Have you ever noticed how they use Llamas to help herd sheep? Do you know why they do that? It all started a few years back when a woman name Lexy Fowler tried just about everything to stop coyotes from killing her sheep in Montana. She has used odor sprays and electric fences. She sent nights sleeping with her lambs and has even placed radios near them. She has corralled them at night, herded them by day but still she lost scores of lambs to the coyotes. Then she discovered the llama – the funny-looking llama. "Llamas don't appear to be afraid of anything," she said. "When they see something, they put their head up and walk straight toward it. That is aggressive behavior as far as the coyote is concerned, and they won't have anything to do with that. Since she found out about Llamas she has lost only a few sheep to the coyotes because -coyotes are opportunists, and the llamas take away those opportunities."
The devil, our enemy, is like a coyote, he uses opportunities to take and steal away. But like the coyote, he cannot handle aggressive behavior. When we understand his schemes, when believers use the tools God has given to resist him, he will flee away.
As we continue our study of 2 Corinthians, we have come to chapter 10 where we find the Apostle Paul defending himself against accusations. It seems there were men who had come into the church and accused Paul as they perverted the Gospel of Grace. These men were called “Judizers” because the wanted to put Christians, under the Jewish law. They came to the church with rules for living, special religious days, and like the Pharisees of Jesus day they ignored the weightier matters of the Law, Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness. What did they say about Paul?
2 Cor 10:10 ... "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing."
They said Paul, was "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away! Why would they say that about the Apostle who wrote the majority of the New Testament? Well, several reason, first because Paul was not one of the original 12 Apostles, some questioned his authority. Second Paul had come down hard on the church in Corinth and some didn't like it. But the third reason they didn’t respect Paul, may have been his appearance. Tradition tells us that Paul was nothing special to look at. He was short in stature, (I like him already), he was bald headed, bull legged, probably walked with a limp, he had a high pitched squeaky voice, and he may have had an eye disease that caused him to squint and his eyes to run. Paul really was the original Rodney Dangerfield, he got no respect.
Can you picture – this short, bull legged, squinty eyes, bald headed, high pitched voice man, come in and say, things like.
1 Cor 1:27-29 ….God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
But that's just like our God, using men and women who may not seem the most qualified, may not look the sharpest, but they have hearts that have been touched by God, and they have a passion of the things of God. Well here in Chapter 10 Paul deals with this opposition to his ministry. But Paul looks at things in the Spirit not in the natural and he recognizes his battles are not just from men, rather they are spiritual - so he deals with these issues the way we are to deal with the spiritual battles we face.
READ THE TEXT 2 CORINTHIANS 10:1-6 WAGING WAR!
The Christian life is often liked to that of a soldier, in years past the church sang songs like “Onward Christian Soldiers.” The scriptures have hundreds of analogies likening a believer to “a soldier.” So Paul takes his battle to the right perspective as he recognizes Spiritual warfare. Three things I see in the flow of this text.
For Paul the accusations came from men who opposed his ministry. They were not true believers so they accused and opposed him in many areas. But notice the way Paul approaches this defense of his ministry. First with meekness, and gentleness of Christ.
Matt 5:5 (Jesus said) Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Meekness, gentleness, just like Jesus. Meekness is not weakness, rather it is strength under control. Paul does not deal with his issues in a worldly or fleshly way. But recognizing that the issues he faces, the problems he has, are spiritual in nature. He does not live by the standards of this world.
How do we deal with conflict? How do you view the problems you face in life? Are we living by the standards of this world or the flesh? Do you come against people believing they are the enemy?
Do you blast the person behind the counter when you have an issue with your bill? Do you assume every rumor you hear is totally true? Do you see issues only through the natural eyes? Paul's accusations came from men, but Paul did not see these men as the enemy, rather he recognized there are spiritual forces at work. First the accusations, how we view our situations will effect how we deal with them.
