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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Chris Hodges » Chris Hodges - Understanding Spiritual Warfare

Chris Hodges - Understanding Spiritual Warfare

Chris Hodges - Understanding Spiritual Warfare
TOPICS: You Asked For It, Spiritual warfare, Armor of God

Well, it's so great to see all of you here today in church. We're so glad that you came. A big hello and welcome to week number four of a series that we're doing called, "You Asked for It". I'll tell you more about that in just a second. But as always, let me look straight into the camera and say hi to all of our locations, our campuses that meet across the great state of Alabama and into Columbus, Georgia. We are one church in 23 locations. God bless every single one of you; and, of course, we're bringing this into more than 20 of Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities. So, God bless you men and women there. What an honor it is to be a part of your lives and those that are watching online. Grants Mill, like you've never done it before, say the biggest hello.

Come on, everybody. Oh, yeah. Awesome. Thank you for that. Before we get into the message, I do want to bring you up to speed. Of course, we had a tragic week this past week with Hurricane Ian slamming into the coast of Florida. And if you're new to our church, you don't know this, if you've been a part of our church you already know this, that we have, about 15 years ago, we built a disaster response team and really are already ready before things like that happen, with food, and trailers, and medical supplies, just kind of waiting, knowing those things happen from time to time. It's something we really felt like we were called to do. We even set aside a portion of what you give every week, so that in that moment, we don't have to, we don't take offerings. It's already there and ready to help bless a bunch of people.

And so already I want you to know that immediately, actually, as it was happening and now in the aftermath, we have teams from our church right now on the ground in Florida giving out food and water and serving churches. Yeah, so praise God for that. And we're gonna do a lot more because the need is so great, and we have about eight partners that are helping churches and people just there that have been affected by this storm. And so if you'd like to give, what you give today, a lot of this is going to go toward what's happening there in Florida. And, of course, when we do that, we give a cup of cold water in Jesus's name. Amen, everybody? I mean, that's what Jesus says. And when you help somebody, don't just help their physical needs. Also give them their spiritual needs, as well.

So, we're always going through partners that'll also share the love of God with them, in Jesus's name. The last thing I wanted to tell you before we jump into the message is normally on First Wednesday services, those are longer worship. We always have communion, and a lot of times I bring in special guests. In fact, later this year, we have Miss CeCe Winans coming back to lead us in worship on one of the First Wednesday services. But this Wednesday, we've got a very special guest speaker. His name is Chris Hodges, everybody.

I'm gonna be, and I've got a message, though, that's been on my heart that I've been working on, and I've really been praying for God to move in the supernatural, honestly. I've been praying for people to be healed, and I've got a message I want to share with you on healing and how that works, and why it doesn't work sometimes. And what is that all about? And then we're gonna make room at the end of the service to receive communion together, and then to pray for people who have needs in their life, need a miracle, need a healing in their body. And I'm believing that the Great Physician has not closed shop. He still does heal people, in Jesus's name. Amen, everybody?

So, just wanted to let you know that and love to see you there if you can join us on Wednesday night at your location. Today, we are in week number four of a seven-part series that came from the survey that we did at Easter, where we asked you some questions, several questions. We do that every Easter. Only one Sunday a year do we take the time to kind of get some information from you that's helpful to us. And one of the questions that we asked are what are the topics that you'd like for us to bring messages to you on? And we actually got more than 40,000 responses, and we're actually doing this series on the top seven, actually top eight responses, because we took one of the, I think it was the second most asked for question was on the end time, so we brought an entire message series to you in August on the Second Coming of Christ. But on the other seven, we're getting these to you in these 7 weeks in the order that you gave them. We brought messages to you on stress and marriage, et cetera.

