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I had planned to speak this evening on warfare in the heavenlies. Ephesians chapter 6 verse 12.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
If I may I’ll give you the Prince version which is a little bit more literal. I started learning Greek when I was ten years old and I became a professor at Cambridge University so I do know something about Greek. Nobody knows everything about Greek, let me tell you that. It’s a very elaborate language with a long history of nearly three thousand years. So anybody tells you he knows it all, he’s mistaken. But this is the Prince version.
“For our wrestling match is not against flesh and blood [and the Living Bible says persons with bodies which is a good rendering], our wrestling match is not against persons with bodies, but against rulerships, against authorities, against the world-dominators of this present darkness, against spiritual hosts or forces of wickedness, in the heavenly places.”
It begins here in my text; we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Unfortunately many Christians have got it punctuated wrong. For we do not wrestle, period. In fact, I would have to say from my observations, most Christians have got it wrong. There are not many Christians who are really wrestling. And you know wrestling is the most intense form of conflict between two persons. A boxing match there are certain blows you’re not allowed to land on parts of the body. Wrestling, all in wrestling as they call it, is total combat, and that’s the word that Paul uses here.
“We are involved in total combat against spiritual forces, persons without bodies, against rulerships and authorities [I’ll come back to that phrase later on], against the world-dominators of this present darkness, against spiritual hosts or forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Now we need to ask ourselves how it came about that there are spiritual hosts or forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Let me say first of all, that from the first verse of the Bible the word heaven is always plural. In the beginning God created the heavens [plural] and the earth [singular]… So there is more than one heaven. In actual fact there are three heavens. This is stated very clearly in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 verses 1 and 2 and following.
“It is doubtless not expedient for me to boast, but I come to visions and revelations of the Lord.”
So Paul is now speaking about a man who had a very unique vision and revelation. I don’t believe that man was Paul. Some people do. I think it wasn’t but let’s not argue about that.
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know. God knows— How he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible [or unutterable] words, which is not lawful [or not possible] for a man to utter.”
So Paul is speaking about somebody, a believer, who had a very wonderful experience and he was caught up to the third heaven. Paul says he doesn’t know whether his body was caught up with him or just his spirit, but there he was in the third heaven, and he was caught up into paradise and heard unutterable words, which it’s not lawful for a man to utter.
Now before I became a believer I was a professor of logic and I still believe in logic. And my logic tells me if there is a third heaven there must be a first and a second. You cannot have a third of anything without the first two and I believe that’s the way it is.
So in the third heaven this man heard God himself. He was in paradise. Obviously this is the highest point where God Himself dwells. So the third heaven is the top heaven if I may put it that way. The first heaven I believe to be the visible heaven. The one we look at; the sun, the moon, the stars and so on. Now between the first and the third there must be a second and that I believe is the area where the conflict takes place. I don’t believe there’s any conflict in the heaven where God dwells. There isn’t that kind of conflict on earth, but there is in this intermediate heaven between earth and the throne of God.
Now how did this conflict come about? What’s its origin? The Bible tells us certain things. It doesn’t tell us other things. It’s a mistake to try to know more than the Bible tells, but it’s really important that we do find out what the Bible has to say. So I’m going to turn now to Isaiah chapter 14 and in my particular translation the passage I’m looking at begins at verse 12 and it’s entitled or headed The Fall of Lucifer. So these are prophetic words described to a certain angelic being who went, who turned in rebellion against God.
“How are you fallen from heaven, [that’s the heaven of God’s presence] O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!”
Now we get the motivation of Lucifer’s rebellion. Let me say of course Lucifer’s present name is Satan. Satan means the adversary. The Greek word, the devil means the slanderer. So Satan is the adversary of God and man, the slanderer. Remember that. Anybody who slanders is doing the devil’s job, and unfortunately it does occur in churches. Now let’s look at the motivation because this is very important. We learn something extremely helpful for each of us and all of us.
“For you have said in your heart...”
This is the motivation of Lucifer’s rebellion against God. And five times it starts with the words “I will.” So the root of rebellion is the will set in opposition to the will of God. He says:
“I will ascend into heaven, [and he’s planning to go higher.] I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit in the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”
But where the English says like the Hebrew can equally well be translated I will be equal to the Most High. So the origin of Lucifer’s rebellion was personal ambition and pride. And I would like to point out to you that is the main source of trouble in the church today—it’s personal ambition. I often ask myself how many ministers in the church are motivated by passion for souls and how many are motivated by personal ambition to have the biggest church, the largest mailing list, hold the largest meetings and so on. And I can tell you from personal experience and observation over a long period of time many sections of the church are riddled with personal ambition. In my personal opinion this is the greatest single problem in the church—personal ambition in the ministry. And we find that its origin was in the heart of Lucifer or Satan himself. Five times he set his will against the will of God. Five times he planned to exalt himself.
