Launching Out With God
Grace Community Church
May 27, 2018
Launching Into Battle Part One
Memorial Day is a day that we remember and honor those who have died in service of our country. Originally known as Decoration Day, it began after the Civil War as a way of honoring those who died in the Union and Confederate Armies. After WWII Decoration Day became more commonly referred to as Memorial Day and the name was officially declared to be Memorial Day in 1967.
Many of us can tend to think of Memorial Day as the start of summer, a three day weekend, a time to fire up the barbecue grill. But Memorial Day gives us all an opportunity as a nation to remember and to honor those who have given their lives for the nation that we love and the freedoms that we enjoy and to thank those who are serving or have served in the armed forces. We owe them all a great debt of gratitude and we honor their service. So to all here this morning who are serving or have served in the armed forces, we thank you for your service!
We’ve been in a series called Launching Out with God and we’ve looked at launching out into the unknown, and launching out when fear wants to hold us back. Originally this morning was going to be the last Launching message but Phil Courson’s message last week stirred a lot in my heart regarding discipleship and it reminded me that the greatest launch of all is when Jesus calls a person to follow him – we launch out from our old way of life into a new way of life in obedience and service to the Lord Jesus. So over the next month we’re going to explore that a little more, but for the next two Sundays in honor of Memorial Day weekend, we’re going to talk about Launching Into Battle.
1 Sam 17:1-54 (for the sake of time I will be skipping over some verses, but I encourage you to read the entire passage on your own).
Full disclosure here, I’ve never really been drawn to spiritual warfare type messages. Spiritual warfare messages and books can easily get weird and unbiblical, and I’ve known Christians who seem to see a demon behind every bush and equate everything to a spiritual attack. Their electricity gets turned off and they’re outside doing a Jericho march around their house and rebuking Satan. Maybe you just need to pay your electric bill. So people can get a bit out there but the truth is there is a very real spiritual war going on and as Christians we need not only to be aware of it, we need to be engaged in it. I for one need to realize that more than I do.
In the OT, this warfare component is represented by the enemy nations surrounding God’s chosen people, the Jews. In fact, as the Jews are about to enter the Promised Land, God says He is going to leave some of the enemy nations in the land so that the Israelites will learn to fight. God is going to leave some adversaries, some challenges, some hindrances in your life so you learn how to fight! God wants His people to know how to make war. The enemy nations that the Israelites were constantly facing are a foreshadowing of the spiritual war that every person who becomes a Christian is engaged in. The Bible tells us that the devil is a very real enemy and he and the demons who follow him are constantly waging war on us. There is no spiritual Switzerland – no neutral territory. We may not know it, we may not believe it, but we are in the middle of a war. But this war is never against people. The devil may use people, but our war is never against people. Eph. 6:12 says:
For we do not wrestle (fight) against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Eph 6:12
Like all the wars in the OT, the battle between David and Goliath speak spiritual truths to us today. We all know the story: David is really just an errand boy bringing supplies to his brothers on the front line, and while he’s there this ten foot Philistine named Goliath comes out and as he has been doing for 40 days, taunts Israel to send them a champion to face him. This is one scary dude! His armor weighs almost as much as the average soldier! To David’s surprise, the men of Israel are quaking in their boots. No one is willing to take Goliath on. And David’s indignation is aroused. David is a warrior and the warrior in him rises up and he volunteers to take Goliath on in battle. He is ready to leave the safety of the tents where the soldiers are hiding and launch out to the battlefield to fight Goliath. And in David’s example there are some important spiritual lessons for us about the spiritual war that we are in, beginning with this most important truth that we need to always keep in mind:
The battle belongs to the Lord (vs. 47)
For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.” (vs 47)
Many of us grew up learning about David and Goliath in Sunday School and we were urged to “be brave like David”. But our being brave like David isn’t the primary point of 1 Sam 17. All of the OT scriptures all point forward to Christ and this account is no exception. We must not begin by reading ourselves into the story as David. David is a type of Christ.
David is a foreshadow of Christ
Think about what’s going on here: the people of God are being oppressed and taunted by their enemy. Even their king is hiding out in fear. From obscurity comes a young man from the tribe of Jesse, a young man who has been anointed king by Samuel at the Lord’s instruction, but no one knows he is the future king, he is flying under the radar. This obscure unrecognized king is Israel’s champion. When we see this champion who saves the day, routes the enemy, and saves the day, we’re not supposed to think of ourselves. We’re supposed to think of Jesus!
