Our Spiritual Fight with Evil

Our Spiritual Fight with Evil

Every authentic Christian engages in a spiritual fight with the Devil everyday. We cannot enter the day thinking, “Today is a day of peace”. We do not have to look for the fight; the evil one comes to us and engages us in it. An article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen writes, “Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It really doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up you had better be running.”

That is a truth for us: we had better be running when our feet hit the floor each morning because Satan is a prowling lion seeking to devour us. The Apostle Paul encourages us to get up and running in his letter to the church at Ephesus, a city at which he is ministering in Acts 19. He tells them in Ephesians 6:10-11, NIV,

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

The bad news is that the Devil is extremely strong and he relentlessly attacks God’s people. The good news is that our God has already defeated the enemy and He provides us with everything that we need to stand against him in our daily lives. We need not despair in our struggle with the temptations with which he entices us or with the discouragement that he brings to our lives to knock us down. God is for us so no one can stand, or prevail, against us.

The story is told of the Battle of Waterloo in England and the country waited silently for news of the outcome. They knew that if Wellington would be defeated by Napoleon England’s future would be incredibly dismal. Finally, from the top of Winchester Cathedral signal lights were lit spelling out, letter by letter, the news of the battle of the day. Letter by letter the signal lights flashed, “Wellington defeated”. Then a fog rolled in and no further transmission was possible, so the news that Wellington was defeated spread throughout England and despair began to rain down upon the people of that country as they prepared for the absolute worst. What would happen to their beloved land? Later the fog lifted and the whole message was revealed: “Wellington defeated the enemy!” Do you see how that last bit of the message is so crucial and so critical to the meaning as a whole?

As we look at many of the stories of the Bible, through the haze of the very first instances, we might read the message, “The Apostles defeated”. We see, over and over again, that they are thrown into prison, they are attacked, and they are left for dead, but the rest of the revelation tells us the rest of the story, doesn’t it? It gives encouragement. We don’t have to be in despair wondering what the end of the story is going to be like. The Apostles defeated the enemy throughout all the Book of Acts, and that is true for every believer who holds on to God and fights in His strength.

In Acts 19, we see an extraordinary story of Paul’s fight against the evil one and the victory that God gives him. The story teaches us that we must fight in God’s strength if we are to win the daily battle against the evil one. We have to ask the question: How is it that we are we to fight? In this study we are going to look at five specific principles, or actions, to take in prevailing over the enemy.

The first principle is this: devote yourself to the Word of God. It seems as though we are always coming back to this, but this is the fundamental principle for defeating the evil one in our lives. Devote yourselves to the Word of God; read it, meditate on it, obey, and teach it to others. It is impossible to put on the armor of God without the Word of God. It is the Scriptures that fashion the materials from which each piece of armor is made: the helmet of salvation; the breastplate of righteousness; the belt of truth; the shield of faith; and the sword of the Spirit. All of these are given to us by the Word of God.

If we are not devoted to the Word of God we would not know that the helmet that we are to wear protects our head. If we are not devoted to the Word of God we would not know the righteousness that is revealed in the Scripture and that is given to us through faith from Jesus Christ. If we are not devoted to the Word of God there is no belt of truth for truth is rooted and grounded in the Scriptures. If we are not devoted to the Word of God there is no possibility of taking up the shield of faith because that is what faith attaches itself to; it attaches itself to the truth that God has given to us. And, in fact, the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.

The Word of God is fundamental to the spiritual fight that we engage in every morning and everyday. We don’t take up the Word of God and devote ourselves to the Word of God out of mere obligation, thinking that that is what a good Christian ought to do. We take up the Word of God because we know how vital it is to our very existence, to our health, to our vitality, to our joy, and to our lives.

A soldier doesn’t run into battle with his helmet, gun, or equipment simply because his commanding officer told him to. He recognizes that the battle is so fierce that if he doesn’t have these things his very life will be in peril. This is the way that we can consider the Word of God in our lives. Why is it that we get up a bit earlier to root ourselves in the Word of God? It is not because that is what good Christians do, but it is because we need to or we will die or suffer in someway, terribly, that day and we will suffer defeat in the midst of this spiritual battle that faces us.

