You say, well, since you've set me free, why am I still in jail?
Because you've been used to being in jail so long, you don't know how to walk out when the door flies open. Dr. Tony Evans says victory comes when believers realize who's doing the real fighting. It is when God fights the battle for you, not when you fight the battle for you, that you win against the evil one. This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of The Urban Alternative. Dr. Evans says the success or failure you experience in this world is determined by what goes on in a different world.
Let's join him as he explains. There is no battle that you could conceive of that can match, that could compete with the battle that you and I are engaged in. This warfare that we're going to be discussing affects every area of your life and every individual in your life. There is not one boy, one girl, one man or woman who can extricate themselves from the battle of the ages, spiritual warfare. There is no place to run, no place to hide, there is no bunker, foxhole that you can get in to that will alleviate you from the repercussions of this battle. This is a battle like none you've ever thought of, conceived of, heard of, or interfaced with.
Think of the worst battle in human history and it's peanuts next to the battle that we will be discussing, this battle called spiritual warfare. Many of you know what it's all about even though you may not know that it's a warfare because you are one of its casualties. Perhaps you are an emotional casualty of this warfare. Discouragement, depression, downtroddenness, perhaps a sense of even split personality has affected you by this war. Many of us have been affected in our marriages by it. Divorce, conflict, being bruised and battered as children growing up in insensitive homes. You thought it was simply a problem of a bad mom and a bad dad, now it was a problem of a bad war and you and I are in the midst of that warfare.
It affects us morally, it affects our ability to control our passions or to yield to those passions. Many of us did not know it but our financial situation is directly related to losing the warfare and we just thought it was related to the credit cards. When it is intricately tied to a battle that is raging beyond the scope of what you naturally think of. This battle affects us in our relationships, our friends, our co-workers. No matter where you run, where you try to hide, you are a recipient of the battle of the ages. The battle I simply call spiritual warfare. First of all, let me clarify the essence of this war.
Let me state what this war is all about. What you must understand and I must understand is that this battle is at its core, at its heart, in its center spiritual. It is not first physical, it is first spiritual. So to the degree that you understand and I understand and relate to it on a spiritual level is to the degree that we can make sense of it and be prepared for it.
Perhaps a definition will help. Spiritual warfare is that cosmic conflict in the invisible angelic realm that is being waged in the context of the visible physical realm. Let me say that again. When I use the term spiritual warfare, I am referring to a cosmic conflict occurring in the invisible angelic realm that is being flushed out, worked out in the very visible physical realm. Or to put it another way, the cause of the war is something you can't see. You are fighting in the context of an invisible battle that involves invisible beings, yet they're taking it out on you and me. Now it's hard enough to whip somebody you can see.
It's even much harder to try to whip something you can't see. And at the core of this battle is something you can't see. Because we're told in verse 12, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but rulers and powers and world forces of this darkness against spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. To put it another way, you and I are in a battle fighting beings we can't see, yet their effect on us we can see. Paul the Apostle says you make a grand mistake if you think people are your problem.
He says in verse 12, we wrestle not against flesh and blood. That means people. As bad as people are, they are merely conduits of another battle. What Satan has done in slipping us a Mickey is he has successfully gotten us to fight people rather than that which is causing people to be the people that they are. All of us have been in situations trying to change people who are not doing right.
Maybe not understanding that the people who are not doing right by us could very well be under control of a person that they can't control. Until you and I learn to understand that what happens through people, that does not exonerate the wrong things that people do, but that what happens through people, through you, through me, through people upon us, has at its core something that is much grandiose than they are, and that is a whole spiritual battle. Now let me try to make sense of this because today I want to set a foundation. Everything physical, let me say this again, everything physical is influenced, caused, or provoked by something spiritual. There is nothing that your five senses partake of, your physical being, that is not generated and influenced by that which your five senses do not partake of. Which means that if you're going to fight this battle you need a sixth sense.