Today was very surprising to me, honestly, and this would be normally a topic that I would only bring really to a crowd like a Wednesday night crowd, where I'd go a little bit deeper. Maybe it's a little bit more heavy biblical teaching. And so kind of put your seatbelt on today. But you asked for it, and that is you asked me to talk a little bit about spiritual warfare, spiritual warfare. Now, if that's a new concept to you, this is a very, very prevalent theme in the Bible. It talks about the fact that we have a battle that is going on between those of us who know God and the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of the dark world. In fact, the Bible even describes that there are three different heavens, not just one, that there is a first heaven where, you know, the sun, and the stars, and the clouds are.

There's a second heaven the Bible describes as the heavenlies, the spiritual heavenlies, where there is demonic activity going on, and there's a fight for people's lives, and it's where spiritual battles take place. There's actually been books written on it, based off of Scripture, about what that might look like, what that war, the Bible describes it as going on in the second heaven, and then the third heaven being the heaven where God is, and where we will spend eternity with God. And so but I'm gonna talk to you a little bit about that second heaven, and that area where battles take place, and I'm gonna bring you a lot of Scriptures. But if you know me, I like to bring complex ideas and make them extremely simple, so everybody can understand.

Somebody said to me, the greatest compliment I ever received, "Pastor, you put the cookies on the bottom shelf so everybody can have one". All right, so I'm gonna do that today, but I want to start off with this verse, that Ephesians 6, that I think best describes the spiritual warfare that takes place, that you asked for, and it says this, it says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God". Now, it's telling Christians that you need to armor up. You need to get ready for a battle "so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes".

So, it's telling you you're gonna be engaged in a fight, and this is how you do it. And then it goes on and describes it. It says, now, you have a struggle, but it's not with people. It's not against flesh and blood. It's not your neighbor. It's not your boss. It's not the government. Your struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against, and notice the language here, against rulers. Notice they all have authority structures, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, against the spiritual forces of evil, and here's that second heaven, in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on, Christian, put on the full armor of God, so that (not if, but when), when the day of evil comes, and you're gonna have days where you're gonna need to know how to engage in spiritual warfare.

The problem is a lot of Christians have never been taught this 'cause it's a little bit mystical, a little strange, a little too spooky. Come on, talk to me about God's love and God's grace. Let's go eat roast beef. Right, you know what I'm saying? That's what most people want, but really you're gonna have a day of evil that is gonna come. Somebody said, "Well, be more positive". I'm positive there's gonna be a day of evil that's gonna come. All right. "But you are able," I love this, "to stand your ground, after you've done everything, to stand. So stand firm then". And then it describes it. And this is a metaphor, picture, this isn't literal. It's just saying you need to put on, like armor, you need to put on some things. "Put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one".

So, if you've ever seen one of those pirate movies, it's those arrows with fire on the end of it. This is how he works. He loves just to kind of blind side you with something that happens in your life. And then "Take this helmet of salvation". And notice the last piece of armor is the only one that is offensive. The rest of them are defensive. They protect you, but this last one is offensive, and I want you to remember it 'cause we're gonna come back to it. "Take the helmet of salvation," defensive, "but take the sword of the Spirit," offensive, "which is the word of God". Now, there's one other place I'm gonna show you, just to kind of build context for spiritual warfare. Again, it's all throughout Scripture, can't get away from it, and you asked for it. You knew it was there. You just want to know more about it. I even had some of my staff say, "Man, I just want more. Tell us more about this".

I know you're understanding it. And honestly, if you're living in the culture we're all living in right now, I think you sense it. I think you sense that what's going on is not just natural. There are things going on that, you know, that are just deeper than just natural science. It's more than that. You know it. And so 2 Corinthians actually ramps it up and introduces another term that I want to give to you that both Jesus and the Apostle Paul taught. Paul called it a stronghold. Jesus called it a strong man. Jesus is teaching on this. It's found in Luke 11, for you notetakers. You can go read this. But Paul says it this way, and I just think it's great language. It kind of brings awareness to the fact that you're in a fight. "Well, I don't know if I believe in all that". That doesn't make it go away, all right?

