Choose Your Weapon
1 Corinthians 10:3-5
On September 11, 2001, our nation was rocked with the news that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center towers, one plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and yet another plane crash landed into a field in Somerset County.
On that same day, an 18-year-old boy was waiting in Pittsburgh to board a plane that would take him to Missouri where he would travel to Fort Leonard Wood to begin Basic Training and his military career. When all airports were shut down the boy was sent home and told to wait to hear back from them and they would reschedule his departure. Before he left his recruiter said to him “you know this means you’ll most likely end up going to war.”
On September 11, 2001, we knew that war was imminent.
During the latter years of the Great Depression, the American people were faced with mobilizing themselves for a second world war. They rationed their butter, meat, gasoline and other basic items. With the money they had left after purchasing the necessities of life, they paid wartime taxes and bought war bonds to provide even more funds for mobilization. They also sent hundreds of thousands of their finest youth abroad. It was a massive effort, involving great sacrifices and a tremendous expenditure of resources (Waldrop 1984:42).
Our nation prepared itself to deal with the ramifications of a second world war.
On March 8, 1965, the first American combat troops – the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade – waded ashore at China Beach north of Da Nang. There had already been limited U.S.naval action, and the bombing of North Vietnam had commenced. There were also 23,000 military advisors already on the ground. This is what is known as the beginning of the United States entering the Vietnam War. The difference in this war between WWI and WWII is the recognition of it as a war. There are many people who disagreed with American involvement in the conflict and treated those who were giving and risking their lives during that time such disrespect. People chose to believe that since they didn’t agree with what was happening that those who were fighting the war were an enemy or they were wrong, and they refused to give honor and respect where it was due.
Those people refused to admit that our nation was at war.
Each and every day there is a war going on. Not a war against nations or civil conflicts. Each and every day there is a war going on for your soul and the soul of every man, woman, and child living on the earth.
Last week the title of the message was “We’re at War” and we are. Every day a battle rages on for the rights to your soul.
Last week Pastor Rob spoke to us about the fact that we have an enemy and that enemy is Satan. He is known by many names and described as many things. Such as an adversary, a liar, an accuser, and the god of this age. He is strong, he is wise, and he is subtle in his attempts to win your soul.
Satan exists in a spiritual realm that we cannot see physically much like God. But he is oh so different than God. But when we talk about the supernatural and the fact that God works in ways we cannot always understand or see. When we admit the fact that God is real and his power is beyond our comprehension, we also have to admit that there is a spiritual enemy whose very purpose is to keep you as far away from God as possible.
The apostle Paul spent his life traveling on what we call missionary journeys establishing churches and teaching people about Jesus. Many of these people were hearing for the very first time that they had a Lord and Savior named Jesus who died on the cross for their sins and rose from the dead. And that he was alive and seated at the right hand of his father God making intercession on their behalf.
The book of 2 Corinthians is a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. This was a church he had planted. Sometime after Paul left some false teachers came in and started telling the church in Corinth ideas about Jesus that were contrary to the truth. They were trying to undermine Paul and his authority as an apostle. Paul wrote this part of this letter to address this situation. He begins chapter 10 by stating a few things about himself and his ability as an apostle giving all credit and honor to God. He addresses the fact that one of the biggest issues is these false teachers who are causing problems. But then he addresses the real issue, the core problem, and that problem is that we are in a spiritual war.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 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.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT)
3 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
Paul knew that even if every false teacher left that church and even if he went to Corinth and disciplined those who tried to work against him that it would never be enough for him to fight against these issues with natural weapons because he knew he was fighting a supernatural battle.
The attack of the enemy in the Corinthian church and today is “part of a large satanic campaign. The powers of hell are still trying to destroy the work of God.” And that is where we will start today.
- We live in the flesh.
- The NIV says we live in the world. The NLT says we are human.
- We live in the natural. The “flesh” is the everyday world of human existence with all it’s limitations, frustrations, trials, and tribulations. (I feel very human these days)
- As believers, we do not conduct our affairs according to the flesh.
- We don’t do things the way the world does, or at least we shouldn’t. (There is no room for believers to behave according to the flesh. That is our constant struggle. Our flesh is pulling us in one direction, but we KNOW that the best thing to do is to be obedient to the word of God and behave like a child of God.)
- Spiritual warfare requires spiritual weaponry.
