SPIRITUAL WARFARE PART 1
February 05, 2008
I think the problem with Satan and demons--people don't know how Satan works. They don't know his schemes and so they just get waylaid not knowing how to defend themselves. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:11 if we know how he works we can defend ourselves. Not only that we can go on the offensive and keep him from destroying us. and so in that I'll say that there are three aspects of spiritual warfare. There's the world, the flesh and the devil. This is classic teaching out of the Protestant Reformation and I think the problem is that most theologies deal primarily with the world and the flesh and they overlook the devil. Some emphasize the devil so much they sort of turn us all into victims of the world and the flesh.
We'll look at each of these in succession. We'll start with the world. Now when we speak of "world" there are seven, at least seven, senses that the Greek word "world" is used in the New Testament. So it has a very far-reaching wide-ranging doctrinal perspective. But here when we're speaking of the world we're speaking of it in its negative sense. We're not talking about all the human beings on the earth that Jesus loves. We're talking about "world" in its negative sense. ... I call it, "an organized system in opposition to and rebellion against God." Richard Loveless says, "The world is corporate flesh and the structures it produces." Now you've got an internal enemy, your flesh; you've got an external enemy, the world; the world exists to elicit, entice, tempt your internal enemy. They work together in concert and all of this is Satan's architecting.
So we'll start with the world, that's your external enemy. You need to see that the world we live in IS influenced by Satan and demons and the corporate flesh that comes together to create fallen culture is dangerous. In 1 John 2:6 he defines very aptly, he defines the world as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. So you think of those three. The lust of the eyes, that is physical desire and temptation. This is pornography, advertising, marketing. It's the lust of the eyes. The whole goal is to get you to covet, to covet something that God forbids, breaking one of his commandments.
If you don't know that the world is set up to get you to lust through your eyes and be a coveter then you'll find yourself in great trouble. When Satan came to Eve it says that she SAW that the fruit was pleasing to the eye. It's the lust of the eyes. Satan's first effort was visual. Now you think of the day in which we live--television, iPhones, internet, I mean we are more than ever a highly visual culture. Not just worldly in the sense that if we want to see something we can go see it but we can through technology bring it to us. You want to see pedophilia there are about 100,000 websites right now committed to child pornography. You can see anything you want. That's demonic, that's satanic. That's the world. That's active rebellion against God. You want to see pornography in any sort of depraved sort or kind; if you want to lust after a product and advertising, well, it is all there all the time 24 hours a day. Lust of the eyes is absolutely insatiable and there is every conceivable opportunity to feed the lust of the eyes. Lust of the eyes.
Lust of the flesh, meaning it feels good. The body likes it. Pleasure is not a bad thing. The psalmist says, "Lord God, in your hand are pleasures forevermore." But the goal is, through the eyes, to get us to covet and lust and then to experience in the body pleasure in its illicit form. Beauty is really what we lust after. Experience, pleasure, satisfaction. It's why when you're watching TV lust, lust of the eyes--you see a hamburger. What do you have to eat? A hamburger that's lust of the lust of the flesh. You see something and immediately your body has to have it. You think of drugs, alcohol, sex, food, whatever it is. You see it or you close your eyes and your remember seeing it and you bring back that visual imagery as you think on it and meditate on it and feed those images then the lust of the flesh kicks in you have to have it. You have to eat it. You have to drink it. You have to feel it, touch it, experience enjoy it. It, it is absolutely consuming you that's the lust of the flesh. That's why some people, truly, go through withdrawal symptoms when they try to give up certain things.
The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. Right? The boasting in what we have and what we do. Here's how smart I am. Here's what I've done. Here's how I succeeded, here's my accomplishments. Here's my good works. It's boasting in what we have and boasting in what we do. It's arrogance. It's pride. It's not humility and grace saying, "Here's what God has given me. Here's what God has done. Here's what God has saved me from. Here's what God has empowered me to" it is me and my glory and my possessions and my achievements and my accomplishments, my significance. Now if 1 John 2:16 is right and worldliness is visual stimulation, internal response and sinful desire that results in boasting and pride pretty much you could say that our whole nation is worldly. See what I'm saying? The world we live in is worldly by definition.
