Spiritual Warfare 301: How to Do Battle with the Enemy and Win
From the series Invisible War
Have you ever been praying and had a wicked thought go through your mind? Have you ever been driving and had an impulse to do something crazy or evil? What’s the source of those wild, out-of-control thoughts? With Chip, you’ll discover where those thoughts come from and how to battle with the enemy when they enter your mind and win!
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About this series
What Every Believer Needs to Know About Satan, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare
Beneath our tangible landscape lurks an invisible spiritual realm where unseen battles rage. It's real. And it's dangerous. If you're prepared to remove the blinders and gaze into the unseen world, Chip Ingram is ready to take you there. Hang on to your seat. It's going to be a journey inside the very folds of our Bibles, a journey that will teach us about our greatest foe, Satan, also known as Lucifer, the Dragon, Serpent, and Son of the Morning Star. Although this lying thief comes to "steal, kill, and destroy," God details, in Ephesians 6, the battle plan to uncover Satan's cunning deceptions and to resist his sinister schemes. The cosmic conflict exploding all around us will have eternal implications, for us and those we love. This series will prepare you to do spiritual battle with the enemy of your soul... and win! You'll learn to clothe yourself with God's spiritual armor so you can be confident of certain victory over the scheming enemy.More from this series
I want to start off with two true stories. I’m not intending to be dramatic but we have learned from spiritual warfare 101 that there is an invisible world, that we’re in a battle, that we have a foe that’s formidable. We know that we respect and that we’re not afraid and we fight from victory, not for victory. And then we understand that part of being protected is God has given us armor and He’s commanded us to pick up this armor and put it on. And He’s given us armor that will protect us in many ways.
And He’s going to protect us from condemnation, He’ll protect us from doubt. He’s going to keep us from deception with just the normal walking with God, being a man or a woman, renewing our mind, being in the body and community. But sometimes, there is frontal attacks and we’ll talk about when.
This was now many years ago, it was our first year in Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz is a place very New Age, a lot of demonic activity. It’s 2 AM in the morning. I don’t know whether I’m awake or I’m asleep. All I know is I can look over and see my wife in the bed and I know I can’t move any part of my body.
And I’m thinking, “I must have a rare disease because this is really, really weird because I can’t move my hands, I can’t move anything but I can move my eyes and I can see my wife.” And then I’m looking around the room as much as I can and a sense of evil, you know, the night is dark but if there’s a darkness that can come over the dark, it did. And then, it was like a five thousand pound came on my chest and started pushing down and pushing down and pushing down and I couldn’t get my breath and then it was like someone grabbed my windpipe and squeezing.
And I don’t know if you ever remember as a kid, when someone ... When you were at a pool and they were dunking you and they held you under and they held you under and you were sure, you can’t get your breath, you can’t get your breath. And that’s what it felt like and I literally remember in my mind, Help Jesus, help Jesus, help, help, help.
And I just thought, how can you drown or die in your bed and not be able to move your body? And then just at the last minute before I kind of passed out from not getting my breath, whooo, and then I sat up in bed and I was literally soaking wet. If you’ve ever seen my play basketball, I mean, when I play, I mean, I was drenched and the bed was drenched. And my wife was asleep over here.
And there was evil in the room like never. And the hairs on the back of my neck. And I’m wondering, “What is happening?” And I’m terrified. And now, just for context, I went to seminary. And I was discipled by the Navigators. I know some verses. You know? I’m scared to death and I don’t know what to do. And so, I think this is evil. And I had some interaction but nothing like this. I mean, I think I’m inside of a Frank Peretti novel and I don’t know what to do.
And then the thought comes to me, You need to command these demons or do something to get them out of there. And then I had this second thought, I’m sure it was my pride. I looked over and I thought to myself, If I start talking out loud in the middle of the night and my wife wakes up and I’m speaking out loud in an empty room, she’s going to think I’ve gone over the edge. And so, I battled and then I did something which I’ll share with you a little bit later what I did and why.
No, it’s important. Second story. I had a friend who, he would call himself a very nominal Christian, came to church now and then, a little bit more often than maybe Christmas and Easter and was invited by a friend and said, “Hey, I think you’ll kind of like church, it might be a little bit different than you’re used to.” He came for a few weeks and then someone told him I played basketball and this guy was a diehard, what we call, gym rat. I mean, he loves the game.
And so he comes up after his third time at church. He goes, “Hey, how you’re doing?” I said, “Great.” Then he goes, “I hear you ball?” I say, “Yeah, I do. I love it.” He goes, “I do, too.” I said, “Well, do you want to play some time?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Two o’clock, my driveway today.” He goes, “Really, what’s your address?” I gave it to him and he goes ... I mean, it is our tradition. You know, I have three grown boys, couple key friends, we go three on three and it’s almost to the death in a good spirit of Christian love, of course.
But, I mean, it’s so great and it’s intense and we would go for a couple hours and Dave shows up. And I mean, Dave’s a player. And we just, we bonded. We had a great time, had fun. And so, when you’re playing, you’re sweating, you talk a little bit. And then little by little, Dave started coming regularly and then somehow, Dave thought, “I’m a Christian but I’ve never read the Bible.” And he starts doing that and pretty soon, his life starts to change. And fast forward about two, two and a half years, everybody didn’t show up and so Dave and I played five thousand games of one on one. And then we’re exhausted and he goes, “Hey, can I talk to you?”
