These are notes on the sermon, God’s Answer For Spiritual Warfare, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 18 October 2020, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
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Child of God, your path is getting brighter and brighter!
As we approach the end of the year, we are stepping into a new dimension of God’s goodness and abundance. The Bible says the path of the righteous shines brighter and brighter (Prov. 4:18). Although the days are getting darker in the world, as children of God, we can expect our future to get brighter and brighter.
Recap of last week’s sermon:
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.
In righteousness you shall be established;
You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
And from terror, for it shall not come near you.”
— Isaiah 54:13–14 NKJV
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord” — Your children will be directly taught by the Lord Himself. This verse is not referring to you teaching them about the Lord, but it is referring to the Lord teaching them personally.
“great shall be the peace of your children” — Your children shall enjoy not just a tiny bit of shalom, but great will be their shalom, their well-being, their wholeness, and their peace.
These two blessings on your children are a result of you being established in righteousness.
We are sharing this series on the gospel of Jesus Christ because while many of us might know in our minds that we have been made righteous in Christ, we need to be established in it (be secure and have firm standing in it). If we are not established in this truth, the Bible says that the devil will blind our minds to it:
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
— 2 Corinthians 4:3–4 NKJV
The “god of this age” here refers to the devil (he became the god of this age when the first man, Adam, sinned and handed over his authority). The devil blinds the minds of those who do not believe. This gospel that we are preaching is so glorious and radiant that the devil has to blind people’s minds to it.
In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith (Rom. 1:17).
This righteousness is a gift and when we receive it, we are transformed from the inside out. You cannot be holy unless you are first established in righteousness.
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”
— 1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV
This is the order in which God works: Christ is first made unto us wisdom (understanding God’s plan and purpose of the cross), then righteousness, then sanctification. We can see a similar order in Romans 8:30 KJV, which says, “ . . . whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
This is the pattern: Righteousness first, then sanctification. Righteousness first, then glory.
God wants His glory to shine upon you:
“For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.”
— Isaiah 60:2 NKJV
This verse is not for the millennium or when we see Jesus face to face in heaven. It’s referring to the times we’re living in right now. The world is getting darker and darker; the Bible has already prophesied that it would. But we do not need to fear because we have God’s light upon us.
One of the plagues in Egypt (a picture of the world) was a deep darkness that covered the land. But at the same time, the children of Israel had light in their dwellings (Exod. 10:23). The light that the Israelites had was supernatural, just like the darkness was supernatural. If the darkness had been natural, the Egyptians would have availed themselves to the same resources that Israel had. But the light in Israel was supernatural.
This is a picture of how God’s glory will be seen upon His people in these last days.
Light is never more visible than when it is shining in the darkness. In a dark room, even a flicker of light is visible. As the children of Israel had light in all their dwellings during the plague, so shall it be for us in these last days. It won’t just be for you but for your family as well.
The devil wants to blind people’s minds to the glory of the gospel of Christ, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine upon them. Notice that it is the mind that the devil wants to blind.
Today’s message is for people who have been experiencing all kinds of mind games, oppression, and sleepless nights from battling negative and destructive thoughts in their minds.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”
— 2 Corinthians 10:4–5 NKJV
“mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” — God’s weapons are spiritual and mighty for pulling down strongholds. If we can locate these strongholds, we can bring them down using God’s weapons.
These strongholds are in our mind. The way that the enemy wages war against us is to attack our minds and erect strongholds there.
The good news is that God has given us the weapons to win this fight. They are not carnal; they are spiritual and mighty to pull down strongholds.
Maybe today, you have a stronghold of fear. There are preachers who, based on Job 3:25, share that whatever you fear will come upon you. This causes even greater fear in the hearts of many. The truth is that the more you try to rid yourself of that fear, the more it manifests itself. We don’t focus on fear to get rid of it. It is the perfect love of God that will cast out fear (1 John 4:18).
