In the final installment of his series on temptation, Todd discusses spiritual warfare and demonic activity: what it is, what it is not, some of the myths and confusion that surround it, and how Jesus addressed it during His ministry.
Click here to view the Tedashii video "I Make War."
Make War: What are We Fighting and How Should We Fight?
Our Need for Others to Show Us the Way of Escape: Because Mufasas Become Maneaters
The Carrot, the Stick, and the Ass: The Truth Will Set You Free
The Enemy and His Tactics
Oh, man! Right now I'm guessing somebody's saying, "Honey, they're using hip-hop, and they mock the Enemy. Let's get out of here. I don't know what they're thinking." That was Tim Hawkins. Tim was here about a year ago when we did a volunteer appreciation event, and he threw that little bit in his time with us.
I thought about it as I was heading into what I was talking about this week, these little phrases we throw out. They've become more than phrases. They've become philosophies and principles by which we try and operate in the spiritual realm. What I want to do tonight is wrap up a little series I started in June.
I told you I was going to come back and take some of the more esoteric extreme ideas about how to make war and just walk you through them rather quickly from a biblical perspective so that you might not be confused or deluded by false solutions so that you might focus on truth. What I want to do is start by reminding you of what I basically said in that series.
I said when you're talking about temptation specifically, which is what we face in the midst of spiritual warfare, there is no secret about what's coming or who it's coming from. In other words, there is an Enemy. He's the Father of Lies, Jesus calls him, and what he's going to do is lie to you. He's going to say, "God isn't good, his Word is not trustworthy, and disobeying him is not that big of a deal." We need to know that.
What I want to talk about with you tonight is how to respond to that one who is bringing that bombardment of lies. Secondly, I said there is no sin in being tempted, so one of the things we have to be aware of when we make war is that we should act like we're not at war and that I'm not liable to be pulled in by the tricks and the schemes of the Enemy.
I have to tell people, "If I don't stay vigilant about what is coming at me, I'm going to go down," so I need to let you know where the Enemy has an advantage on my flesh and my heart and where I easily default. I talked about the fact that there is no such thing as a faithful man who surrenders. All of us need to stay in the battle and be strong.
My kids and I this week were going back over some verses we've memorized. One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. I said, "Boys, let's have it," because I'm trying to help them grow up to understand what it means to be a man. This verse tells you. It says, " Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." I tried to tell them. I said, "Look, guys. You need to understand. I don't care how long we've gone being faithful. We are at war, and we are still easily taken down.'…let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.'"
Fourthly, I mentioned that not only is there no such thing as a faithful man who surrenders but there is no such thing as a saint who is beyond falling (the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:12 I just quoted), so we have to make sure we don't surrender and we fight biblically or we will fail. I reminded us during that little series there is no special case.
I don't care what front you're on. I don't care what your assignment or what the temptation that hits you. " No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." That's not my opinion. That's God's opinion in 1 Corinthians 10:13.
I made mention when you go to war you don't go to war alone. There is no sense in going at it alone. That's one of the reasons today we have a Connecting Point class. If you're here and you're just hanging out at Watermark and you're not really connected, you're not accountable, and you're not known and pursuing knowing others, you're going at it alone, and that's foolish.
If you want to really be victorious and you really want to make war, our most significant special forces are our best operatives. Don't go at it alone. They may go at it in fours or eights, but they don't go at it alone, and they are even surrounded by a larger community in context of those who make war with them. Isolation is what every predator uses to devour, so we said, "Let's not go at it alone." When you make war, don't make it alone. Connect. Don't forsake.
Then, I had this little last gem. There is no silver bullet. This is really what I want to talk about tonight. I want to talk about some basic extraneous errors that have come up about how we make war, and I want to talk about some of the specific ideas about how there is a way to overcome the Enemy by binding him, putting a hedge of protection around you, and casting him out that will make you not have to trust and obey, to follow hard after Christ in humility.
I want to just zap at these things. I want to let you know the reason these things are such a burden to me is because when you are given false ideas about how to make war, not only are you wasting your time making war that way but you are setting yourself up for real trouble. Again, I mentioned this.
