Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Impossible Revolution: Making War on Self and Wearing the Armor of God in a Fallen Culture

Audio Message:

It was the year 1775 and the British army was marching on the colonial cities of Lexington and Concord. In a field outside Lexington John Parker the leader of a group of 77 minute men stood in a field, attempting to block the advance of 400 British troops. The British had attempted to seize the guns of the colonial militia the previous night, but had failed due to the minute men.

Both sides lined up facing one another in an open field. Someone fired the shot heard around the world, and the revolutionary war had broken out. The militia outside Lexington were driven off, but they again made a stand at bunker hill, before again being defeated, though they forced heavy casualties on the british. Then the British took the city of Boston.

Later, General Washington successfully drove the British forces from Boston through the use of artillery cannons stolen from the British at fort Ticonderoga.

Then the full might of the British army, the most powerful military force in the world came to bear on the fledgling colonial army. At New York General Washington prepared defenses, and very quickly the full weight of the British military came against him. 400 ships of the line surrounded Long island, the greatest naval force assembled ever at that time in history. And 20,000 British troops stormed New York, driving off the force of 10,000 men under Washington.

In that time of defeat, and in that time when it seemed like it was next to impossible for the Americans to survive against such a mighty power, on July 4th 1776 the 13 colonies declared their independence from the tyranny of Great Britain. And they declared that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This seemingly impossible revolution is not unlike our battle against the darkness and tyranny of addiction. We’ve found ourselves on a battlefield of the mind. The shackles of addiction are so overwhelmingly deceptive, so we must fight this spiritual war in the mind. We’ve found ourselves in a brutal war against a tyrannical evil. The odds are stacked against us. In fact, many of us will die in the grips of this malady, though for some of us there is hope.

When I was near death, in the clutches of addiction, I had given up all hope. I had resigned myself to death by addiction. I was planning to die at age 27. That’s the power of sin. That’s the power of addiction. I remember the hopelessness, the depression, and the suicidal thoughts I would have. I used to lay in roads at night and dare God to kill me. But little did I know, God was working things in the background to save my soul.

I was running from God. I was alone and afraid. All my friends had abandoned me. My family had given up on me. I was hoping for the end of it all. Yet God was still sovereign. God could see my future. He could see how He would change my life. So he waited for me to give up running.

And one day there I was at the edge of the cliff, the lamb having run away from the flock. I remember this picture, of the lamb, on the ledge, but like, two feet down the ledge, stuck on this little crevice in the side of the rock face? And Jesus is standing at the edge of the cliff wondering “How did you even get down there?” That was me. And Jesus reached down, and pulled me out of that. What’s interesting is that when the shepherd found the lost sheep, he would break the sheep’s leg, so it couldn’t run away anymore. And the shepherd would bring the sheep back hanging around his neck, and then the sheep would stay very close to the shepherd as his leg healed, and not venture too far.  God certainly did the same for me, when He rescued me.

To toil in addiction is to be enslaved. It’s like being in a Nazi death camp, slowly starving to death, hopeless, waiting for our turn in the gas chamber. If you’ve ever known the horror of addiction, you know this metaphor is not extreme in the least. To be addicted, hooked on the drug, is to slowly die. So if we’ve found ourselves locked in the slow-death of addiction, just as I was, like the lamb on the cliff, then our first step is to escape.

But here is the problem: We always try to break out of addiction in our own strength. We try to muscle up our will power. And that always fails us. We’re caught by the guards and forced back into the death camp. So we have to bend down to our knees and call out to God. And God breaks our chains, and we rally our soldiers and break out of the death camps of addiction. In other words, we the lamb who is trapped on the cliff cries out for Jesus: Jesus save me! And Christ finds us in the crevice, and pulls us to safety.

Once we’ve escaped the clutches of addiction, by God’s power, we get sober and we get to work on our lives. That’s what you’re doing here right now. You’re being trained in how to survive addiction, and how to flourish in the real world out there. You're learning by God's grace how to work, how to serve others, how to rally against addiction, and how to overcome sin through the blood of Jesus.

