This sermon is number 1 in a series of 6
Spiritual Warfare - Part 1
"There Is A War On!"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2014 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
[NOTE: This is a transcript of a similar sermon to the recording above, but preached on a different occasion] Let's pray together. Now I drove from Portadown today, and there was a diversion on the motorway, but there was a very very heavy fog, very very dense fog, and it all sort of cleared as we got to County Down - you seem to have the good weather! But, you know, there can be a kind of fog in our gathering here, a heaviness, where we're just not getting through, and we're not seeing the Lord, and we're not really entering in - and I don't want that to be here, do you? So let's ask the Lord, and let's become present to His presence, and let's seek to encounter Him by faith now in prayer before we read the scriptures. Let's really get a hold of God, we want to encounter Him today, don't we? We want to break through, we want to have His touch upon our lives - and it would be wonderful, collectively, if today, and in these weeks, we really know the Lord coming into the midst. We believe He is here, He's everywhere, we know that, we know all the theology - where two or three are gathered and all the rest - but how much, at times, do we come in and out and it makes no difference. We need the experiential reality of God's presence - it touches our hearts and changes our lives - so let's ask the Lord for that today. Will you come with me and pray now, enter in, let's pray together.
Abba Father, we reverence You as the Holy God of heaven today, and we just want to praise the Triune Godhead - Father, Son, Holy Spirit - holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, the whole earth is filled with Your glory, the heaven of heavens is filled with Your praises. We want to unite in the communion of the saints with the blood-bought redeemed, the spirits of just men and women made perfect in heaven right now, we want to join with cherubim and seraphim, angel and archangel, and we want to bring praise with all created beings to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But Lord, we want to experience a little bit of heaven on earth, and You have commanded us to pray: 'Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. So, Lord, would You give us a little bit of heaven right down here today. Would You open, as it were, a portal, just in the sky, that the angels would ascend and descend upon us, that we would experience a direct channel and line of communication between heaven and earth. We believe that's what Jesus came to do and to bring, and so we say: come, Lord Jesus; come, Holy Spirit; come, Heavenly Father - presence Yourself with us. We want to proclaim Jesus Christ, Lord, Lord of our lives; we want to proclaim Him Lord of this space; we want to proclaim Him Lord of this moment. We want no other authority or power or dominion to be at work. We want Your rule and Your reign, Lord Jesus.
Will you unite with me and just say: 'Jesus Christ is Lord'? Now don't say it weak and wimpy, say it with me now: Jesus Christ is Lord! Let's say it again please, and as we say it you're saying it over your life, you're saying it over your circumstances, you're saying it over this church fellowship at this moment, you're saying it over this gathering and this message that I'm about to bring to you. We want Him to be Lord of everything, don't we? Let's say it again: Jesus Christ is Lord!
So Lord, we ask that You will put down every other power, and You have the preeminence now - for Your glory alone, Amen.
Ephesians chapter 6. I was asking the Lord at the beginning of the week what to bring, and I have to say that this isn't really what I wanted to bring. I didn't know what I wanted to bring, but I really felt I didn't want to bring this. Anyway, I'm bringing it because I feel the Lord wants me to bring it. Over the next six sessions, over the next three weeks morning and evening, I'm going to be preaching on 'Spiritual Warfare', and the armour of God from Ephesians chapter 6. So we will be in this portion of Scripture for the next three Sundays - we'll see how far we get this morning, we mightn't even get to the first piece of armour, but we will see how we do. Let's read the passage together, verse 10 of Ephesians 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"
There is a war on. I hope you know that. If you were a casual observer of Christendom today, the expression of Christian faith in our world, you might be forgiven for thinking: 'Well, it was a nice happy-clappy gathering, a teddy bear's picnic kind of thing, quite childish at times - but far from resembling a battlefield or a war zone'. Of course, much of the battle does take place in the churches between brothers and sisters, and observers would be forgiven for saying: 'How these Christians hate one another!', rather than what was said in the early church, 'How these Christians love one another!'. There is fighting in the ranks, there is schism and separation, and there are all sorts of exhibitions of the old nature, the flesh, which Paul says is seen and manifested when we bite and devour one another. We're not in the Spirit, we're in the flesh. But as far as a collision of powers is concerned - what I mean by that is the colliding of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness, and it happening as we as the church take Christ to the lost and move into areas of darkness, as the Lord promised, 'I will build My church, and the gates of hell or Hades shall not prevail against it' - we're not seeing much of that here in the Western world, particularly in the United Kingdom and in Western Europe.
