Allen Jackson - Walking In Freedom - Part 1
It's good to be with you again today. We've been doing a study together on spiritual warfare with a focus on the end times. This session, we're gonna talk about walking in freedom. You know, we live in a frightening season, to be candid. There's a lotta change. There're a lotta threats. Our world view is being turned upside down. Institutions that have held us together are being dissolved and re-labeled and re-purposed. But in the midst of that, the Lord is establishing his church. He hasn't withdrawn from his intent to let the name of Jesus be exalted in the earth and all men drawn unto him. You have an, you and I have an assignment in that unfolding purpose of God. Grab your Bible, get a notepad. We'll explore that together.
We've been walking through a study on spiritual warfare with a particular awareness to the end of the age. The Bible is a presentation of spiritual warfare. It starts in the opening chapters of Genesis and it continues right through the concluding chapters of the Book of Revelation. It's not some subtle minor theme. It's not something you have to have a knowledge of original languages to unearth. It is the, it's a primary component of the narrative, that the purposes of God for Adam and his descendants are challenged, and you and I are invited into that when we become citizens of the kingdom of God. But there are some commentaries or some directions given for the end of the age that are unique to that season. And we've been looking at those in a bit more detail.
There's a verse in 1 Chronicles 12 that I think is helpful for this season. It says, "The men of Issachar understood the times and knew what Israel should do". We need the wisdom of the men of Issachar. Now, the same Spirit of God that helped them is the same Spirit of God who helps us. But I believe we have to begin this discussion by acknowledging that we're living in a unique season of unprecedented change, of unparalleled magnitude, the global nature of that, the speed at which the change is coming, the attempt to upend values and morals and perspectives that have defined really civilization, but certainly western civilization in the Christian west for hundreds of years have been turned on their heads and rejected and mocked and made fun of.
And it's coming with such speed and such frequency and of such a magnitude that it's disorienting. You know, I've cultivated the habit of referring to it as the theater of the absurd, and I've taken a break from that for a bit, but they've had so many new releases lately it just was impossible. The, the, whoever the production crew is in that theater, they are a busy bunch of folk. I was in a, a men's group this week and we, we have been together for quite some time and we got to the end and one of the men in the group, a very accomplished person, very well-educated person, you know, it was, we were really time to go, and he, he said, "I need just a moment". He said, "We have talked frequently about the need to stand for our biblical world view and we've encouraged the pastor to do that and said we would stand with him, but," he said, "I need to acknowledge that I haven't really done that".
He said, "I watched the news this week and I watched what was happening in our nation. In particular," he said, "I watched what was happening in Atlanta". And he said, "I was embarrassed and humiliated for my lack of courage". And that group of men got much quieter than you did. And he said, "I came today to repent before God and before the men that I'm sharing my faith with". And I think we've all been a bit quiet. We have professional training and expertise that helps us understand and navigate little windows of what's happening, and we've been reluctant to say that the arenas in which we have insight and perspective have almost completely abandoned godliness. We just kinda shrug our shoulders and go, "I don't know how that's happened".
Well, this happened because of the silence of the church. And I don't want you to be angry, and I certainly don't want you to be belligerent, and definitely not violent, but we're gonna have to live lives that are more aware. You know, we watched this week a former president be indicted for the fourth time, and if we had no back story, that would be beyond alarming. But we do have a bit. When that same person was elected to the presidency, within a few hours of that, the announcements came that the election was a fraud. That it was corrupt. That we had an elected president who was a puppet of a foreign government. And he was a new person in that arena and I and many, many other people were watching with a great deal of concern.
And so the investigations began. Special prosecutors, investigations in Congress, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the FISA courts. There was widespread investigation, and after more than two years and multiple millions of dollars were spent, the reports came back that the, it was not true. That it wasn't substantiated. And the people who stood in front of cameras and said that they had indisputable proof and they had seen the evidence and yada yada yada, and, it was awkward to have to look at the reality that the institutions that we have trusted the most could be politicized to that extent. And now we find ourselves several years on the other side of it and, and we're watching expressions of things that are just about beyond the imagination, and the question is how can this happen?