I have a series about the whole problem of pride which is called The Way Up Is Down. If you want to go higher you have to go lower. It’s very interesting because this has been circulated in various countries. It’s translated into German. I’m sorry to tell you good Americans, that on the whole the response has not been enthusiastic. The thing that surprises me is in Germany it’s been a best seller. I can’t explain it but we need to take heed to that fact. The Way Up Is Down. If you want to go higher you have to go lower. And you see Satan has implanted this personal ambition, this self-promotion in the hearts of all who will accept it. And that doesn’t mean that the church is excluded. In fact, the church is the place where Satan most desires to implant this kind of personal ambition. And then it says:
“You shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.”
It really is true. The Way Up Is Down. If you want to go up, go down. The lower down you go the higher up you end. Don’t let Satan deceive you by planting personal ambition in your heart, because it was his downfall and it can be your downfall too.
Now I want to take a picture of the interaction between the heavenlies and the earthly realm, an example of what we could call spiritual conflict. I’m going to turn to Ezekiel chapter 28. Now this chapter portrays two persons; the Prince of Tyre and the King of Tyre and they are quite different persons. But both of them are involved in the destiny of a very important city in the ancient world called Tyre. And this revelation brings out the fact that there is an interplay between earthly rulers and heavenly rulers, evil heavenly rulers. And that brings out the fact that one of the most important things we can do to change the situation is to deal with the evil heavenly rulers. So now we’ll look at a little of what it says in Ezekiel 28 beginning at verse 1.
“The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, ‘Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord GOD.’”
So this is address to the Prince. The second half of the chapter is addressed to the King who is a totally different person.
“Because your heart is lifted up.”
What word would you use to describe that? Pride. That’s right. You see consistently the Bible warns us more against pride than any other problem.
“Because your heart is lifted up, And you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, In the midst of the seas,’ Yet you are a man, and not a god, Though you set your heart as the heart of a god.”
So this Prince of Tyre is a human being who claims to be God as many other human beings have done. We’ll go on.
“(Behold you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you! With your wisdom and your understanding, You have gained riches for yourself, And gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; By you great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches, And your heart is lifted up [what’s that? Pride.] [Because of what?] your riches).”
How many people would recognize that wealth is often a source of pride? All these things have very important practical lessons for us. And here is a man, a human ruler, who claims to be God. That’s not by any means the only case. In fact we know there is coming an antichrist who will claim to be God and sit in the temple as God. So these are things that happen continually throughout history.
“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have set your heart as the heart of god, Behold, therefore, I will bring strangers against you, The most terrible of the nations; And they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, And defile your splendor, They shall throw you down into the Pit, And you shall die the death of the slain In the midst of the seas, Will you still say before him who slays you, ‘I am a god’’? But you shall be a man, and not a god, In the hand of him who slays you.”
So here is a picture of this human being who is very clever, very wise, very successful, very wealthy, a ruler, but he claims to be a god. And God disposes of that claim by sending enemies against him who kill him. And God asks, “Will you say in the hand of the one who slays you, ‘I am a god and not a man.’” Now that’s the first one.
Now we come to a totally different person in the second half of Ezekiel 28. This person is the King of Tyre. And it’s very clear from much that’s said; he’s not a human being. So we see something that’s very important. In the whole spiritual realm there is a relationship between evil forces in the heavenlies and human rulers. And they seek to gain control of human rulers and use them to carry out their purposes. And the same thing is happening right now in the United States of America. So this is not a remote story from some other age. This is very relevant to where we are in the United States today. Now I’m going on about the King of Tyre beginning in verse 11.
“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre and say to him. ‘Thus says the Lord God: ‘You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; [that was never true of any human being.] Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created.’’’”
So here is a created being who was in Eden, the garden of God, who walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. He’s not a man, but he’s not God. Then it says in verse 14.
“You were the anointed cherub who covers.”
Covers what? Well, this is my belief. Covers the throne of God with his wings. So this cherub was outstandingly beautiful, outstandingly wise, and he had a unique position in heaven. He was the cherub who with his wings covered the throne of God. There’s an interesting little footnote; from that time onwards as far as I can understand, God never put one cherub anywhere. He always put two face to face so that each of them would know “There’s someone just as beautiful as I am.” Verse 16:
“By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within.”
Now trading can mean going around selling wares. This is my little picture I believe. Lucifer went around coveting and obtaining the allegiance of the angels who were under his authority. And I picture him—this is totally imaginary—saying to some of the angels, “Now you know God doesn’t really appreciate you. You’re so beautiful and so wise. If I were God I’d give you a much higher position.” Do we ever see people talking like that today? There’s very little that’s new. We’ll go on.
“You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.”
You see he’s a created being. He’s not God. He’s a seraph or a cherub. He’s angelic. He’s outstanding for his wisdom, his beauty, his power.
“By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.”
Obviously this is not a human being. Isn’t that true? Now let’s go back to the motivation. You see it’s emphasized again and again and again.
“Your heart was lifted up.”
What’s that? Pride. I mean I cannot say this too often. Undoubtedly pride is the most common temptation. The thing that’s most liable to cause us to fall is pride. And it didn’t start on earth. It started in heaven.
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, [an so on…]”
Now that’s a picture of the situation in Tyre. Tyre has passed away. It’s just history. The Prince of Tyre died like a man. The King of Tyre never died. He’s an angelic being, very proud, very powerful, very wise, full of beauty and in total opposition to God.
