Greg Laurie — This Is War!
Grab your Bibles and turn to Ephesians 6. We are starting a brand new series today that we are calling the good fight. It is based on Ephesians 6. The title of my message today is, "This is war". Some Christians are surprised to find that this life as a follower of Jesus is not a cakewalk. It is a conflict. It is not a playground. It is actually a battleground. The question is not whether or not we are going to be in a spiritual war. The question is are we going to win or lose in this spiritual war. Are we going to advance or are we going to retreat? Are we going to gain ground or are we going to lose ground? There are no other alternatives. In this particular battle you cannot choose to be a pacifist or you will die on the battlefield.
You say, "I don't know what you are talking about Greg". Listen. The day you committed your life to Jesus Christ, the day you had your spiritual eyes opened, and as it says in the book of acts you turned from darkness to light and from the power of satan to God that was the day the devil declared war on you. He had you where he wanted you before. He was quite happy with that arrangement. But you weren't nor was i. That is why we turned to Christ. The Bible says that the God of this world, speaking of satan, had blinded our eyes. Scripture tells us that we were taken captive by him to do his will. We got sick and tired of being ripped off and we put our faith in Christ.
The devil is not happy about this and he is not going to take this lying down. He is going to do everything he can to trip you up or to defeat you on this battlefield. It has been said conversion has made our hearts a battlefield. Listen. Anyone who chooses to be on the side of the Lord Jesus Christ will face severe opposition from satan and his followers. You all know that world war ii was one of the biggest conflicts in the history of mankind. Think about how different our world would be if America had not entered that conflict. Hitler was on the march. He had taken over Poland. He had taken over France. He had other territories in his sights. Had the United States not entered that conflict we would have a much different world right now. But we did enter that conflict and the world was a better place for it.
It is not that war is a good thing. War is never desirable. But sometimes you have to fight. That was a good war meaning it was a right cause for us to stand up. Especially when we found out later that Hitler's goal was to eradicate the Jewish population of Europe in his so-called final solution. Sometimes it is good to fight. Generally some of us don't like fighting. But there are people who like to fight all of the time. They look forward to fighting. Are you one of those people? Do you know one of those people? They seem to thrive on arguments and conflict. I don't know about you but I am not that guy. I try to diffuse conflict. I try to get along with people to the best of my ability.
There are times when you have got to just step up to the plate and stinking fight. It is interesting that on more than one occasion the Christian life is compared to a conflict on a battlefield. In fact we are told over in 2 Timothy 3 Paul says, "Be a good soldier of Jesus Christ". Then Paul writes, "Endure hardship as a good soldier". Interesting. A good soldier. Then in 2 Timothy 4 Paul says, "I fought the good fight. I have kept the faith. I finished the course. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord will give to me in that day, and not to me only but to all who love his appearing". Then in 1 Timothy 6:12 Paul says, "Fight the good fight of faith and lay hold unto eternal life with which you were called and have confessed this good confession".
It is a good fight. We have got to stand up and fight. I will tell you why. The church is under attack like never before. The church is under attack around the world. The church is under attack in our own country. Christians are summarily mocked, marginalized, and dismissed as lunatics. Overseas our brothers and sisters are being martyred by Islamic terrorists and communists. It is enough to cause you as a Christian to be downright discouraged. I have good news for you today. We win in the end. Guaranteed. Communism isn't going to win. Islam is not going to win. Secularism is not going to win. The Gospel is going to win and the kingdom of God is going to win.
Now we are looking at Ephesians. It can be divided into three sections. The wealth, the walk, and the warfare of the Christian. The first part of Ephesians from chapters 1 to 3 deals with the wealth of the believer. I don't mean the financial wealth. I mean the spiritual wealth. It deals with all that God has done for you. Do you know how much God has put into your bank account? Do you know about your spiritual riches in Christ? That is the first part of Ephesians. Before we can appreciate this warfare part we need to know about the wealth part. Ephesians 1:5-8 says, "God predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he made us accepted in the beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence".
God predestined you. What does that mean? It means that God chose you before you chose him. I think it was the great preacher Spurgeon who said, "It is a good thing God chose me before I was born because if he would have waited until afterwards he would have changed his mind". Actually he said that tongue in cheek. God did choose you before you were born. He chose you before you were even conceived. He chose you before your parents were born. He chose you from the foundations of the world to be his child. He chose you in love. Then it says he adopted you. He has made you a member of his family. Because of that Paul says you are accepted in the beloved. You need to know what that means. That means that if you are a Christian. How many of you are Christians? Raise your hand. I want to tell you what God has done for you. You are accepted in the beloved. That means that God loves you unconditionally and accepts you as his child.