It’s important that we know where spiritual warfare is happening. The arena of spiritual warfare is the mind.
The devil’s stronghold is a pattern of thinking that he puts in your mind and it becomes a stronghold after some time.
Oftentimes, a negative thought precedes a negative emotion. Your emotions are an indicator of what you’re thinking. Maybe you have been thinking in a negative way in a certain area or situation for so long that you don’t even realize it; it has become normal to you. But your emotions cannot hide it. If you’re constantly in a low or bad place emotionally, that tells you that you are struggling with a stronghold in your mind, in your thoughts, in your believing.
Right believing produces right living. Right believing also produces the right emotions.
While our spirits have been born again, our souls and our minds need to be restored.
What the devil does is plant negative and destructive thoughts in your mind. He builds up negative thoughts and arguments over the months and years in your life and they become strongholds.
When the devil plants thoughts in your mind, he uses the first person pronoun. He does not come to you and say, “You are an addict.” Instead, he comes to you and puts this thought in your mind: “I am an addict.” He uses the personal pronoun “I” to make you think that you are the one thinking these thoughts. He plants these thoughts in your mind as if they are your thoughts, but they are not.
There is a way to accept or reject these thoughts.
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”
— Matthew 6:31 KJV
“take no thought, saying” — The way we accept and own any thought is to speak it out, to say it.
Know that the thoughts of helplessness, abandonment, and hopelessness are not thoughts that you have to own.
The devil will put arguments in your mind against God’s Word, and he’ll make you think you’re the one who is arguing. He may present his arguments with logic and natural facts and make them sound intelligent.
But we need to know that we live in the light of God’s truth. Truth (God’s Word and promises) always outlasts facts (what we see in the natural, the current situation). Facts can change but truth does not. We see in the Word and in the testimonies we receive every week that there are many who were sick (fact) but are now healed (truth).
The devil puts in your mind:
The devil wants you to think and accept these thoughts as your own…
Sometimes, the devil can also give you thoughts when you are on a high-rise building to jump down.
Pastor Prince shares his personal story of battling with blasphemous thoughts against the Lord when he was a youth, and how the revelation of being the righteousness of God in Christ caused him to realize that those thoughts were not his own and set him free. It was a process.
You can’t stop bad thoughts from entering your mind, but you can stop them from taking root.
The devil wants to point you to your own actions and efforts to be justified/righteous when God has given you righteousness as a gift. You only need to receive it.
It is a continual process of being established in His gift of righteousness. We know we have been made righteous by the blood of Christ Jesus but we have to be established in this truth and identity.
As we’ve read earlier in Isaiah 54, when we are established in righteousness, our children will be beneficiaries of it. When it comes to parenting, many people focus on parenting methods like discipline and don’t realize that the most important thing about parenting is the parents themselves. This is an aspect of parenting that isn’t talked much about. Children observe and learn from their parents even when their parents are not consciously teaching them anything. You are parenting even without words.
That is why it’s so important that as parents, we take care to establish ourselves in God’s righteousness first and foremost. When our children see the peace, security, and confidence we have as a result of being established in righteousness, they learn from that.
When we exhibit fear in our speech all the time, our children are listening to what we are saying and they model after us as well. If we are constantly talking about the negative reports in the world, we are instilling in them fears about the future and the world. Then when they are full of fears, we try to deal with that but we are not dealing with the root of the problem.
As you focus on being established in righteousness, great will be the peace of your children (Isa. 54:13-14).
It is of utmost importance for believers to be established in righteousness because it is our God-given inheritance. Isaiah 54 ends with this:
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,"
Says the Lord.”
— Isaiah 54:17 NKJV
“their righteousness is from Me” — The fruit of Jesus’ finished work in the previous chapter (Isaiah 53) is this gift of righteousness. This gift of righteousness produces peace all around us when we are established in it.
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper” — God never promised that weapons won’t be formed against us but He has promised in His Word that no weapon formed against us will prosper.
