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Facing Your Three Worst Enemies

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard
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October 12, 2021 8:00 am

Facing Your Three Worst Enemies

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard

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October 12, 2021 8:00 am

Dealing with the flesh, the world, and the devil; God's promise to reward those who humble themselves; based on James 4:1-10.

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There are three enemies that militate against what God wants to do in our lives. God has big plans for you and there are three built-in enemies that want to come against and knock you out of the place where you can experience God's best for your life. Athletes and coaches are fond of saying we're going to take it one game at a time, but in this battle called the Christian life that's not always possible. Hello and thanks for stopping by for today's Destined for Victory message with Pastor Paul Shepherd. It would be nice if we could face one rival, one battle at a time, but in real life our three worst enemies often show up on the same day on the same field. It's like playing three games at a time against three formidable opponents who don't merely want to beat you, they want to destroy you.

Who are these enemies and how can you find victory when the odds are so stacked against you? Find out next by staying with us right here or visit to listen on demand. That's

Listen and subscribe to the podcast at Spotify, at Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get yours. But now here's Pastor Paul with today's Destined for Victory message facing your three worst enemies. James chapter four, beginning with verse one. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something, but you don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But God gives more grace.

That is why scripture says God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded. Grieve, mourn, and wail.

Change your laughter to morning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up. I've entitled this part of our series facing your three worst enemies. The passage we just read embodies the idea that there are three enemies that militate against what God wants to do in our lives. God has big plans for you and there are three built in enemies that want to come against and knock you out of the place where you can experience God's best for your life. So James as he continues through this general epistle that was written to saints who were scattered into various places because of persecution in the early church and he wants them to still have some good guidance even while they are not at home or having to settle somewhere other than their home. He wants them to know some important information about living a practical Christian life and so in this passage he lets them know that these three enemies you've got to pay attention to and you've got to learn to face them and come against them in the name of the Lord so that they don't prevent you from experiencing God's best plan for your life.

What are those enemies? Well the first one is the flesh. The flesh.

Now when the Bible in the New Testament speaks of the flesh it's not talking about your body per se. It is talking about your mind in its carnal state. Your mind in its unspiritual state. Your mind in its pre-salvation state. Your mind apart from considering and doing and focusing on the will of God.

Now let me help you understand something. When we come to Christ and ask him to be our savior and we accept the fact that his finished work on the cross was sufficient for our salvation we become saved that very moment. You go from spiritual death to life. You go from condemned to justified. Never understate what happens when you come to Christ. If you give your life to Jesus he changes you from the inside out and that change has eternal ramifications.

Salvation suits you to live your best life here on earth and salvation prepares you to spend eternity in the presence of the Lord. Getting saved is a big deal. Not a small deal. It's a big deal. It's a life changer.

It's an eternity changer. But getting saved does not rid you of the problem of dealing with your flesh. And again when the Bible says flesh it's not talking just about your skin. It's talking about your life in a carnal state. Not mind in the will of God. Not caring what God wants or what his plan is but doing what is natural and that is what the flesh is. Now James doesn't use that particular term but everything he describes clearly shows us that he recognizes our first enemy to deal with is the flesh.

Look at what he says. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?

He's talking about carnal desires. What you want in your natural, not prayed up, not reading the word, not going to church, not caring what God thinks self. See a lot of you here have big Bibles that looks really impressive. You've dressed a little differently than you do when you're home just chilling out and some of you don't understand that none of that makes you spiritual. Good to have a Bible and especially if your eyes need it, have a big one, good. With big print, giant print.

That's fine. Big Bible doesn't guarantee you're going to be spiritual. Some of the most carnal people I know have big Bibles. Putting on church clothes or at least nicer clothes. See when I grew up there was actual church clothes and your mama said go put your church clothes on and you've got 45 minutes to do it. That's all old fashioned.

That's all old fashioned but church clothes don't make you spiritual. The flesh is something you're going to have to deal with until the Lord takes us out of this world and takes us to paradise, to eternity with him. We're going to have to deal with your flesh. You can't pray enough to never have to deal with your flesh. You can't.

There's not any amount of Bible reading, any amount of going to church. You're going to have to deal with your flesh every day of your life because your natural state causes fights and quarrels and you want what you want when you want it, how you want it. He says you want something but don't get it. You kill and covet and don't worry. He said well that doesn't apply to me. You can kill in a lot more ways than shooting somebody. You can kill somebody's influence. You can kill somebody's reputation. You can kill somebody's motivation. You can assassinate a lot of things in a person while keeping them physically alive and that's what James is talking about.

He's not talking about natural killing. You can kill and covet. Covet is the desire for something, an obsessive desire for something. You covet it.

