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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Strategy, Tactics and Your Unseen Adversary

Allen Jackson - Strategy, Tactics and Your Unseen Adversary

Allen Jackson - Strategy, Tactics and Your Unseen Adversary
TOPICS: Spiritual warfare

Many of you know, I suspect, we had some guests with us last week. One was a retired Force Recon Marine, Chad Robichaux. He'd done eight tours in Afghanistan, and he had with him, I hope you got to hear him, if you didn't, you can hear him online, it's worth the time and the effort. He had with him Aziz, who'd been his Afghan interpreter for many of the years when he was deployed in Afghanistan. Aziz had the courage to stand up for freedom in Afghanistan against the Taliban, and but for the intervention of God, neither he nor his family would've survived. We had another retired Air Force vet, but as I listened to them through the weekend, both with what they shared with you and then in private, it became so clear to me that they were aware of a whole host of strategies and tactics in dealing with the Taliban that I was totally unaware of.

I just had no awareness of whatsoever. There's no confusion in their heart about the evil that drives the ideology and the determination of that group, and they had strategies and plans and tactics for addressing them. And I walked around all week thinking, God, there's so many things I don't know about. You know, I know a little bit about church and I know a little bit about business and I know a little bit about taking care of animals and I know a little bit about some things, but I didn't know anything about dealing with the Taliban. And the more I thought about it and the more I prayed about it, I realized that I've spent my life understanding tactics and strategies dealing with an unseen adversary.

And I'm gonna take a few sessions and share a bit of that with you 'cause the one thing I heard all through last weekend from the men's event on Friday through Saturday and Sunday services and through this week, person after person after person came up to me and said, "You know, I just didn't know that stuff. I didn't know what was happening in Afghanistan, I didn't know what was happening in Ukraine. I just didn't know". And it's not acceptable for me that we would gather in church and worship together and imagine ourselves to be Christ's followers and at the same time be unaware of the adversaries that we face. So that's the path I wanna pick up with you for a few sessions. I'm gonna start with a definition or two. I think it's helpful. A strategy is defined for us in the simplest way as a plan of action or policy that's designed to achieve a major or overall aim. A tactic is a little different. A tactic is a conceptual action or a short series of actions with the aim of achieving a short-term goal.

So for our purposes, let's think of something that is strategic as having a bit of a longer-term objective. The tactics are the shorter-term choices you make in pursuit of that strategic objective. And I'm gonna submit to you that we need both a strategy and tactics for overcoming our adversary. We face an unseen adversary. Folks, the greatest challenges of our lives don't have skin on them. The greatest problems of our lives are not people or organizations or institutions, the root, the fundamental challenge we face, all of us, is spiritual in nature. Now, strategy and tactics will change, and the church has a little bit of trouble with this.

You know, we get locked into our traditions, and sometimes we can't separate the truth that we hold from the containers in which it has to be delivered. The truth that we hold is timeless. It can't be negotiated. It doesn't change with generations. It doesn't change when empires rise or fall. It doesn't change based upon economic circumstances. The truth that we hold is timeless. That Jesus was the incarnate Son of God, that he was born of a virgin, that he grew to adulthood, that he died on a Roman cross physically, that he was buried, and that three days later he was raised to life again. He appeared to many witnesses, and after 40 days he ascended back to heaven and he's coming back to the earth.

That's at the heart of our story, and that cannot be negotiated away, but how we communicate that message and the essence of that is as different as every generation to whom we communicate it. Strategies will change. It's true in military conflict, the first World War was about trench warfare. They dug these big long trenches and they looked at one another across the open spaces. Some of you saw the movie or maybe the play "Warhorse," trench warfare. Vietnam was an entirely different kind of a concept, that was guerrilla warfare in a jungle with dense vegetation. What we've been seeing in the desert for the last several years is completely different again.