It's kind of like the people who don't want to eat right and exercise right. They want to believe the acai berry is a solution to losing weight and that colon cleansing will get rid of that 10 pounds of excess red meat and processed foods that are stuck in a typical male colon. I'll tell you what. It's fine if you want to waste your money and time investing in those things to get that physique you've always wanted, but I'm just going to tell you.
When you take wrong strategies when you're talking about spiritual vitality, you're doing more than losing money and time. A yo-yo diet is one thing, but yo-yo spirituality is another. One of the reasons folks don't experience the fullness of life that God wants you to experience is because they're running after their acai berry spirituality (colon cleansing and casting-out-demon spirituality) that is not a biblical mode of warfare.
Before I go forward, I want to just make something very clear so that nobody is confused. I believe the Bible teaches there is something called spiritual warfare and you need to learn how to make war biblically. Secondly, the idea of being delivered is a biblical idea, but what we have made that word out to be has become thoroughly unbiblical today.
Deliverance is a biblical idea. I was teaching in June, and a sweet lady came up to me afterward. She said, "That was just wonderful. Thank you so much, but…" I go, "But what?" She said, "But I really wish you believed in the power of God." I go, "Thank you. I will take that wish and turn it into a prayer, but let me ask you. What did I say that makes you think I don't believe in the power of God?"
She said, "Well, you just said there is no way for God to really ultimately deliver you." I said, "Ultimately deliver you from what? He has delivered us from the domain of darkness, but you need to know something." She said, "Honey, let me just stop you. This is what I wanted to tell you. I have been delivered some 61 times."
I thought that was kind of curious. I had the sensibility to bite my tongue and not say, "That's curious, because if you were delivered, why did you have to be delivered 61 times?" The reason is because you get into yo-yo spirituality or because you have gotten into the business of believing demons are associated with specific sin expressions.
Once you are delivered from the demon of anger you have to move on to the demon of lust and the demon of pornography and the demon of infidelity and the demon of insecurity and the demon of ad nauseam and keep going through until you have been delivered from pretty much every adjective in Webster's you don't want associated with you.
The danger in that, though, is that you think you have somehow had that demon permanently bound behind that hedge, only to find he comes back often. Then, they will go, "Yes! In fact, that's what the Scripture says. You must prepare yourself for them to come back or he will inhabit you with seven demons even worse and more awful than himself," which is a misunderstanding even of the text in Matthew 12.
Where am I going with this? This is what our dear friend, Peter, said at the very end of his life, as he was talking about what happens often when people look at the Scripture. He says, "** Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things…"** The things you're looking for here is that the Holy God will come back and ultimately execute his historical plan of eradicating evil, saving the righteous, and judging the wicked.
"…be diligent to be found by Him in peace…" In other words, that you're not at war with him, that you're not AWOL in your duty in serving him. "…spotless and blameless…" You're not aligned with the Enemy. "…and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…" The reason God has left us here to be at war and the reason we must war rightly and faithfully is because if we, God's warriors, don't war well then the world will consistently be exposed to horrors, chaos, and terror.
We are his army, and we have to be soldiers who stand strong in the grace of the Lord, and the things which we have heard in the presence of many witnesses we are to entrust to other faithful soldiers who will teach them to others also, so that we as soldiers will not entangle ourselves in the affairs of everyday life in order that we might please the one who has enlisted us as soldiers. (See 2 Timothy 2:1-4.)
If we don't do this, there is going to be a world that won't be just at war but that will be whipped because we, as warriors, did not fight well. Listen to what he says. He says, "…just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things…"
Meaning how we do war, how we live faithfully, and what it means to take the gospel. "…in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction." And, I would tell you, to their students' destruction.
"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness…" If not unprincipled men, men who are just not diligent to show themselves approved as a workman who doesn't need to be ashamed who doesn't accurately handle the word of truth, but they take syncretistic ideas and bring in superstition and unbiblical worldviews and practices and they insert them and interpret unclear Scriptures even though it contradicts what clear Scripture says.
What we are called to do is to "…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity." It ends in 2 Peter 3:18. In other words, you have to make war in a way that will give God glory and allow you to be glorious in the way you do war.
Now, I love this about the Christian faith. If you have any testosterone running through your blood, men, then being on the front lines of spiritual faithfulness ought to just get you jacked. When young men are growing up and you ask them what they want to be, they don't say, "I want to be somebody who is a faithful attendee of church when I grow older," or "I want to be polite when I grow up."