There may be new strains of diseases in the future but they will not prosper against you. If you are diagnosed with a disease right now, even if it is COVID-19, we are declaring and believing that the disease will not prosper in your body. It is on its way out!
Today, our part is to declare and to confess, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ!”
Our declaration is indispensable to our faith:
“And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak,”
— 2 Corinthians 4:13 NKJV
“I believed and therefore I spoke” — Faith operates by believing in your heart and speaking with your mouth. That is the spirit of faith, the same spirit of faith that the psalmist David had (Ps. 116:10 KJV).
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
— Romans 10:10 KJV
In the gospels, Jesus told His disciples, “Have (the) faith of God.” (Mark 11:22 YLT)
The God-kind of faith speaks before He sees. When God saw darkness, He said, “Light be.”
He believed, He spoke, and then He saw.
Even though the future looks bleak in the natural, we can be like God and speak forth the good we want to see. Declare, “There are plenty of good days ahead of me.” Say, “All things will work together for my good.”
When Joshua and Caleb were sent among 10 other spies into the promised land flowing with abundance, they were the only ones who came back with a positive report. The other 10 spies only saw the enemy giants in the land while Joshua and Caleb saw the giant-size blessings the Lord had prepared for them. When they all returned to their camp, the 10 spies came back with a report of fear while Joshua and Caleb came back with a report of faith. They had a different spirit. God was in their speech.
Joshua and Caleb saw God; they compared the giants with God. They knew God was bigger and greater than any challenge before them. The rest only talked about the facts they saw; Joshua and Caleb spoke the truth.
When people hear you speak positively, they might say, “You’re not speaking the truth.” But you are. Truth outlasts natural facts. Our God is the God of truth! When everything has passed away, God will still be there. Those who abide with Him will remain forever.
The arena of spiritual warfare today is in the mind.
The way we battle the enemy when he throws arguments at you that produce fear, worry, sleeplessness, and anxiety is by coming back to this one thought, this one truth in Scripture:
“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.”
— Psalm 23:1–2 NKJV
“The Lord is my shepherd” — Sheep need the assuring presence of their shepherd to feel secure. So see your Good Shepherd with you. He is making you lie down in green pastures and leading you beside the still waters.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
— Psalm 23:4 NKJV
“I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” — You are walking through that valley. It’s not permanent; it’s only for a season in your life. In moments when things may not look good, bring the Good Shepherd into the picture. Let Him rest you, let Him walk through the valley of the shadow of death with you so that you fear no evil.
The One who will come out with you and always be with you is your Good Shepherd. And when you look around you, you will see that:
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
— Psalm 23:6 NKJV
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me” — The Hebrew word for “follow” is “radaph,” which means “pursue” or “hunt down.” His goodness and mercy are not just following you but chasing after you!
Get up every morning and say, “God’s goodness and mercy will pursue me today and all the days of my life!”
When you do this, you are putting on the helmet of the hope of salvation. Hope is the word "elpis” in the Greek, which means “a confident and positive expectation of good in your future.”
It might be a fact that there is a pandemic in the world right now, but we can be confident in the truth that goodness and mercy are still hunting us down because we have the Good Shepherd in our lives.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.”
— Psalm 23:5 NKJV
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” — Your Good Shepherd will cause you to sit down and eat even in the midst of the battle. God doesn’t wait until you have the victory over the enemy before you get to rest and feast; He gives you rest and food even in the midst of the battle.
The table is a picture of the holy Communion. The Lord is inviting us to partake of His finished work and eat our way to life and health—even in the midst of the battle!
“casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”
— 2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV
“bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” — This verse does not mean “bring every thought to obey Christ.” In the Greek, the word “obedience” is a noun and not a verb, which tells us this verse is not referring to the action of obedience for us to do but referring to Christ’s obedience that has been fulfilled at the cross.
No one can make every single thought obey Christ. The more you try, the more the devil will tell you all about your sins of commission and omission. His arguments in your mind will make you self-occupied and lead you into a downward spiral of guilt and condemnation.