Now the combatants don't wear uniforms. They don't identify with nation-states. They don't observe the Geneva Convention. They'll put their command structures in schools or in hospitals. When they go out in public, if they think their enemies that have eyes on, they'll carry babies or children with them to discourage their enemies from making any attacks upon them. The rules have changed and the rules will continue to change, but the strategy of winning the war and being triumphant remains consistent. We need to understand our adversary, and you and I both need a strategy and to know personally the tactics to lead triumphant lives for ourselves and our families. We won't do it all in this session, but we'll begin the discussion. I'll start with just the nature of our adversary. I'm gonna introduce you to three before we're done with this session.

John 16:33, Jesus is speaking. He said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you'll have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world". That's Jesus talking to his closest friends. He's not talking to pagans or people who are resisting him, these are his disciples, they're all in, they've left everything to follow Jesus. And he said, "I've told you these things, I've warned you, I've given you an advanced notice that in this world you're going to have trouble".

Folks, between your birth, when you step into time until you step out, the journey is gonna come with challenges. It doesn't mean you failed, it doesn't mean God has withdrawn from you, it doesn't mean he doesn't love you, it doesn't mean you have missed the path. Jesus faced challenges. The devil himself came to tempt Jesus. I'm pretty certain if the devil had the arrogance, the hubris to tempt Jesus, he knew him before time. He had seen Jesus in all of his glory, and he recognized the vulnerability that an earth suit gave to Jesus, and he brazenly came to tempt our Lord. Can you imagine that? If he imagined that Jesus was vulnerable because of his earth suit and the limits of the physical body, I assure you that he imagines you and I are vulnerable. In this world, we're gonna face some trouble, but Jesus said, "You can be of good cheer! I've overcome the world". You better look at the person beside you and say, "I'm an overcomer". Don't ever forget it.

In Genesis chapter 3, in verse 1, says, "The serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Did God really say?'" That's Genesis chapter 3. If you don't know, that's very near the beginning of the book. The narrative hasn't even begun yet and Satan shows up in the midst of God's perfect creation and says to the pinnacle of that creation, the ones to whom God has given authority over everything he's made, "Did God really say"? And I assure you, he's still chirping in my ear and in yours. Do you think God really said that? Do you think God really meant that? Do you really think you have to do that? Did God really say... Satan is a liar Jesus said he's the father of lies, that the truth is not in him. And we're walking through a time when the truth is not being held in high esteem, it isn't valued in the public square and tragically too often in the private realms as well, which means we're all more vulnerable to those whispers of Satan. You need to know his nature.

Then in John 10:10, Jesus again, he said, "The thief comes only to steal and to kill and destroy, and I've come that they may have life, and have it to the full". Jesus told you the truth about Satan. He didn't just come to discourage you. He didn't come to help, to give you a bad day. He didn't want to just give you a traffic jam. His objective is your destruction. When you cooperate with his lie, when you choose the darkness, when you accommodate evil, you begin a journey down a path that will end in destruction. I believe Jesus, I believe he told us the truth. Don't make any provision for evil. We'll talk about that a bit more.

One more example from Jesus's life. You know, the scripture is filled with the... Satan's resistance to the purposes of God. From the garden, I read you that he leads them into temptation and the forfeiture of all that they have. When the Hebrew slaves were in Egypt and they were flourishing, just their numbers were growing. The order came to kill all the babies of the male children of the Hebrew slaves. That pattern of destruction and hate and murder follows all the way through the scripture to destroy the Jews in Persia, the male babies in Bethlehem. There was even hatred expressed towards Jesus. He walked on the water, and he calmed the storms, and he raised the dead, and he opened the eyes of the blind, and he spoke the truth. He stood up for those who had little power and yet he was faced with an unrelenting, consistent wall of hatred.

