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“Father, we come to thee now in the name of Jesus thy beloved Son our Savior. By deliberate choice of our wills we submit ourselves afresh to thee right now. We desire that thou will bring into captivity every thought within each one of us to the obedience of Christ. We yield ourselves through the blood of Jesus to the Holy Spirit. We know that apart from him we cannot find the truth. He is the teacher, the comforter, the one sent to lead us into all the truth. We depend upon him this afternoon. We pray thy blessing upon each person gathered here that every heart shall be opened to the truth and that no one shall receive error. I pray for myself, Lord, that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart may be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. In everything, Lord, we will ascribe to thee and to thee alone the praise, the honor and the glory due unto thy name. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.”
To try to clear up certain possible misunderstandings that may have been left over from previous teaching on this subject of deliverance from evil spirits and then I want to try to give you specific instruction with regard to the future, particularly on the theme of how to keep your deliverance.
Let me bring up two questions which are habitually asked by people who are newly confronted with this truth and this ministry. The first one is How do I know if I’m completely free? I always disappoint people with my answer. It is not my business to give you a certificate. If I did, it wouldn’t be worth the paper that it’s written on. I don’t know for sure that any of you is completely free. I’m not sure that I can give myself a certificate either. What you have learned which is really valuable is the reality of evil spirits and how to deal with them. That’s worth a thousand certificates. That’s all I aim to do is bring you face to face with the fact that evil spirits are real, they’re part of your experience and you can deal successfully with them. So far as I’m able, I give you the scriptural principles that have been proved in experience for doing this. After that, the ball is in your court and you’ve got to do the next job. You don’t sound satisfied, but that’s the way it is.
The next question which is not so important is Where do the evil spirits go to? The answer basically is they go looking for another place to occupy. Jesus said in Matthew 12—if you want to turn there you can, we might as well look at it. Matthew 12:43–46. This is a general statement not made about some specific individual but generally.
“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
When evil spirits go out they look for somewhere to find rest and their characteristic is they cannot rest outside a body. Preferably a human body but failing that, even the body of a pig or some other animal rather than be disembodied. Their first thought, apparently, according to the words of Jesus is to return into the person from whom they have gone. They describe that person as “my house.” This is exactly how they think and exactly how they speak. Several times I’ve heard the spirit within a person describe that person as “my house.” Actually, their thinking is so perverted that they feel they have a legitimate right to be there and they’re extremely aggrieved, they’re really upset when you challenge their right to occupy a person.
Why don’t you sent them to the pit or a lot of other suggested places? Some even more foolish than that. Well, as far as I am concerned, I do not plan to improve on the ministry of Jesus. If I can get that far, believe me, I’ll be satisfied. Jesus never sent them to the pit as far as it’s recorded. When they pled with him to go into the swine he said, “Go into the swine.” Both Jesus and the evil spirits knew that God the Father had a time program. There was a time coming when they would be confined to a place of imprisonment and punishment. But they all knew that that time had not yet come. Jesus never anticipated the Father’s program.
Why did he let the evil spirits out of the Gadarene demoniac go into the swine? That’s a question which is not answered in scripture. But my personal opinion is for the sake of the man. The demons said when Jesus said, “What is thy name?” the answer came, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” I’m only mentioning this as a fact. A Roman legion numbered about 6,000 persons. I’m not saying there were 6,000 demons in that person but there could have been. Had they gone out unwillingly I think they’d have torn him apart. So for the sake of the man Jesus gave them leave to go without putting up the maximum opposition.
I believe this on the basis of experience. I have seen people delivered from maybe 15 or 20 demons so totally exhausted that they apparently couldn’t stand anything more physically. However, that is an opinion and it’s subject to scripture.
I have very little faith in fine religious phrases. I was with a woman once and every time she dealt with a person who had evil spirits she said, “I bind you and I cast you into the pit of hell.” I thought to myself, “I wish it were true.” I’d like to see some evidence. There was a time—I mention this by way of illustration of how real all this is—when I was dealing with a wife of a Pentecostal minister who had many evil spirits. One of them was very, very stubborn, it would not come out. This ministry lasted about 5 hours. I think partly because I failed to lay a sound basis of teaching first. I got provoked with this thing and I said, “If you don’t come out I’m going to send you to hell.” I really don’t know whether I had scriptural authority to do it or not but I was getting provoked. It went on resisting me so I said, “I command you to go to hell.” When it eventually left the last things it said were, “Oh, it’s so dark, it’s so dark, it’s so dark.” And with that it went. Whether it went to hell or not I don’t know but I could believe in that case I had a special gift of faith to make that thing do something that normally it would have done.
Another question people ask is: Is it possible to cast out evil spirits at a distance? Well, if you have the faith because if you have the faith you can say to a mountain, “Be cast into the sea.” But how many of you have actually cast a mountain into the sea? Would you mind showing me? I’m not saying it can’t be done but let’s be realistic about how much faith we have. Nothing offends unbelievers more than for believers to talk in a sloppy way about faith they don’t really have. Then they say the whole thing is phony. Let’s be real. God has dealt to each man a measure of faith. Move within that measure. Be realistic.
