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Lesson 41 of 127
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Principalities and Powers Disarmed

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Principalities & Powers Disarmed

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

Loved ones, I think it’s important to realize that the subject that we’re dealing with these evenings is very much for a work party. That is, a group of Christians who are very much ready to get down to business — because it is kind of dangerous stuff if you’re not really in the position spiritually to deal with it, or if you’re not really interested in putting it into action but just interested in the theory. So, we ought to remember that as we talk.

I’d just summarize for you what God’s plan was. His plan was that we would be transmitters of his life. That’s why at the very beginning he said, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” His plan was that he would pour into us the life of his Holy Spirit, and that life would contain the blessedness of God and the liberty of God. That life would contain all of God himself, and his plan was that we should then willingly transmit that to the whole world in all kinds of ways.

The spiritual mind of God would be expressed in building damns in certain places on rivers that would have been exactly the right places to build them. His mind would have expressed itself in protecting trees in certain parks so that the whole world would reflect the beauty of God. His mind would have built certain houses in certain places, and certain schools in certain areas. So that was the Father’s will.

Now you know that God was going to do that through the life of his Holy Spirit, and that life of his Holy Spirit was going to come into our spirits, and then down into our souls, and out to the whole world. That was the plan, that it would be an outgoing experience right from the Holy Spirit at the right hand of the Father, right down through our spirits and then down through our souls and our bodies, and out to the whole world — to be fruitful, and to multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.

Now you remember that we rejected that whole plan and we determined that we would not obey God. Our attitude was expressed really in Genesis 3, where Satan said, “If you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil — if you decide what is good and evil for yourself instead of concentrating on this plan that the Father has for you — then you know that the food is good, the fruit of the tree is good for food, and it is a delight to the eye, and it is to be desired to make one wise.”

So you remember that instead of working the way we earlier described, we began to empty the world, to eat of the world, and take all of it that we could and take it back into ourselves. So it became all an inward-working operation. So if the world is like that {pointing to a diagram}, and it is God’s plan that we should give out so that the world could be filled with his life, then what in fact happened was we began to take back in. So we began to empty the world and empty each other — which of course is why we have a world today so filled with discontent and emptiness.

Now it is important to see that the dynamism, the energy, and the power that we have is not our own. We are not made to be independent self-determining beings. We are made to be dependent beings. So when we rejected God, we actually put ourselves under the control of Satan himself. So all the dynamic that you have — drawing from the world and emptying other people and emptying the world itself — comes from Satan himself. There is, in fact, a wild spiritual power consisting of many

angels and many demons that give us the dynamic that makes us empty the world.

You’ll notice the reality of that dynamic when you consider that evil is not just an absence of good. Sure it’s not. It seems the lust with which we build the oil wells out there on the Santa Barbara coast, or the lust with which we mine the coal and strip the earth, or the lust with which we empty each other of our own physical health — seems to have a powerful power about it that is not just the absence of good. That is, of course, because you’re either under God or you are under Satan. You are either under one or the other. So that’s the situation at the present time.

That’s why Jesus talked about Satan as the prince of this world, because he controls most of the economy of the world today — most of the social relationships of the world today. Most of the international relationships of the world today are controlled by Satan, and they’re controlled because we willingly submitted ourselves to him. It’s important to realize that you cannot come under Satan unless you want to come under Satan. Satan cannot take possession of you unless you’re willing to do that.

If you remember here {pointing to a diagram}, your soul consists of your mind, your emotions, and your will. Now your will is the key to what your spirit does. So your will is what determines whether your spirit goes under the Holy Spirit or whether it goes under the spirit of Satan. And once you have submitted your will to Satan or taken your will out from under God’s will, then you open yourself to the power of Satan, and his power begins to get you to empty the world in that way {pointing to the diagram}.

Now the tragedy is that most of us have found that once Satan got a hold of our wills, he would not let go. God is not like that. God does not force your will to do anything. But Satan forces your will to do what he wants it to do.

Most of us, of course, when we began to try and free ourselves of this selfish, inturned will, found that we could not. We cried with Paul, “The good that I would I cannot do! It’s as if some power has got a hold of my will and chained it and enslaved it.” And you remember, we would use those very words, “We cannot break the bondage of this will, this selfish bondage of the will.” The reason was that Satan himself was in control.