God did not bury that in the hearts of men. If you ask a kid what he wants to be, he's going to say, "I want to be a fireman. I want to go into certain death and horror and rescue people," or "I want to be a cop. I want to get evil. I want to expose it. I want to prosecute it. I want to protect people from it."
Then, all of a sudden, they realize there's more than just real firemen and real cops, and they go, "I want to be the best cop ever. I want to be a superhero. I want to have an ability that no one else has so that I, like nobody else, can do things to rescue others," or "I want to be an athlete who gets out there and wages war competitively and overcomes my foe."
That's what is built into us, but the feminization of Christianity has absolutely pulled us out of the game, and what we tell men is, "Come, show up, shut up, and pay up. Validate who I am by your consistent presence here, and give me enough to turn the lights on. I won't ask too much of you. You just keep coming, and we'll both tell each other that we're doing what God wants us to do."
No. Make war. Be faithful. God is looking for faithful men. That is not the Marine slogan; that is 2 Chronicles 16:9. "For the eyes of the L ORD ** move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His,"** so that he might strongly support them at war, I insert.
I want to let you know that I believe deliverance, again, is a biblical idea, but here's what you need to know. It's not what we have made it in our quick-fix world. There has been one deliverance once and for all for us. It is even preceded in the Scripture by how you should make war.
It comes in Colossians, chapter 1, verses 9 through 13. This is what it says in Colossians. " For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be…" Watch this. This is how you make war continually, diligently, and vigilantly with a sober mind on the alert being strong and standing in the faith.
"…filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred…"
Some of your Bibles use the word delivered. It's the same word. "…and [delivered] us to the kingdom of His beloved Son…" We have been delivered from the Father of Lies. We are no longer his captive and his slave. Why? Because God has undressed him. God has shown up, and he has dealt with the wages of sin both on its effect in our lives and even at times its effect in the world.
He has given us hope. He has delivered us from the spirit which is now working in the sons of disobedience and given us a Holy Spirit. He has taken us from the shepherd that wants to steal, kill, and destroy, and he has put us into the Shepherd who will give his life so that you might experience blessing. You are no longer compelled to follow a liar, and God has freed you from that lie by revealing his glory in a way that you in humility sit before and trust him. You repent of the wisdom of the liar, and you begin to follow the Spirit of holiness.
Now, I want to tell you the reason I'm about to say what I'm about to say is not because I think God can't do what he used to do. God is just as capable today to do anything he wants to do as he ever was and ever will be. When we talk about the fact that God is not actively doing today what he used to do, it's because of the way God is choosing to work and the means through which he chooses to have us walk in the knowledge of his will in a manner worthy of the calling with which he has called during this time as we make war in this day for his glory and his purposes.
We need to understand a couple of things. We need to understand there are certain ideas that have snuck in among us that are entirely unbiblical and that we need to expose. We need to tell you that Satan, the Enemy, is not a second god. That idea is highly inconsistent with Scripture. He is a created being. Satan, as C.S. Lewis said, is God's Satan. God is sovereign over him.
Life is not in ultimate conflict between good and evil. That is what is called Manichaeism which comes from a guy named Mani who lived a couple hundred years after Christ who basically took a Persian worldview. He was a Persian philosopher who said there are two equal and opposite forces working against each other, and you have to help the good force win.
We are not to fear Satan. I will fear no evil, because greater is he who is in me than he who is in this world. God is allowing Satan to deceive for the purposes of revealing his truth. You can't know how good light is until darkness manifests itself. You can't know how big big is until small shows up.
What God did was say, "Don't join the darkness. Stay in the light. This one himself manifests darkness, and don't you go over there," but what did we do? We walked right out of Paradise and perfect provision and perfect relationship with a God of blessing because we believed the lie. We believed God wasn't good and that we needed to know good and evil for ourselves so we could choose what we wanted to do.
God said, "You don't want to do that, because, brother, I want to tell you something. You may know the difference between good and evil, but you won't always choose good, because you are not innately good. You're made in my image, but you are not me." We believe God's Word is not true, so we had to come up with our own system of truth, and we believed that disobeying God was not that big of a deal, and we could not have been more wrong.
