Kingdoms In Conflict

Exploring The Confusing Topic Of Spiritual Warfare

Dan Franklin
Aug 27, 2023    40m
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Have you ever heard of spiritual warfare? There is a secret war going on behind the scenes of everything we can see here on Earth. Learn three truths about the spiritual realm. In the spiritual realm, Jesus is King, there is a battle, and there is no neutrality. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:19] As we move now into the time where we're going to get into the message for today, I'm going to invite you just to go ahead and stand as I'm going to read our Scripture passage for us today. If you have a Bible and you want to follow along, it's Matthew chapter 12, verses 22 through 37. "The words will be here up on the screen, but I'm going to read them for us now. Matthew 12, starting in verse 22, "Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” 25Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house. 30“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. 33“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” This is God's word. Amen. You can sit down.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:06] So you may have picked up on this through the passage we just read, but what we're going to be talking about today in this passage in Matthew is the spiritual realm. We're going to have surface reality peeled back a little bit, and we're going to encounter a world where we've got God and the devil. God, the great creator, and the devil, the angel that rebelled against him and fell. We're going to encounter angels, God's messengers, and demons, the messengers of the enemy. We're going to encounter spiritual warfare. We are going to be talking about the spiritual realm. And let's be honest, this is pretty uncomfortable for some of us. Even some of us who have been Christians a long time, we're sort of like, all right, if if you're talking about morality or even maybe if you're talking about the history behind the Bible, these are areas where we feel like, all right, that's our bread and butter, we can live there. When we're talking about the spiritual realm, this feels uncomfortable for, I think, at least two reasons.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:09] One reason it's uncomfortable is because we hope nobody overhears us because they're going to think we're weird. So, like, is anybody here in this conversation about God and the devil and angels and demons? Like they're going to just think we're strange. And to some degree you're right, there will be people in a very sort of materialistic United States of America that say, well, this is just silly to talk about all of these spiritual realities. I'll talk a little bit later on and why I think it is absolutely not silly, in fact, I think that the silliness is pretending that there's nothing behind this. But it's a real concern, we're like, people are going to think we're weird if they hear us talking about this.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:48] But I think the second reason why we're uncomfortable with talking about this is just because this is an area where we recognize if it's real, we don't have control. I might be able to have some control over my behavior. And if I have a medical problem, I can deal with that with a doctor. If I have a psychological problem, maybe I can deal with that with a counselor or even with some medicine. If I have a financial problem, I can deal with that with my financial person. We can deal with those problems, and we might even feel like we have control over those problems. If the spiritual realm is real, then we know this is way above me, this is an area where I don't have control, and that scares us. And to some degree that fear is appropriate.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:33] But as we read the Gospels, we're really not just the Gospels, the whole Bible, as we read the Bible, and as we encounter Jesus in the Gospels, it is inescapable that the spiritual realm is a reality. You can't get away from it in the Bible, you can't get away from it in this passage, and you can't get Jesus without also the belief that all of this stuff is real. So we are going to dive into this and what we're going to see Jesus unfold for us, in a strange story, really the event of the story takes one verse, and then the next fifteen verses are all fallout of the story.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:09] But in this story, we're going to see Jesus lay out for us three truths about the spiritual realm that we all need to embrace. And the first truth about the spiritual realm is going to be right at the front end of this passage, right in verses 22 through 24, and what we're going to see is that in the spiritual realm, there is a battle. The spiritual realm is real and there's a battle going on there. So the event that brings about this passage again, is one verse, verse 22, "Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see."