I have to say, and I'm not going to go into this in any depth, but I believe that the cause of a lot of that is aberrant theology - error in our understanding of the word of God and spiritual principles. One looks a bit like this: when Jesus was around, there was a great explosion of evil - and that's why there were so many demons that came at Him, and He had to cast them out and all the rest - but that was peculiar to His time when He was walking on the earth. The people that tend to believe that also project into the future, to the end times, and when Antichrist is going to be around, and just before the Lord Jesus comes and sorts everything out - or whatever way you put it in the chronological order of things, and there's a difference there of course among people - but generally speaking, Satan was active when Jesus was around; and when He's going to come back again, well, there's a whole lot of stuff going to happen, and this pit is going to be opened and all these weird looking things are going to come out, and come upon the earth, and 'Oh, there's going to be a terrible explosion of evil' - but, now, Satan has sort of gone to sleep, he's gone into hibernation, he's dormant.
Now you might say: 'Oh, well, I don't believe that, I don't know any Christian who would believe it' - but what I'm suggesting is not that we don't confess the belief in a personal devil, an actual entity who is against the rule and reign of God in our lives and in our world. What I'm suggesting is that we are practical unbelievers when it comes to him, especially as Christians. We have also often imbibed another false teaching, that when you become a Christian, when you're born again by the Spirit, or even for that matter if you are filled and have a full takeover - which is God's intention of course - by the Holy Spirit, that the devil cannot touch you; and really, you don't need to worry about the devil any more, because you're a child of God. That is absolute nonsense! It's not even logical, but it's certainly not biblical. Logic would say, actually, that when you start to move toward God, then you become public enemy number one to the devil, then he really is interested in you. He's not interested in the hordes of folk that he's already got in his grip, that have already given him authority and right to be in their lives. He's interested in the folk that are wanting to go against his Satanic flow.
It is certainly not biblical. What we often forget is that the New Testament Scriptures are a series of books and letters that have been delivered to the church. Some of them have an evangelistic edge - not many of them, it has to be said, maybe one or two Gospels, but they were even written to believers - and all the warnings, all the cautions, all the instruction and exhortation to be guarded against the devil, to put on an armour, to not be ignorant of his devices, to not give him a foothold or give advantage to the enemy; it's all communicated to believers! Paul even said on one occasion: 'I'm afraid that you've believed another gospel, and that you've received another spirit'. He was talking not to pagans, he was talking to believers. Not to animists, or idol worshippers, he was talking to believers; concerned that they should receive a foreign spirit other than the Holy Spirit which God had gifted.
Do you see what I'm saying here? We can have this sort of cauterised, sanitised Christian evangelicalism. We go about our daily business, and we sing our choruses, and we send our kids to Sunday School, and we generally walk on the clean side of the street - and we think: 'Well, the devil isn't really interested in me'. If you are sincere in your faith, and if you are desirous to go on with God, I'm telling you: you will face a Satanic onslaught, you will face a barrage of darkness and evil, and you need to know how to stand, how to cope. You ought to be in a war. If you don't know that there is a war on, something is wrong. Either you're not saved, or you're not in a correct relationship with God, or you're just rolling over and giving in - you've complied with the enemy, compromised.
