In Warfare Part 5, we look at how to wage war against the kingdom of darkness. Warfare move #1 is to pay attention to your life and question the voices, particularly the voices of accusation that you hear throughout your day. The first tactic in waging war is paying attention to what you are hearing and then determining the source of that voice. You can discern the source of the voice with a simple question: what is its tone and tenor?
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Welcome back to TPWFO podcast. We are in the middle of a series of episodes about warfare. And today we finally get to the question of how to fight back.
How to use the authority that has been delegated to you by Christ in order to wage war against evil on behalf of your own heart and the hearts of those you love.
This is Part 5 in the series and if you are just beginning to listen, I would highly recommend going back and listening to Parts 1 through 4 before listening to today’s episode. It will make a lot more sense.
Before we get into today’s episode, I want to announce that TPWFO now has an app for iPhone and Android! You can download the app at the App Store or the Google Play Store.
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Okay, let me summarize the Warfare series so far as a way to introduce today’s episode.
Part 1 looked at the reality that you and I find ourselves living in the midst of a world at war. The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness are very much in conflict.
Part 2 looked at the first tactic of the Kingdom of Darkness which is to hurl accusations against your heart as you go about your day. To accuse you of things that are unlovely about you.
IOW The war between good and evil plays out in very personal, very concrete ways in your life.
Part 3 explored the second tactic of evil—namely, to deceive you in moments of pain to make agreements that bind you.
And then in Part 4 I talked about the fact that you actually have a great deal of authority and power when it comes to fighting evil.
Jesus has set you up to succeed in resisting accusations and breaking agreements.
So that brings us to today. Today, we’ll talk about the first way we can fight evil.
1 Peter 5 says this: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him.”
James 4 says simply, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
But how exactly do we do that? What does it mean to “resist the kingdom of darkness”?
Here’s the first step:
Warfare Move Number 1: Pay Attention to your Life and Question the Voices (Repeat)
Warfare (by which I simply mean resisting evil) begins with paying attention.
We often lose the battle before we even dress for war simply because we are unaware of being assaulted.
Q: Are you paying attention to the subtle and not so subtle ways that evil addresses you throughout your day?
Q: What messages do you hear so many times a day that you have come to believe they arise from within you?
Q: What voices present themselves to you in barely perceptible ways, such that it’s hard to distinguish them from your own thoughts?
There are other voices in the world. You have to learn to question the voices.
The voice talking quietly in your head may not be yours. Often times it is the whisper of evil.
The first tactic in waging war is paying attention to what you are hearing and then determining the source of that voice.
You can discern the source of the voice with a simple question: what is its tone and tenor?
Q: Does it carry with it the tone of accusation?
You discern the voice of evil primarily by its tone.
Any words you hear that carry an accusatory tone are the words of evil.
The words themselves may be 100% true, but if they come to you in an accusatory way, then you can know that those words are not spoken by God in that moment.
Why? Because the voice of God is endlessly kind.
Q: But doesn’t God convict us of sin? Absolutely. However, when the Spirit convicts you of sin, you will never feel condemned.
When the Spirit convicts you of sin, you will never feel condemned.
The Spirit of God evokes what is called healthy shame, not a sense of accusation or condemnation.
As Dan Allender says, “Legitimate shame always leads to a sense of being lifted up by God to possess what is surprising and undeserved.”
Let me share Dan’s words again: Legitimate shame—i.e. conviction of sin—always leads to a sense of being lifted up by God to possess what is surprising and undeserved.
The way you know it is God convicting you of sin rather than evil accusing you of sin is because you have the sensation of being lifted up and welcomed home rather than the sensation of feeling bad about yourself.
The story of the woman at the well in John 4 shows what happens when someone is convicted of sin by God rather than accused of sin by an evil spirit of accusation.
Jesus names the woman’s sin without equivocation: “You have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”
But notice the effect of this confrontation on the woman:
She runs home to her village and invites everyone to go back with her to be with Jesus.
When evil accuses you of something unlovely about yourself, you will not have the sensation of welcome and acceptance. You will feel ashamed.
You will not have the sense of being lifted up by God to possess what is surprising and undeserved.
Instead, you will feel like God doesn’t want anything to do with you. You will feel like you don’t deserve to come into God’s presence.
But you won’t have the sense of “I’ve got to go get my friends and bring them back into the presence of God.”
The woman in John 4 does not feel a shred of condemnation from Jesus.
Q: When you feel like God is convicting you of sin, do you want to go get your friends and bring them back into the presence of this God?
If you don’t, then you’re suffering under the accusation of evil rather than joining the celebration of the gracious welcome of God.
Evil whispers words of accusation. And sometimes, evil doesn’t even bother with words, but a sense comes over you of accusation or condemnation.
The words may be so quiet that you don’t even recognize it as someone speaking—indeed, evil’s strategy is to make you believe that the words were not spoken by anyone outside yourself.