Now a part of Satan’s control was this: he said to God, “Your own words stand against them. Your own word has said that when they sin, they’ll die. Your own word has said that you’ll have nothing to do with unrighteous people. Therefore they’re mine.” So God was caught by his own word, and Satan had us held by that legal bond that stood against us.

Now you remember what in fact God did. He took the selfish will that just would not be freed. He took this selfish will and he put it into Jesus. We cannot understand the cosmic miracle that was involved in putting the selfish will of all of us into Jesus. But that was presumably part of the pain that Jesus felt on the cross when he cried, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” He was experiencing all of our wills rejecting and reacting against God.

God put them all into Jesus and he crucified them there. And in doing that he destroyed the one power that held us connected with Satan. Of course, in doing that he also freed himself to allow us to approach him. When Satan said, “You cannot have anything to do with them because they deserve to die,” God said, “I have killed them. I have destroyed them in Jesus.” So the legal bond was nailed to the cross, and therefore at that same time God disarmed the powers and principalities of Satan —

because he gave them no reason to be able to justify their hold on us as human beings.

That’s what those verses mean in Colossians 2:12-15. It really just states what I’ve stated in connection with the legal bond. Remember that the legal bond was God’s own word that, “These people have to die because they’ve rebelled against me.”

You see it there in Colossians 2:12: “And you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” The result of that was (v 15), “He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him.”

Now that’s the basis of spiritual warfare — that God has disarmed the principalities and powers. The principalities and powers of Satan had one justification for having any control of us. We were submitting our selfish will to Satan, and God himself had said we should die. Now when God destroyed that selfish will in Jesus on the cross, that was one of the obstacles removed to him taking over our lives, and one of the chains broken between us and Satan. And when God destroyed us in Jesus, that was the other legal bond that Satan had against us, and it broke the other part of the chain. So there is no reason at all why any of us here in this world should suffer anything from Satan.

If you say to me, “Why then, Pastor, do people suffer?” They suffer because they believe the lie that that has not happened. They believe the lie that God has not destroyed us in Jesus, that he has not raised us together with him and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. And they will not believe that they do not have to die for their sins. So Satan’s control over people today is lying and deception.

Now while they submit their wills in the light of that lying and deception, they produce rebellion in their wills and their hearts. But his real control is one of lying and deception — and there is absolutely no reason why we should put up with anything that Satan produces. And remember that Jesus called sickness the works of the devil. There is no reason why we should put up with sickness, or whether we should endure the sarcastic atmosphere that so often works in our offices, or whether we should endure the bickering and the back-biting that goes on in our homes.

Those are all works of Satan. God has destroyed them and disarmed them. The only reason they exist at all is because people still believe the lie about Satan and they still act as if that lie is true — that they’re on their own, that God is not their loving Father, that they have no one to fight for them except themselves, and that there is no power but themselves to achieve what they want.

Now that is what you’re up against in spiritual warfare. Now it would be important just to mention that while you are fighting sins in your own lives, you have probably little experience of spiritual warfare. I mentioned that last day. While you’re simply fighting sins, while you’re still uncrucified, you’re probably not experiencing any kind of spiritual warfare at all. You’re just fighting sin, disobedience, and your own selfish will that you have not allowed to be crucified yet with Christ.

When you go another step, you begin to deal with your independent soul life — the independent

personality that wants to laugh loudly because it’s been laughing loudly for years, and hasn’t allowed the Holy Spirit to begin to soften that loud laughing. You begin to deal with how every time an opportunity for witness comes up, it begins to spew out a whole lot of intellectual stuff — because it hasn’t allowed the mind to be renewed in the Holy Spirit. You begin to deal with how you talk a lot in order to persuade people to receive Jesus — while the independent personality is still operating against Jesus. Until you deal with those things — it’s probably true that you still actually do not have much spiritual warfare.

In other words, while you’re still going into an office and trying to calm them by the force of your own personality, you’re probably not doing much spiritual warfare. While you’re trying to get your wife, or your children, or your brothers, or your sisters to get them to stop arguing by the sheer force of your personality, you’re probably not engaged in much spiritual warfare.

Spiritual warfare only begins when you begin to come clear of that selfish will, and when you begin to allow the Holy Spirit to deal with those independent parts of your personality that are just human traits. They aren’t evil in themselves — but they’re just human traits that are inexpedient for God to work with. When you have come clear of those two things, then you begin to come into spiritual warfare against Satan. That’s really what we talk about when we talk about spiritual warfare.