So if you’ve broken free from the death camp, and you’ve trained yourself at the citadel of recovery, then is the time to make war. We need to make spiritual warfare. We need to send out our armies in all directions to conquer. I don’t mean a few token actions here and there. I mean on fire warfare week in and week out. I mean going to 10 AA meetings a week. I mean going to 3 Bible studies a week. I mean praying an hour a day, and studying the Bible constantly. I mean making war on the cancer of addiction in our souls. We must make all-out war, on land, sea, and air.

We must send out our armies of determination in all directions to fight, fight, fight! But we can’t fight in our own power. Jesus said, Human power is of no use at all (John 6:63). And, apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).

2nd Corinthians 10:3-5 says: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

There are strongholds in your life that only the divine power of Christ can destroy. Fortresses of evil in your minds. There is a stronghold of addiction. There is a stronghold of pornography, for many. There is a stronghold of fear. There are strongholds of lust, lying, theft, idolatry, and depression.  But in Christ we have power to destroy those strongholds. When we break from the death camps, we must send our soldiers to invade those strongholds, and destroy them. We can do this by the power of Christ in us.

Where did all these strongholds come from?  How did they gain such power over us?  It's because we've been born and raised up in a broken system, a sociological system of great confusion and deception. We were each born into a fallen society. We were born into bondage to sin. 

We were raised up to think science and technology had all the answers. We stared at the television screens growing up. And we did whatever the television told us to do. We were influenced by books, by media, and by the people around us, sometimes toward good, sometimes toward evil.  

Even today, we stare at the television screen as it pours sin into our hearts and souls. We stare at the screens, all around us, and we have to break free. We have to break free from the shackles we were born into. 

Our ancestors, the founders of this nation knew that Jesus Christ was the foundation of all of life. They built this country on the motto “In God We Trust.” They weren't perfect, not at all, but when they founded this nation they tried to do it the right way, by enumerating rights and liberties for mankind in an age when rights were only for royalty.  Over time we've tried to correct the errors they made, in regard to all races being equal, and women being equal with men, among other concerns.  But sadly our society has left behind faith in God, in large part.

Now our society has rebelled against God, and rejected God, and children are taught in schools today that there is no god, and science is god, and the government is god. People today believe the government must solve every problem. People today believe science explains everything. People today stare at the television, the ipad, the iphone screen, and the computer screen, and believe whatever they’re told by the media, and the academic institutions. This is a fallen society, that has turned away from God, and embraced lies.

They’ve forgotten the book of the law, the Bible, that made this entire republic possible. And I have absolutely no stomach for people who attack and mock the founding of this country. We know it wasn't perfect, not even close.  We know there was oppression back then.  

But it’s ironic how millennials today mock the founding of America. They call it racist, sexist, and evil white men who slaughtered natives. Some of those things may be true. But should we emphasize the positive or the negative? When we talk about King David, do we say he was a sexist murderer? (2 Samuel 11)  No, we focus on all the good he did. And rightly so. Many like to focus on the flaws, but there is also so much good that was done at the founding of this nation, that we should focus on as well.  

But it comes from a sense of entitlement. They don’t realize they live in a society so wealthy and so free that no other generation in history could even imagine what we take for granted every day. People who travel the world, and see the tyranny in countries like China and India, where there is so much poverty, and those who travel Europe, where there is so little liberty or freedom, will often come back and say, thank God for the USA.

But we see this nation beginning to fall apart, as the people turn toward immorality, toward the lies of the sexual revolution, as people turn toward drug addiction and alcoholism, and as human trafficking, abortion, gender redefinition, and homosexuality spreads across our land, we see how far our nation has fallen from God.