Now then, people come to me frequently and say, “Why didn’t I get fully delivered?” Or, “I don’t feel fully delivered. What’s the reason?” It is impossible to give each individual a reason for their particular situation in a general talk. Sometimes I don’t know the reason. Maybe sometimes God doesn’t even want me to know the reason. If, in the last resort, Brother Prince doesn’t get the reason for you, you better go to God for yourself and find out. I’ll give you four common reasons why people do not get full deliverance. These I have seen many times.
Number one, lack of repentance. Most modern Christians have got no real idea what repentance is at all. First of all, it is not an emotion. I’ve seen lots of people get highly emotional and never repent. Repentance is a decision, it’s a decision of the will. It’s a decision to stop fooling around with sin and disobedience and stubbornness. It’s turning right around, turning your back on the devil, the world and everything that’s displeasing to God and submitting yourself without reservation to God. That’s repentance. It’s the first, basic, foundation truth of the gospel. Get my book Repent and Believeand you’ll see it.
There isn’t any real faith without real repentance. That’s why a lot of people have a problem with faith. Their real problem isn’t with faith, it’s with repentance. The first public word that Jesus preached was “Repent and believe the gospel.” I know Jesus said “only believe” in another place but the presentation of believing without repentance is false teaching. There isn’t such a thing. All the way through the New Testament right from the beginning to the end the first requirement of God of the sinner is repent, change your mind, do it differently. Lots of people want to get off the hook but that isn’t repentance and sometimes God keeps you on the hook ’till you do repent. Repentance is more than wanting to get off the hook. Lots of demon activity is very distressing and unpleasant and you’d like to get an end of it. But that isn’t repentance. Repentance, as I’ve said, is turning your back on the devil, facing God and submitting without reservation to the righteous government of Almighty God in your life. A rebel is not repentant.
The second common reason that I have observed is the failure to confess sin. At this point I want to say that God made the rules and all I try to do is interpret them. I could be wrong but I do it to the best of my ability. But if you don’t like the rules then don’t get mad with me because I didn’t make them. I just try to interpret the rules I find God has laid down. God requires that we confess our sins. Let me tell you again what I said the other day. When you’ve confessed everything you never told God anything he didn’t know already. You’ve never shocked God. God doesn’t demand confession for his sake but for your sake.
It does say in James 5—which most Protestants have forgotten—“confess your sins one to another.” This is part of the total discipline of the gospel. It isn’t possible in a situation like this to have confession one to another though a few people in most services will come up and tell me some specific thing that’s burdening their conscience and just whisper it in my ear. I’m not encouraging you to do that, please notice. I’ll tell you this, I don’t want to carry a garbage can around for anybody. When that garbage gets in my can I tip it out just as quick as I can. I have enough problems of my own without carrying other people’s around with me.
There are times, however, when it is absolutely required by God that we confess not merely to him but to one another. A sentence which is not in scripture but I believe it contains a scriptural principle is this: “The confession must be as wide as the transgression.” If you have transgressed against God only then you need to confess to God only. But if you have transgressed not only against God but against man then your confession must include those against whom you have transgressed. This is commonest, in my experience, in the matter of adultery. Adultery is a very common reason why people have guilt, oppression and demonic obsession. Lots of people are in mental homes for the basic reason of adultery. As far as I understand God, if you want deliverance and you’ve been guilty of adultery, you do not qualify for deliverance unless you’re willing to confess it to your partner in marriage. For my part, I won’t pray for a person for deliverance unless they’ll promise to do that if I’m aware they’re guilty of that sin. Because, the whole basis of deliverance is truth. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. A person who’s been unfaithful to his or he partner and does not confess is living in a lie. There cannot be permanent peace or deliverance. That’s my personal conviction. If you can get God to change his mind, you’re welcome to try.
Lots of people said, “I don’t know what my husband will say.” I know not a few marriages that have been rescued by confession. I don’t know one that’s ever yet been broken up unless it was already broken up before. In the last resort, you have to do what God requires and leave the consequences with God. There’s an old hymn that says “Trust in God and do the right.” It still applies. If you don’t want to do it, don’t argue with me. If you can get God to change his mind, fine and good.
You know what I’ve found about God? He has no moods. You never catch God in another mood.
The other thing that I have learned by experience which God often requires to be confessed specifically is the deliberate procuring of an abortion. When a baby is due to be born and this is prevented deliberately. I’m not a Catholic but I have discovered that God classifies this as murder. It has to be confessed as murder. I’m not telling you that God will not forgive you. Surely he will forgive you but he demands that you come down to the point of name it and bring it out in the open. You don’t have to go and tell all your family and relatives unless they’re intimately involved in it.
The third common reason why people fail to receive complete deliverance is a failure completely to forgive others. This is basic. Mark says in his gospel—I think I better read it to you. I think you better read it, too. Mark 11:25–26.