The idea that we are running up, though, against a foe that is equal with God is thoroughly unbiblical. Satan and God, we would say, do not have what is called equal ultimacy in their nature, in their powers, and in their ability. God is sovereign over evil. He is sovereign over sin. He is sovereign over the Devil, and I'm about to now explain to you in a few minutes why Jesus had the interactions he did with demons and why he does not call us to do the same.
What are some of the areas I am talking about? I have to move quickly here, but bear with me. What I would tell you is that some of the areas where there have been these small ideas brought up (what I'm going to call acai berry solutions that cause us problem because we focus on the wrong thing) are these basic ideas.
Sometimes you'll find folks who will say things like, "What you need to do is rebuke Satan, and then you can move on." We're not called to rebuke Satan. In fact, the Scripture says that even Michael, the highest of the angels, doesn't rebuke Satan in his own name. He lets the Lord of heaven and earth rebuke Satan.
We are called to resist Satan, and how we make war is, in effect, an explanation of how we resist. What some people want to do is resist by ridding ourselves of Satan, and we believe what we need to do is name certain demons and then cast out those demons. The idea of casting out is tied to the idea of exorcism.
The word for casting out is ekballō. It comes from two words. Ek is where we get the words out or exit. Ballō is where we get the word ballistics (when you throw something). When you study ballistics, you study how long a certain object is thrown out of a barrel or off of a rocket launcher. A ballistic missile is a missile that is launched and thrown out into an arc and gravity pulls it down. When you study ballistics, you see how far it goes. Ekballō is to cast out or to throw out.
Some folks with tell you what you need to do is to throw out the demon from you. I'm going to correct that tonight and explain why Jesus did it, when he did it, when he didn't do it, what he wants for us to do today, and the danger in believing you have thrown him out or you have rebuked him so he can't be about that business.
The Scriptures make it very clear that he is not bound and he is not cast out. He is, according to 1 Peter, chapter 5, a roaring lion prowling about seeking whom he may devour. When you think there is no lion, you will walk unwisely, and you will not be vigilant, and you will not remain steadfast and on the alert, and you, my friends, will separate yourself from truth, and you are not brave; you are next. You will yo-yo your way through.
The idea that there are geographical spirits or territorial spirits has become a very popular idea within many branches of Christianity today. Let me just say this. Jesus did say Satan is the Prince of this world. Paul called him the Prince of the Power of the Air. It is the story in Daniel, chapter 10, where an angelic messenger of God was forbidden to get to Daniel for 21 days because the Prince of Persia forbade him.
There are explanations about that that may not be quite as spiritual in their solving, but let me just say the possibility exists that there are certain demons that exist in certain areas, but I want to tell you that nowhere in Scripture do you see Jesus having a mode of ministry which says, "Let's prayer walk the Congo," or "Let's prayer walk Capernaum. Let's go through and let's command that the demon of Dallas is excised and neutered and cast out and bound."
Jesus didn't do it. Peter didn't do it. Paul didn't do it. James didn't do it. John didn't do it. Oddly enough, if Jesus wants us to go and make disciples, isn't it interesting that he never told us to do it? Is it okay to walk and pray? Yes! You ought to pray without ceasing. You're to pray at all times in the Spirit.
What I'm trying to get you past is this idea that, before you go into a house, you need to pray that God would rid that house of its demons. It comes from a supernatural, animistic world view that is not rooted in the Scriptures. There are not spirits everywhere in every thing. In fact, the Scriptures tell you our problem is not that there's a spirit that makes us sin; it's that we give ourselves over to the spirit of lies, so we have to be careful to not become trapped by this ideology.
Some of you guys who have been around Dallas for a while know a guy named Larry Lee. Larry held a big conference in 1980 out in San Francisco along with many, many others. There was a major prayer conference. They wanted to pray that the territorial geographical spirits that rule over San Francisco specifically manifest in a few well-known expressions would be somehow be cast out and bound up. Years before that it went on, and it keeps making its way back.
Let me just say this. There's nothing wrong with praying and walking, but you need to be aware that you don't finish that series of magic words and then move on because somehow you've bound him. No. There is a time that the Enemy will be bound. You need to know that. When is that? The Enemy will be bound in Revelation 20.
Revelation 20 is the part of your Bible that talks about what happens when Christ himself returns and he faces his foe. It says that he will take a key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand and he will lay hold of the Dragon, the Serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and he will bind him for a thousand years.
