Matthew 12:24-26
War Time Truths

On November 19, 1863, in the state of Pennsylvania, President
Abraham Lincoln gave a speech that became famous, the Gettysburg
Address. In that speech is a line:

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing
whether that nation, or any nation so conceived,
and so dedicated, can long endure.
http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/gettysburg/good_cause/transcript.htm

As I considered this text, those words came to my mind for we are
also engaged in a great war.  The world has declared war on God and
as we are His children, it will attack Him through us. For American
Christians, that is just beginning; but it has been going on world-
wide since Jesus returned to the heavens.

Some American Christians may not have yet seen this realty, but
America is at war with God. In the space of a few generations, we
have gone from respecting God to ignoring God, to doubting God, to
attacking God.

Because this is a spiritual war that we are fighting, the rules of
engagement are different than the war of Abraham Lincolnís day.
    1. We are not the combatants.  This is a war between this world,
        the devil, and God.  We are not to fight in it.  Because we
        are Godís children, we may become the casualties, but Jesus
        made it clear that we are not the combatants.

John 18:36  Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of
this world: if my kingdom were of this world,
then would my servants fight, that I should not
be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom
not from hence.

    2. We know how our war is going to end.  In fact, we know what
        will happen and we know why it will happen.  The last chapter
        has been written and God wins.  Neither Abraham Lincoln nor
        Jefferson Davis knew the ending of their conflict.

Even so, a war is going on and will continue to go on. While we
should have no concern about the waróthat is totally in Godís handsóI
do have concern about us. I fear that a good many Christians today
are ignorant and ill-prepared for warfare. Too many have been brought
up in a feel-good churches on a diet of prosperity preaching.  Even
many of those reared in better churches have never learned the truths
that accompany spiritual warfare.  Hence, this morning, I am
preaching few War Time Truths.

I. There are only two kingdoms and only two leaders.
    A. Let me say at the beginning that I have been tempted to give
        you that thought in an inaccurate statement.
        1. I am tempted to say there are two kingdoms and two kings,
            but there are not.
        2. There are two kingdoms, Godís kingdom and the Satanís, but
            only one King, God Almighty.
        3. Perhaps you are wondering why I do not say that Satan is
            a king.
            a. The reason is because Satan is not.  He is only a
                prince, one given limited authority by a the king.
            b. \\#Matt 12:24\\ refers to Satan as "the prince of the
                devils."
                (1) Satan is not a king.  He is only a prince, and I
                     donít want to give him any more credit than
                     what is due him.
                (2) Satan only rules at the discretion of THE King,
                     God.
                (3) Both Satanís powers and time are determined by
                     the King who I serve and whose I am.
                (4) But Satan does have charge of this world, and it
                     is called his kingdom at this time.
        4. So to be accurate, the truth I give to you is there are
            only two kingdom and only two leaders.
        5. Some may wonder why that is important?
    B. It is important because you are either are on Godís side or
        the devilís.  There are no other choices.
        1. People like to imagine a third choice
        2. For the lack of a better term, I will refer to their
            imaginary kingdom as "My kingdom."
        3. They like to pretend that there is Godís kingdom, Satanís
            kingdom, and their kingdomóas if they have a kingdom.
            a. Interestingly, I find just as many saved people as
                unsaved people seem to believe they have a third
                option.
            b. Get this - No one does.
            c. There are only two kingdoms and only two leaders.
        4. Pretending that there is a third kingdom is like
            pretending there are three places one may go to when
            they die.
            a. Sorry.
            b. Again, there are only two: heaven or hell.
        5. That fact should bring us to face another: You are either
            on Godís side or the devilís.
            a. Again, there are fences to straddle and no DMZ zones
                to stop off at.
            b. You are either saved and serving God or you are not.
            c. Look at how Jesus put it:

Matt 12:30  He that is not with me is against me;
and he that gathereth not with me scattereth
abroad.

    C. Which kingdom are you part of?
        1. I would like to tell you that it is easy to tell but
            apparently it is not.
            a. I have already mentioned that people today are
                confused, thinking there is a third kingdom to which
                they may belong.
            b. Those in Jesusí day were also confused.
            c. In fact, they thought THEY belonged to Godís kingdom
                and Jesus belonged to the devilís kingdom.

Matt 12:24  But when the Pharisees heard it, they
said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but
by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

                (1) Boy, were they confused!
                (2) They had it completely backwards.
                (3) They were the ones that belonged to the devil
                     and of course, Jesus belonged in Godís kingdom.
        2. Since it seems hard for some people to know which kingdom
            is theirs, let me give you some hints.
            a. Godís kingdom is the kingdom of believing and obeying
                the Bible.  The devilís kingdom denies and rewrites
                the Bible.
                (1) You call yourself a Christian but do not believe
                     in creation.
                (2) You call yourself a Christian and do believe in
                     abortion.
                (3) You call yourself a Christian and do believe in
                     homosexuality.
                (4) Friend, there is a problem.  You are following
                     the wrong leader!
            b. Godís kingdom is the kingdom of holiness.  The
                devilís kingdom is the kingdom of sin.
                (1) When someone who calls himself a Christian says
                     he doesnít commit a sin but he doesnít see
                     anything wrong with it, there is a problem!
                (2) You are following the wrong leader.
            c. Godís kingdom is the kingdom of freedom.  Satanís
                kingdom is the kingdom of bondage.
                (1) When you call yourself a Christian and you
                     support tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and other
                     addictive habits, there is a problem.
                (2) You are following the wrong leader.

