Summary: When you look at your life, are you filtering out supernatural evil? Do you think life’s struggles are all against “flesh and blood?” Are you assuming there are no “rulers and cosmic powers” at work in your day?
Imagine if your friends came to you and asked, “We want you to build a bridge. We already have the materials you’ll need to build it. We already have the engineers, craftsmen for the stone and concrete, and we have plenty of construction workers available to you as well. Here are the blueprints to build it. All we ask you do it is to oversee the work. Will you do it?” You agree to build the bridge and you make plans to go out where the bridge is to be constructed. You begin to pack your things for the trip when you receive this text, “Oh, did we tell you we need you to build a bridge in the shark-infested waters of the Persian Gulf? You also need to be aware that the Iranian Navy have set up mines in the harbors and their fleet is standing by to destroy you.” That last bit of information makes a difference, doesn’t it?
For these next several weeks, I want to prepare you for the spiritual battle of your life. I’m excited to begin a series on the Bible’s teaching of spiritual warfare. It is needed as we are living in confusing and chaotic days. So I ask you to keep your Bibles open to Ephesians 6 with me (page 1163 in your pew Bibles). We begin with the classic passage in Ephesians on the armor of God.
“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” (Ephesians 6:10-20).
Let’s jump right in because this is the mother of all battles.
1. Realize Life is a Spiritual Battle
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
1.1 Pearl Harbor – Surprise Attack
It was a peaceful, quiet Sunday morning on December 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m., when 353 Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor from six carriers. While many believe the attack was a complete surprise and came without warning, those in know tell us there were at least three separate warnings. On October 16, November 24 and November 27, the commanders of the military forces at Pearl Harbor were told this: “This dispatch is to be considered a war warning”; “Negotiations have ceased”; you should “execute an appropriate defensive deployment.” After being apprised of these, Admiral Kimmel allowed part of his personnel to go on shore leave. Then on the morning of the attack, Washington decoded a Japanese message to its ambassadors, asking them to set up a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State at 7:00 a.m. Pearl Harbor time. The message took time to decode and it wasn’t delivered to the War Department until around 10:30 a.m. When the decoded message was delivered, Gen George Marshall was out horseback riding and didn’t see the message until about 11:15 a.m. This message was a clear indication that war was at hand. And if these warnings were not enough, the personnel at Pearl Harbor itself experienced two incidents that will raise the hair on the back of your neck. Four hours before the decisive bombing, a Japanese submarine was sighted by the minesweeper USS Candor. About 2:30 hours later, the commander of the destroyer USS Ward sent a message saying that he “had attacked, fired upon, and dropped depth charges upon submarine operating in defensive sea area” near Pearl Harbor. At this same time, U.S. Army Pvt. George Elliott noticed a large flight of planes on the radar screen. When he telephoned his lieutenant, he was told to disregard the observation, as a flight of B-17 bombers from the United States was expected at that time. Because all these warnings were dismissed, 2,402 Americans were killed and another 1,282 were wounded. The Pacific naval fleet was severely damaged as well as a result leaving us crippled. Sixteen warships were sunk along with another 188 aircraft were destroyed – all because no one thought the Japanese would attack.