Today we’re wrapping up our series called “The Warrior” and if you’ve been with us from the beginning, you remember that we discussed that every warrior is created with a cause to fight for. And you warriors know it, you can feel it, you can sense that God created you to conquer, to move ahead, and to overcome. Something inside of you comes alive the moment that you realize you’re fighting for something beyond yourself, something greater than yourself, and something that will last. We discussed last week how Satan, our spiritual enemy, wants to distract you from your cause, so that you don’t do what God has called you to do. It’s the warrior who’s distracted and so this morning we are going to look at Genesis chapter 3 to take this one step further as we wrap up this series.
Now when God created the first man, Adam, he placed them in a practical paradise, it was a dream land, but immediately God gave him a warning. It is recorded in Genesis chapter 2, verses 16 and 17, “The Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” So God created man and woman, he created man first, he prescribed boundaries for him, and then just five verses later God created woman, God created Eve. And God said, “You two have fun, have kids, multiply and rule the earth, but remember… remember there’s this one tree, that one right over there, don’t eat from that tree. Everything else is good, just don’t eat from that one tree, and yet as we pick up in Genesis chapter 3 we find Adam and Eve hanging out by that very tree…
Let’s read what happens together in Genesis 3:1-7: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” NIV
I read about a little boy who was flipping through the pages of his family’s Bible with fascination. Do any of you have one of those great big family Bibles? You know the one that’s as big as the box you get your boots in at the shoe store? I love the pictures and commentaries in the one that I have from my wife’s great-grandfather. And so the story goes that this boy was turning the pages of his family’s Bible with fascination, when something fell out of the Bible onto the floor. He picked it up and saw that it was an old leaf from a tree that had been pressed between the pages.
“Hey mom, look what I found,” the boy shouted to the other room.
“What did you find?” His mother asked as she stepped into the doorway.
Excitedly the young boy answered, “It’s Adam’s suit!”
Now seriously, the story goes that the serpent, Lucifer, the evil one whom was cast out of heaven, came to the woman in the form of a snake and tempted her to eat of the forbidden fruit. She rebelled against the word of God, the command of God, and sinned disrupting the peaceful utopia of the garden. And yet you’ve got to wonder where our mighty warrior, Adam was. You see, Eve may have sinned by her rebellion, but Adam sinned by his passivity. The Scripture is very clear in verse six, “She took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Adam was with her and he ate it.
The warrior, Adam, had abandoned his post when the Serpent slithered up to Eve and it’s as if they were standing in the produce section of the grocery store, when he said, “Take a look at that. Wow, doesn’t that look good? It’s shiny, so full, and I bet it tastes delicious. Do you want some?” And so Eve was like, “Sure.” Meanwhile, Adam was not absolved from participation in this fateful moment of transgression, because he was there with his wife, but he was distracted and didn’t do anything. He didn’t discuss this life changing, family crushing, eternity altering decision. He didn’t say, “God told us not to do that.” He didn’t do anything and committed the sin of passivity. The Bible says it this way, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins” (James 4:17).
Adam had abandoned his post and sadly today that’s what so many of us do. Right in the heat of the battle, when things start to get tough, we turn our backs and walk away. This is so clearly illustrated for us in Psalm 78, verse 9, speaking of the warriors, the Bible says, “The warriors of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned their backs and fled on the day of battle” (NLT).
The Lord, speaking of the Israelites when he gave them the Commandments on the mountain, they had just been miraculously delivered from the oppression of Egypt, and even while Moses was still on the mountain hearing from God, the Lord tells him, "Go down from here at once, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt. They have turned away quickly from what I commanded…” (Deuteronomy 9:11-12).
In Nehemiah it says, “Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen” (Nehemiah 9:29). It’s just as the psalmist said, “Everyone has turned away…” (Psalms 53:3). The warriors turned their backs, they fled on the day of battle, they “turned their backs and fled” (Psalms 78:9).