You need something that goes beyond the obvious use of your physiology and the obvious use of your physical well-being. Daniel chapter 4 26 states that heaven rules what takes place on earth. Everything that takes place on earth was precipitated by something that took place in heaven. So that until you and I, listen now, can address the spiritual cause, we will never fix the physical effect. Now I'm hoping that the result of this series will save you some money. Because you'll perhaps stop spending money on physical solutions that don't start with a spiritual solution. Perhaps as a result of this series I'll save you some time. Perhaps instead of spending all your time on human, man-made solutions, you'll start with the spirit realm and get that to take care of the physical realm.
Perhaps out of the result or as a result of this series we'll save you some relationships. Because instead of starting first with the wrong people have done to you, you'll start first with the wrong that the spirit world has done to the people who are doing wrong to you. When we understand that this is spiritually provoked, it affects our worldview. Now worldview has to do with the lenses by which you perceive reality. When I say one's worldview it has to do with the presuppositions that determine what you believe. Your worldview means how you look at life.
Now there are only two real worldviews. There is a naturalistic worldview, materialistic it's sometimes called, and today in modern America we could even call it scientific worldview. This is the worldview, naturalistic, materialistic, scientific, that simply says that man by his reason can figure out how the world works.
And so if you can put it in a test tube and look at it that way and it manifests itself and becomes a hypothesis and then you reduce it to a thesis and you begin to work on it, that's all you need. It is naturalism or materialism or the scientific orientation that has led to agnosticism and atheism. That is you don't need God as long as you have a test tube. It is the naturalistic worldview and the tragedy is that many of us as Christians have been lured into this worldview. Now we don't deny the other worldview, we just don't live by the other worldview. And when I talk about worldview, I'm not talking about what you're saying, I'm not talking about what you're thinking, I'm talking about how you're living. Because you determine the worldview by a person's behavior, not by a person's talk. I can say all day long I believe in God, but if my walk doesn't walk like I believe in God, I don't really believe in God.
I just know the right theological terminology to use to make everybody else think that I believe in God. Your worldview is always determined by your foot, never by your tongue. On the other side is the spiritual worldview. The spiritual worldview says that there is a realm that sits outside of this realm.
There is, like some of the TV shows says, another dimension. There is a world that this world reflects, but that is not at the core of what this world is. Now, most people believe in some form of spiritual worldview.
You know a person believes in this worldview when they pick up their newspaper and turn to the horoscope section. What they are looking for is something outside of this world, something in the stars out there that will emanate some spiritual principle that will govern their decision-making today. People reflect a spiritual worldview when they go to their local palm reader and get somebody to look at the physical, at the lines on their hands, and come up with a spiritual way of determining how they're going to be blessed, who they're going to marry, who they're going to meet next week, or even to get in touch with the dead. All of that is reflective of an attempt to get beyond the obvious physical environment in which we live and make a contact out there and beyond.
To sort of reach out to some twilight zone sort of place and make contact with the other world. The problem with the spiritual worldview is that you can have a spiritual worldview that's just connected with the wrong spirit. So until your spiritual worldview, the naturalistic view is not sufficient because it doesn't answer really any questions. It doesn't tell you who you are, why you are, where you came from. It doesn't give you the answer to the first cause, what got all this started. The naturalistic, scientific worldview is limited. Science today is beginning to realize that scientific test tubes don't solve the moral crisis of the day. They don't keep teenagers from killing each other. They don't deal with this invisible part of man that has to be addressed.
Why? Because this world is tied to another world that you can't see. Dr. Evans will come back shortly with more insights about the spiritual battle we're involved in. But first, I want to let you know that today's lesson is the first in a two volume 12 message collection from Tony called Spiritual Warfare. In it, you learn how to tell when the problems you're facing aren't just problems, but spiritual battles you can't possibly win without using God's tools and strategies.
And as you learn to do that, you'll start seeing yourself turn from a victim into a victor. We want to help you start fighting the right battles with the right weapons. So we're offering a copy of the complete Spiritual Warfare series on CD or instantly downloadable MP3s as our thank you gift when you make a donation to help keep Tony's teaching on this station. The alternative is a 100% listener supported broadcast.