And we’re sitting in the driveway, both in a pool of sweat. And he said, “Man, something happened weird the other night.” I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “You know, we’ve put the kids to bed and we put on this really, really old movie and it’s a chick flick and my wife really loved it. And then you know how it is, they want to watch one of those kind of movies and they fall asleep and so I had my arm around her and she fell asleep and I had one of those moments that I just looked down at her and I see our life has changed, my life has changed. Our marriage has changed. And I looked down and I thought, ‘I love her so much.’ And then this thought came to my mind. She’s going to die. It might be today, it might be tomorrow. She’s going to die.”
And he goes, “I mean, it was weird. But my emotions.” He goes, “Man, this was so weird. It was not like just a thought. It was like a doctor handed me: she has terminal cancer and has forty-eight hours to live. It was that real. And then my next thought was, ‘How could a good God let that happen to my wife?’ And then my next thought was, ‘How could you trust a God like that that would do that to my wife?’ And then I realized…” He goes, “Has anything like that ever happened to you?”
I said, “Yeah.” He said, “So, what’s going on?” I said, “Dave, that’s called spiritual warfare.” He goes, “Well, what do you do?” That’s what we’re going to talk about. Okay? What do you do?
What do you do when some very unusual things happen? First of all, you need to understand there’s four facts you need to know, and this is the baseline.
Fact number one, God has objectively defeated Satan and his agenda. He has delivered us from sin’s penalty, power and ultimately, will deliver us from sin’s presence. In the interim, we’re involved in a guerrilla warfare with demonic forces. Fact number one.
Fact number two. As believers, we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light with all the rights, privileges, and position of being a child of God and what that entails.
Fact number three, the spiritual battle that we fight involves our responsibility on our part to put on the spiritual protection God has provided for us.
We can, and we will, resist the enemy’s attempts to deceive, accuse, and cast out when we stand firm by number one, being honest with God, ourselves, and others as a prerequisite to spiritual battle. And we learned what? It’s the belt of truth.
Number two, responding to the truth that God shows us about His will for our lives or living righteously. The breastplate of righteousness. And number three, a clear understanding and a readily sharing of the gospel, the message of grace. Our feet shod with the gospel.
Now, get this, and please, fact number four is very important. The great majority of spiritual warfare never need go beyond the regular practice of living out your position in Christ by faith. Our practice of Paul’s metaphor of the spiritual armor protects us from Satan’s ongoing attempts to break our fellowship with Jesus and as a result, greatly minimizes any impact by the enemy.
And now, however, there are times when we must move beyond standing firm and here’s the key word, engage the enemy in actual combat. There are times that are very predictable when it will go from: you have a great defense, you’re not being deceived, you’re walking with God and there are some times when frontal attack is likely to happen. Five examples.
Number one, when you’re taking significant steps of faith for spiritual growth. Dave went from a nominal Christian who intellectually believed in Jesus, who came to a saving faith, who began to get into God’s word, found out he had the gift of evangelism, found, he began, he actually started a businessmen’s group in our community that people would come from. And because of his role and brothers in the community, they had a big role at the Santa Cruz boardwalk.
Pretty soon, God was using his life. Then his marriage began to change. Then I remember him telling me one day, “You know what? I went to church and when you’re a kid, you put a quarter in. When you got to be in junior high, you put a dollar in and then when you’re an adult, you gave five dollars. And if you had a really good sermon, you maybe give twenty.” I’ve been in the Bible and now he goes, “I’m tithing.” He goes, “I’ve got a good job.”
And he just looked at me like, “Man, sometimes I look at the number that I write down. I go, ‘Dude, are you kidding me? I’m giving that money away?’” And then he says, “And I’ve never been happier and it’s just lightened me up and I see what it does. And God keeps giving me more.” And then he starts to talk about his life and this guy is ... I mean, fast forward, I’ll let you in. It was about five years later; he came on our staff. I mean, his life was having such an impact, he couldn’t squeeze it all in in his day job. And at this particular window, guess what. The enemy was trying to take him out because he was taking aggressive steps in spiritual growth. He was making a real difference. And when that happens, fear and some other things come at him. And we’ll talk about how he responded.
Second, when we’re invading enemy territory.
I remember, we would do major outreaches, especially in Santa Cruz because it’s such a pagan town. And it was in the day when musicals were really popular and we had a gifted church in that area. We might do eight or nine of these and thousands of people would come, hundreds of people would come to Christ. I literally remember at times having three or four appliances break down in one day, right before that happens and my car break down. I mean, you just can’t do all that all. We had just crazy stuff. In one of them, a lady’s hair caught on fire, for real. I mean, it was crazy stuff that was more than just coincidental.
The third time is when you’re exposing him for who he really is.
We as a staff knew we were going to teach on this. We started a few weeks ago and we really upped our prayer and intercession knowing this is going to happen.
Fourth is when we repent or make a clean break with the world or a long-held sin pattern or unholy relationship. Now, we were involved in a lot of Celebrate Recovery ministries. When someone’s coming off cocaine or a sex addiction or alcohol or often, I would have a couple, you know, they’d come and love and grow and then they come up and say, “We’re living together and God’s showing us this really is not His plan and so we’re going to move apart for a season and get some counseling and we’re going to get married.”
And the moment they did that, everything that could go wrong. I’ve talked to countless men involved in either porn or affairs. And when they break off the relationship, just the battle, the enemy doesn’t give up his own easily. So, I don’t say this in any way to make anyone fearful. It’s just you need to put your chinstrap on. You just need to realize, when you take certain steps, there’s going to be opposition.