Our response is key in Matthew 4, in verse 10. When Satan is tempting Jesus, Jesus said to him, "Away from me. It's written, 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only,'" and the devil left him. The devil didn't get what he wanted. He didn't gain the victory that he sought. Jesus didn't capitulate. He withdrew for a season. Now, we need to understand, you and I are no match for the devil. We won't outthink him, we're not equipped for a wrestling match with him. We don't have to live in fear, we have been given authority, and we have to understand the authority that has been entrusted to us and to know with clarity that it doesn't come from our righteousness or our goodness. It's because we stand in the authority of Jesus's name and in the power of his shed blood. And because of that, we have been given the authority to triumph over every expression of evil.

And when God sends us into time, it's to stand in his authority against every attack, every onslaught of evil. It won't always make you popular. It didn't make Jesus popular in his hometown. I'm sure it would've been better for his family had he just come to town, had a nice picnic after church, been polite, tossed in a miracle or two, but he chose another path. He had the courage to be truthful. There's another expression of the enemy that we have to face. It's spiritual as well, the Bible describes it as our sinful nature. In Romans 7, it's described this way. This is the apostle Paul, he did okay as a Jesus follower. I mean he wasn't exactly, like, wishy-washy, but listen to what he said.

"What I do is not the good that I want to do. No, the evil I don't want to do, this I keep on doing, and if I do what I don't want to do, it's no longer I who do it, but it's the sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. In my inner being I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members".

Now, we can read that from a distracted standpoint and say, well, poor Paul, he had a problem. He should have gone to a good recovery group. Or we can acknowledge the tension that lives within every one of us. We can come to a gathering like this on a beautiful spring evening and we'll worship the Lord with Brandon Lake, but it will be a miracle of almighty God if you get out of the parking lot with the love of Jesus still in your heart, because the enemy will put somebody between you and your home, they have an assignment. I'm sure it's demonically inspired. We all understand that tension that lives within us, and we can laugh at it in a context that isn't particularly threatening, but there are places in our lives where it's a far more significant circumstance.

We're given a response in Galatians 5, in verse 24, says, "Those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let's keep in step with the Spirit". Did you hear it? The key to dealing with your sinful nature is you have to crucify it. You have to accept responsibility not to let it flourish, not to give it a preeminent place, not to give it license. Some of us have lived because we've had so much, so many blessings, so much freedom, so much liberty. We have given ourselves a great deal of license in expressing our sinful nature. We have led undisciplined lives, and in so doing, we have given a foothold to things that have disrupted what God could and would do with us. The season has changed, we need to stand in his strength.

Folks, we're playing for keeps, our future is in the balance. Our children and grandchildren and the lives they will lead will depend a great deal on the decisions we make in the months and the years immediately before us. It's an important time, church, to choose the truth with a new determination, a new self-control. You can say, "Well, you know, I'm making choices and they're not exactly sinful or wicked or evil". If it diminishes the place that God has in your life, why are you doing it? If it limits your ability to hear from the Lord, to cooperate with him, if it dampens your testimony or the authority with which you can share the goodness of the Lord, why are you involved with it? We've lived casually, we've been a bit sloppy. There's one other expression of this adversary we have and the Bible describes it as this present world order.

In 1 Corinthians 7, it says, "This world in its present form is passing away". In 1 John 2:15, it says, "Don't love the world or anything in the world. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you". When the Bible and the New Testament talks about the world, it's not talking about this big ball of matter hurdling in space in an orbit around our sun. It's talking about the prevailing world order. It's not talking about the waterfalls and the beautiful beaches and the scenic mountains, but this present world order. There is an order of authority in play in our world that stands in opposition to the purposes of God.

If you haven't thought about that, just casually listen to a daily news report and think about how many things are being celebrated that are an expression of opposition to the purposes of God. This present world order, now here's the good news, it's temporary, but here's the challenge. The messaging that it generates is unrelenting. It's like a powerful waterfall cascading over you day after day, and the more you are susceptible to the messaging, the more you're influenced by it. But we're given a response. In Titus chapter 2, in verse 11, it says, "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men". I love that. God's grace is unearned, undeserved. It's appeared to everybody, it's appeared to everybody. "It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age".