Dan Franklin: [00:06:55] Now, this is not the first time in the Gospels or even in the Gospel of Matthew that a person with demon possession has encountered Jesus. If you were to look back in Matthew 4, Matthew 8, and Matthew 9 stories like this come up. And also as a note, you might read this story and you might think, well, did they just assume, in the first century, did they just assume that anybody with a disability, like being blind, being mute, being paralyzed, did they just assume that anybody who had a disability, that it was because of a demon? And the answer is no, they absolutely did not think that. There are a lot of passages where Jesus heals somebody with a disability and there's no mention whatsoever of them believing that a demon had something to do with it. But in this passage, everybody seems to know the situation. We just get this one verse, but they know the situation, and that they see this situation was brought about by demonic activity. So Jesus brings healing, he casts the demon out, and the man is healed.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:51] Now, the hard thing for a lot of us about this story, or stories like this in the Bible, is that they feel very foreign to us. It feels like the strange world that we're entering into. And some of us might even be tempted to ask, like, this stuff seemed to have gone on all the time in Jesus' day, why is it not still going on today? And some of you know that's a very naive question to ask because this absolutely is still going on today. And those of us that have no exposure to us, those of us that are like that, there's nothing like this that happens with demons or exorcisms. Those of us who might say that we have the privilege of being spared from these sorts of frontal attacks that very much are still a reality. There are people, especially in certain nations of the world, they would laugh at us for even questioning whether evil or the spiritual realm is a reality.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:56] In fact, just this morning, after the first service, our prayer team had a handful of conversations with just members of the congregation who had very real stories of encountering this sort of evil. This absolutely is real. I mean C.S. Lewis said this last century, a lot of you will know of C.S. Lewis, he wrote a famous book called The Screwtape Letters. Has anybody read this book? All right, I'm glad to see a lot of hands, it's a great book, a highly recommended book. It's short, you can find it easily, and it's a really good read. It's a fictional book about letters between a mentor demon and his protege, who he is training to tempt a human being. And I promise you, if you read this book, you'll be like, C.S. Lewis read my mail. Like you'll just feel like, oh my gosh, he knows how we work, it's a very insightful book. In the introduction to the Screwtape Letters, Lewis has a quote that I want to read for you because I think it's very, very insightful. He says, "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about devils." And by the way, when he says our race, he just means the human race. He says, One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them." And then he says, "They themselves, the demons themselves, are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight." He was just saying, yeah, we can fall into two errors. In the United States, for a lot of us, we have the temptation to be like, this stuff isn't real, that's silly. Or maybe even for us as Christians, we live in the practical reality that we're just not acknowledging this. It's not on our mind, it's not on our radar, we're not thinking about the spiritual realm and the idea that there's spiritual warfare. Some of you in here may experience the opposite error where you have dabbled or you're tempted to dabble, you're like, there's something here, there's power here, this is exciting, this is fascinating, I'm curious. So there are two errors that you can fall into. Some of you are going to be tempted towards I want to dabble, but I'm just going to throw out, I think the majority of us in this room are going to be much more tempted to just ignore the reality of the spiritual realm. But in just one verse we get the spiritual realm depicted and there is a battle going on with Jesus casting out a demon.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:36] Now there are two responses to what Jesus does here that we see in verses 23 and 24. In verse 23 we read, "All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” Now they're responding, the son of David, this was a prophecy about King David having a descendant whom God would one day send to be the savior of Israel, to be the Messiah. So some people, kind of the average person is looking at what Jesus did, and they say, this is amazing, maybe this is the Messiah. But then in verse 24, we get a different response. It says, "But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” So Beelzebul is a nickname for Satan. Some of you know, it's literally translated as Lord of the Flies, which is where that book got its title from.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:36] So the interesting thing about this is everybody agrees that something spiritual just happened here. The Pharisees don't say, no, that guy was faking it, he didn't really cast out a demon. Everybody acknowledges a demon was just cast out of a man. But one group of people says this guy is probably sent from God. And the Pharisees say, Oh, he has spiritual power, but it's dark spiritual power. He is tapping into the power of Satan, and that's how he's casting out demons. Right away we see an acknowledgment, both groups are saying the spiritual realm is real. Both groups are saying there are two primary factions within the spiritual realm, there's God's faction and there's the faction of Satan. This is, by the way, you know how people will say, I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual? That's not necessarily good. Which spirit are we talking about here? In the Bible, there is no value in being a spiritual person, there are all kinds of spirits, and they are not all friendly.