Now let me say, if you're starting to sit up and think: 'Whoa, right, maybe that's something to do with what I'm going through, and have been going through, and the struggles that I've had in the Christian life, I really need to listen these weeks. I have to put this armour on, and give the devil a good trouncing, and that will be all my problems solved'. Well, slow down, slow down a minute! Our reading is taken from Ephesians chapter 6. I don't have time to go into the whole book of Ephesians with you, but what you need to know is that there were five chapters before chapter 6 - in case you didn't know that! They are intrinsic to your understanding of how you war in this battle. In chapter 1, Watchman Nee describes it like this: Ephesians talks about sitting, walking, and standing. In chapter 1 we are told how we are seated in heavenly places with Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, was buried, rose again, and ascended to heaven - and effectively took us there with Him, so that our citizenship now is in heaven. We are in Christ by faith, that's our position, and so when we repent and believe, and when we continue to rely on Him, we are seated in heavenly places, blessed with all spiritual blessings - that certainly helps when we are down here, going through an awful lot, to know that! As we come to the helmet of salvation, we will realise that we need to be thinking in a heavenly way. We need to remember to set our affections on things that are above, not being conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our mind - having a heavenly mind, and our head literally stuck in the clouds, so that we're thinking in a heavenly way.
So you need to be a person who is rooted and grounded in who you are in Christ, what He says about you, your position, your possessions, and all the blessings of salvation. A lot of Christians don't have a clue, and you set a person down and say: 'Now, tell me the Gospel, and what you have in Jesus'. 'Oh, well, I said sorry for my sins, I prayed the sinner's prayer, and I'm on my way to heaven' - and that's about the extent of their understanding of salvation - 'I just sort of oil the works by going to church, and reading my Bible every now and again, and saying the odd wee prayer - and if anybody asks me about my faith, I maybe witness to them'. That is the low-level - if that is Christian experience, we'll not debate that now, but that's the low-level of understanding of what people have. Well, you need to study chapter 1; you need to study chapter 2, see how you're resurrected in your human spirit, and how you're blessed in an incredible way, inheriting all the promises in Jesus Christ.
So you need to be sitting in that security, seated in Jesus, in heaven - you're seated in heaven, do you feel like you're seated in heaven today? You might feel like you're in the depths of hell - but you can be in both in a strange sort of way. Then in chapter 4 verse 1, Paul says you need to walk. Walk, not just sit, you need to walk. He talks about walking elsewhere, but he says: 'Walk worthy of the calling werewith you are called'. Some people say: 'Oh, I know my position. Years ago, years ago in the Brethren I learned about position, and possessions in Jesus Christ'. Well, God bless you, that's wonderful, but how is your walk? If you truly are engaging with these spiritual truths, it's going to out-work in a walk, walking worthy of the calling - and I would question whether you have actually been seated, and you are connected, if you're not walking worthily. It could be just an intellectual understanding and appreciation of truth. You've got to walk, and it's then - having been seated in Christ, understanding your heavenly heritage and possessions and blessings, and choosing to walk in holiness, by the power of the Spirit of course, not some legalism, but through God's Spirit you walk in obedience to Him - then you are fitted to face the enemy. Only then. So don't run ahead of yourself, you might have to put those things in order before you actually are able to put on the armour of God to face the enemy.
Something else, in Ephesians 4 verse 30 it says: 'Do not grieve the Holy Spirit'. So if you're grieving the Holy Spirit you're giving the enemy an advantage. Now listen - I mean, if you have a wound, OK? You're a soldier and you have already got a wound, and then you put armour over that wound, it's not going to do you much good. We would say it's the cart before the horse. The armour is to protect you from a wound. Some of us have issues in our Christian lives, and we're not prepared to deal with those. We're grieving the Holy Spirit through sin, or maybe there is a deep woundedness in our life that we need healing for, or we might need deliverance because the enemy has already got in under the armour, and he has already got a stronghold in our life, and we need set free from that before we start trying to protect ourselves - he's already got in. So what I'm saying to you is: we've got to be realistic here - this isn't just putting this armour on, and everything is hunky-dory and we're protected from the enemy. There could be issues that need to be dealt with before you even start putting on these pieces. Are you grieving the Holy Spirit?
