This week, we continue our message series entitled, “The Fight” where we’re learning about spiritual warfare.
So far, we’ve learned about how to truly identify our enemy in this fight as well as how to best choose our allies to fight with us. Since God is always the leader of the winning team, we want to learn and train from Him to be certain of our ultimate victory. This week, we continue on the practical side of this fight as we learn about the arsenal of weapons which are available to us.
If you ever look for resources on these weapons, you’ll likely be directed to the armor of God revealed in Ephesians chapter six and learn all about them. Though there is nothing wrong with this by any means, I certainly wouldn’t consider a helmet to be a weapon unless I get painfully desperate in battle! These items are nearly all defensive in nature to guard us from the various attacks of our enemy and not exactly weapons. Although they say that the best offense is a good defense, we’re still going to focus this morning on the offensive strategies that God has given us to fight the battles which we face. No matter the fight, you can handle it!
* I Can Handle It Video *
The victory is ours if we are we ready for the fight? We can handle whatever the enemy may throw at us! I heard it said recently that we don’t fight FOR the victory, we fight FROM the victory. Jesus declared the war to be won from the cross by proclaiming, “It is finished.”
The very first thing that we quickly learn from a study of victories found throughout the Bible is that the ways in which we fight our battles and gain those victories are far from how we would normally fight on our own. Not only do we win the victory with strategies that we normally would never think of, but we also rarely ever see the same strategy used more than once. If we are to win the victory in our battle, then it is critically important to use the very first weapon of warfare: prayer.
Prayer is not just speaking at God, it is conversing with Him. It is having a dialog with Him where we ask our questions, give our pleas, share our hearts, and then listen to His responses. If any one of the battles that we find in the Bible happened without prayer and listening to God’s voice, then they would have never been victorious. After all, who would every do some of these in order to win a war?
Exodus 14: Walk across the sea on dry ground and watching the Egyptians drown
Exodus 17: Holding Moses’ hands in the air
Numbers 21: Simply promising to fight the Canaanites
Joshua 6: Marching, blowing horns, and shouting around Jericho for a week
Joshua 7-8: Punishing a thief who stole a robe and some silver and gold in battle
Joshua 10: A hailstorm while the sun remained out a full extra day (leap year!) against Ai
Joshua 10: Confusion caused within the Gibeonites
Judges: Simply obeying God in their everyday lives would win or lose their battles
Judges 7: Being noisy with trumpets and clay pots around the Midianites
Judges 13: Long hair, tying 300 foxes’ tails together with torches, a jawbone only, and literally crashing their party all against the Philistines
1 Samuel 13: Making a sacrifice to God, well if Saul had allowed Samuel to do it
1 Samuel 14: An earthquake against the Philistines
1 Samuel 17: Five smooth stones and a sling defeated Goliath
2 Kings 3: An optical illusion where water looked like blood early in the morning against the Moabites
2 Chronicles 20: Singing praises ahead of the army destroyed the Ammonites and Moabites
The list goes on and on and on. Then, there is Jesus and the ways in which He healed people; defeating the kingdom of darkness and the demonic and He rarely ever used the same strategy twice! From stretching out a crippled hand to spitting in the dirt and rubbing mud in a blind man’s eyes to casting out demons to sticking His fingers in a deaf man’s ears to telling a paralytic to get up and walk to the laying on of hands to simply saying that it was done, Jesus was victorious over sickness and disease every single time!
God’s point in all of this isn’t that He is insane or illogical. The point which God is making is that for us to have victory in our battles, we must have a relationship with Him. Through prayer, we need to speak with Him and listen to Him continuously. God will give us specific strategies for our specific battle. He will guide and direct us at just the right time. Jesus is our commanding officer and we must be sensitive to hear and obey His voice.
This is so critically important that Jesus died and rose again not only to pay the cost of our sins, but so that He could send the Holy Spirit so that we might be able to communicate directly, discretely, and constantly with Him through prayer. Even if we don’t know what we should pray for, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us so that God’s will is done.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
Prayer is not only a means of communicating with God, prayer is a weapon. After Paul tells us to stand firm in this fight and tells us about the armor of God which we are to keep on, he asks us to spring into action. These verses are not often included when we’re taught about the armor of God, but after we get that armor on, the first thing that we need to do is to: PRAY!
