Rev. David Holwick ZC
First Baptist Church
Ledgewood, New Jersey
September 7, 2014
I. What goes through your mind when everything seems to go wrong?
A. Christian woman's bad fortnight.
Jennifer LeClaire was talking to a friend, trying to swallow
semi-solid food after catching some violent virus her
daughter had brought home from the mission field.
This was less than a week after she discovered news so
devastating she felt she had no choice but to trade sleep
for prayer just to keep a grip on things.
And that was only a week after a Christian colleague had
launched a vicious verbal attack against her.
For 14 days it seemed like all hell was breaking loose against
her - literally.
She whined to her friend, "Do you think everyone gets this much
spiritual warfare or am I doing something really wrong?"
Everyone deals with the occasional common cold, cranky kid or
Jennifer felt she was encountering trouble on a different level.
She was laid out flat on her back with some strange illness
while trying to process devastating news and enduring a Judas.
1) Sometimes our troubles seem to take on a new dimension, as
if it is really a spiritual battle beyond our control.
2) The Bible says that may well be the case.
a) I am sure some of you have experienced it yourself.
B. There is more to life than what we recognize on the surface.
1) The whole Bible testifies to this.
2) What can we do about it?
II. Spiritual forces, both good and bad, are real.
A. The Bible gives a consistent testimony to this reality.
1) In the Old Testament, the prophet Micaiah said that evil
spirits were behind the ministry of the court prophets.
a) There were hundreds of these false prophets, but only
one true one.
b) Even the evil king knew which one to believe. 1 Kg 22:22
2) Jesus himself struggled with Satan in the wilderness during
his temptation - and in Gethsemane and on the cross.
3) Paul associated one of his physical ailments with an
attack by Satan, which he called his thorn in the flesh.
a) He says God was behind it, to keep Paul humble. 2 Cor 12:7
4) Peter said the devil is like a prowling lion, seeking to
devour. 1 Peter 5:8
5) And of course John in the book of Revelation gives a
psychedelically detailed description of spiritual warfare.
a) Satan is a red dragon, demons are a cross between a
locust and a helicopter, and everyone is out to get
B. The dilemma is that we cannot see any of this.
1) Even in the Bible, people can only see the supernatural if
God enables them to.
2) What you can't see can still be very dangerous.
a) I have read several books on the battle of Iwo Jima.
b) It was a very dense battle on an 8-square-mile island.
1> 86,000 U.S. Marines versus 22,000 Japanese.
2> New Jersey's density - 1,200 people per square mile.
3> Iwo Jima - 13,500 soldiers per square mile.
c) American pilots flying overhead saw U.S. Marines
crawling around like ants, but no sign of the Japanese.
1> The enemy seemed to be invisible.
2> Americans were unnerved to see many of their buddies
picked off, and yet they never saw who did it.
d) Spiritual warfare is like this.
1> Bad things happen and we have nothing to pin it on.
2> All we know is that we are getting beat up.
III. It is important to keep a balanced perspective.
A. Supernatural evil is real but not all-powerful.
Rev. Dave Wilkinson alludes to C.S. Lewis, who in the
preface to "The Screwtape Letters," warns that these are
"two equal and opposite errors."
One is to ignore Satan, and the other is to fixate on him.
Satan should be taken seriously because he is powerful,
subtle and evil -- but not too seriously because he has
been defeated and will ultimately perish.
But until that battle is concluded, to underestimate the
power of an opponent is one of the worst mistakes a
soldier, a wrestler or a Christian can make.
Some blame every sin, every conflict, and every problem on
demons that need to be cast out.
Others completely ignore the spiritual realm and that the
Bible tells us our battle is against spiritual powers.
The key to successful spiritual warfare is finding the
Jesus sometimes cast demons out of people and sometimes
healed people with no mention of the demonic.
The apostle Paul instructs Christians to wage war against
the sin in themselves (Romans 6) and to wage war against
the evil one, or Satan. (Ephesians 6:10-18).
B. There are plenty of consequences for our own sin.
1) We can rebel against God just like Satan did.
2) We can also be influenced by physical issues like illnesses,
chemical imbalances, a lousy home-life.
3) These problems, combined with our tendency to react with
fleshly anger, bitterness, or self-centeredness, make
up the lion's share of our daily struggles.
C. So how can we tell when our struggle is spiritual warfare?
1) The troubles don't seem to be tied to anything you have
2) You are in a spiritually critical period in your life.
a) When you are newly saved.
b) When you have been used by God in a mighty way.
1> (That's when Paul got that satanic thorn...) 3) You have given the devil a foothold in your life. Eph 4:27
a) Repetitive compromises in morality can open you up
to Satan's influence.
b) Christian writer Tom White says Satan "looks for hooks."
1> The devil will use your lust, your anger, your
greed to bring you down.
2> Any area of your life that has not been yielded
to the Holy Spirit makes you vulnerable.
