There is no doubt about it, but sometimes it is hard to see past people being our enemies. As we talked about, Jesus was given all power and authority and then He gave that same power to the church at Pentecost. It is important to understand then who that power and authority was to be directed at. Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Paul also said to clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

        We would not need our armor on if there were no flaming arrows coming our way, but since our enemy is constantly attacking, we need our armor on all the time. So who is it we are actually fighting against? If it was just people, then only human interactive skill would be necessary or even war, but it is not, so we need spiritual intervention. People become enemies when satan is at work. Evil has been a problem since the beginning of time. Genesis 6:5 “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Isaiah 32:6 “For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the Lord; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water. 7 Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just.” Jeremiah 7:24 “But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.” Jeremiah 11:8 “But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’” Matthew 12:34 “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” When we do not follow God wholeheartedly, this allows satan to use those who do not and God allows this. So even though it appears that people are our enemies, satan is behind what is happening. Paul tells us that our enemy is not flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of evil. When Jesus came to earth, he did not fight against the Romans who were in control at the time. Luke 22:49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?” Matthew said it this way, Matthew 25:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way? 55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” John 18:36 “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” If it was supposed to be war, then as Jesus said, a human army would be no match for twelve legions of angels especially when you see the power of the angel of the Lord. Isaiah 37:36 “Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!” In the spiritual realm, that is the power the church has been given against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

        The Catholic church did not understand this when they launched the crusades against the Muslims who both wanted to reclaim the Holy Land. The trouble between the two goes all the way back to Abraham who wrongly asked God to bless Ishmael. Genesis 17:17 “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed (as did Sarah) and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” 19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.” This battle is still going on today, but it is not a battle of flesh and blood. It is not Christians against Muslims, people verses people, but the power of God against evil; Jesus destroying the work of the devil. As Jesus said to Paul, Acts 26:17 “I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God.” In the Old Testament, yes it was physical warfare, but not in the New Testament. The war as Jesus showed us is a spiritual battle that can only be won with power from on High and this is why the church is losing the war. Our rebellion has caused God to turn His face from us. Ezekiel 39:23 “And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. 24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them.” When God turns His face from us, we have no power against the dark forces as the church has clearly shown.

        Since this is a spiritual battle, we need the weapons Paul described in Ephesians if we are going to win this battle. Revelation 12:17 “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” Revelation 13:7 “It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” Daniel 7:21 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. Revelation 17:14 “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” satan is waging war against the church but because God’s word has been set aside and the church has rebelled against God, the church sits in desolation because of it but that is not how it was supposed to be.

        As Paul said, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The church has failed to stand firm. (Matthew 24:12 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.) Truth has been thrown to the ground (Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.”) and truth is nowhere to be found (Isaiah 59:15 “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.”) The true gospel is not being preached and the church is not prepared / ready to meet our God even though we are told, Luke 12:35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning. 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes” Righteousness is missing, as is faith. Romans 1:17 “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” The flaming arrows have done massive damage. We will talk about faith tomorrow. Deception and delusion are everywhere in the church, so the salvation of many is in question. We have the word of God, but most have no idea how to use it. You do not want to be in a sword fight without your sword. 

        The church doesn’t seem to think we need to have armor as many think the battle was won already or the lasts book from the latest guru will give all the answers on how to grow your church, but who goes to battle without being prepared against our enemy. The guru can give you no power to defeat this enemy. As we talked about, even though Jesus gave us all authority and power over our enemies, the church rebelled and because of this rebellion our enemy has desecrated the church. Paul said put on the armor of light and the weapons we use are not of this world. 2 Corinthians 10:1 “By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! 2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

        Too often people set their sights on what is earthly and present and not on Jesus and the spiritual. For many they respond to only what their eyes can see. If you looked around you, you would see that you are surrounded by the enemy. That is not how it was supposed to be. It should be more like this. 2 Kings 6:15 “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” We must return our focus back to Jesus or we will not have the power to defeat that enemy as King Hezekiah did when the Assyrians were attacking. Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” If we did, we not have to worry about anything, our enemies or what we face from the past, present or future. Jesus said Matthew 6:31 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Since this is a spiritual war, we set our minds on spiritual things. Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” We are not like those whose Philippians 3:19 “destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” Romans 8:5 “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” 

        Today the church focuses on the earthly. They follow worldly principles as to how their business is run and how they try to reach the world. They believe that becoming like the world is the best way. They follow marketing principles to sell their wares, yet there is no power as there is no authority and power that the church was supposed to have. James tells us, James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Peter tells us 1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

        As we approach Easter, yes there will be talk of the resurrection of Jesus, but it is just talk, as there is no power. As Paul said, 1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” If the church really believed in the resurrection of Jesus, the church would believe in the power and authority Jesus gave the church at Pentecost. The church since Jesus is alive would still believe, Matthew 8:17 “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Paul prayed Ephesians 1:17 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” That power and authority is what the church was to use against our enemies. If the church had obeyed, nothing would stand against and everywhere we set our feet would be ours ,just as they were told when they were about to take the land promised to them, but like Israel, the church disobeyed and lost that power and our enemies prevailed against us. 

