Strategy For Spiritual Warfare:
Know What Spiritual Tactics To Use & When To Use Them
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
We have been studying the Biblical strategy for spiritual victory. Let’s review what we have covered so far.
Our weapons are…
In this message we will begin examining…
You will remember that I have been using the American Revolutionary War Battle of Cowpens to illustrate the strategy that we must use for spiritual victory.
"The battle of Cowpens was a critical turning point in the Revolutionary War…and stands as perhaps the finest tactical demonstration of the entire war. On 17 January 1781, Colonel Daniel Morgan’s force of Continental troops routed British regulars and Loyalists under the command of Banastre Tarleton.
The victory at Cowpens helped put the British army on the road to the Yorktown surrender and, ultimately, cleared the way for American independence." (A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens by Lawrence E. Babits; quote from the front book cover).
The first tactic that we are going to look at is…
One of the reasons that Colonel Daniel Morgan successfully defeated Banastre Tarleton’s superior British force was because he knew when to run. For two weeks Morgan and his troops were on the run. But, Morgan had a purpose. He knew that his men could not stand up against a bayonet charge. But, Morgan knew he had a fighting chance if he could fight the British on familiar ground. He knew the Cowpens area very well. And further, he has issued a call to the Patriots to meet him at Cowpens.
Christian friend, standing and fighting is not always the best way to deal with a spiritual assault. There is a time to run!
Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 2:13-16 "And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men."
The word flee is a translation of the Greek word feugw pheugo (fyoo'-go; 5343) and literally means to run away. How thankful we can be that Joseph heeded the Angel of the Lord and ran to Egypt!
Let’s examine some other times we are told to flee.
1 Corinthians 6:18 "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body."
This verse says we are to flee porneia porneia (por-ni'-ah; 4202). So what does that mean? Here is what the lexicon in my online Bible disk says: 1a) adultery (sex with someone other than your spouse), fornication (sex before your are married), homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. 1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev.18. 1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman.
Paul’s day was much like our day. In his day sexual promiscuity was encouraged. Most of the pagan temples, including the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth not only condoned fornication but encouraged it. In our day the public schools condone and in some cases advocate sexual immorality. Most public schools say that promoting abstinence is not a reasonable option. Hollywood promotes sexual immorality! But, Christian friend, I do not care who is for it because God is against it. We are told to flee fornication.
The sexual drive is very strong, and we must guard against letting our passions get the upper hand. The best way to handle the temptation to participate in sexual immorality is to flee. That’s exactly what Joseph ended up doing when Potiphar’s wife grabbed his shirt and said "lie with me." We read in Genesis 39:12 that Joseph "fled, and got him out."
Listen men and women, when the temptation to become sexually immoral presents itself, don’t stand there with your face hanging out, get out of there. Flee fornication! But why should the Christian flee sexual sin? The last part of verse 18 tells you why – "…he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." So what does that mean? Let me answer a question with a question that is posed in Proverbs 6:27 "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" Just as a man who tries to hold fire up to his chest will be burned, so the person who is sexually immoral can anticipate consequences that will affect his body."
I mean to tell you that sexually transmitted diseases are at epidemic proportions in our culture today because of sexual immorality! I had young ladies in my office who cried their hearts out because they were sexually immoral and now they have a disease that has forever destroyed their ability to have children. Their promiscuity affected their bodies. Several years ago, a young man in his mid 20’s came into my office. He had been saved a couple of years. He was beside himself because, he had been very promiscuous before he was saved, in this teen years. He had been having some health problems and found out that he had AIDS. As I recall, he was married and had likely unknowingly passed it to his wife. The man only attended several times. I don’t know what happened to him, but I do know that there is NO cure for AIDS! I do know that it can lay dormant in your body for up to 6 years. Those who are sexually immoral sin against their own bodies.
Let’s read the rest of the passage. Turn to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
In fact Christian, "…the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body." 1 Corinthians 6:13
The Apostle Paul wrote, "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry." 1 Corinthians 10:14. The Apostle John wrote, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." 1 John 5:21
The New Testament has a lot to say about idols and idolatry. However, people of our day have the idea that idolatry is not today. However, that is just not true.
Let’s begin with a definition of idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of idols, images, or any thing made by hands, or which is not God. This includes the veneration or worship of images, statues, pictures, etc. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals. To be sure this is sin and breaks the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-5). While there are many people who literally worship and serve idols today, there’s another aspect of idolatry that is even more prevalent today and many people do not realize that this is just as much idolatry as bowing down to an image. This kind of idolatry is having anything, whether object, idea, philosophy, sport, occupation, activity or habit above our love, loyalty, trust or service to the Lord God and His Son Jesus Christ. Any substitute for God is idolatry! Anything that comes before God, or our worship and service to him in our lives is idolatry.
Here’s one example…
"Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:" Colossians 3:5
So, what is covetousness? This is a translation of the compound Greek word pleonexia pleonexia (pleh-on-ex-ee'-ah; 4124) which means the desire to have more. It can be the desire for more money, more power, more possessions, more notoriety, more of just about anything. How is that idolatry? If you are focused on earthly things, you will chase after them. You will not have time for God, because you are too busy "minding earthly things." That’s idolatry.
Too many people are filling their lives with things instead of God. That is idolatry. Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
What’s first place in your life. Is it yourself, pleasure, sports, television, music, sex, entertainment, your possessions, your job, what? Anything in your life that attempts to cut in line and become first before your love, loyalty, trust or service to the Lord God and His Son Jesus Christ, is idolatry. And, idolatry makes us vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy because it hinders our fellowship and communion with the Lord. Turn to Ezekiel 14:4 "Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;" Flee idolatry.
There is another thing we are told to flee if we are going to be victorious in the Christian life. Turn to 2 Timothy 2:22 "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
The word lusts in this verse means strong desires that are prohibited. So what youthful lusts are in focus here? I believe that there are several that come into play, but one is particularly obvious in this passage. I believe our text makes it clear that one of the youthful lusts that young people are to flee from is following the wrong crowd. That is easily discerned when you read the command "follow…them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." The opposite would be, don’t follow those that rebel against God, and do their own thing and go their own way.
Peer pressure is a powerful force in the lives of young people. Young people want to be accepted by the "in crowd." The problem is that the "in crowd" is not usually those "who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." The "youthful lust" to be accepted is the reason why many young people follow the crowd into sin when they know better. One wise father urged his son, "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." Proverbs 1:10. Several chapters later we read, "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. 16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. 17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. 18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. 19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. 20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings." Proverbs 4:14-20. Flee from the wrong crowd, "…but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:22).
There is one final passage for your consideration, which says,
"But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." 1 Timothy 6:11
In order to identify "these things" we are to "flee" from, we have to examine the context. I believe we find the first thing we are to flee from in verse 5. We are to "withdraw" ourselves from those who think that "gain is godliness." That simply means we are to flee from those who look at Christianity as a way of making money. We are to steer clear to those who are in the ministry for the money. That includes the whole "Prosperity Gospel" crowd. They claim that God does not want the believer to be poor but rich. If you are not rich, some how, you do not have enough faith.
I beg your pardon. The Bible says, "The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up." 1 Samuel 2:7. Know this, money is not a valid measure of godliness or God’s blessing.
The second thing we are to flee from is revealed in verse 9-10. It is the desire to be rich or the love of money. Let’s read 1 Timothy 6:9-10 "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
The believer must be willing to forsake all and follow the Lord. Our primary goal is conveyed in Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
In summary, let’s review the first spiritual tactic that we have
been looking at –