Craig Groeschel - Devil-Kicking Relationship Goals
Well it's great to have you with us today all of our Life.Churches. We are talking about relationships. We're preparing for future relationships and we're building our current ones. I'm just curious at all of our different churches, how many of you are married? You're married, raise up your hands, raise. Those of you that are not married but you wouldn't mind if God brought you Mr. or Mrs. Right one day, raise up your hands right now. Why don't you leave 'em up for a second. Hey, leave 'em up all of our campuses. Leave 'em up high. High and proud. Why don't you just scan the room right now and just take a look around. Maybe your eyes might meet someone and you might have a little spiritual power. Who knows what happens? You might come to church and get a little Jesus and a little more. You never know what might happen. We are in a message series that's called Relationship Goals.
There somewhere around 11 million different times on Instagram that someone has used the hashtag #relationshipgoals. It's usually some couple in a very unusual pose and everybody else says, ooh I wanna have a relationship like that. That's not real, that was posed and it took 'em 17 attempts to get that photo. What we wanna do is we want to talk about real goals but speaking of social media, I did go online and I found a few images that no one ever says, I wanna have something like this. In fact, maybe you can relate. Some of you might be able to relate to this lady who says this, raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by your own taste in men. Just looking at that lady, I can tell she has been victimized by her own taste in men. I don't know why I said that. I like this next one here, this is, when you have to stop your best friend from getting into a wrong relationship. some of you, you need to do this. You need to be on top of the box. Someone else, you need to be in the box in the name of Jesus.
And then, remember, remember, never, ever forget this you are always one bad relationship away from having 30 cats. Do not forget it. Be very careful who you spend your time with matters. Bad company corrupts good character, scripture says. Not all relationships are good. When we talk about relationships goals, no one ever starts out and says, I wanna have a really bad relationship, nobody does that. There's a young lady in my office and she's getting married in the upcoming weeks. She did not say, I wanna buy so many shiny things, I wanna get all sorts of things we cannot afford so that a few years later, we'll always fight about money. No one ever says that's a goal and yet people end up there all the time. I don't know anyone who's ever said, I hope to become a raging porn addict. I wanna have uncontrollable lusts and no real intimacy in real life. I don't know anyone who ever says that. I don't know anyone who says, I have a goal to start with small lies. Everybody lies a little bit, then I want to graduate to medium sized lies, then one day I want to excel with really big lies. I wanna live a lie so I can crush the person that I say I love forever. Nobody ever does that but people end up there all the time.
Let's not be so dramatic. I don't know anyone who says, hashtag relationship goals, I wanna just kinda get busy, neglect my spouse, maybe it's with the kids, maybe it's with my career, maybe it's with the house, maybe it's with a hobby but if I can just get so involved somewhere else we'll wake up one day when the kids are grownup, we're gonna look at each other and say, who are you and why are we even still even married, we feel more like roommates. No one ever says that and yet people end up there all the time. That's why in this message series, we're not going into relationships accidentally. If you hope to be married one day, we're not just wandering into a relationship, hoping to fall in love. We're actually doing what's right to lead us up into a relationship that would honor God in every single way. So we have four goals that will lead to a better place. If you want something different, you have to do something different. I'm offering you four relationship goals that I believe will help give you the foundation for the types of relationships that our good God wants you to have.
If you remember from week number one, what are we, I'm gonna say it then you can say it with me. Week number one, we talked about being Christ-Centered. What are we, we are Christ-Centered. Week two, we talked about being Mission-Driven. What are we, we are Mission-Driven. Today we're gonna talk about being Devil-Kicking. Say it with me, we are Devil-Kicking. And next week we're gonna talk about being Covenant-Keeping. What are we, we are Covenant-Keeping. Who are we and what are our goals? We are crystal clear, we know where we're going. Without a vision, people perish. We have a vision. We are gonna be Christ-Centered, Mission-Driven, Devil-Kicking, Covenant-Keeping. All of our churches, it's no fun without you, say it with me, what are we? We are Christ-Centered, Mission-Driven, Devil-Kicking, Covenant-Keeping.
