Who Are You Fighting?
Supernatural, Part 3
We’re in part 3 of our series on the Supernatural.
The first week we did a broad overview
of spiritual warfare,
and what that means for us today,
Last week we looked at the Holy Spirit,
Who is the Holy Spirit,
How can we be filled with the Spirit,
and what does he do in our lives,
when we are filled,
what kind of blessings and benefits
come with that.
We saw that the Holy Spirit will daily do
three things in our lives,
these aren’t the only things he does,
but they’re some of the most important.
Daily he will
guide us, encourage us, and empower us.
And by the way,
if you were in one of our Supernatural Small groups.
then this week in your group
you got a wrist band,
that says GEE,
which stands for Guide, Encourage, Empower,
so each time you notice this during the day,
you can ask the Holy Spirit to fill you,
and Guide, Encourage, and Empower you.
(we have extras of these… pick one up as you leave)
Lets look at a story from Acts 16. (page 758, pew bible)
This story starts when
the Holy Spirit speaks to Paul in a dream.
During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
So they go to Macedonia,
and things start out great,
Paul preaches the gospel
to a wealthy businesswoman named Lydia,
and she becomes a Christian,
and then her whole household does,
they all get baptized.
But then it starts to change.
When we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities…
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison.
This story is an example of something
we see over and over in the bible,
and we also experience over and over
in our lives,
It illustrates a spiritual principle
that every Christian eventually has to learn.
Its the spiritual principle
of attack and counter-attack
that results from spiritual warfare.
Now, maybe you’ve never thought of this,
or understood this,
but I know you’ve experienced it.
You’ll be going along in life,
and you’re doing your best to follow God,
and do the right thing,
And then some kind of great opportunity comes along,
and it looks like it’ll be a real blessing,
Maybe you pray about it,
and it really seems like God’s will.
So you go for it,
but then, things seem to go haywire.
And now you’re saying,
“I don’t get it.
I prayed about this,
and I really thought God was leading me to
take this job,
or to move to this neighborhood,
start dating this person,
or to get involved in this ministry,
or to start this group,
I really thought it was God’s will,
but nothing has seemed to work out
the way I thought it would.
Doors have been slammed in my face.
Relationships have been really hard.
I’ve been hassled in so many areas of my life.
All kinds of stuff going wrong.
What is going on?”
What’s going on
is a clash of two opposing kingdoms –
Its the principle of
attack and counter-attack.
We see it in this story of Paul,
who is led by the Holy Spirit into a new area,
He’s attacking an area
that Satan thought was his,
and Paul has some initial victories,
but then there’s counterattack.
And you’ll see the same thing happen in your life.
Now, why does this happen?
Well, lets step back
and look at the big picture for a second.
And I need to give you a quick theology lesson here,
we’re going to dive a little deeper,
so just hang with me for a couple minutes.
with the first coming of Christ,
the age of the kingdom of God dawned in this world.
Because of Christ’s coming, 2000 years ago,
something fundamentally different happened in this world.
God’s rule or reign broke in.
God, the King,
began reclaiming this world for himself.
If you read through the gospels,
Matthew Mark or Luke,
you hear Jesus talk over and over again,
about the kingdom of God.
Half of his parables are about the kingdom.
And some people think, oh,
he must be talking about heaven.
No, he’s talking about something new
happening on earth,
when he uses the word kingdom,
its defined as God’s rule or reign on earth.
God’s kingdom coming to earth,
in a new way,
that had never happened
before Jesus showed up.
When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray,
he told them,
here’s what you pray for.
Matt 6:9-10 NASB
'Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
'Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus was constantly talking about
the kingdom coming to earth.
Jesus brought God’s Kingdom rule to earth,
and as a result,
A bunch of things immediately changed.
because of the coming of Jesus Christ,
we can experience the forgiveness of our sins,
we can be filled with the Holy Spirit.
and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
We gain new power
to live in holiness and purity.
There’s amazing changes that happened,
because Jesus came
and brought God’s kingdom into this world.
