The World, The Flesh, and The Devil (The Invisible Battle – Week 1)
Jason White


In order to win the battles involved with spiritual warfare, we must know our enemy. Satan is the ruler of this world who works within a worldly system that induces our flesh to fall for the things that will rob us of our joy and the abundant life we have in Christ.




Sermon Audio Transcript
Several years ago when I was serving as a Youth Pastor, I took our group to summer camp, and the speaker for the week whose name was Ed, was introducing himself and helping us get to know him on the first night we were there. And to help us remember his name (even though it obviously isn’t that difficult of a name lol), he put up the FedEx company’s logo on the screen (SHOW 1ST FedEx logo)…and he said, “my name is right in the middle of the FedEx logo,” but then he said, “hey btw, how many of you have ever noticed the arrow that is in the FedEx logo?” And I said, “huh?” I mean, I was even starring at it hard trying to notice an arrow, and I couldn’t see it…UNTIL he showed this on the screen where it was highlighted (SHOW 2nd FedEx logo with arrow highlighted)!I was like, “Umm what???” How have I never noticed that before? I mean, I don’t how many thousands of FedEx trucks I had passed in my life, but no matter how many times I had seen this logo, I had never noticed it before. BUT HERE’S THE DEAL...NOW…every time I see that logo, that is the first thing that I see! I can’t help but notice it now!And I’m sure you’ve had the same kind of things happen to you where you finally realized something that you hadn’t seen before and now can’t help but notice every time you come across it now. I mean, it happens to all of us from time to time, and sometimes it’s just fun stuff like the FedEx arrow…But sometimes, it’s kind of scarry…I mean we realize we were maybe in danger b/c of something we hadn’t noticed or been made aware of before…One time, I was at home alone and went over to pick up some dirty clothes that were on the floor to put them in the laundry basket, and when I picked them up there was a snake underneath them! Y’all, I don’t do snakes…And listen, do you know how many times I had walked past those clothes before I decided to pick them up??? A bunch! I mean, my life was in danger, and I didn’t even know it.Now, Natalie will tell you that it wasn’t a big deal at all…that I mean this snake was only 10-12 in. long and that it was more like a worm than anything else…but that’s not how I remember it! And honestly, I don’t care how big it was, a snake is a snake! And I could have died that day lol! BUT NOW that I go to pick up dirty clothes on the floor, guess what I am doing every time? Yeah, I’m being very careful!But seriously, there are things that we’ve all walked past or been around for a significant amount of time that were dangerous, and we never even knew it…but the moment we were made aware, we all are on the lookout for those kinds of things and will notice them way sooner than we did before…SERIES INTROWell, that is what I am hoping this new message series will do for all of us as we go through it together.B/C, you see, there are things happening all around us that we may not even be aware of…things that are looking to cause destruction and harm in our lives and are maybe even doing so and we aren’t even aware! There are things at work in this world that are trying to rob us of the joy and life we were meant to experience and maybe even are already at work doing that, but we just aren’t aware of it.The apostle Paul in Ephesians 6 says…12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.There is an invisible war that is going on in the spiritual realm that we don’t see. There are things going on in our world and in our lives that are right in front of our eyes, but we may not even be aware of them and completely oblivious to the harm and destruction they are attempting to cause or maybe are causing but again we just don’t see it.So my hope is to bring these things out into the light so that we all are made aware of them and can spot them and know how to fight against them to be able to ultimately experience the Life that Jesus came to bring us.And so today as we begin this series, I want us to know the enemy…to know who or what we are up against when it comes to what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 6…And really, when we dive into Scripture, and look at what we are up against, we see 3 main things:THE WORLD…THE FLESH…AND THE DEVILAnd we read earlier what the apostle Paul said in Eph. 6, but a few chapters earlier, he refers to these 3 things in just a couple of verses…Look at Eph. 2:1-3…GODAs for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.So as you can see, Paul references the world, the flesh, and the devil all in this one passage. And Paul is talking to believers in the church at Ephesus here, and he is referencing a time before they knew Christ and what their lives were like then. So obviously there are things that are different for believers and unbelievers…but if we are going to know what we are up against, we have to see that Scripture highlights these 3 things: the world, the flesh, and the devil.So, today I want to touch on each of these 3 so that we will be made aware and know how they are at play in our lives. So let’s start with the devil or Satan.SATAN (THE DEVIL)He has many names in Scripture actually. I mean in the NT alone, Satan is mentioned over 35 times. Some of those names include…• “tempter” (Matt. 4:3),• “ruler of demons” (Matt. 9:34; 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15)• “evil one” (Matt. 13:38)• “the father of lies” (John 8:44)• “a murderer” (John 8:44)• “ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11)• “tempter” (1 Thess. 