Spiritual Power

Ephesians 6:10-12

We live in a world in which we desperately need power.
We are in a spiritual warfare.
The world needs to see divine power at work.
God wants us to have power.

Power is one of the greatest motivating forces in the world.
History is filled by men and women who lusted for power, from the pharaohs of Egypt to the Persian,
Greek, and Roman conquerors to the political leaders of our day.
Much of this power has been misused and much has been used for great good.

Whether people understand it or not, everyone wants power.
Some want a little and some want a lot, but everyone of us want power.
We may not want to rule over others, but we do want to control our lives.
We want to be able to impose our will on a situation, whether it is our job, our bank account, or our children.
Sometimes, we have all the power we want and sometimes we don't.
Sometimes, we use our power wisely, and sometimes we use it foolishly.
But more than we realize, much of life revolves around our search for and use of power.

The desire for power is not wrong in and of itself.
God has created us for great power.
However, God does not necessarily offer us the power to control the external affairs of life.
God does test us to trust Him in many of those areas.

But one area in which He extends to us all the power we need – an area in which we desperately need power,
and that is the area of spiritual warfare.
It is here that power is really at stake – the powers of darkness pitting themselves against the power of light.

We are engaged in a titanic, spiritual battle against the forces of darkness.
Although these spiritual forces have great impact in our daily lives, it is often very subtle.
Unless we are well instructed in God's Word, and unless we are disciplined to walk closely with the Lord,
we can fall victim to the powers of darkness without realizing it.

We are not used to talking about this – we're not used to thinking about invisible foes and spiritual combat.
Yet if we're not careful, we will be fooled into thinking that we are battling people and circumstances,
when all the time, things are being orchestrated by a mastermind behind the scenes.
The evil mastermind of darkness is intelligent and powerful.
If we tried to pretend he is not there, or if we tried to do battle with him in our own intelligence and power,
we are doomed to failure.

We need to know the source of our strength.

We see this in Ephesians 6:10: "Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might."

We cannot control the flood with a flamethrower.
Flames have absolutely no effect on the wall of water.
We cannot put out a forest fire with floodlights.
Bright lights have no effect on fire.
And we cannot fight supernatural battles with our natural strength.
Natural power has no effect on spiritual things.

We must understand that thoroughly.
If we did understand that, it would change the way we do things.
Instead of relying on hard work and creativity and shrewdness and politics and money,
we must rely on prayer and God's Word and godliness and spiritual unity and sensitivity to the Lord.

Our power, our strength, is not in ourselves.
It is in the Lord.

This does not mean that we shouldn't use hard work and creativity and shrewdness and politics and money.
It is just that we cannot rely on them for our strengths or our power.
Our strength and our power does not lie within ourselves.

This is a difficult thing for us to accept.
We may be very strong physically, and so we are used to relying on our spiritual strength to accomplish
what needs accomplishing in our lives.
We may be very skilled business executives, or very talented artists, or we may be shrewd negotiators,
and we rely on these talents to make our way through the world.

It is difficult for us to lay down those abilities at the foot of the cross, and admit that we are powerless,
and say, "Lord Jesus, help me."
But until we come to that point, we are thoroughly deceived; and we will be thoroughly defeated.

God does the work of God.
Man does the work of man.

Men cannot do the work of God.
And God will not do the work of man.

It seems that we cannot get this straight.
We insist on trying to do the work of God while neglecting the work of man.
Then we wonder why things aren't going so well.

Spiritual warfare is a work that has to be done God's way.
Men cannot engage in spiritual warfare – only God can.
So the work of man is to learn how to rely on God – and only on God – in the spiritual war.

The strength of the believer is the strength of the Lord.
So the first thing, we learn about spiritual warfare is that we must rely on the strength of God.

Then, we must learn about the weapons of war.

We learn this in Ephesians 6:11: "Put on the full armour of God, that you may be able to stand firm
against the schemes of the devil
."

If it is true that we are in a spiritual battle – and we are.
If it is true that our struggle in life is not against flesh and blood,
but against an invisible and a very real enemy – and it is.
It is also true that our weapons of war cannot be lead and steel.
Our weapons must be spiritual weapons.
And Ephesians 6 describes one of those weapons – the armour of God.

