Scripture: Luke 11:20-21
Key Verse: “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted and divides the spoils.”
The struggle continues, but victory is certain! For the life of me I cannot remember who I was talking with that shared this statement that has become one of my spiritual mantras. Although there may be struggle, we must realize that victory is certain!
My spiritual and preaching mentor Dr. Michael P. Williams once told me that your trial sermon will be emblematic and representative of your ministry. My trial sermon came from Acts 9 and grew out of the experience of the Apostle Paul, who was on his way Damascus to persecute believers of Christ. Paul’s experience gave me the title to my trial sermon, “A Run In With the Lord”. I wonder what my life would have been like if that was the last run in with the Lord I ever had, but unfortunately that has not been the case. There have been several run ins, but I refused to let this time be the same and knew something was going to different this time.
I was working on a sermon idea I actually received from Dr. Williams, and one night in the course of my research I don’t think it was what I was reading, but I saw God through this sermon taking me back to my trial sermon, but it was deeper this time. The sermon I was working on is an easily overlooked line of Jesus who is speaking to Ananias in a vision. Jesus tells Ananias to go to a street called Straight, and there he will find the “one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.” (Acts 9:11).
My prayer up to that point across the journey had been, “Lord I desperately desire for this to be different.” I remember literally throwing the book in my hand as I jumped up laughing and shouting, “God You are something else!” In that moment, God began to show me that this time was already different because my previous run ins with the Lord typically ended right there on my spiritual road to Damascus. I literally would stop right there after the conversation where Jesus says in verse 6, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Let me try to make sense of that statement. I typically ended up just going into a season of passively waiting for the next instruction. I hadn’t really studied and meditated on what Saul of Tarsus did while actively waiting on God. He fasted and prayed. But here is the difference; we know how to fast and pray for direction and instruction, but something different happens when you fast, pray, and seek God’s presence for true transformation. In that moment God was showing me that this time would be different because I wasn’t seeking God to change something, I was seeking God to change everything about me. That’s what Saul was doing, in a life-changing moment, he realized that he been going about everything in the right way, just the wrong direction!
As you read the conversation between Jesus and Ananias, you will discover why this point was important. The reputation of Saul was a murderous one. He had caused great trouble and fear in the kingdom of God. But I believe that in the small statement, “for behold, he is praying”, Jesus was providing an indication to Ananias that this time is not the same man you heard of previously. God began to show me, that there will be struggles but they will be of a categorically different nature, “for behold, he is praying”.
Jesus didn’t tell Ananias about Saul’s Damascus road experience, but just that Saul was praying. This is the revelation, that after our experiences where we are knocked down, but not knocked out, if you really want this time to be different it requires an active and sincere prayer life above all else. Don’t just pray that God turns the situation around, or deals with your enemies, or fixes your finances, but pray that you seek God to be remade in His image and likeness. Pray that you seek God with your whole heart, mind, and understanding! God begin to show me, how I had already been transformed across the journey and through my seeking Him, His presence, His will, and His righteousness. It was already done!
Not let me connect it to our primary text and key verse. Previously, there were some areas of my life where I believe Satan was at peace, because I had not fully surrendered to God but compartmentalized many areas of my life where the armor of Satan had been successful. When you study this statement of Jesus in our key verses, many commentators will cross reference the same word that Jesus uses for armor with the word that Paul (formerly that same Saul of Tarsus we referred to earlier) uses in Ephesians 6:10-19. I encourage you to read this passage again. In this passage Paul lays out the armor of God, and what God began to show me is that the armor of God is laid out as a contrast and in opposition to the armor of the strongman Satan referred to by Jesus.
What I received through revelation was that through prayer, meditation, and choice I had armor to combat and defeat the armor that Satan had trusted, because Jesus the one stronger came in and overcame Satan. When Jesus says he took his armor, he took the effects of his armor on believers, Satan’s armor still exists and trust me he’s still using everything in his armor every day, but the good news is that the struggle continues but victory is certain because Jesus has overcome the strong man Satan!
A quick preview of what we will cover over the next few days: We have the armor of truth to overcome Satan’s armor of lies and deception. We have righteousness to overcome Satan’s armor of unrighteousness. We have the armor of peace to overcome Satan’s armor of chaos and confusion. We have the armor of faith and belief to overcome Satan’s armor of doubt and disbelief.
The next two components of our armor need a little more explaining. We have the armor of salvation, but remember that is the “helmet of salvation”, which is about our mental fortitude and power, it’s about singleness of mind and purpose. For the believer it is to seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness, live lives that give Glory to God, and to know that through Christ Jesus we are saved, redeemed, and sanctified through the blood of Jesus. We have all of this to overcome Satan’s armor of mental and psychological attacks, being double-minded, a wandering and wondering mind, the fear of commitment, indecision, insecurity, etc.; basically everything that would attack your mind, our tendency to be distracted from the things of God by the things of this world, and the sense of knowing that if God be for me, who or what can be against me.
We also have the Spirit of God, which is activated and comes alive through the Word of God as revealed in Jesus to overcome the armor of Satan that works to pervert, distort, truncate, and misappropriate the Word of God. Remember that was the first attack of Satan in the Garden of Eden, “Has God indeed said…” (Genesis 3:1) and that was the attack on Jesus after his 40 Day Journey through the wilderness he attempted to weaponize a distorted form of scripture to justify what He was tempting Jesus to do, but Jesus simply responded “It is written.”
I promise you the struggle may continue, but victory is certain!
CPR Kit for the Soul:
Centering Theme: Center yourself and meditate on the areas in your life where you have resisted surrendering to God
Prayer Topic: Ask God to help you stop having just a transactional prayer life, but a transformational prayer life
Reflection Thought: Have I fully embraced the full armor of God to combat and overcame the armor of Satan?
T3 Prayer Booster:
- Father God, I thank You, that You still love me, chose me, and have been patient with me although I have struggled to surrender every area of my life to You
- Lord, I thank You that this time is different, because I’m not seeking a transaction, I’m seeking You for transformation
- Lord, I thank You that although the struggle continues, the more I learn how to understand and deploy the full armor of God the easier it becomes to overcome the armor of Satan and indeed victory is certain