So we depend completely on you to stay on the air. Visit tonyevans.org to make your donation and let us know where we can send this powerful collection of messages. That's tonyevans.org or call our resource request line at 1-800-800-3222. It never closes, so there's no need to wait. Again, that's 1-800-800-3222.
Dr. Evans will be back right after this. The biblical roles of husbands and wives, the source of our authority as believers, understanding the concept of grace, winning spiritual battles, they're all important subjects but seem as different as night and day. Would it surprise you to know there's a common thread running through all four? You can discover what it is by taking the course on Ephesians in the Tony Evans Training Center. One by one, you'll dig into the powerful themes of this book and make new discoveries about what Jesus' death accomplished, how to maintain unity at home and at church, what spiritual armor is all about. The course includes custom content from Tony not available anywhere else. Work through it at your own pace. Collaborate with other students. Get your specific questions answered through our online forum. Connect with the Tony Evans Training Center at tonyevans.org. It's like having a seminary on your smartphone or other device.
Start today, tonyevans.org. The battle in which you and I are engaged is essentially spiritual. However, even though it's spiritual in its cause, it is physical in its effect. Look at the relationship between your emotion or this emotion called anger and the spiritual war just by flipping back one page to chapter 4 verses 25 and 26.
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and yet do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Why? And do not give the devil an opportunity. Please notice he makes a correlation between the effect of uncontrolled anger and the opportunity granted to the devil to take over a compartment of your life. Many of us are suffering today because of unresolved anger that never got dealt with yesterday and we just think, well, you did me wrong when really Satan has gotten a hold of our emotions and has destroyed our ability to function because it's a spiritual opportunity that was granted by the devil.
Many of us are facing it in our family lives. We're facing it all the way back to Adam and Eve. You know the first family was sucked in by the devil. But the Bible even relates the devil to the sexual relationship between a husband and wife. He says in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 verse 5, Stop depriving one another except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control. He talks about the fact that when a husband and wife don't have a dynamic physical life, the devil is looking at that as an opportunity to come in and to bring about moral deterioration in the family.
So it gets down to the raw everyday aspects of life. It affects the church. Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy chapter 4 verse 1, he says, Watch out for doctrines of demons that will infiltrate the church and many a person is being led down to defeat in the spiritual warfare because they're listening to teachers that are teaching doctrine from hell. Just because somebody quotes the Bible doesn't make them okay.
Sometimes people say, Amen, the stuff is not even in the Bible simply because the person saying it was used in the Bible. Right now, you and I are in the midst of a war. And the head of this, Satan, is called the prince of the power of the air. In other words, you breathe in this stuff.
This stuff is in every compartment that you live in and there's nowhere to run. Well, when you find out you're in a war and there's nowhere to run, then you better learn how to fight because that's the only way you're going to survive. So the key to this essence is simply this. It is your ability to control and influence the spiritual realm that will determine victory or defeat in the physical realm. It is your ability to control or influence the spiritual realm that will determine victory or defeat in the physical realm. If you are in a war, and you are, then your ability to deal with the spiritual realm will control whether you lose or win in the physical realm. And so what's Satan's job? Satan's job is to get you to not take the spiritual realm seriously.
Because if he can divert you from the spiritual realm, he can divert you from the only place where a solution lies. Well, let's go from the essence of the battle, spiritual, to the location of the battle. What did the end of verse 12 say?
Verse 12 says that this battle is raging in a certain place. It's called in heavenly places. There it is, in heavenly places. In the Bible, heaven is spoken of on three levels. One is the atmospheric heaven. That's the place where you and I live, the place of oxygen, where we breathe, where we fly airplanes, the atmospheric heaven that embellishes this earth. But then we move from the atmospheric heaven to the cellular heaven. That is where the stars exist.
