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Spiritual Warfare 4




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Spiritual Warfare 4

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

We are looking at a book by Michael Harper called Spiritual Warfare, and it’s in the bookshop. I’ve talked about it before and it seems to me one of the most balanced books on the whole subject of spiritual warfare. We have reached page 32 if you’d like to turn to it. We had discovered that there is only one position to take in order to war against Satan and that is the position that is given to us according to Ephesians 2:6, “and God raised us up with him,” that is with him – God, “And made us sit with him,” that is with God himself, “In the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” that is we are in Christ and wherever Christ is therefore we are. I think it was [Watchman] Nee who said to someone, “I put this paper into this Bible and then wherever this Bible goes the paper goes also.” And so we have entered into Christ and Christ has now ascended to the right hand of the Father so where Christ is we are because we’re inside him. And that’s our position at this moment; we are raised up with God and we are sitting with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Now if we ever question that, I think then we’re open to all the attacks of Satan, but if we set our minds on that and believe that then we are able to war against Satan and that’s the position from which we stand against him. Just taking an instance; if everything is absolutely chaotic in the house or in the classroom or in the office and everyone’s feelings are riled up and everybody is angry and irritated with each other, if you stay down in that spot and say, “I better get in here with my sleeves rolled up and try and sort this mess out,” then Satan will undoubtedly get you down also. But if you turn away from that, in apparent social irresponsibility, and you fix your mind on your position in Christ, and you say “I thank you Jesus that I, at this moment, am with your Father at his right hand in you. I thank you for that position Lord, and I praise you and I love you both at this time.”

Then as you dwell in that position the Holy Spirit will fill your heart with peace, and with calm, and with harmony and that Garden of Eden will spread its order into the office, or the classroom, or the house. But it works that way; first absolute peace must come into your own spirit and then from there you’re able to war against Satan. Otherwise it’s a bit like bailing the sea out of a boat — she’s down in the water up to the gunnels and you’re trying to hopelessly bail the water out and the sea is all around you and it’s filling the boat, and it’s filling the bucket and you’re almost drinking sea and you’re trying to get it out. Well, that’s the position you’re in if you’re with your sleeves rolled up and you’re trying to rake through the situation yourself. But the thing is to get out of that position into the ark at the right hand of the Father and then war from that spot. And if you say to me, “Oh, it’s the power of positive thinking” certainly you have to set your mind on what God says is true, you have to do that, but the power comes from the release of the Holy Spirit from the Father’s right hand not from the actual thought that you have, but from the power of the Holy Spirit.

Harper goes on to talk a bit about evil spirits and I think one of Satan’s great victories in these days has been to persuade us that there is no such thing as evil spirits and indeed persuade us that there is no such thing as Satan. You know the story that the liberals have spelled God with two O’s and spelled the devil without a d, and that is one of Satan’s greatest most successful deceptions in these days. He’s persuaded us that there’s only good and evil, there is not God and devil, there is only good and evil.

Harper says this on page 32, “We know from the New Testament that these spirits are not the souls of

dead people. They are rather fallen angels who were evicted from heaven at the same time as their commander Satan. In Revelation 12:7 there is a reference to Satan and his angels fighting with Michael and his.” And maybe we should look at that Revelation 12:7. We believe in Satan because God, through Jesus, told us of him. We believe in him by faith not only by the experiences that we’ve had. Revelation 12:7, “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels,” that is Satan and his angels fought, “But they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.”

Now it seems to me in heaven there is not the immediate presence of God, but just those heavenly places, the spiritual world. “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragons; and the dragons and his angels fought, but they were defeated.” And Harper says, “In Revelation 12:7 there is a reference to Satan and his angels fighting with Michael and his, and Satan is thrown down to the earth with his angels. Then in Matthew 25:41,” he says, “Jesus uses the same description in referring to the devil and his angels. This is just to show us plainly that there are angels that support Satan.” Matthew 25:41, “Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

The importance of this is to see that this Satan is not omnipresent, that he is not able to be everywhere. The Bible says that he stalks up and down like a roaring lion, implying that when he’s not at point A he’s at point B so he can’t be at point A and point B at the same time, he stalks up and down as a roaring lion and he needs angels to do his bidding. Whereas the Father is everywhere, in him we live and move and have our being. So it is important to see that Satan is limited in his abilities and his attributes. He does not have all the abilities that God himself has and this is one of the reasons why he has angels.