3:5)• “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14)• “an adversary” (1 Pet. 5:8)• “a deceiver” (Rev. 12:9)• “an accuser” (Rev. 12:10)So you can begin to kind of know who Satan is just by the names used to describe him in Scripture.But where did he come from? What do we know about his beginning? And what do we know about his end? Or will there be an end to him?Well, we see in the book of Ezekiel and Isaiah in the O.T. about his beginning and who he was…28:12-1812 …“ ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you… Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. 16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. 18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So we see that Satan was a created being…that he was a spirit being, an angel with unparalleled wisdom and beauty…but he began to be filled with pride and arrogance and conceit; and in Isaiah 14, we are told a little bit more about his sin and his fall…but really it was simply that he wanted to be like God and receive the glory and honor himself.And so, God banished him from heaven and is the adversary of God. And although he is a powerful being and has a lot of influence, please note that as a created being he does not possess the attributes that belong to God and God alone…Satan is not omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent. He does have limitations.But that doesn’t mean we should overlook his presence and the influence he does have. I mean, John (10:10) tells us that…10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy… And Peter says (5:8-9)…8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faithSo Satan is actively trying to cause destruction in our lives and trying to rob us of the life that Christ came to bring us…and that we already have if we have put our faith/trust in Him for salvation…And if you haven’t yet come to Christ, he is actively trying to keep you from knowing that Christ offers you abundant life…Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that4 The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.He knows that Jesus created you and loves you and came to die for you so that He could forgive you and bring you the abundant life you were created to have in Him…so Satan works to blind you from seeing Him for who He really is and the forgiveness and grace that He offers to you. BUT…Jesus is greater than Satan and can break through the darkness and reveal the truth about who He really is and all that He offers you, so pray for Him to do so as you seek after the truth in this world.And that brings me to our 2nd thing Paul mentioned in Ephesians 2 and that is THE WORLD…Now when Scripture mentions the world, the word is “cosmos,” and it can refer to different things. It can refer to the world as God’s creation, or it can be used to refer to the people who live in the world (Jn 3:16), but there is another sense it is used and that is to refer to an “orderly system that functions apart from God.” 1 John 2:16 says…16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.So even though God created this world, which was perfect in the beginning, something has gone wrong. And that something of course was that sin entered into it. We see that in the garden where Satan in the form of a serpent deceived Adam and Eve and they sinned…and it broke the relationship that God had with them and all of the human race that would follow, but it also brought brokenness into the world.And with that brokenness,John highlights that the things of this world don’t come from God, the Father…AND Scripture tells us why…B/C Satan is the ruler of this world. Jesus even refers to him in this way. Look up John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11 when you have some time and you’ll see that Jesus referred to Satan as the ruler of this world.So Satan is at work, ruling in this world to “steal, kill, and destroy,” and he does this through an orderly system that rivals God’s kingdom but leaves Him out…(Eph. 2:2 “followed the ways of this world”)Here is one definition of the world by John Mark Comer in his book, “Live No Lies,”…The world is a system of ideas, values, morals, practices, and social norms that are integrated into the mainstream and eventually institutionalized in a culture corrupted by the twin sins of rebellion against God and the redefinition of good and evil.Now in order to pull this off though, Satan is a master at making this system seem attractive…I mean take the “American Dream” as one example.Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Everyone should be free to benefit from equal opportunities and achieve their highest aspirations. I mean, there are books and movies telling stories of people rising above their situation, overcoming incredible odds—self-made men and women who find “happiness” in moving from poverty to wealth, from obscurity to fame, or from vulnerability to power. The American Dream: the freedom to pursue happiness.See, it sounds good…it is so attractive and is easily respected as being “right.” This is truth.But it’s not. God didn’t make us to be “self-made men and women”…He didn’t make us to find happiness in wealth or fame or power. And really when you dig deeper into people’s experiences of “achieving the American dream,” you ultimately find that they aren’t that happy after all…B/C God and God alone is our life and our joy, and we’ll never find ultimate satisfaction in money, success, or fame. And Satan knows that…so he is at work in this world to create systems that get integrated into our culture to point us away from God and the life that can be found in Him & Him alone.And of course this is just one example…Satan is at work in a number of ways in this world to keep us from God…politics, sexuality and gender, redefining morality and values…(not lib/cons.)