Now, what's interesting about that thousand years of the millennial reign… Guess what happens in that millennial reign while the demons and Satan are bound. Rebellion. Sin. Why? Because Flip Wilson, though he was funny when he said, "The Devil made me do it," was a terrible theologian, because the Scriptures make it very clear that when we sin we don't sin because of a demon.
We sin because we have given ourselves over to the Father of Lies. When we sit here and believe that the Devil made us do it, it pulls us away from the vigilance, the discipline, the meditation, the confession, the repentance, and the worship God calls us to in order to make war in a way that will honor him.
Here's another one. What about ancestral spirits? What about the idea of generational curses? Where does that come from? I'll tell you where it comes from. It comes from your Bible. It comes from Exodus 20, Exodus 34, Numbers 14, and Deuteronomy 5. This is what it says. I'll pick Exodus 34 to look at. It says,
" Then the LORD passed by in front of him [Moses] and proclaimed, 'The L ORD *, the L* ORD ** God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.'"**
Now, people read that, and if they're not careful, they will make that out to be, "Here's what we need to do. We need to go back through a complete family history and find out what your daddy struggled with and what your granddaddy struggled with and what your great-granddaddy struggled with, so if there is a spirit of alcohol that is assigned to your family and this generational curse is upon you, we can identify that, we can move you through a series of prayers, and we can excise and cast out that demon from you."
I just want to share with you that I understand and you can see why if those were the only Scriptures we had in our Bible that may be a plausible scenario, but the Scriptures make it very clear that what God is talking about there is not making a son suffer specifically from the curse his father brought on himself.
In fact, in Deuteronomy, chapter 24, this is what it says. " Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin." Someone might say, "Wait a minute, Todd. All that says is they won't be put to death. It doesn't say they haven't learned or have been cursed by the same demon as their father."
Let me explain something to you. You often become what you are taught to become, and what it's talking about in Exodus 34 is that God puts a limit on man's ability to do evil. Whereas God has to limit man's evil, there is no limit to the goodness of God. God will extend his goodness to thousands of generations, but God limits the ability of any one individual to participate with the Father of Lies to wreak havoc on the earth.
Now, he can make disciples. If you read of Jeroboam in your Old Testament, you'll find out that the kings of the north in Israel walked in the ways of their father, Jeroboam, but there was not a generational curse put on the dynasties in the north. What happened was all of the kings in the north chose to follow lies and not the God who revealed himself to Israel.
Let me break this down for you. Proverbs, chapter 22, verses 24 and 25 say, " Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself." What this is saying is that you need to be aware that when you hang around somebody who tells you to deal with relational dysfunction and discomfort and frustration by escalating and by intimidating and by shouting what you will learn is that is the way you should deal with issues.
I have three boys, and a couple of them God put in them a sweet temperament, but I have watched them learn sometimes to overreact, to raise their voice, and to yell because they've watched their mother for years do this. I've talked to Alex about that, and I've said, "Sweetie, can't you see what's happening?" No. Because they have seen me respond at times in anger. I had a dad who responded in anger, and I learned some of his ways, but here's the deal.
I don't care if your daddy was a drunk. I don't care if your daddy was a racist. Though we have in this country a bunch of folks who grew up in the South for a long time and they were told to hurt and hate certain people of certain ethnicities because of their ignorance and because of their suppression of truth and because they believed an elitist idea born from the Father of Lies so they grew up in families where they learned to hate people of a different ethnicity, and that generational rebellion came through, but there was not a demon of racism. There is a Father of Lies.
I'll say this. None of us have had perfect parents. My kids don't have a perfect parent. One of the things I'm trying to do is I'm trying to say, "Son, let God be your perfect Father. As I represent him, imitate me as I imitate your perfect Father in heaven, but he's going to have to re-parent you in some areas that I'm not going to get exactly right. What I will do when I step outside of the will of our perfect Father is I'm going to confess it. I'm going to repent. I'm going to seek forgiveness. I'm going to make amends so that you might see how God has me respond."
Some of you don't even have a daddy who will do that, so what you need to do is go, "Father, re-parent me. Start by delivering me from the domain of darkness not that my daddy put me in but that my daddy walked into because he listened to the Father of Lies, and I followed him in those lies, because it made sense to my flesh, which, by the way, is bent toward rebellion against you."
