PART 14. OUR STRUGGLE IS NOT WITH FLESH AND BLOOD (21/1/20)
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
As we saw yesterday, initially David became king over Judah with the rest of Israel continuing to be at war with him. This reminds us of the growing nature of the kingdom of God in our lives and the world: there are more people to hear the gospel; there are more good things for us to do; there is sin in or lives that needs to be dealt with... Throughout this life, we have an ongoing war with temptation and sin that we must recognise and learn how to fight. We read about David's ongoing fight,
“The battle that day was very fierce, and Abner and the Israelites were defeated by David’s men.” (2 Samuel 2:17).
The promise is that if we will fight with God and His resources our enemies will be defeated.
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood
Recently I started watching the film, Gladiator. It opens with an epic battle - it's well worth watching if you don't mind some violent content (it's rated 15). It reminds one of the kinds of battles that David would have been involved in.
As I watched, I recalled Paul's encouragement to put on the armour of God. No-one would go into a true battle ill-prepared and yet, too often, Christians go through life without due preparedness for the fight that we are in.
In the following video, I've included the text of Ephesians 6:10-18 along with music from Gladiator.
David's enemies were flesh and blood, but Paul makes it clear that
'For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ' (Ephesians 6:12)
There are great, evil, spiritual powers at work in this world. Therefore, we must fight in the supernatural ways that God teaches. There is no better test to reveal whether you believe that our battle and our enemy is spiritual than how you pray. If we go through life working hard to get good things done at work, in the home, in the community... but without reliance on prayer, we reveal that we don't understand the nature of our enemy or the fight that we are in.
Later in David's story, we will see that in order to eject the Jebusites from Jerusalem he has to use the weak spot in their defences - the water shafts (2 Samuel 5:8). Likewise, we can only have victory if we will use the strength and methods of God against the weaknesses of the enemy.
Using the armour of God is such a weapon and defence. It's well worth thinking about the armour of God in greater detail, but the main point I want to make today is that prayer is the way we put it on and use the armour of God. Paul says,
'And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.' (Ephesians 6:18)
There is no better way to learn how to use the weapon of prayer than by learning and using The Lord's Prayer. In every devotional this week I’d like us to memorise, meditate and pray out of the Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew 6:9-13. ”This, then, is how you should pray: ‘ “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
i) Some questions to help in meditation:
Biblical meditation is to prayerfully read, repeatedly, a section of the bible and pray, worship and respond as God leads. A few questions you could use when meditating:
GOSPEL- What does this text say about salvation through Jesus?
UP- What does this text say about God – His worth, character, attributes, will, promises…?
IN- What does this text say about the church and how we are to relate?
OUT- What does this text say about non-believers and our mission?
RESPONSE – Is there anything you want to pray, worship God about, do, ask forgiveness about, ask God to help you to change…?
ii) Memorise Matthew 6:9-13
A few tips:
Include the reference
Read it slowly and carefully x 10
Recall it, without looking as much as possible x10
Do this a few times through the day
Revise regularly (and revise previously memorised verses)
Make it a habit to learn new verses - skill comes over time