Lesson 6

Victory Over Evil Forces

(Ephesians 1 & 6, Romans 8, James 4)
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Introduction: When I was a young man, change was slow - except for cars. American car manufacturers changed the looks of their cars every year. Things cost more each year. These days, we have new technology all the time, and technology gets cheaper. One astonishing new area is cell phones. All the time I discover some new "app" for my phone which allows me to live or work more efficiently. Is there a parallel in the spiritual world? Are there new weapons (new "apps") that we have not considered or discovered to help us live more holy lives? Perhaps we have heard of them, but not used them? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Eyes of Your Heart


    1. Read Ephesians 1:17. What did the Ephesians need? What did they have to learn? (Paul prays for the "Spirit" of wisdom and revelation.)


      1. How does this education work? (The "Spirit" refers to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can give us both wisdom and the discovery of new things.)


      2. For what reason should we want wisdom and learning new things? (We will know God better.)


    2. That sounds great! We have an "app" for knowing God better. Let's read on - Ephesians 1:18-19. What are the "eyes of your heart?" (This must be spiritual discernment.)


      1. What will "heart eyes" do for us? (Three things: a)Know the hope to which we are called; b)Know our future inheritance; and, c) Know the power of God available to us.)


        1. Assume that I just handed you these three weapons, these three apps. What would you do with them? What possibilities exist?


    3. Read Romans 8:26-27. What special gift has God given us to help us to understand what we need? (His Holy Spirit. We see this consistent theme that the Holy Spirit helps us to understand both our needs and our powers. If you are not clear on what weapons, what apps, God has available for you, then ask the Holy Spirit to make this clear.)


  2. Power


    1. Read Ephesians 1:19-23. We learned that one weapon given to us is power. What is the extent of the power that God will make available to us? (This power is what God used to raise Jesus from the grave and exalt Him above all else! This is astonishing power!)


    2. Let's contemplate this for a few moments. Paul tells us that God wants to give us gifts, weapons, apps, that will help us to better understand God and the power that He makes available to us. Why would God be giving us such extraordinary stuff? (Let's explore that next!)


  3. Why We Need Power


    1. Read Ephesians 6:10-12. We looked at this text last week. What reasons do we see here for us to be armed with knowledge and power? (Satan is scheming against us. Hostile "powers of this dark world," and "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" are being set against us.)


      1. How would you identify the enemy in practical terms? (It sounds like earthly institutions are against us, and that supernatural forces are against us.)


    2. Considering the texts we have read, it seems that a lot of power is arrayed against us, and that an incredible amount of power is available to us.


      1. Do you look at life as a power struggle?


      2. If you do, how do you struggle in life?


      3. When you struggle, do you feel empowered?


    3. If my life looks anything like your life, it seems that I am mostly floating along in the current of life, and that areas of weakness (regarding sin) in my life continue to be weak. What do our texts teach us about a life like this? (God makes available to us tremendous power to deal with the sin in our life. In addition, He gives us the ability to better understand His will for us so that we can spot new areas of sin.)


      1. Is there any reason why we would not ask the Holy Spirit for discernment and and power to defeat sin? (Perhaps we don't want to be free from sin. Friend, do you need an app to deal with that?)


    4. Read James 4:1-2. What kind of sin struggle does James reveal? (We covet things other people have, and it creates fights among us.)


      1. Why don't we have the things we covet? (We do not ask God for them.)


    5. Read James 4:3. If we just used the great power available to us from God, would we have all of the things we covet? (No. Our motive for asking is to simply help us. We will spend what we get selfishly.)


    6. Read James 4:4-5 and Luke 15:1-2. This is tricky to understand. Jesus was surrounded by sinners who He welcomed. What does James mean by "friendship with the world?" (I don't think he is writing about friendship with sinners. He is talking about preferring to have sin in our life. Being comfortable with sin in our life. Being "adulterous," means having split loyalties. Part of us wants and enjoys sin, part of us wants and enjoys God. God says this is unacceptable.)


      1. Why is this unacceptable? (We understand this from marriage. We have to choose to whom we will be loyal.)


    7. Look again at James 4:5. What spirit is this? (It is certainly not the Holy Spirit. I think it means that our natural, sinful heart envies the world.)


    8. Read James 4:6. Why would we envy the world? (Because the world is about power. We want power, money and influence. We do not seek to be humble. That puts us in conflict with God.)


    9. Read James 4:7-9. Is this the heart of the battle? Is this where we need the Holy Spirit to help us understand our hearts, understand the issues and our understand our spiritual weapons? Is this where we need the extraordinary power God has made available to us? (Yes.)


      1. Would you rather deal with the sins in other people, than deal with your own sins? (This is perhaps the largest part of the battle - to figure out where the battle is taking place. Turns out it is taking place in my heart!)


    10. Read James 4:9-10. I've seen serious Christians who make me think I don't want to be like them! Will someone involved in an inner spiritual battle stop laughing, stop having joy, and start mourning and start being gloomy? (Read Galatians 5:22. The second fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy! God is telling us to take our sin problem seriously. He is not telling us that He wants us to live a joyless life.)


      1. If you take your sin problem seriously, what is the issue that you need to consider first? (You need to choose God and not the world. You need to choose righteousness and not sin.)


    11. Two weeks ago we learned that we can be secure in our salvation while we travel the road to holiness - a road in which sin is still a problem. Is choosing salvation the same choice as we have been discussing today? When James calls us an adulterous people, is he saying that we have refused to choose salvation? (This issue troubles me. I'm not sure I have this right, but here is what I think. Wavering between God and sin cannot undue our salvation, otherwise no one could be saved and none be sure of salvation. However, at some level choosing God rather than the world is the salvation decision. This choice has to be at a very basic level of choosing God -- it certainly cannot be about choosing to do the right thing about sin all the time.)


    12. Read Acts 5:12-16. If you choose righteousness, if you choose God, what power does Satan have to thwart your choice? (How can we defend ourselves by saying that we are only human? God makes His Spirit available to us. He gives us extraordinary weapons, apps, to deal with our internal struggle against the forces of evil.)


    13. Friend, can you see that the sin battle is in your life? You have all the power and discernment you want. God makes it all available to you. The question is, will you choose God? Why not make that choice right now?


  4. Next week: "Arming" for Victory.

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