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THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE CONTINUES...BUT THE POWER OF GOD IS WITH US!

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

17 APRIL 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 4:1-8
1 John 3:1-12

The spiritual battle does indeed continue every day of our earthly lives, but the power of God is with us to help us overcome whatever the enemy sends in our direction.

If we believe this, and utilize this power, we will have peace of mind all the days of our lives, even if there is violence all around us.

It's as the psalmist said in our preparation verse for this morning, Psalm 4:8:

8. In peace I will both lie down and sleep,

For Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety.

There are wars going on in various places throughout the world, and there is terror in many other places.

We live in a nation that has far too much of its share of this violence, and many people have lost hope because of it.

But this should never happen to a true believer, for we know the ultimate outcome: Those who practice evil will end in evil, but we who practice love, and compassion, and righteousness will live in glory with our Lord forever and ever.

This is what John is telling us in his first epistle, 1 John 3:1-12:

1. See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

People who know God cannot go around terrorizing and hurting and killing others, whether they are humans or animals, for it is not their nature; their nature is love.

People do these violent things because they do not truly know the Lord our God, and the god they worship, if indeed they do worship at all, is not the God we know.

They are worshipping the devil, even if they don't realize it.

We who love the Lord can look to an eternal future of peace, joy and love; those who don't, see no future beyond this world.

2. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

3. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Is this the life you seek?

If so, we are children of God, and in that assurance, live in the hope of a better tomorrow.

Really live there, and not here in the problems and frustrations of this world.

And while we wait for ultimate peace, evil people will still continue to do evil; but as for us, we should live for the Lord.

4. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

5. And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

6. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Once we have heard and come to know the truth, how can we ever go back to the lie?

Yet the majority of the people in this world have done just that.

7. Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;

8. the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Here is verse 8 John uses an unusual Greek word to describe Jesus' destruction of the works of the devil.

He is not writing here of the devil's ultimate destruction, but only of the destruction or undoing of the things he has done in the believers.

It appears that John is expressing to us the fact that we play an active part in the power of Jesus to destroy the works of the devil.

That is why the translators used the expression, "might destroy," for it involves our willingness to allow the Lord to work within us, and then through us to the the world around us.

So, when we find ourselves still afflicted by a particular sin, it is because we haven't allowed the Lord to fully work in that area of our life. We are still playing with that sin.

This is an important point for all of us to understandÖto understand about ourselves and also about the other person.

Jesus Christ came and paid the price for all sinners, but only those who repent and believe in Him are redeemed.

For it's not just blood that covers our sins, but the precious blood of Jesus.

So...in order for His blood to cover us, Jesus must be present with us.

This is the spiritual battle that most people don't recognize. As a result, they get lulled into the false belief that everyone goes to heaven, which is far from the truth.

9. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

We all sin. This is not talking about the sin of omission, but those sins that we continually practice without any remorse.

10. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

11. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;

12. not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brotherís were righteous.

Over and over again you have heard me refer to our living with unconditional love and compassion as the central focus of our being.

You have also heard me say that even if we err in judgment, let it be on the side of love.

The reason Mary and I are vegetarians is that we don't want to harm any being, human or animal, and thus we are constantly reminded morning, noon, and night of what it means to be compassionate and loving.

Further, it helps keep us away from violent acts and unloving circumstances, for we have learned to feel the pain and suffering of others as if it were our own.

And I believe that is what Jesus felt for us upon the cross, and what we are to feel for all of His creation.

People who are evil try to justify their deeds, or try to destroy those who are righteous, for righteousness always shows up evil for what it is: an act of ungodliness.

This is the spiritual battle that continues all around us, but even in its midst, the power of the Holy Spirit is there to lead us through it unscathed.

Psalm 4 gives us a good lesson in how to make this power of the Holy Spirit work in us, and how to have peace of mind.

1. Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!

Thou hast relieved me in my distress;

Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

David first talks to God and then to himself and then back to God.

He is both praying and reminding himself of the ways of God, including the fact that God does indeed answer prayer.

Then David begins to speak to others.

2. O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?

How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? [Selah.

And David pauses...letting his words sink into the hearts of those to whom he is speaking, that they will hopefully recognize the evil within themselves and also the power of the Holy Spirit that is there to keep us from evil.

3. But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself;

The Lord hears when I call to Him.

Or, we can say that the Lord sets apart from Him those who are ungodly; and those He does not hear.

4. Tremble, and do not sin;

Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. [Selah.

This is one of the blessings we are to count instead of sheep.

5. Offer the sacrifice of righteousness,

And trust in the Lord.

In Old Testament times, for most of the people it became easier to kill an innocent animal to pay the price of sin than it was to be righteous.

They had to sacrifice too much to be righteous.

Thus their sacrifices had little or no meaning; in fact, God most likely considered these sacrifices to be evil.

6. Many are saying, "Who will show us any good?"

Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, O Lord!

7. Thou hast put gladness in my heart,

More than when their grain and new wine abound.

8. In peace I will both lie down and sleep,

For Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety.

David sinned, and some of his sins were really bad, but his heart was always repentant, and he returned wholeheartedly to the Lord.

David lived in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Lord's and Davidís lesson for us today is that we should do the same.

Sure, the spiritual battle continues...but the power of God, the Holy Spirit, is with us; and in this power we can have everlasting peace.

Live in this peace; it's free for the asking.

And in this peace you will have love.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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