And then finally, when God is preparing us individually or corporately for a great work for His glory. You read in Nehemiah and as Nehemiah begins to rebuild the wall and a revival is going to take place and Ezra is going to come in and God’s going to turn all of history around with this business guy. And you know, chapters 1, 2, and 3 are pretty exciting. But chapters 4, 5, and 6 are about opposition. And he gets general opposition and he gets personal opposition. And then there is an assassination on him.
Jesus is ready to launch His ministry, He’s ready to be the Savior of the world and begin His formal teaching ministry and what happens? He’s led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness and He’s tempted by the enemy, right?
So, I had a professor, Norman Geisler. And we built a relationship with him and I had one friend that he majored in that and we would try and get him to let us come over for dinner and we’d ask him questions and stuff. And I remember in the hallway one day, I was talking about, “Hey, how’s it going?” This, this, this, this.
He goes, “I’m really getting a lot of opposition in a lot of areas right now.” And then he kind of leaned back and said, “I kind of take it as a compliment. I think the invisible world knows a lot more than the visible world and I figured that if I’m getting this kind of attention right now, must be some good stuff ready to happen.” And I thought what a great perspective.
So those are times when we can expect. The question is once you’re wearing your spiritual armor yet find yourself bombarded by spiritual opposition, how do you engage the enemy and win the battle? Well, we know that our battle’s not against flesh and blood but it’s against the rulers, the powers, the world forces, the spiritual darkness, right? Therefore, stand firm in the Lord. Right?
Put on the full armor of God. And having what? Girded your loins with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness and having had your feet shod with the gospel. In addition, verse 16, “To all, taking up the shield of faith, which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.”
So how you engage that as I would like to talk about, these three armor pieces that we have that will teach us how to engage in spiritual battle and win.
Taking up the shield of faith. I alluded to this when I was addressing the breastplate of righteousness and so these are these two-and-a-half-foot shields from about here, down to here. They were made of iron, then they would have leather on the outside, linen inside, and a gap like this.
Seneca was an ancient writer and he wrote of one warrior who came in and had actually two hundred arrows in his shield. And the Roman armies, they would hook them together and they just kept moving forward.
And so, Paul gives us this metaphor. And the faith here is the absolute confidence in God, His promises, His power, and His program for our lives. Although rooted in the objective reality of the gospel and our new standing with God, justification, in other words, saving faith, this faith refers to our present faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for victory over sin and a host of demonic activity. That’s a quote from Kenneth Wuest. Its purpose is to quench the fiery missiles of the evil one. Which kind of raises the question, what exactly is a fiery missile or a dart?
Let me suggest, it’s the schemes, the temptations, the lies, the deceptions and the attacks, aimed at us, God’s people, get this down, to get us to shift our trust to something or someone other than God. The goal, just the goal is don’t trust God. It’s impossible to please Him apart from faith. The number one agenda of God in your life is this, will you trust me? Will you believe in ... When Jesus was asked, what is the work of God?
John chapter 6 he said, “This is the work of God that you believe on Him whom He has sent.” There is only time the disciples were ever reproved by Jesus that we have in the New Testament. Oh, you of little…[faith].
He wants us to believe. He’s demonstrated His power, He’s given us His promises. In fact, here is a question that in any situation, okay? Jot this down, it’s not in your notes, maybe it’s a challenge in your marriage, maybe it’s a challenge in your business, a challenge of one of your grown kids. Maybe it’s a physical situation. Ask this question. What does it look like to trust God in this situation? Lord, I don’t know what to do. What does it look like to trust you? That changes the equation because here is what I know is God’s will. No matter what I’m going through, an all-knowing, all-powerful, good, and sovereign God wants me to trust Him.
I may have a role in it, I may not. But we tend to jump to: how do I fix this or how do I take control of it? Or, how do I manage it? Some examples of fiery darts are blasphemous thoughts. My friend, my friend had a demonic spirit create overwhelming fear that he went in under thirty seconds from thankful for this beautiful wife and his new life to wondering if he could trust a God who is good enough. And it came completely out of the blue. And I mean, it shook him up. He was as fearful as I was that night.
Other things that can happen. Hateful thoughts, doubts, a burning desire to sin. Questioning other’s motives, unexplained waves of discouragement or depression, often rooted in either questioning God’s identity or your new identity.
I shared, this would happen to me every Saturday afternoon for months and months and months until I recognized what was happening. The classic example and let me encourage you in this whole area of spiritual warfare, study Genesis chapter 3 and study Matthew chapter 4.
The game plan hasn’t changed. Did God really say? There was always a doubt in His Word. Notice, he doesn’t come as Satan, he comes disguised. So, he comes disguised, almost always, offering you a good thing to solve a problem in your life. But he’s offering a shortcut or it’s a good thing in a bad way or at a bad time or in a way that God has said, “This is not the way to do it.”
And then after that, if you take a piece of the fruit, whatever the fruit happens to be that he’s shown you and you know it’s wrong, then he will blow over you with the condemnation for what you’ve done and then convince you that you’re unworthy of any of God’s mercy and any of God’s grace and it’s a downwards spiral.
As you would study Matthew chapter 4, you’ll find that Jesus is tempted in three specific areas and if you study Genesis carefully, you’ll find that they’re tempted in three specific areas and those three areas are found in 1 John. I want you all to open your Bibles to 1 John, all the way at the end, 1 John chapter 2.
And in 1 John chapter 2, he will identify the three areas of temptation that faced our first parents, the three areas of temptation that Jesus faced and the three areas of temptation that you and I will always face.
These are like three verses that would be of great profit to memorize. Verse 15 of 1 John chapter 2, “Do not love the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Okay, well, what’s the world? Is this the physical world? No.