Now I’ll share with you my own little idea. He said, “I will be equal to God.” That was what he claimed. Now I believe there’s God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And this is simply my impression. I believe God the Father is so awesome, so inimitable, so completely unique that Lucifer did not aspire to equality with the Father. But there was this beautiful Being who represented the Father, the Son. And what I believe, myself, Lucifer said, “I can be like Him.” And there started at that point a conflict, which has continued ever since, between Lucifer and the One who was manifested in human history as Jesus of Nazareth. And really when Jesus came to earth in the form of a man Lucifer said, “Now I can get Him.” And he pursued Him, turned the people against Him, and obtained His death and said, “Now I’ve got Him.” But he was wrong, because the third day Jesus came forth a total victor. Amen? But the conflict is not yet ended because Satan still fights in every way he can against God, the purposes of God and the people of God.
It’s suggested, and I’m perfectly prepared to receive it on the basis of Revelation 12 verse 4, that it was one third of the angels who turned in rebellion with Lucifer against God. It speaks in Revelation 12 about a great firey red dragon who is the devil. Revelation 12 verse 3. A great, fiery red dragon. Remember, Satan is a dragon. He’s also a snake. He can overawe you and overpower you or can slip in through the drain hole when you don’t even know he’s there. He’s got all sorts of different devices. Anyhow it says of this dragon,
“His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.”
Other interpreters besides me have suggested that this means one third of the angels followed Satan, followed Lucifer in his rebellion against God.
Now I want to look for a moment at the structure of the heavenly beings. I want to turn to Colossians. Let me say Ephesians is the epistle about the Church of Christ, but Colossians is about the Christ of the Church. And if you’re ever dealing with people, who’ve been in occult, the place to take them to is Colossians because it reveals Jesus so uniquely that no guru, no other person can ever have anything like what he had. So we see here in Colossians 1 verse 15.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
And notice very carefully He was not created, He was born—the only begotten Son of God. And He’s the image of God. He Himself expresses exactly the Person, the Nature, the appearance of God. That’s why God doesn’t want any idols, any images, because He has His own image and that is Jesus. So He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. It should be the firstborn before all creation. He was not created, He was born. Everything after that was created. And then it says,
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth,
Now what guru ever could lay claim to that statement? You understand? It’s ridiculous to compare Jesus with any kind of human occult figure or power.
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible.”
So there are visible things and there are invisible things. And then it lists invisible things.
“Whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.”
So there are four main orders in the heavenly realm of the created being. Thrones is the highest, then and I’m going to give you a more literal translation, dominions or lordships, then principalities or rulerships and powers or authorities. Let me say that again. Thrones, lordships, rulerships and authorities. And I say I put them in the abstract because these are offices, they are positions. It’s like we have the word president; it’s a man. But we have the word presidency it’s a function, it’s a position. And these are really describing positions rather than individuals. So there are four main orders; thrones, dominions or lordships, rulerships, and authorities.
Now if we go back to Ephesians chapter 6 verse 12 which is where we started and I’m giving the Prince version now.
“For our wrestling match is not against persons with bodies, but against rulerships, against authorities, against the world dominators of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Notice the top level is principalities and powers, or rulerships and authorities. So if you go back to Colossians you’ll see the top two levels were not involved in rebellion. Rebellion started at the level of principalities and powers, rulerships and authorities. So the thrones and dominions never were alienated from God. But we’re still dealing with extremely powerful spiritual beings who are called rulerships or rulers and authorities. That’s where we are wrestling if we are wrestling. How many of you are wrestling? You don’t have to answer. But you can’t do it without knowing it. That’s for sure.
I want to go now to an incident in the book of Daniel which very vividly demonstrates that there is a mid-heaven between the heaven of God and this earth which is occupied by Satanic angels. So if you know where to find Daniel turn back, Daniel chapter 10. Now this is a lesson on intercession and on ruling by prayer. And it’s very, very up-to-date. We’re going to Daniel chapter 10 verse 2.
“In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.”
Why was he mourning? For the sad condition of his people. Why could you and I be mourning? For the sad condition of our people. He says,
“I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks…”
That is what we have come to call a “Daniel Fast.” It’s not totally abstaining from all food, but it’s abstaining from all the things you enjoy the most such as coffee. Now I’ve stopped preaching and I’m meddling with people’s business. There are a lot of other things.
Let me tell you this, this is just by the way. When I was saved in 1941 if you can believe people were alive and walking the earth as long ago as that. I was saved in the British Army and I was totally unspiritual. I didn’t know that God spoke to people. But I felt that somebody was saying to me, “No chocolate. No chocolate. No chocolate.” So I thought that’s ridiculous. Besides I like chocolate. And later on I was in charge of the canteen in my unit in the desert and I controlled all the chocolate. But later, when I married Ruth, she said to me, “You’re a chocoholic.” She said, “I’ve never seen anybody eat chocolate the way you do. You’ll eat a whole total round bar in one sitting.” You see I became an addict to chocolate. And I’m free now, thank God, but if I’d only heeded God’s warning it would have saved me a lot of suffering.