So, "Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does". In other words, we don't use bombs and guns and things like that. The weapons we fight with, and I'm gonna just time out right there and say are you? I mean, he's almost assuming it. Hey, the weapons we fight with, but some of us aren't, and I'm gonna show you how today the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. Now, I do a lot of study for your sake of original language. Anybody who's ever told you that the Bible has been diluted down through the generations, through all the translations, doesn't know what they're talking about, because we still have original manuscripts, and all of the current translations go back to original manuscripts from thousands of years ago, and the New Testament is written in Greek.

I've actually took three semesters of Greek, and it's still Greek to me. Isn't that right, everybody? So, but I go back to my studies, and I break down these words for your sake, and the Greek word here is ochuróma, and it literally describes someone who is chained, but the chain isn't even strong enough to hold them down. They just think it is. If you've ever seen, like, elephants in a zoo, they actually train elephants, to contain them with chains that they cannot break around their ankle. But once they realize they're chained, they can put a rope that they can snap very easily around their ankle, and they think it's the chain, so they don't try to get away still. That's the word. That's the word right there.

So, that's this area of your life that actually doesn't have as much power as you think it does, but you've convinced it does. It may be an addiction, or a habit, or a wound, or something generational that's been in your grandpa or your father. You see it all the way through, and Paul's talking about that here, and this is probably the most important application of spiritual warfare is that, that we're all just gonna get in a prayer meeting and scream at the devil for an hour. That's not what it is. It's for this area that's a stronghold. And then Paul now in the next verse talks about, what do you do about it? Like, what do you do if you have that? And notice how, the language is so interesting to me, because he says we demolish arguments.

So, it's not true. He's just convinced you it's true. It's an argument. It's, literally, it's a lie or a pretension. In other words, it's a place where the devil's pretending to have power that he doesn't have. So, we demolish these arguments, these lies, these pretensions that set themself up against what God said about you, the knowledge of God. This is what I've worked for, honest to God. I labor. You have no idea, honestly, how hard I labor to create anything, conferences, small groups, curriculum, anything, anything we can think of to get you into the knowledge of God, what God says about you, not what your past says about you, not what people say about you. I'm telling you, it's nonstop. We think, because there's an argument that we bought into, or pretension, and it sets itself up against the knowledge of God.

And so what we do is we take captive that thought. In other words, we have to break that lie, I'm gonna show you how in just a minute, and make that lie obedient to Christ. So, I'm gonna give you two definitions for a stronghold, in keeping with that passage there, but here's the first one. And then it's a prisoner locked, but you're locked by a deception, and living your life by something that's just not true. It's not true about you. And I thank you for coming to church so that we can give you the truth that comes from God's Word, and break that off your life, in Jesus's name. It's the joy, again, it's the joy of my life not to build a church. I have absolutely no interest in building a big church. That is not what I'm here for. I'm here because I deeply care about you, and I want you to live a life that's beyond what the devil has said about your life, so that you can live your life by what God says about you.

Come on, give him praise. I know you want to. Give all that praise to God. Here's another definition that I got from someone's book, and it says this: "Anything that exalts itself in our minds, pretending to be bigger or more powerful than our God". This is a stronghold, and this is probably the greatest application for spiritual warfare. So, spiritual warfare isn't putting you in a chair in the middle of a room, and your head's spinning around 12 times, and us holding up a cross. And that's not what it is, all right? That's what the movies say it is. That's not what it is. Your spiritual warfare can be when you came to church full of depression, and you began to give God praise; and by speaking the truth of who God is, you felt that depression leave your life. You just engaged in spiritual warfare right there. That's why Psalm...I'm preaching right now. Y'all be careful, everybody.

