Spiritual Warfare 6: Prayer Continued
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Spiritual Warfare 6 – Prayer Continued
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I’d like to talk about spiritual warfare, and then give you an opportunity to ask some questions. And I’d like to point out to you first of all the fact of spiritual warfare and you remember, we mentioned these verses last time, but perhaps you’d look at the one that we’ve often used in Ephesians as the fact of spiritual warfare is stated there. Then I’ll show you an actual instance of it that we used last Sunday in Daniel. So let’s look at Ephesians 6:12, that’s the fact of spiritual warfare stated plainly, “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
So when there is an atmosphere of bickering and strife and tension in the office, it is not the flesh and blood that you’re contending against. That bickering and that strife and that tension are the result of the movement of spiritual powers in the world around us. Whenever there rises up an inexplicable barrier between you and your dear one at home, or between you and a friend, you’re not contending just against a personality conflict issue, you’re dealing with the results of the workings of spiritual powers in the world around us, and that’s what God is saying there.
Here’s an example of it in Daniel 10:12-14. Maybe it would be better to read from verse 10 where Daniel is praying, “And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. And he said to me, ‘O Daniel, man greatly beloved, give heed to the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.’ While he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, ‘Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia and came to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days.’” The angel that came to Daniel describes warfare in the spiritual world that goes on above everything that we see and touch and hear around us, and it’s that spiritual warfare that I’d like to share a little about tonight, dear ones.
Now maybe one of the first things to state plainly is that Satan does not need to engage in any kind of spiritual warfare while we are in a certain state of being. You remember that we’ve talked again and again of our spirits as being the center of our personalities. And you know the way we drew a picture of the rest of what is really a plan of the temple, Solomon’s Temple, likening it to the spirit, the soul, and the body of our own personalities. This spirit is the inner part of us, the part of us that deals with the Father.
Now loved ones, Satan has no need to engage in spiritual warfare while our spirits are dead to God. When our spirits are dead to God, we don’t want to do what God wants to do, we want to do what we want to do, that’s all Satan requires. His dream is to find three and a half billion of us doing our own thing in our own way, at the time and the place that we want. He knows that will result in absolute chaos and create hell here on Earth. So Satan has no desire to war against us spiritually while our spirits are dead.
But the moment we see that God is able to give us his Holy Spirit, and is able to bring a new life
inside our own spirits, and make us alive like Jesus, the moment we’re ready to stop doing the things that God has shown us are wrong in our lives and to give our lives to God to be used by him for whatever purpose he chooses, that moment when the Holy Spirit comes in then Satan becomes a little more interested in us. But not too interested, because most of us experience a growth or an apparent development of the great “I” spirit as soon as the Holy Spirit comes into our spirits. So most of us still continue to spend a great deal of our time in the state described by Paul, that “the good that I would I cannot do, and the evil I want to avoid that the very thing I do.” And this spirit of the flesh strives against the Holy Spirit of Jesus and prevents us from doing what we would, so for most of us in that situation, Satan has no interest at all, we are no problem to him.
We’re in the same situation as that duck hunter that Moody described who shot the ducks and the dog went for the ones that were still flapping on the ground, still alive. His friend had never been out hunting before and he says, “Why does the dog go to those? What about the other ones?” And the hunter said, “Oh the other ones are dead, so it’s no point in bothering with them, it’s just the ones that are still flapping that we’re concerned about.” Now Satan is not too concerned about a person in that situation where you’re flapping around there but you’re not doing much harm and he’ll get you whenever he wants you.
So really loved ones, when you’re in that state of being born of the Spirit, but still having this old “I” spirit striving inside, envious and filled with anger at times, losing its temper at times, alright at times you do God’s will, but as often as not you do your own will. So, they not only cancel out but usually you end up doing more harm than good because usually you end up professing to be of Jesus, but not possessing Jesus fully, so in Satan’s mind you’re as much an ally of his as you are of God’s. Satan is only concerned loved ones, when you allow that “I” to be crossed out with the cross, and when you come into the position that Paul described that “I have been crucified with Christ, so, it is no longer I that lives, but Christ that lives within me.”
