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Opposites Attack (Matthew Sermon 53 of 151)

Opposites Attack (Matthew Sermon 53 of 151)

May 04, 2003 | Andrew Davis
Demons, The Kingdom of Christ

 Introduction

We are resuming our study in Matthew, looking at verses 22 through 29.  There are few types of stories that at least for me are as appealing or exciting as heroic rescue stories. There are fairytales in which the prince, endowed sometimes only with courage and with cleverness, is able to rescue the damsel in distress. In real life also there have also been heroic tales and it is encouraging for us to read them, to look at the valor, the heroism, the willingness to sacrifice, even to lay down lives so that hostages may be rescued.

For example, there’s the experience of the Navy Seals in 1991 as a civil war was raging in Somalia and the warlords had surrounded the US embassy in Mogadishu. There were frantic calls from the American ambassador there to get them out. There were a number of civilians or families and other diplomats from foreign countries. Our country sent the Seals in undercover of darkness. When they arrived, it was not a moment too soon because already there were rebels and insurrectionists climbing the walls of the embassy that very night armed to the teeth.  The Seals went in and basically held that perimeter until helicopters could come in and rescue 281 hostages, and not a single soldier, and not a single hostage lost his life that night. It was incredible valor and heroism, and done by the Seals. You never hear about it, they don't want you to know about it, but this is the way that they act, a heroic rescue. Some military rescues are done just when the battle lines advance far enough to overtake POW camps or concentration camps. That happened recently in the Iraqi War as we just advanced so quickly that we were able to rescue some POWs, and a number of you, I'm sure, saw direct answers to prayer, as some of you were praying for the POWs that they would be set free, and so they were.

The same thing definitely happened in World War II as the battle lines advanced beyond the place where the concentration camps were, and the horrors at last of Nazi concentration camps were exposed to the world as these emaciated victims were hugging and kissing their liberators, freed at last from tyranny. Some rescues involve not a military conquest but just the heroism perhaps of running into a burning building to rescue heroically some that are surrounded by flames and have no other way to escape. You remember what happened in 9/11 when policemen and fire were willing to rush into an inferno. It'd be no other way to describe what was happening at the World Trade Center but incredible courage and valor.

Satan’s Kingdom and God’s Kingdom at War

The annals of history are filled with heroic rescues, but there is no greater rescue in all of history than the one that was done for your soul by Jesus Christ, if you're a Christian, this morning. Jesus Christ went against great opposition, the kingdom of the devil, took Him on and all of His strength against His will, plundered you and brought you over into the kingdom of light. You were rescued from a kingdom of darkness. The story that we're going to look at today, the account of the miracle that Jesus did, shows very, very clearly, I think for the first time in Matthew's Gospel, the two kingdoms that are at war with each other. They're opposite kingdoms, and opposites attack one another. For example, in our text, Matthew 12:26, Jesus speaks of Satan and says, "If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself, how then can his kingdom stand?" So Jesus ascribed to Satan a kingdom of sorts.Then look at verse 28, "But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." In verse 26, Satan's kingdom, in Verse 28, God's kingdom, and the two are opposites and they attack one another.  The beautiful news of the gospel is that Christ's kingdom is far stronger than Satan's kingdom, and that He is able with great authority and power to plunder Satan anytime He chooses. That's what we're talking about today. Jesus says in verse 29, "How can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man, then he can rob his house?" That's what's been going on now for 2,000 years. 

The last time we talked about Matthew's gospel, we talked about the incredible gentleness of Christ.  He is of a kind that a bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick, He will not snuff out until He leads justice to victory. In His name the nations will put their hope. Christ advances His kingdom through an irresistible gentleness with us. That's how He deals with us at the human level. But in the spiritual realm, there is warfare, there is immense warfare, violent and vicious. And as a matter of fact, if we had our eyes opened and could see even what was going on now in the spiritual realm, even around this room, I think we would be cowed into terror, it'd be difficult to even move.  God shields us as the sheep that we are, as  the little children that we are, so that only occasionally can we feel the impact of that spiritual battle which He sees all the time.

