Steps to Victory

As believers, we battle many confusing issues. We see men and women who have walked with the Lord for years and then one day we hear that they have fallen into great sin or turned their back on the Lord. We also see ourselves struggle from time to time battling certain issues that seemed to be unshakable strongholds in our lives. We hear of dear brothers and sisters who say that that they are being harassed and plagued by extreme demonic influence. Many times when we hear this, we try to take a passive-aggressive approach. We acknowledge but we don’t acknowledge it for what it truly is. We try to help without really dealing with the root of the situation. We have seen a lot of this lately. So, through my time of prayer, I feel led by the Spirit of God to revisit some issues on spiritual warfare but this time we will take it slow and methodically. We will break things down in a way where, when we are finally finished, we will see a clear way of how to walk in victory.

Passage(s): 
2 Kings 23: 1-20

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Announcement: We are in the process of praying for more deacons. We’re looking for men who are serving in that role already without the title. We’re going to have an informational meeting for you so you will know what you’re getting into. If you get that tap on your shoulder, be praying.

My Aunt Mary died. Not my biological aunt, but one who became close to us, my “second mom”. Her connection to us is greater than blood. If I’m a little melancholy, that’s why.

 

Today’s message is “Steps to victory”, and we’re taking a deeper look at spiritual warfare, including the mechanics of it. In recent weeks, we have experienced a lot of struggle. Our brother Gary struggled with depression and took his own life. He was bound by oppression.

At the crest of who we are as believers is spiritual beings. Born again with the Spirit of Christ within us. And constant battle goes on with the devil striving to prevent us from understanding and walking in what we are.

 

I’ve talked about some of this before, but it was too quick—a firehose. We’re going to back up and take methodical steps.

 

A little story to lighten the mood this morning… Grace Ann, I’m praying your husband will forgive me. At our dear brother Gary’s graveside service in Fyffe, AL. I rode down with the funeral director, but. I asked John Butler and Jim for a ride back to Huntsville. And they said sure.

Wayne Miller had told John B about “a quicker way to go”. But it was more like Thelma & Louise meets Driving Miss Daisy. We got pretty lost. And John’s talk goes from “This looks familiar” to “I think this looks familiar” to “I’m not sure where we are” and it’s now a sightseeing adventure.

My wife left after we did and had her own adventure. She calls and asks where we are, “I’m on J&J Tours here.” It was a good time. Ask Jim and John about it.

 

As we think about Steps To Victory, we encounter believers who struggle with demonic activity in their lives. The big question: Can Christians be demon-possessed? We need to see what Scripture means when it uses this term.

 

2 Kings 23:1-8 (ESV):

 23:1 ¶ Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him.

 2 And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.

 3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.

 4 ¶ And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel.

 5 And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens.

 6 And he brought out the Asherah from the house of the LORD, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people.

 7 And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.

 8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beersheba. And he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one’s left at the gate of the city.

 

King Josiah is 18. He decided to repair the temple. During the repair, the book of the Law was discovered. They brought the book to Josiah. As they read, they realized they’d fallen away from the command of the Lord and corrupted the Lord’s temple. He sent messengers to a prophetess for guidance. She advised that Josiah would be blessed, but the consequence to the nation would come.

 

We as believers today are the temple of God, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit resides in us. In the OT, the Spirit was in the tabernacle. God said His presence would be where the ark was. Every year the priest would bring the blood of the sacrifice into the temple. This showed that the presence of God was with His people. When the priest entered the Holy of Holies, he could’ve been struck down.

 

And now the Spirit of God is available and resides in all of us (not just the temple/tabernacle, not just the priest).

 

They took hundreds of days to build the temple. At the dedication, Solomon prayed that God would restore those who repent.

 

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God responds to Solomon’s prayer.

 

But then something happens. Solomon marries 300 wives. And God warned that Solomon would be influenced away from God by them. And that happened. Baal (“Possessor, Lord of an area”). They began to worship Baal in God’s temple. Began wrong practices — including cultic abortion (or prostitution?).

 

And now, today, we are the temple of God. And there are outside forces that we can give access to our lives. In Ephesians, it says we can give a “foothold” to the devil (Eph 4:27). And from foothold to stronghold.

 

So the big question is: Can a believer be demon-possessed? 

Answer: Yes and no. The English definition of possession - “having, owning, or controlling something”.

Can a Christian be solely owned by a demonic force? No. Because as a child of God, the Spirit of God dwells in you. In the Greek, when you read about demon possession, words for possession are not used. Words like echo, katecho, kataomai, peripoieo - these are the words for possession. And none of these words are used here.

In the NT, the word is daimonizomai, translated several ways. In Matthew 8:16, KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV all say “possessed”. But the word literally means , “to be under the influence of a demon”, to “have a demon”.

To “have” and to be “possessed by” are two different things.

 

IF someone were to get high or drunk, they would be “under the influence” of that drug. That person is no longer in complete control. And we as Christians can experience influence, but not ownership.