How do we find ourselves, corrupt politicians is not a new thing, any more than corrupt preachers. Or corrupt, and you can fill in your profession, because human beings tend toward corruption. We're not shocked at that, but we have trusted things like justice and our legal system and our law enforcement systems to, we have counted upon the fabric of our country to hold it together. One of the things that the gentleman said this week was, he said, "The things that have been the fabric of my life have unraveled". He said, "The systems I depended upon to make the story of my life journey possible have unraveled," and he said, "I have great concern for my children and my grandchildren". And I think, you know, you, you cannot cry wolf again and again and again and expect an audience of reasonable people to continue to pay attention.
And again, this isn't a political issue, because morals and ethics, justice comes from God, not from governments. And on our watch, my lifetime, we have been willing participants in the notion that the church should not influence the state. The meaning of our founding documents as I understand it, and I've done a good bit of work on this, was that the state was not to influence the church. Now, we know that idea has been completely just eliminated, but the notion that we have accepted is that, that our faith should not influence the state, has landed us in this place where we are. And we're going to have to have the courage to say that our biblical world view has a place in the public square. It has a place in our public universities, in our public schools.
We were told it was inappropriate because if one person didn't share our faith and they raised their hand, then we had been offensive and therefore we should be quiet. And we accepted that idea. I'm ashamed of it, but I did. I accepted it on my academic journey, and I journeyed through a lotta different places. And yet, we find ourselves today that there's a, there's a world view, an ideological world view that's been promulgated in our corporations and our universities and all sorts of places, our government, our military. And if I raise my hand and say that's objectionable to me, they say it'll either cost my job or my position or my place. The same tolerance that we were told to cultivate has evaporated, and church, it's wrong to point an accusing finger.
If you wanna find the cause of this, go seek a mirror. And when you find the mirror, pose the question, "How did this happen"? And then see if the person you've asked has the courage to say, "I have been a participant". If they do, we have the promise of a better future. If the person to whom you pose the question is angry at someone else, the hole will get deeper. Amen. The perversion and politicization of justice has bypassed even our perversion and politicization of science. And I'm an advocate for both. But I, in the simplest of terms, as an example, male and female are not fluid categories. Just as a matter of science, I heard somebody giving a public interview this week and they kept referring to themselves as a biological female. To which I kept thinking, "Is there another kind"?
I earned a degree in Biology. I, it's, it's really, something is happening and it's happened because of the absence of the church, and it's not that we haven't existed, but we have gathered for our theoretical Bible studies and we've gathered for our encouragement of one another and for the opportunities we could present to our children, and a number of things, but we've been unwilling to take the truth of the Word of God and live it out in the arenas where God has given us influence. And I don't believe that luxury is available to us any longer if we're going to have freedom and liberty and justice, because those things come from God and if we choose to ignore him, we've been reading the historical books of our Bible these days, if you're doing the Bible reading.
We've been through 1st and 2nd Samuel and 1st and 2nd Kings, and you find the covenant people of God, people who have the right menu, who keep the right holidays, who go to the synagogue, who read the scriptures, forfeiting their freedom and liberty because they chose not to honor God for themselves. And we cannot live like the devil and then gather in our churches on Sunday and imagine that God will bless us. We can't turn our eyes to wickedness and evil and then imagine we can continue to live in the blessings of God. And it begins with a spiritual response. It begins with a spiritual response. We may see outcomes in elections and, but folks, how many elections do we have to have when nothing changes before we stop saying the next election will fix this? Stop it!
Now, I'm an advocate for the process. I believe we should participate. But if we don't have a change of heart, we can have an election once a month and it won't change us. And the change of heart has to begin with us, not the people that we perceive to be the problem, because I believe our silence has been the issue. I've come to the realization that simply hearing the Word of God and hearing God's truth doesn't result in transformation within us. Just being exposed to it and hearing it is not transformational. There's a step beyond that. We have to choose to believe and act upon the truth. Faith is expressed in behavior. Just as the lack of faith is expressed or is evidenced by behaviors. I don't have to interview you about your faith.