This is the world as in the culture, the society, and the values. And who’s the prince and the power and the governor of this world? Satan. And so, he creates culture and society and norms and values to seduce.
Here’s his goal. He’s a seducer. He wants to seduce you from your love of Jesus and get you to love you. Yourself. And he tells you the way that you can have all that you want. Remember what Eve…? “This will make you like God.”
And we don’t want to admit this but when we want to control our world and our outcomes, we want to be little gods. And so, notice what he says, well, what is the world? “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.” And then the next verse is like perspective.
“And the world is passing away and also its lust but the one who does the will of God abides forever. And by the way here, this word for lust, lust of the eyes, it’s not necessarily a negative word. Literally, it’s the word desire. In this passage and others, there is a little prefix they put to it. It means an intensified desire.
And so, three things. Jesus comes and the enemy says, first questioning His identity, “If you are the Son of God,” well, he knew who He was. But it’s: prove it. Prove it. Turn these stones into bread. Use Your supernatural power rather than trust in God, you take control and it’s been forty days and the text says He’s hungry. He has a legitimate need for food. And the enemy says, “Well, then turn the stones and prove something and You can meet Your legitimate physical need of the flesh now. My way and my time.”
And what did Jesus say? “It is written man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that precedes out of the mouth of God.” The test, lust of the flesh. Then he took Him up to the top of the temple and he says, “Throw yourself off.” And then, are you ready? He quotes Scripture. He quotes the Psalms and says, “The angels will catch you.” Here is the temptation. The lust of the eyes. “You want to look good in front of people. People will know you’re the Messiah. You’ll be hot stuff.” And then third, “Look at all these kingdoms. You can have power, You can have fame, You can have glory and guess what, there’s no cross involved. All You have to do is bow down and worship me.”
“Be gone, Satan.” And each time: it is written, it is written, it is written. Sometimes, words like lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life, they sound a bit biblical because they are. Can I give it to you in our nomenclature? Lust of the flesh: sex. Lust of the eyes: status. Greed. Possessions. Is it wrong to have appetite for food, a desire for sex, a desire for significance, a desire for security? Absolutely not. It’s how you go about getting it and believing that that will satisfy you.
God says, “Sex inside marriage is one of the most precious gifts.” Food, we all need food. But there is one thing to love food, it’s another thing to live to eat. And so he says to us that these desires for the flesh, “I want to provide for you. These are legitimate needs. But let Me provide for you in My way and in My time and in the right way.”
Lust of the eyes is we see something and we all want to look good. I mean, everyone, I’m guessing, looked in the mirror today. And psychologists tell us that if we walk by a department store and there’s glass, every single person, when you’re walking by, what do you do? You look at yourself. And usually…right? And elevators, if you get into an elevator by yourself, there’s a mirror in the elevator, what do you do? Oh, wow. We are obsessed with how we come off.
And it’s so interesting because it doesn’t matter if you’re young, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a gang, it’s funny to me because we’re all human. You can be in a gang and to be cool: “Man, I got my bling, I got my stuff here, get after your own bad self, I got my hat like this.”
Or, if I’m a worship pastor, I get these skinny jeans, I got holes in them here, I do it here. Or, if I’m a member of the Atlana Country Club, “I have these loafers but I don’t wear socks. And I have an insignia, right here, right?” And if you’re ... Actually, I used to go to conferences, and I’d say, “Okay, let’s name the pastor. Hushpuppies from Wisconsin, probably a Mennonite.” Okay? You know, you got the guy. Hair combed over, khaki pants, blue short, one of the Bible Church guys. You know?
And we all dress and we have our groups and there’s nothing wrong in wanting to look good but there is something very wrong when we believe that what we need to possess and how we come off and that our bodies are who we are and that what kind of house we have and what we see and the desire, it’s: if and when I have that or if I earn that. And then the final one is this whole idea of control and power.
The pride of life. I’m a somebody. Christ says, You are already a somebody by whom I made you. You’re already a somebody because you’re worth the death of My Son. And so, what I want you to know is that every temptation that will come your way or my way and the darts will come will be around these three things. It’s classic methodology. He’ll disguise it, he’ll cast doubt on God and His word and your worthiness. And then he will provide an immediate alternative rooted in the pride of life, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes.
And so, the application here when darts of doubt and deception must be immediately met with the shield of faith, your active, present application of truth to your personal situation, as soon as you recognize the dart. And now, I hope you’re thinking, “Okay, what’s that look like?” I mean, practically, how does this actually work? Let me give you three examples.
First, it’s trusting in God’s character. My friend has an overwhelming fear that God’s going to kill his wife that he logically knows makes no sense. In that moment, he says to me, “What do I do?” I said, “Well, you’ve been reading the Bible quite a bit.” Yeah. “Dave, do you know Psalm 84:11?” “No.” “Okay, let’s get it out. ‘The Lord God, Lord Adonai, Yahweh, is a sun and a shield.’” Unlimited source, unlimited protection. “The Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord gives grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
The moment that thought comes in, it’s a lie about God’s character. On a card I have written: the goodness of God, Psalm 84:11 and I’ve memorized that card and then I have the definition on the back of the card of the goodness of God is that which aspect of my heavenly Father that longs and finds great happiness in His people and He wants to give me the very best. When God revealed Himself to Moses, Moses said, “Show me your glory.” Do you remember what he said? “I’ll let all my goodness pass before you.”