 

Merrill Unger, who wrote a Bible Dictionary, wrote a book in 1952 in which he said, “Believers are not liable to demon inhabitation… We are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so demon possession is not possible.” Then he went to the mission field. He witnessed people who had signs of being believers. And these same people would show signs of being demon possessed. It was as struggle for him.

Then, in 1971, he wrote “Demons in the World Today”. In 1977, “What Demons Can Do To Saints”. He was forced back to Scripture to evaluate between what he taught and what the Bible taught. He asserted that demons influence in a variety of ways, including inhabiting and oppressing.

 

Many biblical scholars today use the word “demonized”, a more accurate way to translate it. Because people have a hard time with “possession” which conveys today the idea of “sole ownership”. But in KJV days, it was allowed that possession would encompass merely an area of your life.

 

So, is it possible for Christians to be under a high degree of influence by a demonic spirit? Yes.

Is it possible for a Christian to yield control of their body or soul to a demonic spirit in the same way that they yield to the power of sin? Yes.

 

There can be strongholds in our lives. But a Christian cannot be owned by a demon.

 

So here are 4 things I need you to understand so you won’t be deceived by the enemy.

1. You’ve been delivered out of darkness and you’re free. Col 1:11-13 -  11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 ¶ giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

 

If you’re a believer, you’re OUT of the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of His Son. You belong to the Kingdom of God and the King of kings.

 

2. As Christians, you’re sealed w/ the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14  13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

 

You’ve inherited the Kingdom of God, and the Holy Spirit is the seal on your heart. A guarantee. Can you lose your salvation? NO. The Spirit of God resides in you. It’s a guarantee. You’re sealed in Christ. Guaranteed.

 

We can be demonically influenced, fall away, walk in sin, lose our testimony, be so consumed. We can see a man or woman with strongholds in their lives. The way they live is deluded and influenced in the wrong way. But their salvation is still secure.

 

3. The Spirit brings us into the family of God and bestows on us the irrevocable status of being heirs of God. Rom 8:16-17 -  16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

You’re a child of God. You have certain rights. You have authority because your’e a child of God.

 

4. The strongman’s house (Satan’s house) has been robbed. You used to belong to him. But when Christ died and you accepted that, you were set free.

 

Luke 11:21-22  21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.

 

We serve the one who’s stronger and greater than the prince of this world.

 

The only way for you as a believer to let the enemy to have power to come into your life, set up strongholds, and wreaking havoc, is by YOU opening the door, participating in activity or giving in to temptation.

 

In 2K 23, consider these things about Josiah. Who was he? the king of Judah. Why? He was established this by God. He was king over the tabernacle. And when he saw these demonic strongholds in the tabernacle, what did he do? He cast them out. He had authority as king to do that.

So, then, who are you? A child of whom? A child of God. Jesus was able to cast out demons because he’s stronger than they. And you, as a child of the king, have the authority and power to cast out and demolish demons.

The devil is deceptive and foul. He’ll make you think you’re weak. Importantly, when people see you as a “strong believer”, you want to hide your weakness. And when we HIDE our sin, we open ourselves to another stronghold: DECEPTION. So we isolate ourselves and HIDE.

And the people you’re hiding from are doing the same kind of hiding you’re doing.

Recently I had a brother come to me saying he wanted to stand strong as a child of the king against a stronghold in his life. Because we can.

 

Just like Josiah, those things we see, those fortified areas. This goes way beyond sexual sin. Pride. Bitterness. Hatred. Anger. Fear. Gossip. Being judgmental. All these. And as the Holy Spirit reveals those strongholds to you, know that as a child of God you have the power and authority to cast them out.

 

We’ll pause here and take up more next week. So you can walk in complete victory.

 

11:26 - Let’s stand.

 

PRAYER - We bow before You because you are God. Our king. Our father. And we are thankful that the more we seek You, the more we recognize who we are. The more we see Your Word, the more we know the authority You’ve given us. To advance Your kingdom. For Your name to be great. For us to experience the abundant relationship you offer us.

We can get so fearful or deceived that we’ve NEVER entered into that relationship with you. If someone here doesn’t have a relationship with you, I pray that you would end the stronghold and that they would come into relationship with you.

I pray we’d continue to strive and walk in the victory you have for us. I pray for those harboring bitterness, fear, anxiety. I pray for victory in their lives. For a breaking of those strongholds in their lives.

 

As we sing this last song, if God’s speaking to your heart and you feel a prompting/stirring in your heart—even not knowing what it’s about—I encourage you to come forward and talk with a prayer partner. God is at work in your life and wants to bring healing, peace, deliverance.

If you want to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, you don’t understand that relationship yet.

This week, 2 people that I know have just passed away. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow. But as believers we’re guaranteed eternity. If you’re not a believer and you don’t know what would happen if you died today, we want to give you opportunity. If God is calling you to respond in any way, please respond.

 

SONG: In the darkness, in the pain, Hope is rising… Your great love has won. We are yours.