Robert Jeffress - Using Your Divine Defense
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. At times, do you feel like you are fighting a daily battle against your boss? Or your teenager? Or the stack of unpaid bills? Well, actually, there is a war going on in your life. And it is much, much bigger than you or I could possibly imagine. Satan is waging an all-out war against God and against anyone who claims to be his follower. If we are not careful, we could get run over by satan and end up becoming spiritual road kill! Today, I reveal six ways to defeat satan's plan to ruin your life in my message "Using Your Divine Defense" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
After last Sunday morning's message on exorcism, that is trying to remove demonic forces from people's lives, I had a number of people who contacted me with various questions. And one of the most pervasive questions was along this line. It was: well, pastor, if you don't believe that exorcism is neither relevant nor even effective in today's world, how do you account for all of these experiences we hear about missionaries in third world countries who exercise demons from people. Or I know somebody who knows somebody who went to a group of Christian and they removed demons. How do you explain all of that?
And I'd say two things: first of all, we never interpret the Bible through our experiences instead we interpret our experiences through the Bible. And the real question is not what did somebody experience, but was it biblical? Now, the second thing I would say is this: even if exorcism is a relevant practice today, it's very ineffective. In fact, it's the most ineffective way to deal with satan and demons. And we saw that last time because the fact is even if somebody has the power to remove a demon from another person: there's nothing to keep that demon and many more from coming back into that person.
You see it's up to that man himself to determine whether his life is open to demonic control or not. And that's why I say the real responsibility for living the life that is free from satanic influence doesn't rest with somebody else: that power and responsibility rest with you and me. We are responsible for keeping our lives free from demonic control. And that's what we're going to talk about today. Not what somebody else can do for us but what we, ourselves can do to make sure that our life is free from satan's control and influence.
Today as we wrap our series on spiritual warfare we're going to look at six very practical ways to keep satan on the run in your life. You know James 4 says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you". How do we do that? That's what we're going to talk about today. If you have your Bibles turn to Ephesians 1. Six ways to keep satan on the run in your life. The most foundational thing you and I can do to make sure that our lives are free from satan's very real influence is to receive Christ as your Savior. That is the most important thing you and I can do to defeat satan's plan to destroy us: receive Christ as your Savior.
Now, becoming a Christian, listen to this, becoming a Christian doesn't prevent satan's influence in your life, but it does prevent satan's possession of your life. Becoming a Christian doesn't prevent satan's influence, but it does prevent his possession. And there's a great deal of difference between influence and possession.
Let me illustrate it for you this way. Let's say that I decided to open up a hamburger stand down here on Ross Avenue. Now, I own the hamburger stand, and because I own the hamburger stand I have control over it. I can decide whether we're doing to serve mustard or mayonnaise on those hamburgers. I can decide how much we're going to charge. I can decide what time we open, what time we close, whom we're going to hire. I have all kind of authority because I own the hamburger stand.
On the other hand if I own one hundred shares in the McDonald's hamburger corporation, how much authority do I have over McDonald's? Very very little. I can go to the shareholder's meeting once a year. I can vote who gets into office as a board of director. I can maybe speak up at a shareholder's meeting if I want to travel the distance. But my influence over that vast hamburger chain is limited by the numbers of shares that I own in the company. I can influence it based on how many shares I own, but I can't call the shots.
Now, here's the point. The difference between possession and influence is not just theological hair splitting. The fact is if you are a Christian, satan can influence your life. His influence is determined by how many shares of your life he owns. What part of your life is not under God's control is open to being under satan's control. And his influence in your life is determined by how much of your life you are unwilling to turn over to God. Any part of your life whether it's your marriage, your friendships, your relationships, your career, your money. Any part of your life that is not under God's control is not under your control. You may think it is. It's under satan's control. He owns whatever you have not given over to God. So he can influence you, but he can never possess you. He can never call the shots in your life if you're a Christian. Because if you are a Christian you are possessed, owned by God.
That's what Ephesians 1:13-14 says. Look at this, "In him", talking about Christ, "you also after listening to the message of the truth, the Gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of his glory". The moment you trust in Christ as you Savior the title policy of your life is transferred from the prince of darkness, satan, to the Father of lights, God our Father. Receive Christ as your Savior.
There's a second way to lessen satan's influence in your life, to keep him on the run, to resist him, and that is to refuse to participate in any occult activities. If you're a Christian especially, refuse to participate in any occult activities. The word 'occult' means secret or hidden. And we when talk about occult activities, what we're talking about is an attempt to experience the supernatural apart from God. An occult activity is an attempt to have a supernatural experience apart from God. And hear this clearly, it is possible to have a supernatural experience. It's possible to have a miracle occur in your life that does not come from God. You see satan has limited authority. He has the ability to perform supernatural signs and wonders but listen to me. Satan would have no authority except that which God grants to him. Ok?
