As we wrap up this seven-day study on “Preparing for Battle,” in my study time I’m reminded of Jesus battle in the Garden of Gethsemane. All four Gospels record this event in their narrative, and we can gain some real insight from our leader, Jesus Christ, on how to engage in battle. As Jesus was preparing to fulfill the scriptures and Gods plan for the redemption and salvation of man. As we examine the events that took place in the garden and how Jesus was preparing for the cross, we can see the battle strategy principals we have discussed all week used by Jesus.
The first thing Jesus does that relates to what we have talked about is He takes his team with him, so he is not alone. The Bible tells us he took the disciples with Him to the Passover meal and then later that evening to the garden. When He gets to the garden, He takes His closest disciples, Peter, James, and John to a place that was separated from the rest. When we go into battle, we need to remember we don’t go at it alone. We have a body of believers who love us and have our backs. Jesus is our model of doing this as He was preparing for battle.
The next thing He did that we studied this week, was He went and prayed to the father. Prayer is our greatest weapon against the enemy and Jesus, who is our example, went off to a private place to prepare for battle. If Jesus needed to go out to the father and pray for guidance, direction, and wisdom alone in prayer, how much more do we need to pray before we do battle.
Not only did Jesus pray, but He knew the scriptures, and He knew he was called to fulfill them. One of the things we discussed as part of our battle strategy was reading the Bible. We need to hear the word, read the word, memorize the word, and meditate on the word. Jesus knew the word, he was the word, but He also used the word to prepare for battle. He asked the father to take this “Cup” or in other words the struggle and suffering he was about to go through in preparation for the cross and on the cross from Him. But then He says, “not my will but your will be done.” Jesus knew the fathers will through the scriptures and through the love the father has for Him as the Son.
The garden was preparation for the most significant battle Jesus was going to face. He had a battle strategy in place, and He was ready. My question for everyone reading this is, do you have a strategy for battle with the enemy?
There is one thing I can say for, and it is the enemy is going to attack you, are you ready? The last seven days were just some of the Biblical concepts and principals you can use to build your battle strategy to thwart off the attacks of the enemy. Remember he is relentless, always on the prowl, looking for someone weak to devour.
I wish you the best as you grow in Christ and become a disciple and walk in His steps.
Yesterday we discussed that the enemy is not against flesh and blood but against the evil rulers of darkness and spiritual forces (Ephesians, 6:12). We then examined the “Sword of the Spirit” and how Paul is really referring to the Word of God as our weapon that prepares us for battle. Just like a soldier needs training with the weapon they use for battle we need training with Word of God which is one of our weapons. This should be a strong point in our battle plan that goes with everything else we have talked about over the last six days.
The question is how do we do it? Do we just read the Bible and “Poof” everything will make sense to us and come to light? That may be the case for some, but for others they need more. I want to ensure you have a solid battle plan and the necessary training to use the Bible as you weapon. To do that I want to propose four strategies to help us with the habit of knowing and applying scripture. This will assist us in our strategy.
The first thing we need is to be hearers of the word (Blanchard). Paul wrote that, “faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). We need to be in church every Sunday to hear the message, faith comes by hearing not reading. We need to hear the message each and every week. If we can’t make it to Sunday service, then we have all kinds of technology to help us hear the message. Facebook, Pod casts, Audiobooks, and the like are out there for us to use, we should be hungry to hear the word of God. There is no excuse to not hear the message of the Gospels. Another thing is the only time we hear the word should not be on Sundays. You cant get strong working out only one day a week, and you can’t grow spiritually hearing the word one day a week. We need to hear the word every day, through devotionals, messages, lessons, or whatever medium works for your time and schedule, there are many choices, NO EXCUSES!
The second thing we can do to enhance our understanding of the word is to read the word (Blanchard). Ask yourself an honest question, how much time a week do you spend reading the word of God? Now ask how much time do you spend on social media or watching tv? For most of us, we spend more time on social media and watching tv than we do training ourselves to use the Sword. We need to train with our weapon in order to do battle, and not just go to battle but to win! Choose a part of the scripture, maybe a short passage and read it. Sometimes when we read to much, we may find it challenging to reflect on what we read (Blanchard). Balance your reading of Gods Word, ensure you are reading both the Old Testament and the New Testament. God will begin to speak through you with every word you read. Every time you apply the word of God to your life you grow closer to Him. As you grow closer to Him and learn His word, you can begin to defeat the enemy attacks and he will flee from you.
