Sermons & Devotional Messages

The real war on terror

The message below is based on quotes and notes from the audio version of a sermon on Ephesians 6:10-17

by Rev. Cliff McManis

It was presented at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley

on December 16, 2007

An invisible spiritual war has been raging since the beginning of time, and people everywhere are involved in its battles -- whether they know it or not. While God reigns in the midst of the deadly struggles, our primary antagonist is Satan. This master-manipulator has been granted a limited measure of power and authority in this world -- but no more than God has allowed for His own purposes.

Winning this war

First, we must recognize that there is a war, even though we can't see it.

Second, we must put on the armor God has given us. Here are His instructions:

"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

     "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

     "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God..." Ephesians 6:10-17

Third, we must "stand" (notice the repeated command) -- hold our ground -- and resist all the onslaughts of Satan. We can't run away; our enemy operates in an realm we can't even see. So don't go looking for him; he will come to you!  So stand ready to resist his assault! Take your position and be prepared!

Wearing the first five parts of the Armor of God -- Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Faith, and Salvation -- you can hold a defensive posture.

The only offensive part of the Armor is the sixth: "Take up the sword of the Spirit" [1] -- the Word of God!

Do you doubt that this war is real? Then please continue.

Looking behind the scenes:

In the Book of Job, God pulls away the veil to the heavenly realms. We see Satan at war with God's people, and his immediate target was the faithful Job -- a man of integrity who loved and trusted God. God had given him ten children and great wealth, but Satan couldn't trouble him. At least not yet!

Verse 6 offers an amazing glimpse of the heavenly realm. Notice God's unquestioned authority over all things and the limits He sets on Satan's delegated power. Satan may touch Job's household and test the faith of God's servant. But he can't touch his life -- at least not yet:

"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan [a fallen angel] also came among them. And the Lord [who knew the answer well] said to Satan, 'From where do you come?'

    "So Satan answered the Lord and said, 'From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it. ”

    "Then the Lord said to Satan, “ Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

    "So Satan answered the Lord and said, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? 'Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!'

    "And the Lord said to Satan, 'Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.'

    "So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord." Job 1:6-12

The next set of verses show the cruel work of Satan. With God's permission, he destroyed all of Job's possessions as well as his precious children. God had a special plan for Job, and we see His victory at the end of the book. But -- as for most who follow Jesus -- the process was painful:

"...a messenger came to Job and said, 'The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!'

   "While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “ The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!' ...

   "While he was still speaking, another also came and said, 'Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you! ”
   "Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:   

   'Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there.
   The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
   Blessed be the name of the Lord.'

"In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong." Job 1:13-22

Job passed the test! Through those ordeals -- and all that would follow -- Job stood firm in His faith!

Standing firm when tested.

Job understood what most people today neither see nor acknowledge: Satan can't do anything more than what God permits. God allows no test greater than we can bear, when we follow Him and wear His armor.

Jesus modeled the promised victory at the very beginning of His ministry. Immediately after His baptism in the Jordan, he was led by the devil into a barren wilderness to be tempted and tested. After 40 days, He was starving and vulnerable:

   "And the devil said to Him, 'If You are 'the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.'
   "But Jesus answered him, saying, 'It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’
   "Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, 'All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.'
   "And Jesus answered and said to him, 'Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’
   "Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, 'If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 'For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you, and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’" Luke 4:1-11

Jesus continually quoted God's mighty Word. "It is written," He began, thus affirming the authority of the written Word of God.

Satan tried to deceive him by using the same strategy. "It is written," he said as he quoted from Psalm 91. But his scheme only served to twist the meaning of God's Word and pervert the application of God's truth. The deceptive use of the Scriptures remind me of the strategies of today's Emerging Church leaders. [See Who defines the Kingdom of God?]

Jesus recognizes the deception at once:

"And Jesus answered and said to him, 'It has been said, 'You shall not 'tempt the Lord your God.’
"Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time." Luke 4:12-13

That "opportune time" for Satan can be any time we are tired, distracted, focused on the world -- and not wearing God's armor!

"...there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed." 2 Peter 2:1-2

Knowing the power of God's Word

If we want to fight against Satan, our main offensive weapon is the "Sword of the spirit" -- God's Word! Though postmodern and emerging churches increasingly reject this victorious weapon, those who love and follow God had best remember and wield it. Ponder these five reasons for it amazing power.

1. The Word of God is inspired.  It is "God-breathed!" The truth came out of God's mouth. God is the author. So when the people claim that Mozart was "inspired," they are referring to something totally different and earthly. The Scriptures are inspired (breathed) by God, not by Moses or Paul! Men wrote it, while God gave it.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God..." 2 Timothy 3:16

2. The Word of God is authoritative.  Since Bible is inspired by God, it is perfect, flawless, authoritative -- our final and ultimate source of Truth. Yet, foolish humans continue to supplement its message with fictitious authorities that undermine the validity of Scripture. Human opinions, popular sentiment, secular science, traditions, and politically correct sentiments are believed to be more authoritative than His Word! Even Peter, the disciple and friend of Jesus, was guilty of seeing reality from man's, rather than God's, perspective:

"But He [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.'" Matthew 16:23

Our victory is found in the authority of God's Word as seen from His perspective. The world's shallow substitutes or feel-good illusions will only mislead us.

"For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle [a tiny mark in the original spelling of a word] will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." Matthew 5:18

3. The Word of God is living. It penetrates our very mind and thoughts -- whether we accept it or not. Unbelievers get irate when they hear the Scriptures. For example, when John McArthur quoted the Scriptures during a Larry King interview, others in the "religious" panel were enraged.

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Hebrews 4:12-13

4. The Word of God is sufficient. Everything we need to know is in the Bible. It's complete. Sufficient!

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

"...our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance..." 1 Thessalonians 1:5

5. The Word of God is perspicuous. It's clear, understandable to all who know and follow God. But to those who prefer the world's ways and philosophies, the Scriptures are perplexing, disturbing and offensive. 

The emerging church movement tends to deny the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture. They want liberation from its Truth -- not wisdom and clarity to understand and follow it. God wants us to understand His truth and message. He tells us that we can know it-- and that we can know that we know it.

"We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, that we may know Him who is true...." 1 John 5:19-20

"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:56

Adapted from the sermon titled "The real war on terror" (December 16, 2007)

Listen to the audio message at

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Note:1. Roman soldiers would carry a small, double-edged sword. Unlike the larger, unwieldy sword, this small one was most effective in close, precise, hand-to-hand combat.