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Heritage Spring Retreat 2010. CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH. Contending Personally. Contending Personally.

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contending personally1
Contending Personally

The strange opposition that I met with from Satan, in the study of the following discourse, hath put an edge upon my spirit, knowing that Satan strives mightily to keep these things from seeing the light that tend eminently to shake and break up the kingdom and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the souls and lives of the children of men. -Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies

contending personally2
Contending Personally

Introduction: Every believer is engaged in a personal spiritual conflict. We are not merely fighting with our own flesh, selfishness, unbelief, addictions and passions, important as these battles are; we are fighting with an evil force greater than ourselves - the very powers of darkness. Therefore, we ought to "put on the whole armour of God" and look to Christ, who has gained the victory for us, as we realize that we will be engaging in a continual battle until our last breath.

contending personally know your identity

Child of the devil or child of God?

  • The importance of knowing your identity:

Where do feelings of hopelessness come from?

How does sin still exercise such a powerful influence in my life when I know that God has forgiven my sins?

Why do temptations keep coming back in a particular area of life?

Why does it seem that truth is being undermined at every turn?

Why does the world seem to self-destruct?

Why do I have so little profit from my spiritual exercises?

  • The aspects of your identity

1. The Christian’s five word biography

2. The Christian’s new allegiance

Opening Questions:

In what or whom do you find your identity?

Do you recognize your enemy?

Do you utilize the armor at your disposal?

Are you looking to your Captain?

Contending Personally: Know Your Identity!
contending personally know your identity1

In themselves, believers have no life, or strength, or spiritual power. All that they have of vital religion comes from Christ. They are what they are, and feel what they feel, and do what they do, because they draw out of Jesus a continual supply of grace, help and ability. - J.C. Ryle

Contending Personally: Know your identity
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Contending Personally: Know Your Identity!

Identity Theft!

Living our Identity!

contending personally know your identity3
Contending Personally: Know Your Identity!

“It is impossible to be a soldier of Jesus Christ and not to fight.” - J. Gresham Machen

“You will not get leave to steal quietly to heaven in Christ’s company without a conflict and a cross.”

- Samuel Rutherford

contending personally know your identity4
Contending Personally: Know Your Identity!

Its Vulnerability

  • Being a Christian makes us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks
  • “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:14-15).
contending personally know your identity5
Contending Personally: Know Your Identity!
  • Being a Christian exposes us to a life of warfare and suffering:
  • Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 1:3)
  • Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called (1 Tim. 6:12 )
  • Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warrethentangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier (2 Tim. 2:3-4)
  • That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain (1 Thess. 3:3-5).
contending personally know your identity6
Contending Personally: Know Your Identity!

Its Strength

  • You have a Captain:

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb. 2:9-11).

  • You have a Comforter:
  • And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you (John 14:16-18).
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Contending Personally: Know Your Identity
  • You have a community

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect (Heb. 12:22-23).

We are not lone rangers in the battle against sin, but we have one another to strengthen us and keep each other accountable.

  • You have armor

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11).

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Contending Personally: Know Your Identity
  • You have the assurance of victory:
  • For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4).
  • But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).
contending personally know your enemy1
Contending Personally: Know Your Enemy!
  • He is not an ordinary enemy:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12).

  • His names:
    • Devil
    • Accuser
    • Adversary
    • Enemy
    • Evil one
    • Father of lies
    • God
    • Murderer
    • Prince of the power of the air
    • Satan
    • Tempter
    • Beelzebub
    • Belial
    • Angel of light
contending personally satan s battlefield in the postmodern age
Contending Personally: Satan’s Battlefield in the Postmodern Age
  • Truth/postmodernism/relativism: The idea that the Christian message should be kept pliable and ambiguous seems especially attractive to young people who are in tune with the culture and in love with the spirit of the age and can’t stand to have authoritative biblical truth applied with precision as a corrective to worldly lifestyles, unholy minds, and ungodly behavior. And the poison of this perspective is being increasingly injected into the evangelical church body. - John MacArthur, The Truth War
contending personally satan s battlefield in the digital age
Contending Personally: Satan’s Battlefield in the Digital Age
  • Sexual Temptation: Internet pornography, immodesty, immorality.
  • Time Temptation: wasting time using media is a great danger. Little time is left to contend for the faith.
  • Lack of focus: there are so many competing things that the focus is taken off what is necessary to contend for the faith.
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Contending Personally: Know Your Enemy!

Satan’s Four Main Strategies

Satan entices us to sin

Satan hinders spiritual disciplines

Satan misrepresents God and his truth

Satan opposes sanctification

contending personally devices of satan enticing to sin
Contending Personally: Devices of Satan: Enticing To Sin

“He [Satan] casts down none suddenly from the pinnacle of a high profession into the lowest abyss of wickedness, but leads them rather by oblique descents and turnings, lower and lower, until at last they take hold of hell.”