“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
What could be clearer than that? When you stand praying, when you’re called forward to pray the deliverance prayer, if you have ought against any. That leaves out nothing and no one. What do you have to do? Forgive. If you forgive, God will forgive you. If you do not forgive, God will not forgive you. If you are not forgiven you are not a candidate for deliverance, you don’t have the legal rights of deliverance. God has required this, we cannot change it.
I want to say again as I said the other day, forgiveness is not an emotion, it’s a decision. It’s tearing up the IOU. That’s the way I explain it. Let me take an illustration. My good brother here, Brother Glen Miller, has lent me $10,000. Praise the Lord. I’ve given him my IOU for $10,000. Now we’re having a face to face confrontation about the situation and the relationship between us. He’s sitting there with my IOU in his hands and he’s saying, “Brother Prince, I really love you.” And I think I could care less. And he says, “Brother Prince, I understand you are in a difficult situation. Brother Prince, I pray for you.” I still think I could care less. “Brother Prince, I’m asking God to forgive you.” I could care less. What am I interested in? What he does with the IOU. The moment he tears that up I don’t mind much what he says, I’ve got what I want.
Forgiveness is tearing up somebody else’s IOU. I’ve had many conversations along this line, especially with women whose husbands have wronged them, being unfaithful. “Have you forgiven your husband?”
“Well, I pray for him.”
“I didn’t ask you that. Have you forgiven your husband?”
“I understand he couldn’t help himself.”
“That isn’t what I asked you. Have you forgiven your husband?”
“Well, I’ve asked God to forgive him.”
“That isn’t what I asked you. Have you forgiven your husband?”
“Are you willing to forgive your husband?”
“Well, Brother Prince, he’s ruined 15 years of my life.”
“All right. Do you want him to ruin the next 15 years, too? Keep on not forgiving him and he’s sure to do it.”
Forgiveness is only enlightened self-interest. That’s all it is. Jesus said in the parable of the unforgiving servant, in effect, and I’m paraphrasing it, “You owe God 6 million dollars. Your fellow servant owes you 10. If you forgive your fellow servant 10, God will forgive you 6 million.” Well, who wouldn’t do that? Anybody that wouldn’t do that would be a bad businessman, wouldn’t he? That’s what forgiveness is, it’s forgiving the 10 dollars somebody owes you. Why? Because you owe God 6 million. That’s the proportion in that parable. Forgiveness is a decision. I do not say you can make it at any time but you can make it when the Spirit of God prompts you to make it. That’s why it’s so important to obey the prompting of the Spirit.
What is forgiveness? It’s a decision of your will expressed by an utterance of your lips. It’s best to say it out loud. In fact, it’s a good thing to say it in the presence of witnesses. It’s rather like a marriage service. It’s as solemn as that. “Lord, I forgive my mother or my father. Or my husband or my wife.” Those are the four main relationships in which we normally need to forgive. Sometimes it’s our mother-in-law or our son- or daughter-in-law. Or it could be our grandparents or it could be the minister of the church or it could be a fellow Christian or it could be a businessman who cheated you. But basically I would say 4 times out of 5 it’s in the closest personal relationships that we have to practice forgiving. If you want God to forgive you, you just have to forgive others, you have no option.
The fourth common reason why people sometimes do not receive deliverance is a failure to break with the occult. They keep one finger still in Satan’s territory. They leave the door open a chink to the occult world and they never receive complete deliverance. Read in Acts 19 with me a moment. Acts 19:13–19.
“Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.”
They weren’t converted, they weren’t disciples of Jesus but they saw that the name of Jesus produced results when Paul used it against evil spirits so they thought they’d do the same. But you see, the name of Jesus is only effective when it’s used in faith.
“And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered [not the man but the evil spirit] and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
In the Greek it’s even clearer because two different words are used for know. “Jesus I acknowledge, Paul I know about.” I’ve heard about that man Paul, but who are you? And then it said:
“The man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
Seven men chased out of the house by one man because he was charged with demonic power. I tell you, if I didn’t believe in Jesus and know the power of the blood and the authority of his name there are many, many times I would be very reluctant to deal with evil spirits because I realize they can give people absolutely supernatural power. But they don’t have power over the name of Jesus. The most frightening case I’ve ever dealt with was a woman who’d been a gang leader when she was 12 years old. If ever I’ve seen a tough person, she was it. She came to us for deliverance and there’s a little man, a friend of mine called Sid ?Perse? from England who doesn’t stand more than knee high to a grasshopper and myself. I thought what good would he be in an emergency? There we were up in the hotel room about the fifth floor and this girl wanted deliverance. I knew she was going to be a tough one. I tell you, there were some people in the next room. They said, “That made believers out of us that night.” She was wearing thick, heavy boots and when she started she was banging her head so hard against the bathroom door that you could hear it about three rooms away. But every time she lunged at me I said, “In the name of Jesus.” She did not touch either the other brother or myself. I was very conscious that if there’d been any chink in my armor that moment I would have been in difficulty.