If I can see the evidence of your life, if I can see your calendar and your checkbook, I know a great deal about your faith already. Our behaviors demonstrate the faith we have in God or the lack thereof far more than our ability to pass a test. Or our attendance record at a worship service. Please do not sit and imagine that you have the privilege of ruling either on or over the correctness of God's Word. I find this idea has flourished amongst those of us who populate churches. We hear the Word of God and then we sit as if we're Olympic judges. Well, I, I'll tell you what I think about that, or I feel about that, or I know that's in the Bible but I think that's just demonic. Or whatever the term is we need to excuse us from compliance. I would invite you to a different response. Yield to God. Choose to be obedient. Don't wait for complete understanding to become a practitioner.
Folks, that's an excuse. We wanna study it more fully. How much information do we have to have before we decide to put into practice some of what we know? Our medical doctors, and I'm grateful for the medical community, we have the finest health care available in the world, but those people that are practicing medicine that help us on a regular basis, if they never treated the patient until they understood everything about human anatomy and its interaction with the physical world and the chemicals in our world, would never see a patient. They practice in spite of the lack of completeness of the knowledge and the training available to them. We have to become practitioners of our faith. Amen? We are living in a season of unique change, and in that, I believe there's unique opportunity.
So we're talking about spiritual warfare. This particular session is a practicum. We're gonna practice together some things, and I would encourage you to take them away from here and implement them in your lives. Put them into a toolkit, share 'em with your family, share 'em with coworkers. Use them when you bump into people that are experiencing struggles. But just as a means of kind of revisiting some foundational things, to get started, what we're talking about in this spiritual conflict in our world us fundamentally a truth encounter. It's not about power. You see, truth has a way in and of itself. We don't have to have a majority. We need to stand with the truth. God will, God will see to the outcomes if we will have the courage to stand with the truth.
What I would invite you to is a posture of awareness, not fear. I think because there is so much fear, because we're afraid to look at root causes, because we're afraid to look at what's happened on our watch, because we don't really wanna think about what's being perpetrated and the implications of that, we respond out of our fear. I would invite you to something else: Let's begin to cultivate an awareness. Let's pay attention. Let's watch and listen and think. We don't have to respond with fear. Look at Mark chapter 4 and verse 40. Jesus is with his disciples. They, they have just seen him speak to the wind and the waves and they'd never seen that before. They've never seen it from him or anyone else, and "Jesus says to the disciples, 'Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?'" It's a rhetorical question. No they don't. They thought they were gonna drown. They woke him up.
The fishermen woke up the carpenter. They're in a boat. That was their arena. And, "They were terrified and they asked each other, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'" You see, Jesus was demonstrating to them a truth they didn't understand, an authority they weren't familiar with. We need a church that will embrace the truth of God and stand in the authority of the name of Jesus to demonstrate something in our world that we have not demonstrated previously. Now, the question is, are we willing to be those people? And the third component of this is we have to lead lives that are filled with the Spirit.
In Ephesians chapter 5, Paul's writing to a church, and he says, "Be very careful, then, how you live; not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil". This not the first time in human history where we've faced evil. Amen. We need a little humility. We need to really ratchet it up. It's the end of the age. The world is ending. We're gonna get raptured outta here. Could be. I want outta here on the first load up. I'm not arguing to stay. But I don't wanna get trapped into that kind of arrogant assumption that because we're walking through a difficult time, it's more difficult than anybody's ever seen.
Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and he said, "The days are evil. Make the most of every opportunity. Don't be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Don't get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit". And then he gives us some expressions of what that would look like. He said, "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs". I don't think you necessarily have to sing to one another, but when you speak to one another, speak to one another from a biblical basis. And much of our conversation emerges from a God perspective. And how much of it's empty? I can tell you, as you turn the calendar on your life, if you can afford fewer and fewer empty calories, or there'll be more of you than you would like, because that amazing metabolism God gave to you as a teenager starts to recalibrate. It's not fair, but it's true.