God is still God. As Luther said even the devil is God's devil. Ok? God is not abdicated. He is still in control, but he has temporarily given satan the ability to perform signs and wonders. Now, if satan had the ability in the past to produce a miracle. If we know in the future he will do that during the Great Tribulation, why are we surprised that even today satan has the power to perform miracles in order to deceive people. Just because something is miraculous doesn't mean, necessarily, it's from God. What I'm saying to you is: our mind is a battlefield on which satan wages his war against us. And that's why satan will do anything he can to seize control of your thoughts and one way he can do this is through occult practices. Whether its through divinations, whether it's through magic, whether it is spiritism. Don't ever try to communicate with the dead. Don't try to perform magic. Don't be deceived by miracles apart from God. They are always the satan influences our lives.
Number three, how do you keep satan on the run in your life? Closely related to this is renounce satan and his kingdom. Renounce satan and his kingdom. I'll have to admit to you when I first started studying this principle it seemed a little strange to me. I mean why would a Christian ever need to renounce some agreement he has made in the past with satan and his demons? But the more I studied this and the more I talked to other Christian I found that there are some Christians who indeed in the past have made some kind of an agreement with satan.
And it usually happens like this: a Christian finds himself or herself in time of desperate need. They need direction from God. They need a miracle. They need financial assistance. They need something. They plead with God to intervene. And God is silent. He doesn't act. And the Christian out of bitterness says "well, God if you can't be counted on to help me in my time of need then I'll ask satan to help me". And there are some Christians some non-Christian who have actually gone to satan and asked for help when they felt like God was not helpful. I realize it may not be many but some of you somewhere in the past, you made some kind of agreement, some type of bargain with satan.
Listen to the words of 1 Samuel 15:23, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft", or divination. That is when you seek power apart from God that is the ultimate sign of rebellion. That's saying: God, I don't trust your plan for my life. I'm going to seek power from another source. Rebellion in God's eyes is the same thing as witchcraft. Whenever you refuse to submit your life to God or to those whom God has placed in authority over you: to rebel against God or God-ordained authority is the very same thing as witchcraft. Seeking authority from someone other than God. If you have been guilty of doing this at some time in your past. Let me just encourage you to say to God something like this: God, I ask your forgiveness for seeking power apart from you and whatever agreement I may have made with satan in the past, that agreement is null and void today.
Number four: resist satan's attempts to influence your life. Resist his attempts to influence your life. I've got some good news and some bad news for you today. Which do you want to hear first? Let's start with the bad news. The bad news is satan is a formidable opponent and he's ready to destroy you. He's not going to rest until he does. That's the bad news. Here's the good news. God has given you everything you need to defeat satan's plan for your life. And that's why Ephesian 6:13 says, "Stand firm, take up the full armor of God that you might be able to resist in the evil days. And having done everything to stand firm". You hear that? "Take up the full armor of God that you may be able to resist the devil". The Bible says God has given you all the armor you need to resist the devil.
Now, in these final moments let's remember what those pieces of armor are. Remember they're really strategies. Ok? You may not get excited about armor. This armor is simply a strategy in order to resist satan. Remember what those pieces of armor are? First of all he talks about the belt of truth. Write this down. Ok? Write these down. Here are the strategies. The belt of truth. That simply means recognizing destructive thoughts and replacing them with God's thoughts. Replace destructive thoughts with God's thoughts. Satan's plan to destroy your life is real simple. He either wants to discourage you from worshiping God. He wants to distract you from serving God. Or he wants to deceive you into disobeying God. That's usually how he works. Discourage, distract, deceive.
And when those temptations come into your life the best thing you can do is confront those destructive thoughts with God's truth. Do you have a plan right now to saturate your mind with scripture? What about redeeming some of those spare moments in your life when you're driving, when you're exercising by listening to the Word of God? Either through messages, through scripture, through music. The fact is we need to saturate our mind with scripture.
Secondly, he talks about the breastplate of righteousness. That means obedience. The breastplate of righteousness the strategy is simply this: do what you know you should do. I mean what's one thing in your life you know God wants you to you start doing that you're not doing? What's one thing you know God wants you to stop doing that you're now doing? See that's what it means to put up the breastplate of righteousness, when you start obeying God in those things he's already revealed to you. That obedience protects you from the real and spiritual consequences of sin in your life. The breastplate of righteousness.
Then he talks about thirdly, spiritual boots. Make sure you have the right spiritual boots on. That is, make God's business your business. When you have God's purpose in life as your purpose in life, to reach as many people for Christ as possible while you're still here on earth, when you adopt God's purpose as your purpose has a way of giving stability to your life. We ought to continually be looking around, thinking about, praying, developing relationships with those who need to know Christ. When we make God's purpose our purpose it gives us a great incentive to say NO to satan. That is the right spiritual boots.