And you know the strange thing the recent period of fifty or sixty years something has dropped out of this Christian vocabulary. You know what it is? Self-denial. Up till that time almost all people, whether Christians or not, assumed that Christians would practice self-denial. But somehow it just slipped through the cracks. Today very few people, as Christians, even think about self-denial. But you know what Jesus said? He said if you’re going to follow me what’s the first step? “If anyone will come after Me let him deny himself.” So Daniel denied himself. Anyhow Daniel was without any pleasant food for three weeks.
“Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.”
I remember the people who led me to the Lord were friends of Smith Wigglesworth though I never had direct contact with him. But I remember him saying once a lady came to him saying, “Mr. Wigglesworth, do you think I saw an angel because I had an experience.” And Smith Wigglesworth said, “Were you frightened?” And she said, “No” Then he said, “Then it was not an angel.” Because every time anybody saw an angel in the Bible they were frightened. So Daniel was frightened. And we go on, verse 8.
“Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.”
You can’t come any lower than that. When I’m about to minister anywhere as for instance here, I always take pains to take time on my face on the floor. Because your face on the floor you can sink no lower. There’s only one way you can go after that, that’s up. And if I fail to do it I always tremble that the consequences will display the fact. Anyhow, then it says in verse 10,
“Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me [or set me] trembling on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he [this visitor from heaven] said, ‘O Daniel, man greatly beloved, [Why was he greatly beloved? I’ll tell you why I think so because he cared enough for his people to fast and pray for them.] understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.’”
I didn’t finish what I was saying about fasting. The year before last I spoke before a conference of Intercessors For America with Bill Bright whom you know has introduced fasting to many people. And as a matter of interest I calculated how much time I had actually fasted during my Christian life and I found out it was more than eight years, but not all at one time. And I do not consider any of it wasted time. Wherever I am, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t practiced fasting. And Jesus said to His disciples, “When you fast…” He didn’t say, “If you fast…” He said, “When you fast.” He put it on exactly the same level as giving to charity and praying. Three things, when you pray, when you give alms and when you fast. And He’s a pattern. He didn’t have any ministry until He spent forty days fasting.
It says in Luke chapter 4 after He was baptized, He went into the desert full of the Holy Spirit. After forty days fasting it says He came out in the power of the Holy Spirit. There’s a difference. You are full of the Holy Spirit maybe, but are you moving in the power of the Holy Spirit is another question?
Anyhow, we’re going back to Daniel chapter 10 verse 12.
“Then he said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God.’”
To do what? What’s the opposite of humility? Pride. We’re going to do one or the other. Which will it be? Pride is disastrous; humbling yourself is the way to success.
“To humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.”
Now Daniel had been fasting twenty-one days, but the first day that he began fasting the angel was sent with the answer. Why did he take twenty-one days to get through? Well it tells you.
“Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days.”
That’s no human being. That’s a satanic ruler in the heavenlies. And he had a specific assignment. He was in charge of Persia. Let me say something very exciting that happened to me. I’ve been invited to speak to one thousand Iranian Christians in the land of Holland. They are all refugees from Iran. They tell me that Iran is on the verge of a spiritual explosion. And I’ll just tell you this and I hope it doesn’t seem boasting. Our representative in Holland was trying to interest them in me, which is you know optional. And the man was not interested the least bit, this Persian man until our representative showed him the book Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting. He said, “Did he write that book? Then we want him?” You know there are at least four nations whose history has been radically affected by that book. And I want to tell you if you want to see your nation changed, it will not happen without prayer and fasting. I wrote that book about, oh more than twenty years ago.
I’m an American by choice, you know that? I immigrated to this nation by accident. Not many people immigrated by accident, but I did. Because I arrived at the border with my Danish wife and my little black African daughter from Canada in Pembina, North Dakota, and they said, “What are you coming for.” “Well,” I said, “a visit.” I had an invitation from an AOG pastor. “Well” they said, “how long is the visit?” “Well” I said, “about six months.” They said, “That’s too long for a visit.” Well I have learned not to argue with people like that. So I said, “Maybe you can help us.” So you can hardly believe this but they said, “Come in through Minneapolis and we’ll arrange for you to immigrate.”
I’m probably the only person who’s ever immigrated to the United States by accident. And I thank God for this nation. The Christians of America have been extremely good to me. I have a debt and I think my way of repaying that debt is writing that book. Because it demonstrates out of American history the unique place that prayer and fasting had in the birth and origin of this nation. It also illustrated by other examples from my personal history in the Middle East and elsewhere, where history has been shaped by prayer and fasting. And if you want to see the United States turn back to God I don’t believe it will happen until people really pray and fast. So you have to ask yourself how much does the welfare of my nation mean to me? I’m deeply grateful to the people of America. They’ve entertained me, they’ve received me, they’ve supported me. I will do anything I can to repay that debt but I know the best thing I can do is to tell them the truth about prayer and fasting.
