- Sermon Notes
The Winning Strategy for Spiritual Warfare
March 7, 2021
1. Spiritual Warfare has been and still is a topic of great interest for Christians and non-Christians alike.
ILLUS – Frank Peretti’s best-selling book, This Present Darkness.
2. What does the Bible have to say about Spiritual Warfare?
3. Is it a winnable war? Will good ultimately prevail over evil? If so, how?
4. And what role do we, as Christians, have to play in the battle?
5. Tonight, we will look to the words of our Savior for the answers in Luke 11, when Jesus not only gave The Winning Strategy for Spiritual Warfare but also offered the sign which confirms our God wins.
1. As Jesus continued towards Jerusalem from the northern region of Galilee, the crowds grew greater in number.
2. The crowd was comprised of three groups, each with their own opinion of Jesus.
a. Some thought Jesus to be the Messiah.
b. Others were convinced that Jesus was the devil incarnate.
c. Still others wanted to test Jesus further so they demanded a sign before they jumped on the Jesus bandwagon.
APPL – The truth is, what we believe about Jesus makes all the difference in the world, in this life and in the life to come.
Transition – In fact, it is the key to having the only Winning Strategy for Spiritual Warfare, which is. . .
I. Let Jesus Be Your Strongest Strong Man
• The Bible makes it clear that there has been and is a spiritual battle for the souls of those made in God’s image.
• From Genesis 3 to Revelation 20, the Bible provides us with glimpses into the reality and nature of this epic battle between God’s heavenly host and Satan’s minions.
• Here in Luke 11, we have an account of one such battle, where Jesus Christ casts out a demon which had made a man mute.
• We’re told that once the man was liberated from the hideous presence of his nefarious possessor “the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed.” (14)
• Though some marveled at what they had just witnessed, others sought to quickly dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm by accusing Jesus of casting out demons “by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” (15)
• Still others seized upon the opportunity to test Jesus further so they demanded He give them another “sign from heaven.” (16)
• Jesus responds to both groups, the accusers and the testers, with powerful insight and wisdom.
Transition – For His accusers, Jesus pulled back the veil and revealed what the deliverance of the mute demoniac really meant.
• That Jesus is the strongest strong man.
• Which also reveals a facet of the divine purpose for why Jesus came. . .
A. Jesus came to set Satan’s captives free
1. During His ministry, Jesus’ very presence confronted the demonic forces which possessed, oppressed, and tormented the souls of those He came to save.
2. In fact, though the demons may have tried to conceal their grotesque identities and their murderous activities, there was nowhere for them to hide when Jesus arrived on the scene.
3. That’s why the Gospels record that Jesus set free so many demoniacs.
4. Now, it is also important for us to note that Jesus acknowledges the existence of Satan and his army of demons.
5. First, Jesus acknowledged that Satan, also known as “Lucifer,” the “serpent,” the “devil,” the “dragon,” the “accuser of the brethren,” and “Beelzebul,” which means “the lord of the flies,” does exist. (18)
6. Second, Jesus acknowledged that Satan has an army of fallen angels.
a. This army is comprised of a third of the heavenly host which rebelled with Lucifer against God (Revelation 12:4).
b. These fallen angels are also called “demons” or “unclean spirits.”
7. Third, verses 17-23 confirm that spiritual warfare is real.
a. In many ways it’s the battle behind the battles.
b. Paul speaks of this battle behind the battles in his letter to the saints in Ephesus.
Ephesians 6:12, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the
spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
8. In all honesty, these general observations can leave us feeling a bit overwhelmed.
9. But that all changes when you read Jesus’ words in verse 20, “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
a. When God casts out a demon does He strain or struggle? Nope.
b. Jesus said God’s finger is more than sufficient to get the job done!
c. This means God’s kingdom is superior to Satan’s kingdom in every way and on any given day.
10. Now, let’s look at the specific accusation leveled against Jesus, that He casts out demons by the power of Satan.
11. On one level this is a shocking indictment and, frankly, the Pharisees and Jewish leaders knew better.
John 3:1-2, Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
12. But it’s also an illogical accusation which is what Jesus highlights when He said, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” (17-18)
a. Satan wants to build his kingdom, not destroy it.
b. So why would Satan release a man who was already under his control?
c. In essence, the Pharisees were saying that Satan was fighting against Satan when Jesus casts out demons. Their conclusion doesn’t make sense.
