Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: 1. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle. 2. You must choose sides. 3. The battle must be fought with courage.

Jennifer Hoes will get married on her birthday, May 28, 2004. It will be an elaborate affair: a unique wedding gown, a ceremony in the wedding room of the City Hall of Haarlem in the Netherlands. Jennifer will be both the blushing bride and the dashing groom. Family and friends will gather to celebrate her marriage to herself. She will promise to “love, respect and honor” herself in good times and in bad. In the UPI article, Jennifer acknowledges that hers will be the quintessential postmodern union. She says, “We live in a ‘Me’ society. Hence it is logical that one promises to be faithful to oneself.” The writer of the article wonders: “What if she ceases to like herself — will divorce be an option. . . . Indeed, what if she should fall in love with somebody else deeply enough to wed him — must she first send herself packing? In case she doesn’t but still says, ‘I do,’ to the guy, would this be considered an act of bigamy? Could she go to jail for that?” Her response is: “There’s room for two rings of my finger.” So, obviously, she is willing to marry someone else while remaining married and committed to herself.

It is stories like this one that leave us reeling and wondering if there is any sanity left in the world. We have recently been deluged with the news of homosexuals being permitted to marry, and there seems to be no lack of ordained ministers of the church who are willing to perform these ceremonies. There has been enormous pressure on the General Conference of our denomination this past week and next to permit practicing homosexuals to become legitimate pastors in our church. You begin to wonder if the world has lost its moral mind. What once was understood to be a perversion of God’s intent and design is now considered to be not only normal, but something to be celebrated. You have to wonder where it will end. Will this become the norm in the United States and around the world? Will marriage be redefined so that it no longer means one man and one woman committing themselves in faithfulness to each other, but eventually include marrying yourself, like Jennifer Hoes? Could it soon be defined as one adult and a child, or one man marrying two women, or one woman and three other women, or a dozen people marrying each other? I recently read of a man marrying his horse. Why not, if marriage has lost all meaning and legitimacy?

Why is all this happening? How have we come to the place of moral insanity by a culture crazed by its own desire? How did we get to the place where something as obviously wrong as killing unborn children is seen as a fundamental right? As you look around you, you understand that there is no such thing as a commonly accepted morality any longer. People feel they have a right to do whatever it is they want to do, regardless of what Scripture says about their behavior. Yesterday’s culturally accepted norms are today’s taboos. The very fabric of our culture seems to be coming apart, and it all seems to be happening so fast. What is going on?

If you are going to survive what is happening in the world, you first of all need to understand that We are in the middle of a spiritual battle. This battle is real. It is the same battle that began in the Garden of Eden. God told Adam and Eve not to do something, and rebellion grew in their hearts. They rushed to do the very thing God had asked them not to do. Never mind that God was trying to spare them suffering and trouble, their rebel hearts were blinded by the desire to put themselves before God, and even become their own god. Like Jennifer who married herself, we are a culture of individuals who are in love with and worship ourselves. It is the ultimate form of idolatry. It is the humanistic trinity of “Me, Myself, and I.”

When the apostle Paul advised us to put on the whole armor of God, it was for a reason. He understood that we are in a spiritual battle. You may not like to fight, but it makes no difference. You are in a spiritual battle whether you want to be or not. This is the age old battle between right and wrong, good and evil, heaven and hell, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. Until we understand this, we are incapable of understanding life and what is going on around us. The point of Scripture is that we are in the middle of a great cosmic struggle between good and evil, and that somehow this battle is important to God. It is important that we are aware that something has gone wrong with the world. This is why life is sometimes hard and bad things happen. There is real evil present in the world. And we must be aware that there is a battle going on, that we are prepared for the battle, and that we are engaged in the battle. This is not a picnic in the park. Life can be very good, but life is also dangerous — it can even be brutal. The apostle John wrote that Jesus came to give us life and give it to the full, but in the same verse he warned that there is a thief who has come to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). The thief is our spiritual enemy, the devil. He is not just an idea, or a dark force, he is a person who is bent on your destruction. He is your personal enemy. Just as God has a plan for your life, so does he. As John Eldredge says, “There is something set against us. We are at war.” Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).

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