Let’s begin with Verse 8, NIV. Remember that Paul is in Ephesus and Ephesus has become renown throughout the world as the center of cultic practices. This city was the site of the Temple of Diana, or Artemis, and it was one of the gorgeous Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Listen to what one commentator writes in regards to this temple and the city: “One hundred and twenty-seven marble pillars rose sixty feet to support the gorgeous ceiling. Many of these pillars are inlaid with gold and rare gems. The temple’s huge canopy covered an area four hundred and twenty-five feet in length and two hundred feet in width. This building housed the multi-breasted image of Artemis supposed to have fallen from the stars. This temple was the center for a thriving cult of fertility worship. Ephesus became a collective place for superstition and the dark arts; a cesspool of the occult.”

Being aware of this, Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers, Ephesians 6:12, NIV,

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesus was a watering hole for every kind of magician, witch, clairvoyant, and criminal. Paul’s confrontation with the fight against the evil one began with a devotion to teaching. It tells us in Verse 8 that Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there. We know that he spoke the Word of God for three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. It was the Old Testament Scriptures that spoke about the Kingdom of God and what one needed to do in order to be a part of the Kingdom of God. Paul spoke with this particular focus and day-in and day-out he attacked the demonic doctrines that had invaded this city and had taken root and hold of people’s hearts and minds. The message that he spoke was confrontational, that is to say that there was one truth that the people in Ephesus believed and that truth was something other than the Truth of the Gospel. That truth was actually a lie.

So, the attack came, but Paul didn’t say, “How can I accommodate the lie into the message”, but rather he recognized that he would have to confront the lie through proclaiming the Truth and persuade people that what they were believing is a lie and that the Gospel itself is the Truth. For three months Paul argued persuasively and spoke boldly and firmly. He did listen to questions and he responded to those questions, so he was interactive. He didn’t preach down to the people at Ephesus. He reasoned with them, but he always reasoned with them through the Truth of God’s Word.

I do believe that many today do subdue the value of a Truth-centered Gospel. They say that our culture is not Truth oriented so, therefore, we have to approach our culture differently than we have in the past, and we need to engage our culture through experiences and through felt needs. The Gospel message is Truth and those who mute the Truth content of the Gospel move away from New Testament Christianity. Satan does not like for the Truth of the Gospel to be taught. Truth tears away at the very foundation of his kingdom for he is a deceiver and his primary tactic is to deceive the mind of people around him.

In Verse 9, NIV, we read of the reaction to Paul’s teaching of God’s Truth and his devotion to the Word:

9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

This obstinacy is the description of a gradual process where people listen to the Truth that Paul is proclaiming to them through the Word but they refuse to respond to the Truth; they didn’t open up their hearts to the Truth. Change began to take place but it wasn’t change that brought them closer and closer to God, it was change that brought them further and further away from God. This is always true when we listen to the Word of God: we will either be brought closer to God because our hearts will open to it and we will respond to in faith or we will be drawn farther and farther away, but when the Word of God is proclaimed something does happen. In this case, many who were listening were drawn further and further away from God and they became harder and harder and more and more resistant to what the Spirit of God was saying. By the end of three months they were farther away from God than they were before Paul arrived.

What a sad situation that is that they had an opportunity to know God through the Truth and to be released from the dominion of darkness but they became all the more enslaved. Beloved, this is the condition that takes place whenever we hear the Word of God and we resist it and we don’t open our hearts in faith to it and respond to it; we don’t submit to it and we become hardened and we become more obstinate.

They were deceived and now they were convinced in their deception.

Paul rented a lecture hall in Tyrannus. This is an interesting name because it means “tyrant”. I don’t think that that was his given name, because what mom or dad would name their precious little baby “Tyrant”? Somehow, though, he got this name. We know that he owned this lecture hall so undoubtedly he was a teacher. My imagination says that he got the name “Tyrannus” from his students, because I have had some professors who could be appropriately called this because of their hardness upon their students.