Proverbs 13:20 says this in a different way. It says, " He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." What's going on when it says that the sins of the father will affect the third and fourth generations is twofold. First, Granddad is only around to teach hatred, racism, objectifying women, pornography, and alcoholism to really only one or two or three generations who get to see Granddad. Then, he's out of here.
Now, his son might choose to make the same foolish choices, but he really only has that scope of years to affect. It also has the idea of when you're an idiot and when you're a dad who lives foolishly and selfishly and you abandon women and you abuse women and you abdicate your role of leadership when you go off on your own ways, your children suffer. When you're a woman who doesn't complete your spouse but competes with him or condones his sin, your children suffer.
It says that God is the avenger of these things, so it's also talking about the very real consequence of innocent (usually) women and children who live underneath people who follow the Father of Lies, and it brings death and destruction. Mark my word. God is just, and he will somehow make that right, but there are children who die because of the consequences of running with demons.
What does it mean to run with demons? Demons run in lies, so when you run with demons, you are running with lies. Let me just say a few things. I'm going to give you a few points I'm going to make sure I get to with you all tonight. I'm just going to give you some bullets and try and unpack these things as we go along. Here are some truths.
Demons are not agents of sin as much as they are agents of judgment and torment. In other words, when we commit sin, it is not because a demon is in us but because we are following demonology. We are following a rebellion against God. Where demons live is in chaos and judgment.
When you find disease and death and sickness and disorder and insecurity and sexual abuse and betrayal and sexual dysfunction and everything else, you find a lack of truth. Demons are there. You are in the company of demons when you're in the company of chaos. You are in the presence of the Holy Spirit where peace and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness are present. How about this?
Sin and suffering are products and wages of the human condition. This is very important because this explains why Jesus did, at times, deal with what is called demon presence. Sin is moral evil. You will also see suffering, which is the product of sin. Man brings around sin and death. What God brings is forgiveness and blessing.
What the Father of Lies does is steal, kill, and destroy. Sin (moral evil) and suffering, which is evil's offering, are products and wages of the human condition. Forgiveness and blessing are the gift of God through Jesus Christ. Why is this important? Because this explains some of why Jesus did what he did when he was here. Whenever Jesus confronted moral evil, he confronted moral evil the way we are to make war against the Father of Lies who wants us to participate in rebellion against God.
When Jesus confronted moral evil, he confronted it with a call to repentance and teachings of truth consistently. When Jesus, who was God's anointed, was revealing himself as the visible image of the invisible God, he showed up initially and at the very beginning of his ministry did a lot of works. He said the purpose of the works were to make you believe his words.
He said, "If you don't believe my words, believe the works I do, and if you reject the works I do, which I say are a testimony of the Spirit's presence in my life where I don't have to live in the natural realm because I am one with the supernatural (above what happens on a normal basis)… If you suppress that, you reject the testimony of the Father, you reject the testimony of the Son, and you reject the testimony of the Spirit, and I have nothing else to give you."
Jesus confronted situational evil. What you'll find when Christ came across sickness and hunger and death is that he handled it to show he is the strong one who is sovereign over evil and can bring blessing where he only brings chaos. You will see consistently in the ministry of Christ him creating a sense of awe and people saying, "Who is this?" That is the question Christ eventually turned to them and said. "You tell me. Who do you say that I am?"
"Some say you're Elijah. Some say you're John the Baptist."
"No. Who do you say I am? Peter, you're the anointed of God."
"You're the Messiah who has come to deliver us from evil."
What God did when he came across hunger is he said, "Hunger was not part of my plan," and he supernaturally intervened. Where there was famine, God brought blessing. When Jesus came across sickness, sickness was not originally part of the plan, so in compassion and with power he dealt with the effects of the Enemy.
Now, this is key. Jesus never used power to cast out or attack sin's cause, which is rebellion and moral evil. This is key. Let me say it again. This is how you do war. Jesus never used his authority to cast out or attack moral evil. He used his authority to attack and cast out sin's consequences. He used a call to trust in God's Word and a call to obey and follow God's Messiah (his anointed one) as a means to fight moral evil. Do you get that?