In other words, when you come into an experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit then Satan begins to release his warfare against you. Until that time you’ll probably only experience kind of secondary effects of Satan’s work, for the simple reason that you’re doing a great deal of his work yourself by the desires of the old self.
So it’s really only when you come into that crucifixion with Christ that Satan becomes concerned and that crucifixion with Christ is the secret of your power in spiritual warfare. The truth is – as in that picture that I described to you that we used in some of the early productions of Dunamis, up here is spiritual warfare going on in the heavenly places, and so Satan and the demons are warring here in this area. Now loved ones, there is only one place that is higher than that, and that is the position at the Father’s right hand. That’s the only position of power and safety, above the enemies here. This is not a position of power and safety because these powers here can influence what goes on in the earth. But up here there is a place of safety, far above the enemies of Satan and the demons that he controls.
Now how do you get into that position? That position you remember, is described in Ephesians 1, and we’ve used this often, Ephesians 1:20 (starting just before that in verse 19), “The working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, 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.” Now loved ones, that is the position described there, it’s a position far above all authority and all power
and all dominion. That is the position of power in spiritual warfare.
Now how do you get there? Loved ones, there’s only the way that Jesus himself got there. He ascended into that position from the grave from which he was raised by the power of the Holy Spirit described there in Ephesians 1:19, “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places.” God raised Jesus from the dead, and made him sit in that heavenly place.
Now how did Jesus get into the tomb in the first place — by being crucified. So loved ones, you cannot be in that position unless you are willing to be crucified as Jesus was, and willing to die to self as he did and to be buried with him. Then the Holy Spirit raises you into that position and that position is the secret of your power in spiritual warfare. That is the position you adopt and the position from which you can war successfully against Satan. And do you know that if you simply retain that position by faith and by submission of your will there is nothing else actually you need to do? The Holy Spirit within you then will war against Satan, will stand against him, will drive him back, all you have to do is retain that position by faith and submission.
Now why I mention the cross experience is unless your will is totally submitted to the Father in every area of your life, you cannot be buried with Jesus and you cannot be raised to the right hand of the Father. Now maybe I should just qualify that by saying in every area of your life where God has revealed to you a lack of submission. There are many areas of our lives where we don’t realize we’re disobeying God and those God is not concerned with at this moment because they do not express a resistance to his will. But in every area of your life where God has begun to convict you of some controversy with himself, if you are not willing to submit to that then you are not willing to be crucified with Christ, to be buried with him, and to be raised to the right hand of the Father. It is that position that is the position of power.
Now Satan attacks that position in all kinds of ways. If you return there to that diagram, you’ll realize that the normal state of a healthy Christian is for that “I” to be crossed out and for the Holy Spirit to be filling a spirit completely and for the spirit to be expressing itself through its soul, through its mind and emotions, through its body and out to the world. Now one of the ways in which Satan tries to rattle you out of that position is by causing chaos in the outside world around you. So the normal position of a Christian is a place of absolute peace and rest at the right hand of the Father, absolutely confident that the Father above can supply you with every need. Absolutely confident that the Father above is in control of your entire situation, and all your circumstances and is in utter control of your life. Absolutely confident that the state in which you are at this very moment, the very seat in which you’re sitting tonight is ordained by God to be your place at this moment in his world. Satan’s job is to rattle you out of that peace, and often he’ll do that by trying to cause chaos in your outward circumstances.