The assignment is to live in the world (or in the flesh) but wage war with the weapons God gives us. There are worldly weapons, and there are spiritual weapons.
The world uses Guns, Bazookas, Tanks, and Bombs. The flesh fights with rage, harsh language, and violence.
Like the man in San Francisco, who is facing assault charges because he dropped 6 inch peaces of re-bar from the top of his local church onto the cars of the pimps and drug dealer that have taken over his neighborhood.
The worlds weapons are familiar to us, and when we like Paul are accused, we can react with in the flesh or in the Spirit. You can say things that cut, lashing out without thought, and cursing. You can use harsh words or toss some rebar, but that only make things worse. We can shun the people who hurt you. You can have actions and body language that make everyone know that you are mad and you are at war. But sometimes these wars are in our own homes. We speak curly to the people we love the most, we hurt those who are closest to us, we hurt them with our actions and our mouths. The husband, the father, who says cruel words -- because “I am at war, I am angry.”
James 1:19-20 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
My anger/ your wrath/ will never accomplish Gods will. Human anger is a worldly weapon that can not win Spiritual battles. Be that a battle from the pit of hell or be that a disagreement with you spouse. Your assignment, like Paul did, is to recognize spiritual issues and not react in the flesh.
The Christian solider uses different weapons. We have put down the arms of the world and taken up the arms of the Spirit. Our weapons have divine power, and they are mighty in the face of spiritual warfare, persecution, hardship, and troubles.
TURN TO EPHESIANS 6:10-18
Familiar words for many. Yet how often do we fail to use the Lord’s defenses and his weapons and to fight our battles? Why do you suppose that many Christians fail in their endeavors of spiritual warfare? I believe it is in part because they fail to recognize the enemy.
The husband who is mad at his wife thinks that she is the enemy. The wife who feels abandoned by her husband - believes that he is her enemy. The Christian who is having a feud with a brother or sister, thinks that they are the problem. Here in our text Paul is having problems with men, yet he fights his battle like he was fighting against Satan himself. See that is the strategy of Satan, to come against you not with all the demons of hell, but by the subtle workings of people. People in your own home, your church, or your place of work. His plan to cause you to develop hard feelings, to read into things, to judge your brother and sister.
2 Cor 2:11 In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes .
Are you aware of the schemes of the devil? More importantly, are you aware that God has equipped believers with what they need to overcome his schemes? Lets look quickly at God's weapons. First notice that it is God's armor, not yours, you are powerless to fight spiritual battles in your flesh.
3 John 4 – (Jesus said) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
Truth is powerful it is able to not only settle a dispute, but it is able to keep one from occurring. The armor baring believer has truth all about his waist. She is protected by the truth in every situation.
Righteousness, covers the front parts of the believer, it keeps Satan at from getting to your heart. The enemy's main weapon is the lie, Jesus said, “he is a liar, the father of all lies.” Satan says, “you are no good, other people may say you are unclean, you’ve gone to far, there is no forgiveness for you.” Even your own heart will condemn you, but by the blood of Jesus Christ all who call upon his name, have an imputed righteousness. We are positionally right before God - by faith in Jesus.
#3rd. Readiness of the Gospel.
John 10:10 (Jesus said) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Satan never has a nice day. He wants to steal your joy, kill your peace, and destroy your soul. Jesus comes to bring abundant life, that comes from the gospel of peace. I Spiritual battles, we declare the gospel, like David defeating Goliath, he told him who he was, and declared who God is, for the battle belongs to the Lord.
Faith is a shield to protect us from the fiery darts that come. That is the reason Paul doesn’t just blast these guys in Corinth, he has faith, he knows that it will all work out in the end. That why David did not kill Saul when he had the opportunities, he knew by faith that God will take out Saul in his way, and in his time.
No place in the bible does any human ever address Satan or speak to him. Jesus says, “get behind me Satan” to Peter, when his mouth was being used by the Devil. Jude tells us that Michael said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you.” But nowhere in the bible does anyone except God address Satan. We carry the shield of faith in Jesus Christ and with that faith fiery darts are extinguish.
