The Battle Ground
On many occasions I have made reference in these messages to the “battle” which we Christians must fight on a daily basis with the Devil. Our Christian walk is not a “walk in the park” it is a “warfare” and we are “at war” with Satan who wants to steal our faith and destroy our lives and testimonies for God. Not only is Satan after the life of the Christian, he is not fussy, for he is out to kill, steal from, and destroy all of Gods creation, and he will destroy you if you don’t act to stop it … believe me!
He is not going to wait until you are 21 before he steps up to the mark, he will try from day 1 to get ground in your life and circumstances, so that he can begin to build his destructive and destroying mechanisms early. If he can destroy you as a child before you are 5, he is not going to wait until you are 15, or 50, this is why we need to pray for and protect our children from every evil influence.
My Sermon today, entitled “The Battle Ground” is about the strategy of the Devil, sometimes called Satan, to gain the upper hand early in your life and mine. I use the word “ground” specifically, because Satan cannot work without territory?
This is clearly evident again and again throughout the pages
of Scripture. This is why he was so ineffective in tempting Jesus, for Jesus could say that he had “nothing in me”- John 14:30. Jesus allowed him no entry even though He himself was tempted in all points as we are, he remained without sin.
Isaiah the prophet tells us of Satan’s fall from heaven in Isaiah 14:12 and following, and there we read his “heavenly name” Lucifer, meaning the “son of the morning” for he was obviously a great and important Angel at one time? Paul refers to him in
Ephesians 2:2 as “the prince of the power of the air” for he has not yet received “power of the earth”. It appears that he can only take power or place, when that place is surrendered to him. This is why he is described by the Apostle Peter as our adversary “a roaring Lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
We believe that when Jesus calls His Church to meet Him in the air, at the great “calling away” or “rapture” then and only then will the Devil be able to set up his “tyrannical reign” on the earth: and if you think its bad now, you’ve seen nothing yet!
So remember, Satan needs ground, territory from which to
battle and make war with both saint and sinner alike.
In the same way that God has His Angels, His messengers, His Servants that do His bidding, Satan too has those “fallen angels” (demons the Bible calls them) that do his sinister and sinful works. For when Satan fell (or was thrown out) from Heaven, in His apparent desire to supplant the Almighty, he took with him, a third of that Spiritual Host in his rebellion against God. Read about it in Ezekiel 28 & Revelation 12.
Some of you may be asking, why did Satan fall from Heaven? Satan fell because of pride. He desired to be God, not to be a servant of God. Notice the many “I will…” statements in Isaiah 14:12-15. Ezekiel 28:12-15 describes Satan as an exceedingly beautiful angel. Satan was likely the highest of all angels, the most beautiful of all of God’s creations. Satan was not content in his position. Instead, he desired to be God, to essentially “kick God off His throne” and take over the rule of the universe.
Satan wanted to be God, and interestingly enough, that is what Satan tempted Adam and Eve with, in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-5). How did Satan fall from Heaven? Actually,
a fall is not an accurate description. It would be far more accurate to say that God threw Satan out of Heaven?
(Isaiah 14:15; Ezekiel 28:16-17).
In the NT the term Satan, transliterated from the Hebrew, always designates the personal Satan. He is often called the devil from the Greek diabolos, meaning “the slanderer” (Matt 4:1; Luke 4:2; John 8:44;). ( In the Bible, when we see the word “Devils” (plural) in the King James Version and most Revised Versions it is properly read as “demons.”)
Other titles or descriptive designations applied to him are “Abaddon” or “Apollyon” (Rev 9:11); “Accuser of our brothers” (Rev 12:10); “enemy,” (1 Peter 5:8); “Beelzebub” (Matt 12:24); “Belial” (2 Cor 6:15); the one who “leads the whole world astray” (Rev 12:9); “the evil one” (Matt 13:19); “the father of lies” (John 8:44); “the god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4);
“a murderer” (John 8:44); “that ancient serpent” (Rev 12:9); “the prince of this world” (John 12:31); “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2); and of course “the tempter” (Matt 4:5).
So we understand that Satan does not work alone in the battle for our souls. The Bible consistently speaks of the …
Fearful Spirit, Filthy Spirit, Lying Spirit, Spirit of Divination, (that’s horoscopes & fortune telling) Spirit of Weakness, Spirit of Infirmity, Spirit of oppression, or depression, and so on.
