The Source of
five-year-old disobeyed her mother and had been sent to her room. After a
few minutes, the mother went in to talk with her about what she had done.
Teary-eyed, she asked, "Why do we do wrong things, Mommy?"
"Sometimes the devil tells us to do something wrong," the mom replied,
"and we listen to him. We need to listen to God instead."
which the little girl sobbed, "But God doesn't talk loud enough!"
The Devil's most
beautiful ruse is to convince us that he does not exist. By doing so he
convinces us that our choices aren’t all that important.
There is a visible but invisible cosmic battle
raging between the forces of Satan and the spiritual forces of God. It is
visible because we see the affects of battle between good and evil. It is
an invisible battle in that we are often blinded to the origin and nature
of the battle in the spiritual world. It is a battle between light and
darkness—between good and evil—ultimately it is a battle between God and
Many do not believe in the supernatural. They cannot conceive
of life beyond the scope of this world. They see the battles raging as
mere battles between conflicting human natures over which they must
triumphant through human ingenuity. The difficulty with this view is that
it says that we can win the battle with human resources.
The cross of Christ seeks to bring each of
us to life’s crossroad so that we can recognize the source of our problem,
for it there that a major choice must be made. Daily the cross
seeks to bring us to the brink of our existence as it forces us to ask
life’s most soul-searching questions. Shall we take up our cross and
follow the road Christ has paved for us, or shall we follow the road the
world has paved for us? Shall we choose to live under the rule of Christ
in his spiritual kingdom, or shall we choose to live under the rule of
Satan in the kingdom of darkness? Shall we choose to engage in battle
against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this
dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms
solely with fleshly resources, or shall we put on the whole armor of God?
The Source of Our Problems
Understanding the source of our problems is essential. Joe Hale removed
the sheetrock from the lower south wall in back of the auditorium
yesterday. He could have chosen to put new sheet rock back on.
Cosmetically it may have looked fine for a short time, but he knows if we
don’t discover the source of the moisture causing the damage the problem
is not really solved. To cover the wall again without seeking the source
from which the moisture is coming does not solve the problem. Leaving the
sheet rock off hopefully will let the wall dry out. The next time it rains
hopefully we will be able to tell if the water is coming from above or
below. Then we can attack the problem at its source. Once we discover the
source of the problem we can fix it.
The same is true with our spiritual problems—we
must understand their source. Failing to understand the source of our
conflicts will leave us powerless in our struggles.
Spiritual battles cannot be confined merely to the human mind. It is a
battle that cannot be won with the resources of the human mind. If the
cross tells us anything—it tells us that it is a battle that we cannot win
with weapons of the flesh—it tells us that the weapons of this world will
never defeat Satan. It is a battle that requires spiritual weapons that
come from the invisible God.
Satan is a master at diverting our attention away from him.
When struggles come we blame God, we blame each other, we blame our
circumstances, while we leave Satan completely out of the picture. His
scheme of blame alienates us from the source of our needed strength as he
deceives us into looking for fleshly causes and answers for our problems.
Paul tells us that it is not a battle of mere flesh and blood that we
face. The source of our struggles from within originates in
spiritual realms from without. The battle between good and evil is not
simply a battle against flesh and blood. We make a grave mistake when we
confine the battle to the battlefield of the mind. It is a battle of
cosmic proportions. It is a battle that is being waged in the heaven by
God as he battles Satan on earth. It is a battle for the hearts and minds
of those of us who live on earth. The demons we face within are demons
from the spiritual realms of darkness from without.
tells us “the whole world lies under the sway [control] of the
wicked one” (1 John 5:19). Jesus calls Satan “the ruler of
the world” (John 12:31). Satan is described as the “god of
this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is called “the prince of
the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). When Jesus promised to
establish his spiritual kingdom, which is the church, he tells us that the
gates of hell would seek to destroy it (Matthew 16:18-19), but it would
The forces we
face are more powerful and more cunning than we are. The most
powerful tactic of Satan is to convince us that we can win the battle
against him without God. He uses our strengths against us as he convinces
us to rely on our ability and our strengths while blinding us to the
source of true strength. The cross of Christ is designed to turn us from
the power of Satan to God’s power, for it is the power of the cross that
says, “be strong in the Lord and the power of his might”
(6:10). The reason we so often lose the battle that rages in our minds is
because we seek to wage the war with human strength alone. You cannot
fight Satan with the wisdom of earthly tactics.
says, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand
against the devil's schemes” (Ephesians 6:11 NIV). If this says
anything, it says we cannot stand against the Devil’s schemes alone.
The Source of Our Strength
The battle for our minds certainly takes place within our minds, but
the source of the battle comes from dark spiritual forces at work outside
of our minds. This is why we must depend upon God’s power to wage
2 Corinthians 10:2-52
I beg you that when I come I may not have
to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live
by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we
do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the
weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to
demolish strongholds. 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” (NIV).
Corinthians expected Paul to exert a strong personality through words of
worldly wisdom in his effort to solve the problems at Corinth, but Paul
relied upon the meekness and gentleness of Christ. He did not rely on
fleshly wisdom, human abilities or physical prowess.
strategies for survival throughout the Bible seem strange. Noah is
required to build an ark to enable God to save the world. The children of
Israel are commanded to march around the city of Jericho and shout before
God causes the walls of the great city to fall.