Today, we're gonna talk about being Devil-Kicking in our relationships, standing together against the schemes of the evil. Why are we talking about this? We need to understand and never forget that we have a spiritual enemy who hates God and hates everything that matters to God and that includes you. In fact, Paul said this in Ephesians chapter six, verses 11 and 12, he told us to put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil. Can you imagine the father of lies, the price of darkness and all the demons in hell, scheming against you, looking for where you're weak, looking for where you're vulnerable, studying your marriage, your relationships, trying to get in to devour, to kill and to destroy.
Paul said this, he said, we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, in other words, your spouse is not your enemy. But instead, we're fighting against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world. What do we know? Whatever God blesses, the devil curses. Whatever God loves, the devil attacks. If you ever find yourself struggling in a relationship, you're frustrated, you're angry, you're afraid, you're resentful, you're hurting, you're losing trust, remember your spouse is not your enemy. You're fighting against spiritual forces of this dark world scheming to hurt you. Imagine this, imagine that you get an alert on your phone that says, nearby criminal broke out of a local prison and is coming for you. This person's been targeting you, they've been stalking you on social media. They know where you live, they hate your guts, they hate your children. They want to break in, they wanna destroy your house, they wanna rob you of your belongings, they want to hurt everything that matters to you including your children. What would you do? You would be so on guard it's ridiculous.
Let me tell you what, you may be all peace, loving and a pacifist and all this kind of stuff but you're putting a security system on your house, you're getting some motion detector lights, you're gonna get a dog that bites, you're gonna tell your neighbors, you're gonna be on guard, you're gonna warn your kids, you're gonna be praying. You might have a weapon, it might be one that shoots, one that swings, one that stabs, one that hits, I don't know what your theology of weapons is but you're gonna be ready if someone comes in to take what is yours and hurt those you love. You're gonna be on your guard. In fact, Peter said this, Peter told us to stay alert and watch out for your great enemy, the devil. Why? Because he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
What if I edited it just a little bit? And said, watch out your enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for marriages to devour. One thing we know about the devil is he never announces his intentions to attack. He never says, warning I'm coming. In other words, hey, you're doing so good, you guys are so blessed and you're doing great, so warning I'm coming to destroy your life. He's the father of lies and he always attacks in some form of one of two different ways. How does the devil attack? The devil often attacks with distractions and with seductions. With distractions and with seductions. Let's talk about distractions for a moment. If it was Eve in the Garden of Eden being distracted by the serpent who says, don't you want this piece of fruit. If it was King Solomon, who loves God but then is distracted trying to please people instead of pleasing the heart of God. If it's Judas, who's walked with Jesus and is distracted by a love of money instead of a love for his savior.
Satan attacks with distractions. In fact, there's a powerful little verse in the Old Testament where Solomon was pursuing the Shulamite woman, his beloved one and there's this little book called Song of Songs or Songs of Solomon that's kind of like, I mean there's a lot of romance in that book if you're not over 18, you probably shouldn't read that book if you know what I'm saying. And Solomon's complimenting his girl and he's using compliments you should never use. He says, your hair is like a flock of goats. He says, your neck's like the Tower of David. I told Amy that, your legs are like nine foot poles and it didn't go good, I didn't say that. But you don't do that. But then his tone changes and he gets really, really serious and he says to his bride, he says, catch for us the foxes. Everybody say the foxes. The little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
What do the foxes do? Well the foxes would go in and they would eat the blossoms so the blossoms would never fall so you'd never, ever have a grape. What was he saying? You gotta watch out for the little foxes that seem harmless, that are barely even noticed, that nobody ever really talks about but if they go unchecked, they will destroy the entire harvest. What does our enemy do? He tries to distract you with little foxes. Not big, obvious things but little things that someone else might not even notice, might not pay attention to. I don't know how it might be for you but perhaps the devil tries to distract you with a little fox of comparison. Your husband isn't romantic like that guy. He doesn't take you out anywhere. There's no real intimate connection but oh that guy at work, he really knows how to carry a conversation and he likes to connect with you in a way that is so meaningful. Maybe it's the little things, nit picky things. I mean the ridiculous small things, meaningless things, insignificant things.