Now loved ones, when everything seems to be blowing apart be assured that God is allowing Satan to do that in order to get you to exercise faith in your position in Jesus at the right hand of the Father. And rest, do not rise to the bait, do not get out there and start trying to put the things right, do not start getting all worried. Satan’s job is to get you so concerned with the chaotic outward circumstances around you, that you’ll grow impatient, you’ll step out of your position in Jesus at the right hand of the Father, out of that position of faith that God has everything in absolute control and you’ll get into your soul and start thinking in your mind and start worrying in your emotions, and before you know it you’ll be out there in your body in the midst of the
circumstances, and throwing away all opportunity to exercise faith. Once you do that, once you stop exercising faith, Satan can do what he wants with you.
So loved ones, one of the ways in which Satan wars against you is by turning your outward circumstances into chaos and you’ll almost notice it at times by the absoluteness of the chaos. I mean, sometimes it’s funny; it’s as if the whole roof has fallen in. And Satan can be a bit stupid you know, he gives you such good warnings that it’s him working, because the circumstances seem to be falling apart in all directions and it seems that suddenly your whole world which seemed right is blowing apart.
Now loved ones, that’s the time to realize that you’re in spiritual warfare, you’re not warring against flesh and blood. It doesn’t matter if you get that car immediately into the service station, get it repaired immediately, deal with the insurance agent immediately, get out and try to pacify the driver immediately. It doesn’t matter; you can do everything you want but if you get out there and start fighting in terms of flesh and blood you’ll get wrapped up in the chaos itself. You’ll lose all peace, all faith, and all position at the right hand of the Father. The thing is to be quiet and rest in Jesus, thank the Father that he’s in control, and trust him now to begin to send forth the Holy Spirit against these circumstances, and to begin to remold them into the pattern of the Father and meanwhile do something. That’s right, it’s not a case of doing nothing, it’s a case of doing what the Holy Spirit prompts you to do within, but you’ll notice that what he prompts you to do is something that he demands as obedience to God as proof of your faith. It’s not normally something that would actually rectify the situation. Walking around the walls of Jericho seven times is unlikely really to bring them down, but you walk round them seven times because God has told you to walk around, and it proves that you trust him to bring about the victory if you obey him in every detail. So you are required to do things and it may be to give your number to the insurance agent, I’m not saying it won’t be to do that, but it’ll be to do it out of the quietness of your own spirit at the Father’s right hand.
Now loved ones most of us lose everything because when circumstances get chaotic we give up our position at the right hand of the Father — that position that God has given us. It’s in Ephesians 2:6 if you’d like to look at it, “and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” And it’s so good to just be able to do that and to say “Father, I thank you that you have raised me up and you have made me sit with you in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Whenever the boat is about to sink, whenever the airplane is crashing to the ground, that’s what God expects us to say, because if we’re saying that, then whatever is going to happen he is going to be in control of it, and he is going to work it as he works everything; according to the counsel of his will. But loved ones don’t be drawn out.
[Watchman] Nee has an illustration that I think I’ve shared with you before. During the war between the Chinese and the Japanese, when the Japanese were a superior military power, the Japanese had far more tanks and far more weapons of every kind than the Chinese. And the Chinese at last worked out a technique of dealing with the tanks when they themselves had no tanks to send against the Japanese army at all. They would fire a shot at the tank, then fire another shot, then another, then a long pause. The Japanese driver would open up the cockpit and pop out his head to see what was happening and they’d shoot him. And Nee says that’s what Satan is anxious to do. He’s anxious to get you to pop your head out of your position in Jesus at the right hand of the Father, just for one moment, and then he can get at you if you lose your position, if you lose your confidence that God is controlling the situation and if you can afford to stay in your position in Jesus at the right hand, then the Father is able to move against the circumstances.
Loved ones, it’s the same if you move back in. Really, that’s all you need to do, move in one-by-one to find how Satan wars against you. He deals with the body, and he puts a germ or a virus of some kind into your body. And don’t forget that anything that Satan does, God has allowed him to do. God allows Satan to do these things. He knows that this is the next right step for your growth. And so he puts a germ or a virus, and you come down with flu, and the body is tired and listless and wearied and worn, and the bones are sore. And you come home at the end of the day and someone says something to you that is a little irritable. That’s a situation of spiritual warfare.
