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Soldiers of Christ and the Culture War

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
June 5, 2023 2:00 am

Soldiers of Christ and the Culture War

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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June 5, 2023 2:00 am

Is the -culture war- a place for the Christian to engage in battle-- Pastor Bob La Tour speaks from Ephesians chapter 6.

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Amen. If you would, at this time, turn in your Bibles to Ephesians Chapter 6, Ephesians Chapter 6. Earlier in the service, we read Romans 1 16 through 32, and I likened it to a black and white movie of the culture in the Apostle Paul's day.

It certainly lived in a wicked time. We then said that the culture in our world today is in technicolor when it comes to the levels of moral decadence, corruption, and blatant disregard for the Word of God. We have to ask the question, how is a Christian to navigate this culture? And even beyond that, how is a soldier of Christ to engage himself or herself in the culture war that permeates society today?

I want to begin with an illustration, quite honestly, that I thought of after preparing the message, and that is the need for believers. That is the need for soldiers to be focused. I think it's fairly obvious that if a soldier's not focused, he's not going to survive in combat. I remember years ago hearing that a man that I knew growing up, I was a fourth grader, and he was high school at the time.

First name was Lin. He went to Vietnam and fought over there, and I've heard this from several people that had been in Vietnam. When you first get there, you're psyched, your heart pounds, the adrenaline's flowing, you recognize the danger that you're in, and then after a while you can become a little less focused, a little careless at times.

And then when you get close to the time going home, from what some have told me, that adrenaline comes back, I may just make it out of here. Lin Whitford lost focus. When he was off duty, had a little free time, he and a friend went out and just foolishly got on a bulldozer that the military had there. Lin Whitford lost his life when a sniper shot him through the heart. He lost his focus that he was in enemy territory.

There were people out there that meant to do him deadly harm. And I think as Christians sometimes we know that it's wicked in this world, but we have the misguided notion that as long as we keep our nose clean and keep out of the way, we're okay. And it's not that way. How do we have victory?

How do we make an impact? How do we stay focused in this life? From Beacon's doctrinal statement, I'd like to read something to you that I think will be helpful. It says, we believe that the Holy Bible, consisting of the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, was written by men divinely inspired and as a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction, that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter, that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us, and therefore is and shall remain to the end of the world the true center of Christian union and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried. There's two statements that I want to lift out of that doctrinal statement.

The first is this. The scriptures reveal the principles by which God will judge us. We are to be guided by the word of God. We will be graded by the word of God. The second thing that I want us to focus on in this doctrinal statement, it's the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried. And as we'll point out as we go through the scriptures in Ephesians chapter 6, verses 10 through 20, the word of God should be the filter for our decisions. It should be the filter for our decisions, and we should be so familiar and general principle with the word of God that scriptures come to bear immediately. I'll give you an illustration. Television program comes on that proves to be provocative. Immediately what should come to my mind, I will set no wicked thing before my eyes.

I hate the work of those that just turn aside. It will not cleave to me. Immediately, and I'll point that out later, that we should have an arsenal, bullets if you will, to fight against the temptations that come our way. A couple of introductory things that I think are very important before we get into the text. In light of the supreme standard of God's word, there are non-negotiable guidelines that we must follow. I'm going to read them to you, and at the end of the sermon I'm going to bookend the sermon with those, because I would like you to listen to them now and evaluate yourself at the end of the sermon. In light of the supreme standard of God's word that should guide us and will grade us, there are non-negotiable guidelines we must follow first. We must obey God rather than man, no matter what the outcome when it comes to the culture wars of our day.

Let me read that again. We must obey God rather than man, no matter what the outcome when it comes to the culture wars of our day. Number two, we must demonstrate the binding nature of our convictions by consistent adherence to Bible truth. We must demonstrate the binding nature of our convictions by consistent adherence to Bible truth.

If we're on again and off again, biblical, unbiblical, warm, cold, we cannot have the assurance that any court is going to believe that the scriptures are binding on our lives. The third thing, we must never condone or commend that which God calls evil. We must never condone or commend that which God calls evil. Number four, probably one of the toughest, we must love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us in order to demonstrate the reality of our faith. I'm not going to read that string of active verbs again, but what is the purpose for us doing this in order to demonstrate the reality of our faith?