I don't like the way you drive. I don't like the way you walk. I don't like the way you chew. And the other day, Amy said, I don't like the way you're breathing. True story. Right, did you say it? True story. I don't like the way you're breathing. So I just stopped. Take that. I don't like the way you're breathing. You're a real person too Pastor. Yes I am and I'm married to one too. Maybe it's fights over money. You got no plan, no vision, no direction and you're always fighting. Maybe one is controlling, one is critical, nit picking. The other's passive, resistance, barely even engages. Bottom line is this, the devil knows where you're vulnerable. He'll attack whatever triggers your anger, your fear, your insecurities. He'll tell you, well you're not compatible. I mean, you probably made a mistake. This obviously isn't God's will for you. What does he do? He attacks with little distractions, little things to take you off track and bring division because the devil hates what God loves.
The devil also uses seductions, sexual temptation to take us away from God's plan. In fact, I read an article this week that said now 60% of divorces, cite pornography as a contributing factor to the divorce. 60% of the divorces today. Perhaps that's one reason why Ephesians 5:3 is as important today as it ever has been. This is what Paul said, he said but among you there must not be even a hint, somebody say not a hint. He said there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity. Not even a hint of sexual impurity. We don't want to open up the door in any way for the darkness to come in. We'll play a little game, just for fun because I think a lot of people have really lowered their standards on what is purity in the world we live in today. So I'll just give you some scenarios and you can kinda tell me if you think there might be a hint of sexual immorality or impurity.
For example, if you lie to spouse and go and have raging hot sex with someone you met online. Would there be a hint of immorality in that? Yeah, I think so. That's pretty obvious. What if you just watch porn on your phone? Just once or twice a week. Would there be a hint? What if instead you're not gonna watch porn but you're just gonna watch some inappropriate Netflix original content. You know, they're not showing everything just little stuff under the blankets, little, whatever they're doing, okay. Would that be? Would it be a hint in that? What about dressing provocatively in a way that might draw attention? What about posting immodest photos on social media, #blessed. Whatever, you know, okay. I don't know what just happened but... What about having maybe borderline inappropriate conversations with someone that you shouldn't be having? Would there be mumbles. Listen to me, listen to God. Not a hint. Not a hint. I'm not gonna keep that door cracked.
I wanna keep that door slammed shut. We're Devil-Kicking. We're not tolerating any type of darkness. No impurity. What's impurity? Impurity's poison. Imagine there's like a line and this is the sinful line and on the other side's poison. Let's say poisonous snakes, blah, I hate poisonous snakes. Poisonous darts, whatever, hot lava, whatever's dangerous. If I'm gonna get over here and there's a copperhead on the other side and if I step across that line I'm vulnerable. Where do you think I'm gonna stand? I'm gonna stay way far away from it. Why is it that so often, we want to see how close we can get to the line when the closer we get to the line, the more vulnerable we are? I think this is one of the reasons why Solomon said this, he said, in Proverbs four verse 14 and 15, don't set foot on the path of the wicked. Not even a foot on that path. Or walk in the way of evildoers. He said, avoid it, don't travel on it, turn from it, go your own way.
If you didn't hear me the first time, I'll say it in four different ways. Avoid it, don't travel on it, turn from it, go your own way. In other words, we're gonna distance ourselves from anything that might compromise any part of us that would therefore hurt our marriage. If we're vulnerable to looking at something on the phone, we're gonna limit our access to what we can look at on the phone. If there's a person that we shouldn't be engaging with, we're certainly not gonna go have a lunch alone with this person. In fact, in my world I'm not gonna engage with a person of the opposite sex in any type of intimate environment whatsoever. If we have a person at work that we find ourselves connecting emotionally with, we're gonna ask to be transferred to another department. If we can't get transferred to another department, we're gonna find another job because we're not gonna let someone hurt us or take us off track. If we go to the gym and we find ourselves visually vulnerable or relationally vulnerable, we're gonna workout at home. If we look at hashtags on Instagram that take us to places to see things we shouldn't see, then we may not have Instagram.