"Armour" is a figure of speech.
This is not a steel-grey, mesh armour.
This is merely a metaphor for the spiritual resources that God provides for our protection, power and effectiveness
in our spiritual warfare against the forces of darkness – such as, truth, righteousness,
the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God.
Those are our spiritual weapons.

This passage also tells us about the weapons of evil – "the schemes of the devil".
The word, "schemes," in the Greek is "methodia", from which we get our English word, "method".
This implies craftiness, cunning, and deception – all of which describes the schemes of Satan.

Satan's name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek is Apollyon – both mean "destroyer." (Revelation 9:11)
Satan is also called "the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world."
(Revelation 12:9)
Satan is a deceiver and a destroyer.
He deceives in order to destroy.

In the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden, Satan deceived Adam and Eve into rebelling against God.
His purpose was to destroy them.
Thousands of years later, Satan attempted to deceive Jesus into departing from the will of God. (Matthew 4)
His goal was to destroy Jesus, and God's plan of redemption.
He appears as "an angel of light" to deceive us, and in order to destroy us. (2 Corinthians 11:14)

How does Satan deceive us?
He does that by taking that which is bad, and making it look good.
He does that by taking the false, and making it look true.
He does that by taking wrong, and making it look right.
He does that by taking the ugly, and making it look beautiful.
He does that by taking the hurtful, and making it look helpful.
He does that by taking the painful, and making it look pleasant.

In every confusing, conniving, deceptive way possible, Satan attempts to mislead us with his schemes.
In Matthew 24:24 we read that "false Christs and false prophets will arise
and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect
."
That is how great his powers of deception and destruction are.

By appealing to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, he makes bad look good,
false look true, wrong look right, ugly look beautiful, hurtful look helpful and painful look pleasant.
(1 John 2:15-16)

It is evident that by ourselves, we are no match for Satan spiritual weapons.
We need the armour of God.

The powers of darkness encompass a hierarchy of evil spiritual beings who do the bidding of their master, Satan.
It is difficult for us to think in these terms, but we must be aware that there is a spirit world surrounding us
of which we are not aware.
And these forces of darkness are locked in mortal combat with the forces of light.
Spiritual warfare is really real!

If we do not prepare for the spiritual battle, we could be the next casualty.
In 1 Peter 5:8 Peter writes: "Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour
."
And in 2 Corinthians 11:14 Paul warns that he "disguises himself as an angel of light."
Jesus said that Satan is "the father of lies." (John 8:44)
Satan can make poison taste like candy.
Satan can make alcohol seem beneficial.
Satan is the master illusionist.

Every day we are engaged in spiritual warfare, and we cannot succeed in our own strength.
As soldiers of the cross, we need the strength, the power, and the armour of the Lord.

We also need to know Satan's methods of deception.

Ephesians 6:12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness against the spiritual forces of wickedness
in the heavenly places
."

Satan employs two particularly effective means of deceiving us.
First, he gets us to sin.
Then, secondly, once we have sinned, he keeps us burdened in guilt.

To get us to sin, a master of deception convinces us that "it isn't so bad – it won't hurt."
He also convinces us that no one will find out, and that God will forgive us anyway.
He convinces us that what he is tempting us to do, will actually satisfy us.
He saps our spiritual convictions so that we don't even care.
He gets us over-tired and frazzled so that we just want immediate relief and were willing to do
whatever will give us that relief.
He twists our thinking so that we don't know what is right anymore.

Spiritual conflicts take two forms – temptation and spiritual opposition.
When we are tempted to sin, we are to flee. (2 Timothy 2:22)
When we are confronted with spiritual opposition, we are to fight. (James 4:7)

Most of us, have a genius for reversing the two.
When we sense spiritual opposition in our life and ministry, we want to flee.
And when presented with temptation to sin, we want to stand and fight.
That is backward, and we will have little success until we get it straight.

Do you want to run away from your financial obligations?
Stand and fight.

Is it too difficult to improve family relationships?
Stand and fight.

Is it difficult being moral, ethical, and honest in the workplace?
Stand and fight.