The Hebrew word for goodness there, the root of it is generosity. The most generous, lavish, caring, loving, compassionate person in the whole universe is God. He’s got your back and He’s for you. But the moment that thought comes, Oh, He’s not good. If I stay sexually pure, I’ll never get married. God’s not good. If I give my all and surrender to Him, He’ll send me to some foreign country where there is snakes and I hate snakes.
All those are rooted in a lie. And the moment your mind starts that way you stop and you out loud say, “The Lord, the Lord God is a sun and a shield. He has unlimited source of ability and abundance. He can protect me from anything. He gives grace.” What’s grace? That’s getting what you don’t deserve. He gives glory. He wants to exalt, He wants to lift you up. He wants to help you. As you walk with Him by faith, no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
So, He prompts you to make a special gift to someone or to help someone out and the first thought is, “Oh, if you do that, there won’t be enough money left for you.” And then you quote that out loud. God’s a God of abundance. And as you quote that out loud, what you’re doing is you’re saying, “I trust in God’s character.”
I was finding myself getting acutely ... I mean, having a great day, having a great week and every Saturday between two and three o’clock going to a dark place that I just couldn’t figure out what was going on. Doubts about my message, doubts about me, doubts about the worthiness of it and fighting and struggling and fighting and struggling. And we had an old, old man with white hair in his late eighties, godly, godly man. He would pray every Saturday night with me. And before I could figure out what was going on, I would go back with him and we prayed together. And there would be an opening and, great! And finally, I realized, wait a second. God has promised: “My word goes forth and it won’t return to Me void.”
Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent. Has He spoken and will He not do it? Or has He said it and will He not bring it to pass?” And so, pretty soon, I started, that wall would come and I would just out loud say, “Wait a second, I’m going to teach Your Word. Enemies, whoever you are, whatever you’re trying to do, God is not a man.” And then I would just quote scripture. Bam. It’s a dart ... It would just be like: put up the shield. Put up the shield.
Third. Trusting in God’s program and timing. You ever had a decision, you’re afraid about the future, doubts about: don’t do that, that will never work out, don’t leave family, don’t relocate, don’t take that new job. And yet, God’s leading. “You know the plans that I have for you,” Jeremiah 29:11. “plans for good and not for evil. To give you a hope and a future.”
At times when you feel like, You know what? I just can’t stay in this marriage, I can’t be this unhappy, and this unfulfilled any longer. Whisper, You know, you’re not getting any younger, he’ll never change, or she’ll never change.
When those become into your mind, then you need to go to God’s promise, 1 Corinthians 10:13, about temptation. “No temptation or trial has come into my life except is common to man but with the temptation, God will provide a way of escape that I might be able to endure it.”
That’s a lie. I’m not going to believe that. Here is what you’re going to get. This is spiritual warfare. You know that thought that creeps in like that? You know that thought where you’re just barely tempted and you start down the path, you stop and you address that with Scripture. That’s spiritual warfare.
Those thoughts, those temptations, that second look, that third look, that person that treats you and then you find yourself knowing there’s going to be a meeting and you dress up a little bit nicer. You know, I’ve had guys tell me I started looking forward to going to work and which meetings, who is going to be in the room and I kind of have a connection and things were kind of bad at home.
You’re in the battle. That’s where it’s at. And you don’t try hard to get out of it. You have to stop, claim God’s Word. At a level of great embarrassment but possibly maybe a lot of help, I did not grow up as a believer and everything I learned about dating, sex, relationships, was not from the Bible. And I went to a school where there was four girls for every guy.
And I would joke, “Ugly guys could get dates.” And I was a brand-new Christian and I was committed to being sexually pure which was very unpopular – now. And the sexual revolution had happened, and man, I mean, it would be like a girl would come out of the guys’ bathroom, everyone was sleeping around. And I’m like, God, are you kidding?
But I thought, You know, I hate hypocrites, and these were the kind of people and I’m struggling and so my behavior was pure and my mind was in the ditch. And I remember literally coming to a point where, God, I don’t think I can ever win this battle of lust. And I just, I guess I’m going to have to quit the Christian life, and that didn’t work because the verses kept coming to my mind and God says, “You can resign from Me but I never resign from you so get back up and let’s…”
And I accidentally, and this was a revolution in my life, my roommate was a heavy weight wrestler and we both kind of came to the Lord at the same time and I was on the basketball team, but we had this sort of good competition. But he was very big and very strong.
And I was even smaller than I am now. And I came to him and I said, “Hey, you know what, I’m trying to get up in the morning. Every night I say I’m going to get up and read the Bible and every morning I hit the snooze. And I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” He goes, “You really want help?” I said, “Well, yeah, Bob. Would you help me?” He goes, “I’ll help you. But you really want help?” “Absolutely.” “You really want help?” “Absolutely.”
So, the very next morning, the alarm goes off and I hit the snooze and Bob says, “You’re going to get up?” I said, “No, maybe tomorrow.” Anybody have this problem? Maybe tomorrow I’ll do it. This guy rips off my sheet, grabs me by the ankle and lifts me up like this, upside down. We had those communal bathrooms, knocks open the door, turns on the shower and he swings me. And this is a true story. And I’m yelling, “You idiot! What are you doing?” But, the guy’s a heavy weight wrestler. He is huge. I couldn’t do anything. And so, I’m dripping wet and he puts me down at the bed, he goes, “Now, you want to be a man of God or not? Or just shut up at night.”
Will this shock you? I got up. And the competition went on. And so, Bob was going to go, they had these training programs with the ministry and he would go for a summer but before you could go, you had to memorize these sixty verses and I’ve always been very competitive.