What we're gonna do is we're gonna distance ourselves in any and every way from anything that could harm us or bring an attack on our marriage because we're not even gonna have a hint of anything that could dishonor God. You may say, well that kinda crazy. Why would you be so into that? What I always try to tell myself is this, why in the world would I fight a temptation in the future if I have the power to eliminate it today? Oh my goodness, I'm preaching so much better than you're responding. Why am I gonna leave a door open that I have the power to lock today? I'm not gonna fight something in the future if I can eliminate it today. I'm not gonna go close to the line. Scripture says not even a hint. The devil's coming for you and he wants you to compromise in even the smallest ways.
Now, what I know right now is there's probably two different extremes of people. There's one extreme that says, well Pastor Craig, you're going a little overboard there. I mean, don't even have a lunch with somebody. I mean that just sounds ridiculous. Then there's another side on the extreme that said, you have no idea how messed up I am. I am so caught, I can't get out. The good news for both extremes is Paul talks to both at the same time in First Corinthians chapter 10 and he says this to the first ones, who you know you're never gonna find any danger, he says, be careful if you think you're standing firm. Be careful that you don't fall. Pride comes before the fall. To the one why says I'm stuck and I can't get out, he says, he says this, he says, no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. Here's the good news, our God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, listen to me church, our God will give you a way out. You're not here by accident today. You're here because our God wants to give you a way out.
Now, those of you that are not married, you might be thinking, well this is an easy message to sit through while you beat up there on the married people. Ain't nothing for me here. No, no, no, no listen to me, listen to me. The devil attacks you all the time. He attacks us all. He wants to distract and to seduce and some of you, you've been distracted from your first love. If you were really, really honest, you're not pursuing Jesus in your heart. You pursue him today. Some of you, you've kind of just said, hey once I'm married later on in the future, then I'm gonna live on the straight and narrow. Then I'm gonna be kind hold but right now, I got my needs you know and I gotta get that thing going or whatever it is. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. What you do today matters. Who you are today is shaping your future.
Just like I said a couple of weeks ago, you don't build a life of righteousness in the future on a foundation of sin today. Let me say it again, hear it, feel it, own it, internalize it. You don't build a life of righteousness in the future on a foundation of sin today. Not a hint. Whenever I'm tempted to compromise, to do something that could damage my marriage, hurt the future of my ministry, some seduction, some temptation, what I always try to do is I always try to play it forward and just visualize what it would cost. Visualize the destruction. What I know is, first I will have to stand before God one day and give an account of what I've done. I know that I would hurt thousands of people, you, my family, my staff, my friends, I would disappoint them. I know that my God would forgive me but I would never have the trust of people again that I enjoy today. Not to say God can't pick up the pieces but it would cost me a lot. I would crush my children, who know firsthand that I'm not perfect but who do believe that I have a heart that seeks after God. And I would devastate my best friend, my bride, the woman that has given me six children and has sacrificed more than I could ever publicly or privately express. The devil will attack your relationships.
So what we have to do is we have to be alert. We have to be ready. We have to be prepared. So I've got one question for you today and I want you to be prepared to discuss this. Discuss it with you spouse, discuss it with your LifeGroup, discuss this. Answer honestly. If you're married, it'll go like this, in our marriage where are we currently most vulnerable to spiritual attacks? Where are we most vulnerable? If you're not married, let's just make it singular. Where am I most vulnerable to spiritual attacks? And you have to be honest because you are only as strong as you are honest. Whatever God blesses, the devil curses. Whatever God loves, the devil hates. In week number one, we talked about being Christ-Centered and in that week I asked, invited, all of you, if you're married, to pray every single day. 30 second prayer every day. Together we honor God. We seek Him.