There's nothing like combat to show the metal of the man, and that is true spiritually. And finally, we must be prepared for persecution and penalty for our active faith in the context of God's sovereignty. We must be prepared for persecution and penalty for our active faith in the context of God's sovereignty.

They can do nothing to us apart from the sovereignty of God, and we can rest in that fact. Was it part of God's will for Peter to be crucified upside down on St. Andrew's cross according to church tradition? Yes, it was.

It was. God is in control of all things. The challenge for Christians is forming convictions based upon how the Bible addresses the issues of our day.

Let me say that again. The challenge for us as Christians is forming convictions based upon how the Bible addresses the issues of our day. Beloved, I'm going to list several, and this is not exhaustive. This list, each of these could be a message. The first thing that you better form a conviction on is the killing of the unborn in the name of reproductive rights.

How selfish. The killing of the unborn in the name of reproductive rights, homosexuality that God calls an abomination, gender confusion resulting in transgender issues that defy God's distinct and purposeful creation of males and females. He created males and females and said, populate the earth.

He did that with a purpose, obviously. The mischaracterization of convictions as a phobia or hateful intolerance. The mischaracterization of our convictions as a phobia or hateful intolerance. Another one that we have to develop convictions about. Redefining marriage that God intends to be monogamous, heterosexual, lifelong covenant of companionship.

Let me say that another way. One spouse of the opposite sex for a lifetime. For Christians, one Christian spouse of the opposite sex for a lifetime. Companions for life.

Growing, giving, serving, loving, sacrificing for life. Equity versus equality. Equity versus equality. We're all for equality. We're not for equity. Equity is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul. And then this one, the weaponization of racism by some. Weaponization of racism by some.

You make a wrong move, you make a wrong statement, and you're labeled either phobic with a bunch of adjectives in front of it or racist. Parental rights and indoctrination in schools. Parental rights and indoctrination in schools. Why do I say conviction? Because some people that are not homeschooling or Christian schooling and have their kids in a public school may be forced to say, I'm not having my kid exposed to this junk anymore.

They're going to have to make a decision. Freedom of speech that's being censored. Government intrusion and the freedom of religion.

And finally, globalism or one worldism. And we can see that all around us. We can see that which the Bible prophesies will happen unfolding before our eyes. And we ought to respond, even so come Lord Jesus and also double down on our efforts to be a witness of the gospel to those about us. There are no safe zones, beloved, for any Christian who desires to obey the commandments of Christ to what he or she says or does.

There are no safe zones for serious minded Christians. God likens the Christian life to warfare and Christ's followers to soldiers dressed for combat against their flesh and against the forces of evil. Twice, twice Paul told the Christians to put on the whole armor of God.

Why? So that we might secure victory. While true Christians cannot die spiritually, their crafty enemy can wound their conscience, sap their joy, destroy their testimony, or discourage other soldiers through their failure to fight the good fight of faith.

Now lest anyone get the misguided notion that the terms warfare and soldiers imply the use of physical force or intimidation, let me make something clear. The filter through which Christians must determine their responses to the challenges that I've listed earlier is simple. Jesus said, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

That may mean saying something that's not popular. That may mean saying something that sounds hateful for the sake of their eternal soul. You recall Pastor Carnes in his message this morning, he listed, read this verse that listed what the world values. Gold was at the top and the souls of men was at the bottom.

It ought to be reversed. It ought to be reversed and it should be reversed in our lives as Christians. On these two commandments that I just read, these two commandments hang all along the prophets. Biblical love for God and for mankind is our anthem and our ambition while we stand against that which violates God's word.

Now what are some things that we can learn from our text? We begin with Ephesians 6, 10 through 12 if you look there. Paul writes, finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God.

Why? That you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. The first thing that we want to consider the participants in this stand and that's in verse 10, he says finally my brethren. You well know that brethren refers to believers or the church. It's that group of people from every tribe, tongue and nation whom God has granted faith through his grace. Paul uses the plural term brethren.