Warriors, today your children need your influence and your discipline, but you’ve turned your back. Your wife, your children, and your community, need your direction and leadership, but you’re watching the game. Maybe your employer is making some unethical decisions, some ungodly decisions, and you know you should stand up for what’s right, but you don’t want to cause problems. You know, you’re so close to retirement, you really want that new car, and it’s just not worth the risk. So you keep your back turned.
And honestly, we don’t want to admit that we’ve become passive in our leadership, that we’ve become passive warriors. I don’t like to admit it, but even in my home, there are times when I come in the house at the end of the day, and honestly I feel like I’ve been on the battlefield all day. I’m so tired and all I want to do is sit back and relax, yet the kids are craving my attention, or they need my instruction and discipline, and I just don’t want to be bothered. And so the passive warrior sits down… he abandons his cause, but for many warriors instead of becoming passive, they become abusive.
There’s an interesting story in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel chapter 18-19, of King Saul and his relationship with the young David. Now Saul if you remember, started off well, but he didn’t end well. He was following God in many ways, but at some point he was detoured, and became jealous of David. You see, David had killed the giant Philistine, he was a war hero, and all the women thought he was cute. So the Bible says, in chapter 18, when the warriors, “When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes. As they danced, they sang: "Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands." Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. "They have credited David with tens of thousands," he thought, "but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?" And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David” (1 Samuel 18:6-9). Suddenly, Saul instead of being passionate about the call of God on his life, became abusive, defensive, and threatened like so many men do.
So the abusive warrior went on the offensive, on the attack, and chapter 19 tells us, Saul sent the men to capture David, “Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, "Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him” (1 Samuel 19:15). He wanted to destroy him, to kill him, and there wasn’t anything passive about King Saul. He had become an abusive warrior like so many men are today. And it happens so gently, so subtly, that often we’re not even aware of the change.
You see, what happens is one day you wake up and realize that the track that you are on makes your dreams unobtainable, the life you’re living is far from the life you want, and it makes you angry, you don’t want to accept responsibility for it, you don’t want the blame, and so you just lash out at whoever is close by. And unfortunately, a lot of warriors end up hurting those whom they have been called to love the most, because they’re so frustrated, so angry, and disappointed… you can’t even have a conversation with them… they’re emotionally abusive… and they just blast out a tirade of irritation at those who dare come near them.
The abusive warrior lashes out, “If you wouldn’t hold me back… I’d have some fun like used to.” “You know, I’d be playing sports like a used to.” And so they blame and accuse, “If you wouldn’t spend so much money all the time.” “If you weren’t always nagging me” “If you weren’t always demanding this or demanding that.” And so the abusive warrior lashes out with hurtful damaging words of criticism, manipulation, and abuse on the very ones they’ve been called to love the most. And it’s just so difficult for a warriors family, because the temper just rises up, there’s the outburst, and sometimes violently so. But God has a different plan for you men, for you warriors, who have been numbed by battle fatigue.
You see, God understands the stress and the trauma of war, he knows the battle that you’ve been facing day in and day out, he’s aware of the guilt, the depression, and the irritability. And he calls us to refocus, to fix our eyes on our commander-in-chief, to fix our eyes on Jesus, refocusing on the bright future before us, and leaving behind the reoccurring nightmares, the flashbacks, the imagery of battle, and the overreaction to life’s circumstances. Instead he calls us warriors to rise up with a heavenly passion, because there’s something dangerous about a godly man who’s on target, there’s something attractive about the warrior who is doing what he was created to do, there’s something deep inside of the passionate warrior that’s alive, you can see it in his eyes, you can hear it in his voice, and you can almost see it in his step; it’s courageous and it is purposeful, because he knows that he is pleasing God with his life.
You know, like the Greatest Warrior who ever lived. Jesus was passionate wasn’t he? You remember, one time he came into the temple, he saw that what was going on wasn’t pleasing to God the Father, and he was consumed with passion. The people had turned the temple into a big flea market and Jesus came in and said, ““How dare you!” To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" (John 2:16). In other words, “You’re not doing this on my watch.” And zeal for his Father’s house consumed him, the passion and purpose of God consumed him, and the disciples remembered it was written (Psalms 69:9).
