Kingdom Culture: Victory (Part 2)

This week, we’re continuing our new message series entitled Kingdom Culture. In this message series, we’ll be learning about the culture in the kingdom of heaven and how to have His kingdom come and will be done here on earth. This begins by replacing our values, attitudes, goals, and practices with His and allowing Him to transform and renew our minds to think, act, and be like Him.

Last week, we took a look at the spiritual warfare that rages all around us.  We learned of who Satan and the demons really are, what caused them to fall and be kicked out of Heaven, and what their purpose is.  We found that in order to bring God’s kingdom here on earth, we do so by defeating and driving out Satan’s kingdom.
We gain the victory in this war by winning the small battles in our every day lives and by persevering, never giving up.
We dug into where temptation comes from and analyzed the process through which a temptation grows into sin and gives birth to death.
James 1:13-15

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
However, we were left with some questions.
How can we recognize when we are being enticed and tempted by our evil desires?  How do we avoid this demise and abort the sin in our lives before it becomes fully grown and lead to our death?  How do we gain the victory in life and begin overcoming the battles that we face daily?  Is there any way that we can find hope and refuge from this war?  Can there be peace and rest in our lives?
This week, we’ll begin to reveal the answers to some of these questions.
The first is, how can we recognize when we are being enticed and tempted by our evil desires?  How can we determine which of our desires are good and which are evil?
1. Know His word
Psalm 119:11
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
God’s word teaches us what sin is and what sin is not.  It goes far beyond just the black and white commandments and reveals to us the heart and character of God and His kingdom principles to help us discern within our hearts their condition and motives to ensure that we are fully aware of any area of sin which might have conceived and be growing in our lives.  The Holy Spirit within us will also assist us in this process by convicting us of sin and righteousness as we keep ourselves sensitive to His guiding.
Next, once we recognize sin in our lives, how do we abort it before it continues to grow and give birth to death?  How do we rid ourselves of the foothold which Satan has gained into our lives?
This one is a three step process.
1. Confess
2. Seek forgiveness
3. Repent/Renounce
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Once we recognize sin in our lives, we simply confess it to God and ask that the forgiveness purchased by the blood of Christ will cover us.  Because of God’s faithfulness, He’ll forgive our sins and we’ll stand again righteous before Him.  It’s really that easy to receive forgiveness from God for any sin, no matter how great or small.  We simply confess that what we did was wrong and ask Him to forgive us.
This is the easy part for us, however, if we are to really get rid of the power that sin has in our lives and the foothold that the enemy has over us, we also must do the next step of renouncing and repenting.  This step is more challenging to do.  To repent means to to feel a deep regret and to turn away from sin and similarly, renounce means to refuse to acknowledge, obey, or follow any longer.  This is the part that we truly need God’s strength and wisdom to do.  However, if we fail to do this step, sin will quickly return and continue to grow in our lives.
Proverbs 28:13
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Satan’s temptation for us to sin leverages our weaknesses and evil desires and reminds us of the temporary pleasure and downplays the long term consequences of the sin.  So long as we are on this side of heaven, the war goes on and we face these battles.  It’s helpful to also remember that we will fail and lose battles at times.  However, we must get back up and persevere.  We may lose a battle now and then, but we must not give up the war because of it.  With every battle that we win, the enemy looses the stronghold that he has in our lives and freedom and victory will be ours!  We must rise up against the failures and discouragement that the enemy will use to leverage these losses and remind him of whom our lives belong to and of both of our endings.  We will rise victorious and overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!
It also helps to remember that we have a savior who can well relate to us.  Jesus lived as a man and faced the same temptations that we have so that He could relate to us and help us to overcome them.  God is also not unaware of our desires and many desires that we have that Satan leverages to entice us into sin were actually created within us by God.  God’s desire, however, is to satisfy those desires with good things that gives us life abundant and not to steal, kill, and destroy us as the enemy does.
Psalm 103:2-5
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Repenting is often making the choice to turn away from the evil thing that Satan is tempting us with and turning to the good thing that God provides to satisfy our desires.
Now, we know how to deal with sin in our lives by confessing, seeking forgiveness, and repenting/renouncing.  However, how do we deal with temptation and avoid giving into it?
2. Be always on the alert