I don't do this much, but Psalm 149 says, "Let the high praise of God be in your mouth". It's like a two-edged sword in your hand. You can worship God, and the principalities and powers of this dark world fall, in Jesus's name. So, why don't you take three seconds and give Jesus some praise in this place? Yeah. All right. Come back to my teacher hat, put my teacher hat back on here, okay. I got a little in me every once in a while. Y'all give me a handheld mic, and you watch out. We'll go for it, all right. I like watching documentaries, and Tammy and I watch a lot of them, actually, and I love anything that's a true story. And in 2002, there was a story that hit America. You probably have heard of it. Unless you're, you know, young, you may not have heard about this. But in 2002, this 14-year-old girl named Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her home. Her little sister was pretending to be asleep, but was awake and saw the whole thing. But this man came into her bedroom, and at knifepoint took her out of that home, and her sister saw it. She was scared. She thought the man would kill her.

So, they took her out. Of course, if you know the story, he brought her way out into the wilderness of Utah and raped her repeatedly, he and this woman named Wanda, held her in captivity for about 9 months. They kept her way away from the public for a long time. But after a while, he got a little brazen, a little, thought he got away with things and started to going public with Elizabeth. He would dress her up in a full gown garb that only exposed her eyes, but he brought her right into public. I mean, people were, even where police officers were, and he wasn't afraid of her running away. He had threatened her, saying, "If you scream, I'll kill you". And there was one moment, the documentary said that she was actually within 5 feet of a police officer. And this is on the news every day. All she has to say is, "I'm Elizabeth Smart," and she's free. And all she has to do, 'cause everybody is looking for her.

There are posters everywhere, and she's within two steps of a police officer, and she was afraid, because she had bought into the lie that she'll die. Well, finally, one police officer's curiosity peaked when he saw her, and he wondered, "I wonder if that's her," and finally, of course, he was able to rescue her, and that man is spending his whole life in prison, like he should. Now she is an advocate for victims of kidnapping and those types of things, and it's a beautiful story now, and she's married and living a great life. But what a picture. What a picture of people who, you're just a step away from freedom. You bought into a lie that this is addiction, the habit, the attitude, the place, this is just who I am, and it's just absolutely not true, and you have bought into not the power of devil that has you bound and controlled. He just lied to you. It's just a lie. And Jesus said that's all he is.

For everybody that's all afraid of the devil, listen to me. He's just a liar. And "When he lies," Jesus said "he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies". And when we believe the lie, we empower the liar. And again, what spiritual warfare is, is just exposing that lie and replacing that lie with truth. I would like to think that is the work of the local church, and that's what God wants to do in your life, as well. How would you know if you're in a stronghold? Well, you have symptoms like your focus. You find yourself controlled mentally by the thing that you believe has you captive. It could be, again, your addictions, or your habits, or your wounds, or your problems. Or you, "My daddy was this way, my granddad. This is just the way it is".

So, it has a tendency to cause you to feel controlled, so you'll say things like, "I could never, I will never," and you even take it on as your identity. One of my pet peeves are those who help people in addiction recovery, and they do great work. Let me just be very clear. They do great work. But one of the things I don't like is when they make you say, "I am a," and you fill in the blank. And you could be free from it for 30 years, but you still have to say, "I am a..." Well, no you're not. You may have been, and you may have done. And I understand the importance of admitting it. I know what they're trying to accomplish there. When my kids would mess up, I had to make sure to... I always told them when they did something that wasn't right, I said, "This is what you did, but that is not who you are; and that may have been what you have done, but that is not who you are". Can I get a better amen out there, everybody?

Here's another symptom, and that is it consumes your emotional capacity and energy. So, you each actually, some of you under the sound of my voice have felt increasingly hopeless. There's no way out. It grieves me... I read the story just this week of a young girl who just by social media alone was convinced to take her life. And it's just a lie. It consumes your emotional energy, which ultimately will distract you from your purpose, which is what the devil really is all about. He doesn't care about destroying you just for you, but for what your life could actually do, which obviously, ultimately robs us of the life that God intended for us. So, what do we do about it? Well, I'm a list person, okay? So, that was the theology, the Scriptures, the motivation. Now we're gonna get to work here, okay? And I like lists. If I had a list of everything I like, lists would be at the top of the list, all right?

