Sermon Illustrations: Spiritual Warfare (Also See Warfare)
If you're going to go to war, you're going to have to have a hatred for your enemy. Stuart Gramenz
It was 1944 - WW2. Sub-Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda of the Imperial Japanese army was ordered to stay on Lubang Island in the Philippines and hold it for the glory of the Emperor. So he did. The following year, the Allies bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Japanese surrendered. Shortly after, the war ended, but unfortunately he didn't know. He kept on fighting the next year, and the next year, and was still fighting 29 years after the end of WW2. He was totally unaware that the war had finished long ago. Even when the police searched through the jungle using megaphones to ask him to surrender and stop shooting the locals, he refused to give up. It wasn't until 1974 when they brought in his wartime commanding officer, to order him to surrender, that he finally stopped fighting. Do you know that it's over for Satan? That he's been defeated? Do you apply the victory of the Cross in your daily life?
If you put soldiers in a barracks and leave them there for long enough, they'll eventually start fighting among themselves.
Military matters must take precedence over civilian matters. Paul Newsham (speaking on priorities in warfare)
On many occasions when we visited Christians in the communist countries, they told us that they had an easier life than we in the West. "We know who our enemy is," they would say, "but you do not."1
In the same sense that a secret agent sends out a signal that merits serious attention by the opposition, so the Christian walking in obedience to the Spirit of God, abiding in prayer, and committed to the kingdom stirs enemy opposition. The stakes are higher for the veteran who can do the most damage to the domain of darkness. My premise should be clear by now: any servant of Jesus Christ who poses a serious threat to the powers of hell will be targeted and will encounter resistance, especially at times of strategic ministry.2
The enemy can have power without authority. For instance, the Taliban had no authority, but they had power. Cf Luke 10:18-20
Smoke screens were used during WW2 to sink a lot of ships. Instructions were given that during times of confusion in the smoke screens, they were to hold their course and then make decisions after they came through and could see clearly.
Jesus' purpose was to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus is gone but we still have the works of the devil. Whose job is it now? G.F. Watkins
To possess the gates of your enemies, you have to go into enemy territory. We can't hide in the safe little cocoon of the church.
Col 2:15 - Roman triumph:3 The victory had to be decisive and complete, over a foreign foe, at least 5000 of the enemy slain in a single battle, the conquest extend the territory of the state, and put an end to the war. Prisoners of war were compelled to march in the procession. The general rode in a special chariot drawn by four horses. People crowded the streets, the spoils of war were paraded. Incense was burned, there was great applause and celebration and sacrifices. The Roman general "who won a great victory on foreign soil, took many captives and much loot, and gained new territory for Rome, … was honoured by an official parade known as 'the Roman triumph'."4 Behind were the captives - disarmed, in chains, a public spectacle.
Clash of kingdoms: Elymas - Acts 13:8-12
Clash of kingdoms: 1 Kings 18 - Elijah and the prophets of Baal
It's been estimated that between 1945 and 1989, around 20 million people were killed in 91 wars. In the same book, (also 1945 and 1989) it lists 208 coups and revolutions. One country (Bolivia) had 192 coups between 1825 and 1981. Ever since God created this planet, it's been a war zone - and right now we're in the middle of a battle.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could just say, "But I'm Swiss. We're a neutral country." But there is no spiritual Switzerland!
In the ancient world, a prosperous city would not only build a wall around itself, but also a stronghold. The stronghold was an immensely fortified tower built into the wall, which was so strong that even if the enemy breached the wall of the city, the stronghold could be defended with relatively few soldiers. If the stronghold was taken that was the end of the battle.5 From the moment a person is born, the enemy seeks to build strongholds.
Bob Vernon was a Los Angeles motorcycle police officer. The day was just dawning when he saw a red pickup truck speed through a stop sign. This guy must be late to work, he thought. He turned on his emergency lights and radioed that he was in pursuit. The pickup pulled over, and the officer approached. Meanwhile in the truck, the driver was scared. He thought, "The cops already know!" He rested his hand on the same gun he had used a few moments before to rob a twenty-four-hour market. The sack of stolen money was beside him on the seat. The officer said, "Good morning, sir, may I see your…" He never finished the sentence. The driver shoved his gun toward the policeman's chest and fired from just inches away. The cop was knocked flat seven feet away. A few seconds later, to the shock of the criminal, the officer stood up, pulled his service revolver, and fired twice. The first bullet went through the open window and smashed the windshield. The second tore through the door and ripped into the driver's left leg. "Don't shoot!" the thief screamed, throwing the gun and sack of money out the pickup window. What saved the policeman's life was dozens of layers of Kevlar, the super strong fabric used for bullet-proof vests. Only three-eighths of an inch thick, Kevlar can stop bullets cold.6
Frank was 20 years old when he joined the Air Force to become an electronics technician. But the first thing he had to do was get through Basic Training. Failure to pass Basic Training meant being back-coursed and having to wait for the next intake. Part of Basic was weapons training. This involved firing accuracy, being able to label all rifle parts, recite the series of events the rifle experienced in firing and reloading, understanding how the round travelled through the air (including at what stage in its trajectory it was higher or lower than the target), and being able to strip the rifle and reassemble it in under two minutes - some of it blindfolded. One small mistake meant being back-coursed for 4 weeks. Irrespective of their ultimate job in the Air Force everyone had to gain a 100% pass with their weapons training to avoid being back-coursed. Every soldier has to learn how to handle his weapons.
One of the common strategies used in the war in Afghanistan is to send in the B52s. Once they've done their job, then they send in the ground troops. This is similar to the strategy used in ancient times, where before they could take a city, they'd use their war engines, including huge catapults. They could throw a 25 kilo stone about 400 metres or more.7 Once they'd broken through the walls, then they'd send in the soldiers. Your testimony is like one of those huge catapults. It's pounding into the stronghold with tremendous force.
