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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Battle Between Good and Evil - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Battle Between Good and Evil - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Battle Between Good and Evil - Part 2
TOPICS: Spiritual warfare

We have to understand that when we step away from a biblical perspective, when we take a godly principle that we know to be true, and we choose not to embrace it, that we put our feet on a path that will lead us ultimately towards destruction. We've treated ungodliness as if it was inconvenient, wasn't that significant. We could live through it. We could negotiate, we could navigate, we could find somebody with letters at the end of their name that would affirm us in our ungodliness. I believe what Jesus said, that to be in relationship with him will bring a richness to your life that you cannot achieve any other way. And that if you choose to reject that invitation, then it will lead inevitably, in every instance, to ultimate destruction.

Hebrews 12, the author of Hebrews invites us to consider Jesus. "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart". In your struggle against sin, you've not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. The invitation, excuse me, the admonition is to not grow weary and lose heart. The author of Hebrews is not describing our struggle with personal sins. Now, we have those. I'm sorry, I have the wrong room. There are groups of people who come here occasionally who have struggles with sins. You know, sitting in church does not remove you from that arena, right? You can look up from the carpet now, it's okay. You know, we want to pretend that, but it's a pretense, we have struggles with sin. The the tempter doesn't abandon us. He doesn't stop putting things in front of us that are enticing and appealing in the short run, but ultimately destructive in the longer run.

We will face those battles as long as we have breath under the sun. But that's not the point of this passage. That's not what's being discussed. It's not what the author of Hebrews is trying to remind us of. He's giving us a different perspective, and he said in your struggle against sin, you've not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. We are asked to consider Jesus and the opposition that he faced from sinful people. Jesus was sinless, perfect, obedient, the Son of God. He was guilty of doing these heinous things, like healing on the Sabbath, of pointing out the hypocrisy of people who are in positions of leadership and authority. People say he wasn't political, and it's true, he didn't run for office or advocate for political parties, but he was very much engaged in the current events of the world in which he lived. And so are we.

If we leave our faith out of that engagement, we're simply hiding our faith. It's not that we're not engaged. But the author of Hebrews is reminding us that Jesus, because he stood against ungodliness, paid an enormous price. And we're given instructions not to grow weary and lose heart. The assumption is that we are making an effort to stand against sin. We are tasked with resisting sinful behavior. And here's the reality, that is both tiring and disheartening. That's the reason the instruction we're given is to not grow weary, and not to lose heart. It isn't easy. It isn't easy to do that at our kitchen table. It isn't easy to do that at our holiday table. It's not easy to do that with our friends. It's easier to talk about current events. It's easier to talk about what we're doing with our summer vacations. But the church, to be salt and light, we have to engage the world we're in with the perspective of the faith that we hold.

So what can we say about evil in 10 minutes? Well, maybe we can start with the fundamentals, that evil exists, that evil exists. Again, I think we're a little, we want to believe we're too sophisticated for this. That we're a little uncomfortable talking about the devil, or demons, or spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. After all, we're educated. But in Matthew chapter 6, and verse 13, when Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray, they came to him and said, can you teach us to pray? John, the Baptist taught his disciples to pray. Teach us. You know the prayer, the Lord's prayer, the "Our Father". And in that, he said to us, "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one".

When Jesus taught us to pray, he taught us to pray repeatedly, deliver us from the evil one. So I would submit to you, just I'm not particularly clever, that we need to consistently pray to be delivered from the evil one. That the evil one is alive and active and engaged in the world around us. The evil one has access to us in this present age. And if you're not taking Jesus's coaching, if you're not following his counsel, you are vulnerable in ways that he doesn't intend for you to be. It's not some unique, isolated passage. Look at John 17, and verse 15, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world". This is Jesus's high priestly prayer. He's about to begin his Passion. He's just about done with his time with the disciples. And so he's praying for them, and he prays not only for them, he prays for all those who will believe in him. That's you and me. And this is a portion of that prayer. "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one".

Folks, we need protection. We are vulnerable to the evil one. That is Jesus's perspective, not Pastor Allen's. Again, we've been pretty cavalier about this. We wanted to talk about our faith in terms of conversion and salvation, and we kind of got that all wrapped up. And we're not engaged in some blatant expression of ungodliness, or some intentional immorality. Therefore, we're kind of insulated and isolated, and we're shocked, we're disheartened, we're uncomfortable when bad things happen. And we're very quick to say, well, how could God do that? And yet we're told repeatedly by our Lord himself, Lord deliver us from evil. In Matthew 5:37, Jesus again, "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one".