When you're under attack and most of us are under attack most of the time in one way or another. You'll want to turn up the intensity of the prayers. You'll want to join hands together and seek God together. You'll want to quote some scripture and therefore you need to know some scripture because you see the weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of this world. The weapons that we fight with, the word of God says, they have power to demolish strong holds. We have one offensive weapon, it's called the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God and you'll want to draw that sword to fight back against the attacks of the evil one and you want to say no weapon formed against my marriage will prosper. And you want to declare it boldly, greater is He that is in us that He that is in the world. And you wanna be able to say that we, in our marriage together, standing together, we are more than conquerors, we are overcomers Bop, bop, bop, bop. By the blood of the lamb and by the words of our testimony. And we stand strong together. And we don't fight against each other, we fight on the same side of the table against the forces of darkness.
It is worth it, it is worth it, it is worth it, it is worth it, it is worth it. And I know right now, unfortunately, and I know it experiencelly and I can see it some people's eyes, there's some of you, you are married and you are fighting for it and your spouse is not as engaged. I want to take just a moment and talk to the one who might be a little more passive or even a little more rebellious right now. To the females, and I say this gently, if you're tempted to criticize, tempted to be resentful, tempted to be angry, gossip, whatever it is, you might have every right to but I wanna just encourage you as best as you can, turn that energy to prayer, to truly invoke the power and the presence of God and then in any way that you can, anytime you see anything remotely good, draw that out. Rather than tearing down, build up.
If there's any part of you that believes in anything in the man, tell him. I still believe in you. If you have to, if he's a Christian and you don't even believe in his flesh, just say I believe in Christ in you and then help him understand if you can. I still believe in us and watch as something may come alive inside of him. To the men, I'm not gonna be so nice to you. You do all that but if you're passive, dude get up off your butt and be a man. Lead your family to Christ. Lead your family to Christ. You've got it in you, it's wired in you, you can do it. You're a fighter. You don't give up. Lead them, fight for them, bring them to church, you're a man of God, serve together. Go call a counselor, uh that's a weak man. Yeah when we're weak, His strength is made perfect in us. Fight for it. Let me tell you what I know about you men. Someone comes into my house to break in and hurt people, here's what I am not doing. I am not saying, Amy, go defend us, I'm scared and hiding under the bed.
There's not a man in here who would do this. What you're gonna do is, you're gonna turn a lamp into a weapon, you're suddenly a lamp nunchuck artist. You're gonna fight in your tighty whitey underwear and defend your house. You will stand up for those you love. What I know about you men, you're wired to give your life. You will die for the people that you love. God isn't asking you to die for them, He's just asking you to live for them. Just live for them. And I know there's a million exceptions and everybody's got the, well you don't know my, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes and yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. But what I do know, is if you stand together and it takes two and if you are Christ-Centered and you're not about you but you're on a mission, you're Mission-Driven and you kick the enemy hard and you honor the covenant vows, you can heal and you can overcome.
One of my favorite things about the weekend is I watch everybody in the front row, I'm watching you. Those of you in Broken Arrow and Wellington, you're safe, I can't see you but in the spirit I can see you. And I love to watch the people worship and I've got some of my favorites. One of my favorites is this couple and if you saw 'em, you would be like hashtag relationship goals. Guys kinda handsome, his wife's attractive, they're a nice looking couple and he stands there worship all the time and he just lifts up his hand to worship God and his bride stands right on this arm and she puts her arms around like this. She just holds on to him like this and if you looked on you'd say like, I want that. I want that. Good business, good family, good kids, hashtag relationship goals.
What I love about 'em is I know the backstory. And the backstory is as complicated as it gets. What I know is they're both on a second marriage with blended families and all the pain and challenges that come with that. I know the financial attacks they've endured. I know the physical attacks they've endured. I know the relational hell that they've been through. I know the people that don't like 'em and criticize what they do. I know that the marital challenges they've had and what I love about this couple is this. Just like everybody else, they get attacked but they don't turn it on each other. They stand together strong and say, devil, not today. Not my house, not my family, not my kids. Because what you need to understand, enemy, is what we are, is we are Christ-Centered, we are Mission-Driven, we are devil kickin' and we are Covenant-Keeping.