        Today the church operates, and not even as well in most cases, as the world but at the same time thinks that God is present /dwells among them and has anointed them with His Spirit. Most believe in water baptism and most will tell you that when you are baptized you are sign, sealed and delivered and have nothing to fear. Yet those who have been baptized have no idea that there is power and authority over the spiritual forces of darkness. If most were honest, they would have to admit that there must be more to the church than what they are seeing. Many struggle to keep the faith. Many struggle to read. Many struggle with unanswered prayers and wonder where is God when I need Him, or why would God allow…? Many will accept their new life of powerless Christianity, some will question and some will turn away. What they don’t know is that they have not been given is what they need to battle satan and his forces. We see this with Peter and Paul. Acts 10:44 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.” The with Paul we see, Acts 19:1 “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.” There is nothing wrong with water baptism, but it is incomplete. Most who teach water baptism only are also teaching other gospels, so even though you have been baptized, you are missing the power of the Holy Spirit and your salvation is in question. 

        If the Holy Spirit was as present as they say, then God would be dwelling, and His power and authority would be turning the world upside down, but it is not. Christianity as it is known today is declining, churches are disappearing, people remain in darkness, healings are few and far between and demons are not being cast out. Look at the rise in mental illness. On the cursed side, Deuteronomy 28:28 “The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. 29 At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you. 65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 66 You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. 67 In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see.”

        The same goes for the charismatics who do believe in the filling of the Holy Spirit and most believe in the sign of tongues that goes with it. Again, deception and delusion has ravaged the charismatics because they do not test the spirits. Tongues is not babble and muttering. That is what satan does as you can see in paganism. The tongues of scripture is a language with a purpose as defined in Acts 2:6 “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” I was at two different men’s breakfasts where tongues we openly present. The first in a room and the group was praying in tongues. I was not thankfully. At that moment one of the waitresses came in and her eyes widened and walked out. Paul talks about this very thing. 1 Corinthians 14:22 “Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” Pretty sure she thought we were out of our minds.

        The second was another men’s breakfast with a guest speaker sharing his trip to a desolate region. I think this case really shows how false tongues actually is. This was an open breakfast not just for the church and he was also openly speaking in tongues from the front. By the way, he sounded like Barny Rubble which was humorous but scary. As he told his story about reaching this group in a foreign land who did not speak English, he said his interpreters would convey the message of the gospel. That should cause you to pause and ponder. Here he is in an english-speaking church speaking in tongues (babbling) but when he is supposedly preaching the gospel, he needs an interpreter. In this area the whole charismatic movement has been deceived. One church I attended had a person they sent people to release their tongues. At that church one of the ladies sounded like a serpent as she prayed. I am thankful for these experiences to witness but also thankful not to be entrapped by these dark forces. Because the charismatics did not test the spirits and still don’t, satan was able to masquerade quite effectively. Peter said they received the Holy Spirit just as we did as they spoke in tongues. The charismatics then said they too had the same experience, but it was not the same and the journey of the charismatic church got crazier and crazier. You then ended up with groups never satisfied and like a drug need more and more supernatural so they got it. People barking like dogs, laughing hysterically like hyenas, angel feathers, gold dust, falling down, falling on their backs and on and on the chaos goes all in the name of Jesus, but it is not Jesus. That is what people do who are possessed. Luke 8:27 “When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.” After Jesus cast the legion of demons into the pigs, 34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured.”        The church is filled with darkness but not filled with power. Even in circles with all this supposed presence of the Holy Spirit, there is no power and authority over darkness, if fact it just gets darker. What little power is seen, is not God but satan. 2 Corinthians 11:13 “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 2 Peter 2:14 “With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. 17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.” They have not tested the spirits and refuse to turn to God, so satan has been allowed to control them. 

        We desperately need God to open the eyes of the church to see the abomination that causes desolation. As it is, people continue on with their lives, clueless as to the danger they are in. satan is cleaver as most people look at the charismatics and think not of God. satan in their case doesn’t even have to use anything supernatural. Most of the deception comes from false teaching. What is happening in a Baptist church is the same evil that is happening in a charismatic church and oddly most of them on both sides believe in similar end time theology that is not the truth of scripture. The only way to defeat this enemy is to return to scripture and be sent out in power. Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” When that power returns to the church, we then will go to the ends of the earth. Luke 24:47 “and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” The church desperately needs to be clothed with that power once again, but we must believe His word.