Why does he do that? Because the war is bigger than you and it's bigger than me. It's worldwide. Our brothers in Christ and foreign lands are definitely in a warfare that we know nothing of. I read an article this week that in Nigeria over 75,000 people have been killed because they claim to be Christian. 75,000 in one country and you're not going to hear that on the nightly news.

You're not going to hear an outrage over that on the nightly news. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul clearly tells us that God has placed individuals within the body of Christ as he so chooses and he has gifted them to do their part in his providential plan. We're in this battle together beloved with shared investment, shared risk, shared blessing.

Let me read that again. We are in this battle together with shared investment, shared risk, shared blessing. Wouldn't you agree with me that we can do much more together than as Rambo or the Lone Ranger? You know church, Beacon Baptist Church collectively can do much more than we as individuals ever could dream of doing. A brief description of John MacArthur's book 12 Ordinary Men states the following and I think we need to keep this in mind. It says the disciples had faults and character flaws. They were incredibly ordinary just like you and me.

Yet these men were transformed and are still influencing the world today. God delights in using ordinary people for his extraordinary purposes. To him alone is the praise and the glory.

Why do I read that? Because beloved you may not think that you're much when it comes to being a soldier of the cross. A private can pull the trigger like a general. A private can pull the trigger like a general.

And you know, without privates, generals aren't going to last long. And my point being, it's more than just pastoral leadership, it's all of us together. All of us together in the battle for truth.

We need to keep that in mind. In our text, God likens those whom he has given spiritual life to battle worn soldiers. He likens us to battle worn soldiers. And I'm not going to have you turn to this text, but if you just listen to it, 2 Timothy 2, 3 and 4. Paul says to Timothy, you therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life.

Why does he do that? That he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. On your handout, if you notice, I've got four words that start with E. The first one in verse 3, endurance and hardship. Endurance and hardship. Christians are in a state of spiritual warfare that will last a lifetime. Like Paul, veterans, we who are older in the faith must be an example of endurance to those who are young in the faith. We must be an example of endurance to those who are young in the faith. I remember when I coached soccer, a little maxim that I would say is, we pay now, they pay later.

Now that sounds kind of unkind. No, that means we're going to work harder than you. So when it comes crunch time, we're not going to fold. We're not going to fold.

And in essence, that's what we're talking about here. We're not going to fold spiritually. We will exhibit endurance and hardship.

The second word that begins with E is engagement. To be in the army but not engaged in the battle is hypocritical. And beloved, dear friend, you know whether you're engaged in spiritual warfare or just filling a pew.

It is very tempting to come here in our wonderful facility and hear prepared messages and then go out into the world and coast until Wednesday night or Sunday. And I don't say that in a mean-spirited manner. I say that as a challenge that soldiers made for engagement with the enemy. The third word that starts with E is entanglement with the world. No soldier who desires to survive and to be victorious entangles himself with any hindrances to victory. The word entangle in the Greek means to braid in or to interweave.

To braid in, to make it such a part of you that you just can't get rid of it. And let me read that again. No soldier who desires to survive and to be victorious entangles himself with hindrances to victory. That can be different for each of us. Your hindrances may not be one for me. I don't have the hindrance of pornography. I don't allow myself to indulge, if I can use that term. I don't allow myself to get sucked into that. So it's not a hindrance to me. Now am I careless?

No, I'm not careless. I keep my guard up, but I'm telling you I have a conviction that when I don't get involved in that, I display love for Christ as part of his bride and love for my wife by not doing that. And that's just an example.

Entanglement with the world. What is it, folks, that gets you hung up and tangled up to where you're not effective as a soldier of Christ? And then finally, the word enlistment by Christ. Beloved, gratitude for Christ choosing you to be part of his army should inspire four things. Commitment to the cause. Jesus has saved my soul.

I will be committed to the cause. Courage to proclaim the gospel. We sang that in some of the hymns that we sang tonight. Contention with the forces of evil. Contention with the forces of evil. And finally, consistency in the performance of God's commandments.

Let me read those again for you quickly. We ought to be grateful for Christ choosing us to be part of his army. That ought to inspire commitment to the cause, courage to proclaim the gospel, contention with the forces of evil, and consistency in the performance of God's commandments.