Somebody in church help me out. What are we? We are Christ-Centered, Mission-Driven, Devil-Kicking, Covenant-Keeping. It will be hard, it will take work, it will take prayer, it will take tears, it will take repentance, it will take forgiveness but it is possible because what God blesses, the devil attacks but greater is he who is in you than he that is in the world. If you believe it would you give God some praise today. All of our churches, let's join our hearts together in prayer. Father, empower us with your weapons to do warfare your way.
All of our churches, as you're praying today, those of you, no matter what your relational status that you recognize that we live in a spiritual battle, it's not a battle in the future, it's a battle in the present, it's happening right now and you want the power of God's spirit to do battle. God's way and God's timing with His weapons for His purposes, would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift them high. Lift them high. Go ahead and put them down if you will. I'm gonna pray over you and then I'm gonna pray very specifically for some of you.
Father, give us the power of your word, the indwelling truth and life changing power of your Holy Spirit. God, I pray especially for those who have lost hope in what's possible. God for those who've been burned, hurt, that even the idea that we could have something special seems like too big of a dream and an impossibility for them. God we thank you that more than anything else, we can have a great relationship with you. That we don't need a person to make us complete. God that we are complete in Christ. But when you see, God, that we could serve you even better with someone else and you bless us with that someone else, we'll give you praise God and we will be Christ-Centered. We will not be about us but we will be Mission-Driven. We'll kick the enemy out of anywhere he tries to come into. And God, we'll honor the covenant that we made with you. God I pray for hurting marriages. God, I pray for broken people. God, where there seems like sin too great to forgive, we thank you that your grace is greater than anything we could imagine. We pray for miracles, we pray for restoration, we pray for healing. God, we ask for forgiveness where we've gone astray. We thank you for your grace that when we confess our sins God, you are faithful and just to forgive all of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
As you keep praying today, nobody looking around at all of our different churches, would you believe it if I told you that our God loves you so much. He's been trying to get your attention to draw you to Him for you whole life. You've seen it maybe many different ways, heard it in a song, saw it in a sunrise, felt his presence one time in church. But our enemy is doing everything he can to keep you from living in the fullness of life in Christ. Distracting you, shiny things. Distracting you, sinful things, Distracting you with seduction. The things of this world, the love of this life. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the sinless son of God who was perfect in every way. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, the lamb of God who shed his blood on a cross to forgive our sins. God raised him from the dead so that anyone and listen, this includes you, doesn't matter what you've done, how dark your life is, how bad you feel, anyone who calls on the name of Jesus would be saved, would be forgiven.
There are those of you, at all of our churches, you can sense that you're here for a bigger purpose. You can sense that there's another reason. That you're not here by accident. You're not watching on a computer just because by chance. But you're here for a divine purpose. Let me tell you what's gonna happen. You have a spiritual enemy who's gonna say, nah, don't go there, don't go there. You got a choice. You got a choice to surrender to the lordship of the one who gave his life for you or to continue on with life without Him. I believe with all my heart that the light of Jesus is shining brightly into your life and that you can sense His love and you want His grace and you want His life.
At all of our churches, those who say I need him. When you turn from your sins and turn toward Him and call on Him, He forgives all of your sins. He makes you new. That's why you're here today. You can sense it. Your life is no longer your own. You're gonna be Christ-Centered, you're gonna be Mission-Driven, you're gonna be devil kickin' and because of the new covenant given to you by Jesus, you are gonna be covenant kicking. That's why you're here. I give my life to Jesus. I turn from my sins, this is your prayer, I give my life to Him. If that's you, lift your hands high now. All over the place and say yes Jesus, I give my life to you. As we have hands going up at all of our different churches we praise God for new life in Christ. Those of you at church online, you click right below me and we're all going to pray aloud together. We just simply pray:
Heavenly Father. Forgive all my sins. Make me brand new. Fill me with your spirit. So I can follow you. My life is not mine. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. Now you have mine. In Jesus name I pray.