But even though the kingdom of God
has come to this world,
the fullness of the kingdom of God
hasn’t yet come,
it won’t fully arrive till the second coming of Christ.
In fact, Theologians have a term they use about the kingdom.
You may have heard this before,
The now and not yet.
The kingdom of God is here now,
but not yet in all its fullness.
Its very obvious that,
the whole world has not yet
come under the rule of the kingdom
and come under the reign of God,
there’s still a battle going on
for the hearts of human beings,
and evil still wins out much of the time.
By the way,
have you ever asked the question,
why is life so hard?
This is the answer.
There’s a war on
between these two kingdoms.
The kingdom of darkness,
and the kingdom of God.
And as a result of this spiritual war,
there is terrorism,
racial and religious discrimination,
and cancer and heart disease.
every moment you live,
you are deeply affected by this spiritual war,
And that means that,
every time you advance in the battle,
every time God starts doing good things
in your life, and the life of those around you,
every time there is forward movement,
every time you see God’s kingdom rule
extended a little farther
in a person’s life,
or in a family,
or in relationships,
any time you see those good things happening,
you can expect,
there is going to be opposition,
Maybe your family member or friend
finally makes a decision to follow Christ.
You’ve been praying for them,
and waiting a long time,
and it finally happens,
But then next thing you know,
they get sidetracked.
An old boyfriend shows up again.
Or they get laid off from work
or their mother suddenly gets sick,
and they’re out of church again,
And you’re going,
what’s happening here?
We were just seeing some progress…
It’s a Counter-attack
Every time you try to advance God’s kingdom,
and every time the darkness
gets pushed back a little bit.
there will be at least an attempt
at counter-attack and opposition
from the other side.
The problem is, we’re not aware of this,
and don’t understand this,
and so we’re completely surprised
when there is a counter-attack.
What’s going on,
“Why is Life so hard?
Why is it that
even though I prayed and prayed,
and things were going good,
now its all messed up?”
Have you ever watched a football team practice?
They do the drills,
and they run the plays over and over,
till they can do them perfectly,
they’ve got it down,
they look good.
They come onto the football field for the game,
and they’re ready to go,
they are full of confidence.
And then the game starts,
And things start to break down and fall apart.
Our star running back is slammed to the ground.
Our quarterback gets sacked.
Our passes get intercepted.
We go back to the sideline and say,
“Coach, what’s wrong?
It worked really well in practice,
but now its not working.”
The coach says, “Well, the difference is,
now there is another team on the field.”
You are not playing alone,
you’ve got opposition
who is out to stop your every move,
and counter attack everywhere possible.
The Christian life is not just
steady movement down the field,
one victory after another,
because, the Christian life
is not a pretend practice game,
or a pretend war.
There is real opposition
to the spread of the kingdom of God.
There is a real war going on,
and its going on at your job,
in your home,
with your friends,
with your kids,
in the church,
in your small group,
The war is going on
with your health,
with your finances,
with the choices you make in every area of life.
And every time the kingdom of God moves forward,
there will be opposition and counter-attack.
Life is hard
because you and I, and the entire world
are living in a war zone
and there are no non-combatants in this war.
So you might as well volunteer
to be on the right side
and learn how to fight.
Lets go back to our story:
We read in v.16,
We were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future.
If you look at the original greek,
its says this girl had a “pneuma puthoona,”
pneuma means spirit,
puthoona means python, the snake.
So this literally says
We met a girl who had a python spirit.
When they translated this into English,
they knew that
nobody’s gonna know what a python spirit is,
so they translated it as,
a spirit of divination,
or a spirit by which she predicted the future.
But if you were reading this 2000 years ago
when Luke wrote it,
you’d immediately know what a python spirit was.
According to Greek mythology,
the Python was the snake
that guarded the Temple of Apollo.
And worshippers of the Sun God Apollo,
were said to be able to channel the spirit
of this snake.
So there were women in the ancient world,
who were called pythonesses.
because they supposedly spoke for the Python spirit
and were able to predict the future.
Now, what does it mean when it says,
this girl “had a spirit.”
