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Spiritual Warfare 201: How to Prepare Yourself for Spiritual Battle, Part 2

From the series Invisible War

Condemnation. Doubt. Guilt. Is it possible that the enemy of your soul is using these common emotions to keep you from experiencing God’s love and power? The question is - how do you get rid of them? Chip explains how you can prepare yourself for spiritual battle and win!!

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Message Transcript

Satan’s attacks aren’t merely deception, but accusation. He’s the accuser of the brethren. Guilt and condemnation of the believer. This happens when we willfully turn away from what we know is God’s will. We open ourselves to satanic attack. And we all do this, right? We know what’s right to do.

I remember I really think it was a great prayer in the tradition that I grew up in we had a lot of rote prayers and one of the prayers went something like: “Forgive us for the things that we have done and forgive us those things which we should have done.”

I don’t remember it very well, but because there was a lot of ought to have dones and ought not to have dones and I can’t remember the old English, but when I know this is what God wants me to do, if the belt of truth is nothing more and nothing less than being honest with God and honest with yourself, the breastplate of righteousness is the application of the truth to your life. You know what’s right, are you obeying? When we don’t, it opens you to demonic influence. And again, when I use that word “demonic influence,” oh, that sounds so weird and out there.

I think some of the most deluded, satanically influenced people in all the world are religious people. And not just in Christianity. The most dangerous people in the world is if you actually believe something that’s such a huge lie. I mean, ponder. This is happening all over the world right now, little boys in Saudi Arabia. Little boys in Iran. Little boys in parts of Indonesia. They’re being taught that this is what god wants, these infidels are ruining the world. There is another life and your greatest contribution, and the great reward is if you kill them. These are kids. They’re just kids. An 11-year-old straps a bomb on himself and waves to the soldiers. And the Humvee comes by and he pushes a button and he’s convinced and the parents may even get a little payoff and be esteemed in the community because of what your son has done.

I mean, this isn’t just delusions in Christianity and wickedness and lies. This is very, very, very serious. That’s why truth matters. And that’s why if there’s not truth in my heart and your heart, if there’s not truth in your small group and in your family, if there’s not truth in your church and if there’s not truth in America, wow. You can see where we’re going and why.

And so, here’s the application. “Therefore, to the one who knows what’s right to do and doesn’t do it, to him it is sin.” Now I want to clarify something because, at least in my experience, I think Christians get confused between the difference between conviction and condemnation and we have many different personality types in the room.

There’s my kind of personality and many others and there’s personalities like my wife. But we are on the opposite ends of the continuum and most of you are in between. I’m sort of a big picture, the end can kind of justify the means, the rules were primarily made for other people, it’s the spirit of the law not the letter of the law, you know?

And some people is when you talk about being honest and scrutiny, they literally I mean, my wife is the other end of this world that is like she may live more purely than most people and she will just agonize over some little thing she said in some way at some time.

And so, what I want you to know is if you don’t know the difference between condemnation and conviction, you’ll get very, very confused. Conviction is very specific, and the goal is to restore you to your heavenly Father. Condemnation is vague and it makes you feel worthless and makes you want to go away from your heavenly Father.

And they can both be around the same issue. You’re a man and something pops up on the screen or a very beautiful young woman who doesn’t have many clothes on and you can’t control the first look, but the next three looks you could have controlled, and your mind went somewhere else.

Or it could be a woman and you walk into someone else’s house and you’ve been thinking about it, wanting about it, talking about it, your husband isn’t quite on board, but you want to remodel that kitchen. They remodeled their kitchen. Not only that, but they landscaped the backyard and they got the little fountain and and your heart is starting to grow with envy and resentment towards your husband all at the same time.

And that’s floating around and the enemy always working with the heart can say to a man, You’re worthless. You call yourself a Christian? You know, how could you have thought…? How could you? It’s one thing, but look at how you logged on. Look at how you acted. You’re a terrible person. You think God’s going to listen to you? You think your kids or your wife ought to respect you? What a loser.

