Summary: Understanding Spiritual warfare is useless unless you can put it to use in the natural world.
September 25, 2005
Text: Ephesians 6:18-20
Subject: Spiritual Warfare – Part 4 in the Spiritual Warfare Series
Title: Practical Applications of Spiritual Empowerment
I’ve been talking to you for the last three weeks about spiritual warfare. Today we conclude the series. I’ve been trying to get you fired up for a battle. You know where your strength comes from. You know who your enemy is. Last week we talked about your spiritual armor and sword. I think we’re ready to rumble. You know I have to tell you that sometimes I think it takes a good fight to wake us up. I don’t know how you are, but with me (as I shared previously) I don’t care much for it when someone picks on my family, or my friends. That goes for my church family too. I see an enemy who is trying to beat up on our church family through sickness, injury, financial struggles, broken relationships, or spiritual apathy and I, for one, am tired of it. I’m ready for a fight.
Now that I have said that I want to lead you into what Paul says about the fight. 1) it’s a spiritual fight – remember, we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood . 2) it’s a continual fight – the battle rages around us every day 3) it is an active fight – we will not gain ground by sitting back and doing nothing. A fight when one of the participants doesn’t do anything isn’t much of a fight.
Muhammad Ali, perhaps one of the best boxers ever, perfected what he called “rope-a-dope”. He would get against the ropes and cover himself up and let his attacker throw punch after punch that never did anything but were them out. Then He would see his opening and move in for the knockout. The enemy of your soul loves to play rope-a-dope with Christians. That is why it is of the utmost importance that we understand exactly the right technique we should use to confront the enemy.
Since we have already learned about all the armor available to us, let’s see how the battle is won.
I. DEFEATING THE ENEMY WITH PRAYER. (18) “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” “Praying always…” Praying is communication with God. We know that prayer is a dialogue. It was never intended to be a one-sided conversation. God wants to speak too. Praying always means to be ready at any given time to go to prayer. The word translated “always” means “to be wholly devoted to all manner of on every occasion. Supplication is simply a prayer request. Be ready at all time to take your needs to the Lord. Then wait for Him to speak. Next Paul says our prayer and supplication is to be “in the Spirit…” Prayer begins in the natural man but is transferred into the spiritual realm. That is true. But when Paul says we are to pray always and pray in the Spirit what does that tell us? 1 Corinthians 14:2, “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God…” verse 14 “for if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful…” When you have a specific need you take it to the Lord in your natural tongue. What happens when you are called to pray for all the saints? You don’t know every need. You don’t know how to pray for every one. You don’t know what is happening in their lives. But God does. Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered…” You don’t know what to pray? Pray in the Spirit! You don’t understand how to reach God for your loved ones? Let the Spirit intercede for you! The Lord spoke to me the other day about praying for unspoken requests. We are supposed to agree with one another in prayer but when there is an unspoken request the only way we can agree is to pray in the Spirit and let Him intercede for us. Now Paul says that the church (you and me) has a responsibility. First we are to “be watchful.” This word in the original Greek means to “be sleepless”. In order to win a battle against satan we must be careful never to fall into spiritual slumber. There is a danger of that when it looks as though things are really starting to go the way we think they should in the church. “Oh, Man, we really had a good service last week! The worship was awesome; the preaching was great, the Holy Spirit moved like we haven’t seen before. I think we have arrived…” That’s when the danger of spiritual slumber becomes a reality. Now what we have seen happening in this church is, that because of the wonderful activity of the Holy Spirit through healings, gifts, and manifestations, satan has begun to physically attack good brothers and sisters in Christ. We must be watchful for all those situations and be prepared to pray with perseverance and supplication. Perseverance is sincere persistence. Don’t you remember the woman who went to the judge over and over again till he ruled in her favor? It was because she was persistent. She never gave up till she got what she wanted. If we are watchful and persistent, the enemy can never get a foothold. The one who is interceding and fight for us is too powerful. John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, "Who were all those men with you there?" Paton knew no men were present--but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station. Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 18.