Well, the bible talks about a range of demonic influence,
from everyday temptation,
which all of us face daily,
to more extensive or addictive demonic temptation,
to affliction or tormenting by an evil spirit,
or in this story, to actually possession
in which an evil spirit controls actions or abilities.
All of us have experienced temptation.
But some of us have had other experiences.
some of you’ve have
seen or sensed or felt
the presence of evil spirits,
maybe at night in your home, or bedroom.
I know I have.
And some of you may have an area of your life
where you feel out-of-control,
and its like you’re almost a slave,
to do what you don’t really want to do.
Maybe you’ve sensed at times that
you’re being tormented
or harassed by a demonic spirit.
These kind of things can happen
even when you’re growing in your relationship with God,
and trying to follow God.
maybe you have an issue with intense anger.
You are fine one moment,
but then something sets you off
and you fly off the handle.
and totally lose it
and then later feel ashamed.
But its like something comes over you.
You can’t explain it.
Or maybe for you the issue has to do with your sexuality.
You really want to honor and obey God,
and you do,
for a week,
or a month,
or a couple months.
But then it is like the dam breaks
and you completely spiral downwards.
in some sexual area
you just throw away everything you know is right and good,
and completely give in to your lust,
And then afterwards,
you loathe yourself
and vow never ever do that again,
and you don’t…
for a period of time,
but then it starts over again.
Or maybe for you
the issue is out-of-control fear and anxiety.
You know the truth.
You know that God is in control.
You know you are supposed to trust him
with your life
and with your future.
You know that if you are a parent,
you’re supposed to trust him with your kids,
But then you just find yourself overwhelmed.
Its like this ocean wave sweeps over you
and the fear is just intense,
you can’t control it,
and you cannot stop your emotions from going haywire.
How do we handle these things,
that seem to be out of our control?
If we believe that the Bible is God’s word,
and the Bible is telling the truth,
then we cannot escape the fact that,
sometimes what’s going on in our lives
is the result of
influence from demons or evil spirits.
The Bible clearly shows that at least some of
evil and wickedness and enslavement,
is due to evil spirits.
And at least some of the time,
when you are facing an issue in your life
or your child’s life,
or a friends life,
at least some of the time,
when something is out of control,
they seem in bondage,
at least some of the time,
that’s due to the work of evil spirits.
So you need to praying for
the gift of discernment, and ask
Lord, what is happening here?
What’s going on.
Is this a normal psychological thing,
or a normal sin pattern,
or is there more to it,
is there an evil spirit involved somehow.
You need to pray for discernment.
I got an email a couple weeks ago
from my younger brother Phil and his wife
who live in Oregon.
They’re both Christians.
They have only one child,
a son named Zac,
who’s 20 years old,
so I’m Zac’s uncle.
Zac is very smart and talented,
he won all sorts of awards in high school
for his musical ability on the French horn,
got a scholarship to the University of Oregon,
went off to college,
and after a few days there
his life started to fall apart.
That was about a year and a half ago.
My brother and his wife
have gotten him counseling,
you name it they’ve tried it,
but it hasn’t worked,
and Zac now has these fits of rage
where he’s out of control,
and is delusional some of the time,
and chooses to be homeless,
let me read you part of the email from my brother’s wife.
She writes about how 2 weeks ago they had to take a several hour drive in the car.
Zac was loving and very sane until he fell asleep. When he awoke he was a terror and accusing. The drive ended up being a long counseling session where he ranted, gag-cried, confessed a lot of stuff, etc. Zac said he doesn’t hear voices or see things anymore, but when he lets his guard down, thoughts in his head tell him that everyone is against him, that he has and will have the worst life in the world, and that Phil and I are to blame. He eventually settled down, told me I was the greatest mom in the world, and how could he ever make up for all the crap he put me thru. A few minutes later he became threatening and I had to pull over. Some men the Lord miraculously sent, prayed for him, and Zac said that he noticed an improvement in his psyche, as this time he knew an attack was coming and he was able to tell it to shut up, although it had to be done many times with much crying and screaming before things calmed down.
Now, if you reject the supernatural,
then you have to say that
this is all mental health problems,
and he just needs medication.
