Summary: Second in a series looking at spiritual warfare not on the basis of popular Christian views, but on biblical teaching.
Two weeks ago I started preaching on this passage, and I told you at the time that as I began to study though it, what I had intended to be a single sermon had grown into at least two. Now it looks like three. And frankly, we could spend many more weeks on the subject of spiritual warfare. As I said two weeks ago, there have been more words written discussing this topic in the last 35 years as have probably been written in the previous 2,000. Christian culture has embraced this idea of spiritual warfare in a huge way.
This is somewhat appropriate, because I think it’s more than appropriate for us to be aware that we are at war against a foe who is waging a campaign of insurgency against the Church. Many in the church treat it as a country club, a place where nice folks dress up in nice clothes, hear a nice sermon, talk about nice things and leave feeling really nice. Instead, I think that the writers of the Scriptures and Jesus himself speak of the church as existing in the midst of a real battlefield, complete with obstacles, minefields and real enemies.
But I also think that much of what has been written about spiritual warfare in the last 35 years is unprofitable at best, and erroneous and dangerous at worst. And I think this is the case because so much of what has been written and taught about spiritual warfare does not, in my opinion, take seriously the clear teachings in the Scriptures about God’s sovereignty, providence, omnipotence and the victory we enjoy because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But even so, Satan is still waging a war of insurgency against the Church. We are told in 1 Peter that he still roams around like a roaring lion, looking for people to devour. And we need to take seriously the fact that we are truly at war. Two weeks ago I told you that I had divided this passage into three points, and we only covered the first point that week. All three are all printed in the sermon notes page in the back of your bulletin, but let me enumerate them:
1-3 We live and we fight in the world
4-5 We live and we fight with powerful weapons
6-8 We live and we fight as those under authority
This week, let’s consider point #2, we live and we fight with powerful weapons.
What do we know about the weapons that we are to use as we engage in spiritual warfare? Paul first tells us that we don’t use the same weapons as the world. As you remember from two weeks ago, the NIV renders this Greek word, sarx, as “world”. Most other translations render it, “flesh”. The flesh is that carnal nature that is at enmity towards God. It is our natural state apart from an act of God’s grace in our lives. So when Paul talks about not using the using the weapons of the world, he is talking about not using the same weapons as those who live in opposition to the gospel.
As you look at this world, as you look at those powers that war against the Church and against the gospel, what are the weapons that you see employed?
Two weeks ago we talked about the strategy that Satan uses to wage war. A spirit of disillusionment, discouragement, and dissention.
This week let me add three more – these are more precisely weapons than strategy. Paul tells us that we do not use the weapons of the flesh. It might be helpful to see what those weapons are, so that we can recognize them and fight against them. Though they are not readily apparent in this passage, they are spoken of throughout Paul’s letters. The weapons that the flesh uses to wage war against the Church are: Fear, guilt, and power.
Over the millennia, fear has been a primary weapon that Satan has used to wage war. He has sought to make you and I afraid of many things. Many folks inside and outside the church are convinced that we should be afraid of God, that He is an angry, unloving deity.
We see this in many religions outside of Christianity, where people must work for their salvation. God is seen as a grudging deity who will only let people in to heaven if He is convinced that they have done enough to earn His love and His favor. So you must be good, keep an infinite list of commandments, do continual works of charity, knock on doors, pass out pamphlets, go on missions and pilgrimages, and still live in fear that you might not have done enough. Some religions even teach that people get extra chances through reincarnation, since one life lived is not usually sufficient to accomplish enough to satisfy this angry god.