The next thing we need to do is to study the word. Studying the word mean more than just reading it (Blanchard). Studying the means learning more about the words meaning and application. Knowing God more deeply will enable us to lead like Jesus and win the small victories over sin and the devils attacks. With study, like training on a weapon, you begin to handle Gods Word more effectively. Study involves comparing one Bible verse or translation to another, or searching the scriptures to find an answer to a question. Bible study often includes gaining additional information through commentaries and analysis.
The last thing we need to do to train with our weapon is memorize and meditate on the word. When you commit Gods word to memory, it lives in you, and you live in it, and Gods promises become your possessions (Blanchard).
I challenge you do train and prepare for the war with the enemy by doing these four things! Like a solider going into battle, they must train and we are Gods soldiers at war with the enemy and we must train as well.
So far in this study, we have examined the fact we are at war with an enemy, we have looked at our greatest weapons of prayer and scripture, we discussed we don’t do battle alone, and we looked at who the enemy is and the armor of God. For today I want to dive into how to do battle against the enemy. We know the enemy is not against our own flesh and blood but against the evil rulers of this dark world, the authorities, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians, 6:12). With a comprehension of who the enemy is and who the enemy is not we can begin to develop and tailor our battle plan and strategy. Remember Jesus is our example and our leader and He taught us how to do battle with the enemy by resisting him in the wilderness and through His ministry. The Bible says in James, “If we resist the devil, he will flee from you” (James, 4:7).
As we discussed yesterday, we are to put on the whole armor of God, and that includes the “Sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians, 6:17). Most theologians think the Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon form the full armor of God which Paul teaches about. The reality is that the sword was both an offensive and defensive weapon used by soldiers or warriors. In this case, the sword is a weapon that belongs to the Holy Spirit. Swords were used to protect one from enemy attacks or to go after and attack the enemy. In both instances, it was extremely necessary for the soldiers to have the necessary training in the proper use of the sword. The sword Paul is referring to here is the “Word of God” the Bible, the living word that cuts deeper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). All Christian soldiers need the same rigorous training to handle the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. We are all in a battle against the spiritual forces of evil, and we need to know how to handle our weapon properly.
The purpose of the Bible is to make us strong and have the ability to stand up against the schemes of the enemy and his tactics. So how does this relate to us as followers of Christ? Well, the answer is this, we need to have a sharp weapon to go into battle against the enemy and his ways. He is always trying to attack, and sometimes we need to be on offense against him, and sometimes we need to play defense. No matter the case, we need to be ready and have the ability to fight with the scriptures on our side, we need to be in tune with the Word of God. Tomorrow we are going to discuss the four ways to knowing and applying the scriptures; heard the word, read the word, study the word, and memorize the word (Blanchard).
For today, ask yourself have you been using the Sword of the spirit, the Word of God fight your enemies, or have you been waging war the way the world does? The Bible teaches us we don’t wage war the way the world does and we fight with the armor of God (2 Corinthians 10:3).
We must all be willing to enter into battle, this is not negotiable. We have discussed so far that we need a strategy, that the enemy is real, that our greatest weapons are scriptures and prayers, so what's next? Well, we can gain much insight from the teachings of the Apostle Paul and his letter to the people of Ephesus. Paul tells them to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power, to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand against the devils’ schemes (Ephesians 6:10-11). Did you hear that, so we can stand against the devils’ schemes, we have already established that the enemy is real and we must be ready to do battle!
The text goes on to say who the battle is against, that it is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). The battle we face and are to get ready for is not against one another, others, our brothers and sisters, aunt uncles, acquaintances, or anyone else that is flesh and blood. In fact, we are called to love those people just like the father has loved us first, we must love each other (John 15:9-17). We must understand who the enemy is because the point for today is that we must be ready to do battle. When you become a Christian and a believer there is a target on your back straight from the pits of hell from the enemy. The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy and his tactic is division (John 10:10). He doesn’t care what you do as you don’t worship God. When we proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are essentially enlisting in the Army of the Lord, and we must be prepared to do battle. There is a real war with a real enemy going on right now all around us, and we are called to put on the armor of our mighty Lord and go fight.