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:42] We have a battle going on, and Jesus from here is going to take off and he's going to give us some context, he's going to give a response to the accusation that he's just received that he is using satanic power to do his miracles. And so here's what we're going to see, the initial thing that we see is just the reality, there is a spiritual realm and there is a battle in the spiritual realm. What we're going to see next is that in the spiritual realm, there is a King. There's a battle going on, but these two factions are not equally armed.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:17] Jesus starts to respond in verses 25 and 26 to the accusation he's received and here's what he says, he says, "Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?" And Jesus is just giving a very logical response to their accusation. He's saying, I think you guys haven't really thought this through. If there are two armies, why would one army fight against itself? If Satan is the enemy of God, why would Satan cast out his own soldiers? He's saying you guys just aren't thinking about this, your accusation makes no sense.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:12] And then he continues on this in verse 27, he gets a little bit more personal with them. In verse 27, he says, "And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out?" What he's saying is, I'm not the only exorcist in Israel, there are Jews that cast out demons in the power of God and you all celebrate it. And if I'm doing the same thing, and you're thinking it's satanic. That's why when he says at the end of this verse, they will be your judges, He's like, you better go talk to your own exorcists because they're not going to like what you're saying right now, I'll let you guys sort this out.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:49] And then Jesus gives an alternate explanation in verse 28, he says, "But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." He says, Yeah, you can conclude that it's satanic power, but that doesn't make any sense. What if, instead, it was the power of the Holy Spirit? What if instead, I was doing this in the power of God's own spirit? He says, Well, gosh, if that was true, then that would mean the kingdom of God had come upon you. And why would that mean that the kingdom of God had come upon them? I heard it whispered. Because the King is here. Because King Jesus is here. The kingdom is here because the King is here. Jesus is saying I'm casting out demons and they are doing what I say.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:41] By the way, some of you know that there's another frightening demon story in the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all record it. It's the one where the demons go into the pigs. Do you guys remember this story? It's a freaky story. Now, if you know the story, how did the demons end up in the pigs? They requested. They begged Jesus. Now, this story tells us that there's a lot to the spiritual realm we don't understand. But Jesus is going to cast them out, and they say, please, they beg him, please don't throw us into the abyss, let us go into these pigs. Demons beg Jesus because Jesus is the King. The spiritual realm, this is frightening stuff. I'm not trying to make this up, this is scary stuff. We're talking about angels and demons. We're talking about evil and spiritual warfare. Jesus is the King of the spiritual realm. And when he speaks, demons beg. He says I'm the King, the kingdom has come near.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:46] Now he throws in one more sort of illustration because he gave the kingdom divided against itself illustration. He says, let me illustrate what's going on in one more way. In verse 29, he says this, “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house." So this is an illustration, try to follow along. Does anybody want to guess, in this illustration, who's the strong man? Satan. Good. I know some of you are like Jesus because all you heard me say was who is? And you were like, I'm in church, it's Jesus. The strong man is not Jesus. In this illustration, the strong man is Satan, and his possessions are those who are in some way under his control or under his sway, they're his prisoners in some way. And Jesus is saying, wouldn't it be great if somebody went in and set the prisoners free? Wouldn't it be great if somebody went into the strong man's house and set free all of the prisoners? He says but you know what they would need to do first? They'd need to disarm that strong man; they need to tie him up so that he couldn't fight off and keep those people under his control. Jesus is clearly leading them towards the conclusion, do you know why I was able to free this guy? Do you know why I was able to heal him and cast out the demon? It's because I've already tied up the strong man, I've already defeated the enemy.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:19] And even more so years after this, when Jesus went to the cross, when he died for the sins of the whole human race, he broke the power of Satan because Satan could never again point at a believer and say, you stand condemned; you don't, his power is broken. And when Jesus conquered death through his resurrection, he broke the power of the enemy who could look at all of us and say, you better be terrified because one day you're going to die. And instead, we can say, one day I am going to die, but that won't be the end, because Jesus has conquered death. Jesus tied up the strong man, he bound him, and he defeated him because Jesus is the king.