Spiritual Warfare

Bible Book: 1 Peter  5 : 8-11
Subject: Spiritual Warfare; Spiritual Battles

God uses few things to teach us like He uses “experience.” For instance, in the matter of raising children you might get one kind of answer from a non-parent and an entirely different one from a parent. The reason is because the non-parent offers what the text book says or what they feel while the parent has lived out the experience and understands the harsh realities equated with having the responsibilities for a child. Similarly, you can choose any situation (I.E. divorce, death, drugs, immorality, etc) and ask someone who has watched versus one who has lived through it and you’ll get extremely different answers.

When it comes to Spiritual Warfare, it would seem that 2 Biblical writers carry more weight than all the rest. The Apostle Paul would be the first as He speaks of being tempted, carrying a thorn in His flesh, and then teaches on the Armor of God. As Paul describes the armor, with the exception of the sword, the rest of the armor is seen as defensive in nature. Paul had a keen understanding of this thing we call Spiritual warfare.

The person I believe is more like me is Peter. Throughout Peter’s Christian journey, he is repeated tempted and amazingly, it is Peter who gives us a humanistic picture of what Satan can subtly do in the life of a believer. Think about the record of Peter’s actions and responses.

On the water in the boat Peter said, “Lord how about I walk toward you?” Jesus said, “Come on!” You know what happened. First, at least, Peter got to take a couple of steps on the water but then the tempter said, “Peter, you can’t do this.” Peter was looking at Jesus, walking like Jesus, and doing what had never been done before, but with the small inner voice, Peter was distracted. I submit that even though Peter had taken few steps on the water, He knew that He had succumbed to the voice of the enemy and let His mind wander from Jesus. Can you imagine the heartache of Peter when Jesus said, “Why did you doubt me?” Peter knew why.

In the hills of Caesarea Philippi after giving a heaven-sent proclamation that Jesus was the “Son of the Living God”, Jesus began to teach the real, hard, and difficult to digest truth of His impending death, and Peter responded, “Oh no Lord, Never!” Jesus’ words were, “Get behind me, Satan.” You see, Jesus saw Peter’s response for what it really was - an attack of the enemy. But Satan was not through with Peter.

Sitting around the table in the upper room, Peter is at it again. He always is tempted to take things over from His leader and says, “Don’t just wash my feet, but wash all of me.” And Jesus probably gave Peter one of those looks as if to say, “Peter, think about where your impetuousness comes from.” But even at this point, Peter didn’t learn his lesson. At this same meeting Jesus was attempting to prepare the group for His imminent arrest, trial, and death, by saying, ”Guys, you’ll be scattered because of me.” And here comes Peter to the rescue once again by saying “Not Me.” We know that Peter fell once again, by denying Jesus not once, but 3 times! And this almost ended Peter. All four gospels record this failure of Peter and the interesting part is that Peter is not heard from again until after the resurrection. This could well be the reason Jesus said, “Go tell the disciples And Peter.” It is likely that Jesus knew Peter no longer felt like a disciple.

After his restoration recorded in John 21, Peter was a different person. He knew what it was to be knocked down, depressed, and defeated by the evil one. He knew, first hand, how easily this could and does happen and I believe he attempted to warn people about this possibility. Turn with me to 1 Peter 5:8-11. Against Peter’s background of experience, he offers us some truths.

I. Realize You Are In A War

There is indeed a battle going on, it’s raging all around us. Sometimes it seems it’s out of control. As bad as the war in Iraq is (and it is horrific), this war exceeds it because it is a war for the hearts, minds and souls of every one of us. What we see on TV, hear in our music, and sense in our culture, is all about getting our minds off of our Lord and on ourselves. Within this melee it is difficult to “be sober” or “think clearly.” Peter desires for us to think “soberly” which means to let no outside or evil influence sway your thinking.

There are those who think a message like this is simply a “boy crying wolf” type of message. However, for the authentic believer, He understands that this is war because he lives it every day. Candidly, we have four options for dealing with this war.

A. We Can Reject It

We can close our eyes and try to ignore the war and hope it will go away. Warning – you’ll get hurt!

B. We Can Rename It

We can think that this is not really a battle or war but merely a test and no one gets hurt in test.

C. We Can Resist It

In other words, we can resist anything which appears to be difficult, as in trying to keep your hands clean.

D. We Can Rightly Handle It

This mean to have proper Biblical perspective.