There is a warfare going on in the heavenly realms, and this text that we're looking at today opens it up for us so that we can look at it. The context here is of a powerful sign that Jesus does, a miracle.Verse 22  says, "They brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him so that he could both talk and see." This is an opportunity for Satan's powerful kingdom to be exposed, to be brought to light. Indeed, whenever Jesus did these kind of exorcisms or driving out a demon with a word, Satan's evil kingdom is exposed to some degree. We can see in the five-sense world some evidence of these spiritual beings called demons. Demons are powerful spiritual beings. Just as there are angels, there're also demons that rebelled, that joined Satan in his rebellion, and they fell and they're in opposition to God, and they together comprise Satan's kingdom. They are around us all the time and they really are that with which we have to do as we seek to advance the Kingdom. In Ephesians 6:12 it says, "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." So that is Satan and his kingdom, or we could say the devil and his angels. As Jesus says in the sheep and the goats, He says, "Depart from me, you who are cursed," this time speaking to speak to people who have joined league with Satan in his kingdom. He says to them, "Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."  His angels are demons and they joined him in his rebellion. They are Satan's henchmen. They're in some kind of a structured order. Satan's kingdom is orderly, powers and principalities and hierarchies of structure and order.

Demon Possession

 What is demon possession? What was going on with this individual?  A demon can possess a human being in this sense to indwell them and to kind of take over their personality to a point where they really don't have any choice in the matter whatsoever. They so thoroughly dominate that individual that they become somewhat of an incarnation of evil. Jesus has already driven out many demons, in Matthew Chapter 4, and then again in Matthew 8.   Many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus, and in every case, he drove out the spirits with a word.  Jesus has the power to do this. Demons are powerful beings. I am troubled sometimes by our understanding, or really lack of it, of the spiritual realm. The fact of the matter is that demons are fallen angels, and your view of angels therefore might color your view of demons. Angels are immensely powerful beings. In Daniel chapter 10, Daniel is by the great river of the Tigris and he looks up and it says, "I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen with a belt of the finest gold around his waist, his body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like a multitude." That's an immensely powerful angel. It says, "Daniel was the only one who saw the vision, the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone gazing at this great vision, I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless." Now, this is a good angel, and Daniel is prostrated before it, just powerless even to speak.

The angel explains to Daniel, that he had been dispatched from heaven as an answer to Daniel's prayer, but it had taken him twenty-one days to get there because there was battle in the heavenly realms. There was warfare in the invisible heavenly realms. It says "The Prince of Persia opposed me." If this angel could be opposed by one of these demonic figures, how powerful must that demon have been? He couldn't get past him until the Archangel Michael came and assisted him. He said, "There's no one else that helps me, only Michael who came to assist."  I guess the implication is all the other angels were engaged in warfare of their own, they couldn't be removed from the line, and so he had to battle it out for twenty-one days in the heavenly realms. Do you see what I mean about the invisible world around us and all the warfare that's going on? To some degree, aren't you glad you don't see it? How would you even carry on your lives? How would you sit down to dinner if you saw what was going on in your kitchen? How difficult that would be.  God is gracious to us. We cannot see what's going on, but we must believe in Scripture that this is happening. Luther put it very well when he said, "For still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe. His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on Earth is not his equal. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing? Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing, thus ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He, Lord Sabaoth His name, the Lord Almighty, from age to age, the same. And He must win the battle."  Spiritual battle is in the heavenly realms. Luther was well aware of it. 

