Summary: Sermon one in a series on spiritual warfare. This sermon examines the need to keep our focus on Christ, rather than enemy, in the midst of battle.
It has been said that doctors of old times tested the sanity of a mental patient with the following test: the patient was placed in a room with a sink. The faucet was turned on and a stopper was put in the drain until the sink overflowed. The patient was then handed a mop and the door was closed.
If the patient had enough sense to shut off the water, pull the plug, and then mop up the water, he was considered capable of going home. But on the other hand, if the patient mopped like crazy and never bothered to shut off the water and/or pull the plug, he was considered still insane and needed to be detained a little longer in the mental institution.
Well, when it comes to true freedom. Really grabbing holding of a lasting, enduring freedom, there are people in this world that are mopping like crazy, but the water is still running, and the plug is still in the drain. They’re not in mental institutions. Some are even people who we’d consider quite sane, but they are plagued by their own personal demons and they haven’t figured out how to stop the flooding in their lives.
Most of these people know there’s a problem they just haven’t figured out where to go to solve it. They’re like people who came and found the demoniac clothed and in his right mind. They see what Jesus can do in a person’s life, but then they send Him away. They just can’t seem to experience any form of lasting freedom in their life.
Maybe you can relate. If you have experienced temporary, but not enduring freedom. If you have a friend or loved one who seemed victorious only to once again be defeated. If you long to know if it is possible to ever really be free, this series is for you. Because over the next few weeks, we are going to take a look at a true “Operation Enduring Freedom.” An operation that can lead to the ultimate freedom – eternal freedom.
(Address issue of Topical versus Expository Preaching.)
As we launch this series on spiritual warfare, I want us to keep our focus in the right place. Let me share what I mean by that with a little story.
There once was a man who owned a record company. Anyone remember what those were? Vinyl disks. Black Frisbees. Besides running the operation, he also spent many hours in production listening to the “mother disc,” which was the record from which all subsequent records were pressed. Over the years his ears became adept at catching the “pops and sizzles,” the imperfections that had to be eliminated in the master disk or they would be on every subsequent record copied from that master.
One day someone remarked to him that working with music must be enjoyable. His response was enlightening. He said, “You know, I haven’t listened to music in years. When I turn on my sophisticated home stereo, no matter what recording I’m listening to, all I hear are the ‘pops and sizzles.’”
As we launch into a series on spiritual warfare and finding true freedom in Christ, it is important to remember and learn from this little illustration that a wrong focus will turn our thoughts continually towards the enemy. Suddenly, all you will see are demons. But understand that a true ability to see, or understand, or even discern spirits will be an ability that enables us to recognize at least as many angelic spirits as we do evil spirits.
Look at a passage with me. A remarkable story found in II Kings 6, beginning in verse 8 (read through verse 23). Victory. Without ever drawing a sword, or directly engaging the enemy. Victory by seeing God, and allowing Him to fight the battle.
You see, in spiritual warfare, in our true Operation Enduring Freedom, it is never a human battle limited to “us against them.” Paul says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:12)
So it is not an issue of “us against them”, it is much larger than that. It is “those with us” against “those with them.” And rather than focusing on the enemy, as we are forced to do in earthly warfare, in our operation enduring freedom, we need to focus on our General, focus on Jesus Christ and the multitude of angels He brings to fight the battle.
Beginning today, at the very on-set of the series. I want us to help each other in the fight to keep our focus in the right place. So today I simply want you to remember two simple thoughts. Totally opposite of earthly warfare. Total contrast to what others often teach, think, and preach about spiritual warfare.