…all kinds of things…and we’ll talk more about that as we get into other messages throughout this series…But there is one other topic that Paul mentioned in Eph. 2 aside from Satan and The World, and that is The Flesh. In verse 3 of Ephesians 2, Paul said…3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.Flesh is living independently of God…relying on our own power and strength. And before we become a Christian, it’s all we have. Because of sin in our lives we are separated from a holy and perfect God, and we are trying to find our own way…our own significance, our own fulfillment, our own abundant life.And really at that point, it’s part of our nature. In Romans 7:5, Paul says…5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.Paul is talking about the role of the law in our lives here but he says, “when we were in the realm of the flesh.” He is talking to Christians…So before Christ, he says we were “in the realm of the flesh.” Some translations even say “sinful nature” here. It’s a part of who we are…And so if we haven’t received Jesus in our lives yet, then we are in the realm of the flesh, spiritually dead (Eph 2:1)…and unable to draw on the Life of Jesus as our Source; therefore we, through flesh are trying to find it through all kinds of things…controlling, manipulating, winning, overpowering, morality, etc.And Satan is always about counterfeit and keeping us from being willing to admit our sinfulness to keep us from seeing the good news that Jesus died to forgive us of our sins and provide us with His Life.But this is what we are all up against if we haven’t said yes to Jesus.Now if we have said yes to Jesus and put our faith/trust in Him for salvation, then we are in a different situation. Paul says in Romans 6:6-76 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. No longer have a sin nature…old self died…Eph. 2:4, “But God…made us alive w/Christ!” No longer spiritually dead/sin nature…But that is not the only thing that happens to us either…I mean that is good, don’t get me wrong, but here’s what Scripture also teaches us when we put our faith in Jesus for salvation… (Col. 1:13)13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he lovesSo when Jesus gives us a new nature, He also snatches us out of the hands of Satan and from the dominion of his world. Now, of course we still live in this world, but as Jesus says in John 17, we are no longer “of this world.”We are free from the enslavement to Satan’s system in this world…we are free from our sinful nature and from His control over us….He has filled us with the Life we were missing before!This is the gospel…the good news of Jesus and what He’s done for us and in us. But here is what we also need to know…Satan knows that he has lost us to Jesus. He knows that we are no longer of this world and under his domain and enslaved to sin…BUT as we said earlier, he doesn’t want you to experience all that you have in Jesus.So, he is still going to be at work in this world to deceive you about the truth. He is going to try and keep you from knowing all that you have in Jesus and to keep you from experiencing the intimacy you have with Jesus.He is going to whisper lies to you and try to convince you that the ways of this world are right and that they are truth so that you walk in them.He is going to try and tempt you to find life in something other than Jesus and to walk in your flesh instead of in the Spirit…And when you do and you step into sin, he is going to try make you feel the guilt and the shame and tempt you to isolate from everyone around you.So…even though we have victory over Satan and are no longer enslaved to sin and the world we live in, we need to be aware of how he tries to rob us of our life and to recognize when he is at work in our lives and not just ignore him completely.In CS Lewis's book, “Screwtape letters” he wrote…There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. one is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.So we don’t want to fall to one extreme and either disbelieve in Satan or ignore that he is at work to deceive us, but to fear him and walk around as if he has all of this power in our lives is a victory for him.I mentioned earlier the FedEx arrow and how I can’t help but notice every time I see it now…My hope and prayer is that we will recognize the activity of Satan in our lives so that we don’t fall for what he is trying to do…But again that is different than always looking for it and being focused on it. I mean, I’m not out running all over town to try and find FedEx trucks…but when it comes I notice that arrow.What I’m saying is that we need to be aware of it and recognize it, BUT our focus and gaze is always to be on Jesus first…So even though Peter says to “be alert for the devil looking to devour us,” we are told over and over again to fix our eyes on Jesus…Hebrews 12:2…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.Colossians 3:1-2…Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.This is the call for those of us who are believers…and for those of you who may not have said yes to Jesus yet…please know today that Satan wants to keep you from knowing Him, but that Jesus loves you so much that He came into this world to die for your sin so that you could be rescued from it, from Satan, and from this world that he rules.And if you’ll turn to Him and receive His forgiveness by placing your faith in Him as your Lord/Savior, He will forgive you, give you a new heart, and bring you into the Kingdom of light today…And then you will have and begin to experience real freedom, real joy, and real/abundant life. Will you accept Him today?