4) It responds to spiritual remedies.
a) Prayer and a focus on God make you feel better.
b) Conversely, if medicine or regular counseling make you
feel better, it may not have been a spiritual attack.
c) Ultimately, God will have to give you a sense of where
the struggle has originated.
IV. How you should handle a spiritual attack.
A. Fight it with God's help.
1) Jesus tells us to seek God's kingdom above all else.
2) Paul tells us to put on God's armor.
a) The rest of the passage calls us to a focus on truth,
the good news of God's peace, and using our faith
as a shield.
b) The most important elements are given in verse 17 -
be assured of your salvation, and be equipped with
the word of God.
1> I am saved because of God's power, not my goodness.
2> God's word will remind me of his wonderful promises.
B. Repent of any known sin and submit to Christ's lordship.
1) Memorizing the entire Bible won't help you if you have
yielded part of your life to Satan.
2) Where are you being disobedient? Where do you need to
C. Resist the enemy, and he will flee from you.
1) Accept God's forgiveness.
a) Satan wants you to be bound by false guilt.
1> Satan specializes in being an accuser and abuser.
b) Stand firmly on God's promises.
1> God will always honor a heartfelt confession.
2> He gives peace to a healthy conscience.
2) Learn to control your mind.
a) Squelch thoughts of doubt and fear, unworthiness.
b) Satan also wants us to focus on the negative and
ignore the positive.
1> Do the opposite - follow Philippians 4:8.
3) Stay away from areas you know he has influence over you.
4) Join with other Christians who will make you stronger.
a) Some Christians may be no good to you at all.
b) Find those who will build you up, who seek a strong
relationship with God, and get into fellowship
V. Spiritual warfare is different from the way ISIS does it.
A. Taking on Marilyn Manson.
The shock-rocker and self-proclaimed priest of the church of
Satan, Marilyn Manson, was scheduled for a concert in
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1999.
This brought about a great uproar from the community because
some had linked Manson's music to the Columbine High School
massacre which had happened only a week before.
Law enforcement prepared for an ugly scene.
Then a group of pastors, youth pastors and other believers got
together and organized prayer and praise services before
and during the concert.
Through the power of worship, these Christians decided to
bless, not curse, the concert-goers.
They passed out over 100 pizzas and 1,200 soft drinks in the
They paid for the parking for many.
Many Manson fans had a bewildered look as they took all this
News reports said Manson went into an absolute rage when he
saw a large smiley face put on his Nazi/antichrist pulpit
stage prop -- put up by one of his own crew members.
He destroyed the set and stormed off the stage very early in
the show, vowing never to return.
The fans chanted his name but he didn't come back.
He never got to rip up a Bible like he does in many of his
Instead, at least three people came to faith in Christ.
B. God can see you through.
A few years ago Rev. Ray Pritchard was given a tape of a talk
given by one of his members, Gary Olsen.
Gary had served as an elder in his church and for many years
was the head football coach at the local high school.
He made the speech eight months after his heart surgery and
a year and a half before his sudden death in November 1999.
On the tape Gary is giving a short talk to a group of
Christian coaches on the subject of handling the hard
times of life.
He began by mentioning his lung cancer in the early 1980s
that led to his coming to Christ.
Then in 1989 his wife Dawn was in a terrible accident that
nearly killed her.
Gary stepped down from coaching for a while so he could
help her recover.
The hardest blows came in 1997.
In August of that year he collapsed during football practice
and was taken to the hospital where he had surgery to
replace a defective heart valve.
At about the same time he faced a crisis in his family.
A month or so later his mother suddenly died of a brain
It seemed almost too much to bear.
On the tape he said that he had called his pastor and asked,
"How should I pray?"
His pastor told him to pray "Lord, have mercy. God, have
mercy. Jesus, have mercy."
Ray smiled when he heard the story because he had forgotten
that phone call.
Then it all came back to him.
His answer was off the top of his head but in retrospect it
was perfectly biblical.
There are many times in life when the only thing we can do
is to cry out, "God, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, have mercy."
1) Ultimately, any spiritual battle is not ours, but the Lord's.
2) Is he fighting for you?
SOURCES FOR ILLUSTRATIONS USED IN THIS SERMON:
Sermon #21543 “Spiritual Warfare,” sermon by Rev. Dave Wilkinson,
Moorpark Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) of Moorpark, California,
January 16, 2000. <http://www.moorparkpres.org/pages/sermons.htm>
#64598 “Lord, Have Mercy,” Rev. Dr. Ray Pritchard, from his sermon
(#64030) "Deliver Us From Evil," March 1, 2009.
#64599 “Taking On Marilyn Manson,” Rev. Coy Wylie, from his sermon
(#10533) "Worship And Spiritual Warfare." More details on the
Christian response to Manson can be found at
These and 35,000 others are part of the Kerux database that can be
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Copyright © 2017 by Rev. David Holwick
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