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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spiritual Warfare

This post is a compilation of notes taken from a sermon that was preached by our Senior Pastor, Phillip Smith, at First Baptist Church Bentonville last Sunday, February 19, 2012.. This was the first Sunday following the recent death and televised funeral of a famous and popular singer of our generation, Whitney Houston. Her death was most likely the result of a drug overdose. He titled the sermon "The Powers of Darkness."

1Corinthians 3:1-3 (NIV)
Brother, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly - mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

Many of us accepted Christ as our Savior as children. We believed with our heart that Jesus, the only Son of God, was sent to be the Saviour of the world, to live a perfect life without sin, then to die a sacrificial death of suffering on the cross for our sins and for the sins of the world, then He was resurrected on the third day, conquering sin and death, that we might also be resurrected and have a new everlasting life if we believe in Him. And not only to believe, but to follow Him, turning from our sinful life, and taking up our cross daily, dying to our self and our own earthly desires, as we walk in our "new life" with Him. In doing this we have fellowship with Christ and with the Father until death, then after our death we will go to heaven and live with him for all eternity. This is the promise of our faith and salvation through Christ.

Sometimes, what happens is, we make this decision early in life, we are baptized at Church, we are happy to be saved from eternal hell and damnation, and we think that's the end of it. Life goes on, we grow up physically, our lives change, circumstances change, friends change, and we forget our promise to Christ. We forget what He did for us. We stop going to church. We stop having Christian friends which keep us accountable to our faith in Christ. We become selfish, and our worldly desires become more important - education, popularity, financial security, career goals, family, appearances, cars, money, security, clothes, fun, sports, iphone, facebook, twitter and just about anything you can think of that the world offers, we begin to put these things before our relationship with Christ. And, we are lulled into a new kind of contentment of "busyness" and daily worldly affairs so we forget to honor God and our relationship with Christ. We remain as "babies" in our faith, never reaching spiritual maturity in our faith.

Does this mean that we are no longer saved from eternal hell and damnation? Well, I can't really answer that for anyone because it would depend on your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you are still seeking him, attending a local church, reading and meditating on His Word the Bible daily, praying continuously, then those are all good signs. But if we have fallen away, we need to readdress our personal relationship with Jesus, and we need to make changes and to seek Him and His will for our lives on a daily basis.

Now, I'm going to get back to the sermon notes:

Revelation 22:10 (NIV)
Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book because the time is near."

We need to recognize that Christ is going to return as He said He would, and our time here on earth is very short. We are all facing a certain death. We don't have time to play around with our Christian faith because we will be held accountable in the end. And there will be an end. Either Christ will come before we die, or we will die and see Christ after our own death. And then the judgement time will come.What are we doing today for Christ? We should be living a life that brings glory to the Father. We should seek each day to be in a right relationship with Christ. Covered by His righteousness.

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.

We need to remember who our true enemy is, the devil. He is real, he does exist and he wants to destroy your life, especially if you are a believer and follower of Christ. What does God tell us to do? Resist Him! Stand firm in the faith! We can only do this when we are in a right relationship with Jesus Christ. He is our only hope and our salvation.

John 8:44(NIV)  Jesus is speaking of the children of the devil
"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

These verses clearly give us a picture of the devil as Jesus describes him and his followers to the Jews. The devil is a murderer and a liar. He is the "father of lies." This should be easy to identify, and yet we are so easily swept up into lying and deceiving. If you really stop and take a long hard look at what's going on around you in the world today, the devil is very busy and he wants to rob you of your joyful life in Christ, by filling up your life with envy and lies. So we have to be alert and stay close to Jesus in order to resist his lies and deceit.

Ephesians 6:10 - 18 (NIV) The Armor of God
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

This is the only way we will be able to resist the devil, it will take the full armor of God. If we forget to do this, the devil will slip into our daily lives and before long we will have drifted away from the joyful life of serving Christ into a dark and sinful life of serving the father of lies, the devil. This is real, God has warned us, and He has sent us a way to resist the devil. It can only be through His son, Jesus, our Savior. He is the only way. Without Him, we are doomed to a life of sin and darkness, and then to an eternal life of endless suffering in hell. The choice is clear. Who do you serve today?

2 Corinthians 2:10-11(NIV)
If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven -if there was anything to forgive - I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Christ has forgiven us for a multitude of sins, so we should be quick to forgive others. Holding grudges against others is what Satan wants us to do. He wants to break our Christian fellowship so he can work his schemes. We have to watch out for this! Sometimes as Christians we get angry with each other over trivial things either within the church or within our own families. These are the schemes of the devil who wants to destroy the church and the family.

James 4:7(NIV)
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Staying close to God through our daily recommitment to follow Him, is the only way we will be able to resist the devil. We must make a daily commitment to follow Christ. EVERY DAY! Sometimes pride is what keeps us from admitting that the devil is tempting us. Be careful, and remember this is spiritual warfare.

Ephesians 4:27(NIV)
And do not give the devil a foothold.

1 John 4:4 (NIV)
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

We have to remember that God is greater than the devil, and the battle has already been won for us, we just have to accept it and trust Him. Satan's opportunities only exists when we allow him to come into our lives and interrupt our fellowship with Christ. We have to make a choice and we have to surrender our worldly desires to the Father in Heaven who loves us and sent His only Son to die for us.

Let Christ be the only Stronghold in your life. Choose to live for him today. Resist the devil. Every one of us is facing death, and judgement. Your eternity will be spent either in Heaven with Christ, or in Hell with Satan. Who do you choose to serve today?

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