There  are different types and effects of demon possession.  We've already seen how Jesus took on the Demoniac of the Gadarenes. Remember the demon inside named himself Legion for there were many; so many demons can inhabit one person. Jesus drove out that demon with a single word, "Go," and out he went. That demon-possessed man was so violent that he was ripping to shreds chains of iron. He couldn't live among people, absolutely out of his mind berserk, and living out in the tombs and hurting himself, dashing himself against the rocks, that was him. This second demon-possessed man is of a different order, rather kind of meek and mild. It says then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. They just kind of led him as you would, a blind man. He seems kind of docile and quiet. There's different levels  it seems of these demons and of demon possession.  Jesus heals the man completely. When Jesus heals you, you're healed. He drove out the demon and healed him, so that he could both talk and see; an incredible display of power. Realize before Jesus came to do miracles, there's no record anywhere of anyone ever giving sight to blind people. It seemed that this miracle was reserved for Christ alone who is the light of the world. It’s an astonishing miracle. As a result, all of the crowd is astonished. The Greek word is very strong here. They're almost outside of themselves. It doesn't seem that this is all that great a miracle compared to the others.  The people were stunned almost into silence. You get the feeling of being amazed. There's a story of Martin Lloyd-Jones when he was preaching a revival in Wales and the spirit of God was so powerfully present during that time, just there in a mighty way, that when he finished, no one moved in the congregation for about half an hour, they just sat there stunned. It was just a sermon, but it wasn't. It was event in which they were interacting with the living God. I think the spirit was just so powerfully present at this moment that everyone was in awe. 

Beelzebub

The people who saw the miracle began to toy with a very dangerous question. They asked in the negative in the Greek, "This couldn't be the son of David, could it?" The NAS has it right in the translation. They're willing at least to ask the question. Later on in John's gospel in John Chapter 9 with the story of Jesus healing the man who was born blind, that kind of question can get you thrown out of the synagogue. By this point they had, I think their defense arranged. If you even asked the question or came to the conclusion that Jesus was the Son of David, He was the Messiah, you would be evicted from the synagogue. But they're toying with the question. When the Pharisees hear this, they begin to lash out. They make an accusation.When the Pharisees heard this [verse 24], they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." They just, in effect, shot off their own leg to save themselves, so they thought, to get out of the trap that Jesus's miracles had put them in. They were stuck. John Piper uses that analogy, he talks about the Samaritan woman at the well, and Jesus brings her to a realization of her sinfulness by pointing out her adultery. Jesus says, "You're right in saying 'I have no husband', for the man you now have is not your husband and you've had seven others." She says, "I perceive that you're a prophet, and while we're talking about my adultery, let's talk about the proper place of worship." That's called changing the subject. It's known as a red herring. Piper says a trapped animal put in a trap will chew off its own leg to escape. The Seminarian woman mangles the flow of conversation so that she can change the subject. That's exactly what the Pharisees are doing here. They're trapped, they're put in a box, they don't know what to do with Jesus, they hate him, but they can't deny what he's doing, and so they don't know how to deal with it, so they come up with this rather shocking conclusion. I think the spirit of God was so powerfully present there that the people were astonished and amazed and didn't know what  to say. There was a sense of amazement there, and in the midst of that they say "It's only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that he drives out demons". It's astonishing.  

The word Beelzebub is related to the word “Beelz. You can kind of see it in the first four letters, it's Beel, the Lord of the flies, or perhaps of dung. It's a Jewish insult for a demon god. It's really the name of Satan. They accuse Jesus of being a con artist working undercover for Satan's kingdom. He's an undercover operative for Satan's kingdom and he's doing his miracles by Satan's power and the whole thing is a big trick, the whole thing a big ruse. Now in one sense, it is possible, it is plausible, because evil people can do miracles, they do in the Bible sometimes. For example, Jannes and Jambres, these magicians opposed Moses and were able to mimic some of his miracles at the time of the Exodus. In Deuteronomy 13, Moses warns the Jewish people and says, "If a prophet or one who foretells by dreams comes among you and if he performs some kind of great sign or wonder but then says, 'Let us follow other gods,' gods you have not known, then do not listen to him. God is testing you to see whether you'll be faithful." It is possible that a demonic kind of figure could do a miracle. Certainly at the end of the world, you who are God's children, be warned because the anti-Christ will be able to do great signs and wonders, false miracles to deceive even the elect, if that were possible. So be warned, be ready, that just because someone can do miracles doesn't mean that they're from God. This is therefore a very deadly serious accusation.

