This is an adapted version of a sermon I delivered July 2010 at my home church. The first of three blog posts where I will be publishing three sermons I have delivered ‘recently’
Click here to listen to the audio Armed & Dangerous – Audio
Armed and Dangerous – The Sovereignty of God
“Praise the name of Jesus
Praise the name of Jesus
He’s my rock, He’s my fortress
He’s my deliverer
In Him will I trust”
And so to today’s theme – ‘armed and dangerous’. I will seek to explore this what it means and how it is to be worked out and understood by the Christian.
Everything I seek to address will be related to the following backdrop and it is this, that the Christian belongs no where outside of the presence of God, for it is there that their safety is found, it is there where home truly is, it is in the arms, in the very presence of Almighty God. As Peter states, we are pilgrims, travellers, sojourners, this world is not my home a famous song says, neither this world nor the things of this world, we truly are passing through.
If you truly belong to him, if you truly have been regenerated by the Spirit of God, then this is where home is, now a caveat for those who are indeed saved and feel like me at times, depressed with yourself because you have allowed a week to go past, with no real time spent in communication with the Lord, while in this body of flesh we will slip up we may fall short at times, but what is the story of your life when looked at overall, is it a case where you never pray or is it a case where you slip, but you find that you cant help but run back, you must run back, you NEED to run back?
Now in setting out this sermon today I will address a number of points regarding our theme of being ‘armed and dangerous’ and the sovereignty of God.
I will set out what we face, and what we do about it.
For we are all born in Sin, turn to Romans 3:9-18
‘For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”’
We see that every human being when born is born in sin, in other words every human being is born with a death sentence written over them, we are all born to die. Sin is the very thing which corrupts, we are born depraved, we are born totally outside of the will of God, as Paul said, none is righteous, no one understands, no one seeks for God. And Scripture will tell us that since there is a justice and a righteousness and a truth in God, that he will serve justice, and the slightest of sin he will punish, and in truth he deals this just punishment to all mankind through the penalty of death.
But we praise God for Jesus! We praise God for sending his one and only Son to be as John says in 1 John the propitiation for our sins. What is John saying? He is saying that the eternal Word of God, Jesus Christ the Son of God was sent to bear the wrath of the Father for the sin of mankind, and through him, through him alone as he makes clear in his gospel account, can humanity now be reconciled back to God, can men and women now enjoy fellowship, can now enjoy God himself!
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to my self, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:3-7
One way – one way.
[Ephesians 2] What an amazing discourse, an amazing summary of what we were and what we now are, not perfect, being sanctified and fully made over unto God, but new regenerate people, set apart and engrafted into the fellowship of God, being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Now concerning this brethren. By being saved and placed into the side of God, onto God’s team as it were, we are then placed in a certain situation. If I become an American citizen I am by virtue of my nationality at war with the Taliban, I may not be directly and I may not necessarily have any feelings toward the Taliban, or the “insurgents” in Iraq but what I am trying to get across is, that when you pledge allegiance to the Queen you are in effect pledging enmity towards those who are against the Queen, and it is the same in the Kingdom of God with respect to the kingdom of darkness. The fact is that the Great Almighty Supreme Omnipotent God to whom we belong is in diametric opposition to sin, sin is the very opposite of all that God is! What did Jesus say:
‘if you love me you will keep my commandments’ John 14:15
Indeed those who are in Christ follow after Christ and what does 1 John say:
‘Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.’ 1 John 3:4
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.’ 1 John 2:3-5
Sin is epitomised in the person of Satan, the devil. The same scripture in Ephesians calls him the prince of the power of the air, working in the sons of disobedience i.e. those who are yet unconverted, and us before we were converted by God. Therefore we set ourselves against the devil when we seek to name the name of Christ, when we become Christian.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
(1 Peter 5:8-10)
The Greek word used there for ‘adversary’ was used in Greek culture in New Testament times with regard to an opponent in a law suit. Your prosecutor. And this fits with what we know from the Word of God to be the character of Satan. Revelation 12:10 tells us
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
In Job 1 we see that Satan came to accuse Job of only serving God because God blessed him with sons, daughters, animals and a nice house. I have a friend at university who once said ‘when you are in a fight and you are by yourself you get a bit scared. But if you have your big brother or your dad behind you, it gives you a crazy energy boost. And that is what it’s like with God on our side’
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
We have one who sits on the throne who angelic beings who ten times our power, ten times our intellect and ten times our beauty fly around with 2 wings, covering their body and 2 covering their eyes, crying ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” That’s who we have on our side!
