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About this series
The Invisible War
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 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.
“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 quote 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.
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.”