It is very serious to accuse Jesus of doing miracles by Beelzebub. What was their logic? How were they thinking?  Their major premise in life was that they personally were righteous, right with God and made the rules so that others could be right with God, and therefore, anyone who disagreed with them was, by definition, wicked.  That's the major premise. They're righteous and everyone who opposes them is wicked. A fact is that Jesus constantly broke their regulations on the Sabbath and other things. What was their conclusion then? Jesus was wicked. They've already figured that out. They start with their own righteousness and they reason based on that that Jesus must be wicked. The second phase of their reasoning; anything done supernaturally can only come from one of two sources. It can only come from God or the devil. In this they are right. So there must be only one of two possible explanations for a miracle; it's either from God or from the devil. But we've already proven that Jesus is evil and wicked, right? So therefore, His miraculous power must come from the devil. Do you follow their logic? Every single point was right except their original premise. What was their original premise? That they were righteous, in need no savior and that everyone who opposed them was wicked. That was their flaw. They started with their own self-righteousness, and from there they ended up lost.  

Jesus’ Defense of Accusations that He is of Beelzebub 

How does Jesus defend himself? He does so using logic, using experience, and he does so with a statement of power.  First, logic, verse 25 and 26. Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?" Now, note, right from the beginning in verse 25 Matthew doesn't miss an opportunity to say, "Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them... " He wants you to know as the reader that Jesus is divine. He has supernatural power to read minds. This is established again and again in the gospels. He frequently will engage in a debate with somebody's thoughts. “I know what you're thinking. Let's go ahead and deal with that question that you're bringing up in your mind.” He establishes this deity of Christ. His logic is that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. The simple way of looking at this is that anybody who drives out a demon must be from God. It’s really hard to justify that because in Matthew 7, it seems that people drive out demons and end up in hell. The seven sons of Sceva do it, and they're none of God's.  And so how can it be?  It really has to do with common way of thinking. A civil war destroys the country.  If you get a country divided and in factions and they are ripping themselves to shreds, when it's done, there may be nothing left of the kingdom.  Many times in Europe, Europe has been rent to shreds by what we call wars of succession. A king would die with two equally qualified sons. That's a big problem if you don't have rules and regulations, so the British have very clear delineated lines of succession, who's next and how it all works so that they can avoid these kinds of wars of succession.

The American Civil War is still the bloodiest war that we ever fought as we really tried to rip ourselves to shreds over this issue of slavery. Abraham Lincoln, when he accepted the Republican nomination for US Senate in June of 1858 actually quotes this verse and he says, "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other." The point is that this kind of a major civil war is a disaster for the kingdom.  Christ's point is not that Satan is not capable of a ruse or a trick or a con. That's not what he's saying. What he's saying is.” You're missing the scope and scale of the damage that I'm doing to Satan's kingdom.   I am ravaging it from one end of the country to the other.”  Everywhere Jesus went, he was driving out demons. Everywhere Jesus went he was healing people. Even more significantly, everywhere he went, people were repenting from sin, trusting in Him and walking over into repentance and righteousness like Zacchaeus that tax collector who had been plundering everybody. When Jesus comes from then on, Zacchaeus’s different. He's been plucked from Satan's wicked kingdom and now he's righteous. Jesus is doing serious damage. Imagine to try and understand Jesus's way of thinking. Imagine during the Cold War, a CIA operative in Moscow was suspected of being precisely that, and he's brought in. The Russian government wants the spy to prove his loyalty to communism. They might ask him to do something that only somebody who hated the United States would do. Realize that at a low level,  the spy would be willing to keep up the ruse. So he might be willing to do some minor damage against the United States. But if they said, I want you to launch this missile that will sink this aircraft carrier, he won't do it. Because the damage to the country is far greater than any benefit of his spying could ever do. So he'd be exposed at that moment.  Jesus said, "It's the scope of the destruction I'm doing to the kingdom that makes your argument false. If Satan is divided against Satan like this, his kingdom is destroyed." In 1 John 3:8, " The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work," and that's what He was doing. He was laying waste to the devil's kingdom. 

