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Spiritual conflict, natural results
When I first began my career as an educator, I found myself confronted with a strange task—to read a 2,500 year old book by a Chinese military tactician. The Art of War, by Sun Tzu (SOON-tzuh), outlines clear strategies that are used by businessmen, educators, and the U.S. military to better understand how strategic objectives can be achieved.
War is not random chaos—it is a carefully planned method of controlling a people or situation.
As the Bride of Christ we must understand that we are in a spiritual war that has very real results. Our textbook, the Bible, shows us that clearly. Our daily choices. The strength of our relationships. Our self-image. Avoiding sin or giving into temptation. It is all part of a greater struggle for your soul.
In war, people live and people die. In this spiritual conflict, the same is true. But you don’t have to be one of Satan’s casualties. God intends for you to be a victor not a victim of the enemy’s attacks.
Divine guidance, practical wisdom
As we read this morning, the Scripture deliniates the Christian’s orders.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”2 Corinthians 10:5
If we apply this principle to our daily living, we will become more resilient. We will doubt less. We will fear less. We will pray more. For this verse encapsulates the heart of human nature.
I took many things away from my study of The Art of War , mostly because God made me to see life through two major prisms: as a classroom and as a battle. The two actually have more in common than you might think!
But one of the most striking statements made by this military strategist is very similar to a principle Brother Branham taught us.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
There are two things I want you to draw from that quote:
- We need to know ourselves
- We must know our enemy
Satan’s approach, our response
Many believers don’t reflect on their personalities. We don’t think about how Satan works on our flesh to hinder our relationships, our church attendance, and ultimately our walk with God. As such, we are unprepared for his spiritual ambushes. We lose victories and sometimes even backslide.
Bro. Branham told us the story of Nellie Sanders who had given her life to Christ but ended back up on the dance floor one night. I’m sure you remember the story. Nellie stopped to listen to the worldly music that once drew her. The thought came to her mind that she could testify.
It was a good desire but one that Satan used to pull her back into an old life. From a good thought came feelings and Satan began to work through the doors of of memories and affections. From a thought to feelings she now was in the position to make a choice. And she did—the wrong one.
Remember, Satan has been studying humanity for at least 6,000 years and has had billions of opportunities to derail men, women, and children from their walk with God. You think that he’s hasn’t learned something?
In the Garden of Eden, humanity revealed its principal weakness. We showed Satan that, if he can win our mind then he can influence our feelings. If he pushes hard enough on our feelings we might leave the Word standard and act in a way that will sever our ties with God.
Satan preyed upon Eve’s mind, relentlessly pouring in words through the channel of reasoning until she began to emotionally feel a sense of empowerment or enlightenment. Then—with her emotions at fever pitch—he struck the fatal blow.
God’s vision, our reaction
God is trying to woo us back to a life where we rule our thoughts. Where we rule our thoughts. Our emotions. Our actions.
The next time you feel discouraged or afraid, instead of giving into the urge to self-isolate or have a pity party, ask yourself why you feel that way? Like the Psalmist who cried out “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.,” give yourself a stern spiritual shake and bring your thoughts (feelings and actions) in obedience to the Word of Jesus Christ.
Satan’s tactics, Christ’s power
When you know yourself, you’re ahead of the game. As a man, know the areas of your life that will come under enemy fire. As a woman, do the same. As a teenager, cover your life under the Blood of Christ. As a child do the same.
Then know your enemy. His tactic will always be the same. But so will the prevailing power of God that is ready and able to bring you through.
Download today’s sermon notes
Suggested Scripture readings:
⦁ Matthew 4 (whole chapter)
⦁ Joshua 10 (whole chapter)
⦁ Romans 12:2
⦁ Isaiah 26:3