Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
OUR STRUGGLE IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
11 NOVEMBER 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Luke 21:10-19, 34-36,
Preparation Verse: (Psalm 57:1)
Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in Thee;
And in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge,
Until destruction passes by.
As we enter into this time of discussion of the Word of God, open your hearts and minds to all of the glory of God. Try not to put any limits on your understanding of the ways of God, and treasure the blessings you will receive.
Today is Veterans Day. It is a day when we are to celebrate those who have fought in our wars, where people kill other people.
And today we are on the verge of another war. And if it really happens, many
more will be killed.
We look at the world situations, and at certain leaders, and we wonder and speculate in our minds about who the real enemy is; but we may not be looking at the real enemy at all. Note what we are told in Ephesians 6:12 –
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I'm not speaking against those brave persons, living or dead, who fought to protect our country from the forces of evil.
But the forces of evil, that they thought they were fighting against, were not of the flesh and blood of those they fought, even though far too much flesh died, and far too much blood was spilled on all sides.
Yet over the same periods of time, probably just as many people died at the hands of drunk drivers, because of drugs, or were murdered.
And I propose to you, that the enemy in all of these situations is the same. It is Satan.
We, ourselves, do not possess the power to fight against him on our own, and all of the guns and armament in the world cannot defeat him, for all such weapons of death are from Satan himself.
And the only way we can defeat him is to stand firm and call upon the powers of the Lord to fight for us.
All of these battles are not fought in traditional battlefields with conventional weapons.
Many are fought in our own homes, among family members, and in our places of business, and in our streets, and even in our churches.
What we must learn to do is to recognize the enemy before we enter the battle.
And once we have done this, we are to do what we are told in Ephesians 6:13 –
13. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Did you notice that we are not being called upon to attack, but only to stand firm?
We are to persevere and call upon the Lord.
But we can never learn perseverance unless we have the spiritual eyes to see into the spiritual realm.
We must be able to see past the person through whom this aggression comes and to see the real source.
We can't do this unless we also possess lovingkindness, for it is lovingkindness that gives us the spiritual vision to separate the person from the sin.
And we also must recognize that the fires of aggression may come upon us because of our own sins.
Couldn’t the habits of smoking and drinking, and other such indulgences, likewise be from the same enemy?
Don’t they take away our riches, as does an enemy in taking away the spoils in war?
And don’t alcohol and drugs lead to the destruction of our families, and coupled with smoking, also lead to the destruction of our health, which in turn takes away more of our wealth?
We should persevere against this enemy as well.
And, we can say the same thing about the animal agriculture industry.
Almost all of our chronic and viral diseases come from the eating and raising of animals for food and clothing, and in return they take away our good health and drain our finances.
And everyone who buys or consumes these products, also contributes to the unbelievable pain and suffering inflicted upon the animals.
So, who do you think is the father of all this pain and suffering?
It is the devil!
Listen to what Luke records that Jesus speaks concerning the enemy in the end times, and see if you can discern the signs (Luke 21:10-19):
10. Then He continued by saying to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,
11. and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.
12. "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake.
These things may not all be happening to us, but they are happening to many people in our world today.
Recognize what is happening for what it is, and stand firm against it.
Listen to what Jesus says, as we continue at verse 13:
13. "It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.
14. "So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves;
15. for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.
We aren't to prepare beforehand to defend ourselves?
And God will give us words with which to defend ourselves?
Yes, that is exactly what we are being told.
Do you realize that we spend more money on war and the preparations for war than it would cost to feed and clothe and provide dignity to every man, woman, and child in the world?
And if we did this, there probably wouldn't be any wars.
But unfortunately, the world doesn't want to believe our Lord; thus He encourages us who will listen.
16. "But you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death,
17. and you will be hated by all on account of My name.
18. "Yet not a hair of your head will perish.
19. "By your endurance you will gain your lives."
It really doesn't matter whether or not we live here on earth, for we will live forever with the Lord.
This for sure: the enemy doesn't want us to understand and believe.
Not even one hair on our heads will be lost from the kingdom of heaven.
And as you can plainly see, many of us lose far more hair right here upon the earth.
Oh! Christian! See far beyond our human frailties and the effect of the enemy upon us. See into the kingdom of heaven, and rejoice that one day you will be there...
Listen to how Jesus ties together what we have been talking about, as it relates to the final day, as we look at verses 34-36 –
34. "Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap;
35. for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth.
36. "But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Is each one of us prepared, truly prepared, to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ right this very moment?
If we have some concerns or doubts, then we had best do something about it before it's too late.
Recognize the enemy within and without, and call upon the Lord for help. If you mean it, He will answer.
We must be prepared.
In the next chapter of Luke, the Lord tells us about this preparedness. Listen as we read 22:35-38 –
35. And He said to them, "When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" And they said, "No, nothing."
36. And He said to them, "But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one.
37. "For I tell you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, 'And He was numbered with transgressors'; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment."
38. And they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."
Now wait a minute!
This passage seems to be counter to what we were just saying.
But think about it a minute.
And in particular, think about the last three words, "It is enough."
How could two swords be enough to fight against an army?
How could even two tanks be enough to fight against Iraq's aggression?
It is obvious that neither two swords nor two tanks would be enough.
What Jesus wants us to pick up is not a physical sword, but a spiritual one: His word.
The apostles did get a chance to use one of these physical swords, but note how the Lord responds, even in the face of death, as we read verses 47-53 –
47. While He was still speaking, behold, a multitude came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him.
48. But Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"
49. And when those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?"
50. And a certain one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear.
Do you think that's what the Lord wanted?
We so often pray and ask the Lord for something and then never wait for the answer.
We just react.
Listen to Jesus' reaction:
51. But Jesus answered and said, "Stop! No more of this." And He touched his ear and healed him.
52. And Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, "Have you come out with swords and clubs as against a robber?
53. "While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours."
The enemy is really a coward, and so are those who follow his enticements and do his evil deeds.
We don't need swords and guns; we need steadfastness in the lovingkindness of the Lord our God.
If we give in to the enemy with the so-called little enticements of pornography, drugs, smoking and alcohol, we much more easily can be lured into thinking that weapons make right.
The enemies of God are trying every way they can to make Christians ineffective, and to even kill us, so that we will stop telling the truth.
And we have allowed Satan to make us so fearful of other unarmed people, that we are afraid to speak the truth about the gospel.
We seem to fear their ridicule more than we would if we had a loaded gun barrel pointed at our chest.
We are to persevere.
We are to stand firm against the enemy's devices.
And we are to truly recognize the enemy himself.
Then we will come to truly understand that our struggle is not against flesh and blood.
And we will call upon the Lord our God, and we will be strengthened and trust in Him for all things, and we will never again make war against our fellow human beings or the other animals.