You know the Pilgrim Fathers—do we call them that—you know the Pilgrims viewed from British perspective were a dropout. I mean they just sailed west and disappeared out of English history. When I got here I was invited to speak at Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the Pilgrims. I didn’t know a thing about them. I had to find out. They had because of religious persecution in England they fled to Holland. And they gathered the whole company; men, women and children, in Lyden in Holland and they appointed a day of prayer and fasting, based on Ezra chapter 8 verse 21, to humble ourselves before the Lord and to seek from Him a right way. Then they set out from there, stopped in Plymouth and took the journey to New England. You can say in a sense this nation or this section of this nation was born out of prayer and fasting. And was based on the Bible and I think it’s very stupid to turn away from the Bible to human philosophers…
I mean, I was a philosopher. I have no respect for human philosophy. It’s a waste of time. And I mean I’m not saying that because I failed. I was successful. I can hardly believe it but I wrote a dissertation for Kings College Cambridge on this title, “The Evolution of Plato’s Method of Definition.” Can you believe it? And I was elected so I’m not speaking because I didn’t succeed. I did succeed. But when I met the Lord it all became totally irrelevant to me.
Now it’s verse 13,
“But the prince of Persia withstood me twenty-one days…”
Now that’s quite a conflict. Three weeks of spiritual conflict in the heavenlies. Because the angel from God was coming with the answer to Daniel’s prayer, and the angel of Satan in the heavenlies, in the mid-heaven, was resisting him. So don’t underestimate the power of Satan. And then it says,
“And behold, Michael, one of the chief princes [archangels] came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.”
Now if you read in Daniel chapter 12 verse 1, it says:
“At that time Michael shall stand up. The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people.”
Who are the sons of your people when it’s addressed to Daniel? Come on tell me. Who are the sons of your people? The Jews. That’s right. It’s not a popular word but there it is. The Jews, they are the sons of Daniel’s people. And whenever you see Daniel in the Scripture you know the Jews are center stage in history, because he stands up for the people for whom he’s been given charge by God. And then it goes on to say.
“I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.”
So one angel couldn’t break through. It took two, this angel and Michael.
“‘Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.’ When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men, touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, ‘My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. ‘For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now nor is any breath left in me.’’”
So he went through a very powerful spiritual experience. And not all spiritual experiences are enjoyable. If all you want is enjoyment you’re going to miss out on a lot of things.
“Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, ‘O man greatly beloved, [I like that.] O man greatly beloved, [That’s a message from heaven to Daniel.] fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!’ So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.’ [Verse 20] then he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; [So the battle wasn’t over. He’d broken through but on the way back he had to deal with the satanic angel in the mid-heavens, the prince of Persia.] and when I have gone forth, behold the prince of Greece will come.’”
The prince of Greece is not a human being. It’s another satanic angel. So we’ve found two countries; Persia and Greece each of which had a satanic angel put over them to work our Satan’s plan for them. Why were they so significant both to God and to Satan? Because the destiny of Israel was being settled there. Now he goes on.
“But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.”
Talking to a Jew, “Michael your prince.” So here’s a very vivid description of conflict between angels; God’s angels and Satan’s angels, not on earth but in the mid-heavens. See how real that is? All right. Then it goes on,
“Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him.”
Now because of Darius’ influence with Israel he was supported by the angels of God. So these bear a whole different scenario from what we’re used to. Daniel set it all in motion. It’s very important to remember that. Daniel took the initiative. The initiative was not with heaven. It was with earth. Daniel started to pray and fast. That set heaven in motion. God sent an angel with the answer but the angel was intercepted in the mid-heavens by a satanic angel called the prince of Persia, and it took the angel plus Michael twenty-one days to break through. Can you see when we’re talking about wrestling it’s not a little parlor game. It’s serious business. If I can leave anything with you I would like to leave with you the reality of the fact that it’s going to take a lot more than most of us are doing to break the power of Satan over this nation. If he can destroy the United States he will. And I have to say, I hope I say it kindly, the great majority of American Christians are not in touch with reality. They’re playing their little religious game, having a nice time in church and they’re totally unaware that a deadly conflict in the spiritual realm is taking place and that the church on earth has a vital function to perform. Our wrestling match is not against persons with bodies, but against rulerships and authorities, the world dominators of this present darkness.
Dear brothers and sisters, that’s not a little assignment. That’s not something you teach just in a Sunday School lesson. That demands total commitment. It demands facing the realities of the spiritual situation. It demands coming to grips with selfishness, and self-centeredness, and self-indulgence, and saying away with them. This is too important for my little petty personal interests to interfere with what God wants me to do.
All right. We have spoke to that picture. Let’s go back to Ephesians chapter 6. I hope I’ve succeeded in showing you that there is a real conflict-taking place in the heavenly realms. And we’ve got a part to play. It’s not going to come to success without our doing our part. Have you grasped that? Say yes or no. I hope you have. Because if you haven’t I’ve been wasting my time.