The cure to self-occupation is to be Christ-occupied, to fix your eyes on His obedience, not yours. To see His beauty and glory.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
— 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV
“beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” — It is when we behold Jesus that we are transformed from glory to glory by the Holy Spirit. Our obedience and our best efforts will never be enough. It only leaves us constantly occupied with ourselves and it sucks us into a deep cesspool of fear, worry, and anxiety.
“For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.”
— Romans 5:19 NKJV
“by one man's disobedience many were made sinners” — People are not sinners because they sin. They sin because they are sinners, and they were born sinners because of Adam’s sin. One man’s disobedience made everyone sinners.
“by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous” — By the same token, one Man’s obedience has made us righteous. The obedience of Christ at the cross has made us righteous today.
Every time a negative thought comes, the one way to deal with it is by bringing it to the obedience of Christ at the cross.
Replace those bad thoughts with this truth: “Christ’s obedience has made me righteous. I have the gift of righteousness. I am the righteousness of God in Christ.”
Pastor Prince shares a testimony of a man who was battling a destructive habit in his life. He always believed the thought in his mind that said, “I am an addict.” But he came to church and heard a sermon about God’s gift of righteousness, and this man started to declare, “I am not an addict. I am the righteousness of God in Christ.” He was transformed from the inside out and he is now free from that addiction!
This is how you win the battle in your mind—by the act of repentance. Repentance is the Greek word, “metanoia,” which means “change your mind.”
We see this in Peter’s sermon at Cornelius’ house:
“To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.”
— Acts 10:43–44 NKJV
Peter didn’t use the word “repent” in his sermon to the Gentiles, but repentance was happening. In the next chapter, Peter further explains what happened when he was asked to recount the entire incident:
“who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.' And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.”
— Acts 11:14–15 NKJV
This is the difference between the law and grace: The law gives you laws to perform to be saved, but grace gives you words to believe upon and those words will change your life.
Whether you’re trusting God for healing, provision, or restoration, you need to hear what God’s Word says about these things. Then you can believe it.
“If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life."”
— Acts 11:17–18 NKJV
“God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” — Peter wasn’t preaching on repentance. He only said that “everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43 NASB). It was at this point when Peter shared about the “forgiveness of sins through His name” that the Holy Spirit fell. When the people heard this word and believed, the Holy Spirit fell on them. In the original Greek language, the word “fell” actually means “embraced.”
His obedience has made us righteous. This is how we engage in spiritual warfare. Our weapon is to point to what Jesus did.
There is no record that the people in Cornelius’ house repented or went through any religious exercise in order to receive the Holy Spirit. Peter only spoke about the unconditional offer of the forgiveness of sins when the Holy Spirit fell. Cornelius’ and his house simply believed that they had been forgiven through Jesus Christ.
While the word “repentance” is never used in the entire account of what happened at Cornelius’ house, when the Jewish elders heard Peter’s account, they concluded that it was an act of “repentance to life.”
Repentance is not about outward acts of contrition. Repentance simply means to change your mind. Every time we hear God’s Word, we are changing our minds to focus on Christ’s obedience and not on our efforts and failures.
What does holiness really look like in our daily lives? There is joy and there is radiance in true holiness. We can perform charitable deeds but do it with a spirit of bitterness. We can keep all the laws and rules but have no joy in our hearts. We see this in what the Lord said to the church of Ephesus in the book of Revelation:
“"I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;”
— Revelation 2:2 NKJV
It may seem like Jesus was commending the church, but He was actually showing them what they missed out on.
“remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,”
— 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NKJV
What was missing in the church of Ephesus was their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope. The church of Ephesus had the work, labor, and patience but they did not have the faith, love, and hope that came with it. True holiness involves faith, love, and hope. They had an idea of outward holiness but they did not carry the spirit of it.
Any work that is not born out of faith is a dead work. Only faith can produce good works.