You know what that makes a man feel like? This whole life’s impossible. I can’t do this. And you start believing that. And by the way, you become what you believe. Period.

It’s really interesting to me when people tell me, “Well I believe this or I believe that or I believe that.” It’s a bunch of baloney. You want to know what you believe? Just look at your behavior. That’s what you believe. What you actually believe is how you act. “Oh, I believe everything that I have belongs to God.” Really? So, do you give first and foremost off the top? Are you creating a heart of generosity? Are you? “I think the most important person in the world is God, but I don’t have time to read His word. Don’t have time to be with other people. I don’t have…”

In other words, what I actually believe. And see, that’s where the deception is. Especially in a world where we intellectualize things.

I, over hear, “I actually think I believe this,” but if your life doesn’t tell the same story as your thoughts, there’s a word for that that we don’t like. Hypocrite. The Greek word comes from wearing a mask in the Greek theater.

And that’s why Paul says in Romans 12, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” In other words, take off your mask. Love can only happen when the real you shows up. But the real you can’t show up if you feel condemned, if you feel worthless. You’ll hide it. You’ll pose. And by the way, I love the way you guys are looking at me. We’re really having fun together.

The issue is not if you do this. It’s just how much and when. You’re human. We all pose. We all project that we love more, that we’re more holy. We’re more this. We’re more that.

But the more we can be honest and realize the most beautiful person in the whole world is the real you. Not who I can project. I mean, I want to project that I’m a really good husband, I’m a good pastor, and I’m a good grandfather, and I really love God. And I’m trying in all those things, but I know there’s a presentation even unconscious, that I just want it to be a little bit better than it is. And so do you.

But what I do know is I spend time with God and even as I’m walking, when He brings those to my mind and to my heart, if I can learn to pause and in real time, Oh, you know that was a lot of Chip and not too much of You. Then it restores that connectedness. You understand what I’m saying? And so, condemnation is: you’re a bad person. Conviction is: you logged on. You looked at this. You knew it was wrong. You continued to do it. That put a division between you and Me.

You sat there and you smiled and you told her you loved her kitchen and down deep you hated that she had it and you don’t. And condemnation is: what kind of terrible person would not be happy for my best friend who has a good kitchen? I feel terrible. I drive home, I drive home and I feel like I’m a terrible person. I can’t believe I thought things like that.

Well, why? Don’t humans sin? Aren’t you human? You just sinned. But if it’s condemnation, you know what? There’s only one thing to do. Stop off. “I’d like a triple latte, six shots. I’ll have two of the chocolate cakes. I think I’ll feel better.” No, what you’ll do then you’ll feel guilty for what you ate, right? And then you’ll look in the mirror and go, “I just can’t believe it. I am such a loser. I’ve gained three pounds, you know?”

The difference is God will say, “That was envy. Can you rejoice for what I’ve given her and recognize that I’m a good God and I’ll take care of you?” And the moment you agree with God about that, not hide it, not deny it, the moment you agree, You know, it’s wrong. I am pulled like a magnet into these naked bodies and then I feel dirty afterwards and then condemnation. God, You understand. You confess it and you’re cleansed from all unrighteousness.

Now, getting help and overcoming things we’ll talk about a little bit later. But could I ask you just for a moment, is there any personal issues you need to address? I mean, the goal here is not that we just like Wow, let’s learn about this. So, let me give you a list of areas that I find that we tend to struggle with and just lean back. This is not like, Oh, I got to get this down. No. You don’t need to get this down. You need to get this in. Just lean back, pencils down.

Is there anyone you need to forgive? Any unresolved relationship?

God, show me. And by the way, if it’s real vague, you don’t have to try and conjure up sin. The Holy Spirit’s really active. It’s Bob, all right? It’s Lucy. You know?

Or how about, what about someone that’s not with us anymore? And there’s still resentment in your heart? And they still exert power over your life. I’ve actually had to write letters to people that have died to get out of me: this is what happened and this was wrong and this was hurt and I forgive you. It wasn’t for their benefit, it was for mine.