And the fundamental question that I want to ask you tonight after this first point is this. Are you, in capital letters, a soldier of the cross who is engaged in the good fight of faith? Back to our text now in Ephesians 6. The second thing we want to look at is the power for our stand is given by our triune God. Verse 10b, be strong in the Lord in the power of his might. The command to be strong is in the passive voice. In other words, it could be read, I bow my knees.

No, I'm sorry. It's in the passive voice. It could be read, be made strong, be strengthened. In other words, God is strengthening us. In Ephesians 3, 14 through 16, Paul prayed, for this reason, I bow my knees to the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might through his spirit in the inner man. What do we get out of that verse? We should be praying, Father, if it would please you. And it would strengthen me that I might think, say, and do those things that are worthy of a soldier of Christ. A second text, Colossians 1, 11 through 14, Paul again prayed that the Colossians would likewise be strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin.

So what are we looking at this? The power for our stand is given to us by our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and we should be praying for strength to persevere, power to persevere each and every day. Do you?

Do I? Pray for that. Our third consideration tonight is the preparation for our stand must be intentional.

It's not going to happen by accident. The preparation for our stand must be intentional. This is going to sound humorous to you, and I don't want you to take it to the extreme meaning of it, because anybody who's played ball for me knows it was all unfun. I would tell my players, I don't want you smiling after lunch on game day.

I don't want to see you smile after lunch. Now, you know, I would tell the boys during boys' season, you had no girlfriend after 3.15. You know, and it was fun stuff. But what was I saying? Get focused. Get focused.

You don't go out there and lollygag around. I remember standing behind the locker room. We were going to play gospel light. They were fooling around. I'd had prayer, went over what I thought we needed to know about gospel light and what they'd try to do to us.

They were still fooling around. I said, guys, better get focused. Six to one.

One to six. We lost. Focused.

Focus. That's what we're getting at. His power also is not only given to us, but it gives confidence. 2 Corinthians 12, 9. And God said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. And then he said, Therefore, most gladly, I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Instead of being delivered from his own thorn in the flesh, Paul embraced it as a reminder of his dependency upon Christ.

I want to read that again, folks, and then make an application. Instead of being delivered from his own thorn in the flesh, Paul embraced that thorn, that God-given thorn, as a reminder of his dependency upon Christ. The word infirmities in the verse that I just read means feebleness of mind or body and by implication frailty. He embraced his weakness. He embraced his thorn in the flesh. And I'm not going to tell you what my thorn in the flesh is, but I have one.

And I probably have more than one. I'm not going to give you the reason why God has given me this thorn in the flesh. But let me tell you something. One of the most profitable things that's helped me in my Christian growth is to thank him when he inflicts it. To thank him when he inflicts it. I wish that I had the liberty to tell you what it is. It's not a temptation to evil. But I want you to think tonight, what is your thorn in the flesh?

Now I will give you an aside note. One problem we all have is pride. P-R-I-D-E. And that can be a good illustration of what I'm talking about here. God will give us a thorn in the flesh if we are going to be prideful because he will not share his glory with another. Pastors, I am confident the other pastors do what I have to do. Lord, please help me to glorify you as I share the thoughts that I've prepared. Help me to glorify you. If it means my tongue getting over my eye teeth and I fumble and do whatever, do whatever it takes to glorify you. Because it's only in glorifying God that we will find victory.

Not only in our own lives, but the lives of those with whom we minister and to whom we minister. Preparation for our stand must be intentional. It's commanded preparation. God made you a soldier, but he commands you to put on the whole armor. And this is not original with me, but someone once said, those who fail to prepare are preparing to fail. It's commanded preparation. Put on the whole armor of God. Secondly, it's comprehensive preparation.

What do I mean by that? The whole armor of God. Not just a piece here, not the part that you think you need, but all of it.

Because you do need all of it. The Greek word used is panoplya, from which we get our English word panoply. And it means full or all. A full suit of armor, a protective covering.

Listen to this. A magnificent or impressive array. Why is it magnificent?

Why is it impressive? Because it's the armor of God. Leave any part off and you will expose yourself to the assault of the enemy. And finally, it's a conquering preparation.