“In Jude 1:6 and 2 Peter 2:4 there’s a reference to fallen angels and their fate.” So maybe we should look at Jude 1:6. This is again to reinforce in all our minds that Satan does have angels to do his bidding and that we need to see that at times we’re dealing with some of his assistants and some of his subordinates. You see in verse 6 “And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day.” And there is maybe some of the clearest teaching that we have in the Bible that these are angels that lost their position through pride and through rebellion against God.

But it is again a teaching that there is a multiplicity of angels who support Satan and that often when you’re dealing with the spirit world, you’re dealing with this kind of person. And there are different angels with different functions.

[Question inaudible 9:47]

And then they will be cast into the lake of fire, you remember. I don’t remember just where that is but the devil and all his angels will be cast into that lake. Revelation 20:10, “And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

I think some people use this — they cast Satan out and cast him into the lake of fire. Well, you can’t do that. You can cast him away from a person and forbid him in Jesus’ name ever to enter that person again, but you cannot do what God alone will do in that final day. So it seems that you can

drive him out, and you can prevent him in Jesus’ name from entering the person again but you really cannot cast him into the lake of fire.

[Question inaudible 11:45]

Jude 9, that’s good. I was trying to remember too, where that reference came from, “The Lord rebuke you,” because we referred to it several Sundays ago that there’s a place – this brings out the need not to tackle Satan with our own bare hands but to tackle him from our position in Jesus and really either to do it in Jesus’ name or to say, “Lord Jesus, I trust you to rebuke Satan.” And it seems to me that we go into dangerous areas where we tackle Satan face-to-face like that. We should rebuke him and he’ll flee from us, but we should not enjoy getting to grips with him, because he is so subtle, and wily, and tricky that he will try to involve us in himself even as we try to overcome him.

[Question inaudible 12:37]

It’s interesting in the Old Testament how you get those indications of the trinity. You get an indication that it’s two persons of the trinity speaking in 2 Peter 2:4. And again these are references along the one line that Satan has in fact, other angels that assist him. “For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment” again, it’s indicating that the angels were in heaven in his immediate presence and yet rebelled against him and he cast them out of his presence.

Harper says, “In Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4 there is a reference to fallen angels and their fate. It seems clear too that in Romans 8:38,” and maybe we should look at that. Romans 8:38, he says, “It seems clear too that in Romans 8:38 the angels referred to are not God’s angels but Satan’s because God’s would hardly be described as separating us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I think that’s true. Romans 8:38, “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,” and you get not only the reference to angels of Satan there, you see, but the thought of principalities, the great rulers of the powers of darkness and we’ll go into more teaching about that in later Sundays.

Harper says, “It may also be true that in the rather obscure text that refers to woman wearing veils because of the angels, it refers to Satan’s angels not Gods.” 1 Corinthians 11:10, some people interpret, “Because of the angels,” simply the angels and therefore the presence of God but others say, it refers to Satan’s angels. 1 Corinthians 11:10, “That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.” The importance of the veil was that it signified the authority of the man and you know that God has taught us that the husband is the spiritual protector of the woman and that he needs to take this position of spiritual protector of his wife.

In a strange way the man is able to stand against Satan on his wife’s behalf in a way that a woman cannot do on her own. Now I’m with you that God gives special grace to those women who are married to men who are not in that spiritual position, but it seems to me even there that someone in the body has to, in some sense, be a spiritual protector to that woman. And I think that is important for us men to see in the body that quite apart from the whole problem of man/woman relationships in our society, and the perversion of man/woman relationships, on a purely spiritual level you men need to take your position as spiritual protectors of the sisters in the body. As a byproduct of that there comes a lovely and beautiful right relationship between us at last — a special love and

respect for each other. But do you see that the basis of it is a spiritual need.

It seems to me often you brothers need to take your position in regard to the sisters. Not the position of telling them what to do, not at all. But a position of spiritual protection and there needs to be a real attitude of love and fatherly care for our sisters, because in some unique way if you look at the other references to the man as head of the woman, in some unique way just as Christ is our protector against Satan so we are in some unique way that protector of the sisters against Satan. And I think we need to enter into this more and more in the body not only in husband/wife relationships but as brothers and sisters.