Why is that important to know? Because sometimes we are trying to earn the favor or approval of God. If I just do a little bit more. If I make this sacrifice then God will love me. Forget that. God does love you. God does accept you. You are accepted in the beloved. Let me say something even more crazy. God loves you as much as he loves Jesus Christ. You say, "Where did you get that"? I didn't make it up. Do you think that God the father loves God the son? Do you think the father in heaven loves his son Jesus Christ? I know he does. He says he was his beloved son in whom he was well pleased. Here is what Jesus said in his prayer in John 17 praying to the father. He said, "I have given them the glory you gave me so they may be one and understand that you love them as much as you love me".
There you have it. Jesus said it. Father you love them. That is you. That is me. God loves us as much as he loves his own son because of what Christ did for us at the cross. His death and how he satisfied the righteous demands of God. That is so amazing. God has done that for you. That is your wealth. Then there is your walk. That is section two of Ephesians that tells us in Ephesians 4:1 that we are to walk worthy of the calling with which we were called in humility and gentleness and longsuffering. The idea of the walk section of Ephesians is God has done all of this amazing stuff for you. He has put this incredible amount of righteousness into your account. Instead of going through withdrawals why don't you make a withdrawal and start living it out and walking.
I like to walk. I walk pretty fast actually. I don't like to run. I hate running in fact. My wife will sometimes try to trick me. We will be out walking together. She will say, "Let's run". I say, "I hate running". "Let's just run to the end of the block". But I know it is going to go beyond that. We run to the end of the block. "Let's run to the end of the next block". "I don't want to run to the end of the next block". When I am walking I am happy. The moment I go to even a slow jog everything is shaking around. I go from relative happiness to pure misery. It is interesting this phrase walking is used in the Bible. As you have received Christ so walk in him. Walk in the spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Walk with God. When you walk with somebody, you walk with them.
Sometimes my wife will take walks with some of her girlfriends. She goes, "I am going on a walk". These walks last three hours. I will say, "Don't call it a walk. Call it what it is. You are going on a talk". When guys walk together, they walk and that is it. Girls walk together and they talk forever. In a good way. This is a compliment. We admire your communication skills. You walk and talk. Let's take a walk together. That doesn't mean I am going to ignore you. That means let's walk. Let's talk about things. Let's discuss things. When the Bible says walk with God that is the idea. It is not like I am trying to beat God in a race, which you couldn't. I want to keep pace with him. I don't want to lag behind him. I don't want to run before him. I want to stay in sync with him. That is walking with God. There is the wealth, there is the walk, and now we come to the warfare.
Let's look a little bit now at how we can fight this fight well. The good fight. Ephesians 6 starting in verse 10. I am going to read down to verse 13. Paul writes, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand".
Verse 11. He says put on the full armor of God. By the way the phrase put on means to do it once and for all. In other words it speaks of permanence. The full armor of God is not something that we put on and take off every night. It is something to be put on permanently and you keep the armor of God on for your whole life. The temptations and attacks will not stop until you get to heaven. Why do we need to do this? Because you need to always keep your guard up. The devil never takes a day off. Wouldn't it be nice if satan took like a month off? Somehow we found out satan is taking August off. That is going to be an amazing summer. The sad thing is we would still get ourselves into trouble. Or satan is taking Mondays off now. Mondays are double free. No. Satan doesn't take a month off. He doesn't take a day off. He doesn't take an hour off. He doesn't take five minutes off. He is always on duty looking for lives to ruin.
That is why we need to keep our guard up and keep the armor of God on. Put on God's armor. Why? Verse 11. So you will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Whenever we bring up the subject of satan people wonder why he even exists. Why has God not destroyed him? More to the point why did God create someone as horrible as the devil? The fact is God did not create the devil as we know him today. In fact God created Lucifer, his name previously as an angel. He was a high ranking angel. Sort of like a general angel. Like a four or five star general. Right up there with Gabriel and Michael. Lucifer, which means the son of the morning, decided he wanted the top job. Satan wanted to be God. Satan did not want to be a worshipper. He wanted to be worshipped.
