The Battle is Spiritual and Purposeful

There are numerous passages in the epistles illustrating that demonic spirits can have extensive influence on believers. Paul warns Timothy "the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared." So in essence we are being told to be careful to what teachings and influences we expose ourselves to. We need to all ask ourselves who is behind these teachings or these realms of influence. The reality is what we expose ourselves to, does influence us and there is a purpose behind this exposure.

Passage(s): 
1 Timothy 4:1-5

Comments

We’ve been talking about spiritual battle. Sometimes when you go to a church and hear someone talk about spiritual battle a lot, people can get a little skeptical or worried that that church is out there a little bit. But if you think about it, in Christ, we are a new creation. And Jesus prayed, “they are no longer of this world. I pray you keep them in this world so they can fulfill their purpose in the world.”

 

So, being born again, we have a spiritual nature. And there’s a great battle going on between the Kingdom of God and kingdom of darkness. there’s no neutral ground. Everywhere we walk, we have to look “behind the screen”, beyond the physical situation ,and ask God what’s going on in the spiritual realm. So we can address physical things in a spiritual way. Else we’re falling short of God’s call on our lives.

 

Today’s focus: society has an agenda. Satan is the prince of this world. And in this environment, he purposes to steal,kill,destroy. To hinder the advancement of the the Kingdom of God.

 

The enemy knows the weaknesses of man. The key to victory: realize it’s ALL spiritual. That’s what Paul helps the churches he writes to to see.

 

We must recognize it’s a spiritual matter and we must treat it as such. It applies to us all — even young people.

 

Evil asserts itself in 3 different ways:

1. IN the flesh. When man is born, because of the sin of adam, we’re born into the curse of sin with humanistic soulish desire. The heart is wicked. Even when we want to do good, we can sin. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to work within us. We need to continue to surrender our desires to Christ.

2. He works through the world—society, culture, environment. Open your eyes and you’ll see that.

3. Through direct demonic forces trying to plague, hinder, disrupt our lives.

 

CHART: Sin fed by evil inclinations, environment/culture , demons. These can come together to subdue us. And we have to walk acc to the Word of God and the Sp of God. By our union with Christ, we have the ability t offer every aspect of our lives to God.

 

Say this, “As believers, by virtue of our union with Christ, we now have the ability to offer every aspect of our lives to God and allow Him to reign over us.” 

 

We have that authority, power, victory. But it’s not automatic. We have to fight the battle daily.

 

Today’s focus: the external environment and culture that tries to overwhelm us.

 

1Tim 4:1-5 -  4:1 ¶ Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

 

“Some of us will depart from the faith by devoting ourselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” - WHere’s this coming from? WHy’s Paul saying this? Look at Acts 19.

 

Acts 19:8 -  8 ¶ And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.

 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.

 10* This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

 11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,

 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.

 13 ¶ Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘‘I adjure you by the Jesus, whom Paul proclaims.’’

 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.

 15* But the evil spirit answered them, ‘‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’’

 16* And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Mastered = had dominion over. So this demon had dominion and power over them.

 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.

 18* Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19* And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.

 20* So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

 

Paul wrote to Timothy, pastor of the church of Ephesus, where there were many house churches with teaching going on in each house. He was shepherd over all these mini churches. And these Christians were product of their environment, constantly being battled by their environment. And Ephesus was known for its practices and devotion to different gods.

I read that you could summon Damien who could give you power to do great works. And he would go and get other spirits who would reside in you with him so you can do great things.

It was a v ritualistic environment.

Living in Africa, we saw a lot of witchcraft and rituals. The Water Church was popular. Had OT practices, some NT practices, and witchcraft. In their services, there’d be men dressed in colorful robes who’d take branches like hyssop and they’d sprinkle the people with water as they came in.

The river was dried up most of the time, but when the river from Angola would come to Botswana, that would be big news. They’d say, “The river is coming!” And the people in the water church would stay there and camp for days because they believed the water had power. They mixed Christity and OT traditions with cultural things to come up with their own form of religion.

And this was happening among the believers. They’re products of their environment. Man likes to be in control. We like to control our destiny. Even tho we want to surrender and trust God for our lives, we like to think we can do something about it. That we can invoke God to do stuff for us.