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 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 Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Pray, pray, pray! Pray on all occasions, when things are good, when things are blah and when things are awful. Pray all kinds of prayers: private prayers, corporate prayers, warring prayers, quiet prayers, prayer in the Spirit and prayers in human language, prayers of faith, prayers of dedication, prayers of petition, prayers of praise, prayers of complaint, prayers of joy, prayers of anger. Pray, pray pray!
Pray all kinds of requests, for healing, deliverance, salvation, safety, peace, provision, vindication, strength, faith, direction, whatever is needed. Pray requests that God raise up leaders and send out evangelists and apostles and missionaries into the harvest fields. Pray requests of boldness for our brothers and sisters in Christ being persecuted for their faith. Pray requests that God would raise up prophets and pastors and teachers to equip us for every good work. Pray that we would see the opportunities around us and take full advantage of each one. Pray, pray, pray!
Don’t worry about what to say or how to say it. Just talk to God like you’d talk to a good friend. Laugh together in prayer, cry together in prayer, share thoughts and ideas and needs together in prayer. Jude 1 and 1 Corinthians 14 teach us the importance of also praying in tongues; how it edifies us and builds up our faith. Pray on all occasions. Pray all kinds of prayers. Pray all kinds of requests. Pray, pray, pray!
Things change when we pray! Though this messes with my mind to think about, even God, Himself has changed His mind when people prayed and interceded on behalf of others. Prayer is not only communication with the God of all of the universe, it is a weapon in the hand of a Christian soldier! Prayer changes atmospheres, it changes people’s hearts, it changes people’s minds, it sets the angelic warriors in motion in the spiritual realms around us, but most of all, it changes us.
In Daniel chapter 10, we read that the moment that Daniel began praying, an angel was sent to deliver him his answer. However, that angel was held up and delayed before being able to get to Daniel. A simple prayer of intercession from a simple man caused a great battle in the highest ranks of the spiritual realms! Prayer is a weapon for you, mighty warrior!
Though prayer is one of the most important weapon available to us, what other weapons do we have in our arsenal to win the fight against our enemies?
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
The battles which we fight almost always begin in our minds. In fact, our minds are the most active battle field in the war waged against us. Why? Well, our thoughts, our mindsets, and our perspectives filter everything in our lives and set the course for how we respond to everything in life. We call this our world-view. If our mind can be set about something or someone, then whoever set that thought now has complete control over us in that area from that time on.
For example, let’s consider what would happen if I say, “Bob is a swindler and can’t be trusted.” If you believe that, then from this point forward, you will filter everything that Bob does and says and everything that you hear about him through that lens. Even when he works hard and does nothing but good, his motive will always be wrong in your mind. When you speak about Bob, it will be words tainted by that distrust. This thought will quickly spread all over to countless people and Bob will have a very difficult time overcoming that mindset about him.
It all begins with a single thought. Consider how the devil tempted mankind to sin in the first place. It was a simple question, “Did God really say that?” That is all that the devil had to do. Pose one simple question, then sliver on away and watch the mind’s logical way of thinking take care of the rest. Not all of our thoughts are our own! Sometimes our thoughts are the very voice of God speaking to us. Sometimes our thoughts are people who have spoken into our lives. Sometimes our thoughts are our own imaginations. Sometimes our thoughts are the voice of our very enemy, the devil, himself.
Our thought life is where our arsenal of weapons exist. The first and foremost weapon that we have in these fights is none other than the word of God. In Ephesians 6 where Paul explains the armor of God to us, we find that the only offensive weapon that is revealed in that armor is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.