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:08] Now, I know right now there are a million questions that come up with all of this, that that we wrestle with. You know, I'm not going to be able to answer all of them. I'm going to try to address a couple of them. One question that comes up is this, all right, if Jesus is the king and if we're his people, does that mean that we should be casting out demons? And it's like, all right, legitimate question to ask. Are we moving forward in his authority and in his power, and should we in the name of Jesus, cast out demons? So I want to give, I guess this is more a point of advice, and it's very real. If you are, right now, if you encounter something where you're like this is not subtle demonic activity, this is frontal demonic activity that I'm seeing right now. If you encounter a case like this, my advice is that you look to involve somebody who has encountered this before, a mature believer who's encountered this before. Not because there's some sort of priest, but because it's a wise thing to do. The second thing is this, what we do know that we absolutely have the authority and the power to do is in any situation, whether it's very obvious demonic activity or whether it's something where we're like, I think this person is just trapped in a more subtle way by Satan, is we get to intercede with prayer in Jesus' name. There better be nobody who ever says, I cast out this demon in the name of Dan Franklin. That name is not celebrated in heaven. Everything we do, every prayer we do, is in the name of Jesus. Some people think that we can be sort of more bold and order demons around in the name of Jesus. Some people think it's better for us to pray and request because sometimes we ask God to remove an injury and he may or may not do it. So it's a complicated issue. What I'd say is, hey, involve somebody who maybe has some experience with this, and what you always know is that you can pray in the name of Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:15] A second question that might come up is, is we might say, all right, could I, as a Christian, end up demon-possessed? You know, this guy in the story did, could I end up demon-possessed? And the answer to that question is no. If you are a believer, you belong to Jesus, you belong to no demon. And if you are a believer in Jesus, you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and no demon can get in there and take over. But can you still be influenced by a demon? Man, you better believe it, spiritual warfare is real. This is why Paul in Ephesians 6 talks about the armor of God, and the spiritual fight that we're in. We may not be vulnerable to demonic possession, but we are absolutely vulnerable to the enemy. Sometimes he's very obvious, and sometimes he's more subtle, but the most common tactic of the enemy is not something that we even have to wonder about, we know it for sure because Jesus himself said it. Jesus said that Satan is the father of lies. Sometimes you see something happen and you're like, is that an attack from Satan? What you don't have to wonder about is where he's spending most of his time, and that's in convincing us of lies. I'm not saying that the trial that you're going through isn't spiritual warfare, maybe it is. Maybe the health problem you have, maybe the financial problem, maybe there is some spiritual warfare involved in that.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:48] But what I do want you to consider is this, we live in the most prosperous nation in the history of mankind. We live in the safest nation in the history of mankind. We have more access to education and more access to really great health care than anywhere else that has ever existed. And according to statistics, we are as anxious and depressed as we have ever been. Our main problems are not financial and physical, your main problem is spiritual. And it doesn't matter how much money you have, it doesn't matter how healthy you are, you can't get away from that problem just by getting more. Our main problems are spiritual, and the main attack is a battle between the lies and the truth, and Satan loves lies. For some of you this morning, your key battle in your life is that you've been believing some lies. I can never go through all of them today, Satan has a million different tactics, let me talk about three, let me talk about three lies that I think a lot of us are believing right now.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:03] Here's lie number one. Lie number one is God could never love you. With what you've done, with where you've been, with how ordinary you are, with all the things that you've done, God could never love you. In fact, you're arrogant to think that the God of the universe is paying any special attention to you, God doesn't love you, God doesn't see you, God doesn't care about you, God could never love you. This is not just incorrect theology; this is a satanic lie that too many of us are held hostage to. and we're terrified. Do you want to know one of the reasons why some of us are not praying? It's because we've been convinced, why would God ever listen to somebody like me? Man, we get a Bible where Jesus is combating this lie, telling us there's no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. God so loved the world that He sent his one and only son. We have a God who profoundly loves us and doesn't send away anybody who comes to him. But too many of us buy lie number one.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:31] Here's lie number two. Lie number two is you will be happy as long as you just indulge all of your impulses. Do you guys feel like this lie is a little bit prominent in our culture? Like, yeah, it's a little bit out there. If you just say yes to yourself, if you just say yes to your body, if you just say yes to your impulses, you just say yes to whatever you want to do, that's where you'll find true happiness, that's where you'll be true to yourself. So you know what, if you're not happy in your marriage, you should be happy, get out of it. If you feel like eating that or drinking that, or if you feel like having sex over there, go ahead, you should do that, you should indulge your appetites. We've gotten to the point where we think that it's a good idea to mutilate our bodies in order to try to find our true selves, you can't tell me that's not satanic. This is not, and again, for some of you, this is going to feel like I'm this crazy person spouting these lies. We are not clever enough to come up with these lies, these are lies from the enemy. You will not be satisfied through indulging your appetites, you will end up making a mess of your life and destruction to people that you care about. But too many of us, even if it's just in spurts, are really buying into lie number two.