So there are these evil demonic spirits at work, unseen, unwelcome and undermining those who give them “ground”
or a place in their lives. Paul could say in Ephesians 6:12
” For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.“
So this fight is not in the physical but in the spiritual.
Now some of you may be asking, “where am I letting the Devil in? Where are the cracks through which he can claim territory in my life?… and how can I guard against Satan, and keep him out? The Apostle James says: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him”. James 1:5 God will show you where the breach, where the gap is. Listen to what the wisest man who ever lived has to say in the Proverbs of Solomon.
Pro 18:21 says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” and
Pro 15:4 says: “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit”. There it is, right there is where we give ground – territory to the Devil. Careless talk creates a hole in the dam, or the dyke. Remember the Devil cannot operate without some territory, but I have discovered (and I have said it before) that He is a master builder. Unlike many of our building developers in these times, territory can lie dormant for many months even years before the construction work begins, but the Devil starts his destructive work immediately he gets his foot in the door, and I recon that his prime target is your tongue!
Because we know that this fight is not in the natural for “we wrestle not against flesh and blood”, we can justifiably assume that the fight begins in the spiritual … and so it does.
Over many years of ministry in counselling I have come to the conclusion that there were at least FIVE steps or five strategies
of battle which Satan uses on us. It is these FIVE things I want to highlight now, in the remaining moments of today’s message.
Of course he may vary, change or alter his methods at any time, but his ultimate goal remains the same, he is out to destroy us.
The first stage of the Satanic attack, I will call:
The spirit Obsessed
Obsession, begins in the thoughts, in the mind, and is it any wonder that Paul writing to the Ephesian Christians about the “Armour” that they need for this battle, includes the “helmet of Salvation” Eph 6:17. Protect your head, protect your mind, protect your thoughts and imaginations. It is there that “obsession” begins. It may take a variety of forms, but is most likely to be an obsession which takes a root from a past experience. I said a while ago that Satan begins this battle at birth, he is watching, listening, looking, searching, assessing, concluding, noting all the things in life’s experiences that upset, annoy, disturb and distract us. He is looking for our particular weaknesses, (our Achilles’ Heel) for there, there is more likely to be a “breach” in our defences.
Like any great battle commander his strategy is well planned and thought out before he attacks. One may become obsessed with work, with money, with fame, honour or respect, with greed, with achievements, with sex or pornography, with immorality or with crime, with religious observance and one may even become obsessed with a person, and it need not be a friend, it could be an enemy? The list is endless and the Devil doesn’t care where it leads as long as it leads you to an obsession, a craving, and unquenchable thirst. The obsession can become your reason for life and living, and you can find yourself neglecting all other things in the effort to support your obsession. This is usually the first step down a very dangerous and difficult road.
Then the second stage of this Satanic attack, I am calling:
The spirit Oppressed
Oppression, is the stage when the obsession becomes poisonous.
I used to tell my students, that “Oppression is like a poisoned chalice” you may drink it with a friend, but first you offer them the cup with the poison added. You may speak well of someone, but in a tone that injects doubt. You become insincere, mischievous, and disingenuous, even cruel. You look good on the outside like what Jesus called the “Whitened (White-washed) sepulchres but inside are full of dead men’s bones“. You smile but it is only a mask that hides the real face; and you soon lose your ability to laugh. You may look like you walk in the light, but instead you tread a dark and dangerous road. But poison kills, and it often has the habit of killing the wrong person. Bitterness kills the bitter, and spiritual oppression brings a death with it. All of this weighs heavily on the spirit of a person, and can lead to ill health, heart conditions, cancers, and stresses.
The third stage of the Devils attack is:
The spirit Depressed
Depression is something we talk about nowadays, which when I was a child growing up, it was not even a word in the vocabulary of my parents, grand-parents or neighbours. Of course it WAS a word, but used so infrequently that few knew it, and fewer still understood its meaning. On reflection, folks back then had a great deal to be depressed about, times were very hard and money was scarce, and people helped each other out – without looking for something in return.