That's called the second heaven. That is also where the angels reside. Angels are called stars. So when you see the stars at night, that is to remind you of something other than just stars. God made physical stars because he created spiritual beings whose name was stars. So what God did was create spiritual beings, angels, spiritual stars, and gave you a physical reality to remind you of them, physical stars. But very few of us, when we see physical stars, think of spiritual stars, angels.
And if when we thought physical stars, we think of spiritual stars, you'd know the kind of warfare you're up against because on a bright, starry night, stars are all over the place. And that is precisely what we face when we face the stars of heaven or the angels of God or the angels of hell. He says it takes place in heavenly places. The third heaven is the throne room of God.
It's where God's office is, so to speak. Ephesians chapter one, verse three. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, guess where, in the heavenly places. Now this verse says two things. It says God the Father is in the heavenly places, but notice what else it says. It says your blessings are in the heavenly places.
Now if you and I are in a war and we need blessing to win the war and the blessings that we need to win are with the Father who's over the war and the blessings that we need to win are with the Father who's in heavenly places, if you don't know how to get to heavenly places, you don't know how to get to the blessings to get the help to help you to win the war on earthly places. The devil and demons are in heavenly places. From this book, everything is in heavenly places. So it says everything is in heavenly places. You better get up from earth and learn to take a trip to heaven because that's where the action is.
You say, but wait a minute, Evans. This is foreign to me. I don't understand that. Stick with me, stay with me because as you see as we go through this, you are seated with him in heavenly places. It's not like you gotta pull out a road map. You are already there. The idea is waking up to where you are, not trying to find out where to go. You are already there because it all takes place in heavenly places. Dr. Tony Evans, giving you a new perspective on the spiritual battle around you.
And he'll come back in just a moment with a couple of final thoughts for today. But first, I wanna let you know that for a limited time, the popular film Journey with Jesus, starring Dr. Evans, Crystal, Priscilla, and Anthony Evans, is available to stream online. In Journey with Jesus, you'll travel the streets, fields, and synagogues where Jesus walked and visit the locations where some of the most powerful events recorded in the Bible took place.
Previously shown nationwide, but only in theaters, you can now bring this extraordinary experience right into your living room. Find out more about streaming Journey with Jesus at tonyevans.org. And while you're there, be sure to look into getting a copy of Tony's current teaching series called Spiritual Warfare, a set of 12 messages that'll help you readjust your spiritual armor.
It contains today's message, as well as a lot of material we won't have time to present on the air. As I mentioned earlier, it's yours with our thanks when you make a donation toward Tony's ministry. Just visit tonyevans.org for details, or call us at 1-800-800-3222.
Again, that's 1-800-800-3222, or go online to tonyevans.org. Satan's done his best to turn the earth into a garbage dump of sin. But Dr. Evans says God has a plan to undo all that, and next time, he'll talk about the important role you play in the process.
Now, though, he's back with a final challenge to wrap up today's program. What I want you to do is I want you to say, Lord, I am facing Satan in these areas in my life. These are the defeating areas, my personal life, family life, church life, societal life. These are the areas that he is attacking me. I can't beat him.
He is too much for me. You get these people going around in these spiritual warfare boot camps, and they go around talking to the devil. I rebuke you, devil, in the name of Jesus. Devil, don't go anywhere, because he knows you're nothing. He knows that that little word coming out your mouth won't do a thing to him. It's like me telling Mike Tyson, I rebuke you in the name of my fist.
So what? That's got nothing to do with nothing, because I can't handle somebody who can fight that well. But the Bible says in Jude, when Michael the archangel came up against Satan, even Michael, angel number one, wouldn't even fight Satan one on one, because Satan's too strong.
So it said Michael said, I rebuke you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. So when you fight the devil this week, instead of finding out how strong you are, tell God how weak you are. Instead of arguing you can, tell God you can. Instead of trying to say, but I know that I have the ability, tell God I don't have the ability. But say because I know you, because I trust you, because you can do what I can do, my faith is in you to do to him what I could never do to him on my own. And then you'll begin to see the Lord's strength, the Lord's power, the Lord's ability, the Lord's tenacity in dealing with the devil in your life. The alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
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