You say: 'What does that mean?'. Well, are you arguing with Him over something? Have you fallen out with the Lord over an issue? Do you know that there is something that you're engaging in that is displeasing to the Lord? You don't have the peace of God because Holy Spirit really has left you in the sense of His peace and His blessing. Something else - it says in chapter 5 verse 18: 'Be filled with the Holy Spirit'. It's in the present-continuous tense, which means 'be continually being filled with the Holy Spirit'. Now, if you're practising known sin, you'll be continually grieving the Holy Spirit, not being filled with the Holy Spirit. So there is this negative aspect of stopping sin, but there is this positive aspect of keeping yourself in the will of God, John 15, abiding in the vine, taking the life of Christ from the vine, and allowing Him to dwell in you, and you are abiding in Him. It's this life of fellowship, and communion, and walk with God - and so you're continually being filled. There is likely a crisis of initial filling, and I've preached on that before, but there will be this maintenance of it. It's not a once and for all experience, it's a constant daily experience of taking up your cross and following Him, surrendering to Him, and receiving all the blessings into you and out flowing from you - then you're ready to fight this battle. OK? Do you understand? Have we got a bit of perspective here? You need to be seated in heavenly places with Christ, understanding who you are in Christ, the blessings that He has given you. You need to be walking in obedience, and part of that is not grieving the Holy Spirit, and being filled with the Holy Spirit and then you're fit to stand in the battle and fight against the enemy.
There is a war on. Corrie Ten Boom - you know what she experienced in the Nazi concentration camps. Her sister Betsy died, if you've never read her book or seen the film, 'The Hiding Place', it's well worth seeing. She was a profound woman of God if ever there was one, great capability in spiritual things. Some of the things she said were mighty, one of which was: 'The first step to victory is to recognise that we are in a war'. Have you recognised that we are in a war? We've got an enemy, an enemy who is intent on our destruction. Peter says: 'He goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Him resist, steadfast in the faith'. Listen: he hates you! He detests every fibre in your being, and He wants to destroy you. He wants to do a number on you completely. If he could get you dead, he would get you dead. If he could take you to hell, he would take you to hell. That's what he wants, for every human being made in the image of God, and you need to be aware of this. Now we're not giving the devil glory - I hate to do that - he loves attention, so do demons and all the rest, I'm not wanting to do that. I hate people who talk about the devil as if he's got more power than God. No, we're not wanting to go that direction, but we do have to be realistic. There are demons, spirits, that form a hierarchy in the kingdom of darkness and they're out for our destruction.
Look at verse 12, it says as much: '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'. Now I don't want to talk about the origin of these spirits, because there's a bit of debate about it. Some think they are just fallen angels, others have other concepts - it doesn't really matter, we know they are around. There seems to be a hierarchy here, something mirroring the angelic hierarchy in the kingdom of God. You know that we have archangels, we have cherubim and seraphim, and then you've got warrior angels, or we might call them ordinary angels - although 'ordinary' is not a designation for angels at all, these ministering spirits. Here we have 'principalities', which many believe are effectively princes. Now they also converge with ideas, but these ideas that are in society's philosophies and so on don't just come out of nowhere, they are spun by spiritual spin doctors. In the book of Daniel, in Daniel chapter 10 verse 20, we read of the Prince of Greece and the Prince of Persia, and they were spiritual entities. We actually read that they hindered Daniel in his praying, or not so much Daniel in his praying, but the angel bringing Daniel's answer in prayer. So there was a battle, and Daniel had to fast and pray for 21 days in order to see a breakthrough in that regard - so he knew what it was to wrestle with principalities, do we?
What do we know about that? Maybe we don't need to do that today? We don't need to wrestle in prayer any more? Well, Paul says we do wrestle - not with flesh and blood - and that's an important designation. We might have enemies in our life, we certainly have enemies in the state, some of us even have enemies in the church - but those aren't the people we're wrestling with. You've got to understand this: this is how we can get over them, and this is how you can start forgiving them - you've got to understand there are spiritual forces behind what they are doing against us. Our issue isn't with them, we've got to love them to the extent that Jesus says: 'Love your enemies, bless those who hate you and curse you, and pray for them'. How do you do that? Well, psychologically, it certainly helps me to understand that I'm not wrestling with you, my fight is not with you, my wrestle is with the spiritual forces that have got the hold of you.