Again, it's an important component in this discussion, the recognition that behaviors, attitudes, words can all be expressions of the evil one. We're taught to take, we're told to take every thought captive, to make it obedient. We're told that we'll give an account for every idle word. We're told to encourage one another daily. Daily. I think we overlook that. You know, I have had, I've been at the church since I was the only employee. So I've had every job, or at least every job that was available. And there was a time when I was coaching small groups, and this was before all the digital communication tools. And I used to ask the small group leaders to write a note to everybody in their group at least once a month. I mean, groups had six or eight people in them. It wasn't a huge lift, a note a week or so, and you'd cover the families. But it was a main way of maintaining contact.

And I'll never forget, we were in a meeting, and I was kind of walking the group through that, and one of the men raised his hand. I walked over and he said, "You know, I don't think I can do that". I said, "Oh, you don't know how to write"? I've been a smart aleck for a long time. And he said, no. He said, "It doesn't feel genuine to me. I don't feel authentic". And I said, well, it's a note of encouragement. And I understood something pretty quickly. That idea of coming alongside one another and saying you're important, and I think you're gonna make it. And don't give in. And life's harder than I would like it to be most days. How many days in a row have you run now Gunny? A hundred and ninety-two days.

And then you have people, then you have people that will make you feel completely inadequate right in your midst. And a note of encouragement makes an enormous difference. A kind word, just a bit of affirmation. Because we live in a fallen world, a broken world. I talked to, interact with my friends in Israel on a pretty regular basis. And I can tell you, in their world right now, encouragement is in short supply because it's far more chic to hate them. And you may be in one of those circles where you raised your hand and have said something or embraced a biblical perspective. And it's not the most comfortable place. We're given this biblical assignment to be a voice of encouragement, because we live in a fallen world. Evil exists. This is not a game, folks.

People's lives are in the balance. We've had this attitude of kind of a theoretical theology, that we can gather in our churches and quibble about worship styles and whether Communion is taken in a portable cup or one that's made out of aluminum and passed around the room or what the the wardrobe of the minister may be. Well, we just don't pay any attention to the children that we sacrificed to abortion or while marriage is redefined and families are torn apart and children are subjected to expressions of evil in the most personal ways. What has become of us? In Matthew 13, Jesus is telling a parable. You know the parable, it's the parable of the sower. I just pulled one verse.

It's verse 19, "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart". The evil one comes to snatch it away. Why don't we get together in various assemblies, in small groups and larger groups? Why don't we get together for social functions and share food together? And why is it important that we do life together? Because in the post COVID, post lockdown, digital age, we don't have to be together. Church participation across our nation is down about 30%. I talked to the pastors, and we've lost, we don't understand how vulnerable we are by ourselves. It's in community. We do the Bible reading together. We get a devotional together. We encourage one another.

You make a tremendous difference. You're not insignificant. Yes, we're frail and we're weak and we're vulnerable in many ways. But together, it's a much stronger expression of faith. Same chapter, Jesus gives us an explanation of that parable. So when the crowd is gone and they'd gone into the house. The disciples came and said, "Explain the parable to us". He said, "Well, the one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. And the field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. And the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil".

They're not only people that have given themselves to evil, but they're distributed by the evil one. That's an unsettling realization, that evil not only exists, but it's intentional. That there's a structure to it. Again, we've been naive, we've been so sophisticated. You know, we just don't like to think about that. Can't we talk about happier themes? Well, I think this is a happy theme, and there's basically only two options. You're either sons of the kingdom of God, or you're children of the kingdom of Darkness. This idea that there's a middle is evaporating. The middle class is certainly under pressure. But this notion of this big, gray middle, where you can kind of decide what you believe, and design your own religion.

So I'm gonna put a summary on it and I have to. We're gonna pick this up in the next session. Evil exists. You need to make room in your heart, in your spiritual life, in your prayer life, in your behaviors, for the acknowledgment of evil. I've made a personal decision that I will not call good people who perpetrate evil. I may say they're good artists or they're talented musicians, but I won't call them good people. Evil exists. And secondly, I would strongly encourage you to begin to build the awareness that you're engaged in a struggle with evil. You cannot be a conscientious objector. You can't burn your draft card and be excluded. You can't move to Canada.

Well, you can, but evil's there too. There's some easy comments, do not go there. I think it's helpful with a biblical perspective to know that evil describes Satan and his activity. Again, we tend to think of it in nebulous terms, but evil is the description for Satan and his activity in the earth. We're gonna have to have the courage to say some things are evil. When they wanna mutilate our adolescence because they're confused about biology, it's evil. It's not a legitimate place for profit. It's not an understandable expression of health science. It's evil. The recognition of evil, have the courage to begin to ask the spirit of God to give you the awareness, to see the places where evil is thriving in your sphere of influence. We need discernment. We need a greater awareness than we've had.