You can be foolish like the Japanese tank drivers, you can come out of your position and you can say to yourself, “Well I’ve a right to be angry. I mean, I have the flu, and I have a right to give vent to the strain that my body feels.” Or, you can just close your ears to what is said, and say, “Father I know you will rectify this. And I thank you that I’m in you Lord Jesus, at the Father’s right hand, and I thank you that this is a place where your health is a bounty. I thank you that I’m in heaven at this moment. I thank you that there’s health for my body here. I thank you Lord that I don’t need to react against the person that’s just criticized me. I don’t need to retaliate. I’m in you Lord Jesus, you’re far above every rule and authority and dominion and power. Lord, I can even lose this argument. I can lose my job in this situation and you can master the situation and you can bring it into the counsel of your will.” But loved ones, it’s always retaining your position.
You can move back another step. Another message Satan has is to get into the soul to bring the emotions and the mind to chaos and he’ll do it anyway. He can bring the mind into chaos especially easily when you’re under a physical sickness of some kind, or he can bring you into chaos by your emotions. He can enable someone else’s emotions, or the emotions of the group around you to start stirring your emotions. Don’t be silly about it, don’t be lead out by it. Reject even the very movement that is taking place in your emotions. You come into an office situation and everyone’s tearing at each other, and there’s such an atmosphere of tension that your emotions begin to feel it too. You back out of that situation even if you go to the restroom, you go to the restroom and you pray, but you get out of the situation and you take your position in Jesus and you thank him that you’ve been raised with him and made to sit with him in the heavenly places, “Lord, I thank you that I’m far above this office situation. And I thank you Lord, that as you look down upon it now it seems so stupid and silly, and they’ll all have forgotten about it tomorrow. Father, I trust you now to send forth the Holy Spirit into that office and to deal with each one of my dear colleagues in that place, and to begin to quiet their spirits and their emotions.”
Loved ones, do you see it’s always retreating into your position in Jesus at the Father’s right hand and from that quiet position of security, sending forth the Holy Spirit by your faith into the situation? But it is certainly not rising to the bait. There’s not a rising to it and beginning to do what Satan expects you to do. Often really, Satan will attack your own spirit. And it is possible for him, brothers and sisters, to inject into your spirit certain attitudes that can be poisonous. They can come from other spirits, from demonic spirits. It’s up to you, again, to recognize them as alien. His task there is to try to persuade you that these are in your spirit. That these feelings are not in the circumstances around you, they’re not in your body, they’re not in your mind or emotions, but that these things are in your spirit. Your position again is to exercise faith and say, “Father is there any reason why you are not able to raise me up and make me sit with Jesus in the heavenly places? If there is Lord will you show me? If there’s any way in which I’m not willing to be crucified with Christ will you show me?”
Then if there is the Holy Spirit will convict you right away, will point out the thing and you repent of it and say, “Thank you Father that I am raised with Jesus. Thank you Lord that I cannot have this kind of feeling that seems to be in my spirit, because I’m in Jesus at this moment, so I reject you Satan, in Jesus name.” And you resist that poisonous spirit. But loved ones, the victory is as the old song says, “The victory is faith.” Faith is the victory, and it’s faith in your position at the right hand of the Father in Jesus. Satan’s method is to disturb that in every way possible.
