Guarding Your Heart # 3“Battle for the Heart”

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In the promotional trailers of the movie Lord of the Rings, three phrases flash across the screen: Fate has chosen him; The Fellowship will protect him; Evil will hunt him. These three statements describe some of the key principles of following Christ. We are called and chosen by God. He places us in a body of believers who fight for our success, and we have a real enemy who is striving to destroy our lives. In this message, our focus is on the battle for the heart.

In a book entitled The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority: Getting an Upper Hand on the Underworld, Dr. Adrian Rogers, writes: “We may think our enemy is flesh and blood. But the true enemy is not the government or the Republicans or Democrats, your wife or your wife’s family, or your boss. Your enemy is not the pornographer, the liquor baron, or the drug pusher. They are only victims of our common enemy. The reason that so many times we don’t win the battle is that we never show up for the war! We are not wrestling against flesh and blood! The enemy is a spiritual foe, and the battle is a spiritual battle.”

As with an battle, in order to be successful, we need a strategy.


            1. it is time to show up for battle, and our battle strategy begins by recognizing our enemy
            2. the Bible says that Jesus saw Satan fall from heaven (Luke 10:19)
                1. in these words, Jesus meant “While you were expelling the demons (v. 18) I was seeing the Satan fall
            3. Jesus understood that a cosmic spiritual battle is taking place around us
                1. when Peter tried to convince Jesus to avoid going to Jerusalem where he would suffer for the sins of the world, Jesus rebuked Peter by saying, “Get behind me Satan”
                2. Jesus saw a greater force working behind the scenes, but very few Christians live like that
            4. we are so consumed with what we can see and touch that we rarely consider the instruction of Paul who challenged the saints “to see the unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18)


    • “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NIV)
    • ILLUS. When I was growing up, a popular black comedian named Flip Wilson, entertained audiences with his imitation of a loud, brassy, preacher’s wife named Geraldine. She wasn’t really bad, but she always seemed to find herself in questionable circumstances. As she recounted her escapades to the audience there would be that slight pause, then she would smile and sing out in that high-pitched voice, “The devil made me do it.” (WATCH CLIP)
            1. well, that’s good entertainment, but really bad theology
                1. I hope you all know that the devil can’t make you do anything
                2. but Satan is the power behind evil spiritual forces that war against our soul and tempt us
                  • “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:11–12, NIV)
            2. these spiritual powers are our great enemy
                1. but too many believers go through life unaware who their enemy is and that they are engaged in a spiritual warfare
                  • ILLUS. At the outbreak of World War 1, the British War Ministry despatched a coded message to officials in one of its remote African Colonies. The message said, “War Declared! Arrest all enemy aliens in your district.” The next day the War Ministry received a reply from the governor of the colony. It read: “Have arrested ten Germans, six Dutch, four French, two Italians, three Austrians, and one American. Please advise immediately who we are at war with!”
            3. Christians are in a state of war, but many do now know or understand who the enemy truly is
                1. the first step in our spiritual warfare is clearly identifying the enemy
                2. this morning, you must understand that the great antagonist of your life is Satan and you are in the midst of spiritual warfare with him
                3. to live in ignorance of spiritual warfare is the most naïve and dangerous thing a person can do
                    1. it’s like skipping through the worst part of town waving your wallet above your head
                    2. it’s like walking into an al-Quaida training camp wearing an I Love the United States T-shirt
                    3. it’s like swimming with sharks, dressed as a wounded sea lion smeared with blood
            4. the Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians that Satan is the leader of a great demonic conspiracy that seeks to undermine the believer’s walk with Christ and stymie the advancement of God’s Kingdom in this world
            5. the Bible describes Satan as: a liar, thief, an accuser of the brethren, a murderer, a roaring lion that devours, a deceptive angel of light, the author of confusion, a false teacher, and an enemy of the cross
                1. we are engaged in a cosmic battle
                    1. the church is not a cruise ship sailing for heaven
                    2. we are not invited to ride the gospel showboat that entertains the saints with the Sunday morning ‘floor show’
                    3. we are called to serve on a battleship that destroys strongholds and delivers the gospel to those living in darkness
            6. 6. Strategy #1: Know Who the Adversary is


            1. Jesus declared in verse nineteen, “Look, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy.”
                1. in God’s original design, man was given authority or dominion over all creation, but man forfeited that authority because of sin
                2. now, through Jesus Christ the authority that God designed for His followers has been restored
                3. we possess authority over Satan and the forces of evil


