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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Not My Problem? - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Not My Problem? - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Not My Problem? - Part 2
TOPICS: Spiritual Warfare and The End Times

Hey, we're continuing today our study on spiritual warfare at the end of time, particularly this discussion about, "It's not my problem". There's a group of Christians who have taken a rather passive attitude because they've looked forward prophetically and imagine that the world's going to deteriorate before the King returns; and therefore, there's really nothing we should do. We should just wait it out or wait for God to call us out of it. I believe that attitude dishonors the redemptive work of Jesus. The church is called to be salt and light in every generation. This is our season to stand for God's truth. Enjoy the lesson.

Now, I brought you some good news, I thought by this point you'd need a little. Colossians chapter 2, Paul's writing to another church that he's been instrumental in helping form. And he's speaking of what the Lord has accomplished, he said, "Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross". See, on the cross the divinely ordered exchange took place. The reason Jesus had to be tortured to death in public view, hungry, thirsty, naked, in want of all things, he hung on a Roman cross. The sinless, innocent, perfect Son of God, and God placed upon him the punishment that was due by divine justice, all of our rebellion, all of our godlessness.

Jesus exhausted the curse of sin, that in its place, we might have all the blessings that were due his perfect obedience. Prior to the cross, Satan had a legal claim against every one of us. He could look at Almighty God, a just God, and say, "I have a right to them. They're from a fallen race. They're from a race of rebels". He had a legitimate argument. He had a claim against every one of us. "But through the cross," Paul says, "Jesus disarmed those spiritual powers and authorities. He made a public spectacle of them, and he triumphed over them by the cross". It's a bit technical, but in Roman life a triumph wasn't the winning of the victory, it was the celebration of the victory.

If a general had a great victory on some foreign battlefield, occasionally they would be granted a triumph, a processional through the streets of Rome. And they would bring the slaves that they captured or the plunder of the people that they had defeated and they would ride in the chariot through the streets of Rome celebrating their victory. It was a triumphal procession. And it says, the cross made possible a triumphal procession. We are the ones, we are being demonstrated to all of humanity, to all the principalities and powers in heaven, all the spiritual forces of wickedness arrayed against us, that through the cross they were defeated, that we can be free, we can be forgiven, we can be justified. We are the demonstration of what Jesus accomplished.

Paul wrote to that same Corinthian church in the first chapter and it's just, "It's not because you were wise or from noble families or from royal birth or because of your remarkable education, just quite the opposite. God chose the weak and the depraved, and those who weren't so wise, so that the only possible glory would go to God". We're the cracked pots he's made into useful vessels for his purposes. It's good news, but we should know, above all people, that appeasing evil is not a plan to victory. Look at Revelation 1, says, "Jesus Christ," it's a description of Jesus at the introduction to the book of Revelation, a triumphant Jesus. "He's the faithful witness, the first born from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth".

Well, those are wonderful statements about him, but the next sentence begins to make it personal. He loves us and he's freed us from our sins by his blood and he's made us to be kings and priests to serve his God and Father. To him be glory and power forever and ever, amen. It's true there's a conflict in the earth, but God has not left us alone, he hasn't abandoned us, he hasn't withdrawn from us. He has empowered us, he has given us the victory, but he has asked us to stand faithfully as ambassadors for his kingdom in the midst of a fallen and depraved world. The question on the table is, what will we do in this world, in time, in our journey under the sun?

The Bible is very clear: we are going to face conflict. Look in John 16:33. Now, you can turn the page. Jesus is speaking to his friends, he said, "I've told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world". In this world, you will have trouble. Church, we got whole schools of theology. I don't mean institution, I mean whole blocks of Christendom, whose messaging is focused on no problems and no trouble. You don't need to go looking for the extra, enough will find you, but don't live on the fantasy island of, "Christians have no problems". 2 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 3, "Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does".

Now, we would like to repunctuate that sentence. "Though we live in the world, we do not wage war, period". The awkward part is the sentence says we don't wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, "We have weapons with divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God". Is it safe to say our lives are filled with arguments and pretentious spoutings that set themselves up against godly principles? It washes over us like Niagara Falls on a daily basis. We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. That begins inwardly. We have to take our thoughts and yield them to the authority of Christ.