However, there is no history of mental health issues in my family at all,
and Zac was great for 18 years, no problems,
plus they tried medication and it didn’t work.
I’m convinced and the rest of my family are convinced,
that at least part of the problem,
that Zac is dealing with,
is due to evil spirits.
Now, what do we do about this,
and how do we protect our lives
from influence by evil spirits.
We are told by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:27,
Do not give the devil a foothold.
What does that mean?
Well, right before that, it says,
In your anger do not sin, do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
In other words,
do not allow anger
to get out of control in your life.
If you repeatedly hold on to anger and rage,
you’re giving Satan a foothold,
Which means that
you’re turning over turf in your life
to the influence and possible enslavement
by demonic forces.
The point is that,
anger or any
Willful repeated sin,
can lead to Satan having a foothold in your life.
If you are willfully disobedient to God
over and over again,
then you allow that area of your life
to come under the influence and control
of demonic forces.
Now that doesn’t mean
your head is going to be spinning around on your shoulders,
it just means you’re allowing Satan a foothold,
a place to work with.
Demons are like flies around garbage.
One day last summer
we noticed an enormous number of flies in our house,
and we’re going,
where are all these flies coming from.
I searched, and finally figured out
they were coming from our basement,
so I search down there,
and found that one of our kids had left some food to rot
in a trash basket down there,
and the flies were loving it.
So I took that trash out, sprayed the basement,
and they were gone.
See, if you don’t want flies in your house,
you got to keep out the rotting garbage.
In the same way,
don’t bring spiritual garbage into your home.
Don’t bring garbage onto your computer screen.
Don’t bring garbage into your library,
or into your mind.
Repeated, willful sin
will give Satan a foothold in our lives.
He’s attracted to that like flies to garbage.
A second area a foothold may come from is:
due to sin committed against a person.
Some of you may have been abused
physically or sexually or emotionally.
And that sinful behavior committed against you,
very commonly results in
footholds in your life.
Now, this is not fair,
because you weren’t responsible for that sin,
you were the victim,
but still it opens up footholds in your life.
A third area is
Sometimes a foothold for Satan will come
because a person tries to get
secret knowledge or power
from a spiritual source other than God.
In the story we read,
this slave girl had a spirit
by which she predicted the future.
She wasn’t learning about the future
by turning to Christ,
or turning to scripture.
She was turning to evil spirits.
And the Bible forbids us
from seeking secret information, or power
from any spiritual source other than God.
Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist, or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord…
This is why its unhealthy
to have anything to do with Astrology,
or anything like that.
That may lead to a foothold in your life,
for Satan to use.
One last source of footholds
that’s very common in our society, is simply
We read in Acts 16,
we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She also earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune telling.
Then in verse 19,
once the demon is cast out,
When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.
This girl was doubly enslaved.
She was a slave girl,
and she had been enslaved by a demonic spirit
simply in order to satisfy her master’s greed.
Greed can open a foothold to the enemy.
Now, if we have footholds in our life,
if we have areas
that seem out of control,
How do we get free?
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
If we don’t want demonic influence in our lives,
then we have to renounce
and decisively turn away from
behaviors and attachments
that don’t honor God.
I need to remove that foothold in my life
by renouncing any connection,
whether sinful lifestyle
or things out of my past,
or greed, or whatever it might be.
We confess our sins to God.
We admit to God that there’s been a place
in which the enemy has gotten a foothold.
So we ask God to wash that place.
We renounce our connection with that sin.
We break its power over our lives.
We command it to leave us.
And you turn that out-of-control-area
over to God.
And sometimes we may have to do that
again and again and again.
How many times? As many times as it takes,
When I blow it, and stumble again,
I turn that area of my life back over to God,
because as we saw earlier,
we can expect opposition and counter-attack.
I’ve used this illustration before,
but really captures what we’re talking about.
Its from a book by Brian Tome.
Imagine tomorrow morning you wake up,
pour yourself a big bowl of Captain Crunch,
and look out the back window past the deck and patio furniture,
to find, a tent.