Is protecting our head. When stones were flying at Steven, the first Christian martyr, he was preaching the gospel and asking the Lord to forgive those who were killing him. How could he do that? The helmet of salvation, he knew that when all is done, those who trust in Christ will pass from this life to the next. And not because of what they had done, but because salvation is of the Lord. Is Jesus your Lord?
#6. Word of God.
That is how Jesus defeated Satan when he was tempted. He quoted the powerful word of God. Learn it, use it, quote it to others and to your own heart.
Ps 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
The sword of the Spirit - the word of God - is our only offensive weapon, when others confront you, or someone comes against you, take them to the word for it is powerful.
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Phil 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Prayer will give you peace in the middle of a battle. Like Paul here, the accusations were flying and he is about the ministry. I might have be trying to get even, but Paul has peace, his heart is guarded, his thoughts are pure, his mind is clear, because he is communication with the Lord. Prayer is the one weapon that ties it all together. The old gospel song:
Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ----- Stand in his strength alone,
The arm of flesh will fail you. ----- Ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the gospel armor. ------ Each piece put on with prayer.
Where duty calls, or danger. ------ Be never wanting there.
First we see the accusation. Our enemy is called the accuser of the brethren , Next we see the assignment. To fight our battles with the power of God, the armor of God. Finally.
3. THE ANSWER. V4-6
Spiritual warfare happens, it is all around us, this world is the devils dominion. Believers are in a constant fight against the world, our own flesh, and the devil. And some of you have been fighting some long term battles. You might be here today and feel like giving up. That its too much to keep going. What will keep you going?
Gal 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Remember the prize of heaven for those who endure and keep on fighting the battles of life. And understand those battles make us into seasoned warriors, better equipped for service to our Lord.
In the 19th century all attempts to ship fresh North Atlantic cod from Boston to San Francisco failed miserably. Back then the only way to ship fish to the West Coast was to sail around South America —and that took months. As you can imagine, even packed in ice, by the time the cod reached California, the fish weren't exactly fit for consumption. So someone thought to ship the cod in tanks of water, so they were shipped to California alive, and processed there. The results were less than satisfactory. The fish didn't get much exercise during the trip, and were pasty and relatively tasteless. Finally, someone hit on an interesting idea. "To put some catfish in with the cod." Why catfish? Because catfish are cods' natural enemy. Sure enough, when a few catfish were placed in those tanks, the cod were always alert and swimming around. So when the fish reached San Francisco, they were in perfect shape.
You may get tired of fighting, but the battles we win, hones us to be more effective, fresher, and ready for whatever we face on earth. Because spiritual battles keep us in touch with our Lord. Two things to understand about the weapons we fight with. Like earthly weapons they must be used, to do any good. But just what do they do?
Satan is our enemy, recognize who he is, and recognize who the enemy is not. Your enemy is not your spouse, it is not your mother in-law, it is not your boss, your enemy is the Devil.
1 Peter 5:8-9 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
The enemy may use your spouse, your in-laws or your boss to cause battles but the person is not the enemy. The weapons we fight with are able to demolish strongholds. Not just break them down, but demolish them. What are the strongholds in your life? It could be an outward sin you struggle with, lust, alcohol, drugs. A stronghold could be a heat attitude, judging others, gossiping, or a terrible temper. No matter God's armor, his weapons are able to demolish those strongholds.
When Israel came into the promised land they faced the great walled city of Jericho, a stronghold that kept them from the promised land. Joshua their leader came before the Lord to receive the battle plan. “Ok Lord how many soldiers, how may catapults?” And God gives Joshua the most bizarre plan.
Josh 6:3-5 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in."