God wants our labor to be born out of love. Pastor Prince shares how before he preaches, he is reminded that the Lord loves His sheep, His people, and He wants to feed His sheep. And knowing this, he shares the Word in love.
Be conscious that the Lord loves you, or your labor will be empty.
You can have patience but always feeling grumpy, dissatisfied, and bitter. That’s not the kind of patience God wants you to have. He wants you to have the patience of hope—the confident expectation of good in your future.
Outward good deeds are meant to be born out of the faith, love, and hope in your heart; they are not meant to be forced out of you by a sense of obligation or fear. When you live a truly holy life with faith, love, and hope, you are joyful and radiant. That is God’s heart for you.
Now faith, love, and hope are only produced when the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of grace, is preached. We still live by the gospel every single day of our lives. The gospel that got us saved is the same gospel that will see us through this life and cause us to flourish.
“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
— 1 Thessalonians 5:8 NKJV
The helmet is called the hope of salvation. It is not salvation itself but the hope of salvation. Once you’re born again, your identity and status are now changed, you are now the righteousness of God in Christ. You have the Holy Spirit in you, and you are reconciled to the Father. You have hope now because you have been born again in Christ. It is this that causes you to have hope, to have a confident expectation of good in the future.
It is important that we watch what we say:
“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:”
— 1 Peter 3:10 KJV
Caleb and Joshua experienced what they spoke—they overcame the giants and entered the promised land. The other 10 spies also experienced what they spoke—they did not overcome any giants and they never got to enter the land.
All good preaching in the church will produce faith, hope, and love. Even if you’re preaching on holiness, it must produce faith, hope, and love. In the New Testament, when faith is mentioned, it is often referring to righteousness by faith or justification by faith, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The same way Abraham was justified through faith (Gal. 3:8 KJV) is the same way we are justified today. And the same way Abraham was blessed is the same way we are blessed today (Gal. 3:9).
It is vital that we become more and more established in righteousness because it doesn’t just affect us but our families as well.
The result of being established in righteousness is that you will see these family blessings:
“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed…”
— Psalm 128:3–4 KJV
“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine” — A fruitful vine produces wine. This verse is talking about how the love of your wife will intoxicate you.
“thy children like olive plants round about thy table” — Olive plants speak of anointing. When your children are anointed, things in their life flow smoothly and prosperously. They will succeed in life not because of their effort but because they’re anointed.
As you focus on being the blessed man, your wife and your children shall be also. Your job is simply to be blessed (be established in righteousness).
Pastor Prince prays for marriages to be revived and families to be blessed so that they become a lighthouse of the glory of God for the world to see.
Pastor Prince closes the service by praying for these people:
Every healing can stand the test of medical science. Pastor Prince encourages those he prayed over to go back to their doctors to verify their healings. Only stop taking your medicine when your healing has been confirmed by medical reports. Then please write in to share your testimony!
Jesus is your righteousness. The devil cannot shake you out of your righteous position in Christ. When the devil tries to distract you with negative thoughts, choose to turn away from every distraction, and focus on Jesus.
“I pray that wherever you're watching this, as a family or individually, that in your vicinity, in the place where you're watching, the Holy Spirit will come on you and send forth breakthroughs, send forth healing, send forth deliverance, and most of all, impart to you a fresh revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Remember this, my friend: He loves you. And in this coming week, surely, surely, surely, goodness and mercy will follow you, they will hunt you down, pursue you all the days of this week. Be expecting to run smack into God's goodness and unexpected favor showing up in your life this week, in the name of Jesus. Amen. Expect that.
I believe there's a special release of God's Word for that to happen this week for you. Amen? Again, when that happens, let us know. It's going to be something that you will know is God's goodness, is God's favor. Amen? God's goodness and favor will pursue you all throughout this week in Jesus name, and all the people said, Amen.”
We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.
© Copyright JosephPrince.com 2020
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.
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