It was common in the hottest part of the day to take a break. They would teach in the morning and then late at night, but from eleven in the morning until four in the afternoon they would take a break. Those were the hours that Paul rented this lecture hall. Some New Testament manuscripts recorded that Paul lectured in the hall of Tyrannus in regards to the Scriptures. Paul, six days a week and four hours each day, proclaimed and taught the Word of God for two years. If we read Acts 20:31, NIV, we see that it wasn’t just during those hours that Paul taught the Word of God, but he would also go from house to house during the evening,

…for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day…

Paul was devoted to teaching the Word of God and he understood that this was an absolute principle for defeating the enemy, the evil one.

Sometimes people will ask if it is difficult to preach three times on Sunday morning and again on Sunday night. I tell them that it is difficult and I do get tired but this is what God calls us to do. Tiredness is not an excuse for not teaching the Word so if God gives us opportunities to teach that is what we do because we recognize that the battle is strong and the teaching of the Word of God is so vital to us to be able to successfully win the fight. Paul’s example is a model for spiritual leaders in a church, but it is also a model for spiritual leaders in the home. I want to give you words of encouragement, dad: be diligent in teaching the Bible to your family. Open up the Word of God with your wives, your sons, and your daughters. God has given you this as a task in order to defend your family against the attacks of the evil one that he would place upon your wife, upon your life, and upon your children. The Word of God is your primary resource. When you come home in the evening, after a long day’s work, and you feel as though you need to unwind and you flip on the television, or go to your hobby room, to relax, you remember that you intend to teach the Word of God but it is 8:30 or 9:00 and the time has crept up on you and it is time to put the kids in bed. You realize that you haven’t spent anytime teaching the Word of God so you put it off until tomorrow. I want to encourage you in this path – be vigilant, be diligent, and teach, teach, teach.

Remember Paul’s diligence in his work in Ephesus. He was a tent maker and he worked early in the morning up to 11:00 o’clock. He arrived at the hall of Tyrannus and he lectured for five hours, and then would return to his work. After that he would go from house to house in the evening and teach people the Word of God. He was undoubtedly tired by the end of his day, but tired was not an excuse to keep him from the Word of God.

The second principle we find for winning the fight it to be strong in God’s grace and God’s mighty power. Only God can win the battle. This fight is the Lord’s fight. We read in Verse 11 and 12:

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched (Paul) were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Notice the word order in Verse 11. It is always God’s strength that does the extraordinary things that enable us to defeat the enemy. The kingdom of darkness was being pierced by the power of God through servants, and it was because that the Apostle Paul was strong in the grace of God and in God’s mighty power that God was able to use him to pierce this stronghold of Satan in the city of Ephesus. God healed the sick through Paul and God released people who had been enslaved by the evil one through Paul.

It is interesting to note that people who touched his handkerchiefs and his aprons were healed. Most commentators believe that these were handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul used while he was working and while he was teaching he would take them off and people would touch them and they would be healed. This was pretty remarkable. In fact, Luke records its extraordinary nature when he says that these were “extraordinary miracles”. That is interesting because miracles by their nature are extraordinary. That is what makes them miracles, but these were miraculous miracles because of the way that God was healing.

Should we expect God to use similar means to heal people today? If you turn on the television set and listen to some of the televangelists or faith healers, you would arrive at the answer, “Yes,” because you see these televangelists offering pieces of handkerchiefs or bottles of water that they have collected from some river that can be received by sending in a “gift” of money to the ministry and God would bless you in receiving this bit of a handkerchief and you could lay it on the sick one and they would be made well.

