On Sunday we started to open up a series taking a look at the topic of Spiritual Warfare. We began with a great quote by C.S. Lewis who writes this:
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe and feel an unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
And I think he’s right. There are two dangers; one of dismissing the reality of evil that is external to ourselves, and the other is to search for it and become totally fascinated with it.
We talked about how in the Bible from Genesis through to Revelation there is a clear picture of an opposing force to the will of God in the world. Sometimes this force or forces goes by many different names; evil, chaos, Leviathan, Satan, principalities and powers. The point is that the Bible seems to point to the reality of evil and powers of darkness that are outside of humanity and seeking to affect humanity. This viewpoint is especially seen in Jesus. Jesus did not just come to free us from personal sins, but to conquer evil, Satan, sin, and death. Jesus saw himself as combatting and challenging the forces of darkness that bring about death, destruction, and division. N.T. Wright, writes: “One of the key elements in Jesus’ perception of his task was his redefinition of who the real enemy was . . . The pagan hordes surrounding Israel [including Rome] were not the actual foe of the people of the YHWH. Standing behind the whole problem of Israel’s exile was the dark power known in some Old Testament traditions as the satan, the accuser. The struggle was coming to a head and was therefore cosmic.”
The point is that if Jesus believed in the powers of darkness around him, we should be open to believe it as well. Because once we recognize the reality, we can work towards their finality.
I ended with this quote on Sunday and I think it’s true, and deep. So I’ll end with it here as well.
Some think spiritual warfare is only deliverance. Others emphasize pulling down strongholds in the heavenlies. Still others say spiritual warfare is doing the works of Jesus – preaching, teaching and living the truth. Yet another group says all this is impractical. They claim we should focus on feeding the hungry, resisting racism, and speaking out against social injustice. I believe we have to do it all. Pulling down strongholds is only important if people are led to Christ as a result. However, some are deaf to the preaching of the gospel until we deal with hindering powers. And some can’t break through into victory until bondage is broken in their lives. We must do it all, as appropriate and as God leads. – Dean Sherman
Big Idea: Darkness is real and we need to change it
- Spiritual Warfare: Is standing and fighting against the darkness and evil in this world
- There are forces that stand opposed to the will of God
- We need nuanced views, not bumper stickers.
- There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe and feel an unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. C.S. Lewis
- The Bible right off the bat recognizes a force opposed to the will of God.
- The Bible unequivocally speaks of powers of darkness, Satan, demons, spirits, and other powers not only consistently but pervasively
- Three approaches to interpreting passages with supernatural evil: dismiss them as figurative, ignore them as unnecessary, or engage them critically
- Jesus believed in supernatural evil
- Understnaidng Jesus means understanding what he came to change
- Jesus did not just come to save us from our personal sins, but to overthrow all evil, hate, war, sin, and hurt.
- The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8
- The assumption that undergird Jesus’ entire ministry is the view that Satan has illegitimately seized the world and thus now exercises a controlling influence over it. Greg Boyd
- If we don’t believe in the reality of evil and darkness around us we will not be effective in destroying it
- There are two equal dangers to dismiss the reality of the devil, and to search for the devil in all sorts of ways
- We need to use discernment to discover what is health and unhealthy
Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was new, what was challenging? Did you have an areas of disagreement?
What are your thoughts about supernatural evil? What did you think of C.S. Lewis’ quote? What darkness do you see around you? How can you stand against it this week?
Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take sometime to talk to your kids about today’s topic. Remind them that whenever they face anything dark in their lives, or scary that Jesus is stronger and already defeated them. Give them a sense of security that Jesus is always with them.
Challenge for this Week: Stand against the darkness around you