Christ is our champion. He fought the enemy and won. On the cross Jesus defeated Satan. He defeated sin. He defeated death. In Christ we have the victory. We don’t fight to get the victory, we fight because in Christ we’ve already got the victory! We’ve already won cause Christ has already won. When the Israelites chased after the Philistines, they were chasing an already routed enemy. All that was left for the Israelites to do was catch them and kill them (to put it graphically).
We move forward in Christ’s victory won for us at the cross. The battle is the Lord’s and He has given our enemies into our hand. That’s the big truth in this passage and we need to allow that to sink into our hearts. In Christ you already have the victory. Whatever battles you face, you can launch into battle with faith and confidence in the living God for He has won the victory!
It’s not my intention to try to identify every giant you might be facing or every way God might be calling you to launch into battle. My desire is to 1) to remind us that we are in a battle, like it or not, and 2) stir up a warrior’s heart in you. Stir up a resolution to run toward the enemy rather than hide in the tents in fear. It’s time. It’s time to launch into battle not run from it. It’s time to follow our Champion into the battle with a ferocious faith and boldness to face the Goliaths that defy the armies of the living God. This week we’ll consider two battles we need to fight on with Christ as our Champion, and next week we’ll consider two other battles:
It’s time to battle the Goliath of sin
The Philistines are the prime OT symbol of the sinful flesh. Notice that David calls him an “uncircumcised Philistine” in verse 26. Circumcision represented God’s covenant with the Jews and the cutting away of the flesh. The Philistines are the flesh personified and Goliath was the biggest Philistine. Our biggest Goliath is our sinful flesh.
Sin is always our enemy. Always. Think about that the next time you’re tempted to sin – sin is never your friend, never wants your good, always means to destroy you. The more we get that, the less likely we are to negotiate with sin and the more we will battle against the sin in our lives.
Sometimes sin comes against us like a Goliath – overwhelming and powerful. Those who struggle with sins that they hate but feel powerless to overcome know that feeling. Maybe it’s an addiction that feels stronger and bigger than you are. Drug addiction, alcohol addiction, even addiction to pornography. Dr. Valerie Voon from Cambridge University writes, “Pornography triggers brain activity in people… similar to that triggered by drugs in the brains of drug addicts.” That addiction feels ten feet tall. You want to be free but it feels like a prison that you can’t get out of. An enemy that can bend you to its will every time. Maybe it’s a sin that has rooted deep in your heart and you don’t know how to get free from it. It might be anger or bitterness or hatred or jealousy. Sometimes sin comes against us like a towering Goliath, stronger than us.
Sometimes the Goliaths in our lives don’t come as giant warriors, they come as honey traps. Know what that is? When an enemy government wants to compromise or turn someone, sometimes they use what’s called a “honeytrap”. A beautiful woman comes along and bats her eyes at the guy and, of course his ego thinks its because he’s such an irresistable guy, but really she’s there to extract information or to compromise him, or even turn him. Interestingly the first recorded honeytrap is found in Judges when the Philistines enlist Delilah as a honeytrap for Samson, getting him to spill his secrets to her resulting in him being conquered and enslaved.
Sometimes sin comes as a honeytrap batting its eyes at us and telling us it can make us happy and fulfilled. Sexual immorality is a honeytrap – it promises good things but it delivers barrenness and devastation. Pride is a honeytrap – it feels good to think the world revolves around us, that having the world worship and admire us is what life’s about. Pride doesn’t lift us up though, it brings us down: pride goes before a fall (Prov. 16:18). Selfishness is another honeytrap – what could possibly be better than being left alone to do what I want when I want it? Living for myself sounds like the Best. Life. Ever. Except it’s not. Jesus warns us that living for ourselves is a dead end street – literally. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt 10:39
The point is, sin is always your enemy. It might come disguised as a friend. It might come saying it’s got a better way for you. But sin is always, 100% of the time, our enemy with the goal of making us a slave. Goliath presented Israel with this challenge in verse 9: “if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” Jesus said in John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”
We won’t break free of the sin in our lives if we’re passive about it. Sin is way too committed to the battle to be defeated easily. We need to fight! Remember the Lord is your victory. Jesus has already won the war against our sin by nailing it to the cross and making a spectacle of our spiritual enemies. Launch into battle sin by confessing your sin specifically to the Lord and receiving His forgiveness and freedom from guilt. Then have a strategy for fighting the specific sin that’s attacking you. I want you to notice something about how David defeated Goliath. We know it was the Lord that enabled that smooth stone to find its mark, but there was a strategy involved too.