            1. Satan is a power force
                1. He is in rebellion against God
                2. He is at war with Christ’s Church
                3. He is on the prowl against God’s people
            2. he is a master craftsman of evil who plots destruction of the lost and demoralization of the saved
                1. in his warfare against God, Satan uses the human race
                2. when the Apostle Paul warns us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rules, against eh authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, he is reminding us that the evil spiritual powers of Satan are frequently behind the political powers which control the agendas of the world’s nations
            3. our spiritual battles frequently come in the camouflage of choices
                1. you and I face choices—significant choices—almost every day
                    1. Abraham was faced with the terrible decision of choosing between obedience to God and love for his only son, Isaac
                    2. Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego were faced with the choice of serving an earthly king or their God
                    3. the Apostle Paul had the choice of living a life of ease, power and influence by remaining loyal to the traditions of the Jew, or following Christ
                    4. Southern Baptist’s own Lottie Moon had the choice of the comforts of Virginia aristocracy or the privation of the mission fields of China
                2. these men and women were all faced with choices
                    1. choices that would affect their lives and the lives of others
                    2. whether-or-not they knew it at the time, each of those choices represented a spiritual battle
            4. despite Satan’s animosity for the things of God and the people of God, believers can stand with authority against the devil
              • "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19, NIV)
                1. Christ has give us authority to trample on ... all the power of the enemy
                2. sometimes we struggle with this doctrinal truth because we don’t feel like we have authority
                    1. we also fail to recognize the power to resist the devil is not found unless and until you first submit yourselves ... to God
                    2. Jesus promised that we have authority over Satan
                      • ILLUS. Just as a referee has authority in a football game to limit the activities of the players on the field, we can limit Satan’s influence in our life. Referees are not more powerful than the players. Professional football players often exceed 300lbs. Linebackers weighing 250lbs run with the speed of a wide receiver and hit like freight trains. But, these behemoths in helmets will stop and back up when the little man in the striped shirt blows a whistle or throws a yellow flag.
                3. we should not try to compete with Satan according to strength
                    1. his legions of demons and spiritual forces are stronger than our flesh
                    2. therefore, we do not wage war with weapons of the flesh but through God
                      • “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NIV)
            5. Strategy #2: Stand With Authority—the authority of the Son of God


            1. a critical element of standing with authority is to surrender our ability
                1. Jesus said the truth about spiritual authority has been hidden from wise men and revealed to infants
                  • “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (Luke 10:21, NIV)
                2. translation? A child in the arms of God is mightier than the armies of world


            1. Spiritual Weapon #1—Obedience to Christ
                1. when we are obedient, we are invincible
                  • “All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: ... The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.” (Deuteronomy 28:2; 7, NIV)
            2. Spiritual Weapon #2—The Whole Armor of God
                1. no soldier would think of going into battle unarmed, untrained, and ill-equipped
                2. but how many believers face each day and the choices the day brings without preparation for the spiritual battles that are sure to come their way
                  • “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13–17, NIV)
            3. Spiritual Weapon #3—Spiritual Courage
              • “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NIV)
              • ILLUS. Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a pastor who was talking to a class of boys and girls during Vacation Bible School. He was talking to them about temptation and he asked a young boy what he did when he was tempted. The boy replied, “Well, when I hear Satan come knocking at the door of my heart, I just say to the Lord Jesus who lives within my heart, ‘Lord Jesus, will you please go see who’s at the door?’ And then, when the Lord Jesus opens the door, Satan always runs away and says, ‘Oh! Excuse me, I have made a mistake—I’m at the wrong door!’”
            4. Spiritual Weapon #4—Be a Prayer Warrior
              • “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)
                1. the Apostle Paul reminds us that the way we put on the armor of God is by prayer in the Spirit, done on all occasions and with all kinds of prayers
                2. it is prayer that keeps us spiritually alert to the Devil and his snares
            5. Spiritual Weapon #5—Be about Kingdom Work
              • ILLUS. An old adage says, “Idle hands are the Devils workshop.” Christian comedian Grady Nutt used to say that when he was growing up, his parents had him in church so much that he didn’t have time to sin.
                1. there is some truth to that—when we are busy do God’s work whether it’s Studying God’s Word, or Praying in the Spirit, or Fellowshiping with the Saints, or Ministering to Others—it’s more difficult to fall into the Devil’s snares!

A few years ago, I saw a witticism on a t-Shirt that expressed a spiritual truth. It was a take-off of a line from the Lord’s Prayer. It read: “Lead me not into temptation, I can find it for myself.” How true that statement is.

Every day there is a battle going on for the heart of the believer, which of course, is why we need to guard our hearts. The battle can be won when we surrender our own ability, and stand with authority—the authority of Christ—against our most potent adversary who is the Devil.

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