And so, Bob was memorizing one or two verses a week to get ready for this summer program and I wasn’t going to go to any programs. But he left the room and he had these little cards, it was called the topical memory system, just little cards with verses which I thought, paying, back then, five dollars for cards that you can write yourself seemed stupid.
So, when he left, I took 3x5 cards and I cut them as close as I could. And I copied down all of his verses and I didn’t tell him and I hid them. And then I decided that I was going to show him how lame wrestlers were, especially after how he treated me in the shower. And so, I memorized a verse a day. And, I reviewed them and because I knew you’re supposed to say the verse, then you say the title, like God’s Word, 2 Timothy 3:16, you quote it, God’s Word, 2 Timothy 3:16. So I knew, that’s the way you’re supposed to do it.
So, I did a verse every day and then I had this amazing blessing of a psychology class that was perhaps the most boring class ever given unto mankind. And the tests were always the same, they were right out of the book, you didn’t even have to go to class. And so, I would put my book up and sit in the back row and I reviewed verses the whole time. And then I remember, I jogged to baseball practice. And it was just like, “Hey, sixty days,” I’m just going to say, “Hey Bob, how are you getting on with your verses?”
“I’ve been looking those over myself.” And I’m going to nail sixty, just kill him. Well, I can still remember day twenty-one. And you know, I’d now perfectly memorized, and some of them were more than one verse, but they were on God’s Word, purity, prayer, just all the basics of the Christian life.
And I came around the corner in front of the library and a co-ed that was very, very attractive and very godly. And I sort of had a little crush on her. And I’m just going to be real vulnerable here. As a man, when you lust for women, you can feel very guilty and when you lust for a godly woman, you feel overly guilty.
And my mind, my mind was just ... It was all those years of all that trash that I had put in my mind. And so, I came around the corner and we have this conversation and then she left, and I left. I didn’t lust at all. I mean, my eyes were at her eyes. And then I started to go to one cafeteria where all the basketball guys would sit because it was a girl’s dorm and there were four floors and they would all walk by. “Seven point five, six, nine. And it was terrible. Okay, sorry, guys. No, forget guys, you’ve all done this. Sorry, ladies.
And I started and then I realized, wait a second, I don’t want to go to that cafeteria, that’s where my problem is. And I went to the other one. And then day twenty-two was another verse. I didn’t know the power of God’s Word. And then, this verse that I quoted, I found myself, I didn’t, no one taught me this but I’d come around the corner, and this was a day where girls weren’t wearing much. And my eyes, I thought, “Okay, first look is not my fault. After that, I got to own it.” And then the second look, “Okay.”
And literally, out loud, sometimes, I’m not exaggerating, forty times in a day I might find myself go, “Okay, love not the world and the things in the world. If any man loved the world, the love of the Father is not in him. And all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father. And that is in the world was passing away but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
And then go around another corner. Oh, here we go. Love not the world. And I didn’t know it. I was doing spiritual warfare. You know what happened? I got a clean mind. I’m not going to tell you it’s perfect, I’m telling you. And then I understood that’s true of fear, that’s true of insecurity. That’s true of afraid to take a step. That’s true of not having the courage to talk to someone. What I found was, God’s Word quoted the moment you have an issue, trusting His character, trusting His promises, trusting His program, that was when we had major marriage issues. And no matter how hard we tried, it wasn’t working.
And yes, we went to marriage counseling but then it was, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.” You need love to give her that you don’t have. And love isn’t a feeling. Love is giving another person what they need the most when they deserve it the least at great personal cost. So that’s what I’m going to give you for today.
And there’s been times where we took steps of faith and we thought, “Oh, we can’t do this because we don’t have any money, or the ministry doesn’t have any money.” My God will supply all your needs. I can do all things through Christ. You become a promise-centered Christian who is rooted, and your life is a life of faith. Faith is not a feeling, faith isn’t I feel good about this. Faith is believing in the character of God and the promises of God to the point that you act regardless of how you feel.
And when you do that, guess what it is, God is what? He’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. He rewards faith. You will experience Him. So often, the fear is, you take a step of faith, one side of a coin is called faith: I’m going to trust you. The flip of the coin is called obedience. And you obey when you feel like it and when you don’t and you quite Scripture out loud as all of the thoughts bombard you. And you put up the shield of faith and you quench these darts.
Secondly is the helmet of salvation. It says, “Take the helmet of salvation.” Literally, the word is to receive the helmet of salvation. It’s in a tense that says you have to get this, allow it to be given to yourself. And I love the metaphor because it would be the last piece of equipment a Roman soldier would have. It was bronze and it was leather, it was the most protective. And you actually wouldn’t put it on yourself. Your armor-bearer would put it on you.
And so, he’s saying here, you need to receive the helmet of salvation. And the definition is an obvious allusion to our security that we’ve been saved and justified as believers. Safe from Satan’s attacks.
But the focus now is on the present deliverance from sin. The word deliverance or salvation, that’s what it means. As you read the Psalms, every time he says he’s delivered, he’s not talking about justification. He’s talking about: I got away from Saul one more time, God delivered me. The word salvation means deliverance. Our deliverance from sin is our salvation, we’re justified by the grace of God.
And so, he’s saying, “The helmet of salvation is the certainty of deliverance from sin and the protection of our minds in the battle.” It’s not something you can do, it’s something you receive but it’s something you must allow God to do in your mind. And this is where the battle is.
How does it happen? Renewing your mind. Remember we read this passage, we don’t war according to the flesh, but the weapons of our warfare are not carnal or fleshly, right, but powerful for what? Pulling down every speculation and everything raised up against the knowledge of God. And we’re taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. The helmet of salvation is where we renew our mind and take every thought captive.