Our Warrior, the Ultimate Warrior, wasn’t passive; even down to the very last week of his life here on earth Jesus handled every situation with the appropriate passion. He said, “I’ve come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). I’m here to reveal the love of my Father (Matthew 11:27). I’m here to turn them, because my Father is seeking true worshippers” (John 4:23-24). And passion just consumed Him.
This morning I want you to know that you can have that passion too. You see there is something that comes alive deep inside of you when you know that you’re living for the cause that God put before you. When Nehemiah went to recruit some men to help rebuild the wall of Jerusalem he gathered the men and said, "Don't be afraid of them. (Don’t be afraid of your enemies) Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14). Warriors, don’t be afraid of your enemies, remember the Lord who is great and awesome and fight! Fight for your brothers. Fight for your sons and your daughters. Fight for your wives and your homes. And all the men joined Nehemiah because there something about us warriors that love to fight to protect those that we love.
You know that’s true, it’s built in you, it’s ingrained in you, and it’s in your DNA. You want to protect. How many of you have been at home when you hear a noise in the middle of the night… you hop up to investigate in your whitey tighties right? You’re in your underwear, you’re looking for a battle, and you’re looking for someone to whip right? It’s the warrior in you. Barefoot and in your underwear you’d give your life to protect those that you love. But I believe that today, God is calling you to something even greater, something that’s even more challenging, something more difficult, and that would not just be to give your life, to die for someone, but to live for them daily.
For those of you men who are married, you know you’ve been called to protect your bride. You are to protect her emotionally, physically, and above all to protect her heart. When God gives you children, you don’t just protect them physically, but you also protect them spiritually, because you’re the pastor of your house, right? You lead them, you invest in them, you hold up God’s word, his truth, and you disciple them. And so as God’s warriors we’re going to draw our sword and we’re going to fight to protect what we believe in.
One time, when David was caught in a battle with the Ammonites, the Aramaeans came up behind his troops. After he had been made aware that they were surrounded he sent his commander Joab to speak to the troops in kind of a pep rally and he said, “Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight" (2 Samuel 10:12). Warriors, today we need to be strong, let us fight bravely for our people and our city.
You see, we have a kingdom to advance. We have purpose. And we have passion. But who will advance the kingdom of God? The Lord said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matthew 11:12). Forceful men; not passive, lifeless, aimless men, but passionate, forceful men; warriors will advance the Kingdom of God. You are a kingdom builder. You want to conquer, to overcome, to fight, and to win, because you’re a kingdom builder. The problem is, you’ve got to decide which kingdom you’re going to build?
Some of you right now, you’ve been building your own kingdom, but you’ll never be satisfied, because you’ll never accumulate enough of the stuff of this world. And even if you could, you’re not of this world, you were created by God for something that will last forever. You were created to be a spiritual warrior and today the choice is yours, which kingdom are you going to build? Are you going to be the passive warrior, the abusive warrior, or like Jesus Christ, are you going to a passionate warrior; passionate about things that will last forever?
I’ll close with this last verse from Joel chapter 3, “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, 'I am strong!' Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there. Bring down your warriors, O Lord!” (Joel 3:9-11).
Men and women of God prepare for war. Today you and I have a kingdom to advance, we’re warriors in the army of God, with the Lord Jesus Christ as our commanding officer. Faith, prayer, and the Word of God are the weapons of our warfare. We’ve been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire. We won’t be discouraged enough to turn aside, we can’t lose enough that it would cause us to quit, because all the demons of hell can’t defeat us, people can’t disillusion us, money can’t buy us, governments can’t silence us, and hell can’t handle us. We are warriors of Almighty God and even death itself can’t destroy us. Remember, that God was looking for a man who would build the wall, who would stand in the gap against the evil one, a man of courage, boldness, faith, and integrity. You are the warrior and you are that one.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
September 20, 2015