So, I'm gonna give you three lists of three. So these are three threes. I'm gonna give you three realities you need to believe, if you're gonna be successful at spiritual warfare. I'm gonna give you three weapons that are at your disposal and three things you can do every day. Okay? So, three realities you need to believe, if you're going to be successful at spiritual warfare, and the one is you'd better believe the devil's actually real. So, he's not a metaphor. He's not a Sunday School story. He's not in a jumpsuit with the red horns and a long tail. That's not who he is. And he wants you to believe that, that it's all pretend, he's just a symbol of evil. More than 60% of surveyed Christians in America don't believe in a literal devil, and that does not make him go away. No, he's actually masquerading. He wants you to think that. He's actually masquerading as an angel of light. He is an actual person, an angel, a fallen angel.

So, before Genesis 1:1, before the beginning of the Bible, there was a great war in heaven. Actually, some scholars believe it happened between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, but there was just this great war in heaven, where Satan, there was three primary, only three named angels in the whole Bible, and that is Gabriel, Michael, and Lucifer, and each had a different responsibility. Michael was always prayer and warfare. Gabriel was always sending a message or the Word. And Lucifer was in charge of the worship. And Isaiah 14 and Isaiah 28 describe the moment when Lucifer wanted to praise himself. He got tired of worshiping God, thought, "Look, I'd like to have some of this myself".

What got him kicked out of heaven, he became an unemployed cherub. Okay, everybody? And the Bible describes it many places, I'm gonna give you a Revelations description of it. But there was a war in heaven, and Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, that's another name for the devil or Lucifer, and the dragon and his angels 'cause many of the angels came with Lucifer, and they are now demons. Some scholars believe a third, it doesn't really say that, but some believe it's up there. They bring different Scriptures together to believe that, but this is an important sentence for you to see. "But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place".

There was a fight, but he wasn't strong enough. I like that verse. Okay, "The great dragon was hurled down, that ancient serpent called the devil", and here's his name, "Satan, who leads the whole world astray". That's what he's actively doing right now. "And he was hurled to the earth". So, one place even says he's the god of this age. So you need to understand that the devil is not in heaven. He actually has domain over this earth. He's in that second heaven or the second heavenlies, and that's where he's operating. And he's there, "hurled to the earth, and his angels with him". So, that has actually happened. It's not a metaphor. That's actually real. Don't be afraid of it, but also don't deny the reality of that truth, that the devil is real. Then also the reality that he does want to destroy you.

"Well, I don't like to think about that". That doesn't make him go away. Okay, in John 10, Jesus said himself, he has a goal to steal from you, kill you, and to destroy you. That is just a fact, and I'll show you more verses about that in just a second. And here's the last reality you need to know to be able to be successful in spiritual warfare. You asked for it, everybody. Y'all look like you've just seen a ghost. Everybody's eyes were this big and round. Everybody breathe in, breathe out. All right, here we go. Yes, I love my job. Okay. And that is that the devil responds to higher authority. Now, remember, I showed you in the first verse everything about his name, authority, principalities, rulers. Okay? Which means he actually has some power, but there's a name that is above his name. Okay?

In fact, 1 John says it this way, that the one (it's talking about God) who is in you is (say it out loud, everybody) is greater than the one who's in this world. All right. Then how do you get on the greater side is the question. You have three weapons at your disposal. I don't know if you're using them or not. I'm gonna give them to you right now though. And the first is the name of Jesus, so that you just have to say the name of Jesus, and all the other names have to bow to that name. I'll show it to you. Jesus said in Luke chapter 10, somebody wants to praise God right now. I didn't show you the verse yet. All right. I know. Isn't this good? "The seventy-two". And this was 72 people that Jesus sent out just to go pray for people.