God’s word protects us. When Jesus prayed and He was praying for us but praying for the disciples, John 17:17, “Sanctify them, or, “set them apart by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” Colossians 3. “Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth where Christ is.” Romans 8:5 to 8,
“The mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God and it cannot please Him. But the mind set on the spirit brings life.” Are you getting it? The mind, the mind, the mind.
Romans 12:2, “Don’t be conformed to this world. Be transformed by the,” trying hard, going to church, being religious? Oops, that’s not what it says. “But be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might prove,” or, “test,” or, “experience what the will of God is. That which is good, acceptable and perfect.”
The only way to take every thought captive is, your mind has to be soaked in truth and in the Scripture. And when it is, when things come, God can bring to your mind so that you can do battle. And that’s what protects you. The deceit happens in your mind and in your heart. The doubt is planted in your mind and in your heart. The helmet of salvation is the setting of your mind and the renewing of your mind.
I don’t get up and read the Bible in the morning or memorize verses, or for me, I find issues that I struggle with and I write what I call “desire cards.” So, part of my giftedness is to see what’s wrong, it’s a little bit of a ... And think of this in the right sense, not telling the future but a prophetic gift to see kind of what’s wrong and what God might want and say, “Hey, let’s do that. Let’s be God’s people. Let’s be Christians who live like Christians.”
Well, you kind of have to analyze what’s not very Christian. That’s the light side of it. The dark side of that, in my personality, when I walk into a situation or I meet people, in my inner thinking, I see what’s wrong with everything.
And I’m okay there. Now I go critical. Now, when I was younger, I would say it, bad. Now, I just think it. Bad. So, how do I overcome? I mean, you need to understand, your greatest strength will always be your greatest weakness. You need to understand the most gifted, brightest, lightest part of how God wants to use you has a dark side, it has a shadow. And the enemy knows that.
And so, he’ll push you, push you, push you and take you to a place that’s really bad. And so, I have a card, because I want to renew my mind. Everything doesn’t amount to a verse, so I have a card. And I read it quite often. It says, “I long to see people the way God sees them. I long to view them, not through their external looks, appearance, status, wealth or position, but through their need and relationship with God or not.”
And then I have a verse from 1 Samuel, “God sees not as man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart.” And so I sit in a business class seat with a very powerful person who’s a CEO of some big thing and my immediate reaction can either be intimidated or to compare or to…
Or, I’m sitting on a bus with a guy that’s tattooed up here, tattooed up here, he’s got a nose ring here, he’s got something pierced here, something pierced here and I play a game all the time. I’ll look at that guy and I can think, You know, a lot of people could think this guy is a really out there guy. And you know what? He might be one of those undercover Christians who’s all tatted up to reach people that no one else can reach.
And you think I’m messing with you? You know why? Because I’ve met those guys. I’ll never forget I was preaching and wrapping a message up and there was this guy on the front row and he started coming and he had sort of ... It was almost like a dress and he had the whole Rastafarian hair and had sort of the beanie type thing that went to the side. Weird dude. And then he had a flute. And when we did worship, he would do this. On the front row. And it’s Santa Cruz, so you know, it’s like, whatever.
And so, I get done preaching and when I get done preaching, I would always come down to the front and just talk to people and hear what’s going on in their life and he starts coming toward me. And I’m thinking, we didn’t have security back then, but if we had, I would have gone, “Security, security.” And he comes to me and we later called him Dan Dan the Hippie man and Dan came up to me. “Oh, pastor.” And he got about three feet away and I could smell him. And then he got closer and he wrapped his arms around me, he said, “Oh, it’s so good to meet you. I’ve walked across America, I’ve been listening to your messages, it’s so good to be here. I would like to stay for a few months. Let me tell you about my calling. I live on the streets and let me tell you why. This is what happened, and this is how Jesus changed my life.”
And Dan helped me remember, you cannot judge a book by its cover. Okay? So, you understand though? The moment, the moment I start to judge, then I have another verse that says, “Do not judge lest you be judged for in the same way that you judge, your Father will judge you.” You understand? It’s just truth. Deception needs to get truth. Doubts need to get stability. All the kind of things where he’s coming at you when you’re tempted, you need to pull back. This is who God is, these are His promises, this is what I’m going to do with my life.
And it’s engaging the enemy. I need to move on. Practically, prayer, worship music, Scripture teaching, Scripture memory are all ways, I think, that we can renew our mind. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul calls the helmet the helmet of hope and it’s this picture of deliverance that all the promises of God are yes, in Christ Jesus. Application, you ready? Christians who are not filling their minds with Scripture are like warriors going to battle without a helmet.
When we lose hope, we’re defeated. Not just individually but as a group. And so, now, it says, “Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” You see in the movies sometimes, they have the really long swords or they have the small sword. This is about a two-foot sword, the word he uses, and this is for hand-to-hand combat. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. And most often in Scripture we get the word logos. Like, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word.” Right? Logos. Logos. This is rhema. This is the spoken Word of God.
Words given to us by the Spirit of God to do close, hand-to-hand combat with the lies and the deceptions of the enemy. The truth of God’s Word quoted and applied to specific lies or deception of the enemy will allow you to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
Jesus modeled this use of the sword of the Spirit in Matthew 4:1 to 11. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your Word. Your word, I’ve hid in my heart that it might not sin against Thee.” “Let your light be a light unto my path, a lamp unto my feet and a light into my path.”