Now let’s look at the result. I want you to see the result.
“This [incident] was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”
They’d never seen anything happen quite like that. Sometimes people come to me after a deliverance service and say, “I’ve never been in a service like that before.” I can believe that!
I want you to notice the next verse, verse 18:
“Many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.”
I want you to notice they were not unbelievers but they were believers that had been fooling around with the occult and still claiming to be believers—like thousands of Charismatic people today. Just a little bit of Jeanne Dixon and the horoscope and the Ouija board but really, I’m saved and I speak in tongues. But they suddenly came face to face with the awful reality of demon power and then they changed their minds. They repented. For the first time they really repented. They came, confessed, and told publicly what they were guilty of.
“Many of them also which used curious arts [the whole realm of the occult] brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.”
You could say fifty thousand dollars worth of books publicly burned. When you’ve been involved in the occult and you have charms, Ouija boards, books about the occult realm, false teaching, heresies, in my considered opinion the only proper solution is to make a bonfire and burn them. If you leave them around I’m afraid you’ve left the door open a chink and Satan knows he’s not totally unwanted. Sooner or later he’ll get his dirty nose through the door again. There’s nothing to do but cut if off. Some of the best advice ever offered by anybody was offered by Daniel to King Nebuchadnezzar when he had a dream about a tree that was cut down. Daniel said, “Nebuchadnezzar, you’re the tree that’s going to be cut down. Look out, the judgment of God is headed to you.” He said, “O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee. Break off thy sins by righteousness.” That’s repentance. It’s a clean cut, it’s a total break with every thing that’s sinful and replacing it by the positive righteousness. Nebuchadnezzar didn’t follow that good advice and do you know what happened? The demons got him. For seven years he was a maniac, out of his mind, living like a beast, feeding on the grass of the earth. That’s a very sound lesson. Break off thy sins by righteousness. Sever every contact with the occult realm and they’ll be hope for you.
Now we come to the question Once you have been delivered, how do you keep your deliverance? I’ve got a series of instructions up there which we’ll go through in order. I always feel a kind of sense of relief when I arrive at the number seven. I hope that’s not superstition.
First of all, the primary and the most important principle when you have been delivered, if possible before you leave the room, deliberately yield every area of your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ by a specific act of your will and a declaration of your mouth. Say, “Jesus, be Lord in every area of my life. My emotions, my attitudes, my sex life, my money affairs, my home life. I deliberately choose you to be my Lord, I submit every area to you.” It’s like taking every key in your house to every room and every closet and saying, “Jesus, here you are.” That’s the most important single thing.
You see, Jesus said when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man—we’ve read it already—he’s going around looking for somewhere else. After awhile he says, “I think I’ll go back to my house.” And when he comes he finds it empty, swept and garnished, which means furnished. What was the mistake? Nothing wrong with having the house swept, is there? It’s good to have it cleaned out. And deliverance will help you to clean your house out. Nothing wrong with having it nicely furnished. What was the man’s mistake? It was empty. Vacant. There was no other occupant taken in to replace the vacancy created by the evil spirit going out.
You know, I drive often through this country on my way to preaching assignments and sometimes it takes me two or three days. Around about 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening when I want to find somewhere to spend the night as I drive through a city my eye is looking for a neon sign outside a motel and I’m looking for one word. Do you know what it is? Vacancy. And when I see that word I know I can get in there.
And if you are delivered but do not yield yourself without reservation to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, in the spiritual realm you’ve got a bright neon sign out which says vacancy. And it won’t be long before somebody will be knocking at the door. Is that clear? I don’t know how to say it more clearly. Deliberately yield yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You are not strong enough to keep the devil out but Jesus is. And where Jesus is Lord no demon can come in. You are as safe as the rock of ages. But only on that basic condition.
Secondly, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18, be continually maintained full of the Holy Spirit. That means get baptized in the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues and keep on speaking in tongues. Keep on praising the Lord. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a puddle, it’s a river. A lot of people have a puddle experience. “Oh, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues in 1958.” We aren’t living in 1958 now. Ephesians 5:18 says be maintained continually full. That’s an obligation. How many of you believe it’s wrong for a Christian to be drunk with wine? All right. Logically it must be equally wrong for a Christian not to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The same verse says both. I believe it’s probably more serious not to be filled with the Holy Spirit than it is to be drunk with wine. I mean that. It doesn’t fit in with some theology but I actually mean it. I think God can more easily help a person who got drunk once or twice than he can help a person who’s never filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s the way I view it on the basis of scripture and experience.