We have to ask the question, then, are these televangelists and faith healers following Paul’s example? It is vital to remember that Paul is not just a member of the Christian church, but Paul is an Apostle of Christ’s church. That is important as we consider several passages. The Apostles laid the foundation for the church. When you are building a building there is only a need for one foundation. You don’t lay a foundation, put on some bricks and then lay another foundation and put some more bricks. You lay one foundation. In Ephesians 2:19-21, NIV, Paul talks about establishing the church and he says,

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

He is saying that God intends for others to come along and be built upon that foundation and that there is a holy temple, but the Apostles and prophets laid the foundation for the church. In what way did the Apostles form the foundation? It was the Apostles who provided authoritative teaching for the church and that is revealed in the fact that it is the Apostles who wrote the Bible; they are the human authors and God inspired the human authors in such a way that what they wrote were the very words of God and only of the Apostles can that be said. It cannot be said of great saints of yesteryear who did wonderful things; that their teaching was as authoritative as the Apostles. God laid the foundation through the Apostles by providing then with authoritative Truth to deliver to this church that he was establishing.

There were not hundreds of Apostles throughout the church. There were the Twelve, including Paul, and there were a couple of others, but we are told that in order for one to be an Apostle there were three requirements. The first was that one had to have seen the resurrected Lord Jesus. That is why Paul said he was an “apostle out of time” because he saw the Lord Jesus after Jesus ascended. He was the only Apostle to have met the qualification in that unique way. Secondly, one had to be commissioned directly by Jesus. One could not make himself an Apostle nor could a church make one an Apostle; only Jesus commissioned the Apostles. Thirdly, signs and wonders accompanied the Apostles to confirm that God had commissioned them.

What is it with this apron? What is it with these handkerchiefs? What is it with these healings? Should we expect that these things could happen in any Christian leader today or in any Christian? In 2 Corinthians 12:12, NIV, Paul says, in his defending his Apostleship,

12 The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance.

He is saying that they should know and not question his Apostleship because God has confirmed his Apostleship to them through signs, wonders, and miracles.

The other reference for this is in Hebrews 2:3-4, NIV. Here the writer is confirming that salvation of the Gospel was announced by Jesus and was confirmed by those who heard Him, which is a mark of an Apostle.

3 …how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to (the Gospel) by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

One of the major purposes of the miracles was to authenticate the message that was spoken and to signify that that message was from God Himself. Today there are no Apostles. No one has seen the resurrected Lord Jesus or been commissioned by Jesus or now has had that Apostleship confirmed through signs and wonders to validate it. There is no more revelation to be given. We have the revelation of God completed for us in the New Testament and as a result there are no more miracle workers. There are miracles. Does God perform miracles today? Yes, and thank God that He does, but not in the same way that He was working through the Apostles and through miracle workers. This is God’s prerogative to heal as He wills and often He does heal miraculously and bring about miracles. I have no doubt about that, but there is no biblical support for the power of miracles to be given to specific individual people after the foundation of Apostles was laid. God gave them miracles for a specific purpose and that was to confirm their authority and to proclaim this new Truth that was given to him during this age.

The miracles that God performed through Paul were necessary to reveal that Paul’s message was from God. Paul is an example to us in this: Paul relied upon God’s power to do God’s work. Paul will tell Timothy, in 2 Timothy 2:1, NIV,

1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

The lesson for us here is this: if we wish to overcome and defeat of the dark enemy, the evil one, we can do so only through the strength that God supplied; God working through us and in us so that we might be strong in the grace that God supplies.

We have to ask ourselves a question: Am I strong in the grace that God supplies?

Martin Luther will write in that great hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

The third principle is: do not trust in religious formulas or religious rights. Paul says in Verses 13 and 14, NIV,

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.

This was common in this occultic city for people to engage in spiritual warfare of a sort. They would invoke the name of greater spirits in order to cast out lesser spirits, so they tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus. They saw Paul doing this and they thought that they would try it themselves. They were attracted to the spiritual power that Christianity afforded them, but they were not attracted to Jesus Christ and they were not submissive to the Lordship of Jesus being the Savior over their lives. They wanted the power that was evident in Christianity, and they thought that the power of God’s Spirit could be implemented through the right, religious formula: if we say the right words then we will have the same power that these Apostles have. So, they imitated Paul’s words and actions in order to get the same results, and in so doing they were charging into battle with air-soft guns. They had no powerful weapon to stop the evil one.