So, beyond the 12 disciples, he said, "Look, we've got a lot of work to do. A bunch of you guys go out there and start praying for people. And they returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.'" They were surprised. And Jesus said, "Well, of course. I was there. I was there when he got hurled to the earth. I was there when he got kicked out of heaven, and I saw him fall like lightning". In other words, when where was a battle between God and Satan in heaven, it wasn't like a Star Wars movie. You know, the bad and then the good and the bad make another run, and the good. And then finally the good win in the end, and there's the credits. No, this movie lasted lightning bolt fast. I mean this is, and then here's the whole movie. Pow, over, credits. 'Cause they're not two superpowers duking it out. No, no, no. He's a created being by our God, and Jesus said, "And I saw him fall like lightning".

I just love that. And he said, "And now I have given you authority to trample on", and these are just metaphors of demons, "snakes, and scorpions, and to overcome all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall harm you". You can use the name of Jesus. Philippians says "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, in hell". See, you have the power of the name. It's like a state trooper with that badge. I mean, if somebody pulls you over, and they're just in a Honda Accord, and they don't have a uniform on, you're not pulling over. It's like, "You ain't nothing". But if they have them blue lights, and he gets out in that dark blue suit, and he's got that badge that says, "State of Alabama," you're crying like a girl. Right, everybody? You're just all, okay, 'cause you know you're busted.

Look, you have the badge, everybody. It's the name of Jesus, the name of Jesus. You have the blood of Jesus. It's the act of the cross was actually the ultimate defeat of the enemy. Revelation says, "They overcame the devil by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony". And here's the last one, and that is the Word of God. So, the name, the blood, the Word. Now, when Jesus was fighting the devil, he was actually tempted of the devil. You might know this story. Two gospels record it. You can find them, you can read them both, Matthew 4, Luke 4.

So, they both describe this direct confrontation of the devil with Jesus. He was tempted. Three temptations, and all three times, we should learn from this, Jesus defeated the enemy by quoting a Scripture. He used the Word of God to fight the devil, which is why I want you in your Bibles, because Jesus himself said, "If you hold to my teaching," this is the Bible, "you are really my disciples. And then you will know truth," which is found in the Bible, "and the truth will set you free". So, this is powerful. To know Scripture... remember, I told you I'd come back to it? Your only offensive weapon was the sword of the Spirit, and then it defined it, which is the Word of God, which is why I want you to know your Bible. So, don't just read your Bible. It's not your quiet time book. It's not just your devotional book. It's a weapon in your hand, everybody.

So, I know verses, when I have things come against me, I've got verses ready. I use verses for that thing. I want you to use verses, 'cause the Bible is the truth. Jesus said, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth". And the truth will set you free. Everybody with me? All right, so we have three realities. We have three weapons, and now I want to give you three things that you can do every day, and here's the first one, and that is commit myself to God. Now, this is very important to understand. I want to give you a picture that you may have never thought about, but God is just like a father or a mother in a home, that if you'll stay up under my covering, and we're not saying kids shouldn't leave, but they can still stay up under the covering. There's a protection under the umbrella of the authority of the family, the mom, and the dad, and the same is true with God. Your authority with the devil is only as strong as your relationship with God.

I want you to hear that. Don't you take this in. 'Cause some of us, look, you're going to heaven. It's not a heaven or hell deal. Once Jesus paid for all your sins, that was final. But we're just like our kids. When my kids do something out from under my authority, get out, they're still my kids. Okay? But some of us I'm just gonna tell you... can I tell y'all the truth right here? Can I say it like I'm thinking it? Some of us, you're a Christian, you're going to heaven, but you get out from underneath God's covering, and you're just kind of, "I want to do a few things my way," and you're wondering why, well, where in the world did that come from? Well, the more you stay committed to and submitted to God, the more authority you have in the area of spiritual warfare. "Prove it, PC".