So there are these principalities, and we will not talk about the others, but there are powers, and rulers of darkness of this present age, spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. So these spiritual beings are in the heavenly realm - now not the heaven of heavens, where God's Throne is, although there are angels around there of course, and we read of demons being summoned back and forth - but they inhabit as their home the heavenly realm, and they have invaded and infiltrated the Earth. So they are around, and they have got Satanic armour - did you know that? Turn with me to Luke 11 verse 20, and Jesus shows there that one of the designations that kingdom of God has come, not just in His day, but now, is the casting out of demons. He says in verse 20: 'If I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you'. I don't believe there is any record in the Old Testament of an expulsion of a demon. There is Saul who was disturbed by a spirit, and David played the harp, and he got a bit of peace, but there is no actual what we might call an exorcism or a deliverance in the Old Testament - this seems to be something that was reserved for the coming of Jesus, as a sign that the Kingdom of God has come upon us, and it's still happening today. It's still happening today.
Look at verse 21: 'When a strong man', that's speaking of Satan, or indeed a strong demonic power, 'fully armed', do you see that? The word there is 'panoplea', you've heard about the armour of God being described as the 'panoply of God', some of the old hymns called it that - it's directly related, it's an old word for 'armour', 'panoply', and it's related to this Greek word 'panoplea', but this is applied here to the strong man, to the enemy. He's got an armour! You say: 'What's his armour like?'. Well, I'm not going to take time to do that, but what I will say is that if you look at the opposite of all the armour of God that you have in Ephesians chapter 6 - the belt of truth, one of the biggest weapons of the enemy in his armoury is lies. You could go right down, the breastplate of righteousness, his weapon is unrighteousness and condemnation, making us feel unrighteous - are you with me? So he's going to meet you with his armour, I mean that's just a given - you don't need to make any choices about that, if you're a Christian, and you're seeking at least to walk with God, it's going to happen. So you have to have God's armour upon you to protect you from his devices.
We wrestle not with people - and can I give you a little bit of advice as well: stop wrestling with temptation. So you can all go home and say: 'David Legge said this morning, stop wrestling with temptation' - that would be great, wouldn't it? I don't mean get stuck in! Stop wrestling with temptation, and start wrestling with the tempter - do you understand? You see if I don't want to eat the cream bun after my Sunday lunch today, the last thing I should do is sit staring at the cream bun - are you with me? What we do is we try to wrestle with temptation, and the more we wrestle with it the stronger it gets, and it eventually overcomes us - why? Where is our focus? Our focus is on the temptation. That often happens with thoughts, by the way - have you ever tried to stop bad thoughts? The more you wrestle with them the stronger they get, and they multiply. We need to understand that there is a power behind what is going on, there is the tempter behind temptation, there is a spiritual force behind these dark, wicked things and the people that might be doing them and executing them. There is the devil, and we need to be real about that - we're wrestling with him.
Incidentally, that word 'wrestle' has an ancient concept, a picture to it. It is the picture of two slaves who were fighting - you've seen the film 'Gladiator' - the idea of these two slaves fighting, and they are fighting to the death. That's what the word means. When one of them is overcome, the strong slave will put his foot on the neck of the defeated slave. Sorry ladies for this, but I have to say it: he then takes the point of his blade, and he flicks out the eyes of the defeated. That's what this word 'wrestle' means - sorry, that was too much for somebody down at the back, was it? Do you know what Jesus said? Listen: 'If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!'. If you are overcome by the enemy, you will be filled with darkness! Your spiritual eyesight will be nil, and that will effectively disqualify you for going on with God, and indeed even seeing the enemy coming at you. There are many professing Christians and they are not overcomers, they are completely overcome by evil, and by the evil one - and it's because they have never wrestled, and they have never learned to wrestle. All these other things that we have mentioned before about being seated, and about walking, and being filled and not grieving the Holy Spirit - that's a given - but they, in the battle, are completely trounced and trampled beneath.