"Speak to one another with psalms and hymns," then it says, "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord". Carry on a conversation with the Lord. Again, the topic is being filled with the Spirit. Not weird, bizarre, not hearing voices. Continue, maintain, you know how you get a song stuck in your head? And you'll hum it or sing it all day even if you can't sing. You get stuck. Well, start to cultivate the habits to get the Word of God stuck in your head. Change the routine. Folks, the routine we've had hasn't been helping. Let's live more spirit-filled lives. And then it says, "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything".
Not just for the things I like! God, I thank you for the leaders in our city, our state, and our nation. You have given them to us. "Well, I don't know, Pastor". Well, I looked it up. The word "everything" that's translated, do you know what it means? Everything! Smart group! "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And then submit to one another out of reverence for Christ". We don't like to submit to him. I don't even like to yield on the highway. I've told you. And I see those yellow signs, you know what those mean to me? Hurry! 'Cause if I can get to the intersection ahead of you, you can yield. And if there's a yielding that is required to maintain being filled with the Spirit, I think we have to add to this the will to resist.
And this has been largely absent in the church in my lifetime. We just really haven't thought about this. Maybe it's because we thought there was a majority, or we've always talked about the, the, the silent majority, the silent sleeping giant of the church. I was in a national gathering of Christians at the end of last year and I kept meeting these people and they said as soon as the sleeping giant of the church awakens, it's game over. And I finally said I don't believe it exists. I don't. We're the church. They report these tens of millions of evangelical Christians in our nation. Folks, if that were true, we wouldn't be watching what were happening, what we're seeing.
Now, I believe God can awaken and call people and transform lives, but the church needs to be the church. We have to have a will to stand for the truth that we know. We've had a will to achieve and become, or to give our children opportunities or to get them into schools where we wanted them. We would make almost any sacrifice. And when it came to our faith, we've been compliant, we've been bridge builders. We've been tolerant, we've been understanding. We don't wanna appear harsh or judgmental or critical.
1 Peter chapter 5, this is Peter the fisherman. Jesus recruited him. "Humble yourselves under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him. He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings".
What's he tell us to do? Resist! Resist and stand firm in your faith. If you prefer Ephesians, "Put on the whole armor of God, and after you've done everything, stand". How many Bible studies on the armor of God do we have to do before we decide we're gonna put something on and stand? You don't need armor if there's no assault. You put on a swimming suit if we're just going to the beach. Armor suggests an adversary and weapons unleashed against us. And now Peter is writing near the end of his life and he said, "Your enemy prowls around like a roaring lion".
I have a friend. She went to heaven not long ago, and for many years she served in Kenya. They had lions there. We have possums here. They're not quite as threatening. Oh, they're ugly. But she said that when the lions hunt in groups, in a pride, and she said when the old lions, when they begin to lose some of their strength and their agility, they're still a part of the hunt. She said the old lions that can't any longer outrun the prey, they roar. They frighten the prey into the arenas where the younger lions are waiting. And she told me that in the context of this verse. She said it says that the devil goes about like a roaring lion. It can't capture his prey, he just tries to scare you into the wrong direction. And our assignment is to stand firm. But Peter's instructions are pretty plain. Humble yourself.
Humility is a behavior that leads to promotion. That's not intuitive. We're taught that selfish ambition leads to promotion. And the Bible says that if we will humble ourselves before God, submit to one another in the language of Ephesians, then God will promote us. There are very few things in scripture that attach more promise to a human life than humility. Humility isn't saying you'd have no value. It's not saying that you're just a weak worm of the dust. Humility is a right recognition of the strength you have been given and the ones that you haven't. Parents, help your children learn humility. They have strengths and they have weaknesses. It doesn't mean you have failed as a parent, or that they are incomplete human beings. Help them make peace with that.
I wanna pray with you before we go:
Heavenly Father, I thank you for every person that I've had this time with today, and I pray that in the name of Jesus, you would give us the will to persevere, the determination to overcome, that we may be reminded that greater is the Spirit within us than any challenge we face in this world. In Jesus's name, amen.