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915. The Battlefield of the Mind

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
January 29, 2021 7:00 pm

915. The Battlefield of the Mind

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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January 29, 2021 7:00 pm

Dr. Eric Newton continues the series entitled “Our Ancient Foe,” from I Peter 5:6-11.

The post 915. The Battlefield of the Mind appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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The Daily Platform
Bob Jones University

Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.

The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. His intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything so he established daily chapel services. Today, that tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from the University Chapel platform. Today on The Daily Platform, we're continuing a study series entitled Our Ancient Foe, which is a study of Satan, the reality of his presence, and how Christians can be victorious against him. Today's message will be preached by seminary professor Dr. Eric Newton. The title of his sermon is The Battlefield of the Mind from 1 Peter 5, and Dr. Steve Pettit will introduce him. Well, we are honored this morning to have Dr. Eric Newton, our Dean of Students, to come and speak on our continuing theme of Our Ancient Foe, and the message he's going to bring today is actually dealing with the real battlefield of the Christian life, and that is the battlefield of our mind.

And so, Dr. Newton, you come. Today's date, October 12th, is actually a very significant one in ancient history. In 539 BC, the neo-Babylonian empire, the Chaldeans, fell to the Medes and Persians and their famous king Cyrus. Daniel 5 records the events of that faithful night when Belshazzar, as is depicted on the screen, son of Nabonidus, held a drunken feast, even using vessels from Solomon's temple in an alcoholic orgy to their pantheon of gods. But as Daniel ominously records, a hand from God wrote Babylon's doom on the wall. Mine, God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it.

Tekel, thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting. Peres, thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. And history confirms that the conquerors essentially entered Babylon without a fight that night. It was a time of war, but the Chaldeans weren't sober enough to do anything about it. You know, we're several weeks already into our series on our ancient foe, and in the coming weeks, our speakers will unpack important themes from the New Testament central passage on spiritual warfare Ephesians 6. Themes like Satan's schemes, and the weapons of warfare, and how to use those.

But before we get into those subjects, we really need to gather in the war room, as it were this morning, and assess our outlook. We need to remind ourselves we have a supernatural adversary. He's real. He's as real as this pulpit that I'm pounding.

There are spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. Our Christian lives are the theater of the greatest battle of the ages. Has this realization sunk in?

Is it changing the way we live? You and I live in a time of war, so we must prepare our minds for battle. And to do that, I'd like to ask you to turn with me this morning to 1 Peter chapter 5.

1 Peter chapter 5. When you read Peter's first epistle, it's clear that the original audience was facing pressure. The term suffering recurs over and over. And you and I tend to think of suffering in terms of physical persecution.

And that was probably the case to some extent. But more generally, these were spiritual pilgrims in an antagonistic culture. They were being tried with fire. They were labeled evildoers. They were called to follow the example of our Savior in suffering. They were falsely accused. They were maligned because they didn't fall in line with the drunken revelry of their society. They were enduring a fiery trial. It may not have been outright persecution, but it certainly was societal pressure that challenged their faith. These were not war games.

This was the real stuff. Now I cannot speak for all of us in what I'm about to say, but like many of you, I'm a Christian who is an American citizen. And we've had it pretty easy. Perhaps one of the reasons we in America haven't thought a lot about spiritual warfare is because we haven't faced a lot of explicit pressure.

But that's been changing, right? So I think the message of 1 Peter has never been timelier for us than it is today. Would you read along with me starting in verse 6 of 1 Peter 5. He writes, humble yourselves therefore into the mighty hand of God, that God may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon him for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour, whom resists steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called you unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever.

Amen. We see in verses 6 and 7, which isn't our focus as much this morning, that casting our anxieties on the Lord is one way to humble ourselves. Another way is to recognize that we have an adversary and that we are at war. In other words, to have anything other than a wartime mindset is arrogance. So what would it look like to have minds prepared for battle?

Well three components of this battle mindset. First of all, in verse 8, we have to be alert. We have to be alert.