In December 1940, Major General Richard O'Connor attacked the Italian army stationed in Egypt. What made this so extraordinary was that the British had comparatively few troops whereas the Italians had 250,000 men there. O'Connor attacked anyway and had fewer than 2000 casualties. In the process they destroyed 10 Italian divisions, took 170,000 prisoners and captured 400 tanks and 850 guns - one of the most remarkable feats of arms in history. The decisive factor in the Italian loss was their low morale - because they weren't happy with the alliance with Germany, and they certainly weren't prepared to die for Mussolini. So they broke and retreated at a crucial moment. Discouragement was the key.
During WW2 one of the favourite Allied tricks was to make wooden tanks or trucks in order to trick the enemy. When enemy planes flew overhead they couldn't tell the difference and wasted their time and ammunition. The enemy wasn't always fooled though. One time when the Allies had a wooden tank, the Germans dropped a wooden bomb on it. The Germans also had a sense of humour. Deception has always featured strongly in warfare. And the purpose of deception is to gain an advantage so that you can take more ground.
When you buy a bunch of bananas, the first one to get eaten is the first one that leaves the bunch.
Interestingly enough, the Roman armour was designed to protect the front of the warrior, not the back. Apparently the assumption was that when the enemies were near, the soldiers were moving towards them, not running away.8
General Patton once said the key to winning a war is not giving your life for your country, but seeing that the enemy gives his life for his country.9
Be an individual, step out of the flock, and life could be over very quickly. Narrator on documentary series Massive Nature, Channel 7, 21-8-05. He was commenting on the fact that flamingos survive because they are part of the flock. See 1 Peter 5:8
Parable told by Reinhard Bonnke: A man had a 2-storey house. He heard a knocking, opened the door, and found Jesus there, so he invited Him to live in the house and gave Him a room in the top floor. Jesus will only take what you give Him. The man was sleeping and heard a pounding on the door, opened the door a crack and the devil barged in. He had a terrible fight, trying to resist the devil and his temptations, yelling out for help all the time. Eventually, he managed to throw the devil out. In the morning, he said, "Why didn't you help me last night? Couldn't you hear me calling for help?" Jesus: "The problem is, you've got this whole big house to yourself, and I've only got one room." Man: "Ah, I see your point. You can have the whole top floor, and I'll keep the bottom floor." The man was sleeping and heard a pounding on the door, opened the door a crack and the devil barged in again. He had another terrible fight, trying to resist the devil and his temptations, yelling out for help all the time. Eventually, he managed to throw the devil out. In the morning, he said, "Why didn't you help me last night? Couldn't you hear me calling for help?" Jesus: "The problem is, I have the top floor, but you still have the bottom floor to yourself." Man: "Ah, I see what you mean. From now on, the whole house is yours." That night, the man was asleep, and there was a pounding at the door again. This time Jesus went to the door, opened it wide, and stood in the doorway. The devil looked at Him, bowed very low and said, "I'm sorry, but I think I knocked on the wrong door."
It doesn't matter how big the dog is in the fight; it matters how big the fight is in the dog.
The enemy is behind us. The enemy is in front of us. The enemy is to the right and the left of us. They can't get away this time. General Douglas MacArthur
How do you eat a banana? First, you separate it from the rest of the bunch.
Ron Shunker went to see a person who was demonised. He said, "I'm going to lay my hands on this person, and you are going to come out of him." "Yes, lay your hands on me. I want you to." "Not my hands but the hands of Jesus Christ." "No! Not those hands." And the spirit came out. (As told by Stuart Gramenz)
In war, captors often try to mess with the minds of captives. One method is to give them a shovel, point to a huge pile of dirt, and tell them to move it to another point. Once that is done, they tell them to move it back. The idea is to remove their sense of purpose.
Even the greatest of strategists must occasionally take into account the presence of an enemy. Colin Powell (tongue-in-cheek on having to adjust military strategy because things don't necessarily go according to plans)
The Holy Spirit empowers us against the enemy (1 Jn 4:4):A number of years ago, a movie came out called The Bear, and it went something like this: Once upon a time, there was a mummy bear and a baby bear, and they were so happy together. Then one day an accident happened and the mummy bear died, leaving the little baby bear all alone in the world. One day the poor defenceless baby bear was out minding his own business, when he was spotted by a big, mean, hungry mountain lion. The baby bear started to run; he was trapped next to the river, and jumped in. The mean and nasty mountain lion followed him downstream to where the baby bear came ashore at a crossing. The baby bear was trapped again and made a puny, squeaky sound as the mountain lion closed in for the kill. Then suddenly, the baby bear stood to his feet, opened his mouth, and there was a massive great roar. The mountain lion suddenly remembered that he had something else to do, and ran for his life, terrified. How did the little baby bear do that? The cameras panned round, and there standing behind the baby bear was the hugest, most ferocious daddy bear.
God will win the battle for us, but we have to show up for the fight. See Deuteronomy 31:3-4
Satan: If he can knock out the head, he can take down the whole body. G. F. Watkins
1 Brother Andrew The Muslim Challenge p16
2 Thomas B. White (The Believer's Guide to Spiritual Warfare) as quoted in C. Peter Wagner Territorial Spirits p65-66
3 Freeman, James M. Manners And Customs Of The Bible (Plainfield, New Jersey: Logos 1972) p. 460-461
4 Wiersbe, Warren The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol 2 p128
5 Carson, D.A. From Triumphalism To Maturity Paternoster Press 1984 p47
6 Charles Mylander, The Encourager
7 Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 2001
8 Wagner, C. Peter Territorial Spirits p 20-21
9 Wagner, C. Peter Territorial Spirits p 21