What you'll find out is when there are demon-oppressed people in contact with Jesus, what he's dealing with is a situational consequence of evil. The problem is not their moral rebellion; the problem is that they are in the company of chaos and judgment that always comes when you morally rebel.
He dealt with the situational evil. That's why he repeatedly said, "Go and sin no more. I forgive you, and I want to walk in blessing with you. Don't give yourself back to the Father of Lies, because you will go right back into that demonized life." Do you get it? The Enemy is still there, and he still wants to consume you, so you must make war.
You must repent, and you must walk in truth. Jesus saw demon-possessed, blind, sick, and dead as individuals suffering and needing relief more than sinners needing repentance. That's why in John, chapter 9, they said, "Why is this guy blind? Was it his sins or his father's sins?" Superstition. Syncretism. Pagan cultures influencing their understanding of Exodus 20, Exodus 34, and other things.
Jesus said, "Neither one of them but so God might be glorified so I can show you the effects of this broken world are going to be overcome by the goodness of God. Follow me! Quit following the world that leads you out of Paradise and into famine, out of goodness and into chaos." All throughout Jesus' ministry, we are not called to do what Jesus did.
That little WWJD bracelet? Take it off! You should wear a bracelet that says, "What would Jesus have me do?" because you are not the Anointed One. It's okay to leave that bracelet on. I'm not really against those bracelets, but really, it should be WWJHMD (What would Jesus have me do?). Why? Because you are not called to deal with situational evil the same way Jesus was.
Was there a limited amount of food supply when Jesus was in front of the 5,000? Yes. He had compassion. The people were there and had nothing to eat, so what did he do? He said, "I'm sovereign over a limited supply. I'll take care of it." What does he do when we're in Dallas, Texas, in 2009, and because of the economic situation and because of circumstances of crises in peoples' lives, there is hunger in Dallas?
I didn't say, "Can somebody bring next week five loaves of Wonder and two cans of StarKist? We're going to multiply it and feed Dallas." Now, I would have loved to have been able to do that, but the model in the New Testament to deal with hunger is what? Share. Take what you have and give it to others. "Trust me. You have more than you need. They have less than they need. Their need meets your need, which is the need to give. Their need meets your need, which is the need to receive so that in both things God might be glorified."
Jesus, in storms, walked right across the top of them. How does he tell us to go through storms? We're to walk through the depths of despair with hope, knowing there is going to be a day when the goodness of God is going to be revealed in himself and we're no longer going to be making war. We are right now at war, so the waters aren't calm. He calms our hearts in the midst of great chaos. He gives us courage in the midst of that which creates fear. He gives us hope in a world that should bring us hopelessness.
Jesus, though, intervened supernaturally at times in order to reveal who he was so that the world would know that he was who he said he was so they would then repent of following the lies that demons follow, acknowledge that he is the king of chaos and death, follow the King of life and forgiveness, and to then be growing in the knowledge of our Father, to be confessing when we disagree with our Father, to be seeking forgiveness and to being filled with the knowledge of his will, to meditate day and night, and to encourage one another lest we're hardened by deceitfulness of sin.
Here's what you need to know. When dealing with moral evil, which is what you and I are faced with all of the time, Scriptures never identify spirit inhabitance as the problem, nor does Scripture ever encourage us to cast them out as the solution. Isn't that a big curious? If exorcism, which is just a simple word that means to cast out with an oath… That's what an exorcism is.
We think the problem is, "The Devil made me do it." No. Let me just show you something. The spirit of rebellion that is in you, the spirit which is now working in the sons of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2 says, is our flesh which listens to the lies of the chief demon (Satan) that causes us to be demonized.
People experience demonic oppression when they listen to demonic deception. There is no sequence in Scripture of oppression, foothold, stronghold, possession, and you need an exorcism. It's just not there. Those words are there, but what he calls you to do in every circumstance is to respond the same way.
Sin is an expression of an unholy spirit and demonic wisdom, but it is our moral evil. It is our sin. Let me show you this in Galatians, chapter 5. In Galatians, chapter 5, verses 16 through 24, I just want to read this to you. Watch this. Watch what he says. This is the mode of spiritual warfare. It's not to cast out a demon. It's not to name the demon. It is to know that there is a liar.
" But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Why? Because that's what demons do! That's what liars do. They believe that life is in all of those things. He doesn't say the problem is with the demon in you; he says the problem is your flesh, which has bought the Father of Lies' word that your flesh needs to follow itself which is contradicting.