Now, Spiritual Depression is not just being down, being at a low ebb, being unable to motivate oneself, or being unable to fight back in the battle with Satan; … Spirit Depression is often the consequence of excluding God from the picture. If the Devil can get you to focus on your obsession, poison you or those around you will negativity, and get you to forget God, then you are heading for Depression, and you will soon stop going to Church, stop reading your Bible, and stop Praying. Already the Devil is winning. Depression feeds on “self pity” and if you throw yourself a “pity party” every night, and your focus is always only on yourself (and how hard life has been to you) then you will be feeding that depression with the healthiest of diets – and killing yourself. But who is winning the Battle?
The Fourth stage leaves :
The spirit Recessed
Recession, is something we all know about today but did you know that it is possible for YOU to go into recession … Spiritual recession, Spiritual meltdown? Economic recession we know is the result of bad management or miss-management of funds. So too, the Devil can bring us to the point where we are no longer in control, where our lives have no management, no order, no routine, no goal, no motivation, no excitement, no dream, no vision, no love and no hope. We are rendered unable to fight back, unlikely to focus on the positive and unwilling to seek for help. It is always in this stage of the battle that Satan hits us with the thoughts or intentions of Suicide. I used to tell my students that at this stage the devils victims feel “wasted” and that is where the contemporary jargon finds its origin.
The Devil wants us all to end up on the waste pile –
the rubbish dump; he aims to destroy us all.
But God has an assignment and a destiny for every soul, and we should not allow the devil to play with our minds, our wills, or our dreams. We must fight this battle determined to win. John the apostle said: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world“.1 John 4:4 Get yourself secured on Gods side, then Victory is guaranteed. Stop looking at what you were, or what you have become, and begin NOW to consider what you can be, and what you are in the sight of God.
The final goal of this Satanic attack is:
The spirit Possessed
Possession, means ownership. Who do you belong to? Who controls your life or who presses your buttons every day?
The Devil wants to own you, he wants to wreck and waste your life, then you will be motivated to wreck and ruin the lives of others. But take care my friend, for the Devil is taking all of his servants to HELL with him. He does not want to go there alone, believe me, he truly does want you to accompany him, that’s why he wants to steal you from God and own you himself.
Did you know that your eternal future lies entirely in YOUR hands? God has given to everyone of us a choice, and a free will. He urges us all to “choose life” Deut 30:19, but He will not insist on it. If you allow the Devil to possess your spirit, you’re as good as dead, and tragically many have reached that point, and they will never have an anxious thought about their personal eternity. They have sold out to Satan, rejected God, turned their backs on His Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ, and Blasphemed His name, using it only as a swear word. The Bible says that they are like those who rise from their beds only to do
evil. Imagine it, never desiring the right, never wanting to do good, never seeking to please, ever only running after evil continually. So I ask you again, who owns you. I hear some of you say “no-body”. But it is not the truth. The Bible says you are either a child of God, or you are children of the Devil. That’s not the notion of this preacher, that’s the Word of God – the One before whom you and I will stand one day soon. Will you stand before Him as your Friend and Saviour, or as your Judge and Executioner? Remember, the choice is entirely Yours!
For the Christian who is engaging in this warfare every day, we need to remember that in this battle, as in every battle with Satan, Victory is guaranteed, the battle has already been won for us, Another has fought and been victor. We do not engage in this warfare to win the victory, we engage with Satan to enforce the victory that is already ours in Jesus. We ourselves are no match for the Devil, but when we fight him, engage with him, in Jesus name, in the victory of Jesus, then “he must flee from us”.
Remember, you cannot be defeated by one who is already defeated.
NOW THIS FINAL WORD.
Some time ago I heard of a pastor from Haiti who sought to illustrate to his congregation the need for total commitment to Christ. This is his parable or story: A certain man wanted to sell his house for $20,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn’t afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: He would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.
After several years, the original owner wanted to buy the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from that single nail over the front door, which he still owned. Soon with the stench of the dead dog, remaining in that house became impossible, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.
The Haitian pastor’s conclusion: “If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation.”
Don’t give the Devil even a crack in the door, before long
he will own you, remember Victory over him is already available to those who walk with Jesus as Saviour & Friend.
May Almighty God give us all grace to know His Ownership and His Victory. God Bless You