13. No. The truth is that when Jesus casts out demons He proved that He is greater than Satan. Jesus is the strongest strong man. (21-22)
a. As the strongest strong man, Jesus enters the strong man’s house (i.e. the demonic world) and carries away the spoils (i.e. delivers the demon-possessed).
b. By doing so, Jesus was establishing God’ kingdom among Israel and offering it to them by the power of the Holy Spirit.
APPL – What is the purpose for casting out a demon?
• Spiritually speaking, it’s more than just “spring cleaning” or a “garage sale.”
• In fact, if the house remains swept clean but unoccupied Jesus said the demon will come back with seven of his wicked comrades in tow, leaving the house in a worse condition. (24-26)
• The reason why demons are cast out is to prepare the house for a new Owner.
• This is why I believe Christians cannot be possessed by demons.
• At the moment a person places their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and the salvation of their souls, the Holy Spirit indwells the new Christian so that Satan can no longer possess what God has delivered and redeemed.
• A Christian can be tempted or be oppressed but they can never be demon-possessed.
• There is no biblical support for a Christian being possessed by a demon because our great God is dwelling within us.
1 John 4:4, You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
• The first key to the only Winning Strategy for Spiritual Warfare is to Let Jesus be the Strongest Strong Man in Your Life.
• Jesus came to set Satan’s captives free and give us life to the full.
John 10:10, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV)
B. Be a gatherer not a scatterer
1. Verse 23 is a sobering call to action, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.”
2. In other words, there’s no neutral ground!
APPL – Some people don’t like that statement because it doesn’t all sound warm and fuzzy.
• Nor is it politically correct because it’s not all-inclusive enough for their personal tastes.
• But if you’re on the Titanic and you hear that the ship just hit an iceberg, there’s no neutral ground.
• Either you get into the lifeboat or you’re going down with the big boat.
• Others try to take a neutral stance and say that Jesus was a good man, perhaps an ascended guru.
• But Jesus is the One who said here that there is no neutral ground.
• In fact, Jesus demands a decision.
C. S. Lewis wrote in “Mere Christianity”, “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
3. The good news is that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that in believing in Him, we would not perish but have everlasting life.
4. Jesus is the only hope for our fallen world.
APPL – He calls us to be a gatherer for Jesus.
• This too is an important key to the only The Winning Strategy for Spiritual Warfare.
• As the Gospel spreads, Jesus becomes the strongest strong man in the lives of more people.
• The light penetrates the darkness.
• Jesus said, “the gates of Hades will not overpower” the Church. (Matthew 16:18)
• Will you please make it your prayer, that the Lord will use you to help those you come in contact with each day to take another step closer to Jesus?
Colossians 1:28-29, We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
Transition – Defeat is not an option.
• Spiritual warfare is real but our God is greater than our enemy.
• Through Jesus we have the victory.
• But how can we be sure of this victory against the darkness?
• The answer is found in Jesus’ response to those who sought to test Him, when they demanded a sign. . .
II. Jesus’ Resurrection Confirms Our Victory
• Those in the crowd who demanded a sign were making it clear that what Jesus had done in the past was not good enough for them.
• They were determined to remain in control and call the shots.
• They needed a really “good sign” from Jesus to prove He is the Messiah.
• In response, Jesus said two things, one about them and the other about their request.
• First, Jesus called them “a wicked generation” because Israel was morally bankrupt and had forsaken their covenant with God by rejecting His Son. (29)
• Second, that no sign would be given but the sign of the prophet Jonah, which is the greatest sign of all. (29-30)
A. The greatest sign is the sign of Jonah
1. First, it is important to note, contrary to those who reject the miraculous accounts in the Bible, that Jesus affirmed the account of Jonah and the big fish; it really did happen.
2. Second, Jesus said that as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the big fish, so shall He, the Son of Man, be three days in the heart of the earth.
3. Just as Jonah was set free from the belly of the big fish after three days at sea, so too Jesus would be raised from the dead on the third day.
4. In other words, Jonah’s experience pointed to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
5. Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites and they heeded his message and repented of their sin.