The third principle is live by the word of God. This cannot be emphasized too strongly. You do not live by your feelings. You’re not right because you feel right. This is so true about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. How do you know you got the baptism in the Holy Spirit? “I know I got it, I feel wonderful.” Yeah, but tomorrow morning you’ll feel awful and then you’ll know you didn’t get it. Never let feelings be decisive. How do I know I’ve got the Holy Spirit? Because I asked God for the Holy Spirit and he promised if I asked for bread I’d never get a stone. That’s how I know. I know by scripture. I have the scriptural testimony. I have the promise, Luke 11:13, I have the evidence, Acts 2:4. That’s how I know. What I feel is secondary.
In the Christian life there are three F’s and they go in a certain order. Facts, faith, feelings. The basis is fact, that’s the fact of the word of God. On that you add by faith and your feelings follow. But never let your feelings dictate to you because they’ll mislead you.
Matthew 4 tells us the temptation of Jesus. Notice this temptation came to him after the Holy Spirit had come upon him. Normally you will have temptations after you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit that you would have had before. If you study these temptations, none of them could have come to Jesus before he was moving in the supernatural realm. Every one of them involved the possession of supernatural power. The same is true after you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, it’s the time you will really be tempted.
I meet many Christians who are not quite sure whether there’s a personal devil or not. I hardly ever meet a person baptized in the Holy Spirit who doesn’t know the answer to that one! That’s one of the things you find out quickly when you’re baptized in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals the identity of the enemy. That’s why a lot of lukewarm churchgoers don’t like Holy Spirit religion because it brings too much out into the open. They’d rather have it all kept under cover. The Holy Spirit doesn’t keep things under cover. He forces the enemy out into the open.
Another thing I’ll say about the baptism in the Holy Spirit is many people don’t know they have demons ’till they get baptized in the Holy Spirit. That sounds strange. I know some theology doesn’t fit in with that but I’ve been in that theological position that some of you are in and it isn’t relevant to experience. Furthermore, it has no support in Scripture. Demons get stirred up when the Holy Spirit comes in, they don’t have it all their own way any longer. If they haven’t been driven out prior to receiving the baptism, then they’re going to kick up more trouble and make more fuss than you’ve ever experienced in your life before.
I believe ideally the scriptural order is these signs that follow them that believe. Number one, in my name they shall cast out the demons. Number two, they shall speak with tongues. But lots of places, it ain’t being done that way yet. Let’s hope one day it will. At the moment it really isn’t possible to do it that way because most professing Christians today until they’re baptized in the Holy Spirit wouldn’t believe in demons. See? So, though it’s not the ideal we have to work on the level on which we find ourselves.
When Jesus received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, then for the first time so far as we know, he was subjected to direct Satanic confrontation and temptation. In dealing with Satan Jesus used only one weapon. What was that? The scripture, the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Each temptation Jesus began his answer with the phrase “It is written, it is written, it is written.” And you must do the same. This means you must get acquainted with the word of God. Jesus didn’t have a concordance out there in the desert. He probably didn’t even have the scriptures. But he had it inside him. David said, “Thy word have I hidden, treasured up in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”
If you’re baptized in the Holy Spirit, the next most urgent need in your life is to get to know the scriptures thoroughly and have them available. You’ll have to live by the word. Not by church traditions, not by what people say, not by your feelings but by the written word of God.
The next principle is found there in the fourth statement, put on the whole armor of God. Let’s look at Ephesians 6:10–18. These words are written to every believer, not to a special group like missionaries or preachers or evangelists but to every believer.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
You are going to be confronted with the wiles, the deceptions of the devil.
“For we wrestle [we’re in a wrestling match] not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this present world, against spirits of wickedness in the heavenlies.”
Our wrestling match is with spirits, not with flesh and blood.
And you remember what Charles said about wherefore and therefore? When you find a therefore you find out what it’s there for. Because of this, therefore, verse 13:
“Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God...”
Notice you have to take it. God doesn’t drop it on you. You have to acquire it, you have to take it to yourself.
“...that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
There’s going to come the evil day. Don’t be upset about that, it comes to every believer. There’s the evil day, there’s the day of pressure, the day of testing, the day of misunderstanding, the day of opposition, the day of loneliness. You’re going to go through it, every child of God does. We must, the scripture says, through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of heaven. I don’t believe that just means get to heaven. I mean, it gets into living in the kingdom of heaven right now, it’s through opposition. It’s through trouble, it’s through testing that we come into that kind of living.
Stand therefore, and now Paul lists six pieces of equipment. We cannot really call them armor but equipment. I’ll go through them quickly, they’re taken from the pattern of the Roman soldier in Paul’s day. I don’t want to dwell on most of them but I suggest you make a study of them for yourself. Number one, having your loins gird about with truth, the girdle of truth. Now, the girdle in ancient clothing was something around your loins which enabled you to lift up your lower hanging garment to leave your lower legs clear so that you could act freely without tripping over your own garments. Many times the Bible speaks about girding up the loins of your mind and so on. If you’ve ever lived in Palestine or those countries you’ll know if you ever see a woman that’s got to sweep the floor or do anything, the first thing she does is gather up her skirt and tuck it into her girdle so that her legs are free to move. Until you’ve put on the girdle of truth, when you try to move around and get active you’re going to trip up. So the first thing to put on is truth.
