Allen Jackson - Antichrist On Display - Part 2
Now there's no greater power available to a human being than spiritual power. And I believe in economic power, or military might, they're legitimate, but they don't compare with the power of Almighty God. And I think so often as Christ followers, we're confused at how to give expression to that. Does it mean you have to be bizarre, or weird, or that you have to pray crazy prayers, or behave in some odd way? I don't believe so. I think something as familiar to you in me, as forgiveness unleashes the power of God. We have to receive forgiveness, and we have to be willing to forgive others. It's an expression of God's power. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart to the Lord today.
David is one of the most remarkable leaders in all of the Bible. We meet him as a boy, as a teenager, when he takes down Goliath, this remarkable Philistine warrior. And God sends Samuel the last of the judges to anoint David to be king of Israel. He goes to his home, his dad's got lots of boys, David's the youngest. It's kind of a dramatic scene until finally Samuel pours the oil on him and says, "God's anointed you to be king". You can see the eye rolls with his brothers. He's always been kind of a smart alec. But God says, "If David he would do anything I ask him to do". God anointed him to be king, there's just one problem with that little scenario. Israel already had a king, his name was Saul, and Saul objected to God's choice.
Now Samuel the prophet and the judge came and said, "God has chosen you to be king I anoint you to be king over these people". And Saul said, "I will kill you. I will hunt you like an animal," and he did. I'm thinking, if you were David, that would've felt like a personal struggle. It wasn't theoretical, it wasn't theological. In fact, he had to go live in a foreign country and pretend to be insane in order to spare his life for a season. He had to live in the wilderness in caves. The only people he could recruit to follow him, were people who had been basically rejected by more stable civilization. And yet God had chosen him, persecution. Look at Ephesians 6. It's a New Testament principle, "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".
You see, we read that who can we hire to stand on our behalf? That's why we hire pastors. That's why we join collectives. What's the church going to do? I bet I've been asked that question a hundred thousand times in my life. What's the church going to do? If you've ever asked me that question, you know the answer. 'Cause I'll invariably respond to you I'm not exactly sure what are you planning to do because we are the church. There's no mysterious closet on campus where the church lives. Folks, this is it as uncomfortable as that is, in all of our brokenness and awkwardness, we are the ones on call in this generation to take our stand against the devil's schemes.
Now we don't stand in our power, or our wisdom, or our strength, or our resources, but nevertheless we've been asked to stand. Look at verse 12, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood". It's not against the people or institutions or organizations, our problems aren't fundamentally political. "But our struggle is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms". It's a discussion or a presentation, of ascending and descending orders of authority, in the spiritual realm of darkness. In the same way, there are levels of authority in the kingdom of God. There are arch angels, and angels, and angels with great power, and angels with specific assignments. There's a structure and order in the kingdom of darkness.
So the council we're given in verse 13, is "Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground". It doesn't say if the day of evil comes, it tells you evil will touch your life. If you're gonna make a journey through time, evil will touch your life. That's not a negative confession, that's preparation. That's like saying when you take off in an airplane and you climb several thousand feet, your ears will pop. That's not being negative, that's helping someone that's never done that before, not think they're about to lose their hearing. So when evil touches your life, you're not unique, you haven't failed, you haven't wandered off the path, God hasn't abandoned you, you're on your journey through time. "When the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand".
Now I'm gonna take the time we have left and look at a couple of examples of that with you from Paul's life. I'd like to go to Acts chapter 13. Paul has accepted his assignment as the apostle to the non-Jewish world. The New Testament word is gentile, Gentile just means you're not Jewish. In the viewpoint of the New Testament, there's two people groups, the Jewish people and the rest. And Paul is the apostle to the non-Jewish world. It says, "They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and a false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus". It's a political picture.
When we say sorcerer the word, it's kind of a complex word in the first century and in the language of the New Testament, this isn't a Disney creation or somebody with a pointed hat and a wand. A sorcerer is someone that's powerful, someone of influence, someone who manages to bewitch the people, to lead them in decisions that are beyond just logic. Again, it's a bit of a complicated word in this case, the sorcerer is associated to a political leader. We have people that stand in those places today. Don't be confused. The proconsul it says, "Was an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the Word of God. But the sorcerer opposed them and he tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at him and said, 'You're a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!'"