Just a two man job, not very big, perched in your backyard.
What do you do?
You could go raise a ruckus, and get it off your property,
but you could also take a more laid-back approach.
Maybe you think, I don’t know what that tent is doing there,
but its not like I was using my backyard last night,
so whoever put it there is welcome to it.
They’re not harming anything by being there.
So you leave them.
They’re still there a week later, and you actually see smoke coming out of a little stovepipe in the top of the tent. They’ve built a fire in there?
How long are they planning on staying anyway?
But being easygoing, you think, well, it can get a little chilly here at night,
I might do the same if I were them. And again, you leave them.
Its been six weeks now, and you come home from work to find a concrete slab poured under the tent, (which has now been fortified with a wood frame) and a mailbox out front.
Apparently, these losers plan to stay for good.
Who do these people think they are?
But then again, it’s just a little concrete.
No harm done.
And you leave them be.
This goes on and on and on. Imagine that children are born in that tent,
which expands to become a hut, then a shack, then an A-frame house.
And those children grow up believing the property belongs to them, now,
and that they have every right to tear around your yard, crush the azaleas,
and terrorize your dog.
Imagine that they start to claim that they own the property under their house, and you couldn’t evict them even if you tried.
Are you starting to feel a little powerless, a little duped, and thinking that maybe you were too patient and understanding?
Well, what if your children started to grow up thinking that those people belonged there, and the property wasn’t yours to begin with?
Feeling any indignation yet?
You know, there’s only one person to be blamed for these thieving vagrants staying longer than just that first night: you.
You let them stay. You weren’t a watchful owner.
You thought it would be easier to avoid conflict than to be vigilant.
But do you know what? You could still, at any point, run them off the property and tear down whatever they’ve built. You could uproot that concrete, plant new shrubs, and rehabilitate your traumatized acreage.
You’re the rightful owner; you have authority.
That’s a picture of what has happened
to every one of us in this room,
to some degree or another.
We have a real spiritual enemy
who’s come onto our property
with things like anger, lust, bitterness,
and maybe you’ve let those things stay there,
you didn’t throw them off the property,
So they spread out the tent posts,
and eventually built a stronghold in your life.
We’re going to close in a second,
but let me just ask to think about,
Are you giving Satan a foothold in your life
that he can exploit?
If we give him a foothold,
and don’t do anything about it,
it can eventually grown to be a stronghold.
Maybe for you its something like Fear –
instead of trusting God,
you’re sure that every little symptom
means you’ve got cancer,
and you live in continual fear
of what might happen.
Or maybe, because of past rejection,
you don’t trust people.
Maybe its bitterness and resentment
against someone from your past.
Maybe its Pornography, or lustful thoughts,
or some other sexual habit.
Maybe it’s a lack of patience –
with your spouse or kids,
and it leads you to be short-tempered or critical.
If you have some type of foothold in your life,
the wrong response, is to start feeling
That’s what Satan wants you to do.
He wants you to feel really bad,
but never do anything to change.
That’s the wrong response.
The right response,
is simply admit it to God,
and ask him for help,
renounce that area of sin,
Give that area to God and let him cleanse it.
And tell God,
I am not going to let the devil have any foothold in my life,
I am tired of him trying to destroy the good things in my life,
I am not going to let him keep that up the rest of my life,
This is going to stop,
God, I need your help,
but with your help and your strength God,
I know that I can overcome the enemy,
and I am not going to settle for second best any longer,
God’s kingdom is going to advance,
in my life,
in my family,
in my relationships,
in my health,
in my finances,
in my spiritual life,
in every area,
we will win, with God’s power.
Stand For Prayer: Holy Spirit we ask you to come and fill us now. We thank you that each day you are there to guide us, encourage us, and empower us to live for God. Lord, we desire to see your kingdom come. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Your kingdom come, your will be done, in our lives, in our families, in our community. Your kingdom come your will be done in our health, in your relationships, in our finances. Your kingdom come your will be done in this church. In every area of life, we ask for more of you, more of your power, to defeat the work of the enemy in our lives, and to see your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.