We put on the whole armor of God, beloved, so that we may be able to withstand in the evil day against the wiles of the devil. And that word, wiles, means cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery. He's not going to line up like some British soldier opposite you and say, go ahead and shoot. No, he cheats. You know, he will find your weakness, he will find my weakness, and he will play upon that. And I understand that.

I understand that. If you're going to coach a team, you better know your team's weaknesses and try to hide it. And you better exploit your team's strengths. And Satan knows our weaknesses.

He knows our weaknesses, and that's where he's going to come at us. Every man is drawn away what? Of his own lust and enticed like a fish with bait. Drawn away like an animal by a hunter's call, enticed with bait like a fish to a lure.

The fourth consideration, and this is where we get into application. The parts of the armor are critical for victory, verses 14 through 17. And I am going to put the implied subject in this. You stand, therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all taking the shield of faith, for which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And you take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And I want you to notice, beloved, in those verses the number of action words that reinforce the importance of preparation. The action words.

Now let's look at the parts of the armor. The first, the girdle of truth. Marvin Vincent states that the girdle of truth represents, quote, the state of the heart answering to God's truth, inward practical acknowledgement of the truth as it is in him. The agreement of our convictions with God's revelation. That's powerful.

Let me read that again. The state of the heart, my essential self answering to God's truth, inward practical acknowledgement of the truth as it is in him. The agreement with our convictions with God's revelation. It involves commitment to the word of God. Now, in my application, I'm going to give you one sentence that is in the form of a prayer. And this is not in the notes.

You need to make your own. Father, help me to enter today's battles with a consistency that comes from commitment to your truth. I need to pray, Father, help me to enter today's battle with a consistency that comes with commitment to your truth. The second piece of armor, the breastplate of righteousness, refers to consecration.

What does that mean? Setting yourself apart to living a holy life of service. This involves integrity and holiness and purity of life. In short, it's godly character in action.

Godly character in action. Listen to First Thessalonians 5, 8. Paul in this text addresses faith and love when he speaks of the breastplate.

Listen to what he says. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. And I think that we would both agree that love and faith demand action or expression. Love and faith demand action or expression. If I'm going to really love my wife, I've got to demonstrate it.

What good does it do to think it without demonstrating my love for her? And it can be in a number of different ways. Remember what James says, faith without works is dead, it's not effective.

This is what he's getting at here. The breastplate of righteousness refers to consecration, actively setting yourself apart to living a holy life. This prayer, and you need to formulate your own again. Father, help me consecrate myself to doing works of practical righteousness worthy of the imputed righteousness that's mine by grace alone, through faith alone, and Christ's righteousness alone.

Now that's a handful, but I think it is needful for me. Father, help me to consecrate myself to doing works of practical righteousness worthy of the imputed righteousness that is mine by grace alone, through faith alone, and Christ's righteousness alone. Now, in fear of losing my reward, I'm going to give a personal illustration, and the Lord knows my heart in giving this. This is an example of a practical work of righteousness, a work of practical righteousness.

We have a neighbor who has, he's diabetic, if you look at his legs you would be repulsed. They're red and angry, and he has sepsis. He's been in the hospital on and off, one stint was six weeks.

Tuesday he will have a leg amputated. What's the practical work of righteousness? Last summer this hit him, he could no more mow his grass than the man on the moon. He couldn't do it, and his wife can't do it.

What is a practical work of righteousness? Mow his grass, mow his grass. Now here's a deal that I thought of today. I didn't think about how long is this going to be last summer when I mowed his grass. I didn't think about it this week when I mowed his grass, but then I find out he's going to have an amputated leg.

And part of his problem is he is a big man. Can he mow the grass with the prosthesis if I said that correctly? I doubt it.

So what might I be looking at? Mowing his grass right on until I can't mow mine, and then I will draft one of my grandsons. I have a few. But I think you get my point folks. It's not rocket science. It's doing unto others what you would have them do unto you. And that goes a long way. That goes a long way. Number three, the sandals of preparation of the gospel of peace. That refers to the gospel of peace as the foundation upon which we stand and live a stable life.

That's an important statement. It's the foundation upon which we live a stable life of personal confidence. John MacArthur states, We stand in the confidence of God's love for us, his union with us, his commitment to fight for us. The battle is the Lord's. If the enemy damages a soldier's feet, he puts him on the defensive.