The sword of the Spirit is both an offense and a defensive weapon. And so, you’re probably thinking, “So, are you going to tell us what happened that night?” Yes. I’m now sitting up in bed, my wife is asleep. I’m drenched with sweat, I’m terrified.
And I’m glad for that bricklayer who discipled me, I’m glad for Scriptures I memorized. And I had to overcome, it doesn’t really matter what my wife thinks. I’m not sure what’s happening here. And this happened multiple, multiple times. In fact, later on in our journey in Santa Cruz, there were times where actually I would wake up and I would have this experience and I could hear something happening in every single one of the bedrooms with all my children.
In other occasions, we had visual manifestations of demonic activity. So, all this stuff is real and actually, my wife is more sensitive than me and has had far more of these kinds of issues even than me. And they happen very regularly, especially when those five things, when you’re taking territory et cetera.
And so, scared to death, out loud, I said, “Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. And this is the victory that has overcome Him. The blood of the lamb, the word of their testimony and they love not their life, even unto death. I command you now, evil and demonic spirits in my bedroom, in His authority, not mine, depart from my room and my house and go where Jesus sends you and do not return.” Gone.
Now, just so you can be aware. As things got more intensified, and again, this is sort of the Chip experience not to be confused with Scripture, but there were some times later when I would pray that, and like, uh-oh, are bigger demons here? I guess we’ll go with that again. And I would pray for a season and then they would leave. And what I want to tell you is, you know those verses I gave you? All of my kids memorized those. And I literally heard my ten-year-old son do spiritual warfare and literally have this attitude.
There was a time when we were all petrified and angry and then there got to be a time where, “What happened?” Oh, had one of those satanic nightmares, it was terrible. And you know, you do what you’re supposed to do and they’re trying to make us afraid and you know what? In Christ, we’re invincible. And it was really loud but the gun is filled with blanks and we’re not going to let that address us. I’m not going to live in fear.
And you need to understand, that’s true if you’re a child of God. Now, notice in your notes, there’s something summary to engage the enemy in spiritual warfare. The prerequisite is a healthy spiritual life. What I want you to know is that if you’ve left yourself open to things, it can be a lot more difficult. Second, is understand your position in Christ. You need to understand, I’m a child of God. I’ve been sealed with the Spirit. There’s no doubts here.
Third is discern when demonic influence may be the cause. You know, you can’t run to every problem you have is somehow there is a demon behind every bush. But you discern and it gets pretty easy over time. Fourth is claim God’s promises out loud. And yes, you’ll feel silly. But it’s way better than being terrified. And finally, take our authority and position in Christ and command demonic forces to cease their activity and depart and they will. They will.
I’m going to close with an illustration that is the most helpful for me. It was one of those opportunities that I had in Santa Cruz and because it’s a picture, that will help you. Because how do you take all this truth? So, I’m walking ... There’s a main thoroughfare, throughway in Santa Cruz. And it’s where there’s street musicians and it’s wild, crazy and there is a bunch of bars but it’s a really cool place to walk around. And there’s restaurants and other things.
So, it’s one evening, and I’m walking down and it’s outside of a bar and there’s a couple really big guys in black T-shirts, they’re bouncers, they look really, really strong. I think they can ... And they’re messing with this one guy and they don’t seem to be able to handle him. And he’s, “Aggh! Aggh!” And so pretty soon there’s a crowd. And I’m just like everyone else. I just join the crowd, I want to see what’s going to happen. You know, what’s going to happen, those big guys. And hey, go ask for help, security.
And so, more and more people and then someone called the police. And so, it’s getting more and more rambunctious and the onlookers are getting bigger and bigger and I wonder what’s going to happen here and those big guys don’t seem to be doing very good with this guy and he’s thrashing around, he’s telling them this. And then a police car pulls up and I’m thinking, “Oh, what’s going to happen?” And the door opens and okay, ladies, now this is an illustration in no way to diminish female police officers. This is an actual story.
Because I’m thinking, “These two big guys can’t handle this.” Then the door opens and I’m telling you, if she was 4 foot 11, maybe. Police officer, a woman. And I’m thinking, “Oh my, this is going to be interesting.”
And you know, it was one of those where the police car came, like two wheels were up on the curb and there’s this ruckus and the crowd is growing and I’m thinking, “I wonder what’s going to happen.” And she walks up like this. “Sir, excuse me.” They all get the attention, the two bouncers and this guy’s going crazy. She goes, “Sir, stand down.” And he looks at her like this and she puts her hand on the gun like this. “Sir, I will say it one more time. Stand down.” I don’t know how drunk he was or what he was on, but he got very sober very quickly.
And then she said, “Sir, I want you right now to turn around.” And she walked over to him, you know, just like on TV, tchoo, tchoo, tchoo, right? Put his head down, get in the car. Wow. And you know the metaphor for me? You know what I realized? She had a badge on from the state of California and the authority of the Santa Cruz police department to handle that situation. And she had a weapon that I don’t care how wild he is, that .45 was much more formidable.
I don’t care how big, I don’t care how strong, I don’t care how drunk, I don’t care how high. But I will tell you this. This will outweigh that. And if necessary. And what I want you to know is that somehow you think this is a bunch of weird stuff from missionaries or pastors or super spiritual people and I want you to know, if you’re a child of God, you have the authority of the living God, all power in heaven and earth has been entrusted to you.
And you don’t have a gun. You’ve got much more. You have the living Word of God. Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living, active, powerful, piercing into the division of soul and spirit, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” And when you turn this Word loose, demonic forces must obey. You never have to be afraid. God bless you.