Now let me point out something to you which another preacher pointed out to me just recently. If you read Ephesians every statement in it is in the plural. There’s not one statement to an individual. It’s all to you, plural. To you the church, to you the believers. This whole scenario does not leave room for the Lone Ranger. He has no part to play in this. It’s going to be a corporate action by the people of God or it’s not going to work. So we come back to Ephesians 6 going on in verse 13.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
So Paul’s picture is taken from the equipment from a Roman legionary, what was called his panoply, his full armor or his full equipment. And he gives it a spiritual application. Now you’ve heard the famous Prince saying haven’t you? When you find a therefore in the Bible you want to find out what it’s there for. And verse 13 is there because of verse 12. Because we’re involved in this life and death conflict with satanic forces in the heavenlies, take up the whole armor of God. And let me say this is of most urgent importance for all of you who are involved in spiritual warfare. Don’t go into it unarmed. And Paul lists six pieces of armor and the first five are all weapons of self-defense or equipment. I want to go through them briefly and I want you to check how much do you have on. Verse 14.
“Stand therefore, having your waist, having girded your waist with truth.”
The first piece of equipment is the girdle, the belt. Now you need to understand in those days most often both men and women wore long garments that stretched below their knees. And you’ll find a phrase used quite often in the Bible, gird up your loins. Because to do anything active the first thing you had to do was get your long garments up above your knees so that you could freely move your legs. So what you did was, you put the girdle on, you pulled the long garment up and you tucked it into your girdle. After that you were ready for action. Before that you couldn’t go into action. Your long garment would have impeded you.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.”
I think that’s very important. I think it means being ruthlessly honest with ourselves, with other people. The pastor was talking about my first wife, Lydia, and she was a person who told it like it is. Somebody said to her, “How are your children?” So she said, “Do you really want to know?” They said, “Yes.” “Well, sit down and I’ll tell you.” So she went through all eight children, one by the one, and told them exactly. In other words, she took words seriously. She did not use idle speech. She didn’t use religious cliches. They’re a terrible hindrance if you want to be a real committed Christian. You cannot hide behind religious talk. You’ve got to be sincere. You’ve got to tell it like it is.
When I got involved in the 1960’s they were saying tell it like it is. And I said to myself and my fellow preachers, whatever could we ask better than that. Let’s tell it like it is. Let’s tell it the way it really is. Let’s not mince our words, let’s not paint pretty pictures, let’s really come down and tell them the facts. And I thank God that I saw hundreds of young people radically changed. You know why they got changed? Because they were radical. I was radical a generation before them but there were no hippies so I didn’t know what to be.
I tell this story because people sometimes say I’m credible. But while I was still at Eton and then at Cambridge I had the impression that you could make money at roulette if you had the right system. And I thought we’d discovered the right system, my friends and I. So I would go to Monte Carlo or Cannes on the south coast of France and play roulette. By a miracle of God’s grace I never really lost anything. Then I discovered later that the man who invented the system whose name was Labouchere died a pauper. But what I’m trying to tell you is, living in Monte Carlo or Cannes in warm weather I would walk around in sandals which was pretty normal. But what was not normal about me was I colored my toenails red. I’ve often said to myself after that “Why did I do that?” I really don’t know but I think it was a kind of protest. Well, I mean I think it is a protest. You see why does a girl color her hair blue? What motivates her? I don’t criticize her. I can’t cast the first stone. If I colored my toenails red she’s got a right to color her hair blue. But I asked myself what is motivating young people to do things like that? And I think it’s a wordless protest against the fact that there’s something phony. And you know what they think about the church? Many of them think we’re phony. And you know what? They’re often right too. I believe, myself, there’s a deep hunger in the young people of this generation to get to reality, but it doesn’t occur to them to go to the church to find reality. I’ll speak about that more on Sunday evening if God wills and we live.
We were talking about the girdle, in other words tell it like it is. Don’t use religious cliches. Don’t use sweet language. Be like my first wife and also my second wife to say the truth. I’ve never been married to an insincere woman. I’ve never been married to one who played a role. They were real. They were what they were with all their weaknesses and failings, they were real. And that’s what I believe is girding up your loins with the girdle of truth.
When I first became a Pentecostal pastor, which was in Britain, and the slogan of the Pentecostals was We’ve Got It All. Saved, baptized in water, baptized in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues. Well, then I read the journals of John Wesley and I said to myself, if we’ve got it all what did John Wesley have? Because he had a lot more than we did. You see we had the language. We spoke in tongues. How far does that get you? It doesn’t get you very far. You can just be a freak, a religious freak, and gather with the other freaks every Sunday morning. I’m not being malicious. I’m just trying to get you face to face with reality. I thank God I’m in a church now in North Carolina. I really enjoy going to church on Sunday morning. That’s unusual. Most often I go because it’s a duty, but we are in a church which really tells is like it is up to a certain point at any rate. I’m, I so much enjoy it. I want reality. I don’t know how many more years I’m going to live, only God knows. But I don’t want to fool around. To me time is precious. My strength is precious. I want to use it for the right thing. I’m prepared to make sacrifices. You know how I’m going to celebrate my eighty-fifth birthday, God helping me if God wills and we live? I’m going to be flying back from Benin where I’ll be going to preach. Do you know where Benin is? No, you don’t. I don’t blame you. I didn’t either. But it’s just next west to Nigeria. And there’s a conference of French speaking Africans from all over that part of Africa. And it’s like a challenge to me. I want to get my teaching into French. I want to be able to reach the French speaking world. You know there are five hundred million people that speak French. And they’re not being reached basically. France is a desolate land spiritually. So why did I say all that? Because I want to get rid of these long religious garments. I want to tuck them up in the girdle of truth and tell it like it is. Amen?