You think about that folks. He can't maneuver, and therefore he can't press the attack. And I would go so far to say this, he goes from an asset to a liability.

He goes from being an asset to a liability. In the Vietnam War, here we have all our high-tech weaponry, and we're fighting Viet Cong in the jungle, which is their turf. They would use this one weapon, among many. They would dig a 12 to 18 inch deep hole. They would take bamboo spears, if I can put it that way, pieces of bamboo that sharpened. They would stick that in human dung. They would put it down into the hole that they dug. GIs would come through there in these jungle trails, and if they weren't watching for it, for trip wires or for that hole that was covered up, they were in trouble. The Viet Cong did not want to kill that soldier, although what they put on the end of that would eventually cause infection and kill him. But what they were interested in doing is disabling him. What would happen if they disabled him?

Somebody else would have to take him back to safety. You see what I'm saying? And we need to understand this, the gospel for every day is critical for our fight. We stand firm and stable in the gospel.

Father, help me to stand firm with confidence in the gospel and to proclaim it as the only means of peace with you. The fourth one, the shield of faith, refers to convictions that are based upon the word of God. Convictions with which we ward off the fiery darts of our foe. It's not saving faith. We're already saved.

He's addressing Christians, soldiers. It's not saving faith, but rather a daily trust in the promises and the power of God. This faith is a defensive weapon which protects us from Satan's fiery darts. I'll give you these if you don't get them down in the first go around, but I'll give you some examples of fiery darts. The fiery dart of distraction from what is truly important. The fiery dart of distraction from what is truly important. He gets you off track. The fiery dart of discontentment that fosters the greed to get more instead of the grace to give more.

Let me read that again. The fiery dart of discontentment that fosters the greed to get more for ourselves instead of the grace to give more to others. A third fiery dart is disillusionment when others who profess Christ seem to be self-serving and worldly.

A guy professes to be a Christian, but he acts like a heathen. That can be discouraging. The failure of leadership, the failure of leadership can do irreparable damage. The fiery dart of defeat to temptation that leads to a downward spiral of giving in to our flesh. We fail and it just seems like it gets worse and worse. And finally, the fiery dart of doctrinal infidelity.

What is that? We embrace error. We must rightly divide the word of truth. Father, help me to ward off the assaults of the wicked one with convictions that are rooted in your word. Help me to ward off the assaults of the wicked one with convictions that are rooted in your word.

Two more and we're finished. The helmet of salvation refers to concentration on our living hope. MacArthur again says the fact that the helmet is related to salvation indicates that Satan's blows are directed at the believer's security and assurance in Christ.

He's trying to get you to doubt that you are a believer. The Apostle Peter put it this way in chapter 1 verse 13. Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind.

Be sober. That word means watchful. And rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Hope is a confident expectation of a future reality. When Jesus returns, our salvation will be complete. Paul said in Philippians 1 6, being confident of this very thing that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Again, MacArthur states that this refers to the eternal security that we have in Christ. Satan will use discouragement.

How does he do that? He points to our failures, our sins, our unresolved problems, our poor health, or to whatever else seems negative in our lives in order to make us lose confidence in the love and care of our Heavenly Father. If I can put it this way folks, there's a sense in which for the Christian there's no such thing as the glass half empty. There is a sense in which for the Christian there's no such thing as the glass half empty.

What's the other way of saying the same thing? The glass half full. If we truly believe in Romans 8 28 and 29, it's always a glass half full because he filled it. And that is a profound thought when you really get your head wrapped around that. The world is clueless. I pray my friend who will have half his leg taken off understands the glass half full.

Because right now it looks like the glass half empty to him. The last piece of armor, the sword of the Spirit. I need to back up and give you the prayer. Father, enable me to concentrate on the truth that ultimate and eternal victory is already mine in the Lord. And then six, the sword of the Spirit is conquest with the word of God that is both defensive and offensive as a weapon. We need to memorize portions of scripture that can be brought to bear in the heat of battle. You'll know where I'm going with this, Psalm 119 9 to 11.