Q: Why not pay attention to those voices?
The first step in waging war against evil is paying attention to what is assaulting you throughout your day.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Colossian Christians he was keen on making it clear that they were free from accusations.
In Col 1:22 Paul makes the announcement: “God has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
So, you are, in point of fact, free from accusations.
Evil knows this.
Therefore, evil’s only hope is that you will agree with the accusations launched against you. That you will choose to live under accusation.
Q: Does that make sense? Since you are, in reality, b/c of the work of Christ, free from accusation, evil’s only possible strategy is to entice you to believe the accusations, to agree with them.
When Scripture says, “we do not see everything subject to Christ” (Hebrews 2) this means that Jesus has not yet destroyed evil spirits.
However, he has disarmed them. Colossians 2 puts it like this, “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, Jesus made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
When it says “power and authorities,” it’s talking about the agents of the kingdom of darkness—and evil spirits are one of the agents of the kingdom of darkness.
So, Jesus has made a public spectacle of the powers and authorities of evil that are harassing you.
Q: Would you like to join Jesus in making a public spectacle of these evil powers—one way you do that is by rebuking accusations when they come against you. By refusing to live under the accusation. By refusing to agree with it.
Now, you may be thinking, “If I am a sinner, how can I be free from accusation? If I am a sinner, aren’t some accusations against me true?”
In Rom 8:1 we read a beautiful sentence: “Therefore there is now no judgment against those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Most translations say “there is no condemnation against those who are in Christ Jesus.”
But the Greek word translated “condemnation” is the compound word κατάκριμα.
And κατάκριμα is composed of two words — kata meaning against and κρίνω meaning judgment. So what the text literally says is “There is now no judgment against you.”
Accusations are judgments against you.
“You’re a bad Dad.”
“You’re a disappointment to your parents.”
“You made a horrible career move and you should have known better.”
It doesn’t matter what the accusation is. It doesn’t matter what the judgment is. According to God, you are free from judgments against you.
This means that no one—not another person nor the evil one nor your own heart—can speak a condemning, judgmental, or accusatory word against you.
Said another way, for the Christian, all accusations are false accusations.
Let me say that again: If you are a Christian, all accusations are false accusations.
Q: How can this be? What if the accusation is true?
What if I just yelled at my kid because I was stressed about something at work… and then I hear the accusation, “you’re a bad Dad.”
Q: What if there is truth in the accusation? What if I am a bad Dad? First of all, of course there’s truth in the accusation. That’s why you get seduced to agree with it.
But remember, accusation is always about tone not content.
God may speak very hard words to you about the nature of your sin—about how you are not fathering your children well—but his voice will always be kind as he does so.
God never accuses, he always convicts.
The difference is that when you are convicted you a) have a sense of the Father running toward you to embrace you and b) have a sense of hope about how Jesus will rescue you from the mess you’ve made.
Conviction always leads to the surprise of God’s embrace and a sense of an undeserved welcome. Condemnation always leads to a sense of being pushed down under the weight of your sin.
In Isaiah 54:17 God is speaking to Israel and he says,
“‘Every tongue that accuses you, you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me.”
Every tongue that accuses you, you will condemn.
Q: Do you condemn every tongue that accuses you?
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines condemn as “to declare to be wrong or evil.”
Q: Do you declare accusations against you to be wrong or evil.
This afternoon, when you hear an accusation, will you condemn it? Will you declare it to be evil?
According to Isaiah 54, your heritage, your vindication from God is that “every tongue that accuses you, you get to condemn.”
You have to listen to the chatter in your head before you can discern if the messages are from God or from the kingdom of darkness.
The more you pay attention to the voices, the more you will realize that the voices of evil spirits are not very creative.
Evil usually accuses you of the same dozen or so failures over and over.
Q: What are the accusations that have plagued you for the past decade? What phrases or sentences routinely come against you with a tenor of accusation.
Q: Have you identified the top ten accusations that frequently land in your heart?
Here’s a practical way to engage in warfare:
Q: What if you started an accusation journal where you wrote down the accusatory sentences you hear throughout your day?
Get an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, put it on your kitchen counter… and each time you feel accused of something unlovely about yourself, write it down.
All you need is one piece of paper and a pen.
Why do you only need one piece of paper? Because evil is not very creative—the sentences that accuse you are repetitive.
They can usually fit on one piece of paper.
In fact, you will find that after you write down a dozen or so accusations, you can start using tally marks to count the number of times in a week that you hear the same words hurled against you.
Lacking creativity, evil resorts to accusing you of the same failures, the same sins, over and over.
Once you get clear about the accusatory sentence, you can simply make tally marks next to the accusation each time it is repeated.
Fifty percent of the battle is simply paying attention to the voices and getting clear about the specific accusations that regularly come against you.