All right, now, when I read this verse, notice the order, because the order is important. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you". But the first line can happen, the second line can't happen without the first line, and that's why we urge you guys to take deeper steps in your relationship with God, as you're ready. I know we're all in a different place spiritually, but as you're ready. For heaven's sake, don't stay right where you are. Get up under the umbrella of god. And he chose to do it through a local church. That's what he does. It's not the only place, but that's where he does it primarily, to get up under a family of covering. And there's a lot of things we do, but at least urge you, hey, take a step.

Hey, come to, you know, get baptized or go to step one, to growth track. We're not church building there. I promise you we're not. We're giving you tools to get up under the covering of Almighty God. 'Cause I didn't ask you to be baptized. Jesus did. He said, "If you know me, and you've given your life to me, would you let the world know publicly? Would you put the wedding band of Christianity on called baptism"? And it just shocks me that there are people like, "Yeah, I believe in God. I'm going to heaven, but I don't want to do that part". And it's just, I just don't think it's very wise. And you wonder, "Well, why has so much happened to me? Why do I feel so vulnerable"?

Honestly, if I can just say it like I want to say it, you're out from underneath the covering that God wants to, he didn't go anywhere, you did. He's there. Some of y'all just need to get up under the umbrella. It's raining. I'm so sorry it's raining, y'all. But there's an umbrella. I mean, you need to get a part of a local church. If you haven't been to step one of the growth track, come to it. Come be a part. You don't have to be in this church. There's other churches. Go find you one that you love everything about it. But I mean, get up under the covering of a local church. Just do, if you can attend, attend. I mean, I miss, too, but, you know, but I don't miss 'cause like, hm, I wonder if I'll go today. No, just if you can go, of course, I'm preaching to ones who are here. But you know what I'm saying? And get you under a covering. Are y'all following me, everybody?

I'm gonna submit myself to God. I'm gonna get up tomorrow morning and read the Word and pray. And why? 'Cause I want to be up under the covering of Almighty God. I'm gonna submit myself to God. Now I'm gonna resist the devil, and he'll flee from me. Here's the second. I'm just giving you, now these are the three applications. We ought to do these every day. And as I need it every day, close any open doors. And what I mean by that is you can be a Christian, going to heaven, but we can do things, and I'm gonna show you verses that when you do them, it leaves a crack in the window for demonic activity. It just does, and I'll show you. I've gotta do this quickly 'cause we're almost out of time.

Paul in 1 Corinthians, they had to discipline this immoral person, and then he repented; and in the second letter he wrote, they were having a hard time bringing the brother back into the fold. And Paul's like, "Y'all need to get over it now. Look, he repented". And he says, "And if you forgive him," he says, "whatever you've forgiven, if there is anyone to forgive, I have forgiven him also". In other words, "Hey, guys, we need to receive this guy back and love him. I know he did wrong, but he repented. Let's bring him back", watch the next line, "in order that Satan doesn't outwit us, 'cause we're not unaware of his schemes". Paul is saying when you hold something against somebody like that, you literally open the door. I'll show you another one in Ephesians. He says, "In your anger, do not sin, do not let the sun go down while you're still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold".

And I just wonder what, the things we do, and only the Holy Spirit's gonna have to show you. You know, when I do that, did I just leave a little crack in the window there? Did I leave an open door? And so what I do every day is I submit myself to God, but every day I say, "Lord, now show me any cracks in the window, any open doors". Now, I debated whether I should say this or not. All right, you asked for it. Some of y'all gonna get mad at me. Halloween. Horror movies. Like, watching people, I'm gonna go two and a half hours of chopping everybody's head off. Ah, it's just for fun. Is it? I mean, the Bible says, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, actually expose it".