Truth, I believe, in two forms. The truth of God’s word and the truth about ourselves. This is basic to deliverance. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. You’ve got to start being honest. Drop off all the religious phrases you’ve learned, what I call the religious cop-outs and start saying what you mean. There’s never been a time when so many people say so many sloppy words about faith. Lots of people talk about faith but they’re just misusing the word.
I had a little kind of encounter with a lady the other day. I trust she’s forgiven me but she got up and left me in tears. We’ve got to be real. Be honest. Come to the moment of truth, face the facts about yourself, about your situation, about your wife and husband and children, about the church. It’s awful but you’ll get over the shock. Without truth you’re never going to make any progress. What does God require? Truth in the inward parts.
And then he said, “In the hidden part thou will make me to know wisdom.” Sincerity in the inner part will bring revelation from God, but not without.
The next one, the breastplate of righteousness. The are of the heart covered with the righteousness which is by faith of Jesus Christ. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. All right? Not the righteousness of good works but the righteousness received by faith of Jesus Christ. On no other basis than that Jesus died, was made sin for us, rose again and his righteousness is now imputed to us by faith.
The next one, your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. The shoes [or the boots] of preparation for the gospel of peace. You have to be prepared to be a witness or a minister of the gospel. You have to have your shoes on. When we were in action in the North African desert in the second world war, if the enemy were close we were never allowed to sleep with our boots off, we had to keep out boots on night and day. In an emergency, if you had to reach out in the dark and grope for your boots and put them on, the thing would have passed before you were able to do anything about it. This has always been so vivid to me. If you don’t have on the boots of the preparation of the gospel, the opportunity to witness, to serve, to minister will come and you’ll still be looking up your scriptures. You have to be prepared, you have to know the word of God, you have to be prepared in prayer. You have to have the peace of God to minister so that when people come to you in distress you don’t say, “Let me go away and pray for half an hour and I’ll give you an answer,” you have it out of you right there. The preparation of the gospel of peace which is the boots.
Then above all, or over all, taking the shield of faith. There are two kinds of shield in the New Testament. One is a circular, small, round shield and the other is a great, big, oval shield. This is the oval, long shield which is spoken of here, something that can cover the whole man. You can hide completely behind this shield. That’s faith. The total covering faith which covers every aspect of your life, your family, you business, your circumstances, your children; everything is covered by this great shield of faith. It can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Verse 17, two more vital pieces of armor. The helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We’ve dealt already with the sword of the Spirit, let me take a moment to deal with the helmet of salvation. What area of the body does the helmet protect? The head. What does the head represent in your spiritual experience? The mind, the thought life, whatever way you like to put it. I have discovered by experience many Christians have their minds unprotected, they do not have on the helmet. They get wounded in the head and then they can’t use the rest of the armor because they don’t have the strength.
I’ve learned this the hard way by personal experience. When I got delivered from the spirit of depression years ago God showed me now you’re delivered, now you’ve got to learn how to stay delivered. God showed me these two things which I’m sharing with you now, the helmet of salvation and the other garment I’ll show you in a moment. I realized that my main problem was in my thought life. I didn’t have control over it. All sorts of negative, upsetting, disturbing, frustrating thoughts, resentment, fear of failure, unbelief, doubt, indecision would come crowding into my mind. I was having a continual inner struggle. I think it’s true to say that most people are like icebergs: that which shows above the surface is only a small part of the total personality. There’s things going on inside most people which don’t show above the surface unless you have discernment.
This was certainly true in my case. My problem was in the realm of the mind. My mind was highly trained, it was the thing I’d relied on all my life. Actually, the more intellectual you are, the more liable you are to have problems with your mind because you’re more prone to rely on it. The Bible says, “Cursed is the man who trusteth in man and maketh flesh [the carnal mind] his arm and whose heart departeth from the Lord.” Very often the simple, unsophisticated person is not so prone to rely upon the mind and doesn’t have the same problems with the mind. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with being educated or trained. An educated and trained mind is a wonderful thing but it’s an instrument. You better make sure who’s using the instrument.
Well, God showed me that I needed protection and as I thought about this I thought, “Well, there’s one piece that must be for the mind, it’s the helmet.” I read in Ephesians 6:17 where it said the “helmet of salvation.” I said to myself, “Do I have the helmet or don’t I? I’m saved, does that mean I have the helmet of salvation?” I had a Bible with cross references and I saw there was a cross reference to 1Thessalonians 5:8. I turned over there and read these words.
“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
When I read the word “hope” I got a sudden complete sermon. I saw that there was one thing that had never been preached to me. Paul says in 1Corinthians 14:14:
“Now abideth faith, hope, love.”
These are the three abiding realities. I’d heard many sermons on faith, a lot of sermons on love and never one sermon on hope all my life. I had to preach myself the first one. I came to see that this was what was missing in me.