Why does God allow Satan to come against you at all? For various reasons: sometimes to strengthen your own faith, sometimes so that you’ll exercise your spirit, because if you exercise your spirit, your spirit becomes stronger and stronger. So it’s often in the midst of the most tremendous onslaughts from Satan that your spirit is actually growing more than ever. And so sometimes it’s so that in fact, your spirit will be strengthened or your faith will be strengthened. Sometimes it’s so that you will begin to move against Satan himself. Sometimes the Father sees some of us sitting around not beginning to claim ground of Satan’s, not beginning to take ground from Satan. It’s because he sees some of us sitting around letting others slave under Satan’s domination instead of beginning to claim them for him. And so he begins to make us aware of Satan’s life around us and his ability to attack us. So for different reasons God allows this to take place. But loved ones, it’s always so that we can come more completely into our position in Jesus and always Satan’s method is to try to drag us out of that position.
Now I think I should stop and allow you to ask any questions. Brother?
Can a Christian have a demon? What is that really talking about?
There is one book that does tend to indicate that a Christian can have a demon. In the next addition of that book the editor felt so strongly guided by God that he opposed the original opinion that was expressed there. So maybe it’s good to state that so that we do know that there is that side to it, John. It seems to me that having a demon normally means being possessed by one of Satan’s own messengers. That means that you have submitted your will to that messenger, because there is a spiritual principle that applies to God as it applies to Satan, that neither God nor Satan can have any control of a human being unless that human being allows them to. So in order for a person to be dominated by a messenger of Satan, like a demon, that person would have had to submit their will to Satan.
Now John, it is impossible it seems to me, for a person to submit their will to Satan and at the same time submit their will to God. That is if their will was totally submitted to God, and I’m assuming there that it is a person who would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and filled with the Spirit, would be a complete Christian crucified with Christ. In that sense, I think it’s impossible to conceive of the fact of a Christian in that sense having a demon. I can certainly see a Christian who is half surrendered, or in the midst of a controlled surrender to God, and at times submits their will to Satan, at times to self, at times to God. You can see how a person like that could come into demon possession. But it’s impossible I think John, to see how a person who is filled with the Holy Spirit could come into that position.
If for instance a boss maligns your character in some way, have you a right to respond, or should you simply take it? Not malign your character, but say something that was untrue about you? As an example, needing to be at school at eight o’clock and being asked to do something at 7:55 that would take 15 to 20 minutes to finish, that kind of situation.
Loved ones, it seems to me that we are responsible for maintaining God’s testimony to justice as much as we are responsible for maintaining his testimony to mercy. And I think that you cannot destroy one without in some sense destroying the other. Now that is very different I think, from the impression that many of us used to hear Christians would create, of being people who go by the book more than anybody else, so that they drove everybody else crazy and instead of drawing people to Jesus, turned everybody off Jesus. It seems to me that there’s no place for that and that there’s every place for going the second mile, and the third mile, beyond what anybody else will do, but certainly not to oppose God’s principle of justice in work and in work situations. And it seems to me that there are other times when certainly we will be asked to bless those who despitefully use us, but that will be clearly obvious to us through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. But Jim, I would in answer to your question still push us all back to listening to the Holy Spirit, because I’m sure you cannot be legalistic about these things. There are times I think when we’ll go the extra mile beyond what is fair for anybody to ask us to do, and it’s clear at other times we shouldn’t.
[Question inaudible 31:08]
Oh I think so. I have a letter, I haven’t it in my pocket but John passed it on to me today – I won’t go into details of it, but it was from a certain business operation that seemed to me to be trying to treat us in a way that so many people have treated the church in the past, as kind of a fairly anemic, harmless operation that can be stomped over whenever they decide to do so. And it seems to me there’s no question what we should do and I will ask that dear lady to come and speak to me, and explain. And I think, yes, you must stand up with the dignity of Jesus in certain situations, otherwise I think you do harm to Jesus’ cause.
Claiming ground from Satan surely involves some move forward and not simply our retreating into our position in Jesus?
Loved ones, all I was suggesting was that your attack directions and your campaign directions would come from only one place, and that was your position in Jesus. And I’m with you brother, that if you will retain that position in Jesus the Holy Spirit will immediately direct you as to what action to take aggressively. But I think you’re right, I think that we would have less trouble with Satan if we spent more time in attack. And I think often Satan allows us to be attacked to drive us back into a strong position in Jesus at the Father’s right hand, so that we will again begin to receive direct campaign instructions.