II. The Holy Ghost is the Commander-in-Chief in this age.
    A. The Bible is a book of revelation; that is, God is revealing
        truth throughout it.
    B. Revelation comes gradually; that is, not all at once.
        1. There are several reason for that.
        2. The most obvious reason is because we couldnít absorb all
            there is at one time.  (In fact, it will likely take all
            eternity for us to take in just a portion of it.)
        3. So God gradually reveals truth.
        4. God has gradually revealed truth about Himself.
        5. Gradually, God has revealed to us that He is a Trinity;
            that is, that we worship one God but He is manifest in
            three Persons.
            a. In the Old Testament, we learn about God the Father.
            b. In the Gospels, we learn about God the Son.
            c. And some in the gospel but mostly in the book of Acts,
                we learn about God the Holy Spirit.
        6. Today, we obey the Father, we preach the Son, but we are
            indwelled and empowered by the Holy Ghost.
        7. The Holy Ghost is the Commander-in-Chief in this age.
        8. Even Jesus was empowered by the Holy Ghost.

Matt 12:28  But if I cast out devils by the
Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come
unto you.

        9. Why is that important?
    C. Because just like we want to please the Father and the Son, so
        we are to seek the Holy Ghost and to please and obey Him.
    D. Indeed, Jesus commanded us to respect the Holy Ghost in two
        ways:
        1. We are to respect the Holy Ghost with our words.

Matt 12:31  Wherefore I say unto you, All manner
of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men:
but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall
not be forgiven unto men.

            (a) I have always found this interesting.
            (b) The Holy Ghost is as much God as Jesus or the Father,
                 but Jesus says if you blaspheme Him, you can be
                 forgiven; but if you blaspheme the Holy Ghost, you
                 cannot.
            (c) Why?
                 (1) Donít know for sure.
                 (2) I suspect it may because the Holy Ghost is
                      the silent Member of the Trinity.
                 (3) He is never seen (only the manifestations
                      of Himself) and His voice is never heard.
            (d) However, we are not confuse His silence with
                 non-existence.
            (e) Jesus was commanding people to respect the Holy
                 Ghost with their words.
        2. We are to respect the Holy Ghost with our obedience.

Matt 12:33  Either make the tree good, and his
fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and
his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his
fruit.

            (a) For a soldier to disobey the Commander-in-Chief at
                 any time is a serious offense, but during wartime
                 is a court martial offense.
            (b) We are to obey the Holy Ghost of God.

III. Our Sign Is the Victory

Matt 12:38  Then certain of the scribes and of
the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would
see a sign from thee.
39  But he answered and said unto them, An evil
and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign;
and there shall no sign be given to it, but the
sign of the prophet Jonas:
40  For as Jonas was three days and three nights
in the whaleís belly; so shall the Son of man be
three days and three nights in the heart of the
earth.

    A. The scribes and Pharisees were constantly asking Jesus for
        some proof that He was who He claimed to be.
        1. First, remember that Jesus was healing the sick, feeding
            the multitudes, walking on water, and raising the dead.
            What other kind of proof do you think they wanted?
        2. The reason they were always asking for signs is because
            they were shallow.  In fact, many of them were just plain
            lost.
    B. Shallow people require signs, miracles, proofs that God is God
        and that He is going to do what He said.
        1. The first casualties in a spiritual war are the shallow
            people.
        2. They donít die.  They quit.  They quit because they have
            never learned to walk by faith and trust God.
    C. Jesusí answer to them was consistent.
        1. No new sign for you.
        2. The only sign you are going to see is the resurrection.
            (The Son of man being laid in the tombólike Jonahófor
            three days and nights.)
        3. You and I know that the resurrection was the last step in
            Godís plan of salvation.
            a. The resurrection marked the victory of God.
            b. When Jesus came out of the tomb, everything God had
                promised concerning sinís payment and Godís
                acceptance of that payment, were completed.
            c. As the old Gaither song said,

It is finished, the battle is over.
It is finished, thereíll be no more war.
It is finished, the end of the conflict.
It is finished and Jesus is Lord.

    D. So get what Jesus was saying.
        1. The only sign you will have is the victory.
        2. I am NOT saying God will not do any more miracles.  He
            will.
        3. I am saying that God does not do signs to produce faith or
            to convince the shallow.
        4. If that is what is required for you and me to stay
            faithful in wartime, we are going to be some of the first
            casualties, because God isnít going to do it.
        5. The sign that God is God and that He will do what He said
            He will do will be the victory.
            a. For the church age, it will be rapture of the church.
            b. For the tribulation, it will be the return of Jesus to
                set up His kingdom.

Our country is at war with our God.  That means things are going to
get rough for them and for us.  As with any war, we are going to have
to make some sacrifices.  Letís make certain that the things we
sacrifice are temporal things not the eternal ones.

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