There are two commands, related commands here. Be sober and be vigilant. This is the third time that Peter has admonished his readers to be sober in this book. The first time is 1 Peter 1 13, which says, wherefore gird up the loins of your mind. I think you've heard this analogy before, we don't relate to it too well today, but the men had these long flowing skirt-like robes and they had to pull them all up and get them fastened under a belt so they had freedom of movement with which to fight.

They didn't take a lot of selfies in those days, for good reason. They prepared themselves for battle. You and I have to take all of these loose thoughts and we have to gather them up and we have to fix them together and we have to prepare our minds for battle. He goes on to say be sober and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Be sober. I don't think he's here talking primarily about alcoholic beverages literally. He's using this as a metaphor. He's saying, you know what, you're living in an antagonistic culture and it's like this culture is serving up one beverage after another and our tendency is just to take that and to down it and to say, yeah, give me one more.

It probably won't hurt anything. We drink the naturalistic beverage of our age. The world tells us that we're crazy for believing an old book, the Bible. The world says we're missing out on sensual pleasure. The world says that our problems are primarily economic.

The world says we're scum if we don't fall in line with the liberated sexual thinking of our age. And many times without even realizing it, we're drinking in this thinking. We're becoming inebriated by it.

So it's like Peter from the Holy Spirit is taking a pail of ice cold spiritual water and flailing it at us and he's saying, wake up! Be sober! You're at war! He says be vigilant. Like a century who's posted at the gate, other soldiers can sleep at night.

The century cannot. Be watchful. Be aware. 1 Thessalonians 5, 6 through 8 say let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.

Same two verbs. For they that sleep, sleep in the night and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and for an helmet the hope of salvation. Dr. Pettit preached on this on Monday.

If our identity is above, then our lifestyle has to conform with that identity. There's a connection between it belonging to the day and our sobriety and our wearing the armor of God. So why is this vigilance so necessary?

Why do we need to be sober? Well, because we have an enemy. We have an adversary. The devil. This word adversary has the idea of a supernatural opponent.

He's completely against us. Ephesians 6, 12 says we don't wrestle against flesh and blood. We get irritated with one another, but we aren't the enemy. Even the worst of those around us is not the enemy, truly.

We wrestle against the rulers of darkness of this world against spiritual wickedness in high places. We have a supernatural opponent and he is a slanderous accuser. The devil is a slanderer.

He's an accuser. There's this beautiful picture in Zechariah 3 of Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord and he's standing there with dirty clothes. And the devil, Satan, the accuser says, look at this guy's sin. And the angel of the Lord removes that filthy clothing and robes him in righteousness.

Notice the difference between our Savior, verse 7, the one who cares for us, and our adversary, the one who accuses us. He's described as a roaring lion on the prowl to devour. He's a roaring lion. I've never been to Africa. Some of you have. Some of you can identify with this photo.

I was talking to a colleague just last week and she was telling me on a mission trip one time to the Serengeti, a few of the mission team members were with her in a jeep and they came across an old lion who was in a ditch who obviously was not part of the pride anymore, alright? He was washed up and suddenly he saw them and he let out this blood curdling roar and there were girls in the jeep who started crying. I'm sure it was not funny. It sounds funny to us, right?

I'm sure it was not funny to them. The roar of the devil in 1 Peter is the adversity of this evil world. It may come in the form of actual suffering again, but it may also be fleshly lusts like chapter 2 verse 11 talks about, or the ignorance of foolish people, chapter 2 verse 15, or crooked masters to 18, or unbelievers who malign you and make fun of you and ostracize you because you won't join them in the parties and passions and idolatries of this world.

The stakes are as high as they can possibly be. He prowls around seeking whom he may devour. This word devour is very graphic. It has the idea of drinking down, of swallowing. It's the word used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in Jonah 2 for the great fish swallowing Jonah whole.

And if you know anything about lions, you know they don't leave leftovers. It's the highest of stakes. He prowls around ready to pick off professing believers who are caving in to pressure. He's out to destroy your faith like Job's. There are some among us today and you are struggling and the devil has his sights on you and your faith and he wants to pick you off and he wants to devour you. Truly.

