Today as we continue our series “The Warrior” we need to remember that every warrior has a cause to fight for, and it’s unfortunate, but too many warriors lose the important battles, because one of our greatest weaknesses as warriors is that we can be so easily distracted. Now you warrior princesses, you know this, you’ve seen this, you know where we’re like sitting across from you at the table, we’re involved in a dialogue, when suddenly it becomes a monologue, because our eyes glaze over, we get this far away look, and we’re gone. Then comes the question, you know, “Are you listening to me?” “Did you hear anything I just said?” And so as warriors, we have this supernatural gift don’t we? You know, where we’re able to recall the last phrase she said and hope that’s good enough. It rarely is, but we try; right?
This morning, we’re going to look at 1 John, chapter 2, at verse 14, where the apostle is talking to fathers and young men. And you could say he’s talking to the warriors, it was a pep rally. He’s building them up. He’s pumping them up. He’s encouraging them in the same way that I hope to this morning. And here’s what he says, verse 14, the middle of the verse. He said, “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14).
So the first thing he says, is that you young men, you warriors and fathers, “You’re strong because the word of God lives in you, the power of the living God lives inside of you, and it’s the Sword of the Spirit right? The word of God is your weapon for warfare, the Holy Spirit is stirring in you, and you have overcome the evil one. You are strong!”
So the apostle John is encouraging these men in the church, but you notice right away his tone changes, and with somberness in his voice he warns them saying, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:14-17).
What John is telling these men, these warriors, and what he’s telling us today, is a warning that we can be doing so well, we can be loving God, walking with God, and serving God, when all of a sudden you’ll be distracted, disoriented, and before long you’ll find yourself head over heels in love with the things of this world. You will be seeking the things of God when suddenly you’re distracted, you’re detoured, and you find yourself off on a wild goose chase in pursuit of an earthly kingdom. And this happens over and over and over to the warrior, where he will abandon his divine purpose, his heavenly cause, and instead of living for the things above and things it will last, he begins building an earthly kingdom, he’ll fall in love with the things of this world rather than the things of the kingdom of God. And so the point that the apostle is driving home, is that the world and its desires pass away, but the warrior who stays on task, the warrior who does the will of God lives forever.
Now the apostle Paul, addressed this same issue with Timothy, a young pastor of the church in Ephesus, reminding him that God created us with purpose, that we are warriors with a cause and he said this in 2 Timothy 2:4. He said that, “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer.” So he encourages warriors not to get involved in civilian affairs or things of this world and you are that warrior. You’re that soldier, and our goal should be to please our commanding officer, the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s our goal, but every so often we get distracted don’t we? Over time we begin to veer off course and as we continue through life, even though we started off just a little off track, over time we end up very far from where God wants us to be as warriors, because we're so easily distracted by the things of this world.
And the reason for this is that we’re warriors. We want to conquer, we want to keep score, and we want to win. As warriors, we measure our progress, we compare ourselves, we want to know how we’re doing and the world makes it easy for us to keep score. You know, it’s like your boss telling you, you were number one in sales last month. They gave you a bonus. Or maybe it’s your house, your new car, or how you compare with your neighbors? But, in God’s kingdom… it’s hard to know. It’s hard to know day in and day out how you’re doing spiritually. You know, you’re not going to get a promotion or a pat on the back for being humble, for praying, or for tithing. And so spiritually for the warrior, it’s really hard to keep score, yet we’re drawn to that place where we can keep score, we’re drawn to the things of this world, because deep inside we’re driven to be competitive. We want to win, we want to keep score, and yet spiritually it’s so hard. And our spiritual enemy knows this and has a strategy to get warriors off track, tempting them to fall in love with this world. So the apostle John warns us in verse 15 to refocus, saying, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
You see, for us warriors to be fighting the right battles, we need to understand the strategy of our spiritual enemy. We need to be aware of our weaknesses. And here God has revealed to us the three most common attacks in verse 16. Now I prefer the way it is stated in the King James translation, so I will read it to you, “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16; KJV). God lays it out for us so clearly, because our enemy is so subtle, and his distractions so deadly. You see, our adversary, Satan, has used this same plan of attack for thousands of years. In fact if you look at Satan’s attack on the first warrior, on Adam in Genesis chapter 3, or the greatest warrior who ever lived, Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 4, he used the same three strategies – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And so this morning I want to help you to recognize Satan’s strategy and to identify those things that are threatening to derail you from God’s purpose for your life.
The first one we’re going to identify is the lust of the flesh or as the NIV says “the cravings of sinful man.” Now this subject is very big, so today I’m just gonna to touch on one part of it, and that is the temptations of the flesh, sexual lust, because so many warriors fall into sexual temptations, destroying both their own life as well as those around them. And if you are a warrior that is battling right now with sexual sin I want you to know that you are not alone. And that some of the greatest warriors that ever lived had to fight this battle.