So we see we have an adversary, an accuser.
What I noticed is that any time we see Jesus encountering a demon possessed person, the demon shows signs of fear. Examples include:
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
‘the Holy One of God’ – the demon recognised him. The devil is not afraid of sheep but he is afraid of the shepherd.
And again in Mark 5 the demons begged Jesus not to allow them to be sent ‘our of the country’
And finally Mark 9 20-27
And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
He is not afraid of sheep, but he is most certainly afraid of the shepherd!
My point is that while we have a sense of need of defending and arming ourselves against the devil, our only real defence is God himself. It is not how good we are at praying, or how good we are at methodically reading the Bible every day, or coming to church at set times or every bible study…I am not saying they are unimportant…but our defence is in God and God alone. All through the scriptures we see this. For example, Exodus 7-12 – the ten plagues of Egypt. Not one of them was effected through Moses’ power, or Aaron’s ability, it was God who sent the gnats, it was God who sent the frogs, God who turned the Nile into blood and God who killed every firstborn in the land, it was God.
Our strength is in Christ, he tells us that none shall perish or be taken out of the Fathers’ hand. And this is why Peters says as we saw above ‘And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.’ Satan is not afraid of you, he is afraid of the shepherd.
We see in Ephesians 6 we are instructed to stand and put on the armour of God and be strong in the power of his might. Yes we are told about weapons we are supposed to don ourselves with, but against the backdrop of his might. It is the armour of God. Our strength is not found in what we conjure up, it is in the armour of God. He is not afraid of sheep, but the shepherd and the shepherd’s armour.
Verse 16 tells us about the ‘shield of faith’. Roman shields covered the entire body. Sometimes when you watch reconstructions on TV programmes of ancient battles, we see a shield which only covers the breast area, but he Roman shield covered the whole body. It is the shield of faith, our faith we are told in 1 John ‘has overcome the world’, our faith in Christ and his finished work, this is with which we are able to extinguish fiery darts.
Again we see Exodus 4:12 ‘Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.’ Moses has been complaining to God in the preceding verses that he is not able to do anything, he cannot go before the Egyptian King and demand that he set the Israelite slaves free. But it is not about what we know, but whose we are. The message is, Moses just go. That is why they could sing the victory song in Exodus 15 after they had been freed from Egypt:
Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying,
“I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The LORD is a man of war;
the LORD is his name.
“Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea,
and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
The floods covered them;
they went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power,
your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;
the floods stood up in a heap;
the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
Because God said, just go Moses – I’ve got you!
And a final picture we see in the opening chapter of the book of Joshua.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
The people responded ‘Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you, as he was with Moses!’ (Joshua 1:17) They were saying, you see Joshua we are not too fussed about you, you’re a nice guy, but the only reason we follow you is that Lord your God is with you. This was not a joke for these people they were going into the desert to go to an unknown land and there was no Egypt to run back to. This was everything for them, their families, their lives, but they put it to the side and said ‘Only may the LORD your God be with you, as he was with Moses!’; no matter what Joshua, we will follow you on that condition.
I end with a quote from a book I recently purchased entitled Spiritual Warfare
‘The locus for spiritual warfare is union with Christ, all this reinforces the notion that the battle is the Lord’s. In spiritual warfare our victory is in Christ, our refuge, our strength is in Christ, our confidence, our hope is in Christ, the better we learn to abide in Christ, the more capable and vigorous we will be for battle as we live in and live out this victory. After describing the blinding work of Satan as the god of this age, in 2 Corinthians, Paul drives home the point, ‘but we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us’. Spiritual warfare whether in the work of evangelism or our walk in sanctification can be expressed as standing firm in the gospel of the redemptive kingdom of God against the effects of our primary enemy to divorce us from Christ. Satan’s primary efforts aim to disengage us from Christ in the gospel and pit self against Christ. Most of spiritual warfare simply involves living out the gospel of the kingdom against the effects of our enemy the devil; with the goal of growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. The battle lines of spiritual warfare can be drawn in terms of abiding with Christ in the gospel of grace. ‘Through many dangers, toils and snare we have already come, t’was Grace that brought us safe thus far and Grace will lead us home’
God says to the prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 2, about Israel and I believe this can be applied to us as Christians:
‘he who touches you touches the apple of his eye‘
Next week Friday: A message from last year entitled ‘Putting God first’. Get reminded of its release by subscribing by putting your email address in the box to the right.