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Know Your Enemy

God has a purpose for your life, but he won’t just throw a purpose on you without getting you ready. He often cares more about who you’re becoming than where you’re going. Our nature is to always think about where we’re going, how we’re going to get there, and what that will look like. God would tell you that he’s got some great things in store for you, but he wants to ensure you’re ready for those great things.

Judges 7:15-22 (NLT)

When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and shouted, “Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!” He divided the 300 men into three groups and gave each man a ram’s horn and a clay jar with a torch in it.

Then he said to them, “Keep your eyes on me. When I come to the edge of the camp, do just as I do. As soon as I and those with me blow the rams’ horns, blow your horns, too, all around the entire camp, and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!'”

It was just after midnight, after the changing of the guard when Gideon and the 100 men with him reached the edge of the Midianite camp. Suddenly, they blew the rams’ horns and broke their clay jars. Then all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the horns in their right hands, and they all shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”

Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape. When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the Lord caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords.

So Gideon tells his men to leave their swords and shields at camp. Don’t bring anything that could be used as a weapon. Instead, I want you to bring a clay jar, a torch, and a ram’s horn as a trumpet. At this point, there are 135,000 Midianites against 300 guys that God had selected for this moment. They break up into groups of 100 to surround the camp and creep down at the changing of the guard. On the count of three, Gideon blows his ram’s horn and breaks the clay jars that contain a flame from their torch. Suddenly, BAM, loud noise goes off, and all the light is exposed. They blow the ram’s horn, and all 135,000 Midianites see all the lights and feel like they’re surrounded. They hear the ram’s horns going off, and they all pull out their sword in a panic, and they all just start fighting and killing each other. That’s how God delivers His people. That’s how the victory is won, not by their sword, but by the power in the mind of God.

If we’re going to talk about the hero’s journey, we have to talk about your enemy. Not just who your enemy is but how you fight that enemy. Let me give you three steps if you want the Lord to fight your battles and do a miracle in your life.

3 Things About Fighting the Enemy

1. Never hesitate

Did you notice that the 300 guys left were down with Gideon’s plan of not bringing weapons but instead a clay jar with a torch and a musical instrument? None of these 300 guys were found hesitating, complaining, delaying, or running away. Instead, you see the kind of attitude and posture of people that God chooses for battle. Remember, he chose these 300 people. There were 1000s of people that left Gideon, but God selected these last 300. What they were about to do was absolutely foolish. It wasn’t a sign of strength. It was a demonstration of weakness.

1 Corinthians 1:27 (NIV)

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

He’s talking about people up against the odds who don’t have things in their favor and don’t look like they should be standing at the top of the hill. And yet, they don’t question the plan when it comes down to this clear instruction about getting the torch, the jar, and the ram’s horn. In their obedience, they didn’t hesitate.

Delayed obedience is still disobedience.

The 300 men didn’t have to kill anyone; it was God acting on their behalf. Look at what only God could do because they didn’t hesitate. Man, never hesitate. Delayed obedience is still disobedience. Sometimes God will ask us to do things that don’t look like the most strategic thing.

At one point, Maria and I had a ton of debt. We were overwhelmed with the amount of medical and credit card debt we had acquired. We discussed the option of not tithing and using what we usually would give to the church to pay off our debt. But as soon as we said that, we looked at each other and said, “That’s not us nor who we are. We’re people of faith who put God first. We’re going to put God to the test and give more than we have in the past.” We gave more because we needed a miracle that required greater faith.

Maybe you have struggles in your life; my encouragement for you is never to hesitate. It may look foolish to obey God. But what God is looking for is a willing, surrendered, obedient heart so he can do his work through you. Gideon worshiped God and then made a decision that everyone followed. The Lord revealed to me that the best times to make decisions in faith are right after you’re done worshiping. What is it that God’s asking you to do? Your obedience is going to determine the miracle.

2. Don’t bring backup weapons

Never hesitate to obey God, and don’t have a backup plan. None of the 300 men had backup plans. Some of you right now have a backup boyfriend. When you’re committed to Jesus, you’re faithful to him. He’s faithful to you. There are no backup plans here. If you have a backup plan, that’s not genuine faith. God is looking for a fully surrendered heart with no other options available.

These guys carried three items, a clay jar, a ram’s horn, and a torch. They didn’t have an extra arm for a sword. They had no backup plan on them. If this plan didn’t work, they got destroyed. During those times, you need to say, “God, I’m doing things your way. I’m trusting you to show up.” God’s more eager to do a miracle in your life than we’re eager to trust Him with our faith. I think God is on the edge of his seat, waiting for us to trust him so that we can be blown away by what He can do.

3. Hold your ground

Judges 7:21-22 (NLT)

Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape. When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the Lord caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords.

As the Midianites rushed around in a panic, Gideon and his men stood in their position. They stood there with a torch in their hand, a ram’s horn in their other hand, and broken clay jar pieces at their feet. It doesn’t say they ran away. It doesn’t say they tried to hide. It doesn’t even say they advanced on the enemy. It said they stood there and watched God deliver the victory. They stood there and watched and worshipped a God who was for them and who had gone before them. That’s called grace.

Do you want God to fight your battles for you? Then you need to be still. You might be standing in your position, but you’re watching the enemy. Instead, stand in your position and keep your eyes on Christ. Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT)

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

How does he say to attack? Does he say have the best plan or choose the best weapons? He says to make sure that you have everything ready to protect yourself and stand. He doesn’t talk about advancing. He talks about standing. The army of the Lord stands and watches God do the battle. When Jesus hung from the cross, He yelled, “It is finished.” He was talking about the very battle that you’re in right now. He means I have done it. It is over.

