiritual Warfare' series, entitled "Feet Fitted With The Preparation Of The Gospel Of Peace" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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