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:38] Now, here's lie number three. Lie number three is your worth is tied directly to what you achieve. So if you've got money, if you got status, if you have a wall of certificates, if you have all that stuff, you mean something; if you don't, you don't mean anything, and so you better keep it up. Some of you right now are at a weird point in your life, maybe you were a mom, and you were really active in raising your kids and now your kids have moved out and you're like, what am I even worth? Maybe some of you recently retired and you're like, I was important at my job, now what am I even worth? Some of you are just at a downtime right now where you're like, I used to be great, I'm not so great right now, and things are not going so awesome right now, what am I worth? Once again, this is not just wrong theology, this is a satanic lie that is taking some of us down. Your worth before God is not tied to your performance, it's tied to the performance of our savior, Jesus Christ. He paid it all, he has welcomed us in as sons and daughters in the family of God, we know our worth because Jesus paid it all. But, man, the enemy would love to have us bound by those lies. We might not, in suburbia, experience as many frontal attacks as we get here, but don't believe for a second Satan is inactive with his lies. But remember that in this realm we are not dealing with an undefeated enemy, Jesus has won the victory, and he is King in the spiritual realm.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:27] Now Jesus has a third truth to unveil to us, and this one really has a lot to do with how we respond. So the third truth about the spiritual realm is that in the spiritual realm, there is no neutrality. Look at what Jesus says in verse 30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." Some of us are like angels and demons, I'm going to step back and just let them handle it. I am Switzerland over here, I don't need to take a side, this is not my fight. I'm just going to back up and I'm going to let them duke it out. Jesus says, Nah, that doesn't work., whoever's not with me is against me. There's a King in the spiritual realm, if you're not with the King, you're with the other team. We can't stay neutral about Jesus. Some of you in here are probably trying, you're like, hey, I don't hate Jesus, but I'm not following Jesus. If you're not following Jesus, you are following the other team; there is no neutrality in the spiritual realm.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:36] Now Jesus goes on in verses 31 and 32 to say one of the most frightening things that he ever said. He says, "And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man." So Jesus is saying, hey, you could say something bad about me and will be forgiven. "But anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven either in this age or in the age to come." Now, here's why this is so frightening, we're like, our whole faith is built on the idea that Jesus paid it all and all of our sins can be forgiven. And now here's Jesus saying, there's a sin that I won't forgive, there's a sin that can't be forgiven. And we go into panic mode, we're like, did I do it, like blasphemy the Holy Spirit? Did I do it? Have I done it? Maybe there was a time where you were walking in a season of rebellion and you're like, Did I do it then, and now I can't be forgiven? This can send us into a panic.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:34] So, man, this thing could be a whole sermon, but I'm just going to deal with this briefly. I want to say, if you're sitting in here today and you're like, I'm kind of afraid I may have committed the unpardonable sin. What I want to tell you is I guarantee you haven't, for two reasons. The first reason is this, and I'll say the first reason, not everyone agrees on this, but a lot of scholars do agree on this. Jesus is not randomly bringing up a different subject here, this is tied directly to what just happened. He is talking about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which is what the Pharisees just did. And here's how they did it, they looked at Jesus casting out a demon, and in verse 28 Jesus said that he cast out that demon by the power of the Spirit. And the Pharisees looked at that very overt and obvious work of the Holy Spirit, and do you remember what they said about it? They said that's satanic. And Jesus is saying, you just blasphemed the Holy Spirit. There are some people who still think that there's some sort of parallel to this that could be committed today, I actually think Jesus is dealing with a situation that's just right here and now. That he's saying to the Pharisees, you just blasphemed the Holy Spirit, there's no coming back from that. And I don't think he's painting a scenario where they're going to come back and say, we're so sorry and he's going to be like, no, too late. I think it's that he's saying once you've crossed that, once you have seen before your eyes the work of the Holy Spirit and you've called it satanic, there's no coming back from that.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:07] Which leads to the second reason why I know you haven't committed the unpardonable sin if you're afraid that you have because you wouldn't be afraid that you have if you did. Your heart would be so hard against Jesus that you would not care. So I know some of you are old, you're not old enough to have been here when this story happened, so I don't believe you committed the unpardonable sin. And if you're worried that you committed it, that means that your heart, at least in some way, is responsive to Jesus. Jesus is not saying that there are going to be people in the last day who come to him and say, Jesus, please let me into the family, I'm so sorry. And he's going to be like, no, I don't want you. Anyone who comes to Jesus is welcomed by Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:55] He's talking about a very specific thing going on, and he plays into this with the last words that he says in this passage in 33 through 37. He says, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him." Verses 36 and 37 closes out the passage, he says, "But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” So this again, on first glance, we're like, did Jesus’ change subjects? He didn't, here's what's going on. Jesus is talking, he's using one of his favorite illustrations to talk about the idea that what we do reflects what's inside. He loves this illustration, the tree and its fruit, so he brings that up.