You don't just admire it. You want it and he says but you can't have what you want. You quarrel and fight. He says you do not have because you do not ask God. Some people don't even bother praying and giving that issue to the Lord and saying Lord is this something you'd be pleased to have in my life. You just want what you want and you go after it and he said you don't have it because you don't ask God and then he says sometimes you ask but you don't receive because you ask with wrong motives. Has anybody here ever asked God for what you wanted but your motive wasn't right? You didn't want it to glorify him. You didn't want it to advance the kingdom. You wanted it for some very fleshly reason and he said God's not going to answer your prayer when your prayer is not according to his will. He says you ask but you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. Is James suggesting you shouldn't have pleasure?

Not at all. He started out the book by saying count it all joy. There's nothing wrong with pleasure. There's nothing wrong with enjoying your life.

You're going to spend any number of years on this earth. You might as well enjoy them. He's not against you enjoying life. He's not against you having pleasures.

He's against you having pleasures that are carnal in nature and that don't reflect God's purpose for your life. Still ahead, the second half of today's Destined for Victory message with Pastor Paul Shepherd, Senior Pastor at Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, California. We want to thank all of you who sustained Destined for Victory with your prayers and financial support, gifts that help Pastor Paul share the gospel with a growing audience. Destined for Victory is a listener supported ministry, which means we simply can't sustain this ministry without your faithful prayer and generous financial support.

To give now, call 855-339-5500, 855-339-5500 or give securely online at Well if you choose to live for pleasure, eventually you throw God out. But if you choose to live for God, you'll often throw pleasure in.

Coming your way next, the rest of today's Destined for Victory message facing your three worst enemies. Once again, here's Pastor Paul. Sometimes your motive is the problem. He's talking there about the flesh. All of those things have to do with the flesh. In fact, not only in the first few verses of James 4, but in the last verses of James 3, he talks about people who have their perspective out of whack. In fact, take a look with me at James 3 beginning at verse 13. I want you to notice what he says in the end of the previous chapter.

James 3 beginning at verse 13. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life. Told you God wanted you to have a good life.

But look at the rest of what he says. By deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. He says but if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such quote unquote wisdom does not come down from heaven but is in fact earthly, unspiritual, and of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

So what is he saying there? He's simply saying that the flesh doesn't seek godly wisdom and understanding. The flesh wants what it wants at any price. And he says some of us have a problem with bitter envy and selfish ambition. Some of us either in the past or in the present, you had an issue of bitter envy. You want some things so badly that you envy those that have it in a bitter way. You have a wrong, something wrong going on in your heart. If you can't celebrate with people who are blessed, if you can't celebrate with people who have what you wish you had, something is wrong.

You got to crucify your flesh by making yourself be happy for other people. Because nobody can steal your blessing. I don't care, singles, I don't care who you thought you wanted to marry. If they end up hooking up with somebody else, that's not your blessing. Took my man. She didn't take your man. Your man had no business being takeable if he was truly your man. So all she did was hooked up with a guy who decided I'd rather be with B than A. But you're not supposed to be a bitterly envious A. They got together, wish them well.

See, you don't even know who he really was in the first place. You don't know whether that would have been a blessing or not in your life. Because I promise you that some people you thought were going to be a blessing, but I end up counseling him and B. And truth be told, there have been many a time when I came out to counseling session and I knew you were A and I want to call you up and say, you did good girl.

But of course my ethics would not allow me to do that. I'm not supposed to do that. I'm supposed to keep everything down or on the down low. I counsel discreetly and confidentially. So I've never called any of you A's and told you, you dodged the bullet and just don't know it.

But let me tell you now since you all don't know who I'm talking about, a number of you all have dodged the bullet. And I know it took you a while to get your heart back and you cried a few tears and all that. Go on, do what you got to do. So the flesh is into bitter envy and selfish ambition. Selfish, nothing wrong with ambition, but it needs to be in God's order. You need to aspire to the highest and the best, but don't do it in a way that is selfish. And he explains when a person really lives in wisdom and understanding, it results in purity.

He says it results in being peace loving, considerate of other people, submissive to God and those he puts over you full of mercy, good fruit, impartial and sincere. That's what your life is like when you get that flesh in its proper place. And so James said both at the end of chapter three and the beginning of chapter four, we need to recognize and deal head on with our flesh. Your flesh is the enemy that's in a me.

You want to understand well what does, I still don't get it pastor, what's the flesh? The flesh is the enemy that's in a me. An enemy you can't blame from the outside because it's an enemy inside of you. Have any of you ever recognized at any point in your life that you can be your own worst?

You're your own worst problem. If you could get you dealt with, you'd be into something. But everyone has to grapple with the flesh. It's not a matter of time and experience.

I don't know who in here has been saved the longest, but whoever you are, I've been saved for 50 years, I've been saved for 60 years, great. Doesn't mean you don't have to still wrestle with your flesh. You're going to be wrestling with your flesh until Jesus comes and gets you through death or through the second coming. You're going to have to deal with your flesh.