Gideon sought to go to battle with over 30,000 men.
The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too
many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel
may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now
to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave
Mount Gilead.'" So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand
But the LORD said to Gideon, "There are
still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for
you there. If I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go; but if I
say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go."
So Gideon took the men down to the water.
There the LORD told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their
tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink." Three hundred men
lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their
knees to drink. NIV
God’s whole modus
operandi is to minimize human, prideful self-confidence. This is why God
chose to reveal his power through a small number of men. Pride and
self-confidence blind us to the power of God as it robs us of his power
When Paul encourages us
to put on the whole armor of God, he tells us why we put it on—so you will
be able to stand. Putting on the armor of God is paramount to availing
yourself of the power of God. His armor provides protection and equips us
with his supernatural weapons.
The difficulty with the church today is that it has been reduced to a
moral and an ethical code and teaching that seeks to make us better people
without God’s help. To become a member I must accept this
teaching, and then I must proceed to put it into practice. It leaves the
impression if it is to be, it is up to me. We may be fooled into believing
that we should take the Bible and study it to find the power from within
ourselves to overcome. The difficulty is that it leaves everything up to
me as weak and powerless as I am. The simple teaching of the Bible will
not save us if we fail to rely upon the power of God’s grace for our
When Paul speaks of the
breastplate of righteousness, he means that God’s righteousness is our
greatest protection. When God’s righteous becomes a means to
self-righteousness it destroys God’s protection for our lives.
Stephen said, “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians
and was powerful in speech and action” (Acts 7:22). Initially,
Moses sought to solve the Hebrews problems by brute strength and human
wisdom as he killed an Egyptian. As a result he spent forty years in the
land of Midian herding sheep. When God called him to lead the Hebrews out
of Egypt he replied, “Who am I that I should go?” Reflection during the 40
years of herding sheep made him understand that it would be a battle that
he could not win on his own strength.
The day of Pentecost
was a great day. It was the day the church was established. Do you know
why Pentecost was such a great day? It wasn’t because these present were
mighty and influential, not because of the number of people present—there
were few believers present. It was a great day because of God’s powerful
Great things happen when we depend upon the powerful authority of
“The seventy-two returned with joy and
said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’
He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like
lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and
scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm
you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice
that your names are written in heaven’" (NIV).
soldiers of Christ we are to put on the whole armor of God, but we must
rely upon the sovereign authoritative power of God to overcome.
God’s Strength Found
our dependence upon God’s power more than our prayers. Paul
doesn’t stop with telling us to put on the whole armor of God.
“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.
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my
mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the
mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I
may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (NIV).
Do you Paul’s his
dependence upon the power of God in these verses? Paul is willing
to take a stand for Christ, but he is asking fellow Christians to pray
that God would make him bold enough to stand.
It is impossible
to equip yourself with the armor of God without prayer.
“For this reason, since the day we heard
about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to
fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and
understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a
life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being
strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you
may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks
to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the
saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of
darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we
have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (NIV).
The prayers of
the first century saints centered upon asking God to equip them by filling
them with his knowledge and his wisdom so that they might bear fruit.
It should be no surprise to us that the apostles saw the crucial need to
give themselves to prayer and ministry of the word (Acts 6:4), as they
sought to preach and teach. Prayer comes before the ministry of the word.
Why? The effectiveness of the word is dependent upon the power of God.
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of
Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you,
that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea
and Hierapolis” (NIV).
Epaphras was agonizing
in prayer over fellow Christians. How much wrestling in prayer do we do
that others might take a stand for the Lord? The real work of God’s people
is done in prayer. It is prayer that focuses us on God’s resourcefulness
for our task. I think much of what we are trying to do in the church is
very good, but I am afraid that we are trying to do it without God’s help.
The Old Testament probably gives us the best illustrations of how
spiritual battles are fought. It makes it easy for us to see that
the earthly battles fought by Israel were merely extensions of the
spiritual battles taking place in heavenly places. The Old
Testament gives us a glimpse of the powers of darkness working against us.
The book of Daniel reveals the power of darkness as it seeks to prevent
his prayers from being answered.
“Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid,
Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding
and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have
come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted
me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help
me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come
to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the
vision concerns a time yet to come’” (NIV).
This brief account gives a glimpse of how the powers of darkness are
working to prevent our prayers from receiving an answer. What do
we do in such cases? Daniel had to stand firm while he was waiting upon
God. He had to do all he could to stand firm while he was seeking the
wisdom and understanding of God’s ways.
The Importance of
It is essential
that we use our abilities as we prepare for battle. Preparation for battle
will give us something to stand our ground with. The danger is thinking
that God will empower us without us having to take a stand.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty
power. 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. 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. 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. NIV
God’s power is conditional—it’s dependent
upon a willingness to take a stand. It is our job to take a stand,
it God’s job to enable us to stand with his wisdom and power.
We must be willing to put on the whole armor of
God. The armor of God is for our personal protection. It equips us so that
we can stand, but it is God’s enabling power that allows us to stand once
we become clothed in his armor.
"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down
with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will
close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who
live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that
you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be
able to stand before the Son of Man" (NIV).
Often, I am like the little girl I spoke of at the beginning of the
lesson. The anxieties and cares of this world deafen me. I begin thinking
that God should speak louder.