Well hello. You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery, and you will "never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord"? Literally, it says you'll never stop trying to make crooked the straight path. I think of all the voices today speaking at us, speaking towards us, that are trying to make crooked the straight path. They traffic in deception, in deceit, and manipulation, and relabeling and redefining, with the same voice that we hear in the garden of Eden, "Did God really say"? The voices thunder at us today? "Did God really say"? Who believes that any longer? How quaint. Recognize the spirit behind it.
Paul said, "Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord"? Perversion is deviating from the ways of the Lord, and we've tolerated it in the church. Verse 11 is even more striking, "Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun. Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed". Yeah. "For he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord".
Now if you've been with us in the previous sessions, we've looked at a parallel event in Acts chapter 8. It was another encounter with the sorcerer, a powerful man, a man that had been referred to in public as the great one, a person of tremendous influence. And when Peter and John came to town and preached the gospel, he believed it. He accepted Jesus, as Lord of his life he was baptized. It's in the story you can read it's Act 8. And yet when he saw Peter and John laying their hands on people and them receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, he was so impressed by that, he offered them money for that same privilege. He wanted to download the app how much does it cost? And Peter turned on him with an intensity similar to what Paul did in this circumstance. And he said, "You're filled with greed". You better repent. He challenged the expression of carnality in Simon in Acts chapter 8.
In Acts 13, it's a different thing, it's an expression of the spirit of antichrist it's opposing the proclamation of the gospel. And Paul doesn't negotiate. He doesn't suggest that there's a validity to his perspective and while he holds great power in the city, perhaps we could benefit from some sort of an alliance. He said, "You will never stop perverting the right way". So for a season, you're gonna be in the dark. Simon wanted money and power, Peter rebuked him sternly and told him to repent. Eliymas is opposing the gospel, it's an expression of the spirit of antichrist. You see it in the earth today if you look. Don't be tolerant of it, don't embrace it, don't negotiate with it. Paul's response is very different than Peter's in Acts 8. You see, you can crucify your old flesh, your old carnal nature, you have to expel, you have to address an unclean spirit. You can't expel the flesh or crucify an unclean spirit.
Let's go with Paul the Philippi. You know the book of Philippians? It's about the folks in Philippi. So when you read the letter of Philippians, the backstory is what we're about to look at. You can read it at your leisure in a little more detail, but in Philippi he said, "Once when were going to the place of prayer, were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future". Did you know unclean spirits have an awareness you don't have? That principle follows all the way through scripture. Jesus walked into the synagogue in Capernaum and there was a demonized man and the spirit in him said, "I know who you are". Nobody else in the synagogue knew who he was. The disciples didn't know yet, the Pharisee didn't know yet, the spirit knew.
See, we imagine that the spiritual realm is fictitious or imaginary or it shouldn't be taken seriously to our own detriment. This girl predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. "The girl followed Paul and the rest of us shouting, 'These men are servants of the Most High God, who were telling you the way to be saved.'" Sounds a lot like what happened to Jesus on multiple occasions. Can you imagine going to work tomorrow, and there's some temporary employee when you walk in the door, "That person is a servant of the Most High God and they've come to this office to tell you the way to be saved". Awkward. I bet you'd find a path around that desk and it says, she kept it up for several days. It wouldn't have been any more pleasant then than it would be for you or for me now.
"Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit," not to the woman to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her! The spirit left her". Paul and his companion harassed by an unclean spirit. Again, not unlike Jesus's experience in more than one place, Paul's expression of spiritual authority on behalf of that woman, brings freedom to her suffering and abuse. It's an act of compassion. It would've been easier for Paul and Luke and the rest of their crew, just do have chosen a different pathway to the place of prayer, Let's not go back that way, that crazy woman's over there. But they chose to intervene on her behalf.
Verse 19, "When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, 'These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept their practice.'" Was that true? No. They'd lost their revenue source they had a slave, and it was beneficial to them and they had enough awareness to realize that that had been disrupted, so now they're accusing them falsely. Sounds kind of biblical. We go all the way back to Jesus on the Sermon on The Mount. But they're causing a stir, they're getting some attention, they're lying on social media. And "the crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged," not just beaten they've been severely beaten.