And this is where we’ve joked often about the woman’s lib business, but this is where you can see that an extreme position in woman’s lib can actually expose the sisters in an incredible way to the working of Satan and again, you can see the beauty of it, it’s not a position of a boss, or a lord, or a master — not at all. I don’t know that we have much right to tell the sisters what to do. We have a responsibility to stand against Satan on their behalf, to protect them, and to give that spiritual leadership at the right times. But it seems to me it’s all the responsibility that Christ has for the church. He loved the church more than his own body and gave himself for her. It seems to me that’s always the position of the brothers and if the sisters give us any respect, then it’s because of our position of protection over them. And it is a beautiful relationship. So that’s because of the angels.

[Question inaudible 19:54]

So it’s just a side issue, but you can see that in the body if I’m concerned about relationships between brothers and sisters it’s not so much that these great stupid men aren’t to have any authority, but that we ought to take our position, brothers, as responsible spiritual protectors. And that’s mainly a silent ministry. I don’t see too much where I’d go to Lee and say, “I’m your spiritual protector therefore you must do this.” It seems to me that’s not spiritual protection, that’s making an excuse of my position to lord it over her. It seems to me to be a silent ministry but a real attitude of responsibility.

Brothers I would emphasize it because I think some of you are not yet entering into it. I think in our houses particularly there is a need to enter into that. My wife and I came up in what we thought was a rather liberated intellectual atmosphere of London where everybody was equal and she could earn more than me — so what –it didn’t matter, we were all equal. And I think in this rather liberated attitude to marriage which had been a blessing to many of us, yet we still need to see that there is a position that the husband needs to enter into for the sake of the wife, and if he doesn’t it’s like leaving the wife exposed to the whole spiritual world.

Now if you say to me, “Brother, how do you do that?” Only the Holy Spirit can teach us how to enter into that. But, I think we have noticed at times the brothers are not troubled by the same things as you sisters, and vice versa, I agree. But sometimes the brothers can have stability. Sometimes we think it is insensitivity but sometimes we can have a stability that you sisters haven’t at times and that’s what I mean, we should stand firm in that at times. But you can see that it’s little to do with lording it over each other. It’s little to do with bossing. It’s little to do with commanding. I don’t know that there’s any place for that in the body, but it’s to do with a spiritual sense of that.

Maybe we should go on a wee bit further. Harper says, “These evil spirits are personalities like God’s angels, not impersonal influences.” And I think that’s very important to see that evil spirits differ from us in that they have no bodies, they’re just spirits, but they have personalities. They can act and interact, you see. So they are not impersonal influences. They are agents working under the authority of Satan. That means you can do a thing, they can work it out, examine it, analyze it and then respond to it. That means you’re dealing with living beings and I think it’s wise to see it.

[Question inaudible 23:14]

Jim, it seems to me that from the moment Jesus died in the Father’s heart from before the foundation of the world, those demons and Satan himself had no power and that you’re dead right, that they’ve been bound in chains but they have deceived constantly. They have deceived people into thinking that they have power and all their power comes from that, from deception and so it is virtually a semblance of power. You can hardly even say its power yet it produces the same results as power does, but it seems to be deception all the way.

It seems that when you give your mind to a thing there is a power that flows through your mind, even the power of deception and rebellion and that in some way, the Father is now using Satan in his world to further his own purposes. That is why, presumably, he has allowed Satan to become a prince of the world, because he constantly allows Satan to tackle us, and tempt us, and test us in order to produce conformity to the image of Jesus that is willing and that actually has to be willed by us. And so it seems that God could have, if he had wanted, expelled Satan from the world but he allowed him to continue in this realm until we should choose and vanquish him by ourselves. And it is our responsibility now to vanquish Satan from this world and extend the order of the Garden of Eden throughout it.

And it does seem too Jim, that though the scripture will be fulfilled that Jesus will come again, yet in some ways even that depends on our faithfulness. In other words, that is not just something that God will decide, “It’s so hopeless I better just rest here.” No it seems that even that will depend on our faithfulness in some way; that there will be a remnant for Jesus to meet when he comes again. So it does seem what you’re saying, that it is deception rather than any real power. And you remember, Paul says, “Those who are in authority over you could have no power except if they were given it by God.” Now, Satan has no power except what God allows him to have.

[Question inaudible 25:58]

I think brother that there is a power inherent in the universe that God has placed there. There are laws of the spirit in the universe that Satan can pervert. Just as you can split this atom and you can release tremendous power, obviously the Father has charged the universe up with tremendous power that seems to be, at its base, spiritual power, and it seems that Satan deceives us into misusing that power. That’s what I mean by saying he has no power of his own. He can produce nothing but he can pervert the spiritual power that is in the universe and the laws of the spirit in the universe.