In the second argument, Jesus uses experience. Verse 27: “By whom do your sons drive out demons?”  Jesus said. “If I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out so then they will be your judges?” Now, it's hard to understand. I don't really know if they're disciples, I think “sons” means “disciples”. Disciples were actually driving out demons, but think of it this way. Let's say Mr. Pharisee, that you had a disciple who actually did drive out a demon. What would you say? "Oh, what a glorious teacher I am, and look at my disciple. Look what he can do. I'm so proud of him, like father like son." It's evidence and proof that God is with him. Jesus is saying it's only fair then if you ascribe to your own disciples proof that God is with you through the driving out of demons, why do you deny it when I just destroy Satan's kingdom? Do you not see what you're doing? He uses experience with them.

Thirdly, he uses power. Verse 28, "But if I drive out demons by the spirit of God then the kingdom of God has come upon you." This is really a word of warning. The Kingdom of God has come upon you. You have to deal with the kingdom of God, you have to deal with me as the king of the kingdom of heaven. It's in effect, a warning. Jesus says, "I drive out demons by the spirit of God." From the beginning of His miraculous ministry, Jesus stood in front of his fellow townspeople in Nazareth and he said, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, and to give sight to the blind, and to give walking ability to the lame; all of that by the power of the Spirit of God."

He says, "That's happening now. I am here and by the power of the Spirit of God, I'm driving out demons, and so therefore the kingdom of God is here. It is upon you now." Notice this is the first time that we've had a clear indication, a clear statement from Jesus, that the kingdom of God is here, now, and that was 2000 years ago. So the kingdom of God is here now, today, and yet it's not here because we pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Your kingdom come.” May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. So the kingdom is an already not yet kind of thing.  It's already here, but it's not yet here. Therefore, it's started and it's advancing, it's growing. When we get to the parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13 we'll see the growth of the kingdom explained. The kingdom has come, it is here now and it is growing; it is getting established. Jesus says, "I advance my kingdom through violence in the heavenly realms. Through violence, I advance my kingdom. I bind the strong man and I plunder his kingdom." Look at verse 29, "Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house, and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man, then he can rob his house?"

Yesterday I was reading in the newspaper a letter to the editor in the Durham paper and there continues to be a debate about the propriety of the United States having engaged in war in Iraq and back and forth. People are still saying even in the Democratic debate last night in South Carolina that some of the candidates feel that we should have brought Sadam to the negotiating table, we should have worked with him, talked to him, try to negotiate a settlement, this kind of thing. I will say this, that God will never bring Satan to the negotiating table, ever. He has nothing to negotiate. He's going to dominate his kingdom. He's going to keep advancing that kingdom until he has conquered it and destroyed it and there's nothing left. Nothing. There's no negotiation possible with the devil, none. Jesus says He’s going to plunder him. He’s going to bind him and plunder him, and Satan can't stop Him. That's what he's saying; it's a matter of warfare and He’s not going to negotiate with the devil. The kingdom of Heaven is advancing forcefully and it's continuing to move. The kingdom of Satan is fighting back violently. It does not want to give up even a single soul to Christ, not one, and yet we keep getting saved, more and more of us around the world. How many will be saved today? 

Jesus Wins the Battle with Satan

The kingdom of heaven is advancing forcefully and Satan is fighting back violently. He really believes this world is his. He really does. When Jesus was tempted, the devil took Him to a high mountain and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, and he said, "All this is mine," for a while. "All this is mine for it has been given to me and I can give it to anyone I want. So then, if you'll just bow down and worship me, I'll give it to you."  Jesus said, "Away from me, for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'" But the devil has a sense of ownership and so in 2 Corinthians 4:4, he is called god of this world, he kind of owns it. That's the house, the world, and Jesus comes and takes on the strong man, the devil, and He overpowers him. He binds him up and He plunders him. A good example of this is in Luke 13:16, when Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Do you notice how many times Jesus healed on the Sabbath? He's just tweaking the Pharisees' initial pre-supposition, again and again, "We're self-righteous. You should not do such-and-such on the Sabbath." "Well, here I am again, doing it on the Sabbath. What are you going to do? “Might I urge you to challenge your pre-supposition? Maybe you're not righteous, maybe your laws are not perfect, maybe they're just laws made by men. Maybe you need to repent and come to faith in Christ.”  Anyway, He heals on the Sabbath, and it's a woman who's hunched over and kind of bound by some kind of a paralysis or something, and Jesus ascribes it directly to Satan. Jesus says, "Should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for 18 long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" He says, "Woman, you're loosed, you're set free from Satan and his power." Oh, the power of Christ to set us free, not just physically, but spiritually. He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free. That's Jesus Christ, His kingdom advances powerfully and Satan is therefore plundered.  In Luke 11, the parallel passage here says, "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils."

