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Spiritual Warfare 301: How to Do Battle with the Enemy and Win, Part 2

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? In this message, you’ll discover where those thoughts come from and how to combat them when they enter your mind.

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Message Transcript

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.