Often in other words, I think many of us are not dwelling in that position, and so our spirits are not buoyant and victorious, and we’re going through the work day in a kind of neither hot nor cold. And often that’s why God allows Satan to attack us, to drive us back into a position that is buoyant, and victorious, and praising, and that is going out against Satan at every moment in every opportunity. But it’s good you asked the question, because I agree we can talk too much in terms of defense. It’s just that many of us do not even know how to defend ourselves and we make the mistake of attacking in flesh and blood terms, instead of retreating into our spiritual defense from where we will receive directions to attack spiritually.
Dear ones, your spirit will be kept buoyant by the Holy Spirit on one condition; if you believe. If you believe that you have been raised and made to sit with Jesus in the heavenly places at God’s right hand, then the Holy Spirit will begin to work in your spirit and make it buoyant and victorious. But if you don’t believe that, then the Holy Spirit can do nothing with your own
spirit, and you cannot affect your own spirit at all. So what I’m trying to do is to get us away from this attempt to whomp ourselves up psychologically by saying, “Oh what depression I’m suffering. Oh, praise God anyway, praise God.” Well no, you see, I know there’s truth in “praise God anyway,” but it’s not the truth of whomping yourself up into praising God. It’s the truth of considering the position that God has given you in Jesus at his right hand, and then the Holy Spirit will act upon your spirit and make it buoyant and in an ascended state, you see. And it’s in that ascended state that your spirit can war against Satan.
It’s presumably a bit like a baseball player. I could make desperate mistakes here on this extemporaneous illustration because I still can’t understand baseball. Cricket I’m okay on. But I presume it’s a bit like a baseball player who goes on to the field determined to hit a home run and the victory is there even before he strikes the ball. Now it seems to me the victory has to be in the spirit before you ever come against Satan. The victory is there before you ever hit the office with its tension. The victory is there before you ever hit the home with its criticism and sarcasm. The victory is there before you ever hit the oppressive atmosphere of the school. The victory is in your spirit before you ever enter the arena and it seems to me that’s the victory in spiritual warfare. If you’re down before you hit the place you better not go.
[Question Inaudible 36:16]
I’ll just comment briefly as God enables me to, but John is pointing out the importance of parents covering their children with the authority of the Holy Spirit, and of their position at the right hand of the Father, and sheltering them from the attacks of evil spirits and of Satan himself and suggesting that there is an age which prevents you doing that any longer. And probably that age is when the child himself begins to be regarded by God as responsible and arriving at the age of discretion or accountability. And it seems to me John that varies so much with children that you couldn’t choose an age, but it would be obvious that there’s a certain time when a child does know what he’s doing in regard to God and in regard to Jesus. And when he begins to know that then presumably the authority that the parent has over the child is no longer effective. Just as the law regards the parent as speaking on the child’s behalf until the child arrives at a certain age so it seems to me it would be much the same in spiritual affairs.
But it is important what you say, that obviously we have absolute authority to protect our children from Satan. But then we have absolute authority to protect our wives, and our husbands, and each other in the same sense/ to shelter them from the attacks of Satan as long as they themselves do not exercise their will with Satan, then of course you cannot override their will any more than God can. But I think many of us would testify to the fact that our wives have had easier and more victorious times while we husbands have stood in a position of protection and authority over Satan on their behalf. And I think it’s true of the sisters in the body, because for all intents and purposes, the brothers here are husbands to the sisters in the body — the unmarried brothers and the unmarried sisters, and so the sisters in the body share that protection also when the brothers intercede and stand in a position of authority against Satan.
So it seems to me loved ones, that there are tremendous truths there that many of us simply are not experiencing because of failure to take our position in Jesus. [Audio ends abruptly 39:08]