Are you tempted to have a relationship that is not Christ-centered?
Flee.

Are you tempted to buy something that you cannot afford?
Flee.

Are you tempted to watch that questionable movie or television program?
Flee.

Are you tempted to put together a deal that isn't totally honest?
Flee.

Someone has said that one of the keys to winning spiritual warfare is
"to know when to hold 'em and to know when to fold 'em."
We need to fight when we should fight.
We need to flee when we should flee.
And we must not confuse the two.

Deceiving us is not enough for this demon of death and darkness – for once we have sinned,
he grabs the back of our heads and shoves our faces in the mud of guilt until we suffocate.
By miring Christians in guilt, Satan keeps them from the joy of Christ and eliminates them
as an effective force in leading others to Christ.

To do this, Satan constantly accuses Christians of their sin, attempting to convince them
that they have no business continuing their charade of Christian living.
Of course he does all this in the first person, so we think we are just talking to ourself
out of our own guilty conscience.

And then, within ourselves we think "what a failure I am – I'm just a disgusted piece of humanity.
I am a phony – I am a poor excuse for a Christian – who do I think I am, anyway
– I should have known I couldn't make it – I was a fool to even try, and many other such whispers within ourselves.
Then the devil is convincing us that it won't work out for us, so we must just give up – stop trying to fake it
– and go back to the old life where we belong.

If we believe this father of lies, then he has us right where he wants us – defeated and convinced
that God doesn't care for us.

There are two important things we must understand about spiritual warfare.
First, there is real danger of being on the wrong side – the devil's side.
Second, we must come to learn that we are safe on God's side.

This means that we must submit to God in all things and resist the devil. (James 4:7)
That means we must gird ourselves in the spiritual armour that God has provided for us.

We need the belt of truth, so that we can know, understand believe, and obey the truth of God
as revealed in the Bible and in Jesus.

We need the breastplate of righteousness, so that we are not satisfied with known sin in our lives.
We must confess any sin and, to the degree that our spiritual maturity allows,
and we must live a godly, lifestyle.

We need the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace, so that we can rest in the truth
of the promises that God has given us.

We need the shield of faith to ward off attacks of doubt, unbelief, discouragement, and temptation.

We need the helmet of salvation, on which rests hope in the future, in which enables us to live in this world
according to the value system of the next.

We need the support of the Spirit, and the Word of God, so that we can use the Scriptures
specifically in life situations to ward off attacks of the enemy, and put him to flight.

God doesn't want us to sin, and certainly He doesn't take our sin lightly when we do.
But God is also patient and loving and gracious.
No matter what we have done, we must not be afraid to come into His presence.
God's grace is sufficient for all our sins.

We are often afraid to teach this because we think people will abuse it and go out and sin like crazy.
However, when people truly understand the love of God – when they understand that our relationship
with Him depends not on our own ability to cleanse ourselves,
but on His grace – the result is just the opposite.

We fall down on our knees and cry out to God in gratitude that, in spite of all our shortcomings.
He does not desert us.
This profound thanksgiving and understanding of God's grace will produce in us an increased desire to be holy.

The secret to understanding the accusations of Satan is not what we do – it is what Christ did on the cross.
The secret to withstanding the accusations of Satan is to consciously rest in what Jesus did on the cross.
If we truly understand that, we can stand against the accusations of Satan.

We must refuse to let the accusations of Satan block our access to God.
When we sin, a simple confession is enough.
When we feel that black cloud is descending upon us, whether it be as we pray or rest,
or as we testify or whatever we do, we will find the assurance that only God gives,
and we can look up to God and say:
"Think you, my Father, for the blood of your Son.
Thank you, even now, that you accept me gladly and lovingly in spite of all that I am and all that I have done
because of His death – dear Father I come to you
."

We must resist the efforts of Satan to accuse us, and to bury us with guilt, and to make us feel worthless
and unqualified to come to Christ, again.
It is part of his strategy to make us ineffective as a witness and defeat us as a disciple.
We must be on guard against his wiles and trickery.
We must recognize them!
Then we must stand firm against him in the strength that God provides for us.

The sermon was adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White