I believe that many in the modern church are much like these seven sons of Sceva in Ephesus who trusted in religious formulas to battle a very real enemy. They believed that playing with sacred rites was enough for them to overcome the evil one. Friends, praying prayers, singing hymns, and practicing religious ceremonies will not help you to overcome the power of the evil one in your life. It is only through submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ that we have His protection. The reason that the Son of God appeared was to destroy the work of the Devil and now those who have Jesus Christ as Savior have a conqueror and strong warrior.

Notice what happens in Verses 15 and 16, NIV,

15 (One day) the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

This is what one might call a “bad day”. They began the day thinking that they were going to make a fast buck because that is the way people did it in Ephesus, in this very occultic city, and the evil spirit knew that they were a fake.

There are a couple of observations. First, the Devil and demonic spirits are real beings. They are not fictional characters that represent evil; they are real beings. The Bible acknowledges the presence of these dark, spiritual beings in the world from the very beginning of time and all the way to the very end of time.

The second observation is: the Devil and his minions interact with people so that they are not just mere beings that float around and are unable to connect to the physical, material world in which we live, but they interact with us on a daily basis, of ten invisibly and not seen, but surely they interact even to the extreme point of indwelling some people and controlling these people. Many begin the process of interacting specifically and aggressively with these demonic beings through the window of the occult. That is what took place in this city and that is why there was so much demonic possessions because there was so much occultic practices. Some of these practices may have changed a bit but they are often very similar today as they were in the 1st Century. Today there are many, in our culture, who begin to interact with the demonic world through occultic practices such as incantations, ouija boards, horoscopes, and fortune telling. You can get books at the public library on these things. Many believe that these practices are just harmless bits of fun, like another hobby or interest, but those who enter through the window of the occult seeking to attach themselves someway to this other spirit world are as naïve as children on the internet talking with strangers and unaware that predators exist and predators often times lay a net, or snare, whereby they can communicate and draw them into the web, and so Satan draws naïve ones into his net by opening up what appears to be a door of safety. It is a door only to lure men and women. Be careful of dabbling in the demonic realm; demons are real and they seek to deceive you and they seek to harm you. Demonic possession and demonic influence is no Halloween fictional story.

The third observation in this regard is that the Devil and demons cannot simply be bound by invoking Jesus’ name. Look at Verse 15 again:

15 (One day) the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”

Jesus is not a power that we control for using His name. The power of Jesus protects only those who have submitted to His Lordship. Without Jesus the existence of the demonic realm is terrifying and that is one of the reasons why it is so good to be found in Him.

The fourth principle for winning the fight is: confess your sins openly. Satan loves secret sin. Hidden sin is a perfect climate for demonic beings to accomplish their work. Just as mold grows best in the darkness, so demonic influence grows best in the privacy of sin, as we see in Verses 17 and 18, NIV,

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.

They recognized that Jesus is more powerful than the demonic realm, but that the demonic realm is more powerful than man, and that we need this One and His real power and not to play around with the power. They recognized that Jesus is Lord of all and they recognized that they needed to submit their lives to Him, and then they gave evidence of genuine repentance by opening up their lives and saying that these are the sins that have laid claim to their souls and that they were through with them.

Someone may ask, “Should I openly confess my sins to everyone? Is that what is required?” No, I do not believe that is required, nor do I believe that is wise. Sometimes such public, proclamations of sins glamorizes sin and is harmful, but we should not hide our sin from everyone. That is to say, as we confess our sin it is vital that someone else knows about that sin; that we confess it to someone else who is able to encourage us, hold us accountable, and pray for us and pray with us. It is tempting to think that we know that we have sin and that we can deal with it privately and that we can do it on our own by confessing it to God and it will be between Him and us and that is where it will stay. Such thinking pushes away God’s resources for winning the fight; God’s resources of accountability, encouragement, and spiritual strength of the body of Christ.