I've told you many times words matter. If there's a present age, there's an age to come. In this present age, we as the people of God have to choose to lead a very specific kind of life. We have to lead self-controlled, upright lives. We have to say no, we're told, to ungodliness. We have to be willing to say, "I think that's ungodly, and I won't participate. I think that's ungodly, and I don't think it should be unleashed. I'm not for that". No, that's not easy. It will not always be applauded. We don't have to be angry, we shouldn't be belligerent. We absolutely don't want to be violent, but we're gonna have to have the courage to say, "I believe there are things that are godly and things that are ungodly. And I love you too much to be quiet in the face of that". Verse 13, in that same passage. "As we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ".

Folks, there really is a great reset coming. There is a great reset coming, it's not the one which the World Economic Forum is anticipating. They're planning one, but the Creator of all things has got a reset coming, and I assure you, you want to be on the right side of it. Same book, Titus, next chapter 3, verse 3. "At one time we were foolish, disobedient, deceived, and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures". Have you ever imagined that you could be enslaved by pleasure? That you could give it an unhealthy authority in your life? That's not a message you hear much these days. If you're passionate about it, we're told you should pursue it. Whatever you're passionate about, you go for it.

Folks, there are some things that are ungodly and your internal response should be "No". No matter how passionate or how pleasant it might look. Verse 4, "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit". Folks, we have an adversary, Satan, a kingdom of darkness, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places arrayed against you, and we live under a present world order that opposes the purposes of God. And if that weren't threatening enough, if that were not threatening enough, we have an internal challenge. We have an old earthly nature.

Your spirit's born again if you've acknowledged Jesus as Lord of your life. You've been made a new creation, a new creature. You've been given access to the kingdom of God and the authority of the kingdom of our Lord. It's a wonderful thing, but in time you have an earth suit and you have an old earthly nature that says, "I think and I feel and I want," and you have to say, "Be quiet". I'll not feed you, I'll not indulge you, I'll not justify you, I'll not excuse you, I'll not go find somebody to give you permission. In fact, I'll stay away from people and places and circumstances that are permissive with my old carnal nature. I will not indulge it because I wanna be able to take my stand against all the schemes of wickedness in this generation.

I wanna close with a proclamation. I read it this week and it blessed me. I wanna share it with you. It's Psalm 19. In fact, I think we ought to just read Psalm 19 together for a moment. You can just use your outdoor voice. Can you do that? If you're watching this in an airport on your phone, don't use your outdoor voice, but everybody else, okay? Psalm 19:7 to 9, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous".

Now, we could do a word study in each of those separate declarations, but if I bundled them together, it seems to me the message is to act and live as if God were the authority and he's correct. Act and live as if God is the ultimate authority and he got it right. When my thoughts disagree with God, I'm gonna change my thoughts. When my want to's aren't godly, I'm gonna work on my want to's. I'm going to do my best to act and to live as if God has told us the truth and he got it right. It'll change your life, it'll change the direction of your family tree, and it'll change the nation. His perspective is perfect and trustworthy.

It's pure and certain, and the outcomes of those choices are given to you in that passage, says if you'll choose those things, God will revive, make wise, give joy, give light, enable you to endure. I'm in line for all of those things. We're gonna read this proclamation, it's taken right outta Psalm 19, those verses we just read. And I want you to say it with enthusiasm, as a declaration over your life. Your words have spiritual authority. Did you know that? If you haven't been using them for the sake of the kingdom of God, you're forfeiting something God has entrusted to you. Let's make this proclamation over our lives, our families, our communities of faith, our nation. You ready?

Together, I choose to honor the law of the Lord in my life. I believe the statutes of the Lord are trustworthy. The precepts of the Lord bring joy to me. The commands of the Lord illumine my path. The fear of the Lord is purifying my heart. The ordinances of the Lord establish me in righteousness. Amen.

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