- The word that distinguishes spiritual weapons from natural weapons is the word power. (Not your power and not my power. The power of God is what makes spiritual weaponry as effective as it is. It has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him)
- What are our spiritual weapons?
- Prayer (we should be doing this all the time)
- Love (the love of God should be demonstrated in our everyday lives)
- Faith (some days it will take more faith than others to keep us from trying to take matters into our own hands and fight with our own abilities)
- Work of the Spirit in our lives (the Holy Spirit speaks to us and gives us the power we need to do the will of God)
- The Word of God (this seems like an easy one, but how often do we neglect the word of God and then wonder why we struggle?)
- Spiritual weapons are used to demolish strongholds
- Strongholds = false arguments, human reasoning, and arrogances that have built themselves up against the knowledge of God (beliefs that someone has that will totally cloud the way that they perceive God. When they hear you speak about who Jesus is and who he can be for them, they may be hearing you, but chances are they are also judging your words against the things that they already experienced, heard, and believed. We use prayer, love, faith, the work of the Spirit, and the word of God to tear down the preconceived thoughts that people have about God that are typically false teachings or bad experiences that led them to believe lies about God)
- Spiritual weapons capture rebellious thoughts and make them obedient to Christ
(If every thought, then the whole person—our every idea, motive, desire, and decision—belongs to Christ)
The Corinthian church was dealing with false teachers and people who claimed to have more or better knowledge about God than Paul. Paul knew that he could not fight against them with natural weapons. What does that mean? He knew that he couldn’t just argue with them or even try to reason with them. He couldn’t yell at them for having the audacity to claim that they knew the truth and Paul did not. Paul knew that even if he tried these things they would never work. Even if they did temporarily, they would never be enough because someone else would come after them and continue their work.
Because a successful church where people are learning about who Jesus is and who they can be to them is not something that Satan is OK with. When we talk about the supernatural and the FACT that there is an enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy we have to recognize the fact that he will stop at nothing to keep the truth of the gospel from those who have never heard, and he will try to thwart the efforts of people like Paul to keep people lost in darkness or at least keep them from fully committing themselves to God. He does that with what the NT calls false teachers but what we could call all kinds of things now. The media, people who have been burned by the church or Christians, other faiths and religions, intelligence, independence, the list goes on.
I read a saying on Facebook one day that says “If Satan can’t destroy you he’ll distract you”. I think that’s where the Corinthian church found themselves and so many people do now. It’s not that we don’t hear the truth, it’s that we don’t let that truth penetrate our hearts and become active in our lives.
One of the reasons we decided to do this series “Supernatural” after the 40-day prayer challenge was because much of what people experienced during those 40 days was 100% supernatural.
Many people in our church dealt with spiritual warfare during those 40 days. We had people lose their jobs, people struggle in their relationships, we even dealt with a physical attack, which we believe to have been a spiritual attack, on Pastor Rob.
This is real. As much as we avoid talking about it and thinking about it because it’s weird or hard to explain, the supernatural is very real and spiritual warfare is real as well.
Many of the people who participated in the 40-day prayer challenge faced challenges. Why? Because Satan wants nothing more than to keep you from God and when you take time to specifically challenge yourself to grow closer to God and you pray and do what it takes to develop your relationship with God Satan will attack and he will try to stop you or make you think it’s not worth the trouble and the pain and the hardship to continue trying.
You might be thinking, well if Satan is going to attack me for trying to get closer to God then I’ll just stay where I am right here, you’ve got it all wrong.
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
This passage was written about the church in Laodicea and what he was saying to them and what he says to us is this- I wish you were either hot- on fire, burning with a desire for me or cold- if you’re cold at least you might recognize your need for me. The worst temperature described here is lukewarm. Warren Wiersbe says, “the lukewarm Christian is comfortable, complacent, and does not realize his need.” When we become self-satisfied with where we are in our relationships with Jesus we no longer recognize our need, not just for him, but for more of him on a constant and continual basis.
The sad reality when it comes to these “temperatures” of our hearts is that so many people have become lukewarm and believe that’s ok. The reason people experienced spiritual attacks during the prayer challenge was that when you are “hot” and you are working out your salvation Satan looks at you as a loss and he desperately wants to win you back. So he works to harm you and make you believe it’s not worth it to keep working at your relationship with God. But it’s always worth it.
