Last week, we continued our message series entitled, “The Fight” where we’re learning about spiritual warfare. We learned that when we choose to follow God’s plan for our lives, life doesn’t become a smooth-sailing highway of rainbows and sunshine, but that rather, a fight begins. We learned so far how to use discernment to identify our true enemy as to fight the battle that is being waged against us successfully. More often than not, our battle is not against flesh and blood people, but rather against the devil himself as revealed in Ephesians 6. That’s why Jesus taught us to love our enemies and those who persecute us, because in those instances, those people never truly were our enemy!
Though the fight may be intense, the victory is worth the fight! Your marriage is worth the fight, your freedom is worth the fight, your family is worth the fight, your healing is worth the fight, your community is worth the fight, your destiny is worth the fight! If we find ourselves fighting the same fights over and over again, there is a very good chance that we’re fighting the wrong person.
We know that Jesus has ensured our certain victory. We simply must stand firm and persevere until the fight is won. We need to keep this in mind as to not grow weary and give up in the middle of our fight. It’s like that common quote which says, “The devil whispers, ‘You can’t withstand the storm.’ The warrior replies, ‘I am the storm!'”
We have been empowered to overcome all obstacles in life and to rise above every attack of the enemy. We are on a rescue mission sent out into the world to release prisoners from their captivity, those held captive to do the will of the devil (2 Timothy 2:26). Yes, there are evil people out there intentional about their attacks who need rebuked and corrected. However, there are far more people out there who are captives and in desperate need of freedom! Correcting and rebuking a prisoner of war will never lead to their release, it will only further their bondage.
This morning, we’re moving on to learn some practical tips on how to ensure our victory. Perhaps even more important for us to identify the enemy is for us to:
– Identify our allies
Who is for us? There were a few times in the Bible when people had the awesome opportunity to see into the spiritual realm around us. Though it makes most of us a bit uncomfortable, it can be reassuring to know that we’re not alone in our struggles and that God is certainly with us and for us! Take this account into consideration, for example.
2 Kings 6:8-17
8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
9 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
God not only allowed Elisha in on the secret plans of his enemy, but He also fought on his behalf. What a reassurance! Just when this man became overwhelmed with fear and doubt, God allows him to see into the spiritual realms and understand his true reality. They were far from outnumbered and everything was going to be OK for them. In fact, that army that had them surrounded was struck blind, lead away to Samaria, and then their sight re-enabled. No one died that day, neither enemy nor foe.
Our allies are ones who join together with us in the fight. When we grow weary, we can tag our ally and have them fight with us. When we stumble and fall, they can pick us back up. When we feel all alone, they can embrace us and remind us that we are far from alone in this fight.
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
We need each other! In fact, it was God’s design that this would be the case. No one ever goes into battle alone realistically expecting to win the victory. Even a boxer who appears to fight alone has an entire team of people behind them backing them up, supporting them, and preparing them for the fight long before they ever step into the ring. In our war against the kingdom of darkness, we need to have each other’s backs if we are ever going to receive the victory in our fight!
Another instance in mankind’s history when they were able to see into the spiritual realms around us drive home the true key to success in this fight. We’ve all heard the story about Joshua and the battle of Jericho. We’ve learned that it was their obedience to God in marching around the city blasting their trumpets for a week brought their success. However, we often miss these few verses prior to that fight chapter that give us further insight into what truly brought them their success.
13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
If we want success in our fight, then we would be wise to view things as the commander of the army of the Lord viewed Jericho. He was on the side of the Lord and not the Israelites nor the inhabitants of Jericho. Find people who will refuse to take sides and will only side with Jesus. Find people around you who will fight not on the side of the husband or the wife, but for your marriage. Find people who will fight not on the side of the mother or father, but for your child. Find people who will fight not on the side against a friend or coworker, but for reconciliation. Find people who care only to take the side of the Lord in all matters.
After all, in my experiences, simply laying blame on someone has never once, that’s right never one single time ever, won a fight! Saying, “It’s all your fault!” has never once solved any problem. Even, “The devil made me do it!” is never true and never justifies our actions. If change is to ever take place, I have to begin by accepting responsibility for my own actions and my own choices in response to circumstances.
Instead of just blaming, work together to find solutions. Yes, it is important to identify issues that need dealt with, but both identifying and resolving issues needs to be done objectively and cooperatively. You’re on the same team fighting the same enemy and you all need to make changes in order to gain the victory in this fight!
Find followers of Jesus who will speak His words of truth and life into your circumstances. Find spiritually mature Christians who can help you develop strategies into how to gain your victory. Find people who respond to circumstances maturely and follow their example. Stay away from immature people who threaten others, bite, and gossip. Stay away from people who take threaten to “take their ball and go home” as soon as they don’t get their way. Instead, find steadfast people who stay on the course set by the Lord for their lives especially in the midst of hardship.
Find people who will keep you walking in the light of God’s word and following His path for your life. Allow God’s voice to drown out all of the people telling you what you want to hear and who point what appear to be easy ways out of the fight that you are in. Find coaches who will spur you on to be more than you think you can be and to rise up in the fight. Find cheerleaders who will love and support you and pick you back up when you do stumble and fall. All of this is exactly what church is all about! We need each other!
Let’s get ourselves on God’s side, a certain winning team! If we’re on the side of Jesus, then we will be victorious in every fight as long as we don’t give up!
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Now as we discussed last week, being on God’s side doesn’t mean that there won’t be struggles, in fact, it usually means that there will be. We talked about several people and how it was the time that they decided to team up with God, to live out His plans and purposes for their lives that the fight began. After all of the suffering that Joseph experienced and wrongfully so, how did he respond to it all?
14 After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Joseph chose to team up with God and to trust Him. Even though he could have rightly been angry and embittered and vengeful for all that he had been put through, he chose mercy. From his perspective, he had given his life over to God and even when God allowed evil people to do wicked things to him, he knew that God would ultimately work it out for his good. In fact, Joseph said God used their harm not only for Joseph’s good, but also to save many lives. What if we chose to view the evil done to us in this way? No one and nothing could ever steal our peace!
12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Being on God’s team means that we will ultimately triumph and reign victorious over all that rises up against us. In our minds, those who cause us pain and suffering should be put through pain and suffering in return. Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. We withhold forgiveness from people wanting them to hurt. In reality, these chosen perspectives only team us up with Satan and the only lives that suffer and hurt are our own. It’s like holding onto a red hot iron and expecting them to burn; like drinking poison and expecting them to become ill.
In all reality, it is mercy that triumphs over judgment. It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11). If we want to stand in the freedom and mercy of our great God, then we must show mercy and forgiveness to others. God takes personally the way that we treat others.
We often pray the Lord’s prayer, but rarely go on the next few verses that Jesus said.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
If we want to truly walk in freedom and victory, then we must leave vengeance in the hands of God. We can’t steal vengeance from God and expect His blessing and for Him to fight on our behalf.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Teaming up with God may mean that we suffer at the hands of wicked people for seasons of life. However, I’ve never once seen it happen when someone returns evil for evil and walks away with a clear conscience and freedom in life. Murdering a murderer out of rage and vengeance doesn’t make us innocent of shed blood. Even as God told Cain:
Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
In this fight, rise above. Rule over the sin and temptation that try to overtake you! Do what is right even when others wrong you. Allow God to bring on the consequences in their lives for their decisions, but do not take His place.
Once we’ve defined our allies, Jesus first then other Christians alongside of us, what’s the next step to victory? Well, join us next week and learn about the arsenal of weapons that you have at your disposal!