"The Winable War"
The Winnable War
(2 Cor. 10:3-6)
A. On September 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m. – American Flight 11 from Boston crashed into the North Tower at the World Trade Center. Onlookers were stunned and the media focused national attention immediately on lower Manhattan. At 9:03 a.m. – United Flight 175 from Boston crashed into the South Tower at the World Trade Center. It became apparent in that moment that we were not simply witnessing an awful tragedy. Evil was at work. Before that day was over, we had started to trace the outlines of a conspiracy that was bent on creating chaos and suffering.
B. There is a war going on and we are in it. I don’t mean the war on terror since 9/11. I mean a spiritual war. God never said that living in the pathway of righteousness was going to be easy. He did not say that when we were saved that we would never battle sin again. In fact, the Bible teaches the opposite. Jesus told his disciples that just as the world hated him, the world would hate them. Peter says that the world thinks it strange that you don’t continue to do the same things you once did before you were saved.
C. Brethren, we are at war and it war is messy. War has casualties. War has battles that are won and battles that are lost. The challenge is to be engaged in spiritual warfare, but many would rather hide and hope the enemy just goes away. Why did the Israelites wander for 40 years? They saw the giants and were afraid to take the land God gave them. When the Midianites oppressed Israel, Gideon was hiding in a winepress. When Goliath taunted Israel, King Saul was hiding in his tent. Paul says that “we do not wage war as the world does.” The teaching is one of going on the offence. Matt. 10:16 Jesus said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” Jesus understood we have a power to beat the wolves. Do you believe you have the power to win this war?
D. To the Ephesians Paul would speak again about spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-13). If you think you are so insignificant that the powers of evil will simply leave you alone you are wrong. The moment you were baptized into Christ the Holy Spirit took up residence in you. That marked you for a spiritual battle.
I. The War
A. First, I want you to understand this war. Paul begins to define what he means to the Corinthians as he talks about weapons, strongholds, arguments and pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. He calls it disobedience.
B. Peter would warn his readers that Satan prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. As this chapter and the next unfold, we see Paul talking about false teachers who think they are “super apostles” and he calls them “false apostles and deceitful workmen.” There was a battle for truth in the early church and that battle continues on today. If truth was accepted we would not have hundreds of different denominations all claiming to be Christians. Somehow, the fight for truth is still going on even in the church.
C. But we need to understand our enemy. That starts with understanding the prince of darkness whose desire is murder, destroy and separate mankind from the grace of God. Satan is powerful, but he is not God. Evil may be ubiquitous, but it is not all-powerful. Satan seeks to make strongholds. Each of us must examine ourselves to see if sin has made a stronghold in us.
D. These strongholds of evil appear to have their root in our minds. Sin loves to take hold of your thoughts. If Satan can control our minds he can eventually control our actions. The battle is to take back the control of our thoughts; to take captive every thought and to make it obedient to Christ. The battle we are in is often very personal. It is the struggle of our sinful nature against the yielding of ourselves to the Holy Spirit.
II. The Weapons
A. If the war is the false teachings and the captivities of our mind in a sinful nature, how do I fight? It seems as though it is a losing battle. I have never met a perfect Christian who has so masters self-control as to never sin again. Are we doomed to failure? Are we doomed to defeat? Paul’s answer is a resounding, NO!”
B. Look to the weapons. The weapons we use are not of the world, instead, they have divine powers to demolish stronghold. I love the story of David and Goliath. Standing against a giant of man who was a warrior since his youth, David meets him, not with King Saul’s armor and sword, and not with a sling and 5 smooth stones. Listen to David, 1 Sam. 17:45-47. David came in the in the power of the name of God. He destroyed the stronghold that Goliath represented and the forces of Israel pushed them all the way back to the gates of Ekron.
C. John would tell his readers in 1 John 4 to test every spirit because many false prophets have gone into the world. But as John encourages them to fight, he says, (1 John 4:4). We overcome because the weapons we use are divine and because the Spirit who is in us is greater than spirits in this world.
D. In Is. 55:11, God says His word will not return to Him void. When Jesus was led into the wilderness after his baptism to be tempted by the Devil, Satan attacked him at what he thought was the weakest points in Jesus. With each attack Jesus began by saying, “It is written.” When we fail to fight evil with the Word of God we fail to use a weapon that brings down the strongholds of evil.
E. When Paul writes about the armor of God he calls upon us to take up the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. He also calls us to pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers. In prayer we fight the strongholds. James tells us that the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Paul, James, John and Jesus all teach that prayer is a weapon to use against the evils that confront us.
F. But let me share with you one more weapon. I believe that when Jesus said “upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it” we often forget what the church is. The church is the body of Christ, the fellowship of believers. We are called upon to unite together as one in this fight. We come together in love, and love covers a multitude of sins. Together we build upon each other so that we are stronger as a church than we are as individuals. If you fail to unite within the family of God, to actively become a part of us, working, learning, teaching, fellowshipping, and worshipping, then you fail to utilize a great weapon that God has given to you in the fight.
A. There are strongholds and giants that we all face. Will you face those strongholds with divine weapons like name of God, His word, His Spirit, His people and prayer? We can win this war. You don’t have to die upon the battlefield.
B. No longer will sin have the mastery over you. It is time for us to rise up in the name and power of our God and take back every thought and make it obedient to Christ. It is time to realize that because of Jesus I am saved and filled with Holy Spirit who desires to transform my life and renew my mind. It is time to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our lives and run the race that has been set before us.
C. Is it worth it? John the revelator writes Jesus saying, “Be faithful unto the point of death and I will give you the crown of life.” As Paul believes his life will be taken, writes 2 Tim. 4:6-8.
D. You are in the fight. You can either win the war through the power of God or give up and given yourself over to the power of evil and die separated from God. That is your only two choices. Which one will you choose? If we can stand with you to win this war then come as we stand and sing.