Wednesday 15 July
On Day Four of the New Wine Ireland summer conference - Sligo15 - Greg Venables continues his series on "Growing into Maturity" during the Morning Bible Teaching sessions. Here VOX magazine editor Ruth Garvey-Williams brings you a summary of his message:
Today we are looking at the whole questions of evil and spiritual warfare. I don't need to tell anybody here that they are very real! Let's read from Ephesians 6:10 - 13. Listen and read as if it were for the first time:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.We are considering how we can mature in our thinking. God gives us a new life but if our thinking remains childish we are not living as we should. We need to be renewed in our thinking. Today and tomorrow we are going to be considering two difficult areas we have to face because we live in the real world, a world of hurt and pain and danger. Today we are going to look together at the whole question of evil and spiritual warfare and I don’t need to tell anybody here that they are very real." (NIV)
Evil is evil and it hates God and it hates the church. It is no small thing to be a Christian. Turn to Revelation chapter 12. This is history - these are not just stories, they are real things that have happened. At the beginning, Satan was defeated! We are in the victory. It is important to know where you are and where you are going. Heaven is our final destination!
This world has problems because there is a deceiver! In Genesis 3 we read how the human race fell. We live in the aftermath of that. We are born in sin and rebellion against God. Throughout the Gospels we see manifestations of evil. Anywhere God appears, the enemy can’t keep his mouth shut. But it is vital to remember that light goes into the darkness - darkness does not go into the light!
1 John 5:19 We know that we are from God… Ephesians 2.2 You were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air.
Part of the reason God has not taken out of this world is for the sake of those who don’t yet know Him, those who are still dead! 2 Corinthians 4 tells us Satan has blinded the eyes of the world. The problem is spiritual! That is why human methods don’t work because people are blind.
We are made in the image of God. God is spirit and we are spiritual beings (body, soul and spirit) and our spirit has been separated from God by sin. We are blind and we rebel and therefore no amount of human reasoning and argument and methodology will work because the problem is spiritual. Intellectual argument is useless.
In Acts 26:18 God says, “I’m sending you to open their eyes so that they might turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.” How do you do that? You just GO and the Holy Spirit does His work. Light comes into darkness. That is what we have been called to do. Each one of us has been called to be light in the darkness - every single one of us! Not just one or two special people. If you don’t do it, it won’t be done. It begins with you being there. Pentecost was not an implosion. They did not stay in the upper room having a wonderful meeting. It was an explosion. Many of our churches need an explosion. Can you imagine if they had not gone out? What would have happened?
You will find that when you go out into the real world and start being light and salt… all those things that weigh you down and burden you, all those things that make you feel sorry for yourself… just start to disappear. It doesn't mean you won't have problems, but you will see them differently.
His divine power
2 Corinthians 10:3-4: You cannot begin to do this unless you have been empowered by the Holy Spirit. The empowerment comes from God and you have all the authority you need. It is Christ’s authority in you. Although we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. He gives us divine power to demolish strongholds but you have to be there! You might think, I don’t know what to do. God says… just go there. It is about Him, not about us. When He does something, people don’t see you, they see Him. Their eyes are opened and they say, “What is this?” You give them the one word answer and you say, “Jesus.” That’s all they need to hear.
When Philip ran and got on the Ethiopian’s chariot, he did not have time to think. He just went! Some of us would have made excuses, “He is front another country. Maybe he speaks another language. He’s reading, don’t interrupt him…” Philip ran and got in and he preached Jesus because that was what the Ethiopian needed. Having said all this, we must remember that when a person is born again and becomes a new creature there are also physical, emotional and mental things that need to be dealt with.
The first button in the first buttonhole is spiritual but there are other aspects, problems from the past. There are things that have to be dealt with. That is where we have to have discernment and not get obsessed. You can see demons in everything. Sometimes it is not Satan but something physical or practical! We need to be able to do diagnosis. Is this psychological? Physical? Emotional? Sometimes what people need is a good sleep and some food!
Some people are unnecessarily afraid. It is the enemy is the one who needs to be afraid. God has looked after us every second. We've been through fire and water but we weren’t burnt and we were not drowned! Put on the armour every day! And remember that Satan cannot hold on to you!
Protect your mind. Be careful who you listen to and what you listen to. Be careful what you watch on TV. Satan will fight until the end the battle of the mind. That is why you need to have the word of God because that it will change your way of thinking. God has not given us a spirit of fear. If there is fear, it is not from God!