And then he talks about taking up the shield of faith. The shield of faith. That strategy is to move forward in spite of your doubts. What is faith? It is believing what God has said and acting accordingly. Believing what God has said and moving forward, acting accordingly. Is there some area of your life that you're having difficulty obeying God because you just aren't sure it's going to pay off to do so? You know what you're supposed to do. God has made that very clear but you're having trouble moving forward in that act of obedience. Maybe a relationship that needs to be ended, maybe a gift that needs to be given, maybe an addiction that needs to be abandoned. You know what you're supposed to do but you're having trouble doing it because you're not sure it's really going to pay off to do so. Faith means moving forward, obeying God, knowing that he is a rewarder of those who diligently follow after him.
And then we talked about the helmet of salvation. That is, remember your power to win. Remember that you've been saved. You know when Christ saved you, he saved you not only from the penalty of sin, but he also has saved you from the power of sin. Remember continually, when you're in the heat of temptation, you don't have to give in. I said one practical way to apply the helmet of salvation is to memorize Romans 6:11-13. That passage that reminds us that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is working in our hearts to give us power over satan's influence in our life.
And then the final piece of armor is the sword of the spirit. The sword of the spirit: that is the Word of God. And that strategy is simply this: strengthen your resolve to resist. Strengthen your resolve to resist. Remember when Jesus was in the wilderness he was under heavy fire from the enemy being tempted. How did he say NO to satan? By recalling specific scripture that dealt with the specific temptation Jesus was encountering. He didn't just quote any verse of the Bible. He quoted the verse of the Bible that specifically related to that temptation. And he quoted scripture, not for satan's benefit. He did it for his own benefit, to strengthen his resolve to say 'NO' to the evil one.
Remember you say well, I just can't memorize. I've got all my brain cells are dead. You know, I just cannot memorize anything. Scripture memory doesn't work for me. Remember scripture memory is not a matter of ability. It's a matter of motivation. If I told you here are sixty verses that if you memorize these verses they speak to every temptation you'll encounter in life. And if you'll memorize them I'll give you a million dollars. How many of you think you could memorize sixty verses? Ok? See what I mean? It's not really an issue of ability. It's an issue of motivation. The fact is sometimes when you're in the midst of temptation being able to recall the right scripture and being able to say 'NO' to that temptation is worth more than a million dollars. Because to give in is going to cost you a lot more. It may cost you your family. It may cost you your reputation. It may cost you your eternity. Strengthen your resolve to resist.
Principle number five: rely on prayer. Some people say: well why didn't you talk more about prayer in this series? Isn't that important in spiritual warfare? Well, yes it is. But let me illustrate it this way. Let's say that I were writing a book on how to dress for success. Do you think chapter one would be: remember to breath? Probably not. I mean breathing is important. I mean it's certainly important. Before you can dress you've got to make sure you're breathing or you won't be able to put on your clothes or do anything else. But breathing although is essential is also assumed. Ok? We assume you're going to breathe.
Now, here's the point. Praying is to our spiritual life what breathing is to our physical life. Prayer is the spiritual oxygen that gives us energy. And I think the reason Paul didn't include prayer as a part of these six pieces of armor is it is assumed that we are going to pray. Look at Ephesians 6:18. He kind of wraps it all up by saying, "With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit. And with this in view be on the alert with all perseverance and with petition for all the saints". How often should we pray? He says pray at all times. It's like asking how often should we breathe. We're to breathe at all times. We ought to pray at all times. Later on in an upcoming series we'll see how the Holy Spirit uses prayer in our life as a channel of his power.
Number six. How do you keep satan on the run in your life? Sixth and finally: remember that victory is possible. Remember that victory is possible. I was thinking this week after months of being in this series. If I were going to summarize the teaching of this series, how would I do so? And I would do so in five simple statements. If I could only say a minutes worth of material to somebody about spiritual warfare here is what I would say.
Number one, spiritual warfare is real. It's not imaginary. In fact spiritual warfare is the reality behind most every conflict you and I face every day.
Secondly, the battle is intense. The battle is intense. Any lull you're experiencing right now in satan's attack upon your life is only temporary. Any lull you're experiencing right now in satan's attack on your life is simply temporary. Its only time for him to reload and come at you again. The battle is intense.
Thirdly, the enemy is determined. He is not going to rest until he takes you out completely. The landscape is strewn with the corpses of Christian who have underestimated the resolve of the enemy.
Number four: the stakes are high. Your success or defeat in spiritual warfare will determine not only your life, but your eternity. The stakes are high.
Number five: you can win. You don't have to be spiritual road kill in this battle. You can win. Remember 1 John 4:4 "Greater is he" the Holy Spirit "who is in you, than he who is in the world". Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for all of us to wake up out of our spiritual stupor. It's time to stand firm. And it's time to put on our divine defense.