Any issues with purity in your thoughts? In your speech? Any issues in your finances? Are they where God wants them to be? Saving is a good thing, but has it become a security? Retirement funds are really important, but have you drawn some line that God can’t touch this because ... I’m just not sure they had all those rules in ages past. Is your generosity and your giving where you think God wants it to be? I don’t know. And by the way, Jesus is not asking these questions so you all can look as guilty as you look at me, okay?

I mean, hey.   Let’s try this. Wow. I need to address that. Okay. My money is messed up. I probably should be giving way different than I am now. Great. Here’s Jesus. Wonderful. Now we got that on the table. You want more guilt? More condemnation? You want to keep living with this because you’re afraid and Satan’s giving fear because if you give then this will happen and this will happen. Or just want to confess it and why don’t we get on a new plan together? And why don’t you experience the joy of what I have and remember it’s not yours, it’s mine and together we’re going to do some really great stuff and here’s the thing, I promise to always take care of you.

And it doesn’t make you more holy if you give more than other people. Here’s what it ... Why don’t you give what I want you to give? Well, how would I know? He’ll speak to you. I think we’re having way too much fun in this very convicting time.

Are your priorities where you think they need to be? I don’t mean a legalistic, but time with God. Are you taking care of your body the way that you believe God wants you to take care of your body? And I’m not looking for people to be in muscle magazine or on the front of US or, you know? But it is His temple.

Are there any habits that you’re just so tired of feeling like you’re condemned? And whether it’s media or food or all those different things that we do when we’re tired, when we’re hungry, when we’re depressed, and we’re discouraged. Right? We have patterns. And there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ. It’s: would you come and let Me help you? Are you beginning to see?

I’m sure we were, “Oh, going to talk about demons.” This is demonic influence. Some of you are neutralized in your faith and in trusting God and it’s over stuff like food. It’s over the Spirit has talked to you and talked to you and talked to you. And others it’s media. You know? It’s not even bad media, but just when it’s time to get up and do what you need to do you just, we’re lazy.

I’m sorry. It’s not one we use anymore. It’s like one of the seven deadly sins so it’s still in the game. Laziness isn’t like eating chocolates and watching TV and binging on Netflix for three days. Laziness is not doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. And we get soft especially as we get older. Self-discipline is what? It’s a fruit of the spirit. It’s what God produces in our life.

And so, living with low-grade guilt and low-grade condemnation, it gives you this sense that you don’t measure up. This sense of depression. And then you and I have patterns that we live with and we do it with food and media and hopefully, I call them the more righteous sins. I don’t think there’s righteous sins, but there’s just ones that don’t have quite as much impact negatively. I mean, like going to the refrigerator is a lot better than having an affair only because of the consequences.

So, okay, I’m putting on my armor and so you’re really saying the real army against these evil spirits that are trying to destroy and deceive are about being honest with God, being in His Word and responding to what He already showed me? Yes. You’re protecting your heart. I love one commentator, he puts it this way. He ways, “Words are a weak defense against condemnation, but a good life is.”

The third thing is having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. And here’s the metaphor. And it’s: Roman soldiers, they wore sandals, but they wore, there was a bottom and a bit of a top and they would wrap around and tie all the way up to the knee. And they would either have little knobs or in some cases actually have nails at the bottom. Historians say that it was invented by Alexander the Great in many of his great accomplishments he felt like it was his army’s ability because they were stable.

I mean, if you’ve ever seen a wide receiver, right? He makes his cut. If he slips, what happens? He doesn’t get the ball. Probably the other team does. Or a defensive back. “I’m going to go and go,” and he loses his footing. So having sure, established footing in your faith is critical.

The Romans then adapted this and the preparation means establishment. A firm foundation, it conveys the idea of readiness to share the gospel. And it’s an idea of understanding and living out of: I am a man or a woman saved by the gospel of grace. You understand the gospel. Understand that Satan always attacks grace. Always attacks grace. So much of cults, so much of performance-driven Christianity, it’s all about what you do instead of what God has done. And God loves me.