So maybe I could just mention again that one of Satan’s tactics in spiritual warfare is to cause as much chaos in your own soul as possible. There’s an example of that in Luke 10:40. In that verse Jesus came to Bethany on his way home really — his way home to his father — his way to Jerusalem and the cross. Luke 10:40: “But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’”

It is Satan’s delight to so upset and preoccupy our emotions or our minds in the midst of a great deal of activity, that we become utterly preoccupied with, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” It is Satan’s delight to upset your emotions and your mind to such an extent that you become utterly preoccupied with self. And you remember, that’s one of the ways in which it’s necessary to take your position in Jesus at the right hand of the Father, above all the frenzy and the furor, and simply stand against Satan, and don’t allow yourself to be dragged out of your position at the right hand of the Father.

Now you remember another way that Satan works is to block spiritual works. You can see that part of his job here, is to work from his position, through the wills of people — to block spiritual works. Once your selfish will is crucified, the only way he can work to block a work of God is by deception — and often he’ll do it. So, he’ll come to us in connection with the work permits, and you apply for the work permits in Britain {that were earlier needed for people in CCI from other countries to stay in Britain}, and he puts some kind of obstacle in the way of God’s work.

Now if at the first sight of obstacles you begin to shake, or withdraw, or say, “Maybe God doesn’t want us to go there,” — that’s all Satan wants. It’s vital in any work that God gives you to do in his kingdom that you keep on keeping on. And I agree with you, there’ll come a time when the Holy Spirit works in your own intuition and uses the outward circumstances and makes you question and makes you hesitate. But even in the Methodist Church we had that. You remember, we began to find, “Well, we wanted more money.” Then we found that we couldn’t get a quorum together to make a decision. Yet it seemed right, “Alright Lord. We just press on gently in that direction — but not

forcing it through to the final step.”

Nevertheless, it is God’s will that you keep moving in the general direction that he has given you. Otherwise, you can risk being put off by obstacles that Satan brings in the way. Then of course you know that it isn’t God’s will, because God gives you a confidence within that it is not his will after you meet the 25th obstacle. But I think you should be willing in God’s work to be prepared to meet many obstacles.

Now, if I could just say a word in defense of – I don’t want to defend Norman Vincent Peale, but I want to defend the principle that he was pointing at — if he had believed in what we’re saying here tonight about our position in Jesus. It is true that there is no place for negativism in God’s work. There is just no place. Negativism comes from Satan. It comes from Satan suggesting that you are not at the right hand of the Father — that you cannot do what God has given you to do. There is no place for negativism in God’s work. And it has been a joy, in CCI and in the body to learn to go God’s way.

It has been a joy to find that your brothers and sisters built you up in the Fatherdom — rather than saying, “Oh no. We can’t do it. We can’t do it.” God’s way is always a positive way. It’s always a believing way — because you can see where Jesus is at this moment. He’s at the right hand of the Father. Now, couldn’t he destroy this church in a moment? No question. Could he destroy the whole world in a moment? Of course. Could he lift us up and put us in LA? Certainly. Jesus could do anything in the position he’s in at this moment.

Now we are in that position. We can do anything that God tells us to do. And it is necessary to realize that Satan will work to block the work that God has given us to do, and it is vital for us to take our position. I’d just point you to it again — until you’re sick and sore, tired of looking it up, and then you give up and you memorize it!

Ephesians 2:6: and God, “Raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” And where is that position? Back in the previous Chapter, 1:21: “Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

Now I do agree with you that it is necessary in order to dwell in that position, to be willing to be crucified with Christ, to be buried with him, and to be raised. But if you are willing for that, then it’s simply a matter of exercising your faith. And I would have to testify, loved ones, to just the sheer fact of incredible victory through standing in that position. And I would have to say that I must admit I’m surprised a bit at myself — that it seems to be a spirit that is from somewhere else that continually is able to believe that the thing can be done. And I know that a number of you have experienced the same thing — because God has begun to plant it in different hearts here.

But loved ones, it is true that there is nothing that can oppose God’s work if his people are willing to be crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, and therefore be raised by the Holy Spirit through revelation to the right hand of the Father. From that position there are no impossibilities. That is the position that God wants us to hold.

