2 SPIRITUAL WARFARE Today’s topic . . . Let me tell you a story . . . On the quiet, peaceful morning of Dec. 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m., 200 Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor. You usually hear that the attack came without warning, but that just ain’t true.On 3 separate occasions, Oct. 16, Nov. 24 and Nov. 27, Pearl Harbor’s commanders were told, and I quote: “This dispatch is to be considered a war warning” and then “Negotiations have ceased” and then that they should “Execute an appropriate defensive deployment.” Despite those clear warnings, almost nothing was done to prepare for battle. In fact, the admiral allowed lots of the soldiers to go on shore leave at the very time of the attack.On the very morning of the attack, the government decoded a Japanese message to its ambassadors, asking them to set up a meeting with the US Secretary of State at 1:00 p.m. -- 7:00 a.m. Pearl Harbor time – a clear indication that war was at hand. The message was delivered to the Chief of Staff between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m., but he was out horseback riding and didn’t see the message until 11:15 a.m. Even then, the message was sent to Pearl Harbor by telegram rather than phone and didn’t arrive in time.4 hours before the attack, a Japanese sub was sighted not far from Pearl Harbor but no report was made. In addition, two privates noticed a large mass on their radar screens, which they promptly interpreted as a squadron of airplanes approaching Pearl Harbor. They immediately phoned the command center, but were told that no one was there. A little while later, a lieutenant called back but basically told them to forget about it.Unfortunately, the United States has never been able to forget what happened. Because the attack warnings were ignored, approximately 2,300 Americans were killed and 1,300 were wounded. 18 U.S. ships were hit and more than 180 planes were damaged. The next day, the United States entered war.What on earth does this have to do with today? Throughout the Bible, God warns us to prepare for spiritual warfare. But as we look around us on a typical Sunday morning, everything looks just as quiet and peaceful as it did before the attack on Pearl Harbor. We don’t see any apparent signs of hostility. There aren’t any enemy aircraft overhead. No guns are being fired. No bombs are exploding in our church.Yet if we want to avoid a spiritual version of Pearl Harbor, we need to take the Bible’s warnings seriously. That’s why today we’re going to make an honest assessment of (1) our enemy, (2) our weapons and (3) our battle plan.
3 The Struggle . . .[O]ur 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 6:12)Let’s dive deeply into this. What does it mean?Don’t lash out vs. humans as if real enemy + don’t assume battle can be fought using merely human resources.This Present Darkness.Could someone please read Colossians 2:13-15?Jesus has already “disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.So, we can fight with confidence knowing that the battle is already won. But we must still fight, spiritually speaking.So, what exactly should we do?
4 For the Christian, this world is an arena, not an armchair. Opening Thoughts . . .For the Christian, this world is an arena, not an armchair.(John Blanchard)The Christian life is not a playground; it is a battleground. (Warren Wiersbe)
5 Opening Thoughts . . .Our journey is uphill, with a dead body upon our backs, the devil doing what he can to pull us down. (Philip Henry)
6 Suit Up!Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. (Ephesians 6:13)Notice – the FULL armor. Not just one or two pieces. Dead without ALL of it.
7 Armor of GodWithout the Belt of Truth, everything else falls down (v. 14)Without the Breastplate of Righteousness, our hearts are vulnerable (v. 14)Without the Shoes of Peace, we can’t stand firm (v. 15)BELT OF TRUTHSoldiers used to wear a tunic of loose-fitting cloth. In hand-to-hand combat, a loose tunic was a potential hindrance and danger. A belt was used to hold everything together, tie up loose ends. That’s exactly what truth does. Without it, literally go into battle with your pants falling down.Could someone please read John 8:44? “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”The devil fights with lies. Fight back with truth. Spoiler alert: Truth wins.BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESSSome translations: “body armor.” Usually a tough piece of leather covering the torso.The devil often attacks our heart – emotions, self-worth, trust. Obeying God and pursuing his righteousness in the power of the HS acts as body armor that protects our heart. If we let unholiness pollute us, eats away at our heart from the inside, making us vulnerable.SHOES OF PEACESoldiers wore boots with nails in them to grip the ground in combat.The gospel of peace is the good news that, thru Christ, believers are at peace with God and He’s on our side. Confidence in that divine ground support helps us stand firm, knowing that we’re at peace with God and that he is our strength.
8 Armor of GodWithout the Shield of Faith, we’re defenseless against the evil one’s “flaming arrows” (v. 16)Without the Helmet of Salvation, we’ve got no hope of survival (v. 17)Without the Sword of the Spirit, we’ve got no offense (v. 17)SHIELDVery large (typically 2.5 ft. by 4.5 ft); protected the entire body.What’s the opposite of faith? FEAR. Read Matthew 14: Jesus walking on the water. Peter wants to join him."Come," [Jesus] said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!“ 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?“Why did Peter start to sink? Fear/doubt. Satan loves it when we’re full of fear/doubt. So, why didn’t Peter drown? Jesus reached out and saved him. Have BIG faith. Trust God.HELMETNeed a savior. Satan wants us to doubt God, Jesus and the whole salvation thing in our heads. The helmet protects our mind from getting discouraged and doubting Jesus’ saving work for us.SWORDOnly weapon of offense on the list. Infinitely stronger than any of Satan’s weapons. Only thing we need to attack Satan is God’s word. And what’s the heart of His word? LOVE.
9 The Battle Plan[P]ray 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)So, how should we pray? IN THE SPIRIT.When should we pray? ALL OCCASIONS.What should we pray? ALL KINDS OF PRAYERS AND REQUESTS.BE ALERT!
10 Never Ever Fear[N]either death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8:38-39)
11 Pray!The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray. (Samuel Chadwick)Pray, pray, pray, pray (and then pray some more)!