When was the last time you felt like you got shot—emotionally, relationally, financially, spiritually? What we tend to do in those moments is look up and ask, “God, where are you? I thought you were good.” What we need to know is that it’s not just us and God. There’s a third variable: Satan and his demons. We are in a war. Do you know your enemy? Your king? What weapons are you using to fight?
I Am Victorious (Ephesians 6:10–24)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
23 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
Know your enemy
You need to know, I need to know, we need to know that it’s not just us and God. There’s a third variable that we absolutely have to factor into everything, and that’s Satan and demons.
We live in a day when, through psychology, through explanation, through a resistance to the supernatural, people don’t even believe in Satan and demons. We turn them into fictitious cartoon characters and mythical parts of our historical narrative; the stories we tell and the fairy tales we enjoy—we don’t think they’re real. We don’t think that Satan is real; we don’t think that demons are real. And so we tend to, every time we are shot, question or blame God, while Satan laughs and runs away.
This is incredibly important. The world is not the way it should be. Not everything that happens is God’s will. There is also God’s enemy. And it’s so important that it’s the final word in the book of Ephesians.
This is a word to the whole church—not just individuals in the church but the whole church, laboring, warring, working together. This is a word for us. It’s a word for you, but it’s word for you as part of us. Jesus loves us; Satan hates us. Jesus has plans for us; Satan has plans to oppose us. Jesus, in every way, will bless us; but Satan will, in every way, seek to undermine that blessing. It’s a war!
Do you know that? Most Christians don’t! We live in a therapeutic culture where God is reduced to a damnable life coach who comes along to ask you what you want and to give you tips and tricks to do a better job, to live for your glory, to be what you want, to get what you want, to do what you want! And in that way, it’s absolutely demonic! God does not exist to bless you; you exist to serve him!
It’s a war! It’s a war! How many of you feel like this life is just a freaking war? You know why? It’s a freaking war! The closer you get to Jesus, the more resistance you’ll get! The more you advance to the kingdom of God, the more shots you’ll take! Don’t be a coward who says, “Oh, things are hard. It must not be God’s will.” The harder it gets, the closer you are to the will of God.
People are not our enemy; Satan and demons are our enemy. The Bible speaks of non-Christians as captives. What happens in a war is an overtaking army then enslaves and takes captives the citizens who are conquered. That’s called earth. The world has been conquered by Satan and demons. We’ve been taken captives in the war.
So, our war is not against the captives; our war is against their captors, Satan and demons. The people would be spiritually, in every way, set free to become the children of God. This is why Jesus says very early in his earthly ministry that he has come to set captives free. That’s what he’s talking about. So, our war is not against the non-Christians. Our war is not against those who would disagree with biblical faith. Our war is against Satan and demons who have taken people captive to do his will.
Satan was created by God. So, he’s not God; he’s not equal to God. You need to know this. He doesn’t share all of God’s attributes. God can be everywhere; Satan can’t. God knows everything; Satan doesn’t. God reads your mind and thoughts; Satan can’t. He’s created; he’s also fallen. He’s rebelled against God. He’s turned his back on God. He’s declared war on God. He’s also very powerful as a spirit being, akin to an angel who has turned to the dark side. He’s very powerful. He’s also been observing human history for thousands of years, so he understands how to read people. He can’t read your mind, but he can read your life and your body language. And we’re not all dealing with Satan because he is limited, but he has demons at his disposal. These are fallen angels, rebellious angels, who joined him in his war against God.
Friends, they are real, and they are really at work in the world. You need to understand this: under Satan’s motivation is ultimately pride. Satan is the most proud being in the history of creation. Meanwhile, God is utterly humble. We see this in the Lord Jesus. Satan has done such a good job in our day that self-esteem is not a vice; it’s a virtue. Independence is not a vice; it’s a virtue.
Some of you don’t even believe in Satan and demons, but let me say that the root of demonic work is always sourced ultimately in pride. “I don’t need to listen to someone else; I’m smart enough. I don’t need to submit to someone else; I can take care of myself. I don’t need to follow someone else; I’m the authority in my own life.” And Satan will, in every way, tempt and test your pride. He fell through pride. The angels who fell with him and became demons fell through pride. And he will tempt you ultimately through pride. You need to know that he is real, that he is really powerful, and that he is really at work. You also need to know that we need to be careful not to make too much of him or too little of him.
Know your King
Number two, know your King. Who do you fight for? You know what? If you don’t know whom you fight for, you’re probably not going to fight well. He says it this way, Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Who’s the Lord? Our Lord Jesus Christ. You need to know this: it’s his fight. This is his church, right? This is his book. The spiritual battle—it’s his war. It’s not yours; it’s not mine. We’re not the king; it’s not our kingdom. We’re the servants; we’re the soldiers, we labor for a great, glorious, and good King.
Praying in the Spirit
“Praying in the Spirit.” One of the most important things in the battle is communication. You need to talk to headquarters; you need to listen to headquarters. We call that prayer.
He says it’s in the Spirit, so this is different than how other religions pray. See, other religions pray not by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit only indwells the people of God. Other religions may pray, but they don’t pray by the power of the Holy Spirit. They may pray by their own wishful thinking or Satan and demons, but it ain’t by the power of the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity. He says to pray in the Spirit at all times for anything.
He says, “Perseverance.” Perseverance. Four times in this section he uses the language of “stand.” So it’s, “Stand, stand, stand, stand.” A soldier needs to hold his post—right, soldiers? You plant your feet. You stand. You don’t say, “Oh, I feel like I should go to another post. I feel like I should have a—” No, no, no. Hold that line, right? Your king has sent you there to hold that line. Your job? Stand there. Your Community Group in your neighborhood, stand there. Whichever local church you’re in, stand there. Whichever ministry role you’re in, stand there, plant your feet. What we don’t need, is twelve thousand generals. We need one general and twelve thousand faithful soldiers.
Paul’s final words. He says to pray for the leadership. “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.”
He’s in prison. I’d be shocked if I’m not eventually. The way culture is trending, to preach sin and repentance will soon be hate speech. I don’t know if it’ll happen in five years or fifty years. I would doubt preaching the gospel won’t get you in prison eventually if things continue the direction they are. “That I may declare it boldly”—boldly, boldly—“as I ought to speak.” Pray for me that I would not give up, that I would not back down, that I would not calm down, OK? Pray for our church.
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