It is a warfare that begins when we are born again and continues on in the life of every Christian…[See Eph. 6:10.] The Scripture tells you right here that spiritual warfare is first and primarily against the forces of darkness, against Satan and against satanic powers, but that is not all that is involved in spiritual warfare. We first have to recognize the fact of spiritual warfare…Not to worry—God will get your attention. There is such a thing as spiritual conflict.
We are born into the world in conflict, in conflict against the world. We will live in that conflict, and we will die in that conflict unless Jesus Christ returns within our lifetime. The Scripture clearly teaches us that there is such a thing as spiritual war. 2 Cor. 10 says the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but they have divine power to tear down strongholds…and to literally decimate every proud thought that exalts itself against the power of God to bring every thought captive to the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, there is a war going on. It is not against people. It is against the rulers of the darkness of this age which manipulate people as if it were a great chess board on earth and the forces are arrayed against the Church. In 1 Timothy 1: 18 Paul says war the warfare—“war”. So, you can’t escape the fact that the Christian is committed to spiritual warfare. “War” that type of warfare.
In 2 Tim. 2:4 [Paul] says that anybody that is chosen by God to be a soldier does not get entangled with civilian pursuits. In other words, when God calls you into the church of Jesus Christ, you have enlisted in the army of God. You can truthfully sing “Onward Christian Soldiers,” because you are at war.
Now, of course, you have an option. You can be dumb. You can say, “I don’t have any spiritual war. I think positively all of the time…I don’t have negative thoughts…There is no war around me.” That is reminiscent of the Christian Scientist in hell saying, “I’m not here. I’m not here.”
…The moment you enlist in the army of God you personally become a target. No more Mr. Nice Guy. You are on the satanic hit list. And if you really are a Christian living and walking with Jesus Christ, they’re coming after you!
Now you say, “But that’s paranoia.” Remember, just because you’re paranoid does not mean they are not after you! [audience laughs] It is not paranoid to be realistic. Jesus said, “The god of this age is coming, and he has noting in Me.” Yeah, but the ruler of this age is coming, Dr. Barnhouse said, and he findeth plenty in you and me!
There is residual evil in us, to which Satan can appeal…some of the worst damage done in the church today is done by Christians who have yielded themselves without even recognizing it to Satan. And what happens? Satan uses it to disrupt the body of Christ. They are all over the place—Disruptors and Resistors of those who are standing for the Kingdom of God. So, there is a fact of enlistment. You are in the army of God. If you will not fight in the army of God then the Lord will discipline you until you get to the place where you will, because you will get so many attacks that you will eventually have to do something.
That’s a warning. It is also biblical theology. People who walk around in the middle of a war, acting as if there was no war, are called “casualties”. And there are people all over the landscape scattered around neutralized and paralyzed in their Christian activities, simply because they don’t realize they’re a casualty, and they have got to be restored by God, so they can get back into the battle.
You are probably sitting there saying, “Well, you have been doing this for 35 years. I mean, this is second nature to you. I don’t understand this.”
Well, permit me to say there was a time I didn’t understand it either, and then I was a casualty. Then the Lord showed me…You have to do something. You can’t just lay around on the battlefield moaning and groaning. You‘ve got to get up and get back into the fight…
What do you do when you get knocked down? You get up! What do you do when the wind is knocked out of you? Breathe again! What do you do when you can’t fight anymore? Fight more.
And God says, “…You learn it every facet of life, how come you can’t learn it in spiritual combat? You don’t have to lay around the battlefield like so much litter. You can get up and fight the good fight of faith!”
So, the fact is 1) we are in a spiritual war that is not going to go away; 2) you are in the army of God, and I am, and we are supposed to fight! We are supposed to fight with the weapons of spiritual warfare, with the arguments of God, with the text of Scripture, with the power of the Spirit.
Who are we fighting? The Bible says very clearly we are fighting satanic power. Secondly, we are fighting worldly dominion, and, thirdly, we are fighting our carnal nature. (Eph. 6:12).
…”Resist the devil,” says James, and he will what? He will flee from you, and the only way to resist is by prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving and being dressed for combat. The foes are Satan and demonic powers. Secondly, the foes involve the world system. You are involved in a world system of conflict which has zeroed in on you. James 4:1-4. And you are at war with the flesh.
1 Peter 4:1-4. If you don’t know you are at war with the flesh you are really in trouble. You are the like the guy who is sleeping with his girlfriend to find out whether or not they are compatible. You have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. So, our foes are the devil, demonic power, the desires of the flesh, and the pressure of the world. If you do not know the nature of the enemy and you do not know who your foes are you can’t fight. You believe that? It’s true. If you don’t know where it is coming from you can’t do anything about it. It is only when you know and you realize what you are up against that you can effectively stand against it.
And, then what must you do in spiritual warfare to really fight a good fight of faith? Ephesians gives you the answer—praying always in the Spirit. Then you must get into the best possible spiritual condition to fight the battle. 2 Timothy 2: 3, 10. Endure hardness or conditioning as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
You want to be a good soldier? Get in shape. You’ve got to go out there…and get the muscle hard…You’ve got to be able to respond…If you can’t respond in physical conflict, you die. You must respond in spiritual conflict, or you are wounded, and you lay around moaning and groaning about all of the things that have happened to you.
