Summary: Do you believe there are forces around us, influencing our lives, which are battling for control of our world? This sermon makes the case that spiritual warfare is very real, and that at the end of the day we all serve one side or the other, whether we want to admit it or not.
Do you believe in spiritual warfare? Do you believe there are forces around us, influencing our lives, which are battling for control of our world? It sounds sort of conspiratorial doesn’t it? It sounds like something that drives the plot of a movie, or maybe a sensationalist blog designed to generate clicks and advertising dollars.
It sure isn’t an idea we that we are comfortable with. We like to think of ourselves as self-determined individuals, the masters of our own fates. But as much as we might want to delude ourselves, we all have bosses. We all are asked to make decisions every day, and there are forces in this world that want to see us fail. I can tell you that spiritual warfare is very real, and that at the end of the day we all serve one side or the other, whether we want to admit it or not.
So this morning I want to talk to you about spiritual warfare. I want you to be prepared for this fight. But in order for you to be prepared, you have to train. And in order to train, you have to know what you’re training for, who you are fighting against, and what tools are available to you.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
First, we need to know who we are fighting against. When we are talking about “the enemy,” we often conjure up an image of sort of an anti-god, almost equal in power but completely evil. The problem is, that isn’t the picture that scripture paints of him. You see, even the devil was created for a beautiful purpose, to serve and worship God and to spend eternity rejoicing in His service. As Col. 1:16 (NIV) says, “For in him [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created through him and for him.”
We get a glimpse of this purpose in Eze. 28:13-19 (ESV), where it says, “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.”
Similarly, Isa. 14:12-15 says (ESV),
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.”
Now, it’s true that the symbolic language of the prophets was designed speak to the realities that the people of God were facing in that day. The first passage is part of a series of prophecies against the king of Tyre, and the second against the king of Babylon. But the prophets also recognized there is a deeper spiritual power behind these authorities, and that just as God was pronouncing judgment on earthly authorities who had failed in their charge, acted unjustly, and out of greed for power, grasped for more; God was also pronouncing judgment on the spiritual powers which drove them. Though we can’t know exactly when Satan’s rebellion and fall took place, we know that it was before our own, as Genesis tells us that from the beginning Satan set out to be our enemy and drag us down with him and even today he and his followers drive the people and structures of power who serve only their own gain; or as Paul says, “following the way of this world and the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.”(1)