Summary: The power of prayer in spiritual warfare
A tale is told about a small town that had historically been "dry," but then a local businessman decided to build a tavern. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground. The owner of the bar sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible, but the church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible. The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated that "no matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear. The tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not."
J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 129.
Last week I spoke to you about the POWER OF PRAYER TO RELEASE THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL. Today I would like to speak about the POWER OF PRAYER IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE.
In this passage Paul uses the metaphor of warfare to describe the work of ministry. Just as those who go to war do so with an array of weapons, so too the Christian is at war and must be equipped. But this war is not visible. It is spiritual. The weapons of the warfare are spiritual as well.
Notice with me two points:
I. OUR WAR WITH THE SPIRIT REALM
A. The reality of the confict (3)
1. Paul admits that although he walks in a flesh and blood world, the warfare he engages in is not “according to the flesh”
2. Paul was far less concerned about the armies of Rome than he was the army of the Devil.
3. He understood that the real opposition that comes against the gospel or the church is directly related to the spirit realm.
B. The weapons of the conflict (4a)
1. Could include those listed in Eph 6: helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel, belt of truth, shield of faith, sword of the Spirit (the Word of God)
2. Are “divinely powerful”, that is, “powerful with or in God”, “mighty before God”, “powerful from God’s point of view”, “having great power with God”
3. “For the destruction of fortresses”
a. The weapons God prescribes are designed for total victory.
b. “destruction” = “pulling down”, “casting down”, i.e. total dismantling and destruction
C. The target of the conflict (4b)
1. “Fortress” is any fortified structure used to establish a:
a. friendly presence in an enemy land. (church in world)
b. enemy presence in a friendly land (world in church)
2. In this instance it represents the established presence of strongholds within the kingdom of God that work against the presence of the gospel.
3. Some present fortresses that need to be destroyed:
a. Ethical Tolerance
1) that says “nothing is wrong”
2) but practices intolerance toward the things of God
Note: Josh McDowell says the problem with the new definition of tolerance is that it does not mean “accept me”, but rather “accept and embrace me”. But there is no reciprocity.
3) Ethical tolerance must be exchanged for “speaking the truth in love” Eph 4:15
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:20-21
John 8:31-32 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.
b. Religious Pluralism
1) that says “everyone is right”
2) begun as a philosophical approach to the growing diversity in America (William James) that celebrates the fact of diversity as necessary for strength.
3) Religiously, it stems from a position of tolerance that says no particular religion has any right to say it is “right”.
Note: “The new pluralism demands that you must not say that anyone else’s belief is inferior or, worse yet, flatly mistaken. To say someone is wrong is to be intolerant, to be close-minded and provincial, to be extreme and is impossible to reason with.” Gregory Koukl
4) The problem is that we adhere to a religion that is monotheistic, and a God who is jealous!
Isaiah 40:25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Isaiah 43:10-11 Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.