[Question inaudible 28:35]

It seems to me that if we are sick, if we are lying under a cold, Satan can emphasize that cold and the symptoms of that cold and he can say, “That is real alright. That is true and real.” God’s

word is constantly saying to us, “The things that are seen are unreal. The things that are unseen are real and you are in my Son at my right hand and here there is perfect health.” Satan is saying, “No, you’re right down here and what you have is real. That sniffing and those Kleenex that you’re using, those are real and that’s where you’re living at this moment.” Now it seems Dave, that if we believe Satan because of the things that are seen and felt rather than God’s word, then it seems that there is a power released to increase and intensify the disease.

It seems to me the laws of the spirit work to increase the disease at that time rather than to heal it. And that’s what I mean that in some way, he can make use or harness the spiritual laws that God has set in the universe to spread disease or to spread sickness at that time. Now, how he perverts it, I don’t know the details, except that I think in the physical realm itself, there are evidences – obviously, if we split the atom it keeps on splitting, splitting, splitting.

Now, we can see how we can make use of the powers inherent in nature to actually spread chaos. The whole business of germ warfare is based on that; that you can start germ warfare and it can just go on and on. So there are obviously laws of the natural world and the spiritual world that you can pervert and use for evil purposes. Now it seems to me, Satan can deceive us into misusing all those laws.

[Question inaudible 31:22]

That’s right. It depends on what we say is reality. If we believe what God said through Paul, that this whole “skema” in Greek, this whole façade is passing away — if we really believe that then we see that this is a very temporary thing that can maybe be eventually reduced to energy as Einstein said. But finally energy is a very close thing to the Holy Spirit, and I don’t know that that really is synonymous but obviously, the whole thing is very temporary, much more temporary than we thought and it seems to me that we have to determine what do we mean by reality? Are we going to keep calling reality what the scientists call reality, that is — what appeals to the five senses, or are we going to take a stand and say, “This is reality and this is an appearance of reality.”

I’m with you that we can take the Christian scientists’ viewpoint where they say, “You don’t really have a cold.” Obviously, deception has produced something in that body and obviously, you can’t really say, “Oh no, that’s only an appearance of germ warfare.” All you can say is that the thing started by deception, by regarding unreality as reality and then that set off various activities. So it seems to me the consequences are real enough but you have to face the fact that this is a misuse of the powers that God has given and provided.

[Question inaudible 33:12] when we were created God fully intended us to become like him and put all his power in ourselves [inaudible 33:30] God intended us to become like [inaudible 33:32] that you can be like God now. Okay, now just correct me if I’m wrong but the antichrist, to me, is that man will make gods of themselves. So Satan – we have all these [inaudible 33:52] that God intended us to use for his glory, but Satan perverts all of them [inaudible 33:59] but within ourselves and I think something to watch for in the upcoming years is the discovery of innate powers or innate abilities like through your mind, like – I don’t know, right now people have powers in their mind to move objects [inaudible 34:22] and things like that. But I think this is something to watch for because [34:29].

All I think brother, that one would need to add is that it still is true, “Without me you can do nothing” and the real power that God wants us to achieve things with is the power of the Holy Spirit

that flows from his Son Jesus and that is ever in the position in his Son Jesus, and that is only ours because we dwell in his Son Jesus.

[Question inaudible 34:57]

But there seems also to be elemental spirits in the universe. There seems to be a kind of natural or psychic power that is resident in God’s universe that Satan can use to produce counterfeit results. And what it seems is true, that things that appear to be miracles in the same line as Jesus’ miracles are actually counterfeits. We have not the spiritual insight to distinguish. They seem to do the same thing; they seem to result in the same. But it seems to me that in further years we will find that it is a different kind of power, and its closer to the power of deception in using these elemental spirits that are present in the universe which somehow I feel are different from the Holy Spirit.

[Question inaudible 35:49]

It seems to me when Satan said, “But surely when you know the difference between good and evil you shall be like God” it seems to me he was offering them the perversion of some resident powers that God had placed in the universe rather than any power that he himself possessed. And yet, even if he possessed any power, it was because it was given to him by the Father. So even Satan, it seems to me, is under the control of God. He can go only as far as God lets him which is why Satan said “Look at your servant Job, let me but put my hand upon him and he will curse you.” And God said, “Okay, I’ll let you put your hand upon him but do not take his life.” So it seems to me that even the power of Satan, if he has any power beyond the perverted powers resident in the universe, even that power is under God’s control.

