Playground or Battlefield Ephesians 6:10-14
In his book, Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes, "There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. "Then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons, but the instructor wanted $5 a lesson. That was a lot of money. I found that it was cheaper to pay the bully, so I gave up karate."
Too many Christians believe it’s easier to pay the bully than learn how to defeat him. Might I add that many Christians, don’t realize they are living on a BATTLEFIELD and not a PLAYGROUND!
1. Do you remember the hymn, ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS? It goes like this…
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle see his banners go!
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee; on then, Christian soldiers, on to victory! Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise; brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God; brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod. We are not divided, all one body we, one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
One thing is for sure: We are SOLDIERS in the Army of Jesus Christ.
The ENEMY? Well, there’s a 3-fold assault going on against us.
The WORLD, the FLESH, and the DEVIL. We have our own FLESH wanting our old life back. We have the WORLD trying to drag us back. And we have the DEVIL making sure it all goes according to plan! It’s incredible, but our FLESH, our old nature, FIGHTS against the Spirit of God, against the things of God in our life!
Gal. 5.17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
This carnal shell, that gets exhausted & sick, that battles fears & insecurities, that lacks faith & physical strength…
It can be like an anchor dragging us down & away. Some of you didn’t want to be in church today. You woke up, thought about it, and actually considered skipping out. Some of you didn’t feel like reading your Bible this week. Some of you didn’t feel like praying. WHY? Your old person (your flesh), pulled you down.
Romans 8.22-23 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
But the fight rages… If it’s not your flesh, it’s this world system. We are fighting against our old nature… and this world. It’s not the physical globe, but this society, this system that is separated from God. The world system and all it’s trappings are our enemies.
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. This WORLD SYSTEM is one big distracting temptation!
We’re bombarded with PICTURES & PRODUCTS, there are ADVERTISEMENTS & ENTICEMENTS, no rules, anything goes, satisfy yourself, and don’t worry about the consequences. They make it look so good too…
BEER: They show the happy men and women on the beach playing volleyball… not the 1000’s of families affected by the drunken drivers.
FREE SEX: Oh, it’s ok, have sex with anyone you want. They don’t show the babies being aborted, the guilt, the pain, the 40 new STD’s each year, they don’t even mention AIDS…
I think we forget, no, I know we forget that this world is teaching us things all of the time… world’s novels, world’s TV shows, soap operas, world’s movies, world’s music, the worlds’ stuff… They are looking for fresh new students all of the time!
FOR SURE this world is tempting… It’s appears to be so much more easier, so much more happier, so much MORE without God!
NOW: If we’re not batting our FLESH, or the WORLD… well there’s the PUPPET MASTER Satan Himself pulling all the strings. · The Accuser of the Brethren, the Tempter, the Destroyer
It’s AMAZING but true… Many people DO NOT BELIEVE in Satan.
According to a 1999 Gallup Poll, more than 86% of Americans believed that there is a God. Some polls have that as high as 95%.
But only 63% of American’s believe there is a devil. And he likes it that way!
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO is watch the news on any given evening and count up the number of depraved, horrible, and sickening things that man will do to his fellow man.
There are acts among humans that are SO EVIL that they span beyond the ability of man… Gross things, sick things… EVIL. Men flying fully loaded planes into the WTC… that’s demonic. Hitler trying to destroy an entire race of people… demonic. Kidnappers, Rapists, child porn… straight from the pit of hell!
Yes there’s a devil all right and he’s determined to destroy! He’ll fight, he’ll gnaw, he’ll scratch, he’ll pull out all the stops in trying to keep you from growing.
NOW: You’ve probably heard it said that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. THAT’S TRUE and ENCOURAGING!
But at the same time, Satan hates you, and has a HORRIBLE plan for your life. He wants to DISTRACT, DISRUPT, and ultimately DESTROY you. He wants you as a Christian to be weak, feeble, & ineffective. He doesn’t want you relying on Jesus or in church, or reading your Bible, or reaching others with the gospel. He wants your marriages ruined, your kids shattered, and you he’ll take as miserable & depressed. Anything & Everything BUT growing strong spiritually!
YES… we’re engaged in a spiritual war… a serious battle. Think back to before you were a Christian. Satan was not opposed to you at all. You were no threat, no danger to his plans.
THEN YOU chose sides, you committed your life to Jesus Christ. We know on that day, you became a part of the family of God. And by doing that, you DECLARED WAR… But on that day, you also enlisted as a soldier of Jesus Christ. Paul told young Timothy…
1 Timothy 6.12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
The spiritual war we are involved in is a GOOD FIGHT. IT’s worth every ounce of energy you can muster up. WHY? Because the salvation of souls is at stake. Because despite the attacks… people are still getting saved!