If you’re lukewarm, you’re in danger. Because I honestly believe Satan sees you as a win. He sees you in your comfort and complacency and he sees you as someone he can easily win by distracting you from God, making you feel like you’re too busy for church and the Bible, and prayer. If he can put those thoughts into your mind then he has you. He knows that if you stay in that attitude and believe you don’t need anything else from God and he needs nothing else from you he knows he can slowly but surely pull you further and further from God just by helping you believe that you’re “fine” where you are.
The scripture says I wish you were hot or cold and that throws us because we think it’s bad to be cold. That means we are separated from Christ and have no relationship with him, but the thing that makes the “cold” more desirable than the lukewarm
Don’t let Satan win you. Don’t be discouraged or afraid of working on your relationship with God. He’s more than a God you pray to when you’re sick or need something. He is everything we need and everything we could ever want. Many of us are in greater danger of becoming lukewarm than becoming cold. But we have to work on being “hot” being fervent in our desire to know God and follow his commands.
So what do we do? Well, we use those spiritual weapons.
Prayer is huge. When you pray though it has to be more than a laundry list of things you want God to do for you. Ask God what to pray for and how to pray for situations. Sometimes just be quiet and let God speak to you. Pray the promises of God. BE thankful in your prayers for the things God has already done and who he is. There’s really no limit. But it can’t be all about you and it can’t just be when you need something. Prayer is a conversation with God. It’s the way we communicate with our creator and it is essential for a fervent relationship with God.
What else? The Bible. Seriously, this is not hard.
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. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The end of our passage from 2 Corinthians talked about capturing rebellious thoughts or any thought that sets itself up against God and making it obedient. These verse from Hebrews say the Bible judge the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. The Bible is the judge, the word of God is the filter through which everything in our life should funnel. It is peace, it is comfort, it is knowledge of God and who he is, what he said, what he promises to us, what he wants from us, who he wants us to be, and everything in between.
If you remember from last week, if you weren’t here, Pastor Rob spoke through the verses that mention the armor of God, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the belt of truth, and the footwear is the peace that comes from the truth of the gospel. And last but not least is the sword of the Spirit. The only offensive weapon in the armor of God. The sword of the word of God that is living and active, that penetrates us to the very core and judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. Nothing is hidden from God. Every thought we have every idea everything about ourselves is open for him.
The word of God is a weapon we can use or it can be used against us. The word of God can be used to repel the devil. Jesus used truth from the word of God to combat the devil when he tempted him in the wilderness and we can do the same. But first, we have to let it judge us. We have to allow ourselves to be fully honest with God about ourselves so he can be fully honest with us. In the word we see God and in the word we see how God truly sees us.
We take the time in private to use our spiritual weapons, prayer and the word, to develop and grow in our relationships with God and then, and only then, can we use those to tear down the strongholds.
Look at Joshua. When they got to Jericho and they saw the huge walls of the city that looked completely beyond their ability to do anything about.
Joshua surveyed the situation and thought it was hopeless but then he takes the time in private to seek God and his will. He meets the Lord with a sword in his hand and falls before him in submission. He submitted to the will of God and listened to God’s plan and obeyed.
Can you imagine what the people thought when Joshua shared God’s plan with them? We are going to march around the city once every day for six days. Then on the 7th day, we are going to march around it 7 times. We will say nothing each time until the very last time. Then we’ll make a bunch of noise.
They thought he was crazy and I bet the people of Jericho did too.
But you know what, the walls fell down.
Joshua took the time in private to seek the will of God to maintain his relationship with God to be close to him and submit to him and then he acted out the will of God- and the walls fell down.
When we use our spiritual weapons, when we fight against Satan and the spiritual darkness in the lives of the people we love and in the world around us, then and only then will those strongholds come down. Then and only then will we have victory over the enemy.
- Consider your “temperature” when it comes to your relationship with God. Are you hot, cold, or lukewarm?
- Answer this question honestly, do you know God well enough to know if/when God is speaking into your life?
- Have you allowed the thoughts of the world to warp your thoughts about God, His word, and His people?
- Have you ever experienced spiritual warfare in your life? How did you respond? Would you respond differently now?
- Answer these questions honestly, to yourself and share your answers with a friend.
- Read your Bible every day this week.
There is a realm that exists beyond our five senses and we ignore it at our own peril.