Summary: We are the church triumphant only if we utilize the energy and the equipment God supplies. Don't live in defeat any longer. Overcome through the power and provision of our Lord.
A former boxing champion, eager to regain his status, got into the boxing ring with a newer and much younger champ. After five or six rounds of pummeling, the old champ came back to his corner and sat down. He was cut several times, and both of his eyes were nearly swollen shut. Even so, his trainer with great optimism tried to encourage the old champ. “You’re doing great,” he told him. “That guy has barely touched you!”
The old boxer, squinting at his trainer and about to keel over, replied: “Then you better watch the referee because somebody keeps hitting me!” (Daniel Richter, SermonCentral.com, June 2007)
That’s the picture of many churches today. Their members have been beaten and battered by life. There is immorality and addiction in the pews. Families in the church have been torn apart, but are still trying to keep up appearances for Sunday morning. Church members can’t stop fighting. Churches are splitting, and many are accomplishing nothing for the Kingdom of God.
Even so, there are people telling us that we’re doing great, that there is nothing really wrong with the church today, but most of us know it isn’t true. No matter what people say, we know that someone keeps hitting us! Someone keeps landing some pretty hard blows, and someone is leaving scars behind. That “someone” is Satan, a very real person, and he will do anything he can to stop the church dead in its tracks.
But we don’t have to take it anymore. We don’t have to let that old devil defeat us, because we have some supernatural resources he cannot overcome. We may be “down” in the middle of the fight but we’re not “out” yet. In fact, the victory is ours if we’ll only utilize the supernatural resources God has put at our disposal.
You say, “Phil, what are those supernatural resources?” Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Ephesians 6, Ephesians 6, where God tells us how we can get it together again and defeat the enemy.
Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. (ESV)
We are fighting a powerful enemy, but we have the “strength of [the Lord’s] might” at our disposal. So if we want to defeat those “spiritual forces of evil” that are tearing us apart, then we must fight with the Lord’s power. We must do battle with His strength. We must…
UTILIZE GOD’S ENERGY.
We cannot overcome in our own strength. Instead, we must “be strong in the LORD, vs.10 says, “and in the strength of his might.”
If we were to fight the forces of evil in our own strength, it would be like trying to operate a tank on the battle field without knowing it comes equipped with a motor. Imagine a puny, little soldier trying to push a multi-ton tank across the battle field. He’d get nowhere fast!
Even so, that’s how many Christians try to operate their lives, and that’s how many church members try to run their churches. They seek to storm the gates of hell without the power of God’s Spirit¸ and then they wonder why they are so ineffective.
Whenever we go to do battle with the evil one, we must depend on God’s power; we must connect with the Lord; we must seek His help. It’s like putting the key in the ignition and feeling the rumble of power beneath you. If we’re going to defeat the evil one in our lives and in our churches, then we must utilize God’s energy. In addition, we must also…
UTILIZE GOD’S EQUIPMENT.
We must take up all the Lord’s gear. We must put on the full armor God has provided.
Ephesians 6:13-14a 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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth… (ESV)
The Apostle Paul is writing these words under house arrest in Rome. And no doubt, there is a Roman soldier right there in the room with him. He looks at that Roman soldier and sees that he is wearing a long tunic – a big, square piece of material with holes in it for the head and arms. Now, normally that tunic hung low and loose over the body, except when that soldier went into battle. Then, he would put on a belt, clasp it around his waist and tuck the four corners of that tunic in his belt. That way it wasn’t flapping in the breeze or tripping him up when he tried to fight.