As Paul winds down his letter, he exhorts us, encourages us, commands us as believers to be strong in the Lord. Don’t be strong in your opinions. Don’t be strong in your experiences. Don’t be strong in your bank account, or your career, or your knowledge… BE STRONG IN THE LORD!
THIS WEEK may have been an unprecedented week of spiritual warfare for many of you. You’ve seen stuff that has been overwhelming. Maybe it’s not a week for you but a month, a year, many years. You’ve made a decision to follow the Lord, to live righteously. And you, like Joshua, are being told to be strong…
Josh 1.7 "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.
Be strong, so you can obey all the Words of the Lord. It’s not easy to obey. Especially as all the forces of your flesh, all the temptations of this world, and all the accusations of the enemy are coming in hard on you.
Any time you decide to take a stand for Jesus and want to grow in Him, grow closer to Him… You can EXPECT an all-out assault upon your life! It goes with the territory. But consider this… Heavy spiritual warfare and spiritual attacks are signs that you are on the right track!
If you were a sideline Christian, not really interested in spiritual things then you are right where Satan wants you. He won’t hassle you too much or bother you… BUT ONCE YOU TAKE A STRONG STAND TO OBEY… Then he’ll unleash a full frontal assault upon your life! And so, Paul says… stand strong in the power of His might!
BE COVERED Put on the WHOLE ARMOR of God.
Any good soldier will tell you that’s it’s essential to have the right battle gear. Have the wrong gear, and you’re destined for failure. SO Here Paul says not only is our STRENGTH from the Lord. But so are our STRATEGIES, our Equipment.
We can’t go out into the BATTLEFIELD thinking we can win this thing on our own… with our own might and our own methods. WHY? The enemy is stronger than we are! He’s not only stronger, but smarter! That word wiles is the Greek word “methodeia” We get our word ‘methods’ from that word.
Satan has his methods, his plots, his schemes… 1 Peter 5.8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I find that there are 2 prevailing thoughts about the devil.
#1 – Christians UNDERESTIMATE him. They think he’s not all that powerful or pervasive and fall right into his traps. Oh that movie won’t hurt. That drink won’t kill me. That isn’t that big of a deal. DON’T JUDGE ME! Or you’ll hear a person take on the devil like he’s some guy you can fight on the street. C’mon Satan, I rebuke you, I bind you, I throw you into the pit of hell. C’mon… put up your dukes!
Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Hey… the devil is no cartoon character. He’s a powerful and intelligent spiritual being… a prize fighter, a master deceiver… Many have fallen to his schemes & devices. MANY…
#2 – On the other hand many Christians OVERESTIMATE him. Even though he is powerful, he’s not ALL-POWERFUL. Even though he’s cunning, he’s not ALL-KNOWING. As a matter of fact, he’s NO match or equal to Jesus Christ! He wants us to think he is and try to fool us that way... Not so… stand strong in the lord, and put on the full armor.
Whatever battle you’re in, whatever temptation you face, God will give you the ability to withstand & overcome it. I hear too many Christians saying that the temptation was simply too much, oh it was way too much so I gave in and went for it! I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t stand the pressure…Better take a look at
1 Cor. 10.13:
God knows exactly what your breaking point is… AND he always provides THE WAY of ESCAPE! Be strong IN THE LORD… Put on the full armor OF THE LORD.
You can see now how important it is to be connected to Jesus Christ, to be continually living in communion & closeness with Him. This is an area where many Christians fall: NOT abiding in Jesus.
Make sure you put on the WHOLE ARMOR…Don’t leave any piece off.
· WHY… well look at who we’re wrestling…
Be Strong, Be Covered…BE AWARE
We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. The world wrestle, means hand to hand combat. In the Greek games, if someone lost a wrestling match, they would have their eyes gouged out. Paul is definitely describing a serious fight. It’s interesting who we’re not fighting… Other people.
Any time I’m striving against people, struggling with others, I’m fighting the wrong battle! If you’re fighting your boss, or arguing with your wife, battling your husband, struggling with your kids… You’re fighting the wrong battle.
Don’t get sidetracked with fighting against people. Problems with neighbors, and bosses, and other drivers… There are spiritual forces at work that are used to aggravate the situations and escalate them out of proportion. Before you know it, there’s road rage, and spiritual disaster!
Now our fight is against a well-organized and systematic hoard of demons… Theologians point out that Paul is describing the different ORDERS & RANKINGS of the demonic realm. Satan has his privates, corporals, his sergeants… He can only be at one place at a time so he sends his demons.
There are different demons responsible for different things. SO BE STRONG… BE COVERED… BE AWARE.