In fact, a man who was described as having God’s very own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), King David, found himself in the wrong place at the right time and fell to the lust of the flesh. Now David was not only a good King, but he was also a powerful warrior, and yet you can see his struggle with the flesh in 2 Samuel Chapter 11:1. “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”
In other words, when David should’ve been at war, he abandoned his post, and pursued the things of this world. Because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, he saw something he wasn’t supposed to see, which led him to think something he wasn’t supposed to think, to do something he wasn’t supposed to do, and to lose something he wasn’t supposed to lose. And it was all because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. You see, he had abandoned his heavenly purpose and fell to the lust of the flesh.
Verse two tells us, “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing…” (2 Samuel 11:2). And I’ll stop there, because honestly we’ve read enough… that was enough to get David into a lot of trouble. You see, he should’ve been at war with his troops, but instead he found himself in that place where he saw Bathsheba naked and bathing. The Hebrew word “saw” means to look longingly, in other words, he lusted, but then he took it up another level. He acted on his lust and sent messengers to bring her to him. He acted sinfully with her, got her pregnant, and ended up conspiring to murder her husband. It all happened so quickly, it’s recorded here in just 16 verses, and that’s what happens to many great warriors. The enemy, whispers in your ear, “One little look is not going to hurt…” But it’s the lust of the flesh, and Satan is going to attack you there.
Second is the lust of the eyes, and again this is so deep and so broad, it means so much more than we have time to talk about today, but one of the ways we can look at is what we could call material lusts. And this is when the warrior is not satisfied with what he has and thinks that more or something else will make them happy. It’s the lust of the eyes. And the crazy thing is that intellectually we know that more really doesn’t matter, yet we pursue it unapologetically, we crave it, and we rationalize it. We justify it as the key to being a better husband, a better father or man, because we feel that our worth is based on what we accumulate and what we accomplish and we’ve bought into the enemy’s lie.
The third strategy, the third plan of attack by Satan is the pride of life… the boasting of what he has and does. And I would suggest that this is where the warrior begins to think that it’s really all about me. You know, it’s my abilities, it’s what I can do, and I’m going to be the hero. So suddenly, we start to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, we boast about what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve achieved, and so now we think it’s all about us and when it’s all about us, it can’t be about Jesus; and when it’s not about Jesus we haven’t truly surrendered to our Commanding Officer. And so we can call ourselves believers all day long, but we’re not… until we “love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind” (Matthew 22:37).
But here’s the deal, as warriors, the way to be conquerors is to stop fighting the wrong battle, to stop trying to win the wrong battle, and win the right one. When you’re confronted with the wrong battle you resist the temptation, you take that thought captive, you silence the adversary, and as the Bible says, you “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
In Philippians it says, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). You see, you “don’t conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but (you’re) transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). And so whenever we’re tempted, we start to wander, or become distracted, Hebrews chapter 12, verses one and two, tell us, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” We shake it off… when you get entangled in the affairs of this world, you throw it off… and verse two says, “Let us” do what? “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
You see, here’s what happened with King David, you remember he was supposed to be at war, but instead he was looking out over his kingdom, when he saw Bathsheba and gave in to the lust of the flesh. The result being, that his life fell apart, he was involved in a conspiracy to murder, which resulted in the loss of an innocent child, and he hadn’t even processed the fact that he’d done wrong. But the Bible tells us, “The thing David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27).
So, “The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
"Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."
“David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity." Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:1-7).
I wonder how many of you warriors this morning would acknowledge that you have a God given purpose. You know that, you know that you were created in Christ Jesus to do good works, but you’ve abandoned your post (Ephesians 2:10). You’re building an earthly kingdom that will not last and God would say to you today, “You’re the man. You’ve fallen in love with things of this world and you’re building a kingdom that won’t last.”
Warriors if that’s you, you’ve got to do what David did after Nathan confronted him. You’ve got to humble yourself and repent before God. Don’t even leave the building today without dealing with this. Make an altar right where you are and worship God. Look at Psalm 51, get down before God, and say like David, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalms 51:1-4). “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Ask him to help you fall in love with him again. Pray that he would refresh your spirit. Cry out, “Have mercy on me, O God.”
In Ezekiel chapter 22, God was looking for a man. He said, "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30). He was looking for a man with integrity, a man of courage, a man who would stand up for that which is right and fight against that which is wrong. And God said, “I found none.”
I pray that God may search this church today, that he would look for such a man, a man whose word has value, a man who can’t be bought, a man who would lay down his life for his bride, a warrior who would rise above the things of this world. I pray that God would look at you and say, “You’re the man.” I pray that God will look at you and say, “I found one.” I pray that God looks at you and says, “You’re the man who can change generations to come.” You’re the man who can fall so in love with God and his kingdom that this world loses its grip on you. You’re the man who can make an eternal difference, because you’ve overcome by the blood of the lamb and by the words of your testimony. Young men, fathers, warriors, you are strong. The word of God lives in you. You’ve overcome the evil one, but don’t love this world or anything in the world, because if you love the world, the love of the father is not in you.
Warriors, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. You are God’s warrior… don’t settle for anything less.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
September 13, 2015