Well we’re going on in Ephesians 6 verse 14.
“Having put on the breastplate of righteousness.”
Now the breastplate. What part of the body does it protect above all others? The heart. That’s right. So protect your heart with the righteousness which is not a righteousness of works, but it’s a righteousness received by faith in Jesus Christ. And it’s a transforming righteousness. It changes you. It brings you into harmony with God. It’s not a set of rules. It’s a change in your heart that changes everything you think and say and do. How many of you know that’s possible from your own experience? If you haven’t had a life-changing experience I really question how much of a Christian you are,—I don’t want to be unkind… You see you can join a church and stay the same. You can say a prayer and stay the same. You can sign a decision card and stay the same. But you can’t meet Jesus and stay the same. So do you have on the breastplate of righteousness? Is your heart protected? Are you a changed person?
We’re going on. We don’t have much longer. Verse 15.
“And having shod your four feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”
Now Roman legionaries had very strong sandals, which with thongs which laced up the calf and they could march long distances, forced marches because of their sandals. So your shoes with the preparation of the gospel of peace to me speaks about being available, being anywhere at anytime that God wants you. It’s not having a set routine that you have to stick to. It’s being adaptable.
Also it’s a gospel of peace. So you go to the supermarket to do your shopping but you’ve got on the shoes of the gospel. So you meet this precious soul who’s in deep trouble and distress and you do what? You impart peace you see. It isn’t so much what you say, it’s what you are, it’s what you have to give. People are desperately crying out for peace. They long for it and they don’t know where to find it. When you contact them they’re not so much interested in your doctrine. They want to know do you have it. Because if you have it you can communicate, and that means being adaptable. You’re in the supermarket, your busy, you’ve got to shop for all sorts of things, and you meet this precious soul who’s on the verge of tears, and you have to stop and talk to her. And you have to impart peace to her. That means having on the shoes of the gospel—of the preparation of the gospel of peace. Going on.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
Now the Greek word for shield is directly related to the Greek word for a door, because the Roman legionary had a long sort of oval shield which was narrow and it was his protection. And a really trained soldier could so get behind the shield that no part of him was vulnerable. It took training and took being in condition. Satan is going to fire arrows at you which are flaming arrows. They’re not just arrows; they’re flaming arrows. You want a shield that will stop them. You have to learn how to crouch, how to get down, how to leave no part of your body exposed. That has spiritual application. You have to come to the place where no part of your life is exposed, where you’re fully protected. I said to somebody the other day, I said the shield doesn’t protect our luxuries. It just protects our essentials. And I mean I have nothing against indulging yourself up to a certain point, but remember it’s not protected by the shield. The shield protects you as you are, just a person. And then we’re going on.
“Taking the helmet of salvation.”
What part of you does the helmet protect? The mind, that’s right. And I suppose the mind is the place where we have the most spiritual battles in all our experiences. Is that right? And so we need a protected mind.
And now after I was saved and became a pastor I had a tremendous ongoing conflict with depression and I traced it back later to my father. It was something I inherited from him. I don’t want to go into that. Then I discovered that God had provided me with protection. First of all I was delivered from a spirit, a demon. I was a good Pentecostal preacher but I was delivered from a demon. The spirit of heaviness was what God called it.
And then I thought now how do I stay free. And I said I need to protect my mind. I’m always giving way to negative thoughts and entertaining possibilities that don’t build you up. So I said, I need the helmet. So I found it here, the helmet of salvation. Then I said to myself, I am saved. I know I am saved. Does that mean I have the helmet? Then I said to myself, no, because Paul was writing to Christians who were saved but he said take the helmet of salvation. So I said to myself what is the helmet of salvation? And I make no extra charge for this but it’s priceless. I mean actually you cannot put any value on what I’m going to tell you.
Well, my Bible had cross-references and the cross-reference was to 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 8.
“But let us who are on the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
And it absolutely kindled something within me. My problem is pessimism, my shield is hope. I’ve got to cultivate Scriptural optimism all the time. And I had an ongoing battle because the devil tried to put back depression. And every time he did I had to –thrust at him with the sword and tell him to stay his distance. I had to have a Scripture that would answer every suggestion that things were not the way they should be. And really what got me out of it mostly was Romans 8:24.
“All things work together for good to those who love God, who are the called according to His purposes.”
So I would say to myself do I love God, yes. Am I called, yes? Then whatever happens is working good for me. Can you believe that? Very, very important. I’ve passed through a tremendous personal crisis in the past two years with the passing of my wife. And I would not have survived if I had not believed Romans 8:24. No matter what happens the question is not is God working it together for good, but am I walking in God’s purpose. And I said yes I am, and I believe I am doing what God has called me to do, I believe I’m in my calling, I don’t enjoy it, it’s painful, but nevertheless it’s doing me good. Because God works all things together for good. If you can believe that you’ll never be depressed again. I make no extra charge for that, but I mean I’m giving you advice, which will save you a lot of time with a psychiatrist. And I notice, I don’t know whether you’ve noticed the same thing, that depression is becoming more and more common. Have you noticed? People talk about depression today in ways I never heard when I was a boy. I mean people are actually hospitalized with depression. We need to have protection. It’s there. It’s the helmet. Going on take the helmet of salvation,
“The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.”