Paul says in verse 10: 'Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might'. He tells us to put on the whole armour, and look at verse 13: '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' - and he starts talking about the pieces of armour. Do you see what God's will for you is? Listen: that you might stand in the face of the most hellish opposition imaginable, that you might stand; and when all the smoke and the fog of battle descends, and there are bodies and corpses lying all over the field, that you're still standing! That's God's will for you! Are you standing this morning or are you defeated? Are you overcome? Are you conquered? Jesus says: 'I want to make you more than a conqueror'. You don't even feel like you're in a war, you just feel like you're in a concentration camp, a prisoner of war camp, you've been taken captive, you've no control any more - well, the Lord is able to free you, the Lord is able to deliver you, He is able to transform you. You need to be honest, and here's the honest thing that needs to come out of your mouth: you need to confess your brokenness, you need to confess that you are overcome. You see, you need to come in line with truth, God's truth, about how things actually are in His sight. You see, you've got to own your sin, you've got to be real and transparent about it - because here's the good news for all of us who have been struggling in this Christian life for any length of time: you can't do it! Verse 10 says: 'Stand in the strength of the Lord' - His strength! There ain't anybody who's succeeding in the Christian life because they're a great fella or a great lassie - there is nobody - or they have got great characteristics, or they're nice - that doesn't happen. There are nice people, even Christians, but that's not why they're good Christians - that might be why they are 'good people', but to be a victorious, overcoming, conquering Christian: you can only do it by the strength of the Lord! Especially when all hell is unleashed upon you, the only way you will ever stand is in the strength of the Lord.
So you've got to then confess: 'I haven't got any strength of my own, Lord, I apologise, I repent in fact, of trying to find strength in myself, or in my habits, or even in other people. I repent of looking to weak elements, beggarly elements, weak power sources for my strength. Lord, I come empty and broken, and I look to You for Your strength - would You fill me with Your strength to fight this battle?'. Standing on the victory of Calvary, that's the only the only place to stand. We'll talk more about this tonight, and I think I'll close up in just a second or two - but we will talk about this: that the actual victory ground has already been given to us! Do you understand? We're not fighting for victory, we're fighting from the victory. The Captain of our salvation, the Lord Of Hosts, has actually given us the ground that we once were fighting for, perhaps, as human beings - but He has won the battle through His temptation, through trouncing the devil, like the Garden of Eden all in repetition again, Jesus has stood as the Last Adam and overcome the tempter. He has gone to the cross and paid for our sins, He has risen from the dead, and He gives us power over sin, and eternal life forever. He ascended to heaven, and the punchline of it all is: now that He has ascended on high, He has led captivity captive and given gifts to men - He has poured out His Holy Spirit, and now we can have His resurrection life to overcome the devil. We can stand in the strength of the Lord.
We'll leave the belt of truth for tonight, and maybe the breastplate of righteousness. Let me ask you before I go on any further: are you in the battle? Some of you might be convalescing in a medical hospital, you've been wounded, you've been hurt, maybe you've been badly maimed spiritually. Maybe you're AWOL - do you know what that is? Absent without leave! You're away flying your kite, thinking you can just enjoy yourself. Maybe you're professing to be a Christian, and your sins are forgiven, and you think 'This is great, isn't it! Wonderful! I can enjoy my materialism, and I can enjoy my friends and social life, and just know that I got a ticket to heaven should anything happen, but I hope nothing happens - but everything will be all right even if it did'. It's a sort of westernised, materialised Christianity, and you're not in the battle at all. Yet there are some of you here today, and you know you should be in the battle; or you're in the battle and you're overcome and you don't know why; and you're not experiencing the victory that you know other people have experienced, and you don't understand it - well, stay with us, will you? Stay with us in these sessions, but do something for me now if you would: would you just be honest with the Lord? That's the only thing we can give Him, really: just being honest. Would you say whatever you need to say: 'I'm beat, I'm trounced, I'm exhausted, I'm weary, I'm so discouraged, I'm overcome' - whatever, I'm not putting words in your mouth, you tell the Lord what you want to tell Him.