[Question inaudible 37:51]

That’s right. I think the heart of our attitude towards a thing like a sickness or a difficulty in our lives should be, “Father, I want what you want with this. It seems to me that at this time I should praise you and thank you for the healing of this, but Lord I want you to know that I’m willing for you to work whatever you want out of this sickness, and I’m willing certainly for you to lift away the symptoms whenever it pleases you.” In other words, it seems to me we should have David’s attitude when his son was dying. We should pray against the son dying, pray right up to the last minute and put ashes over our head and repent and praise God, and thank him for healing, but when the son dies then there should be a submission to the Father’s will.

So it seems to me that should be our attitude in sickness, “Lord, I know that you’ve lifted this sickness from me. I know that I am healed in Jesus, but Father I thank you for whatever you have to teach me by even letting some of the symptoms continue if you’re going to teach me persistence or if you’re going to teach me witnessing to someone else in the midst of this difficulty.” Then yes, I agree sister. I agree.

I think that the Father has more in mind than just physical wellbeing. It seems to me there is conformity to the image of Jesus that can sometimes only come through having our hands pierced and nails in our feet.

[Question inaudible 39:20]

But you can see that it gets it away from that rather naïve approach that so many Christians had in America in past years saying, “If you follow God he’ll prosper you.” And then everybody began to feel, “Yeah, he’ll prosper us and we’ll be rich and we’ll live well.” And it seems that that has done a lot of harm to the cause of Jesus and it seems that the Father wants to bring in a new race of Christians who triumph and walk in victory even if they are outwardly in trouble and in difficulties.

[Question inaudible 40:31]

Yes. I know that Satan got me on this when he said, “You’re not really trusting if the thing is not healed.” And then I at last saw the deception and said, “No, If I can only judge my position with Jesus by the outward circumstances, than all you have to do is upset my outward circumstances and I’ll doubt my relationship to Jesus” and so then I got back to my right position in Jesus.

[Question inaudible 40:56]

That’s right, but I’m with you; our position is “We thank you Lord that you have forgiven our iniquities and healed our diseases. We thank you for that and I thank you for that.” So it’s walking in faith.

Maybe we should pray brothers and sisters, this has been good. Father, we thank you that you are truth and you are reality. Lord God, we would rather believe your word than believe the evidence of all our senses. Father, we believe that what you say is true and we believe that it is true that you Lord Jesus have borne our sickness and carried our pains and we don’t need to carry them any longer. Lord, we thank you for that.

Blessed Father, if you want us to walk in some of these symptoms for a while to strengthen our faith, then we’re certainly willing to walk in them. But Lord God, we recognize the reality that we are in Jesus and all health, harmony, peace, emotional and physical and spiritual, exists in him and therefore exists in us so we thank you for that Lord. We thank you that in Jesus we are well, all things are well in Jesus and all things are well with us.

Lord, these outward circumstances that we have, these difficulties and trials of which some are the symptoms in our bodies, we thank you for them. We greet it as pure joy when we enter into various trials. We thank you for that because we know that these trials will work faith and endurance and hope so we praise you for that. But Father we see that all that is not of you comes by the deception of Satan, by his perversion of the mighty spiritual powers that you have set in our universe. And oh we thank you Lord God, that you are the only true key to these powers. That as they can wreak havoc when they are misused, so they can work harmony, peace, healing, and joy when they are used according to your will.

So Father we trust you to guide us now, to expose every deception of Satan to us and to enable us to set our minds firmly on the facts as you have outlined them, that in Jesus all things are ours. Whatever is in heaven, or earth, or sea, or sky, all things are ours in heaven because all things are his and he is yours. Father, we thank you for that. We praise you for this morning. We trust you for a good time now together, in your presence and we trust you Father for an atmosphere among us that will constantly expose this deception of Satan and will continually reinforce the truth as you have told it to us.

We trust you now with our sister, we trust you for the asthma, we trust you Lord for the things that you’re teaching her through the asthma. And Lord Jesus, we thank you that that has been borne by Jesus, he has carried it. He has gasped in our place. He has been our breath for us and he is filled with breath and filled with life, and we are in him. And Lord Jesus we live off your breath this morning. We thank you for your breath. We thank you for as much of it as you want to give us today and as much of our own lack as you want us to live with today, because Lord we know that you are involved in conforming us to your image so we accept that. We thank you and praise you for healing and wholeness. In your name, amen.