Now it’s very up-to-date now to point out that that word there means a spoken word, rhema. So the sword of the spirit is not the Bible on your bookshelf, or even on you r nightstand. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God when you take it and quote it to the devil. And that’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t use any other weapon. Three times when Satan tempted Him he answered what? It is written, it is written, it is written! And the devil has no answer when you quote the written word of God. He backs off. So that’s the sword of the Spirit.
Now all those except the last are really weapons of defense. It’s only with that that you pass into the realm of attack. But even that your sword will only reach as far as your arm reaches. You still have nothing to reach out. And there are only six pieces of armor. And when you’ve got six good things in the Bible you can be absolutely sure there is a seventh. Where is the seventh? It’s in verse 18.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”
What Charles Wesley called the weapon of all prayer. And that is our intercontinental ballistic missile. It will reach anywhere at anytime with amazing accuracy. So that’s a list of the armor. Let me just go through it again. The girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, praying always. That’s the ultimate weapon is all prayer.
I just want to take one simple example from the book of Acts. Acts chapter 4. The apostles had been told by the religious and the civil authorities not ever to teach or preach again in the name of Jesus. You see how smart they were? Because there is no salvation in any other name but the name of Jesus. If you can’t use the name of Jesus you can’t offer salvation. The gospel has no meaning. And they were forbidden by the authorities over them—the religious and the civil authorities—not to preach any more in the name of Jesus. What did they do? It says in verse, Acts 4:23.
“And being let go, they went to their own companions [It’s good to have your own companions, isn’t it? Don’t be a lone ranger.] and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord.”
That’s the weapon of all prayer, it’s all God’s people praying together with one accord and it changed the whole situation. The way was open for them to continue to preach the gospel. But that was a major crisis in the development of the church. If they hadn’t won the victory then the church could have gone no further, if they were not free to use the name of Jesus. So this is how the church overcomes strategic opposition from Satan when there is a closed door, when there is a closed nation, when there’s a closed group how can we break through - with the weapon of all prayer. And I believe that’s what we need today in America is the weapon of all prayer.
Now I just want to give you a picture of the climax, the victory. Revelation chapter 12 verse 10.
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’”
Who is the accuser of the brethren? Why does he accuse us? What does he want to make us in one word? Guilty. That’s right. We have to learn to deal with guilt.
“And they over came him [They, the believers on earth, overcame him Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
So how do we overcome him? By the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies. In other words we testify to what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us. Can I say that again? We testify personally to what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us. And you have to know what the word of God says. You have to testify. Because when it comes out of your mouth that it has power. You can believe it all you like but it isn’t until you speak it that it works. They [the believers on earth] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.
Let me point out just one thing from the example of the Passover. You know the story was that they had to kill the lamb, gather its blood in a basin and that was protection available. But it didn’t protect anybody. They had to transfer the blood from the basin to the place where they were living. And what they used was a little bunch of a herb that grows everywhere in the Middle East called hyssop. They dipped the hyssop in the blood, struck it against the lintel and the door post and they were protected.
Now to apply this analogy, the blood is in the basin, Jesus has shed His blood. But the blood in the basin doesn’t protect you. You’ve got to get it to where you live. How do you get it there? What’s the hyssop? The word of your testimony. It’s when you testify personally to what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does, that you’re sprinkling the blood where it will protect you.
Amen. Now I think I’ll lead you in a little proclamation which is on one of our cards. This is what I say.
My body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed, and sanctified by the blood of Jesus. My members, the parts of my body are instruments of righteousness, yielded to God for His service and for His glory. The devil has no place in me, no power over me, no unsettled claims against me. All has been settled by the blood of Jesus. I overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of my testimony, [and that’s not the end – hold on] and I do not love my life to the death. Say that again. I do not love my life to the death.
How do you express that in one word? Self-denial is a good one, but I would say commitment. And you see uncommitted Christians can use the blood as much as they like. It doesn’t do anything. You have to be committed. You have to be willing to lay your life down. How willing are you? I was preaching on this the other day and I said something which rather surprised me but I’m prepared to say to it again. And this is my personal testimony. For me it is more important to do the will of God than to live, to stay alive. So I’m not asking you to say that, but that’s what is commitment. The devil is not the least bit afraid of uncommitted Christians. We can go through all our religious activities and motions and seeing doing whatever we’re doing. But it’s only when you come to the place where you don’t love your live to the death that your testimony has supernatural power. Amen? Should we say that once more and then you’re released. You’ve been wonderful.
My body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed, and sanctified by the blood of Jesus. My members, the parts of my body are instruments of righteousness, yielded to God for His service and for His glory. The devil has no place in me, no power over me, no unsettled claims against me, all has been settled by the blood of Jesus. I overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of my testimony, and I do not love my life to the death. My body is for the Lord and the Lord is for my body. Amen. God bless you.