Summary: Spiritual Warfare...What you can’t see, CAN hurt you!
Stand and Fight: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You.
I heard the story of a boxer a few days ago. He was an older guy who had once been the champ, and he wanted to prove that he still had it and so he had gotten into the ring with a fighter that was in a whole other league. After five or six rounds of just getting the stuffing knocked out of him, he came back to his corner and sat down. He was cut several times, and both of his eyes were nearly swollen shut. But, his trainer was an optimist and he was trying to encourage the former champ so he told him, “You’re doing great, that guy has barely touched you!” The boxer looked up at the trainer, exhausted, and replied: “Then you better watch the referee because somebody keeps hitting me!”
In Christianity today, you have a lot of people, pastors and churches included, that are like that trainer. They are trying to convince everyone that there is no problem and they are telling everyone who will listen that their lives and lifestyles are alright, that the world is barely touching them or having an influence on them and that Satan and sin really can’t cause us that much harm as long as we try to be good. But if you look in churches today, you see a much different story. You see people who have been beaten and battered by life. You see immorality and addiction. You see families that have been torn apart but are still trying to keep up appearances for the Sunday crowd. You see churches that can’t stop fighting and that are splitting and accomplishing nothing for God’s kingdom. No matter what people think, someone keeps hitting us! Someone is landing these blows, someone is leaving the scars behind. You can see it on so many faces, the blows that have been landed in a battle that has raged from the beginning of time and that is not going to go away any time soon, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that it’s not there.
Many don’t want to believe in angels and demons and a spiritual realm, so they just refuse to believe that there is anything out there beyond what we can see. But this is a case where “What you can’t see, CAN hurt you!” If you want to witness Satan’s greatest victory to date, you don’t have to look in dark and seedy places. You won’t find it in the occult or in the filth and trash we call entertainment today. You can see his greatest victory in many churches today where he has convinced the people that he doesn’t exist. So many today are more comfortable taking Satan as a symbol of evil rather than a created being who is set against God and his people and is a very real enemy today. The Bible does not teach him as a symbol. The Bible does not teach him as incompetent or unaware of what’s going on. The Bible tells us that he is a deceiver and a liar and a lion that is ready to pounce and destroy. There is a war going on. And like it or not, you are involved. This war is outside of the realm of what we perceive as reality, it’s outside of what we can see with our eyes. We can see the consequences and the damage and rubble that this war has left in its wake, but the battle is a spiritual one. It is a battle for the hearts and minds of God’s most precious creation, you and me.
We are beginning a new series this morning and for the next couple of months, we are going to be digging into the area of spiritual warfare. This is scary for a lot of people and my intent in the coming weeks is not to scare you. In fact it’s the total opposite. My intent is to inform you of the reality of what we are dealing with and then to equip you with everything that you need, everything that God, Himself, provides to fight this battle so that when the dust clears, we will be still standing.
In the 6th chapter of Ephesians, Paul is just wrapping up a very lengthy letter to the church at Ephesus, a church that he helped to plant at the tail end of his second missionary journey. He wrote this letter while he was in prison in Rome and it is very different than many of his other letters. Paul used the majority of his letters not just to encourage believers, but to address specific issues that had arisen in the young churches that Paul and the other apostles had helped to start. With Ephesians, Paul writes with a broader purpose. He does encourage the Ephesians and he praises them for the good reports that he has heard, but his main purpose is to help them to come to a fuller understanding of their new found faith. He wants them to go deeper. He shares with the Ephesians a vision of God’s Sovereign plan for the church and for the world. He lays out the perfect timing of God sending His Son and reveals the depth, the full scope, of what was accomplished for us on the cross. He writes to the Ephesians about the unity that we have in Christ, it doesn’t matter what language you speak or what color your skin is, there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father over, in, and through all. Woven throughout the letter is the heart of God as laid on the heart of Paul. He gives a vision of what true Christian living looks like in a very hostile world. He teaches them how to pray; he speaks of how a marriage should work and how a family should look. He gives very simple and practical Truths to live by. Sounds like what we need today!