How can a young man cleanse his way by taking heat according to your word? With my whole heart, my essential self, I've sought you. Oh, let me not wander from your commandments. Your word I've hidden in my heart.

Why? That I might not sin against you. Father, help me to participate actively in the conquest of truth using your powerful word that always accomplishes your purpose. What I have to say doesn't mean two cents. What he has to say means everything. So counseling people, always trying to take them back to thus saith the Lord.

Because my opinion ain't any better than anybody else's. So, Father, help me to participate actively in the conquest of truth using your powerful word that always accomplishes your purpose. And then we conclude the message with point five, the precedent of prayer for our stand. The precedent for prayer of prayer for our stand, verses 18 through 20. Paul says, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. And this verse, and for me, and for Paul. The utterance may be given to me that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in change. That in it I may speak boldly as I ought to speak.

Why do I emphasize that? That's Paul. That's Paul saying that. And we don't put him on a pedestal that he's superhuman.

He had weaknesses, but let's admit it. He was a wonderful example that has encouraged all of us many times by just reading of his life. And he's saying, pray for me. Consistent prayer. Paul speaks of praying always. Comprehensive prayer. We pray with all prayer and supplication.

What does that mean? We praise God. We petition God. We intercede for others before God. All prayer. Consecrated prayer. We pray in the spirit.

What does that mean? We ask for and seek his guidance in all things. I was sharing with BJ and some of her family the other day, Romans 8.26. You all know Romans 8.28 and 29. Do you know Romans 8.26?

And many of you do. Romans 8.26. Likewise the spirit also helps us in our weakness for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought. But the spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. I am not going to think too long on the instances in my life that I have stood speechless. Beyond burden.

Because if I think about them long I'll cry. Have you been there? Where you just don't know what to say and all you can say is God. That's all you can say.

That's all we need to say. Because the spirit knows our heart and words our prayer. What a precious gift.

What a precious confidence that we can have. And then two other things. Cooperative prayer. Paul said for all saints. And we're not talking about just generalities but specific needs for all saints. And then finally consequential prayer.

He said and for me why? For this consequence the utterance may be given to me that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am in a bastion of chains. That in it I may speak boldly as I ought to speak. As I said earlier beloved Paul was a highly commendable servant of Christ. Yet his humble admission that his speech was ignorant or not esteemed that his bodily presence was weak due to infirmities in his flesh. That he saw himself as the chief of sinners. All of this paints a picture a self-portrait of one who knew his constant need for grace and wisdom. Paul was focused. He knew his constant need for grace and wisdom.

Application. Those who profess to be soldiers of Christ but who are careless in preparing for the personal battles that daily come their way should really question whether they're fit for combat. If you enter the fray partially dressed or without a keen sense of what's at stake you have yourself to thank for the wounds that you receive and the loss of testimony that you incur. Your personal preparation for each day reveals how seriously you take your struggles against worldly influences and wrong desires of your flesh.

And you're going to sit there and say probably pastor Drake can't remember all that and you don't need to. You need to remember focus. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths. That is the bottom line.

Focus. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path. That's a promise. I said at the start we would conclude with what we began with and I'm going to ask you do you personally possess these non-negotiable guidelines for life? I will obey God rather than man no matter what the outcome when it comes to the culture wars of our day. I must demonstrate the binding nature of my convictions by consistent obedience to Bible truth. I must never condone or commend that which God calls evil. I must love my enemies, bless those who curse me, do good to those who hate me, pray for those who spitefully use me and persecute me.

Why? In order to demonstrate the reality of my faith. And finally I must be prepared for persecution and penalty for my active faith in the context of God's sovereignty. May God give us the grace to stand up for Jesus as soldiers of the cross.

Let's pray. Father take what I've said and use it as you see fit in the lives of each of the folk who are here tonight. I know in preparing this message I was convicted and encouraged. I pray Lord that you'd help us to realize that the dark of the night, the bright of the light, that we are children of light, we are soldiers of light. We have a tremendous opportunity in the culture in which we live and move and have our being to be a lighthouse for you. I pray that you'd give us the desire to share the gospel, the courage and conviction to share the gospel with others. We'll praise you for it in Christ's name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-06 23:43:40 / 2023-06-07 00:00:36 / 17

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