There's a tug of war within every one of us, that same voice that we hear in the garden in Genesis that says, "Did God really say"? That same voice is chirping within every one of us, it plays on a loop, particularly at the points where you are uniquely vulnerable to temptation. "Did God really say"? Paul is addressing all Christians. He's not speaking to some subgroup of leaders or exceptional disciples. And Paul was brilliant, a classically trained Jewish scholar in the laws of Moses. He purposely chose military words and phrases. It's not accidental. He talks about war and weapons and destruction of fortresses and taking captives. It's worth noting, in fact, it's an important note, that the New Testament presentation does not place Christians on the defensive, rather the language very clearly implies that we are to be on the offensive.

As Christ followers, we should be advancing against the adversaries of our Lord, not surrendering to the darkness. Now, that takes courage, that takes intentionality, it takes a willingness to sacrifice. So the question is, does the Bible call for those things, or is there just a motivational ploy of a pastor who's trying to stir you up for whatever the next project is? Look at Matthew 16 and verse 18, Jesus again, "I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it". Jesus is describing his church as advancing against the fortifications of evil. In antiquity, cities didn't defend themselves with iron domes and long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles. They defended themselves with stone walls. And they would build a wall around the city and make provision for water and food, so in case of the approach of an enemy, you would close the gates and imagine the walls protected you from the enemy; you were unassailable.

And Jesus flips the script. He said the church will not be able to be withstood. They will take the fortresses of evil. It's the same language of 2 Corinthians 10. We'll have divine power to demolish strongholds. Jesus is describing his church advancing against the fortifications of evil, and the church is triumphant. Evil cannot withstand our advance. That's not the mentality or the emotion in the present-day church. We seem far more frightened, far more threatened, far less aware of who we are in Christ. We're appeasing, we're yielding, we're surrendering. The enemy should be anxious about the activity of the church. "What will they do next"? One of my objectives in doing this little series with you is to begin to restore the initiative to God's people.

Look in 1 Timothy, chapter 1 and verse 18, again a young man Paul is mentoring: "Timothy, my son, I'm giving you this instruction, and I'm keeping with the prophecies previously made about you so that you may strongly engage in battle, so that you may strongly engage in battle, having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these things, and they've suffered the shipwreck of their faith". You see, we think it's a zero-sum game, we can choose to be ambassadors or we can choose to be undercover agents, and there's no difference. The Bible suggests to us there's very much a difference. We read it in the previous session and when we get to the end of the Book of Revelation, the awards, the rewards go to the overcomers. And those left on the outside are the cowardly and the unbelieving.

So I would submit to you, it really isn't that both options are legitimate. I believe we're counseled to choose to be intentional ambassadors for the kingdom of God. 2 Timothy chapter 2, Message, same young man. Pau's writing him, he says, "Endure suffering with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs, he wants to please his commanding officer". Paul's assumption is that Timothy is a soldier engaged in spiritual warfare. Paul reminds Timothy that hardship and difficulty are to be anticipated, that they come with the journey. I'm not sure we're prepared for that. And typically, we talk in presenting the gospel and inviting people towards the kingdom of God, we focus on blessings and mercy and good things, and they're all true.

I don't think we should ignore those, but at some point, we have to transition to what it means to be mature in Christ. We can't spend all of our lives as children, hoping someone else will protect us, feed us, clean us, care for us, provide for us. At some point, we're asked to take our place in the unfolding purposes of God. Amen is the word you're searching for. I'm just a little ahead, I got to prepare this, so I'm already warmed up. Paul is reminding Timothy that civilian life and serving in the military are two very different kinds of existence: they're not the same, they are not the same. Timothy is being reminded that he is set apart to serve his commanding officer. We've cultivated another gospel that suggests very broadly that heaven and all of their resources are organized to serve us. It's perversion.

2 Timothy 3, same book, next chapter. "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, my persecutions, my sufferings, what kind of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra". You can go look those up in the book of Acts. There were riots and beatings and attempts to murder Paul. He said, "You know all about my way of life. I'm reminding you to live like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be" what? It really says that, doesn't it? I looked up the Greek word. I thought maybe it was a translational problem. I thought maybe it's a, "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will get free parking". We'll be persecuted.

Well, I wanna wrap this up, my time's about gone. I just wanna give you one suggestion on how we can increase our effectiveness, and it really has to do with how we process our journey through time. I've spent a few years serving the church. It's a great delight in my life. But I wanna encourage you not to boast about the attacks of the enemy which you witness. Don't boast in the attacks of the enemy which you witness. I don't believe it's an expression of tremendous discernment to be able to identify all the ways that spiritual attacks impact your life. I believe the real objective is to be the living example of triumph. Let the fruit of your life be the declaration that, in Christ, we have the victory. It seems, far too often, we like to bemoan the attacks.

