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SERIES:   "RESTORING THE CHURCH'S TRUE IDENTITY"  

 

Session No. 8    A CONQUERING PEOPLE  

 

INTRODUCTION  

The theme of spiritual warfare or cosmic warfare runs right the way through the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, we recognise the reality of spiritual conflict between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan. "Spiritual Warfare" is a term that is currently being used more frequently in the Christian Church than perhaps at any other time (in recent memory, at least). For some Christians, it is almost the sole focus of their conversation. Books now abound on the subject. Whole conferences are devoted to preparing God's people for the battle.  

 

As with all biblical themes, abuses and extremes exist (abound?) on this subject, too. Attitudes among Christians vary greatly. Some are quite dismissive of the subject as though it is of no consequence. Others are obsessed with it. Still others are intimidated (if not terrified) by all this talk about warfare, demons, exorcisms, territorial spirits and the like. Many just do not know what to make of all the "press" that the subject gets and vote to remain 'agnostics' about the theme!  

 

Yet evangelical Christians generally accept the biblical teaching on the reality of Satan and understand that his power was broken through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this session, we want to further examine the subject and identify our place in what is undeniably a spiritual conflict in our world today. If we choose to be agnostics and remain ignorant about this subject, we will become virtually irrelevant in the purposes of God, extremely vulnerable to spiritual attack and, most likely, prisoners of war - sidelined and neutralised for the duration of the conflict.  

 

WARFARE AND THE CHURCH  

 

The Church is called to be, among other things, an army engaged in spiritual warfare against the dark kingdom of Satan. In our last session, we emphasised that the "ministry agenda" of Jesus was expressed in both declaration and demonstration. He both declared the Kingdom rule of God had come in His person & mission and He then demonstrated that fact by reversing the impact of Satan and sin in our world.    

 

There can be no doubt that the basic theme of Jesus' teaching and ministry was THE KINGDOM OF GOD. According to Matthew, Mark and Luke, the opening words of Jesus' public ministry were, in essence, these: "The Kingdom of God is here: repent and believe the good news!"  

 

Please read Matthew 4/17;   Mark 1/15  and  Luke 4/43.   These words were a declaration of war - nothing less. In coming into our world, Jesus was carrying the battle right into the heart of enemy territory, throwing down the gauntlet and declaring the imminent overthrow of the dark kingdom.  

 

PROJECT: As a group, read and discuss the "warfare/conflict" application of the following verses.  

a.  Genesis 3/15 _____________________________________________________  

b.  John 12/31 ______________________________________________________  

c.  John 16/33 _______________________________________________________  

d.  Acts 10/38. ______________________________________________________  

e.  Col.2/15 ________________________________________________________  

f.  1 John 3/8 _______________________________________________________  

g. 1 John 5/19 _______________________________________________________    

 

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10/4 that the weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world but that they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  

What kind of weapons are "of the world"? Can you give an example?  

When Paul speaks of "demolishing strongholds", to what do you think he is referring?  

 

One of the primary New Testament passages on the subject of spiritual warfare is EPHESIANS 6/10-20. The danger here is that we are too familiar with the words in the passage and not sufficiently familiar with the power or reality.

 

What weapons are available to us? Please endeavour to identify SEVEN "weapons" AND explain how they could be used. In other words, be as practical as possible in your application.  

1._________________________________________________________________  

2._________________________________________________________________  

3._________________________________________________________________  

4._________________________________________________________________  

5._________________________________________________________________  

6. ________________________________________________________________  

7._________________________________________________________________    

 

When Paul calls us to "stand" or "stand firm" (as he does 4 times in this section), the imagery behind the greek word is one of drawing up into military formation ready for combat. He knows and teaches the reality of warfare.   One of the greatest disadvantages that an army can have is to be largely ignorant of the enemy. That ignorance produces a vulnerability that can be fatal. According to the following verses, how does Satan wage war against the inhabitants of this planet and the Kingdom of God?  

Luke 4/33___________________________________________________________  

Luke 13/15,16_______________________________________________________  

John 8/44___________________________________________________________

Acts 13/10__________________________________________________________  

2 Corinthians 4/4_____________________________________________________  

Hebrews 2/14,15_____________________________________________________  

1 Peter 5/8__________________________________________________________    

 

A final passage for us to examine is found in LUKE 11/14-22.  

 

As Jesus "does" the gospel, He clearly sees this encounter as a confrontation between the Kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God. To deliver this man from his demonized condition is a demonstration of the superior authority and power of God's Kingdom as compared with Satan's kingdom.

 

Discuss together the significance of Jesus' illustration in vs.21,22 about the strong man. What is the point or truth of the illustration?  

 

CONCLUSION

 

When any local Church breaks through to the realisation that spiritual warfare is a reality, it will begin to realise that it can no longer remain a civilian audience in time of war. A correct understanding of these realities will see the Church "stand firm" in both defensive and offensive formations. Defensively, we shall recognise and overcome the attacks launched against us, Offensively, we shall advance into enemy territory and liberate the prisoners that have been taken captive - which is the heart of evangelism and mission (Colossians 1/13). We dare not remain ignorant on this subject because, if we do, Satan's prisoners will never be released....and Jesus came to set the captives free.        

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