And that's what I'm trying to do right now. "Are you saying I'm going to hell"? No, but I do think, I think there's more to it than you give credit, and I think the devil would love for you to treat it like an innocent game. And the one thing I don't like about it, either way, is it actually makes pretend something that actually is real. So, our kids grow up thinking that this is pretend. So, I'm not gonna tell you what to do on that. I'm telling you do your own research, and I trust you to follow what the Holy Spirit shows you to do. I know I've made my decision. So, I'm gonna submit every day. Every day I submit. Every day I close. And then every day confront the devil. Every day confront the devil. That's it. It doesn't have to be loud. It just has to be active.

Listen to me. Look at me, church. I'm trying to pastor y'all. I love y'all so much. You have no idea. Probably, might be even your mama doesn't pray for you as much as I do. I'm telling you, I love you guys so much. Christianity isn't passive. It's active, but you have victory, in Jesus's name, everybody. But the Bible is trying to warn us. Let me say it this way. What if I got intelligence information from like a Homeland Security office or somebody who knows stuff because they'll get on Facebook, or they find stuff? And I found out that somebody tonight, tonight is coming to your house about 3 a.m. when you're fast asleep, and tonight's the night, and they have a key. You didn't know they got a key, but they got a key. And when you wake up tomorrow morning, everything that matters to you is going to be gone.

Now, what would you be willing to do if I brought that information to you? Well, you ain't going to sleep. In fact, you're probably gonna sit at the front door in a chair with two friends, Smith and Wesson. Come on, somebody, right? All right, so here it is. "Be self-controlled and..." Like, don't go to sleep. You have an enemy. It's called "the devil, who prowls around like a roaring lion". He's like a lion just waiting, just waiting for someone to devour. "Resist him". Notice it wasn't, "Oh, run for your life". It wasn't screaming real loud. It wasn't, "Oh, my goodness, get a bunch of people together". Resist him. Stand firm in your faith. Why? Because we have power in the name of Jesus, in the blood of Jesus, with the Word of God, and no weapon formed against you is going to prosper, in Jesus's name. Come on, give God praise together, everybody.

So, Father, I stand right now with spiritual authority as a pastor, as their pastor, and with my weapons, the name, the blood, and the Word, and I take my stand against every spiritual force of darkness that has waged war against this precious congregation, God, over their marriages, over their emotions, their finances, their health, every part of their life. God, I thank you you're getting them victory, as they step into a life that is submitted, that closes doors, and, God, one that every day confronts our enemy, Lord. Thank you, you've given us victory in Jesus's name. Thank you, Lord. We stand victorious, Lord.

With heads bowed and eyes closed, if you're here today, and you're under conviction, in other words, you think, "Oh, my goodness, I need to get some things right with God". Only God can do that. I can't do that. If you are under conviction, and you have the sense that, "I need to not live my spiritual life like I'm currently living it. I need to make a commitment to God". You might not be a Christian. You may be a Christian, and just have walked out, away from God. You're out from underneath that umbrella, and you want to submit yourself back to God. You want to give him your life, and you're ready to make Jesus the Lord of your life.

I want to pray a prayer, right there where you're seated. I'm not gonna have you stand up or come down to the front, but if that's you, you say, "Chris, include me in this closing prayer," campus pastors are on the stage with me, and if that's you, just gently put your hand up as high as you can, say, "Count me in," and you can slip it right back down. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Just all over this room, God bless you, God bless you. Come on, let God see it lifted high. You can slip it right back down. God bless you, thank you. It's wonderful, it's wonderful. If you lifted your hand, pray this prayer, say:

Jesus, I need you. Thank you for paying for my sins. Today I receive what you did for me on the cross.

Now, whisper that. Say that to him. Now, this is an important thing I want you to say to him. Say:

I want you to be my Lord. I give you full control of my life. I believe you're the Son of God, and you rose from the dead, and today I put my faith in you. Thank you for setting me free. Thank you for covering me under your umbrella of protection. In your name I pray, amen.

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