And the fifth one is a spiritual designation. People cooperate with evil, they sell themselves to do evil. The Bible describes Ahab. It says that he sold himself to do evil. Again, we've moved in and out of these arenas. And imagine that we could sit in church for a few minutes on the weekend, and then fill our hearts and our minds with people who have given themselves over to evil, and it has no impact upon us. We were far more afraid of a virus from Wuhan, that we were told it came from a wet lab, than we are of expressions of evil. And Jesus told us that evil would lead to our destruction. I don't want you to live frightened lives. I don't want you to cower, shut down, and locked up.

I want you to understand the authority of the king in which we stand, that we've been delivered from this present evil age. But I don't want you to minimize your understanding of what evil represents, otherwise you embrace it, and it brings destruction to yourself and people you care about. The biblical response is to overcome evil. In Romans, we're told to not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. You can't negotiate with evil. You can't bargain with evil. Evil will not yield to anything except a power greater than itself. Good is greater than evil. Choose the good, cultivate good. We'll unpack that. We will look at that in more detail. I would submit to you that the primary response of the church in recent years has been to tolerate evil. Rather than overcome evil, we just overlooked it.

Well, it's not that bad. It's not that big a deal. I don't wanna identify myself. I don't wanna raise my hand. I don't wanna stand out. There would be a cost. You are absolutely right, there is a cost. It's the reason we were told in Hebrews not to grow weary or lose heart. That we haven't had to resist evil to the same extent that our Lord did. But the imagination, the expectation is that the people of God will stand and say, "We will not condone, encourage, or tolerate evil". It's destructive. I believe God is awakening a generation of people. I'm amazed, I meet people week after week. Some come here from other states. Some reach out to us from other nations.

Angus called this week. He said, just tell everyone hello. But South Africa is going through a very difficult season, extraordinarily difficult, with the same battle of ideologies that I began this presentation with. And only God will bring liberty to them. Freedom and liberty come from God, not from governments. It's the message of the church. And unfortunately, we have been so focused on eternity that we haven't been willing to bring the truth to the world in which we live. I'm not suggesting that eternity doesn't matter. But the expression of your faith in your home and in your family systems and with your friends will change the world in which we live.

Now, we're gonna close this session with Communion. I couldn't think of a better way. I brought you a proclamation. It's one that's familiar to many of you, that I'm gonna send you away with that. I'll tell you what, we'll take Communion, and we'll read that together. It's better than my prayer. Our Lord himself put Communion in place. On the evening that he was betrayed, if you didn't get the elements when you came in, the ushers are in the aisles. My bad, they'll bring it to you. If you're at home, you can go grab a saltine cracker and a cup of water. Or an Oreo cookie and a glass of milk. When I travel now, I meet people across the country that keep Communion by wherever they watch services, 'cause they know I'm only gonna give him about 30 seconds to get ready. But our Lord put this in place. It's the night he's to be betrayed.

Suffering is imminent, the cloud of that is hanging over them. Judas has been dismissed from the room, and he takes the disciples and he said this bread is my body broken for you. And this cup a new covenant. As often as you eat this and often as you drink this, you do it in remembrance of me. He's giving them a tangible expression to something they haven't experienced yet. They haven't seen him crucified. They haven't encountered a risen Lord that showed him their hands, and gave them the signs of his Passion and restored them. But it made an impact great enough that, after the fact, it became a centerpiece in the behavior of the people who believed in Jesus.

So when we come to the Communion table, it's not for a religious ritual, or a Christian tradition. It's to appropriate the redemptive work of Jesus through the cross. Jesus won a complete, total, and irreversible victory over evil. Now, that's good news. We don't fight with our intelligence and our IQ and my strength and my contact list. We stand in the authority and power of a King and his kingdom. So whatever need you brought to this place tonight, if it's emotional, it's physical, whatever it may be, maybe in your family, maybe you need to forgive, maybe you need to be forgiven, we come to the Communion table to appropriate the redemptive work of Jesus. Amen?

So we come as disciples. You peel back that top cellophane layer, you can get to the wafer, one of the ushers very graciously offered to pre-open mine. I'll take all the help I can get. But Jesus said as often as we eat this, we do this in remembrance of him. Let's receive together. And then he took that cup, and said this cup is a new covenant, sealed with my own blood. As often as you drink this, you proclaim my death until you see me again. Let's receive together. Will you stand with me? I wanna ask you to make this proclamation with me. It's better than you listening to me pray. Let's give expression to what the Word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us. Are you ready?

I testify as to what the Word of God says the blood of Jesus does for me: Through the blood of Jesus, I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil; Through the blood of Jesus, all my sins are forgiven; The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, continually cleanses me from all sin; Through the blood of Jesus I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God; Through the blood of Jesus I am justified, made righteous, just as if I'd never sinned. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed by the blood of Jesus; Therefore, Satan has no place in me, and no power over me, through the blood of Jesus. Amen.

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