This is real spiritual warfare. So don't wait for the handwriting on the wall. Don't be inebriated with the thinking of our age. Don't keep drinking in the intoxicating mindset of a world that is antagonistic to God. Be alert.

Be sober. We have missions representatives with us this week. My first experience working at a summer camp was in junior high and we worked at this camp in northern Indiana called Camp Potawatomi. We were the Potawatomi potwash crew that week. And a bunch of 13 year old boys, Pastor Josh Crocker from Morningside was also part of that.

We worked about 12 hours a day and then we had downtime in the evening and the guy who was our overseer thought it would be a great idea to tell stories about vampire bats because we had bats around some of our cabins. Maybe more than one of us slept with the sheets over our head that week. And some of you, some of you are very aware that you're in spiritual warfare and perhaps this series has awakened you to that and you're living your life right now cowering in a corner. You've got the sheets up over your head. You're very alert but that's all that it is.

You're not sure what to do. And that's why the passage goes on. Let's notice what Peter says next. Verse 9, not only be alert but be active.

Be active in your faith. He says, resist. That word has the idea of standing against, of opposing to someone's face. It's the word used in Galatians 2 when Paul opposed Peter to his face in Antioch because Peter's actions weren't conforming to the gospel. It's the word in Ephesians 6 13 for taking up the whole armor of God in order to stand, to withstand.

It's the word in James 7 that says resist the devil and he will flee from you. It's the flip side of submitting to God. The Bible tells us to flee temptation, like Joseph. But we do not flee the devil.

The Bible does not tell us to flee him. It tells us to resist him, to oppose him to his face. When we turn our back and cower, we're exposed. It's like we have armor on the front, we have the breastplate of righteousness, but when we turn our back, there's nothing to cover it.

Or if you want to think in a sports analogy, we have our own name on the back of the jersey and we have our team name on the front of the jersey. We're weak individually, but we're in Christ together. Don't turn your back. As the song we sang just a few minutes ago says, he roars and he does, but he cannot harm.

One of the books that I most enjoy reading to my kids is actually a BJU Press publication, a Journey Forth book called Mumsy Meets a Lion. And in this book, it's the story of an African boy who was taught what to do when he encountered, if he ever encountered a lion, and one night on his way back from an errand, he took too much time, it became dark, and indeed, he heard and eventually saw a lion. And here was the advice that he followed that night. If you ever come face to face with a Simba, his parents would say, look him straight in the eyes, your eyes into his. Don't move. Don't breathe. And whatever you do, don't run. We need that advice this morning.

Whatever you do, don't run. And we do this together. The command to resist is a plural command.

Yes, he was speaking to lots of people, so you could just say, well, lots of people needed to hear it. Of course you would use the plural, but I think there's even more to it. We do this together. We are not individual warriors. We are an army. Yes, we're personally responsible for our own spiritual faith, but we're also called to fight for and with one another. Are you helping the people around you be steadfast in the faith? How do we resist? Well, it says we resist steadfast in the faith. This is the word in Acts 3, 7, for the man who was lifted up, he was healed by the apostles, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength, supernaturally. When you resist the devil, God gives you supernatural strength by faith.

Well, how does that work? Well, first we remember that we're part of a brotherhood. Verse 9 goes on to say, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. Now this may seem like an odd encouragement. It's kind of like you just failed that certain test that everyone's struggling with, and your professor says, hey, don't worry, 85% of the class failed.

I'm not going to curve it, but 85% of the class failed. And you say, well, fantastic, we can commiserate, but that doesn't really encourage me. That doesn't help me. But there's more going on here than simply saying, hey, you're suffering? Yeah, so is everyone else. Because the theme, one of the dominant themes of this book is that Jesus Christ suffered on His way to glory, and we are in Him. So God has this plan. He's preparing us for glory, and He's bringing us through the sufferings of Christ in order to get us there. So take heart.

You're not alone. It's the divine strategy for obtaining glory. It was the career path of Christ Himself. We also need to rehearse the words of grace. Look at verse 12.

