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The  Adversarial  Spirit

SERMON STARTER

 

I have spent a great deal of emotional energy attempting to oppose those who oppose me. Over the years I have come to understand how futile that effort actually is.  Our world is filled with people who will oppose you no matter what you do or what you stand for.  The controversial anti-homosexual Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas exhibits the adversarial spirit.  The 70-member church, led by the Rev. Fred Phelps, has protested the military funerals of U.S. troops, believing that their deaths are God's punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality.

Last month, the group released a music video entitled "God Hates the World." Sung to the tune of "We Are the World," the song changes the chorus to:

"God hates the world and all her people,

you, every one, face a fiery day for your proud sinning.

It’s too late to change His mind,

you lived out your vain lives,

storing up God’s wrath for all eternity."

What about John 3:16?

            From Christianity’s inception the pages of Christian history run red with the blood of martyrs who have laid down their lives in defense of their faith. Look at the obvious history of those who encountered the adversarial spirit:

1) Jesus – He was harassed from his birth. The adversarial crowd finally nailed Him to a cross.

2) The disciples – All but two died a martyr’s death.

3) The martyrs of the early church (Fox’s Book of Martyrs)

4) Contemporary martyrs in every land      

            a) Richard Wumbrand  “Voice of the Martyrs” documents

how people are dying every day on this planet for

their faith in God.

            b) Zola Levitt – His literature captures the injustice of

anti-Semitism in the Middle East today. Jews are

hated there just because they are Jews.

Satan is the true author of the adversarial spirit. He declared war on the human race as soon as God created man. Followers of Jesus know the true nature of that war.

C.S. Lewis wrote in “Mere Christianity” that Christians live in enemy territory and are engaged in guerrilla warfare against Satan. I know personally the nature of that war and have been engaged in it for more than 40 years of my adult life.

This sermon reminds us there is Good News: “We win.” I cheated. I read the end of The Book.

 

 

Sheepfold Ministries, May 20 2007

Pastor Phil Roland

The  Adversarial  Spirit

Ephesians 4:17-32

“Healthy Christians surrender to Christ their desire to revenge. The spiritually immature feel the need to “get even.” It is the Spirit of Our Age.”          Pastor Phil

AVERSARY = HEBREW = xfT = AYTZ-OR = To Straighten

                   To Press Upon / To Compress / To Bind Together

                   To Press With A Seige / To Cut With A Knife

SATAN = HEBREW = RhM = SA-TAN = Accuser / Opponent

ANTI-CHRIST SPIRIT:  Hell, Death and Jezebel

WE ASK OURSELVES THREE QUESTIONS?

I.  WHERE DOES THE “ADVERSARIAL SPIRIT” COME FROM?

          A. GOD - Numbers 22:22-24

          “Then God's anger was aroused because he (Baalam) went, and the Angel of the

LORD took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding

on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.”

                   1. Refiner’s Fire / Fuller’s Soap - Mal. 3:2,3

          "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He

            appears? For He is like a refiner's fire And like launderer's soap. He will

            sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi,

And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An

            offering in righteousness.”

                   2. Purpose: Purifying and Cleansing

          B. US - We can become our own adversary!

                   1. Sowing and Reaping – Galatians 6:7

                   “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that

                        he will also reap.”

                        2. What you “do” or “do not do” can create an adversary

                   3. PROCESS:    

                             a. Rebellion (Sin) - 1 Sam. 15:23

                             “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as

iniquity and idolatry.”

                             b. Hostility

                             c. Revenging

          C. DEVIL -          1 Peter 5:8,9

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a

roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith,

knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the

world.”

 

THE ADVERSARIAL SPIRIT, cont.

II.  ARE “PEOPLE” MY ADVERSARY?

          A. No!  The one within! See 2 Cor. 10:4,5

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling

down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself

against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the

obedience of Christ”

          B. God loves all the people of the WORLD! - See John 3:16

          C. Can I Become My Own Adversary?

                   1. If I walk in Rebellion

                   2. If I Am Led By Emotions – (Thinking Must Rule)

                   3. If I Am Led By My Own Stubbornness

                   4. If I Will Not Listen to the Gentle Reasoning of the Holy Spirit

 

HOW TO AVOID BEING LED BY The  Adversarial  SpiriT:

I.  KNOW WHAT WE OPPOSE - Eph. 4:17-24

          A. We Oppose Worldly Thinking - vs. 17-19

          B. We Oppose Our Former Selves - Vs. 20-24

                   1. Corruption

                   2. Deceitful Desires

II. REMEMBER WHAT WE “PUT OFF” - Vs. 25-32

          A. Lying - v. 25

                   1. Speak the Truth in Love - Eph. 4:15

                   2. Get Real!

          B. Wrath - V. 26

                   1. Do not Allow ”Satanic Footholds” - v. 27

                   2. Do Not Allow Revenging Thoughts

          C. Put Off Stealing - V. 28

          D. Put Off Unwholesome Talk - V. 29

          E. Grieving The Holy Spirit - V. 30

          F. Unhealthy Anger - V. 31

III. DO “PUT ON” - V. 32

          A. Kindness

          B. Compassion

          C. Forgiveness

 

 

 

 

 

ILLUSTRATION OF THE ADVERSARIAL SPIRIT

 

Richard Wumbrand, a Romanian pastor who suffered in prison for fourteen years, once told a story that he had heard from a fellow prisoner. It had helped him through his most difficult times of torture.

The brother told him: " I once went to a circus and witnessed a most impressive scene. A sharpshooter placed a burning candle on his wife's head. he then stepped out of the center of the arena and, from quite a distance, shot the candle off her head.

After the show was over. I approached her and asked if she was ever afraid the arrow would strike her. She replied, ' Why should I be? He was aiming at the candle, not at me."

When Pastor Wumbrand heard this story he thought, " Why should I be afraid of the torturers? They don't aim at me, They may beat my body but my real being is Christ within. I am seated with him in heavenly places, and therefore they cannot touch my real person. From this incredible viewpoint I can look down and see the futility of their efforts."

Pastor Wumbrand lived through years of suffering and had neared death many times.  But he was encouraged with this simple lesson and even flourished spiritually because he knew his place with Christ was secure, no matter what happened to his body.

Persecution, though indescribably painful, has its limits. Neither physical nor emotional trauma can destroy the deepest parts of who we are.

What we carry on the inside is the most valuable part of ourselves- our souls. Christ's spirit lives within us and protects our soul from emotional and physical harm. True, our enemies may strike us and even kill our bodies.

However, when our enemies take a swipe at us, they are really mangling the name of Christ- the one who lives within. And he can never die again.

However personal and pointed the opposition, it is really a part of a bigger picture. The battle may involve us. but it concerns an over arching war between good and evil.

”Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”   Matthew 5:11

 

The  Adversarial  Spirit:  TEXTS:

EPHESIANS 4:17-32

17  So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

18  They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

19  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

20  You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.

21  Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

22  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;

23  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;

24  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25  Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

26  "In your anger do not sin" : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

27  and do not give the devil a foothold.

28  He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

29  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

30  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

31  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

32  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

5:1  Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.