Faith in the Scriptures is in the heart. Mental faith is not the faith the scripture deals with. With the heart man believeth. Lots of people have got tremendous faith but it’s in the mind and it doesn’t do what heart faith does. That’s why they’re surprised when they say “I believe” and nothing happens. They do believe but it’s in the mind. Faith is in the heart. So it’s not for the mind.
But there is something for the mind, what’s that? Hope. Here’s the secret. What is hope? I define it as this. A confident, unwavering expectation of good. That’s in the mind. You know what I was? By birth and upbringing I was a professional pessimist. I was born one to start with and brought up to be one. In my family, if you weren’t worrying about something you’d have to be worrying about what you weren’t worrying about. I look back, my mother’s with the Lord now but my dear mother was like that. She was worried if I wasn’t worrying.
Well, this had a deep effect upon me. When I was delivered from the demon of depression then God showed me, “Now you’re free to cultivate different thought reactions and patterns. Before you weren’t free. But now you are.” Deliverance doesn’t do it all, deliverance sets you free and then you have to do it. I realized that when I was a pessimist I was denying my faith in Jesus Christ. Pessimism is a denial of your faith as a Christian. You say give me a scripture. Only one is needed. Romans 8:28.
“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”
If you love God and are called, all things are working together for good. If all things are working together for good there can never be a logical reason for pessimism. Every time you’re a pessimist you’re denying the word of God and you’re denying your faith in God and Jesus Christ.
I had to deliberately replace pessimism by optimism. It didn’t happen in a week, it didn’t happen in a month, it didn’t happen in a year; but it has happened. Today I’m a trained optimist. I mean that! I trained myself to be an optimist. Every time I find that pessimistic reaction beginning to come back I say, “Wait a minute. There’s no room for that.” This is the helmet, it’s hope. A confident, mental expectation of that which is good. It says faith is the substance of things hoped for. Faith is in the now, hope is in the future. Each has its place. Hope is based on faith, faith is the substance. Faith is in the heart. Faith is for now and never for the future. Hope is in the mind and it’s for the future.
There’s some beautiful scriptures, I wish I could preach you a sermon on hope. Let me give you the one in Hebrews 6:19–20:
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into the veil; whither the forerunner [Jesus] is for us entered...”
Hope is the anchor. Why do you need an anchor? Why does a ship need an anchor? Because, a ship is floating around in a basically unstable element which is water. No matter how much that ship may want to be stabilized, there’s nothing in the water to make that ship stable, is there? What does the ship have to do? It has to pass its anchor out from itself through the water and into another element that is stable. What’s that? I like to say the rock.
One is hope, it’s your anchor. You live in a realm that’s impermanent, unstable, insecure. In your material situation and circumstances there is no basis for security. I smile when I see insurance companies advertise peace of mind. As if they had the ability to give peace of mind. They don’t. You can have all the insurance in the world and be riddled with insecurity because it doesn’t depend on those things. When you’ve passed your anchor out of time into eternity and fastened it in the rock, then you’re little boat is secure. The anchor is hope. Praise the Lord. Put it on. Use it.
Also, in Hebrews 5 it says “it’s like the horns of the altar. We fled for refuge to the hope set before us.” You know, in desperation a man who is being pursued by his enemies would flee to the altar and grasp the altar by its horns and no one dared to pull a man away from the horns of the altar. When you’re in absolute desperation and all the demons are on your tail, what do you do? Get to the altar and grab the horns and hold on. The horns are hope. Never give up your hope. The world may collapse around you but God is still on is throne.
Now there’s a garment of praise. I’ve got five more minutes and a lot to cover. It says in Isaiah 61. This is what Jesus proclaimed in the synagogue in Nazareth. It’s quoted in Luke 4:18 and following when he said:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me...”
He quoted this Scripture, let’s read it. John Wesley said when he quoted these words, “Is there ever been a preacher of the gospel of whom these words were not true?” That was his comment. In other words, every preacher of the gospel should be able to say these words.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord...”
And notice in the synagogue, he stopped there. He did not say “the day of vengeance of our God” because he came to bring grace, not judgment. Judgment will be on the next visit.
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy in place of mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
If you’ve had the spirit of heaviness, you don’t want it back, put on the garment of praise. When you’re wearing the garment of praise, the spirit of heaviness does not like to come near you. This is a true story and it illustrates this.
I was in London years back as a pastor and a lady arrived who was a member of our congregation, dragging a rather reluctant husband by her hand. Without warning said, “This is my husband. He’s a backslider, he’s just come out of prison, he’s got an evil spirit. Will you pray for him?”
In those days, praying for a person with an evil spirit was an embarrassment to me. I didn’t know what to do but we had with us a couple of Russian Jewesses who’d been saved in the Baptist church in Russian and later received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They said in Russia the Baptists are more Pentecostal than the Pentecostals are in Europe. When they started praying they didn’t care about what the neighbors thought, they just let go and praised God.