This armor that Paul talks about in the scripture (Ephesians 6:10-20) give us the courage we need for spiritual warfare and suffering. Through Paul and the Holy Spirit, the Lord is preparing us to dawn the armor and go out and fight the attacks of the enemy. There is not surrender, retreat, or taking off the armor until the battle is won and the Lord has finished His course and fulfilled His plan. The funny thing about the armor is that there is nothing to protect the back, so if you turn and run you are vulnerable to the fiery arrows of the enemy.
The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labor to deface the heavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve by God’s grace, not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we give way, he will get ground. If we distrust either our cause, or our Leader, or our armor, we give him an advantage.
Are you ready to do battle with the enemy? Have you given thought to your battle plan and strategy of how you are going to engage in this war?
As we continue to study how to “Engage in battle with the enemy” we must not forget we never go into battle alone. After Jesus was tempted in the wilderness and tested, he won the first battle he was faced with. In the face of the enemy and with the great temptation He was able to repel the attacks of the enemy before beginning His ministry.
As Jesus was beginning his ministry, the first thing He sets out to do is not build an Army, write a book or even build a temple. The first thing He decided to do is go out and recruit a team. He picks common folk, with problems and regular people, simple fishermen to be on his team (Matthew 4:18). The first thing Jesus does, as recorded in the book of Matthew is He preaches throughout Galilee. He taught in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness among the people, he sets out to do battle. The Bible records Jesus healing the sick, those suffering in pain, the demon-possessed and those who had seizures (Matthew 4:24). He was ready to begin doing battle, and He had his team with Him.
This brings up today's point, we never go into battle alone, we have other soldiers in Gods army that have our backs, and we have theirs, this is part of our strategy. When I was a police officer, we had a rule, strength in numbers. When we responded to incidents and problems, we waited for backup to arrive and we went into the scene as a team. When I was in the military, and we would go out on missions, we had a squad of people with us who had our backs, and we had theirs. Jesus who is our great example of leadership did not establish His team of disciples by accident, He knew what he was doing. Matthews account of the gospel teaches that Jesus gave the sermon on the mount, went through the land healing and preaching and then in Matthew 10, He sends the disciples out on their own to do battle. This brings up another point; following Jesus will equip us for the battles. I’m talking about the nitty-gritty daily battles against the enemy that we face every day. The enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy and his tactic is division. He wants to do anything that will divide us between him and the Lord. Satan doesn’t care who we worship as long as it's not God; in fact, he doesn’t care if we worship God as long as we don’t live like God. We are engaged in a daily battle, and every believer has enlisted in Gods Army of soldiers for His glory and goodness!
So, Jesus has laid the foundation, He has built His team, equipped them, trained them, taught them, no he is sending them out to do battle with the enemy (Matthew 10). The scripture tells us that Jesus gave the twelve disciples the power to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness (Matthew 10:1). He gives them detailed instructions to fight against persecution and to be on guard (Matthew 10:16). The same instructions and strategy Jesus used here we are called to follow and use the same battle plan. Jesus never went into battle alone and neither should we.
Gods nature is love and communion, and he created humans for a relationship with Him, and with each other, we must develop trusting relationships with people that we can do battle with. We should be intentional about who are discipling and putting on our team.
My challenge for you today is to understand that we are engaged in a battle with the enemy, we must use prayer and scripture as our weapon, and we don’t ever do battle alone! Do you have a team around you of disciples that you are intentional about developing and preparing for battle? Have you been working on your battle plan and strategy to fight the enemy and his attacks?
Now that we know and understand that we have an enemy, we need to understand how the enemy does battle. The enemy comes to us to tempt us in three ways that we see all through scripture. The first temptation concerns the lust of the flesh (Matthew 4:3-4). During the tempting of Jesus our Lord is hungry and, and the devil tempts him to turn the stones into bread. How then does Jesus reply, he quotes scriptures to combat the devil’s attacks. This brings up today's point, “We can't forget our biggest weapon against the enemy” the Scriptures and prayer.