I can still remember this. I was so legalistic in my early years and the group that I grew up with, they did not intend this. They never said this, but my personality, my workaholism, it was like you really got rewarded if you spent time with God, so I did. If you had man-to-man time, so I did it with five people. If you were in a Bible study, so I was in a Bible study and I led a Bible study. If you would memorize Scripture, so they did one or two. Man, I started doing chapters. I have hundreds of verses memorized. And I got a lot of “that-a-boys”.

And what I did was I just took my same desperate insecurities that I had as a young man growing up and no matter what you did it never really measured up, but work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work. I was a workaholic by the time I was twelve. And then the first few months I was a Christian, suddenly it’s, I just, there was this joy and this freedom.

And then pretty soon I took those same old patterns. Just because you’re out of the kingdom of darkness, in the kingdom of light, it doesn’t mean that everything just changes overnight. It means you’re a new person and just like a baby is born, it has to learn to walk. It has to learn to take steps. It has to grow and has a responsibility.

And I became this person that was completely deceived. I remember it was two and a half years into my faith and I was walking, we had a, imagine a campus and all these beautiful brick buildings with ivy and then sidewalks in the center. We called it the quadrangle. And I remember walking the quadrangle and the sun was coming that way and there was a co-ed that I knew, not a girlfriend, just a co-ed.

And we were kind of friends and sort of had lost sight and we paused and talked for a minute and God really used this co-ed. And we got into a serious discussion quickly. She goes, “You know, Chip, I remember when you first came here as a freshman and you were just a really neat guy. You were just so happy and fun to be around. But boy, you’ve really changed. And I don’t care what the subject is, just it’s a verse pops out of your mouth. All I know is whenever I’m around you I feel bad about myself. And I don’t know if I’d ever want to be a Christian, but if being a committed Christian is what you are, I can tell you one thing, I’d never be one of those.”

You know what my first response was? I turned around, 1 Corinthians 2:12, “Those who do not have the Spirit of God do not understand the things given by the Spirit of God.” Completely defensive. Then I went back to my dorm room and the Holy Spirit said, That was not her, that was me. You have an external righteousness. Your joy is gone. You think because you pray every day, have a quiet time, memorize verses and are doing all this stuff you’re pleasing to Me. You are a jerk and a Pharisee. Here’s how I measure growth: do you love Me and do you love people? And this girl whom I love and I want to reach is repelled by you.

Boy, you talk about tears. And I’d like to say that was a really big moment and I’ve had one of those. I’ve had a lot of those. I’ve had a lot of those over the years. And I thought I was doing such a good thing and the right thing and for the right reason. Deception. Condemnation. It’s grace.

But what he does, he wants to cast doubt. 2 Corinthians chapter 11 verses 3 and 4, he says, Paul is praying. He says, “I don’t want you to be deceived like Eve was.” And he then gives us the gospel. In fact, I want to take just a moment and you all know this and you don’t even need to turn there. But can I read the gospel just so we understand it is not going to church, trying hard, being a shade more moral and trying to be a nice person? Those are some of the results.

1 Corinthians 15. “Now I make it known to you brethren, the gospel,” literally the word just means good news, “which I preached to you which you also received in which also you stand. By which you were also saved if you hold fast,” or literally, “since you hold fast the Word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you of first importance what I also received, Christ died for our sins,” literally in our place, “according to the Scriptures. And that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. And that He appeared to Cephas,” that’s Peter, “and then to the twelve. And that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time most of whom remain alive until now, but some have fallen asleep. And then He appeared to James and then to all the apostles and last of all as it were to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.”

A historical event. Five hundred eye witnesses in space time history, God the Son came, lived a perfect life, died upon the cross to pay for your sin, my sin and the sins of all people of all time and it is a gift to be received and to turn from our sins and receive this gift. The gospel is good news. It’s not a program to become more moral.

When Jesus comes into your life and His grace begins to work, your life changes from the inside out and you become more moral in your thinking, in your speech, in your attitudes, but it’s a relationship.