When I injured my arm in Botswana, my assistant came and said, “I know how God will make your arm better. Plead the blood of Jesus 7x for your arm for 7 days. And your arm will be healed.” She was trying to take spiritual truth—cleansed by the blood of Jesus—and mix it with her culture of spiritual witchcraft.

And this is what was happening with Tim in Ephesus. (Re-read 1Tim 4:1-5.) Men and women were trying to become extra spiritual by forbidding to marry, abstaining from certain foods—manmade things—to be more spiritual and invoke God to do more things for them.

Paul to Tim: these people are becoming victims to their culture/environment. As a result, people will fall away from the faith.

 

Today, think about all the influence. Turn on the TV and you’ll see the homosexual agenda. We’re not against homosexuals, we’re against homosexuality. We’re against sinful practices, and our culture is trying to indoctrinate us. There are deceitful spiritus behind this. This is a demonic teaching. Recognize it. Look behind the screen.

When these things are trying to indoctrinate us, we need to understand that there’s an agenda to make us fall from the faith.

 

So, we must be aware of our environment and the influence it’s trying to have on us. 

 

Second, we must guard our hearts and understand that the enemy wants to take us captive.

 

2Tim 2:20-26  20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.

 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

Remember last week we talked about sanctification. The blood of Christ has set us apart for God’s service. To be holy means to be set apart for God. Paul is telling Tim, “If someone cleanses himself from dishonorable things, he’s holy, useful to the master of the house.”

God has set us apart for every good work. There’s a purpose for our lives.

Paul was Tim’s spiritual father. Tim was maturing in the Lord.

 22 ¶ So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

 24* And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,

 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

 26 and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

 

“captured” = ensnared with intention to use and then devour. The enemy wants to use us for his will and then devour us.

 

When we call on the name of the Lord Jesus, the SpGod comes to dwell in us. The core is renewed. Life has come. SpGod dwells within us. In John 10, we’re in the Father’s hand and unable to be snatched out. We can lose our witness but not our salvation.

 

Guard your heart. Udersand how the enemy will try to influence through your environment.

 

Some of these things they’re being influenced from are from OT traditions. We have to be wise. When you see someone struggling, don’t go into foolish quarrels with them. Try to humbly restore them.

 

Amazing how many churches will split over tradition. How many people will get offended over man-made doctrine. How many churches die out over things that aren’t Christ centered.

 

Guard your heart because the emery will try to cause you to fall astray.

 

Colossians 2:8-23 -  8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy [College students, I know you’re bombarded with humanistic philosophy. Science. Philosophy. I attended Eastern NM U. I was a believer. Everyone there were rushing and partying. You’re right in the middle of this. Out from under your parents. You want to see what life’s about. Peer infuence. Things that cause you to question Christity. Arguments from humanistic POV. Foolish arguments = from people who don’t ustand spiritual truth. 

 

There was a guy in the next room over in our dorm, his name was Michael too. Strong Christian. I was convicted by him. I wasn’t as strong as he. I was on speech/debate team. And lots of the people I debated, their sexual identity was different from mine. I was conscience of sinful and debauched thinking. And I felt I wasn’t strong enough to stand this. So I transferred to a junior college, where I stayed 1.5 yrs.

A friend of mine was coming to DJ a dance at Howard College. He came with makeup on. He had already been drinking. He had a guy working with him. And he had a guy working with him. And it was Michael! that formerly strong Christian from the U. He’d completely fallen from the faith. In my heart I was thinking, if it weren’t for God’s grace, there go I.

 

] and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

[There’s an agenda behind this, bringing up the basic worldly believes and things that are not according to Christ.]

 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10* and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

 13 ¶ And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

[We don’t have to give in to the deceitful and empty philosophies that go against Christ. We’re more than conquerors through Christ who’se nailed them to the cross. We must be watchful to manmade rules and doctrines that will try to influence our hearts. Look behind the screen. the teachings are deceitful. They’re not walking close with Christ.]