Scripture is saying, "Don't lean on your own understanding." Do you see what is at stake here? Gang, I want us to understand what God wants you to do is to make war with the mode of warfare that will set you free and bring glory to God. Here it is. I just want to sum it up for you in a couple of things.
We don't deliver people from evil spirits; we deliver people from the domain of darkness that evil spirits are confined in. There is not a demon of anger; there is a Father of Lies. When we don't resist, we don't acquire an evil spirit; we become like the evil spirit. We need to avoid the revealed lies more than the concealed liars.
In other words, this is how you make war. I close with this, and then I'm going to let Tedashii bring it home with some hip-hop truth. Are you ready? This is how you make war. I just took what is in the Scripture and I brought it together, and there is so much more, but it's not a once‑and‑done casting out.
It's not naming a demon and getting rid of it, because it is in you (this bent toward rebellion), but what's no longer there is the abject slavery to an oppressor because God has set you free, taking you out of the domain of darkness and delivering you into the kingdom of his beloved Son, so repent! Stop thinking like somebody who is influenced by the spirit that is still working the sons of disobedience! Have faith! God is good! His Word is true!
Commit to follow Jesus. Love. Surrender. Guard your heart. Watch your tongue. Be on the alert. Stand firm. Reconcile. Forgive. Live with integrity. Flee immorality. Resist the Enemy. Beware! Love what is good. Identify false teachers. Test the spirits. Be careful with money. Be filled with the Spirit.
Don't lean on your own understanding. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Encourage one another. Spur one another on. Yield. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. Listen to him. Meditate on his Word day and night. Worship. Fear God. Obey. Walk in the light. Be filled with the knowledge of his will.
Do not grow weary of doing good. Study to show yourself approved as a workman who does not need to be ashamed. Discipline yourself with the purpose of godliness. Suffer hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Be strong. Love God. Love others. Present your bodies as living and holy sacrifices. Pray at all times in the Spirit. Let the Word of God richly dwell in you.
That's how you make war, and it's not popular. If I tell you to come with me to a conference and we'll get rid of your problem, you're all in, but the acai berry will not change your body, and this stuff will not bring you true spirituality. You need to make war. My friend, John Piper, did a message on something like this a while back, and I got this excerpt, and so did Tedashii. I'm going to play you that excerpt, and then Tedashii is going to give you a rap that unpacks that.
I am so sick of Christians living defeated lives and yo-yo spirituality. As Piper said, "Murmur, murmur, murmur. Where is the victorious Christian life?" It's in that last paragraph and not in some esoteric experience that is not founded in Scripture but is some combination of supernatural pagan ideas imposed upon obscure texts. Make war.
First of all, that's what I was trying to say. All right? Secondly, you have to listen to that a lot, but the truth is in there. The truth is in there. It's fun. That's what it is. We have to get up and step up and be men. Be on the alert. Stand firm in the faith. Act like men. There is no easy out from this war. You have to be vigilant and ready and armed.
That's what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 6:10-18. You need to know this. He didn't get the spiritual warfare in chapter 6, verses 10 and following. He was repeating what he had already been talking about for the last two chapters about how you make war. Go read it. He just uses one more illustration to tell you that it's a constant battle.
He's already talking about the hope of your salvation. He has already talked about faith. He has already talked about the truth of the gospel. He has already talked about the power of prayer. He has already talked about the sword of the Spirit. He's just reviewing. It's the way you live every day, and there is no easy out. Men who want easy outs are prey, so make war and don't go at it alone.
If you're here and you are war torn, I want to tell you about a Father who loves you and restores war-torn children and puts them out of the infirmary back into a place of wholeness and life again. I want to tell you about my Savior who came and stripped the strong man. He took away the need to sin and the wages of sin. He puts you in the blessed inheritance of his Son.
His name is Jesus, and he loves you, and he doesn't care what your flesh has given itself away to, believing the lies. "This is how you were born," or "This is what you made," or "You've done it once, so you have to keep doing it." No. He heals, and he makes whole, and he can even change the situation you live in when he moves you into the kingdom of light. Follow him. Trust him. Repent. Worship together.
Y'all have a great week of worship. We'll see you.