Luke wrote the book of Acts, he's a physician. So he writes sometimes with a specificity of someone who's used to making a diagnosis. They weren't just casually beaten somebody leaned into it. They've been severely flogged. "They were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully, and upon receiving the orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks". This is no joke. Now step back a moment we just read from chapter 13, we're just three chapters later, that Paul spoke to a man that was giving expression to the spirit of antichrist, and he was struck blind. So if I'm reading this, and I'm kind of putting myself in Paul's position, I'm thinking, "Strike that guy blind. You hit me again your eyes will melt". Yes he's arrested, stripped, beaten, imprisoned.
See, he's not a marvel character with superpowers. We have this mistaken notion about spiritual things that we command them, and we control them, so that we can lead our lives above the fray. That's not the biblical narrative. We're on assignment as advocates for the good news about Jesus of Nazareth. And we have been told straight up, that we will be persecuted for that assignment. That people will falsely say all manner of things against us because of the name of Jesus. And that when we find ourselves in those places, we're gonna have to stand. And when you've done everything you know to do, you still have to stand. We rewrite the script, as if we get a red cape and blue tights. That's something you can't unsee.
Look at verse 25, "About midnight, Paul and Silas were" complaining about the itinerary and who'd said to come to Philippi anyway. They "were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake and the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose". There's a supernatural intervention, the jail is open and that's wonderful, yay. But if you're the one sitting in that inner cell with your hands and feet bound in the stocks, I'm just thinking, "How about a little intervention 12 hours ago. How about some of that convenient mist over the eyes of people when they were coming for us in the public square? How about a change of heart in the person that ordered us to be beaten almost to death"?
They're not out of the will of God they're there in a supernatural direction. A vision sent them to Philippi. They've been called on the carpet for helping a woman who had no power to help herself, and now they've received a severe beating, and now God sends an angel. "The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself". If a prisoner escaped under Roman law that you were responsible for, your life would be taken. He doesn't wanna suffer the humiliation and his family to be murdered along with him, so he says, I'll just fall on my sword. "He thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, 'Don't harm yourself! We're all here!' The jailer called for lights, and rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' And Paul said, 'You wicked, brutal, evil man, you had me beaten, I hope you rot.'" I'm sorry, that's Allen's translation.
Paul replied, "'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you'll be saved, you and your household.' And they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; and immediately he and his family were baptized". They're all in. It's not some, remember Paul's faith and silence, their faith had them beaten in the inner cell of the prison. And the jailer said, "I'm with you. I am with you. If I have to make a decision in this city, I'm gonna stand with you, not with them".
Wow! Folks, our messages has been a little askew. "He brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God, he and his whole family". Paul and Silas made choices which changed the destiny of that jailer. He's a Gentile, he's a servant of Roman oppression, he's a brutal man, and they extended the gospel to him. The suffering of Paul and Silas yielded a positive outcome for others. I don't have the time to unpack that idea, but I can tell you that biblically there's a significance to suffering. And if you're in a place today where suffering is a part of this season, if you will continue to choose the Lord, he will bring a significance to you.
I think I'll close there we'll come back and finish this, Wednesday night with some of our missionaries. I brought you a prayer, I took it from the book of Acts. Not long after Jesus goes back to heaven and the day of Pentecost happens, there's a lot of jealousy that starts to emerge in Jerusalem the religious leaders that got Jesus executed don't like the disciples because now they're doing what Jesus did. And so they dragged him before the same magistrate the same court that orchestrated Jesus execution, and they said, "What we did to your boss, we're gonna do to you or you better shut up".
And the apostles looked at him and said, "Well, you know you'll need to do whatever you need to do, but we won't stop". These are the same guys that denied Jesus a few weeks ago. And when they were released from the Sanhedrin, they went back to their friends. It's in your notes. It's Acts 4:27 says, "Indeed, Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed".
This is a prayer. "They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. After they prayed, the place where they were was shaken". And the book of Acts records that happening, we just read a couple of chapters from it. So I wanna offer that prayer to you today. The part that's in bold in your notes, can we read that together? Why don't you stand with me for that? It's not bold in my notes I hope I got the same part you got. Let's read it together is our own prayer today:
Now Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus, amen.