Sermon prepared by Joshua Dykes – Taught on 9/13/2020
Good morning! I am so glad that all of you are here this morning! I am really thankful for my friends from Freed-Hardeman who decided to come out of their way to visit us this morning. I know from experience that the drive here can be long and boring, but I am thankful that they endured that to be here with us this morning.
This morning, the title of our lesson is very bold, blunt, and one of warning. The title of our lesson is “Prepare for War”. When you hear the word war, what is the first image that pops into your head? What thought or picture arrives in your minds? When I hear the word war, I immediately think of D-Day and the arrival of US troops onto the beaches of Normandy. One of the bloodiest scenes of the second world war. The floating dead bodies in the water as well as the body parts scattered on the beaches are just some of the images that pop into my mind. And this morning, I am going to ask that we consider examining the war that we are all going to have to be a part of.
Listen to this poem. The author of this poem is unknown, but before we jump into our lesson, I just need you all, as Soldiers of Christ, to hear this call to arms:
I am a soldier in the army of my God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer.
The Holy Scripture is my code of conduct.
Faith, prayer and the Word are my weapons of warfare.
I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience,
tried by adversity and tested by fire.
I am a volunteer in this army, and I am enlisted for eternity.
I will not get out, sell out, be talked out or pushed out.
I am faithful, reliable, capable and dependable.
If my God needs me, I am there. I am a soldier.
I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted,
primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up. I am a soldier.
No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me or lure me.
I am a soldier. I am not a wimp. I am in place, saluting my King,
obeying His orders, praising His name and building His kingdom!
No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards or candy, or give
me handouts. I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for or
catered to. I am committed. I cannot have my feelings hurt bad
enough to turn me around. I cannot be discouraged enough to
turn me aside. I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.
When Jesus called me into this army, I had nothing. If I end up with nothing,
I will still come out ahead. I will win. My God has and will continue to supply all of my need.
I am more than a conqueror. I will always triumph. I can do all things through Christ.
The devil cannot defeat me. People cannot disillusion me. Weather cannot weary me.
Sickness cannot stop me. Battles cannot beat me. Money cannot buy me.
Governments cannot silence me, and hell cannot handle me. I am a soldier.
Even death cannot destroy me. For when my Commander calls me from His battlefield,
He will promote me to captain and then allow me to rule with Him.
I am a soldier in the army, and I’m marching claiming victory.
I will not give up. I will not turn around.
I am a soldier, marching heaven-bound.
Here I Stand! Will you fight with me?
So this morning, as we prepare for war, I am going to ask this one question, the same question asked at the end of this poem… are you willing to fight?? Are you going to be a soldier and are you going to remain strong?? If your answer is yes, then we need to prepare for war.
Please turn in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 10. This will be our main text this morning. In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul defends his ministry in his letter to the congregation in Corinth. The Judaizers tried to discredit the ministry of Paul; however, Paul notes that the authority that he receives is from the LORD. Look with me if you will at 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
“For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but our powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We diminish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Of all the passages in the Bible that talk about spiritual warfare, this one probably has to be the most basic. And when I say ‘basic’, I do not mean that in a demeaning way. It is basic in that all other passages concerning spiritual warfare shine brighter when seen through the lens of THIS passage. This morning, I am going to ask that you keep this passage in your mind and that you put a marker in your Bible because we will revisit this verse occasionally.
This passage reveals one essential truth and reality that any soldier of Christ should be made aware of before going into war. That one truth is that we truly are in a war. Please look again at v. 3. “For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh.” Paul admits in this very passage and the passage to follow that we are at war. There are many in the world today who do not want to admit this truth. They are perfectly content and are at peace with all the evils that exist in this world; and as long as they themselves aren’t inconvenienced by it or made uncomfortable, then they don’t see a war. There are many dangers that come when we do not acknowledge that there is a war. Let us take for example the nation of Edom. Turn if you will to Obadiah 1:6. Again, that is Obadiah 1:6.
“How the people of Esau will be thoroughly plundered! Their hidden valuables will be ransacked! All your allies will force you from your homeland! Your treaty partners will deceive you and overpower you. Your trusted friends will set an ambush for you that will take you by surprise!”
The prophet Obadiah in this passage is prophesying thedestruction of Edom, a nation of evil and wrongly placed pride. The nation of Edom was wealthy and prosperous. They had the best land for an army and the best trade agreements a country could ask for. However, they had a problem. The nations that they considered allies did not see Edom the same way. The Edomites were seen as adversaries, not allies. Likewise, if we do not recognize and correct evil, we could fall into the same trap of complacency and destruction that the Edomites did. If you do not recognize that there is a war, the enemy will see you as unprepared. And we will discuss more about who the enemy is in a moment. But the great military commander Sun Tzu said in his “Art of War” that the enemy will attack areas left unprepared. If we are unprepared for a war and are unaware that one even exists, how can we even hope to win?
Now who are we fighting against? Well, in 2 Corinthians 10:4, we are told that we are at war against strongholds, arguments, and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God. Now what are these things? What are these things that are raised up against God. If God’s enemy is our enemy, then who is it specifically? Many of us are familiar with this next passage but I am going to ask that we turn there anyways. Let’s turn to 1 Peter 5:8. Again, that is 1 Peter 5:8.
“Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.”
Peter through the Holy Spirit makes it very clear who our enemy is in this passage. Our enemy is the devil. The greek work for devil (diabolos) literally means adversary. The word adversary is defined as ‘an opponent in a contest, conflict, or a dispute’. So when we look at this passage and replace the word ‘devil’ with ‘adversary’, it reads like this:
“Be sober and alert. Your enemy the adversary, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.”
The fact that the very name of our enemy is the adversary should show just how important it is that we fight him. There have been many sermons and studies done over the years by many preachers and scholars over the devil, but it is not the purpose of my lesson this morning to go into a deep study on him and his nature. However, there are some things that we do need to know about the enemy. One thing that we need to know is that he lives among us. Look with me if you will in Ephesians 2. Before we dive into Ephesians 2, I want to warn you of those who say that the devil does not and cannot exist in this world and that the battle is only being fought in heaven. If we look in Ephesians 2, we can see that he is at war both in heaven and on earth. And his battle on earth is against us. Read with me v.1-3.
“And although you were dead in your offenses and sins, in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the domain of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest.”
The ruler of the domain of the air is a reference to Satan. And this ruler has a spirit that deceives those who are on earth. And he deceives us in many ways including driving us to live out our sinful desires. Our flesh and bodies are not perfect. We have free-will and can be tempted. And devil, who is our adversary, will use our temptations to get us to go against the will of God. And I am going to be honest. We have lost some battles. Every single person in this congregation including myself has lost some battles to the devil because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…. But he hasn’t won the war. He hasn’t won the war because he hasn’t won your soul. Christ defeated Satan by dying on the cross and rising again three days later. And if you have been put in Christ by being baptized, then you have been bought by God with the blood of Christ. But Satan will use every weapon he can to try to separate you from the grace of God.
So we have discussed the reality of the war and the fact that the devil is our enemy. Now we need to discuss our battle plan. Every victory and every war must be fought in accordance to a battle plan. No one to my understanding has ever won a war without the battle plan. Please turn back to 2 Corinthians 10. I am going to read for us again all three verses of our text for this morning.
“For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
The way that we win this war is through God and through Him alone!! We cannot win this war by ourselves because our flesh is feeble and fallible. When we have God on our side, we can overcome the adversary and the world which is under his influence. And as we minister to people outside of the LORD’s church, we need to understand that it is God who saves souls and not us. We need to understand that the will of God is what is to be followed, not our own will. We need to understand that anything taught by man that goes against God’s word is just a false battle plan from our enemy the Devil. One of the most fascinating battle plans I have ever seen in scripture can be found in Judges 7. In our teens class, we are going through the book of Judges. We have not yet covered Gideon, but hopefully the teens can gather a basic understanding of him today. Gideon was appointed by God to be judge over the people of Israel. There was no king at the time and judges were appointed by God to lead the people out of occupation and trouble after they repent for their wickedness. In Judges 7, Gideon is preparing an attack against the Midianites who have occupied Israel.
“Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley.”
Can you imagine what is going through Gideon’s mind in this situation?? He has all of his men prepared for battle and then God says ‘you have too many men’. I think Gideon probably would’ve thought that God was out of his mind. But we see in v. 15-23 that God gives victory to Gideon and we see in chapter 8 that they ended up slaying over 120,000 Midianites. This is what God was able to do with just a few men, and he did it according to His plan! Likewise, God is the source of our victory in war. If we fight according to his plan, according to His will *HOLD UP BIBLE* then we will win in the end. If we are going to win against Satan, then we need to trust in God’s battle plan revealed in the New Testament.
The last thing I want to point out this morning is the armor that you will be wearing into the battlefield. You actually have the choice on whether you want to wear it or not, but Satan will get a hold of you if you refuse to wear the armor. Please turn with me to Ephesians 6:12-18.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God). With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and petitions for all the saints.”
I ask this question directly to the members of this congregation who teach or lead by example: are we doing what it takes to equip one another with the armor of God? Are we doing what it takes to prepare our children or grandchildren to go out into battle? Are we showing them how to take up the sword of the Spirit? Do we know the Bible and do we know how to tell others about it? Let me tell you, if you don’t know how to use your armor or your weapon, it’s gonna be awful hard to win the war. There are so many churches that are dying today because instead of trying to win the war, they try to please the crowds. As Paul would say in 2 Timothy 4:3, ‘they have an itch to hear what they want to hear’. If we are not wearing the armor, Satan can very easily slip into our lives and into our churches. We need to be prepared.
This morning, you can choose to be prepared or you can choose to be unprepared. You can choose to either win the war or to lose the war. Maybe you desperately want to go and fight in the war but you are not adequately prepared or equipped. Maybe you haven’t yet enlisted or volunteered to be a part of God’s army. If you haven’t, the only way is to sign the application in Jesus’ blood. And you do so by being Baptized into him. If you are in need of prayers of the saints or any other need, please come forward now as we stand and sing.