In 2 Corinthians 10 Paul writes, “The weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful  through God to the demolition of strongholds.” Scriptures clearly teach and life experiences affirm that we are in a battle. Can you imagine walking through a battle field or minefield and not know what is going on around you? Talk about danger? Be sober and know.

II. Ready Yourself For An Attack

Ready yourself for an attack. Peter writes not only to be sober but to “be alert!” The KJV translated this word “vigilant”. The deeper meaning is, “To keep awake, keep watch, be watchful, and never be caught off guard.”

Matthew Henry suggests this means we should be rather suspicious of constant danger from the enemy. If we are, here is the outcome. Picture the USA in the days of settlement. As the little towns and forts began to dot the landscape, the Native American Indian tribes began to wreak havoc. So every night, sentries were posted on the walls of these settlements. Their job was to sound the alarm if they saw the enemy coming. Think about this; as I understand it, going to sleep as a sentry was a capital offense. Why was this? Because every life in that settlement placed their trust in being alerted by the sentry. Thus, to go to sleep on guard duty was to risk the entire population. However, can you imagine the outcome if the sentry sounded the alarm and no one responded? What would be the result? Death.

Listen, as a believer God has given us a sentry in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will sound the alarm when you are being attacked and He will help you fight the battle. But we must respond and be ready.

III. Recognize Your Enemy

Recognize your enemy. The next part of the verse can get a little “ho-hum” for many and yet we need to grasp the seriousness of this truth. Our enemy is not the Methodists, Church of Gods, Assembly of Gods, or even other Baptists, our enemy is the Devil. He is our opponent, our adversary, and he will do whatever he can to cause a non-believer to become a never-believer and an effective believer to become an ineffective believer. For just a few minutes I want to throw some light on Satan, the Devil, the Adversary, the Beast, the AntiChrist and whatever he is known by.

An Old Chinese Philosopher said this, “If you know yourself and your enemy, you need not fear 100 battles. If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory you’ll suffer defeat. If you know neither your enemy nor yourself, you’ll succumb in battle every time.”

A. He Has Power

Lucifer influenced 1/3 of the angels in heaven to rebel, he cause the fall of man, and according to Job 1, he roams throughout the whole earth. He has the ability to take control of a lost soul and to oppress a saved person. He can set up a stronghold in your life.

B. He Has A Purpose

First, he wants to hold on to every soul that he has so he does everything in his power to keep a lost person from hearing the gospel and will give excuses to avoid Jesus. Next, he purpose is to hamper believer to steal their joy, freedom, and peace. He would rather get a believer into sin than just about anything. Why? Because sin in the life of a believer will bring about discouragement, depression, and make them cold and calloused.

C. He Has A Plan

He has a plan – I’ll suggest that his plan comes in two stages; deception and distraction. Have you ever counted the time that scripture say, “Don’t be deceived” or “Deceive not yourself?” Truth is, Satan knows that we are easily deceived (a discovery dating back to the Garden) and he will do his best to deceive us into thinking that wrong is right. Is he good in fulfilling his purpose? Just look around. Today, we live in a country which is about to governmentally mandate “murder on demand” and accept “sexual perversion” as protected under the law of the land. We are deceived. But if deception doesn’t work, he move to plan B which is distraction. Nowhere is this influence felt more than inside of the church. When Satan gets God’s people to major on the minors, they lose their love for Jesus, reaching people, and making disciples. Those don’t do this on purpose, it just that other things have taken center stage. Never forget the Ephesus effect where many good things are done, but 1st love is lost.

D. He Has Great Potential

He has great potential – to destroy. Look around at churches who are dying, leaders who have fallen, and families which are disintegrating. Satan is having a heyday among God’s redeemed, quite likely, because we do not see our enemy or his impact in our lives. When we do, we will;

IV. Resist Him In Faith

Resist him in faith. When we realize that this is war, recognize our enemy, and begin to ready ourselves for the battle, several things will begin to happen in our lives. Let me use the word Pray as an acrostic to help.

P - Prayer will become a greater source of strength. When we pray in faith we release the power of heaven.

R - Relationships - You are Not alone. Someone is going through the same difficulties you are.

A - Action - The Bible will tell you the action to take when you are attacked.

Y - Yield - Always yield to the leadings of the Holy Spirit of God within you. If He’s Not there, then the first yielding comes when you are saved. After that, He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.