Spiritual Warfare

May 26, 2013     Acts 19:1 – 22   Spiritual Warfare  

   Acts 19:2 …he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."   They were baptized into John’s baptism which was a baptism of repentance.  So they baptized them in the name of Jesus and then Paul placed his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and they prophesied.   I could have left out this first part of the passage today for the sermon but the Holy Spirit is vitally important for the Christian.   The Holy Spirit comforts Christians.   The Holy Spirit leads us and teaches us.   The Holy Spirit empowers us.   The Holy Spirit is a vital part of your life Christian and many times we neglect him.   The Holy Spirit is not an it.   The Holy Spirit is part of the God head and he is a spirit a being.    

    Some Christians believe that this passage teaches a second baptism of the Holy Spirit that does not happen when you receive Jesus. There is a baptism that happens when we receive Jesus but some believe that there is a second baptism and that not all Christians experience the second baptism.    They believe there is a second filling that is total or complete.  They look at this passage with the view that the men were Christians because they were baptized.    Others look at this passage and say they were not Christians at that point.   I look at it like Paul baptized them and they would Christians at that point or Paul would not have baptized them.    Water baptism follows salvation.   Anyway Paul puts his hands on them and they have a God experience.    I think if the Apostle Paul were here and put his hands on us we would have a God experience also.   Many believe that the second time or second baptism of the Holy Spirit there is a total filling.   They feel it is a full emersion into God’s spirit.   Can any human being in the flesh be totally immersed in God’s spirit?  I was with a pastor yesterday who believes in that.     I have not experienced that.  I suppose he could feel he is better or superior because of his experience.  I am not saying that he does. 

     Many other Christians do not believe that.  They do not believe in a second filling.   Sometimes Christians spend more time on what divides us rather than what we all accept.   I think all of us believe there should be many fillings.  Every day we should be filled with the Holy Spirit.   I certainly believe that when a person becomes a Christian that the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Jesus.   I Corinthians 12:13 for we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body whether Jews or Greeks slave or free and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  I believe when the Holy Spirit comes in and all of the Spirit comes into us.   And I think that is great news.   Do I think there are more fillings and blessing of course?   Did the Holy Spirit have all of me when I first became a Christian?    Well I had lots of growing to do.   Even Paul said he had not attained yet or was totally done in his Christian growth.  The Holy Spirit should have all of us and we should walk in the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit.  I think we need to seek God with all our heart and fast and pray. 

       I think we seek to be more like Jesus and ask for God’s Holy Spirit to flow through us in great power.   I think we just ask to be deeper with God and his Spirit.   I think here is more much, much more.    Jesus told the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem.   We do not sit and wait forever but many times we may find ourselves not waiting at all and going forth not in the Spirits power but in our own strength.    We want to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.   Not by might nor by power but by my spirit says the Lord.   We want to be sensitive to the voice of the Lord and the voice of His Spirit.   Then we will be effective.   Then the work of God is done.   Then people’s lives are changed and then God through us establishes his kingdom.   Ephesians 5 do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery.   Instead be filled with the Spirit.   Not by might nor by power but by God’s spirit.  

      Paul spoke boldly for 3 months and then there was opposition.  There is opposition to the word of God.  People even Christians oppose God.   The bottom line for most people is that we want to do what we want.   It can be seen it in the amount of time that Christians pray and read the bible.  It can be seen in the American church today by the lack of tithing and lack of commitment to church, bible study and ministry.   Paul experiences a riot in Ephesus at the end of this chapter.   There is big change in the city because of Paul.   Paul is there for 3 months and then for 2 more years in that area.  The gospel became known in Asia.  Word was getting around and lives were being changed.  And the forces of darkness were noticing and unhappy. 

      Then in verses 11 and 12 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul so that handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul were used to heal the sick and cast out demons.   That is pretty amazing.   You can be sure that the Holy Spirit was involved through those items.   We need to remember that God’s power is within us and God has not changed.     The mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and me.  That power can do great things.   The Holy Spirit and God’s power was doing great things through Paul.   Personally I find myself begging for more.   I want more of God.   I see want to see God move and do great things.   I think you do also.   We need to draw near to God.   Have we fasted and prayed for that thing that is bothering us?    Have we fasted and prayed for our child that needs God?   Have we fasted and prayed for our work or business?    God wants to do great things in your life but God tells us that if we seek him with all, ALL of our heart we will find him.   If you are too busy to seek him with all your heart then I think you must live with what gets handed to you day by day.  People tend to keep doing the things that they are doing and yet expect different results.   It doesn’t always work like that.  We can want everything to change but not be willing to change at all.  Right!  We need some new approaches from time to time.  