You not only endure, but you are sober and vigilant. Sober means alert. There is no such thing as a sleepy successful soldier, no such thing as a sleepy, successful soldier. If you are sleepy on God-duty you won’t have to worry about the enemy, your own side will shoot you! Sleepy soldiers who are not alert have one thing in common. They are dead.
So, God said, you want to fight spiritual war? Be alert. Secondly, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, is stalking around like a lion seeking who he can devour. There is only one way to turn that lion into a pussy cat. That is to resist him steadfast in the faith of Christ! That is why there are so many Christians who are weak and ineffective. They have not combated the enemy. They have not fought back as servants of God.
So, if you are going to be an effective Christian you have to recognize the fact of spiritual warfare. You have to recognize the foes of spiritual warfare. You have to recognize the need for training and conditioning in spiritual warfare.
The ultimate training? Get dressed for battle (Eph. 6)! You get equipped by studying and showing yourself approved by God, a workman who doesn’t need to blush with embarrassment, rightly interpreting the Word of Truth. Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ignorance of Christ is ignorance of your own defense, because you can’t defend yourself unless you are walking in the light with Him.
You CAN stand against Satan. You can be victorious. You can know the final conquest. And the final conquest in spiritual warfare is something God has promised us in the Lord Jesus.
He said avoid distraction. He said don’t let anything get in the way of your focal point of concentration. What is your focal point of concentration? Survival! A soldier must survive. General Patton said it far more eloquently….the General said you don’t win wars by dying for your country. You win wars by getting the other guy to die for his country. Only those weren’t his exact words. (laughter in audience).
You get the power of God to conquer by a very simple biblical method, which most people are dead on determined to ignore, because it’s so simple. Do you think that spiritual warfare and the ultimate victory are hard? No. The promise of God is the simplest thing in the world to accept and one of the most difficult for mankind, because we are always trying to fight and win the battle ourselves. And the Lord says, I’ve got news for you. I have the ultimate solution. The final conquest is 1 John 5:4-5. “This is the victory that overcomes the world. This is the victory that conquers the world—our faith.”
And you say well, I mean that is something new and startling? It is when you put it in its proper context. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1. Faith is being sure of what you hope for and absolutely certain of what you cannot see.
Good grief, think about that for a second! Sure of what you hope for and certain of what you can’t see? How in the world do you get to that state? You don’t! Not by yourself. You can’t ever get to the state of being sure of what you hoped for and certain of what you cannot see unless God gives you the measure of faith, because God gives the measure of faith to every person as it pleases Him. Not in proportion to your efforts, but as it pleases Him.
…This is the key—John 16:33. Be of good cheer. I have conquered the world. I will put it in modern language: Cheer up! I have conquered everything!
That is what John is talking about in 1 John 5. Christ defeated Satan on the cross, and He defeated him in the glorious resurrection, and He imparts that capacity of conquest to your life and to my life every single day that we are willing to believe Him. If you can get up in the morning and say, “Lord Jesus, I believe you have conquered the world. Conquer today through me. I believe You. Give me victory. Take away my doubts. Take away my fears. Give to me the measure of faith that is necessary for me to survive today. Never mind tomorrow; never mind next year…LORD JESUS, today, CONQUER!”
Wake up and say, “In You I have my trust…Give me the faith to trust You today…Give me the faith to overcome Satan today….Give me the victory over the world, and that victory is a GIFT from You. Give it to me today, Lord,” and I will tell you something wonderful. I have been fighting this spiritual battle since 1944, and I can tell you that is the key to spiritual conquest—the acknowledgment that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
And, now how do you do that? Put on the armor of God. Put on the helmet of salvation—it’s a gift. Put on the breastplate of righteousness—it’s a gift! Put on the readiness to preach the Gospel—it’s a gift. Take the shield of faith—it’s a gift! Take the sword which is the Word of God—it’s a gift! Take God’s gifts for God’s conquests, and then get dressed for battle. Every single piece of armor is for the front of your body. You know why? Because soldiers do not turn around in the middle of combat—they go forward.
And the reason why Christians become ineffective and weak and drained, and they litter the battlefield and get in everybody’s way is because, in the midst of conflict and combat, they were believing Jesus Christ, and they turned around, and they ran away…And there is only way that you are going to get your strength back: Get down on your knees, and confess your sins, and ask Jesus Christ to pull the arrows out of your carcass and then affirm what Christ has told you—be of good cheer, I have conquered the world.
If you seize upon it by faith, God is going to bless your socks off and lead you in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Victory is in the One who is being praised. Cheer up! I have conquered the world.
Face the fact that it is there. Face the foes who represent it. Get yourself in spiritual condition believing in Jesus Christ the victory is ours, and then the final conquest is your recognition that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher, Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.
Cheer up! I have conquered the world!
This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
(Transcribed by Dwayna Litz 3/14/08)