I have written briefly, Peter says, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein He stand. We need to preach the truth to ourselves. A lot of times all we listen to is what our own heart is saying, or what the internet is saying, or what social commentary is saying, or what our friends back home are saying, and we're not bringing ourselves back to the truth. We have to preach the truth to ourselves. Stop listening to yourself.

Start talking to yourself in a spiritual way. Because the devil may roar like Goliath, but we have an answer, and it's not just David, as great as he was. We have David's greater son on our side. Thirdly, we need to stay awake through prayer.

This is a very interesting phrase in 1 Peter 4.7, the end of all things is at hand. Be ye therefore sober, same word that we've been talking about, and watch unto prayer. Prayer is difficult for us. Prayer is one of the times during the day when we have the tendency to fall asleep, right? But God says prayer is a crucial way for us to stay alert and be strong in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. And part of the problem I think is that we often pray in such shallow terms. We often pray for piddly little stuff, and God does care about that stuff, but He cares about your faith. He cares about the faith of your friends.

He cares about the advance of the gospel across the globe. Is that what we're praying for? We have to be alert. We have to be active in our faith, but our mindset is still not complete.

A lot of alert, active armies in the history of the world have been utterly annihilated. So finally we come to verses 10-11 and we see that we must be assured. Be assured. It says the God of all grace. Have confidence. Have a victorious mindset. Not because you're you, or not because you're feeling good, or not because your circumstances are easy right now, but because the God of all grace is your captain. He's all gracious. He says in verse 10, the suffering, the pressure is temporal.

It is for a while, but it's not forever. And the one who has called you is this God of grace. You may be struggling in a variety of ways today.

Most all of us are. And you may be questioning how God is acting in this scenario, but you can be assured on the basis of His very own Word that whatever the situation, God is bringing grace into the equation. It's all grace.

That's who He is. His grace is not a desperate last second heave into the end zone that may work, but usually doesn't. He orchestrated our salvation in eternity past, and He's working it out, even through the difficulties of present life. And it's so glorious, He says, the outcome is secure. Look at the end of verse 10. After you've suffered a while, He will make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.

He will do this. It's certain. Peter does not say that you will be established if you make enough money, or earn the right degree, or know the right people, or make few mistakes, or take few risks. There are no qualifications outside of Christ. If you're in Christ, if you're God's child, if He has called you to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, you will suffer some on earth. You will face pressure, but you will win because the captain of your salvation has already won. God is all gracious. Be established in your faith because God will establish you.

Do you believe that? Finally, we can be assured, verse 11, because God is not only all gracious, He's all powerful. It says, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. That word dominion has the idea of power, all power. We of course aren't giving God dominion as if He doesn't already have it. We're ascribing to Him, as the Bible does in so many places, the power and authority that He has always had. And if you look back at chapter 3, verse 22, He has power over angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him.

The very powers we've been talking about, He's Lord. We can, we must have a victorious battle mindset because we have a God who is all gracious and all powerful. My friends, we are at war. So prepare your mind for battle. Be alert to Satan's attack. Be active in your faith. Be assured of the victory as you follow the captain of your salvation because the lion that prowls around in this passage isn't the greatest lion there is.

Your captain is the lion of the tribe of Judah and he's won. And you will too as you trust in him. Let's pray. O God, we can talk about this.

We can hope for this. O Lord, help us to believe what you've said. O God, please help us to see your victory worked out in our lives as we trust you. This is your war and we're on your side. And we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

You've been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Eric Newton, which is part of the study series about Satan entitled Our Ancient Foe. I'm Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. Thank you for listening to The Daily Platform. Please come visit our beautiful campus in Greenville, South Carolina, and see how God is working in the lives of our students. For more information about Bob Jones University, visit www.bju.edu or call 800-252-6363. If you appreciate this program and benefit from the faithful preaching and teaching of God's word, would you consider sending us a special financial gift? You can easily do that through the website, thedailyplatform.com. Join us again next week as we continue the series Our Ancient Foe, here on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-30 02:05:55 / 2023-12-30 02:15:20 / 9

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