Now, I would kind of caution you again: you cannot get into that position by any method but by

dying. There is no shortcut to it. You cannot sing, “Only believe, only believe, all things are possible.” You cannot sing your way into that position. You cannot say, “Think big and you’ll be big.” You cannot believe yourself into that position, or autosuggest yourself into that position, or positively think yourself into that position. You can only die into that position.

But once you’ve come into that position by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing that can oppose any work that God gives you to do, or any will that he has for you in your own life. Of course, that is the position of power in spiritual warfare.

Now I would like to next day talk about how to strengthen our spirits, and deal specifically with the difficulty of passivity that many of us enter into. But maybe I should keep my word and ask for questions now. Are there any questions?

And brother, I do think I got it but I’d just like to repeat it so I’m sure that I got it. I thought that you were ending up saying that it was good that we pressed on in the face of the difficulties with the work permits, but I thought that in the beginning you said you always felt God guided through circumstances.

[Question inaudible]

Okay, I can speak to that, brother. I think it is wrong to believe that God guides primarily through circumstances — because if you look through scripture, you find that often men and often women moved against incredible odds. An example is Moses, who at a very old age moved into Egypt to lead out the people of God. It seemed to me repeatedly God’s men and women were moving against insuperable odds, and therefore were moving against circumstances. It seems also that very often the Holy Spirit, you remember, would work against circumstances — as with Philip in Samaria. When he was in the middle of revival the Spirit said, “Go to a desert road that leads to Gaza” — when circumstances would have argued for him staying in the midst of revival and ministering to the converts.

So I find that God moves first of all through our minds becoming one with his. So that’s the importance of praising God in prayer — so that you come to the place where you’re more interested in what God is thinking and what he plans than what you are thinking or what you need. So there begins to dawn upon you the impression of God’s own mind within. That is the intuition of the Spirit. I would say that that’s the first way that God guides, through the intuition of the Spirit.

Now I do think that he can confirm that, secondly, by other brothers and sisters in Christ. And you can confirm it by going to the brothers and sisters, or going to the elders, or going to the pastor. I think you can confirm the guidance of the intuition in your spirit by other people’s opinions who know Jesus. Thirdly, I think it can be confirmed by circumstances.

Now you might want to point out, “But can circumstances not give you some kind of idea of what is needed?” It seems to me it’s dangerous to go on circumstances — because I think you would agree that circumstances can often be interpreted in different ways. So it seems vital that if you’re going to give any weight to circumstances at all, you make very sure that your own mind that is interpreting the circumstances is aligned with God’s mind, and that you’re very willing to go that way.

Brother, I think that it is a common, perhaps, heresy that we have all used in the past — that circumstances is a very reliable guide. I’d point you to this fact: who is in charge of most of the circumstances in the world? I think you’d have to answer that, because the main part of the world is under the thrall of Satan, the main control of circumstances is by Satan. So often circumstances will argue against God’s will.

[Question inaudible]

Sister points out the very important fact that once we take our wills from under the control of Satan, and put our wills under the will of God, then he begins to work everything according to the counsel of his will. So he begins to bring about his plan, and lead us through the wilderness of circumstances that Satan controls in the world. Yes. I’m saying that Satan controls the great majority of the circumstances — simply because the great majority of people have submitted their wills to him.

You can see what a power it is for mums and dads to come under the will of God. It’s just incredible the change that that makes in the children’s lives whenever you get that. It’s the same with running our business. It’s incredible the difference you see when your business is governed by people who are under the control of God. Then it isn’t just luck that you don’t have as many accidents. It isn’t just luck that you’re still making money when we should be losing money. It’s the power of God governing the circumstances.

Now loved ones, I’d just point you back to the position in Ephesians 2:6, and ask you to memorize it, and I’ll ask you it next day. But I’d ask you to remember that verse and stand in that position, because that is the power.

You can see even as I talk how easy it would be for you to almost be inspired by the firmness in my voice. You could do that. Norman Vincent Peale’s message was: “You can do it.” No loved ones — that’s not it. You are in Jesus at the right hand of the Father, and the Holy Spirit, if you believe that, is released to work upon the things that are opposing God’s will in your life. That’s the power. It’s our faith that is the victory, not the power of our own thinking.

But praise God that there is no reason why you should fail. None at all.