Summary: The body must be unified...we must be of one accord in our desire to serve our God in obedience to our specific call. Let's allow God to take us to the next level of victory. It begins at the place of prayer...will you come?
TAKING THE OFFENSIVE
We've dealt with the six items of defensive armor listed in Ephesians 6...but as we mentioned last week, there is nothing in that list of defensive equipment that will enable us to deal with Satan's strongholds as described by Paul in 2 Cor. 10:4-5 where he speaks about our obligation to cast down these strongholds.
Now we are going to move from the defensive to the offensive, and deal with the spiritual weapons of attack. And it is important to see the obligation we have to take the offensive...to move out and actively attack Satan's kingdom.
It's a fact of history that no army ever won a war on the defensive. In the early part of this century someone asked a well-known French general, "In a war, which army wins?" The general replied, "The one which advances!"
Now, its not quite that simple...but it is true that we will never win a war by retreating - or even just by holding our ground. And as long as Satan keeps the church on the defensive, his kingdom of darkness will never be overthrown. So we have an absolute obligation to move out and attack.
This is what Jesus spoke about when He first unveiled His plan for the church...and He envisioned it being on the offensive - attacking Satan's strongholds. In fact, the first time the word "church" is used in the New Testament is in Matthew 16:18...where Jesus speaks these words to Peter...
"You are Peter, a stone; and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it." (TLB)
Now this is probably a familiar passage to most of you...but I think we really fail to understand what it is really saying. So many people assume that Jesus pictured the church as being on the defensive...being in a city that is being pounded by Satan's forces.
And many have taken this promise to mean that Satan would not be able to beat the gate of that city down before Jesus came and caught the church away. And that is a defensive concept of the church in the world that is completely and totally incorrect - dead wrong!
What we find here is Jesus' picture of the church on the offensive...attacking the gates of hell. And Jesus promises that those gates would not hold out against the church...that Satan would not be able to keep the church out!
You see, it's not the church trying to fight off Satan and keep him out...it is Satan failing to keep the church out. That is what Jesus promises us...if we obey - that we will be able to move out - storm right through his gates...and release his captives. That is the church's assignment - and it is primarily offensive, not defensive.
Now, the word gate has a great deal of meaning in Scripture. First of all, the gate was the place of counsel...it was the place where the rulers would meet to take care of much of their business. Proverbs 31 tells us what the ideal wife is...and in verse 23 it also says of the husband:
"He is respected at the city gate, where he takes his place among the elders of the land"
From this we see that the gate was the place where the ruling council of elders sat and took care of the city business. So when the Scripture says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church...it means that Satan's council's - his group of ruling demons - will not prevail against the church. Hallelujah! They will be frustrated and overcome by the church who walks in power and obedience to God's Word!
One more thing I want to mention about the gate. In those days when an army would attack a city...the natural place to attack would be the gates of the city because they are weaker than the walls.
And the picture we find in our text for today is that of the church making an all-out attack on the gates of hell - the gates of Satan's kingdom - and the promise of God is that those gates will not be able to keep the church out! So we have to stop thinking defense and start thinking offense when it comes to spiritual warfare.
You know, I believe that most Christians have the attitude: "I wonder where the devil is going to strike next? What is he going to hit me or my family with now?" But the shoe should be on the other foot! It should be the devil wondering where the church is going to strike him next!
Now...I want to take this idea of offensive warfare one step further, and I want to show you something very important! Turn with me to Colossians 2:15. This one verse describes what God accomplished through the death of Christ on the cross...on our behalf!