Some of you are fighting a war that God never called you to fight. That’s why you’re so exhausted. God’s like, “Chill. Let me do this already.” You made a mess, and God wants to get you out of it. But the problem is you don’t know your enemy. You have misinterpreted the warfare. And as a result, you have misidentified the enemy.

3 Enemies We All Face

1. Our thoughts

Some of our thoughts are good. But when our thoughts are not good, what are they? They’re the devil. The devil is after your soul, trying to derail you from God’s purpose. Even if he can’t take your soul, he can delay you from what God wants to do through your life. Jesus says, “I came to give life and give it to the fullest.” He said that right after saying, “The devil comes to steal to kill and destroy.”

There are two teams here, but they are not the same size. One is a king. One is a fallen angel. The devil is a fallen angel that puts lies in your head. We hear how Jesus battled the devil in Luke 4.

Luke 4:1-4 (NLT)

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

Jesus went face to face with the devil, so we could know how to do this. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus was mentally and physically in his weakest mode. The first thing the devil says to Jesus is, “If you are the Son of God,” Do you hear that lie? If you are the Son of God, I wonder how tempted Jesus was to believe that lie. Jesus lived by faith but had moments where he asked God what to do and tried to figure it out, just like us. Jesus was fully surrendered to God the Father, just like we are as his sons and daughters. And so you can imagine there were times when Jesus didn’t know what to do. But this wasn’t about what to do but who he was.

Friend, you can have questions about what to do, but never question who you are. The devil thought of the perfect lie for Jesus to question his identity. Rather than listening to the lie, Jesus remembers getting baptized. The last thing he heard the Father say was, “Behold, my son, in whom I am well pleased that I love.” The last thing he heard God say was that Jesus was the Son of God.

Jesus knew without a shadow of doubt that God the Father loved and was well pleased with him. The devil can only put a thought outside your head; you’re the one who opens the door to let it in. Your mind is a sanctuary where the devil can’t read your thoughts. I’ll tell you this, once the devil has lied to you enough, there comes a moment the devil has lied to you enough. He doesn’t need to lie to you again if he’s already taught you to lie to yourself. If he’s already taught you to lie to yourself, he can move on to the next person because now that lie is in your head.

Luke 4:4

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.'”

Remember what Scripture has already said whenever the enemy is tempting you to believe something contradictory. The devil would love to get in your mind. But if you already know the Word of God, you understand that it’s called the helmet of salvation. When the enemy tries to get in with his lies, he won’t be able to because you have a helmet of salvation. You know who you are in Christ. Do you have a regular discipline of reading the Word of God every day? Whether it’s an app where you read one verse, a chapter, or our reading plan on the Freedom Church app, do you put the word of God in your head every single day, no matter what? Do that, and you’ll be ready to stand against the enemy in his lies.

2. Our passions

The world loves to talk about how you will find your purpose if you follow your passions. But that’s not the best way to find your purpose. Right? The best way to find your purpose is to follow Jesus and let Him lead you to what he’s created you to do. There’s a great verse in

Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)

Delight yourself also in the Lord,

And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Sometimes we read that in Psalms 37 and think that God will give us what our heart desires. But that’s not what that means. It means he will give us a new desire for our hearts. So now, pleasing and serving God and doing what he wants for us is now actually the desire of our heart. You will not crave those things of your own passions much longer. Your heart will change the more you follow Him, the more you serve Him, and the more you put him first in your life.

You might be in financial debt now and struggle because you acted out a passion when you should have waited and been disciplined and helped others instead of feeding yourself. You may have a broken heart that didn’t need to be broken because you acted out of passion instead of doing it God’s way. Man, we need to ensure that we understand that there’s an enemy out there. They want to trigger our flesh, carnal nature, desires, and passions to sabotage our life.

3 Our world

Our world wants you to live a consumer’s life focused on yourself. All of us lived that way before Christ. The battle isn’t necessarily against the world. It’s against the former version of ourselves before we were saved. Does that make sense?

John 3:16-17 (NLT)

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

God sent Jesus into the world to give us everything we need to not be of the world. If you are of the world, your identity is worldly. God wants you to have a kingdom mentality, not a worldly mentality. The reason is He wants your identity to be in Him. He wants you to be full of purpose that is beyond you. The world wants you to think about the temporary. God wants you to think eternal.

Jesus’s first temptation was to try to make him question his identity. Jesus squashed that because he knew the Scriptures. For Jesus’ second temptation, the devil took him to a high cliff and said to jump off. The devil tried to get Jesus to take a shortcut and show everybody he is God’s Son. But Jesus knows that shortcuts don’t win battles. The third temptation is where the devil tells Jesus to bow and worship him. Jesus goes, I’m not of this world.

The enemy will do all he can to shut you up and stop you from reading your Bible. The enemy wants to sideline you from God’s purpose by getting in your head. He’s put thoughts that sabotage you about how you’re not worth it and how you’re always going to struggle. I rebuke those thoughts in Jesus’ name. There’s no reason to fear the enemy because God is always with you in every situation. You are a child of God. You are more than a conqueror. Never hesitate when following God. His purpose is far greater than you can imagine.

Pastor Justice Coleman
Freedom Church