That's it! What kind of battle plan is that? To march and yell, and let the worship leaders lead! But Jericho is a picture of the strongholds and the spiritual battles we face. The promised land, for us, is a picture of the Spirit filled life. Its not a picture of heaven, because it is filled with problems. At Jericho Joshua is given God's battle plan - and like our spiritual armor it may not make sense, but they have divine power to demolish strongholds. Satan was defeated by Jesus when he rose from the grave, but like Israel going into the promise land, the giants are still around and must be broken in our lives.
God's weapons will destroy any argument or position that keeps men and women from the knowledge of God. When Caesar Nero tried to kill off all the Christians, the church flourished. While communism tries to stop the gospel, more and more people are come to faith. Listen as I read V5 from the “Living bible translation”
2 Cor 10:5 TLB These weapons can break down every proud argument against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding him.
Our weapons are not like the weapons of the world, when you throw a punch, there most likely will be a retaliation. But our weapons are powered by God and can demolish strongholds, and destroy arguments.
How do you apply all of this to your daily life? First you must recognize spiritual warfare, then us God's weapons. Look at V5-6.
2 Cor 10:5-6 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
Two things that we do in using God's weapons. We take captive every thought and we punish every act of disobedience.
#1st. Thought life.
Satan’s strongholds are often manifest in our thoughts. If the devil can get you to entertain thoughts of fear, anxiety, doubt, lust, and evil -- he has rendered you ineffective. Some of you here today have embraced thoughts of doubt, and believed the lies of the accuser – thats the bad news. But the good news is: “We are more than conquerors in him who loved us and gave himself for us.”
James 4:7-10 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
If you simply try and resist the devil and take every thought captive, you will be ineffective and defeated. Notice what James says. Come near to God and he will draw near to you. Wash your hands, purify your hearts, that means repent, and focus on the Lord. Don't be double minded, or wishy washy when it comes to what you believe. Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
An old fable says that the devil once offered his tools for sale, intending to give up his business. He displayed the tools of —malice, hatred, jealousy, deceit, and several others, with the prices marked on them. But one tool was set apart, marked with a much higher price than all the others. When the devil was asked why this was, he said, "Because that is my most useful tool; I call it “discouragement.” With it I can do anything with people." Discouragement, leads to depression, it leads to ineffectiveness, it leads to giving into the passions and desires of this world and it is all fueled in our thought life, but it is overcome with God's armor.
Your thought life is the battle front for the enemy. He will say, you are worthless, he will whisper - “you can never be normal.” But we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. KJV – says “We cast down imaginations.” Fantasies should not rule our lives, be those lustful thoughts or be those thoughts of a baling out.
We take captive thoughts of superiority, we cast down thoughts of inferiority. The battle for the soul is fought first in our minds, and when we take every thought captive that is putting on the helmet of salvation. Impure thoughts will not be embraced, they will not be acted on. How do you give God your thought life? By filling your thought life with God. Read the word, be in fellowship, pray, and worship the Lord.
Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
Filling your mind with the things of God that is offering your body as a living sacrifice, and renewing you mind. The second part of the answer is.
If you want to live as an over-comer, if you want to live a victorious Christian life, you must deny the passions and temptation that every person on the face of the earth faces.
Heb 12:1...Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
If it is hindering you-- throw it off. Get rid of what entangles you. Then run toward the Lord -focus on Jesus, and you will not get tired, you will live in victory, you will be fighting with weapons that God himself has given.
NINE KEYS TO SPIRITUAL WARFARE.
1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Your enemy is not your spouse, your friends or someone you dislike, its the devil.
Jude 21 Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
There will be a day of no more pain or sorrow or problems.
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
Eph 5:18... Be (constantly) filled with the Spirit
Do let your emotions or anything else rule over you, but God's Spirit.
Rom 12:12-13Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Col 3:13 ...Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Eph 6:11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
1 Thess 5:17 Pray continually.
1 Thess 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
INVITE, PRAYER, BENEDICTION SING
Series: 2 Corinthians -Through the Bible
(C) High Sierra Fellowship 2008