Goliath was a giant of a man, far stronger than any normal man. David would have been no match for him in hand to hand combat. But David had perfected his aim with the sling over the years as a shepherd and Goliath, for all his strength, was a slow and bulky man with heavy armor and massive weapons. David chose the plan of attack that maximized his strengths and capitalized on Goliath’s weaknesses: he ran at him with a weapon that enabled him to keep his distance and hit Goliath in his one vulnerable spot without ever getting within reach of his powerful arms.
One strategy for defeating sin is to meditate and memorize scriptures that deal with the Goliath of sin you’re facing. Find scriptures that speak to that giant, and that speak God’s truth to your soul and cast the smooth stone of God’s word straight at the head of that giant and believe the Lord will overcome on your behalf. God’s word will also tell us how to fight the enemy of sin. Sometimes God’s word will direct us to stand our ground and sometimes it will direct us to fight by running. Sexual immorality is one such sin. The strategy isn’t run towards it, the strategy is run away from it! Flee youthful [lusts] and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Tim 2:22. Don’t set up camp next to sexual sin to see how close you can get and resist it. The way you fight lust is by running off the battlefield! Retreat is the better part of valor. Set up safeguards, set up barriers, set up protections to keep you from entertaining it. Run! Anger, on the other hand, is a sin we need to stand our ground in. What I mean is, the answer isn’t to avoid situations that make you angry, you need to face the giant in your heart and overcome it or that anger is still lurking in your heart. Sometimes we need to stand, sometimes we need to run. God’s word will give us our battle strategy.
Sin is always our enemy, 100% of the time. Don’t make peace with it. Don’t get passive with it. Don’t say, “well, I’ve tried to overcome it and it just didn’t work.” I’m not trying to be simplistic here, I know the power and grip sin can have, but let’s let a warrior spirit rise up within us and get a little mad and say, “enough! Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” and fight sin in the name of the Lord Jesus.
It’s time to launch into the battle for lost souls
We will take more time on this when we talk about launching out on the Great Commission, but the question that the elders at Phil’s church has been wrestling with has been rumbling around in my heart: what is GCC doing to fulfill the Great Commission?
David was zealous for the world to see the Lord’s saving power:
This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”
We can’t save anyone. Only God can save. David’s heart was that the world see God’s awesome saving power. But then David ran out to the battlefield to be the vessel through whom God showed the world His awesome saving power. God saves, but He uses His people!
Have to admit it’s easy for us to sit out the fight for souls by hiding in our tents. The way Phil put is that we become cul de sacs with all we know about the Lord. We only come into contact with those who already live in our neighborhood. Instead God wants us to be on ramps for His work of saving souls. It’s so easy to forget that every person we meet is an eternal soul who is on their way to eternity and without Christ the Bible says it will be a Christless eternity separated forever from their Creator. O that God might give us expanded hearts for the lost. That we might love the lost, pray for them, and boldly share the gospel with them. O that we might launch into battle for lost souls to come to know and believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ, confident that He will use us as vessels to bring His saving message and power to a lost and dying world. It’s time, church. We will devote a message to this subject soon, but let’s be praying about how each of us can be involved in this most important battle. What is an eternal soul worth? To God it’s worth His sending His only Son to die in order to save them. Let’s not sit this fight out hiding in tents – let’s get on the battlefield and trust God to use us to lead people to Christ.
Next week we’ll look at two other battles worth launching into:
The battle against the Goliaths internal and external that taunt you and defy God
The battle on behalf of the weak, the oppressed, and the abused
David asked, “is there not a cause?” God has given us a cause worth fighting for: His glory, the good of His people, and the rescue of lost souls. We don’t fight with fleshly weapons but mighty spiritual weapons. Let’s trust God and launch out as the Lord calls us to fight for the victory He has already given to us.