 16 ¶ Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, [repeating 3x] insisting on asceticism [extreme self-discipline] and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

 20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations-- 21 ‘‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’’

 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)--according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

 

This is being written to believers who’d fallen into legalism. Saying, “we must be grounded in the truth.” One of the things I appreciate in my life is that the Lord has allowed me to work in 2 presbyterian churches, 3 non-denominational, a vineyard church. Etc. I was saved in baptist church. Discipled in baptist and non-denominational. And often things were laid on me that were more tradition than biblical truth. And people were willing to fight and divide over these traditions that weren’t biblical truths.

When we try to walk in legalism == actions we do to try to appease God—going to church, reading the Bible, praying—if we’re trying to appease God, that’s legalism. There’s not a living relationship in our hearts. No real conviction of the Holy Spirit.

And when we see others walking in legalism, it’s easy for us to fall into traps and fall away.

I get tired and weary, overwhelmed in my relationship with Christ. But because it’s a relationship, His grace is sufficient. When I’m weak, He’s strong. The SpGod is within me. Convicts me. Encourages me. I’m in relationship, not walking in legalism.

Beware—not just the influences of the world, but the influences of legalistic religion.

 

Finally, Gal 4:1-9  4:1 ¶ I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.

 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.

 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6* And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘‘Abba! Father!’’ 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

 8 ¶ Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9* But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

 

Understand this. In the church of Galatia, there were Judaizers trying to establish the old law again. Trying to reestablish traditions. In order to be a strong believer, you have to obey the OT traditions. They were trying to enslave them to legalism.

Xity isn’t legalism. Look behind the screen. if the devil convinces you to walk in legalism, you’ll find yourself quarreling and battling. Walking in Christ vs walking in legalism will bring about quarreling and battling.

The enemy wants us in legalism and missing out on the relationship and freedom in Christ. It’s a spiritual battle. And it’s won by knowing who we are in Christ. Amen?

 

11:23 Let’s pray. Father you tell us to be watchful and careful of the influence of the enemy as he’s in the world and tries to deceive us and lead us astray. I pray for the young people. As they find themselves in different environments and different influences, I pray you’d continue to convict them and pursue them with your righteousness. That their hearts would be open to you and hungry for you.

For us a a body, that we’d lever be hung up over legalism, or music, or colors of paint and carpet. That we’d never get caught up in the elementary principles. But that our hearts and worship would be true.

Lord Jesus, we need you. We live in a hostile environment. Fill us as we continue to surrender and submit to you. If our eyes our clouded, I pray our hearts would be checked. If there’s a death, weariness, emptiness we’re experiencing, I pray we open up and seek your renewal.

I pray nothing would be false/fake. Revive us Lord. Revive us now.

When the community sees us, may they see life. People walking in love and humility. Even tho circumstances say one thing, they see a peace passing all understanding.

When the world has labeled us as one thing, when they meet us, that it would be like the world meeting you Lord Jesus: finding someone real, walking in life, loving people right where they are. Lord, let us be you. Fill us Lord. Use us Lord. Have your way.

 

Let’s stand in an attitude of prayer. Lord, you know my heart. Sometimes I get so carried away. Lord, I don’t want anything to hinder your Word or your voice. I pray anything of the flesh will be snatched away and not stick to anyone here. Ignite us, Lord God. We hunger for and are passionate for you Lord Jesus.

I know a dear friend who feels she’s lost her faith because of circumstances. Rejuvenate her heart. There are those who’ve been thru a traumatic experience and feeling weak and weary. Reignite and revive and refresh with a peace that passes all understanding.

Lord Jesus, if there’s someone here today with a hurting or confused or empty or lonely heart, whatever it takes, break them free. IF they need you, that they’d instinctively cry out to you now. Holy Spirit, that you’d consume them with the presence of our Father.

Lord, have your way.

 

If someone here doesn’t have that relationship, we want to give you that opportunity now. If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior and you want that relationship, come forward now.

If you’re saying, “when you talk about dying and weary, that’s me” or “I don’t know where I’m at”. If that’s you, come forward. Young or old. Let us stand with you in faith and allow God to renew you and rekindle you in your relationship with Christ.

If God’s speaking to you, please respond.