The enemy, Satan, knew how to attack us. He targeted men. He targeted and destroyed men in our society, supplanting their authority, and cutting them to the core with many sorrows, sins, and addictions. And here we are. We’re meant to be men of honor, but we’ve become men of shame and sin. But there is still hope. We can still be what America needs us to be: Men of honor. So as you march forward, day by day, to fight and win your battle, with yourself, the world, and the evil one, I call you to put on the full armor of God.

“So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. Do all this in prayer, asking for God's help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God's people.” –Ephesians 6:14-18 GNT

There is still a holy resistance movement out there, a small remnant who still call Jesus Christ savior and love His holy word. And we’re fighting every day to call people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you join the impossible revolution?

It’s a lot like King Josiah. Josiah’s father King Amon was an evil leader over Israel, and Josiah’s grandfather Manasseh was also a wicked leader, though he repented later in life. Israel was a nation founded by God. Yet they had fallen so far from God that they didn’t even know who God was! Josiah became king at a very young age. And during his reign he told Hilkiah the high priest to order the temple of the Lord to be rebuilt. So Hilkiah goes to the ruins of the temple of God. And he finds a book laying on the floor, probably in a pile of rubble, and he’s curious. So Hilkiah gives it to the secretary Shaphan. And Shaphan goes to Josiah and says “Hilkiah found a book.” And Josiah is probably thinking: “I wonder what it says?” As it was read to him, King Josiah realized it was the Bible of his time, the book of the law, and he tore his clothes in sorrow and repentance.

Josiah realized God was real, and His word was real. He discovered a truth lost in the history of his nation, covered up by the rubble of sin, the lies of world, and the false values of his society. He had discovered the precious truth, in a world of lies. And Josiah took action. He went to work. He called the nation of Israel to national repentance. He had the book of the law read to the people. He went to work to transform his nation, and lead his nation back to God.

So here you are today, in the temple of God, and just like King Josiah, you’ve found the book of the truth, in the wreckage of the sin of America. I found that book too, when my grandpa handed it to me 7 years ago.

Your standing here in the wreckage of your life, in the temple of God. It’s ruined, smashed to pieces. But there is a light shining through the stained glass windows toward a book on the floor. And if you’ll bend down, pick up the book of the law, and apply it to your life, everything will change.

You can no longer say that you didn’t know. You can no longer say that all you knew was the world. You’ve found that Jesus Christ is real. You’ve found that He will break your chains of addiction and set you free. You’ve found the Bible, the truth about this troubled little planet. Now what will you do? Will you run back to the dope pipe, to the booze and pills? Will you run back like a dog returning to its vomit? Or will you be courageous, rally your forces, and rise up to holy warfare and rebuild your life in the power of Christ?

Just like the founding fathers, the people of the colonies during the American revolution, they were going up against the greatest power in the world. They were fighting a seemingly hopeless cause. But they rallied, and cried out to God. The battles seemed bleak at first. They were defeated at New York, and defeated in a string of battles. Washington’s continental army was struck with disease, and thousands died. At the end of 1776 it seemed like the war was pretty much over. They’d lost. But then on December 25th, General Washington led the beleaguered troops across the Delaware river in a desperate surprise attack, and the battle was won. This marked a turning point in the war, and slowly the tide turned.

Today is your turning point. Today is when you can decide in your mind that you’re really going to do it this time. You’re really going to give your life to God, you’re really going to live for Jesus. You’re really going to turn away from sin. You’re really going to work the steps 1 through 12. You’re really going to attend Bible studies, go to AA and NA meetings, you’re really going to join a church when you get out. You’re really going to make amends with your family and friends. The time is now brothers. It’s time to make war against addiction. It’s time to make war against yourself. Greater is he who can conquer himself, than he who can conquer a city.

Fight like the founders. Dedicate yourself to change like King Josiah. Consecrate yourself to God. Fight tooth and nail, fight through all those memories, emotions, and all that pain. The time to fight back is now. I believe you can. I believe you will. You’re going to make war against the darkness, and you’re going to win.’

In conclusion, victory is certain in Christ. Revelation 12:7-11 ESV says: “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 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. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” 

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