And again, it started with Eve. Lust of the eye--the fruit looks pleasing to the eye. Lust of the flesh--it was good for food. Boastful pride of life--it'll make you like God. From Satan's first temptation of our first parents to the present it's the same scheme so you use Paul's language in 1 Corinthians 2:11. It's just, just the same scheme. See something, want something, get it, brag about it, boast about it, rejoice in it, glory in it, worship it, be an idolator. Filled with pride, just like Satan.
Now the question is how do we respond to the world knowing that the world is going to tempt us to sin? In 1 John 2:15 he says "Do not love the world." Do not love the world. If you love the world, sin and Satan they're gonna rule you. That's just how it is. Do not love the world. Do not love seeing things that are sinful. Do not love doing things that are sinful. Do not love boasting in a way that is sinful. Paul says (quoting Jeremiah) "Let me never boast but in the cross of Christ." You wanna brag? Brag about Jesus, not you, otherwise you're being demonic. I think this is important when we meet with people and we're counseling or shepherding them, we need to tell them, "You know that the whole world, the whole world is full of lust of the eye opportunities and do you know thatSatan set that up? Do you know when you respond and feed those desires that you that you have internal urges that that is Satan giving you what will destroy you? Do you know that when you're arrogant and proud and tell me about all the good things you do what a good person you are and, you know, you're great resume of works that that's demonic, that doesn't impress me at all? [that] that's demonic? Do you know you're being demonic?"
Most people don't because they've so bought into a worldly system that when they tell you all that they have and all that they are they want you to be impressed and instead you should be very grieved. This is particularly true when you are dealing with people who are very successful who are affluent and very wealthy and very powerful. Sometimes you can be, sort of, wrongly impressed. Oh, you're very important. Oh, you're very powerful. Oh, you're very rich. Doesn't mean anything. Humility, love of Jesus, repentance of sin, that is what is to be for us encouraging, NOT the fact that someone is powerful and rich. I have not seen these with all who are powerful and rich but I have seen some who come in and immediately they want to tell me about how great they are and what they do and how much they make and how awesome they are and it's an effort to get me to praise them to feed their pride to join them in their boasting. No. You're not a good shepherd if you do that. Not a good shepherd at all. Don't be intimidated by anyone. Don't be overly impressed with anyone. Humbly serve and encourage them to humility. That's the key.
So do not love the world. Number two, do not let it shape your values. Paul says in Romans 12, "Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world. Don't let this world set your value system. I mean hundreds of women I've spoken to they say, "I love Jesus and I wanna be a mom and I wanna stay home and I wanna raise my kids, but, but what will everyone else think? They're gonna think that I'm, I'm just a mom."
Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world [with a slight chuckle]. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, keep reading your Bible and see what God says. "Yeah, but if I'm just a wife and I'm just a mom and I'm staying home with my little kids, you know, what am I gonna boast about? I can't boast about my job and how much I make and, and all the cool things I do and all the people I help and all the places I travel. What am I gonna brag about?" Pride?
I meet with guys, same thing, "Why should I get married? If I get married then I've gotta sleep with one woman for the rest of my life and then I get to hear about my buddies and all the women they're sleeping with and, you know, why is marriage a good thing? Why shouldn't I just stay single and enjoy a lot of women?" Uh, really, the whole point of life is to lust with your eyes, to feed the desires of your fallen flesh and then boast about all the women you conquered? That's demonic. It's not just an alternative lifestyle, it's demonic. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. It's an issue of getting people to think differently and think biblically because, again, the world is absolutely at work in every way to inform, to instruct, to shape the value system of people.
Number three, live through Jesus as crucified to the world. Paul says in Galatians 6:14 "Through Christ the world has been crucified to me and I have been crucified to it." You're either alive to the world and dead to Jesus or dead to the world and alive to Jesus. You cannot simultaneously be alive to Jesus and the world. You can't simultaneously pursue the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. You cannot simultaneously pursue the Lord Jesus Christ, the king of kings, and the prince of the power of the air, Satan. You're gonna be dead to one and alive to the other. And Jesus' death allows us to put our sin to death and Jesus' death allows us to live as crucified, dead, tio the world. Dead to the world.
And this is a liberating truth because some people just think they're victims. "You know, well, that's the way the world is and what am I to do?" Well, you are to be crucified to the world. You are to not love the world and not have your value system shaped by the world but by God who is your maker.