Fight the Good Fight

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Brief sermon notes this week because I didn’t really use any when I preached on Sunday!

1. How do we fight?

We take our stand, we put on the armour, we pray, we preach the word, we seek to reverse the devil’s destruction by praying for healing and those struggling with demonic attack.

So, in Ephesians 6, finally Paul speaks of the only offensive piece of armour – the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.

Hebrews puts it like this:

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

2. What do we fight with?

We don’t fight with fists because we are not fighting flesh and blood. We fight with the spiritual sword, the sword of the Spirit.

1. Sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17): Kay Arthur argues that this is not ‘logos’ (the whole word of God) but ‘rhema’ (the spoken word of God) – the precise word brought into that exact moment. The picture is of the short straight sword used by Roman solider, used for hand to hand combat and requiring some skill to use. The word of God used in this way is likened to a sword which penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. To use the scripture in this way requires a practiced knowledge of the scriptures and an openness to the Spirit. One can never ever go on the offensive in spiritual warfare without the work of Holy Spirit in your life.

(It was pointed out to me after the service that the linguistic comparison between logos and rhema is not sustainable!).

2. Word of God Today is Bible Sunday!

30 years ago we took our Bibles to church so we could practice using them as a spiritual tool. Later we gave people Bibles when they arrived so that visitors would feel welcome. Nowadays we project words and hardly anyone brings a Bible to church. We end up worrying about whether the projected version matches the read version. That comes down to replacing practice with a performance.

3. Prayer (Eph 6:18-20; Matt 12:22-32, 43-45)

The key to prayer in the context of spiritual warfare is that “two or three gather” and “agree about these things!”

a) Binding: Overcoming the strong man! Satan has no place here! Unity, peace,

b) Healing

c) Deliverance: Many people argue that what is seen in the NT as demonic is, in fact, a range of medical conditions. There is much truth that over the centuries terrible things have been done in the name of deliverance ministry. However, ironically, it’s the new interest in Celtic spirituality as well as the charismatic movement which has emphasised that some people are genuinely oppressed by the demonic and need deliverance. Otherwise Jesus was mistaken (Matt 12:22-32, 43-45) and the word of God gets it wrong!

Deliverance doesn’t have to be dramatic. There is no need for shouting and hollering – that’s the stuff of American tele-evangelists who need to draw a crowd.

If you shout at the devil, he shouts back! In Lowestoft, our local secondary school had almost 400 in every year group. The deputy head was 4’ 10’” and never raised her voice much about a whisper. But she could call to order a year 10 assembly on a wet November morning with barely more than look. She knew her authority and so did they.

People I know engaged in regular deliverance ministry do so quietly and privately. Just like police or prison officers dealing with incident, they are trained to be calm, to know where their authority lies and keep everyone safe.

3. Power and Authority

If you use the offensive weapons of the word and prayer, you appropriate your power and authority:

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Luke 9:1-2.

But our authority is delegated authority:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him
1 John 5.14