Notice the confession – not only did they confess openly, but they also confessed specifically; they confessed their evil deeds. They named them. They didn’t just say, “Lord, we repent of sin in general,” but they were specific in naming their evil deeds. Pride does not want us to name our specific sins, but true confession requires it. The Gospel itself came to these people and what does the Gospel do? The Gospel exposes sin so that, immediately, when we are exposed to the Gospel, these sins become apparent. Sins that we never gave a second thought to we now become convicted in regards to these sins.

There is a Chinese evangelist who told a story of a woman who took her laundry down to the river. She was embarrassed about how filthy and dirty her laundry had become. She took it to the river and instead of opening up the sheet that held all the clothes, she kept the dirty clothes in the blanket and tried to wash it that way. She took it home and what happened – her laundry was still filthy because in order for it to be clean, she had to take each piece, individually, and wash it. My friends, it is vital for us, in winning the battle, that we learn the discipline of confessing our sins openly.

One of the first times the Holy Spirit’s active work in our lives is the conviction of sin. It is when we become sensitive to things that we used to not even give a thought to. As an aside, there are two arenas of sin that are associated very closely with occultic practice in the New Testament times. These two sins are not the only sins that we should confess, but I believe that they have a very close relationship to the presence of demonic spirits. The first arena of sin is the arena of sexual immorality. In the temple of Diana there were prostitutes which people would engage as an act of worship. Sexual immorality, demonic possessions, and demonic influence are very closely tied. Also, there were mind-altering substances. It is my opinion that alcohol abuse, drug abuse, pornography, sexual perversion, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery are sins. The demonic world likes to use these to ensnare people of the world and even God’s people. These sins bring so much shame that they are difficult to confess, but all the more it is necessary prerequisite to win the fight by confessing our sins openly. Find a spiritual leader, someone you can trust, but don’t allow the sin to say that you and God are going to struggle along and that you will confess it to Him only and to no one else. Such pride will keep you rooted and enslave.

The last principle is: rid yourself of anything that pulls you away from God. Look at Verse 19, NIV,

19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.

What did these scrolls contain? They were the scrolls that held the magic incantations and that taught about magic and occultic ceremonies, rites, and rituals. Do you know how much money “fifty thousand drachmas” is? In real terms of that day it would be the equivalent of one hundred and fifty grown men working for an entire year, and saving everything they earned. Someone may ask, “Why didn’t they sell the books and give the proceeds to help Paul and his missionary journeys.” The answer is because they didn’t want anyone influenced by the sinful and evil content that these scrolls had within them. It was worth cutting themselves off entirely and irreversibly from these practices. They burned the books so that they couldn’t go back and be tempted later and they did this in a costly fashion. Now they were free.

The question that we should ask ourselves is: “How much am I willing to pay for my freedom?” These people said that they were willing to pay all my life savings to be free. Do you suppose that in freedom they were saying, “Man, just think we could have had those material possessions, but now that we are free, it is sad that we have lost those things?” No, they knew the joy of freedom.

How much is freedom worth to you? Satan comes to attack you and what do you do? I am commending five actions you can take and the last one is this: rid yourself from anything that pulls you from God. What would you do today if the Holy Spirit convicted you of sin in such a way that you acted to free yourself of all attachments to sin and all attachment to those things that seem to plague you day-in and day-out? Perhaps there will be some magazines and books that will be thrown out. Perhaps there will be television programs that you won’t turn on, or perhaps the television would go out the house altogether. Perhaps there will be a relationship that will be cut off. Perhaps there will be some occultic games, jewelry, t-shirts, symbols, occultic books, or practices. Perhaps there will be a grudge that will be removed.

Here is a note to you parents – your children do not have the inalienable right to bring occultic objects into your home believing that it is their room, their life, and their deal. If you have that attitude please understand what you are doing: you are being careless in the care and protection of your son and of your daughter.

Repentance is never easy but it is necessary for us to experience the joy of being free. Verse 20 ends our study:

20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

What happens when the church deals strongly with sin? The Word of the Lord advances. Beloved, let us be free to the grace that God provides us in Jesus.