Interesting, the armor of God has no rear guard. I’ve often heard it said that this is because God, Himself is our rear guard as prophesied in Isaiah. I believe that it is also because we can’t go back and fight the battles of yesterday. If we can’t go back to revisit those battles, then we need no protection from them. The only defense and protection that we need are for the battles which we fight today and the ones which lie ahead of us tomorrow.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will
Demolishing strongholds that our enemy has on us takes place by allowing God to renew and transform our mind to think the way He thinks and to perceive things as He sees them to be. This takes place by taking every thought captive, interrogating it, and making sure that it is in agreement with God’s word. If that thought is not in agreement with God’s word, then we demolish it and throw it out. If is in agreement, we allow it to take root in our lives and grow and produce fruit.
These attacks that come at us of often attacks directly against our identity and our giftings or that of someone else. If Bob’s God-given strengths are that he is a trustworthy hard worker, then of course, his enemy is going to want everyone to doubt that. Otherwise, Bob will be an unstoppable force for God’s Kingdom as he embraces who he is and walks out his calling in life. Bob’s enemy knows that he simply must be stopped!
Think about how the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness. The devil tempted the living word of God by quoting the word of God. The devil tempted the bread of life with bread. The devil tempted Jesus to lay down His life at the temple; to fulfill the very purpose for which He came. The devil tempted the King of Kings by offering Him authority over all the kingdoms of the earth. All of these were half-truths and shortcuts to the Father’s actual plans and purposes for Jesus.
Think about that for a while and let that sink in. Think about the ways that you have been attacked in your past. There’s a good chance that those attacks were striking at your God-given identity and purpose. The devil didn’t attack Jesus for being so downtrodden, though the Bible says that He was a man familiar with sorrow and suffering. The devil didn’t attack Jesus for not spending enough time serving people, though He did walk away from the needs of the crowds often. The devil went straight after the core of who Jesus was and the Father’s purposes for His life.
The enemy doesn’t mess around, he gets right to the point because he knows that his time is short! One of the common responses that demons gave to Jesus was questioning why He was there before the appointed time for their torture. They know that their time is short and they’ll attack us any way that they can. We, created in God’s image. We, given an opportunity for salvation that they will never receive. We, the ones with free will to worship either the Creator or the creation. We who choose to live by faith and walk in God’s plans for our lives are the most despised and hated by the kingdom of darkness. We who snatch people out of their claws and set them free from their bondage and oppression by the weapon of God’s word.
We must use the weapon of God’s word and train ourselves in it. We need to read it, memorize it, meditate on it, and strive to understand it thoroughly and apply it correctly if we are to win any victories in the fights that we face. It is God’s word that must trump all other thoughts and perceptions that we possess. It is God’s word that must renew and transform our minds so that we can understand God and His will. It was God’s word that Jesus used to win the victory over the various attacks of the devil in the wilderness.
Paul wrote to Timothy:
1 Timothy 4:7-9
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.
We all know how difficult it can be to commit to physical training. Sure, we have good intentions of working out or going to the gym, but we find every excuse to put it off. However, the times that we do our physical training? We never regret it and feel awesome for having done it!
According to a Washington Post article, a case study was performed on a Planet Fitness gym. Their membership is only $10/month, which is unbelievably reasonable for access to all of that expensive equipment. One of their gyms had 6,000 members signed up.
The problem? The gym’s capacity is only 300. How does this work? Well, obviously not everyone visits the gym at the same time during the day nor the same day of the week. More importantly to making this work, however, is the fact that not even half of its members ever visit the gym! Can you imagine a business model designed on the fact that you actually want customers who never step foot in your business?
If our enemy wants us to be lazy and out-of-shape physically, think of how badly he wants us to be lazy and out-of-shape spiritually! Like Paul said, physical training is of some value, but spiritual training gives us promise well after this body returns to the dust of the earth! If we think that prayer and God’s word aren’t all that big of a deal to our enemy, just try to commit yourself to training to use them. Set apart a time every day that you’ll spend in prayer and in the word. Watch as the enemy throws everything at you to steal, kill, and destroy that time. He’s scared of you!
Prayer and God’s word, the sword of the Spirit. These are the two most important weapons that we can wield to begin winning victories in the fight. We would be wise to allow God to train our fingers for battle using these two weapons. Join us next week as we learn about several other weapons that may actually surprise you as we don’t often think of them that way!