Quick question: do you know and understand the content of the gospel? If you don’t, he will bombard you with doubts.

Second, do you know the basis for your eternal security and the assurance of your salvation? Eternal security, assurance. He was writing, 1 John, he was writing to the church there and he says, This is the record,” or, “This is the testimony,” or, “This is the truth, that God has given us eternal life.” In other words, a gift. “And this life is in His Son.” Now listen carefully, “He that has the Son has life. He that does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

I grew up thinking if you go to church, if you’re a moral person, if your good deeds weighed out your bad deeds, then God would kind of let you in. It’s not based on that. If you have the Son – it’s relational – you have life. Verse 13 of 1 John 5, “These things I’ve written to you,” are you ready? “that you might know that you have eternal life and that this in believing, life in His Son.”

I just want to tell you, not having doubts about these things, faith is based on facts not feelings. There are times when your feelings, right? If any of you have been married for very long or had a close relationship with a friend, don’t you have days where you don’t feel so good about them? There are days you don’t feel so good about God. There are days I don’t feel so close to God. That doesn’t change the facts. Facts: this is what happened. I trusted in Him. The feelings, they’re kind of the caboose.

Finally, sharing your faith is one of the most powerful faith builders available and often the best defense is a good offense.

And I’ll close with just a great story where I learned this. I played basketball in college and then I got invited to play on a team throughout South America. It was called Venture for Victory or Sports Ambassadors. It was sort of a precursor of Athletes in Action. We played every Olympic team in every South American country save Uruguay and then we would do a little clinic in the morning and might even play a smaller school and then we would share the gospel at halftime and then for about an hour and a half or two hours people would come down and we would talk and share our faith. I would share the gospel probably fifteen, twenty times a day. And I don’t know about you, but I had never done that before. And I saw all these people come to Christ. It was like Paul says, “For I’m not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

And what I realized was the power is not in the messenger, the power’s in the message. And I just share this because when you can understand that this is a done deal because of who Jesus is and what He’s done. We were in Punta Arenas, it’s the southernmost city in the world. It was really cold. We did warm ups. They didn’t have a heated gym. We did warmups with our sweats on. The condensation on the floor. We had been traveling. We did every major city in Chile and I was super, super tired and we’d played a bunch of games. We had about forty games that we did in about thirty days. And just emotionally it was like forget it. But we had a really good team from a lot of major, we went seven-one, seven foot, six-eleven, six-ten from Oregon, point guard from New Mexico State. I mean, it was a great team. How this little NAIA got on the team, I don’t know, but I was glad I was there.

As a player you always want, “Give me more time, coach. Give me more time.” On this trip it was like, “Hey, anybody else want to come in?” You know? Like I am so exhausted. And so I just got mad and I just said, “You know what? I’m not sharing Christ afterwards. I’m tired. I’m done. I’m discouraged. In fact, I’m depressed. You want someone to hear about You? You can bring them to me.” I mean, that was not how you pray, but I’m telling you that’s how I prayed. It was like a child tantrum, bad attitude. So, the game’s over and people are coming down and all the players are talking with people. I’m sitting right here. Some kid walks up. and I’d memorized my testimony in Spanish and I knew enough to get along and this kid comes up.

“Well, how do I learn about Jesus?” “Beat it, kid.” So that had happened and so then a group of people came down and they wanted to talk and they asked me questions and got my hard heart sort of softened and I got up and I sort of talked to people and everything like that and I gave the gospel clearly and inwardly repented of my sin. And then I said, “Has anyone ever had that experience where you’ve trusted in Christ?” And this little kid goes, “I have.” I looked over and said, “What?” “Oh, no!” And then he explained it to me. You couldn’t share the gospel worse with a worse attitude. See the power’s not ... now I’m not saying that’s how you should do it, but that day reminded me. You know something?

The power of God is in the Word of God and in the gospel itself. The more you share it and you see its power, the more you’ll recognize the grace of God for yourself.