I'm not asking you to be dishonest, I'm asking you to change your focus. Too often we try to establish our value by recounting the spiritual attacks that we can identify. I have found that, in my life and the lives of others, to be far more beneficial to demonstrate the resurrection power of our Lord. One more Scripture, 1 Peter chapter 2, "How is it too your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps".

So Jesus is going to model a behavior for us. He said you're supposed to act like he acted, follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth". He's quoting from the prophets. "When they hurled their insults at him, he didn't retaliate". He's not quoting the prophets now. Peter watched it. Peter listened to the beating began with Jesus. He watched him carrying a cross the streets of Jerusalem. When they hurled their insults at him, he didn't retaliate. When he suffered, he made no threats. He could have. He said to Peter, "Put your sword away. If we needed angels, I got some angels". "He didn't retaliate, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself, Jesus, bore our sins in his body on the tree".

That's the exchange I mentioned, "so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. By his wounds, we've been healed". So here's the shorthand on this: Poor planning on our part is not a spiritual attack. That's not the devil. A lack of effort on our part is not a demonic assault, it's lazy. Come on, church. We've adopted a whole spiritual vocabulary to explain away our indifference, our appeasement. I don't believe that its evil has grown stronger, I think we've grown less and less interested in righteousness. Being unprepared does not indicate the presence of principalities and powers, it indicates a lack of preparation.

However, in fairness, the absence of the prayer life, little knowledge of Scripture, the failure to routinely gather with God's people, the lack of obedience to the truth that you already know, or the absence of generosity with your time and your money, or the cultivation, the intentional cultivation, of pride, or selfish ambition or greed, those things will devastate you because you are opening the doors wide to spiritual forces other than the kingdom of heaven. We can improve our effectiveness tremendously by simply changing the way we are imagining our life. Let's decide to become the triumphal procession of a victorious King and let our words and our actions and our life choices reflect the majesty of his kingdom.

Now, that is an appealing presentation. We're gonna close with communion. We're gonna come to the cross. If you're on campus when you entered, whichever sanctuary your worship space this morning, there were ushers there with communion. If you missed that, there's some in the aisles. If you'll raise a hand, they'll bring it to you. If you're at home and you weren't prepared, run quickly, grab a cup of water and a cracker. Grab a chocolate chip cookie and a Dr. Pepper. It's not healthy, but you're only gonna take a little bit. Don't drink 3 liters and call it communion. I don't mean to be disrespectful, but you don't have to have a wafer stamped with a religious symbol, thank God.

Communion is not just some sort of a religious exercise, it's a tangible reminder of what Jesus has done for us. Jesus himself implemented this. He had the Passover meal with the disciples and at the end of the meal, he took bread and he broke it and he said to them, "This is my body broken for you," hasn't been to the cross yet. This has become far more powerful for them in 72 more hours. "This is my body, broken for you. As often as you eat this, do this in remembrance of me". Let's receive together. "And then he took a cup and said, 'This cup is a new covenant...'" literally, a new contract, "sealed with my own blood. As often as you drink it, you proclaim my death until you see me again". Let's receive together. Will you stand with me for this prayer? Even at home, huh?

Father, thank you, thank you for your great love for us, for the mercy that was expressed towards us in Jesus. Lord Jesus, we thank you for your faithfulness, that in your love for us, you offered yourself as a sacrifice, that we might be delivered from the kingdom of darkness. We praise you for it today. We give you glory and honor and thank you for that. We praise you for it. Lord, we come in humility to acknowledge our own sins, those places where we have made choices that were dishonoring, that were disobedient. Forgive us. We weren't confused or distracted. It wasn't a lack of understanding. We were willfully rebellious, and we repent. Lord, for those we need to forgive, those who have stood in opposition, who through words or actions have brought pain or hardship or difficulty, Lord, we release them today. We cancel every debt, we turn them loose, that just as you have forgiven us, Father, we forgive them.

We pray for those in our midst who have great needs today, physically, emotionally, in relationships, Lord, whatever the challenges may be, I thank you that your power is present to heal, and restore, and deliver, and renew. I praise you for it. Lord, however you choose to bring the deliverance, we thank you now that we will live in those experiences of your faithfulness and your provision. I thank you that greater is he who is for us than all those things that are arrayed against us. We praise you that you're awakening your church to be a triumphal procession of our victorious King, that your glory may be made evident throughout all the earth, that the name of Jesus might be extended, that the name of Jesus may be exalted and the kingdom of God expanded. We thank you for it, in Jesus's name, amen.

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