So there we were huddled, wicked, sinful, just like the devil, rebellious against God, dead in our transgressions and sins, unable to change the situation, and suddenly light breaks in, Christ comes. He rescues. He transfers us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, and all glory to Him, and there was not one thing the devil could do to stop it. That's our salvation, rescued from the devil. Christ has been doing this for 2,000 years. He didn't just want to win one victory, like He won the major victory at the cross, but He wants to enjoy the unfolding of the victory. For 2,000 years, you've been enjoying it. As the gospel has marvelously spread from shore to shore, every tribe and language and people and nation, people coming to faith, and all the marvelous stories as a thing unfolds, and all of it to His glory. It's marvelous, this defeat of Satan that's been going on for 2,000 years.We have displayed here for us, an act of power, of raw authority of Jesus Christ, an act of violence in the heavenly realms. 

Application

What application can we take from this message, from this text? 

 First, just stand in awe and worship Christ for His power. Just take this text and say, "Thank you, Lord. I praise you for your awesome power." Just worship Him for His power. There's no disease that He cannot cure. There's no demon too powerful for Him to drive out with a word. There's no effort on His part. There's no mind that He cannot read, and there is no false doctrine that He cannot refute. There's no combination of demonic powers that can stop Him from doing what He wants to do. That's the power of Christ.

Secondly, understand how Christ's kingdom is advanced by aggressive conquest, not in the physical realm, but in the spiritual. Nothing good in this world is given to us by the devil. Everything must be taken by force. Do you understand that? The devil doesn't concede anything. Therefore, we have to understand the nature of spiritual warfare that must go on for the kingdom of heaven to advance. He's not going to give up an inch of territory. No one can be saved. No one unless the devil is bound and restricted from what he's been doing to that individual and stopped from doing that, so he cannot blind that person's mind anymore. You can't be saved unless that work is done.

Thirdly, I want you to see the incredibly destructive power of self-righteousness. Jesus calls this kind of display of self-righteousness acted out through unbelief, the unforgivable sin.  It's incredible that self-righteousness will bring you to hell. The Pharisees thought that they were righteous. Beware that the same thing doesn't happen to you. If you're sitting in the pew right now listening to me, and I ask you, "On what basis do you think you're going to go to heaven?”, if your answer has anything to do with your good deeds and the good person you are, then you're in danger of falling into the same pit that the Pharisees displayed, self-righteousness, trusting in your own righteousness. Don't do it. Trust in the righteousness that Christ alone can give through the cross. Trust in Him.

Fourthly, if you have trusted in Him, you are a Christian. Rejoice and give thanks for your salvation. Do it today.Two weeks ago, we celebrated Easter. Celebrate Easter, celebrate the resurrection victory. Celebrate the fact that you were rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought over into the kingdom of Christ.

Fifth, get busy advancing the kingdom. Get busy advancing the kingdom through force and power in the spiritual realms. First, through prayer. Paul says after talking about spiritual force of evil in the heavenly realms, and spiritual armor that we should wear and all that, he says, "With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." We don't pray enough, brothers and sisters, and I think, therefore, we don't see all the fruit that we should. We are not the witnesses we should. We're not seeing as many people baptized as we should. It's not going to come easily. It's going to come through trusting prayer, understanding these kinds of things, warfare prayer, you could call it. Now I want you to understand, I'm not advocating all the things in the spiritual warfare movement. There are some real problems there, but I do believe that we underestimate the demonic element that surrounds us.  Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. It's not that individual but realize that that god of this world has blinded that person, and we need to pray and trust against that force. Christ is sufficient and powerful and He will succeed.

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