The second time Jesus is tempted comes in the form of the pride of life (Matthew 5:5-7), and even here the devil uses scripture, but he is twisting it to fit his evil desires. How does Jesus respond? Again, he uses the scriptures found in Deuteronomy to combat the devil and his tactics. The third and final temptation the Bible records in this series of events comes in the form of lust of the eyes (Matthew 4:8-10). Again, here we see Jesus quoting the scriptures found in the Old Testament to the devil and what does the Bible say happened? The devil left him!!! That’s right devil you can't fight against my “All Powerful” Lord and Savior with your weak tactics! BOOP, you are out of here!!
So, what can we learn today from our Jesus to help us with our battle strategy? The lesson here is that we must fight like Jesus did by hanging on every word that is found in scripture. The text tells us that even the devil knows the words of the Bible, but because he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit on his team as we do, he can’t use them in the proper context.
We, however, have the most powerful weapon known to man at our fingertips, on our devices, apps and everywhere we go at the touch of our hands, the word of God! The word of God is alive and cuts sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus knew this when he began to face the enemy and the word of God brought him the victory against the devil.
In the same way, Jesus used the scriptures, to combat the enemy, we can use them as well. We must study the word of God daily, spend time with him, and memorize scriptures that we can use in times of tempting and trials. Gods word is the truth, and Jesus is the truth, but the enemy’s tactic is fear and lies. He will lie to us and try to steal, kill and destroy us. We have the power to stand ready when he comes, using the weapons God has planned for us to use because they are at our fingertips. A soldier never goes to battle without a weapon and as Christians have enlisted in the Army of the Lord and are doing battle with the enemy every day. With every temptation defeated it gives you more power over the enemy. The Bible says resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Jesus showed us that we like Him have the power to resist the devil, and we know that he will flee.
So today, are you spending time with your weapon, in God’s word? Do you have scriptures memorized to use in times of attack? This is part of your battle strategy! Be ready for battle at all times!
Through the leadership of Jesus and teachings of the Apostle Paul, we can learn how to prepare for battle. Before Jesus even began his ministry, he prepared, he was baptized, and He fasted. He was getting ready to do battle with the forces of evil and help the good, but he had to get ready. The same is true for us, and when we are going to go into battle, we need to have a battle strategy of how we are going to do it. Make no mistake; we are at war with the enemy and principalities of darkness every day (Ephesians 6:12). We already know that Jesus is our example to follow in this temporary world we are supposed to strive towards Christlike perfection so we can look to him as our example of how to get ready for battle. We should also listen to the teachings of the Apostle Paul on “Spiritual Warfare” as we together develop our battle strategy.
The first thing we must do is recognize we are at war with the enemy. Jesus knew this before he started His ministry. The Bible records Jesus being led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). After he fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Then the temper, the devil came to him and began to tempt Him. We need to face the reality that the enemy is real when doing battle, I must understand this fact. I cannot win a fight against an enemy that I don’t even believe exists in the first place. Jesus teaches us this through scriptures that the enemy is real; we must internalize this fact of battle; the enemy is real.
Jesus was ready though he had fasted, and His spirit was in tune with God. Why did Jesus fast you may be asking right now? I know I was? First let’s look at what a fast is, fasting is when we deny our own fleshly wants and desires for a period so that we can focus more clearly on strengthening our spirits. We become fully dependent on God for our needs and desires when we fast, we become more in tune with the spirit when we deliberately fast. The Bible says that after Jesus fasted and was tempted, “He returned to Galilee in the Power of the spirit.”
Jesus fasted to prepare himself to do battle with the enemy, His enemy, and our enemy. The scripture tells us that He ate nothing during those days he was fasting. He was also in the wilderness, and it is not explicitly stated, but we can assume based on the text that he was alone. He was on a fast from everything, no interaction, no distractions, He was in total isolation. He was able to concentrate on the focus of the Holy Spirit, which was preparing him to face the devil, there make him like his brethren and to be tempted in all things.
When the devil came to him, which we will get into more of tomorrow, Jesus was ready. You see we cannot demonstrate obedience if we are not tempted. Jesus knew he needed to be tempted to fulfill his purpose as a compassionate high priest, but he went into the battle ready with a strategy.
As we unpack the life of Jesus and his ministry and Paul’s teachings over the next week, ask yourself are you ready to do battle? Have you been fighting the battle with the wrong tools? Do you even have a battle strategy? If the answer is no then stay tuned because we will study the scriptures together to help you develop a sold strategy to defeat the enemy when he attacks.