    Is God doing great things today?   Are there miracles out there today?   Well I just finished a book entitled the Hidden Power of Prayer and Fasting by Mahesh Chavda.  I want to share with you a couple of the stories that he shares in the book.   He shares the story of ministering in Kananga Zaire an area griped with sorcery.  They were doing mass evangelism and right from the start the witch doctors came publically to oppose them.   The witch doctors were feared and they had the power to tell someone you will die in 7 days and the person would drop dead on the 7 day.   The revival meetings made the witch doctors very angry and they recruited every witch doctor they could find in the region to stop them from proclaiming Jesus.  They gathered under a towering tree that sorcerers had used for years for demon worship and rituals.  On the final night of the revival they gather under the tree men and women who had totally given themselves over to Satan and they angrily cursed the Christians, ate human flesh and talked about how they could stop the meetings because everything they tried up to that point did not work.   Is this beginning to sound like Elijah on Mount Carmel?   At the end of the meeting that night Mahesh felt the Lord telling him to break the yoke of witchcraft over the area and loose the people from its power.   It is very important to have the Lord’s leading in spiritual warfare. 

      While the sorcerers rage beneath their tree Mahesh Chavda declared before thousands of people there Satan I bind you, I take authority over the spirit of witch craft and I break the power of sorcery over this area.   Notice he was led by the Lord.   He writes in that moment according to reports of several witnessed from where the witch doctors gathered flames of fire streaked across the sky spanning 7 to 8 miles distance from where they were meeting to fall on the sorcerer’s tree.   The fire set the tree ablaze.  The branches of the tree from one side to the other were 34 feet across and it burned from the top down.   The tree did not split like from lightening.   The tree burned for 3 days until the stump came down to the height of a man.   Some of the sorcerers came back and told him what had happened.  Some of the witch doctors were blinded some of them burned and some of them repented.   Those that repented came to him told him what happened and asked how to be saved.  

   He writes in the book that he was conducting evangelistic services in Costa Rica and they were broadcast over the radio to several surrounding countries.   On the 3rd day a woman listened to the ministry by radio actually came to the meeting and said she wanted to share her testimony.   She said I was listening to this man pointing to Mahesh on the radio 3 days ago.   She said she had a giant tumor in her throat the size of a grape fruit.  When I heard him preach the tumor started vibrating.   While he preached it shook more and more violently.  Suddenly it burst in my throat ling and came out of my mouth.   She went to the doctors who took 18 separate x-rays over the next 36 hours and were unable to find a single trace of tumor.   He was not even there to pray for her or to lay his hands on her.   The Holy Spirit just honored the preaching of God’s word and healed her.  

     Jesus said you will do greater things than I have done and there are all kinds of comments about that.  Of course the Holy Spirit is the one doing the miracles and God gets the glory.   But the Spirit wants to do great and mighty things today.  Do you want to see great and mighty things?   Well Mahesh fasts 120 days a year.   He has fasted over 30 times for 40 days.   The bible says if we humble ourselves God will lift us up.   Mahesh says fasting is the way to humble yourself.  I would agree with him.    When you fast you get weak.   It purifies and cleanses us from sin.  It points out the unspiritual stuff in our life.  

   I like that this chapter starts out with the Holy Spirit.   It is the Holy Spirit that ministers.   It is when the Holy Spirit moves on a godly, humble, spirit filled Christians who walks with Jesus and then things happen.   So we see the Jews here trying to cast out demons.  Some feel that it is knowledge and a process that drives out demons.   If you have that secret knowledge then you can drive them out.   It is Holy Spirit power and knowledge that works.  So 7 sons of a Jewish priest try to drive out demons from him.   That can be is a worthy desire.  In their case it may be from a spirit of pride.    They use the name of Jesus who Paul preaches.   The demons said yes we know Jesus and yes we know Paul but who are you?   This one man beats them up so bad they run bleeding and without their clothes.   Well it is interesting that Jews were casting out demons.  Certainly the demons know Jesus and the demons know Paul.  Paul was a force against demons and darkness.   They knew Paul.  But these young men did not have the authority or the power of the Holy Spirit to cast them out.  Demons are very powerful. 

    I know that many may not want anything to do with demons or Satan but he is real.   He is after families every day.   He is after Christians every day.   He is attacking you.  He seeks to get you away from God.  Satan influences people.   The spirit world is real and to ignore the spirit world is not good nor wise nor safe.  We need to respect these beings.   Jude says that some men slander celestial beings and warns that is not a good idea.   The disciples were glad at one point that demons were subject to them and Jesus wisely tells them to rejoice that their names were in the book of life.   Our relationship to Jesus is primary.   We are to pray your kingdom come and your will be done.   We oppose the forces of darkness.  

   The Lord used this situation to bring many out into the light.  Several confessed their evil deeds.  Those that practiced sorcery brought their scrolls and burned them.   It is estimated that the value of those scrolls was that of 150 to 200 men’s wages for a whole year.   That is a lot of money.   Paul had an impact on the area and lives were changed.  People were brought out of darkness and came into God’s marvelous light by the power of the Holy Spirit and the glory of God. .