1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
We must always be on our alert and not forget the war surrounding us.  It’s often when we let our guards down or grow apathetic in our awareness of this war that the enemy comes in and takes us down.  We are warned in scripture especially not to grow unaware of this spiritual warfare when things are going well for us.  When we are struggling, the battle is obvious.  However, when things are going well, we tend to forget about the battle and can more easily get picked off by the devil by complete surprise.
No matter where we are at in life, we must always remain soberly aware of the war that we’re engaged in and keep up our defenses.  The enemy is so brilliant at deceit that all too often, we are loosing the war and completely unaware of it as he keeps us distracted and busy.
When we are aware that the battle is on and temptation begins to entice us, how do we handle it, though?
4. Resist Satan
James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
When we sense ourselves being enticed by our evil desires, we know that the devil is tempting us.  We’re called here to simply submit to God and resist the devil and watch him flee.  It’s also helpful to keep this scripture always in mind when we find that we’re being tempted and need to resist Satan.
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
How awesome and faithful is our God?  Every time that we are tempted, God will ensure that it is not beyond what we can bear and He’ll always provide us a way out of it.  We need only train and discipline ourselves enough to be able to stop in the midst of temptation and seek after God to see and follow that way out.  Praise God that the Holy Spirit gives us this self control that we need!
Next, we find a way in which we can be proactive in this war and aware of the schemes of the enemy in our lives.
5. Take our thoughts captive
We engage most frequently in the war within the battlefield of our minds.  After all, the things that we do, we first think of.  God has given us the free will to choose and so often when we fight our battles, the battles occur in our minds and thought life.  Just one single thought in our mind can turn the course of our lives by controlling our emotions, actions, attitudes, behaviors, and relationships.
For this reason, it is important for us to realize that not all of our thoughts should be accepted.  There are sometimes thoughts that we have that should be renounced and rejected.  Thoughts can come not only from our own reasoning, but also from media that we take in through music, movies, TV, etc.  We’ve all been there and had that song or image stuck in our heads that we just can’t get out.  Thoughts can also come from others, from God, and also from Satan.  We’re given in scripture a guide about the characteristics of thoughts that we should keep and hold onto.
Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
We also find in scripture a guide for winning these battles within our minds and thought life.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
What a visualization to have about our thoughts!  We take every one of the thoughts that pop into our minds captive.  We bind them up and don’t let them run free until they have been put it on trial in order to make them obedient to Christ.  What is found to be a rogue and evil thought, we reject and cast out.  What is found to be a pure and praiseworthy thought, we accept and let run free.
Take our thoughts captive
1. What is the source of this thought?  Media, myself, my past, others, God, Satan?
2. Is it in alignment with God’s word, character, and His will for my life?
3. What is the motive behind this thought – is it pure?
4. What will the fruits be if I allow this thought to be conceived and grow?
This is a process that takes time.  However, as we begin to engage in the battle within our mind, beginning to discipline ourselves to take our thoughts captive and not to allow every thought that pops into our mind to run free, we will begin to win small battles in our lives.  We’ll stop temptation and sin in our lives and overcome them, removing the foothold that they have in our lives.  We will demolish the strongholds that the enemy has in our lives and see God’s kingdom come with all of the healing, deliverance, and peace that we long for!
We can have the victory in life, we simply must choose it!  Every day with every thought and every choice that we make we either rise up in victory overcoming the deceit and cunningness of the enemy or we give in, lose the battle, and become enslaved to do his will.  The choice is ours.  Let’s rise up and begin winning the battles that we face daily in our lives and live a life of victory!
Join us next week as we learn in the midst of this battle how to enter into the peace and rest from this constant warfare and the refuge that is available to us.