Isaiah 14 says that satan said, "I want to be like God. I will be like the Most High". He lost his once high ranking position in heaven. But listen to this. When Lucifer rebelled he took a bunch of angels with him. One-third in total. Those fallen angels are what we would call demons today. Wicked angels. Demons. They follow satan. The bad news is one-third of the angels defected with satan. That just goes to show that sin makes you stupid. Doesn't it. Tweet that. It is true isn't it? Here are angels in the presence of God Almighty and they rebel against him. How ridiculous is that. Satan led this rebellion. The angels followed. Yes one-third of the angels are fallen. But the good news is two-thirds of the angels are still on our side. That is one of the reasons we win in the end. Now these demon powers are out there doing the bidding of the devil. These minions. Not that kind of minion. Not the cute little yellow minion with one eye. These minions of satan are probably what you are encountering day to day.
When we say the devil really tempted me the other day it is pretty unlikely the devil himself tempted you. Unlike God satan can only be in one place at one time. We are talking about God who has no equal and the devil though the devil is more powerful than any person he is not anywhere near being the equal of God. Satan can only be in one place at one time. He has limited power. He is limited in what he knows. The point of this is when you are tempted that was one of his demons probably tempting you and doing his dirty work. That is what we face right now when we encounter these wiles of the devil that Paul is actually talking about here that we would be aware of these wiles that he uses against us that bring us down.
If you haven't listened up to this point listen now. Here is something the devil doesn't want you to know. Don't you want to know what the devil doesn't want you to know? Here is something satan doesn't want you to know. Satan does not want you to know that he was soundly defeated at the cross of calvary by Jesus Christ. He hates the fact that you would know that. 1 John 3 says, "The purpose of the son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of of the devil". That is why Christ came among other reasons. When Jesus gave that word from calvary tetelestai which means it is finished or it is accomplished he was saying, "It is done. Price has been paid. The enemy has been defeated". Finished was the work the Father had given him to do. Finished was satan's stronghold on humanity.
Let me personalize it. Finished was satan's stronghold on you and on me. Colossians 2:14 says, "At the cross Jesus wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us which was contrary to us and took it out of the way and nailed it to the cross. He disarmed principalities and powers and made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them in it". Here is what this means to you. You don't fight for victory. You fight from victory. A lot of times we are going through life. Lord here is this temptation. Give me the strength. God give me the victory. Help me. That is the wrong way to approach it. Here comes that temptation. Lord thank you that you won't give me more than I can handle. Thank you that you are more powerful than satan. Thank you that greater is he who is in me than he that is in the world. That is fighting from victory. Not for victory. I am standing on the work that Christ did for me. It makes a big difference.
My final point. I promise this is it. Everything I have said in this message is for the follower of Jesus Christ. It is for the Christian. This is not for the nonbeliever. Listen. The nonbeliever. You can't put on the armor of God. The nonbeliever cannot resist the devil. In fact a lot of times for you a temptation is an opportunity isn't it? Maybe you have come to discover what a rip off this is. Maybe you are finally figuring out how empty life is without God. Maybe you have taken a lot of those things satan has offered and you have realized those things are ruining your life. Here is the difference between God's plan for you and satan's plan for you. Jesus said speaking of the devil, "The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy". In contrast Jesus said, "But I have come that you might have life and that more abundantly".
Here is your choice. Death or life. Hell or heaven. Chaos or Christ. Just as surely as there is a God in heaven who loves you there is a devil that is headed to hell who hates you. He wants to keep you from this God of love. You say, "I will fight the devil on my own". How? "I have got a silver bullet". Did the lone ranger give it to you? Maybe it will kill an imaginary werewolf. It won't stop satan. "I have garlic. I hang it around my neck". That will keep your friends away. It won't keep the devil away. The only power that satan fears is the power of Jesus Christ. You need Christ living inside of you. If Christ is not living inside of you, it is like you have a big bull's eye painted on your chest.
There is nothing you can do. Maybe you need to just realize that you need God's help right now and call out to him. In a moment we are going to give you an opportunity to get right with God because you see Jesus died on the cross 2000 years ago for your sin. For my sin. He paid the price for all the wrongs we have ever done. Then he rose again from the dead. Now he is here with us standing at the door of our life and he is knocking. He is saying, "If you can hear my voice and open the door, I will come in". I ask you right now is Jesus living inside of you or did this message scare you a little bit. Maybe it scared the hell out of you. I meant what I said. I don't mean it in a profane way. I hope it does scare the hell out of you. I hope it scares the devil out of you too. I hope that you will turn to Jesus and say, "I need your help. I need your forgiveness". He will do that for right now.