Maybe it has been friendly fire - you've heard of that? When soldiers shoot their own, it's usually accidental - but it's not in the church, it's usually deliberate. Somebody said, didn't they, that we are the only army that shoots their wounded. Would you pray with me just now - we're coming to the Table - but it's important that we allow the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to find a deep place within our hearts. Just be honest with the Lord, just where you're sitting, would you talk to the Lord? It would be good if you took it on your lips, I don't mean that your next door neighbour has to hear, just take it on your lips - it's good to be verbal in spiritual things, confession is with the mouth. Just say: 'Lord, here I am. I'm not hiding anything, I'm not trying to be something I know I'm not, and You know I'm not - but, Lord, You know that I'm struggling, and You know that the enemy has overcome me in this, that, or the other area. Lord, I just want to come, and I want to say that I don't have what it takes. I don't have the resources, I don't have any power or any strength of myself - but, Lord, I want to learn. I want to bring You my emptiness and my brokenness, and I want to humble myself' - that's a wonderful verse, 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'. As someone put it: 'He resists the proud, but He can't resist the humble'. I think that's lovely, it's not what it means, but it's nice - He can't resist humility.
Will you humble yourself before the Lord, and just say: 'Lord, please meet me'? Grace and truth come together, so if you're prepared to be truthful and be honest about your struggle, He will meet you with His grace. Now you've got to do what He's asking you to do. There's no passivity about it. He might say: 'Now, you need to stop this, and you need to start doing this', or whatever - He will give you the power to do that, but you have got to be prepared. Just be honest and say: 'Lord, thank You, Lord Jesus, that You died to defeat the devil. You died to pay for my sins. You died so that I would have power to overcome sin. You rose again so that You might live in me, and through me, by Your resurrection power. Lord, I admit my weakness, but I ask You for Your strength, Your Holy Spirit power, to stand in the battle; Your Holy Spirit resurrection power to put this armour on and overcome - and when all is said and done, to be still standing'. You engage with God about that now. Just talk to the Lord.
I'll just pray for you while you're talking: Lord, I ask that You will come now, You will really come upon people by Your Holy Spirit, that Your grace will be outpoured upon people who this moment are being honest, choosing to walk in the light, choosing not to hide from You, or when You reveal something be in denial about it, or duplicitous about it. Lord, for those who are meeting You on the ground of truth, and confessing their sins, and their weaknesses - thank You that You are faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse. Thank You that the blood of Jesus Christ goes on cleansing those who are honest about their sin. Lord, I pray that there will be a great cleansing work in the blood of Jesus today, but I pray that there will be an empowering work. Lord, would You meet these folk who are being honest with you about their weakness and sin, and would You infuse, would You infill, invigorate, enliven them with the very same power that raised You from the dead; the same power that filled those bones, and those sinews, and those muscles; the same power that caused You, Lord Jesus, to rise from that slab of stone, and to turn around and put one leg in front of the other and walk out of that grave. Lord Jesus, let that dynamic resurrection power flow even into our mortal bodies. Lord Jesus, as we come to this Table, let us discern Your body. We are Your body, but let us not remember You as dead, but One who died and rose again, and who is with us. We celebrate this feast in Your presence, Lord Jesus. Let us not see the signs Lord, and not You in the midst. Let us discern Your body, that we are saved by Your life, not just Your death. So come, Lord, liberate us, liberate us to worship You as we remember You now, in Your holy name. Amen.
Don't miss part 2 of Spiritual Warfare: "The Belt Of Truth and The Breastplate Of Righteousness"
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This sermon was delivered at Ards Evangelical Church in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the first recording in his 'Spiritual Warfare' series, entitled "There Is A War On!" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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