We started to pray in a sort of vague way that people do pray when they think they ought to be doing something but don’t know what to do—which is the normal way most Christians treat evil spirits. We were really praising the Lord and this poor man who’d just come out of prison came up to me privately and said, “I think I’m going.”
I said, “Why?”
He said, “Too much noise.”
I didn’t have an answer ready but God gave me one. I said, “I’ll tell you who doesn’t like the noise. It’s the devil. He doesn’t like the noise because we’re praising Jesus and he never likes that. You’ve got two alternatives. You can go now and the devil will go with you or you can stay and the devil will go without you.”
He said, “I’ll stay.” I made a promise without meditating. A few minutes later he came up to me and said, “It just left, it left my throat.” I didn’t understand really what he was saying. But the devil left because he couldn’t stand the atmosphere of praise any longer.
If you put on the garment of praise, you embarrass the devil much more than he can ever embarrass you. Don’t wait to feel like it. Praise is a sacrifice, Hebrews 13:15:
“By him [Jesus Christ] therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise unto God continually...”
Just saying it in my heart. No.
“...that is, the fruit of our lips...”
That’s not in your heart, that’s out loud, out of your mouth. That’s what God requires. David said when he was in the court of a heathen king slobbering on his beard and scribbling on the door, pretending to be mad in order to save his life, do you know what he said? He wrote Psalm 34. Remember, that’s when it was written and the first verse says:
“I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth...”
There is never a time and there is never a place when you should not be praising the Lord. If you put on that garment you’ll enjoy it.
Cultivate right relationships. Be careful about going back into resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness. Cultivate. The moment you feel resentment rising up against that husband of yours, check it. I say replace the negative by the positive. “Brother Prince, I just resent him. What am I to do?” Pray for him. I don’t believe you can resent someone and pray for them at the same time. So replace the negative by the positive. You’ll have to be on your guard because resentment is a habit with many of us.
I’ll tell you another habit that most of us have—and I’m not innocent. I’ll tell you truthfully and I’ll say this in front of my wife. There are some situations in our home when my wife and I start to discuss certain things I say to her, “We should just as well play a tape recording of this because we both know what we’re going to say now for the next five minutes.” When I say that then I say, “Let’s switch off the tape recorder, shall we?” Stop it now. The beginning of strife, the Bible says in a rather vulgar, plain way, is as when one letteth out water. So stop before you start. You know how difficult it is once you’ve started, to stop!
Number six, cultivate right fellowship. You’ve got a good scripture there about light cannot have fellowship with darkness. I don’t mean that you separate yourself from the world and go into a convent but do not go around with the negative people. Cultivate positive people, people that will build up your faith, strengthen you, encourage you. If you’ve taken a stand for healing don’t go back to the people that believe healing ended with the apostles.
I’ll tell you two things that come by hearing. One of them you know. Romans 10:17:
“Faith cometh by hearing...”
Do you know the other one? Unbelief. Jesus said, “Take heed what you hear and take heed how you hear.” The book of Proverbs says, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction which causeth thee to err from the words of truth.” I’ll tell you, if I wanted to keep my faith up I’d never go listen to some of the sermons that you people go and listen to on Sunday morning. I just couldn’t do it, that’s all. I don’t want to fill my mind with negative poison and then try to live a victorious life. I couldn’t do it. Maybe you’re better than I am, maybe you’re stronger. But you cannot feed on faith destroying sermons, literature and conversation and then expect to be a victorious believing Christian. It just cannot be done. What comes in has to come out somewhere. If you admit it to your heart it’s going to be expressed in your living. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” If it gets in here it’s got to be expressed in what you do. It matters what you believe.
This goes beyond just what church you attend, it goes to the whole question of whom you spend your time with. What kind of people you listen over the telephone to, because a lot of people have a lot of problems through listening to the wrong kind of telephone talk.
Finally, and this is the last, make Jesus central. Don’t go off on a tangent about demons. See, you can be one-sided about anything in the Christian life except Jesus. You can be one-sided about tongues, one-sided about healing, one-sided about divine order, one-sided about women not speaking in the church, one-sided about demons. You can be one-sided about anything except Jesus. He’s the center, he’s the author, he’s the finisher, he’s the foundation and he’s the coping stone. Keep Jesus in the center. I realize for many of you being confronted with this type of message and deliverance service, it makes a powerful impact. I can believe that. For the next few weeks you’re going to wander around, “Do I have a demon? Does he have a demon? Does my preacher have a demon?” And so on. Well, they may all have demons. But don’t become demon preoccupied? All right. It will take a little while to fit in to your total Christian believing, you’ve got to find a new style for demons. But don’t let it dominate you. I give you that beautiful scripture and then we close. Jesus said when he went to the cross:
“Now is the judgment of this world [now at the cross through what Jesus did] is the prince of this world [Satan] cast out.”
He’s cast out, there’s a vacuum. Who’s going to fill it? The next scripture is:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
Make it your supreme aim always to uplift and glorify Jesus.