And so we must learn that this is an enemy, one of our three worst enemies and it needs to be dealt with very, very directly. Okay, pastor then how do I deal with the flesh? The Bible says crucify it, put it to death. Not talking about spiritual death of course, it means put to death that enemy that's in a me that wants me to be comfortable being outside of God's will. You need to say I will not be comfortable outside of God's will in any area of my life.

Now that's saying something. Because your flesh will scream and jump up and down and rant and rave because it wants what it wants. Some of you are in a bad relationship because your flesh wants a relationship and it'll take a bad one over no one.

And so you have to say no, if this isn't a relationship that's blessing me, that's helping me draw closer to God, that's building me up, that's helping me get to the place where God wants me to be, then I don't care how fine they are, I don't care how cute they are, I don't care how built they are, I don't care how whatever they are. You have to put it to death. You have to do it.

Nobody going to do it for you. Don't come get in the line, I can't anoint it out of you. Put some oil on me and ask the Lord to take these folk out of my life that's not supposed to be there. He's not taking them. He didn't bring them, you take them out. You take them out. You say listen, we really can't continue this relationship because we have two different sets of values, I love you and I wish you well but you're not for me. Because if they got Amos 2 2, how can two walk together except they agree?

It's either 2 2 or 3 3. It says how can two walk together except they be agreed? So you can't walk with somebody who's not kingdom first, wanting the will of God, they can't be a close somebody you really lean on and depend on. Oh, you got friends who you have camaraderie with who don't know the Lord, of course, you're supposed to have that.

Friendship evangelism is a very important style of evangelism. It's what Jesus did. He befriended sinners and publicans but he wasn't leaning on them for his strength. Jesus wasn't hooking up with some heathen carnal woman because he wanted companionship.

When Jesus went to the places where sinners normally frequented, he was there to be salt and light. He wasn't there because he was trying to scratch a carnal itch like some of us have tried to do and some are currently trying to do. Well, God didn't give me somebody so blame it on God. God's not e-harmony on high. Don't blame that on him until he send me somebody.

That's not his job. You walk in his way, please the Lord, do what's right and you just pledge that Lord I'm going to serve you no matter who comes or doesn't come. Sure, God delights in us hooking up with people of like precious faith and all that. He delights in that and he will bless that but don't try to hold God hostage till you send me some perfect person, some perfect kingdom first person who had the same taste and the kind of person I'm really, when I see them, I'll know them because they look like I want them to look and act like I want them to act and God's got better things to do than to fashion somebody for you.

Don't you hear now how selfish that is? Ask all the married people you know in the kingdom. God didn't just fashion some perfect person for them and let me just hurt your feelings real quick just to bring you into line and if God fashioned a wonderfully perfect person, why would he give them to you?

Told you it was going to hurt. Don't put scripture to a fairy tale and try to make it work out. You hook up with somebody of like precious faith or you choose not to.

It's your call, not God's but you take what you get because guess what? If you all hook up, they take in what they get, compatible. Both have weaknesses. Both have things that aren't just the other one's exact cup of tea. Sometimes you get a sip or two but it's really about a covenant. It's not about trying to find some ideal. It's about a covenant. So your flesh militates against truth and all the good things and your flesh wants what it wants no matter the cost. For the flesh sets its desire against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. These words taken from Galatians chapter 5 verse 17 tell us all we need to know about why the Christian life can often be so difficult to live.

But thanks be to God we have the Holy Spirit to teach us, to convict us, and to empower us to will and to act according to his good purpose. Speaking of tough times, the past 18 months or so have been difficult in the history of our nation and our world. Sickness and death, loss of jobs, loss of loved ones, the kind of challenges that can cause some to lose hope. In his video message Get Your Hopes Up, Pastor Paul Shepherd reminds us that the recent challenges many of us have experienced neither surprised God nor derailed his plans for our lives.

As you follow along you'll discover three reasons why each of us should live with renewed faith and hope even in the midst of tough times. That's Get Your Hopes Up, a DVD message from Pastor Paul and our gift to you this month by request for your generous donation to Destined for Victory. Call 855-339-5500 or visit to make a safe and secure donation online. And as always you can mail your gift to Destined for Victory, Post Office Box 1767, Fremont, California 94538.

Again our address is Destined for Victory, Box 1767, Fremont, California 94538. Need prayer today? Use the contact us feature at and share your request with us. While you're there be sure to ask for Pastor Paul's monthly letter of encouragement yours at no cost or obligation. You can condemn sex outside of the will of God, but you can't condemn the person who practices sex outside of the will of God. You got to love them like Jesus loved the woman who just got through practicing adultery. That's tomorrow when Pastor Paul Shepherd shares his message facing your three worst enemies. Until then remember, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. In Christ you are Destined for Victory.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-12 04:39:29 / 2023-08-12 04:48:17 / 9

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