6. So too, Jesus was resurrected from the dead which is proof that He is the Son of God.
7. Therefore all that Jesus proclaimed and promised is true and will come to pass.
8. All who heed Jesus’ message and believe in His name will have their sins forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life.
APPL – Again, Jesus’ resurrection is the greatest of all signs and it confirms our victory over Satan.
• Or to say it another way, Jesus’ death sealed our victory over Satan.
Colossians 2:15, When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
• Jesus’ resurrection confirms our victory over Satan.
1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 20, . . . and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. . . and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. . . But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
• Then at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, before the creation of the New Heavens and Earth, Jesus’ victory over Satan will be realized. Here’s the last mention of Satan in the Bible.
Revelation 20:10, And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Transition – Someday in eternity, Satan will be a distant memory as we enjoy the glorious presence of our great God and Savior.
• What a great day that will be!
• How does Jesus Christ’s victory over Satan, sin, and death become our victory?
B. Faith in Jesus is the victory
1. Jesus used two examples/witnesses for us to consider, people who received the evidence of God’s Word, responded by faith, and were rewarded.
2. The first example is the great Assyrian city of Nineveh.
3. The Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah; but Jesus said, “something greater than Jonah is here.” (32) What did Jesus mean by that statement? Let’s do a little comparison/contrast:
a. Jonah was a rebellious prophet. Jesus is the true Prophet of God.
b. Jonah was a sinful man. Jesus is the sinless Son of Man.
c. Jonah despised the people of Nineveh. Jesus came to “seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
d. Jonah proclaimed a message of doom. Jesus proclaimed a Gospel of grace.
e. Only one sign came through Jonah. Signs too numerous to record were done through Jesus. (John 21:25)
f. The Ninevites repented at the preaching of a Jewish prophet, but Israel rejected their own Messiah and did not receive His message of grace.
g. Therefore, the Ninevites will testify against Israel on Judgment Day because they rejected God’s message and miracles from God’s Son.
4. Then there was the Queen of the South.
5. According to 1 Kings 10, she heard of King Solomon’s fame and travelled a great distance to meet him and see if what was said about him was true.
6. She brought gifts. She humbled herself and received the wisdom of God as Solomon spoke to her and answered her questions.
a. Solomon was a great king, but Jesus is the King of kings.
b. Solomon had wise counsel, but Jesus is the “Wonderful Counselor.” (Isaiah 9:6)
c. Solomon had an inferior message, while Jesus has the message our world desperately needs. . .
John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
d. The Gentile Queen of the South responded to Solomon’s message, but Jesus said, “something greater than Solomon is here.” (31)
APPL – The question is straightforward; will you receive Jesus’ message and respond to it by faith and be blessed or be a sign of unbelief?
• Faith in Jesus is the victory.
1 John 5:4, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
• Jesus’ resurrection confirms our victory.
APPL – Again, if Jesus is the strongest strong man in our lives, who can overpower Him?
• He has the power to transform our lives.
• He has the power to liberate us from Satan’s lies.
• He has the power to change our hearts so that we love what He loves, and treasure what He treasures.
• He has the power to make our lives produce good fruit that honors God and blesses others.
Romans 8:31-32, 37, If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
• Faith in Jesus Christ is the only Winning Strategy for Spiritual Warfare.
14 And He was casting out a mute demon; when the demon had gone out, the man who was previously unable to speak talked, and the crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out the demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” 16 Others, [a]to test Him, were demanding of Him a [b]sign from heaven. 17 But He knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against [c]itself falls. 18 And if Satan also has been divided against himself, how will his kingdom [d]stand? For you claim that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. 19 Yet if by Beelzebul I cast out the demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. 20 But if I cast out the demons by [e]the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When [f]a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are [g]secure. 22 But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, that man takes away his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. 23 The one who is not with Me is against Me; and the one who does not gather with Me scatters.
24 “When the unclean spirit comes out of [h]a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it then says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they come in and live there; and the last condition of that person becomes worse than the first.”
27 While [i]Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that carried You, and the breasts at which You nursed!” 28 But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and follow it.”
29 Now as the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it demands a [j]sign, and so no [k]sign will be given to it except the [l]sign of Jonah. 30 For just as Jonah became a [m]sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.