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:00] Here's why he's bringing it up, did you notice his focus on words? He's saying what you say reveals the heart. Think of the words that were said in this passage. The Pharisees looked at the work of the Holy Spirit and they said, that's Satanic. And Jesus says, do you know why you said that? It's because your insides are broken. Do you know why you said that? Because you're already a rotten tree from the inside. How could I expect you to say something good when you're rotten on the inside? By the way, you notice also in verse 36, he says every empty word, we're going to give an account for every empty word. In Greek, I think actually a better translation for that is every careless word. Which have you ever noticed that the best way to know what somebody is really thinking is through their careless words? It's not their well thought through crafted words, it's the accidental slips that tell you what's going on. We even talk about it, we're like, oh, they said the quiet part out loud. Like through a Freudian slip, I just found out what you really think. Jesus says in an unguarded moment, you just showed what was really inside. And our words are going to reveal whether we have a heart that is responsive to Jesus or whether we have a heart that's hard toward him.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:18] So if we are dealing with the spiritual realm, if we have the truth of Jesus shouting out to us, and if we have the lies of the enemy shouting out to us, Jesus says, there's no way that you're going to respond to the truth of Jesus unless your heart is already attuned to him.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:36] For some of us, the biggest thing that we need to hear today is that it's time to get into the battle. It's time to engage in the battle. In fact, the question I want to ask here toward the end is where is your battle? You know how weird it would be if we were all soldiers in a war and the war was raging on and we decided, you know what we're going to do once a week for one hour, we're going to acknowledge the war, and then we're just going to go back to pretending it's not there. Now, some of you right now are like Dan, cheap shot, we actually showed up today. Like, talk to the people that didn't even show up. I'm not trying to take a cheap shot. I'm just saying, man, do you realize how foolish that is? If we think, well, I go to church once a week, I'm good. Holy smokes, we are talking about a spiritual battle you are not good with once a week. We need to constantly be encountering God's truth, we need his word, we need prayer, we need one another, and we need to be soaking in the truths of God to combat the lies of the enemy. Where is your battle right now?

Dan Franklin: [00:37:46] And I guarantee you that for a whole chunk of you, your battle right now is over one of those three lies I talked about earlier. You are battling to try to reject the lie that God could never love you, you're battling to try to reject the lie that you really will be happy if you just say yes to yourself all the time, or you're battling to reject the lie that your worth is directly tied towards your achievements. You are in the battle right now, and it's time to engage in the battle, and it's time to stop going it alone.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:16] And so here's what we're going to do in the service. I'm going to invite pastors and elders and prayer team members to go ahead and come up to the sides of the stage right now. You know, these folks are always available after the service, but we wanted to take some time in the service still before we finish to allow for this. And here's what's going to happen, you can see that Andy's come out, he's going to play some music in a moment. And I'll say some of you may end up singing along, you may feel like you're led to do that. Some of you may not, you might just use this time to deal before the Lord with the lie or with the battle going on inside of you right now. And what some of you can also do, you don't need to wait until the service is done. You can, right now, you don't even have to wait till I'm done talking, you can come to one of these folks up here because you know right now there's a lie that you've been believing, and it is time to do battle. And as great as it would be in your seat right now to say, I'm going to go to the Lord and I'm going to engage with him in this, that would be great. Man, what would be even better is if you had somebody else who loves Jesus praying with you about that, engaging in battle with you. Let's take time now, let's strike while the iron is hot. Let's do business with God during this time, trusting that he has bound the strong man and that he wants to liberate us.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:39] Let me say a prayer for us as we enter into this time of response. Father, thank you so much that we have the hope that the enemy doesn't get the last word. Thank you that Jesus has won the victory and that he truly is king. Father, we pray that during this time you set prisoners free. We pray that you lead us into all truth. We pray that you'd give us the boldness, I pray that you'd give boldness to people right now to get up out of their seats and to seek help from fellow servants who are looking to walk with you. Father, do business with us during this time, and may the truth of Jesus shout down the lies of the enemy. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.



Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848