-William Spurstowe


  • 1. Satan hides the dangerous effect of sin by holding out the promise of pleasure


  • 1. Remember that sin has bittersweet consequences. Know your weaknesses. Stay involved in growth and ministry. Share your sin with someone you trust. Remember that there is no neutral ground with temptations.
contending personally devices of satan enticing to sin1
Contending Personally: Devices of Satan: Enticing to Sin
  • 2. Satan redefines sin as a virtue.
  • 3. Satan minimizes sin by saying that repentance is easy.
  • 4. Satan encourages us to make friends with worldly people knowing that they can exert a great influence on us.
  • 5. Satan makes the wicked life appear more attractive and full of pleasure and relatively little suffering. He tries to discourage us by this.
  • 6. Satan minimizes sin to lead us on to greater sin.
  • 2. An enemy in disguise is much more dangerous than one in uniform. The same with sin.
  • 3. Repentance is extremely difficult for us because it goes against our fallen human nature. It’s lifelong and requires a daily battle to confess sin, sorrow over sin and flee for cleansing in the blood of Christ.
  • 4. Avoid friendships that will lead us into questionable activity (Cf. Eph. 5:11; Prov. 5:14-15)
  • 5. Part of the Christian’s identity is to endure chastisements. This is a mark that God is dealing with us as His children (Heb. 12:5-6). Consider the end of the wicked (Ps. 71:13-17).
  • 6. A little sin can do great damage. Tell Satan that even a little sin does despite to the sacrifice of Christ.
contending personally devices of satan hinders spiritual disciplines
Contending Personally: Devices of Satan: Hinders Spiritual Disciplines
  • 1. Satan has us focus on the difficulty of spiritual disciplines such as prayer and reading the Word.
  • 2. Satan distracts us by vain thoughts.
  • 1. Consider the command of God to use the spiritual disciplines and means of grace. Practice, practice, practice. The Holy Spirit is pleased to bless the use of the means of grace for the good of our souls.
  • 2. Focus on God’s holiness. Confess sin of wandering thoughts. Persevere in the use of the means. Trim back obligations if we’re too busy. Speak aloud.
contending personally devices of satan misrepresents god and his truth
Contending Personally: Devices of Satan: Misrepresents God and his Truth
  • 1. Satan presents God as a harsh taskmaster
  • 2. Satan argues that not all three members of the Trinity are equally engaged in or eager to save.
  • 3. Satan maximizes God’s mercy and love, and minimizes God’s justice.
  • 4. Satan cloaks his lies using all the right terms.
  • 1. God delights to receive sinners. Consider Luke 15 (parable of the prodigal son)
  • 2. Remember that the Trinity is necessary to salvation and so all three members are willing. The Father and our creation, the Son and our redemption, the Spirit and our sanctification.
  • 3. God’s mercy exists because of God’s justice. Mercy must never be used for license to sin, because then we sin against mercy which will be subject to more grievous consequences.
  • 4. Be on your guard at school. Be well-grounded in your own position and know the language thoroughly
contending personally devices of satan hinders sanctification
Contending personally: Devices of Satan: Hinders Sanctification
  • 1. Satan dampens gospel obedience.
  • 2. Satan stresses intellectual knowledge over heart knowledge.
  • 3. Satan makes sanctification look impractical and too sacrificial.
  • 4. Satan makes us think that our salvation depends on our works.
  • 1. Return, repent, and run.
  • 2. Strive to know Christ in every facet of your being: head, heart, and hands. All three are vital components of the Christian life.
  • 3. Sanctification is a free gift in Christ by the Spirit. Consider Christ’s sacrifice to make sanctification possible. He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30).
  • 4. Have a crystal clear understanding of the relationship between faith and works, law and gospel. This will preserve us from this temptation.
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Contending Personally:Devices of Satan: Hinders Sanctification
  • 5.Satan stresses belief/faith over works.
  • 6. Satan stresses futility of overcoming the world in this life.
  • 7. Satan tries to entice us at our weakest points, especially in relation to men and women.
  • 5. Consider James’ emphasis on faith and works. Works are a fruit of faith, not a means to faith. Faith results in doing.
  • 6. Remember that Christ is Conqueror and Satan is ultimately a defeated enemy. Fight the fight of faith. Claim the promises of God which are sure in Christ.
  • 7. Guard, watch, protect…don’t flirt with sin. What are your weakest points? How does Satan tempt young people today?
contending personally the defeat of satan
Contending Personally:The Defeat of Satan
  • His present defeat

Genesis 3:15

Colossians 2:14-15

  • His final defeat

Revelation 12:9-10; 20:10

  • The result: Satan is a limited enemy. He is nevertheless a very powerful enemy and must not be underestimated!
contending personally defensive armor
Contending Personally: Defensive Armor
  • The Belt of Truth (Eph. 6:14): The foundational piece to the armor of the Roman soldier. It supported his back muscles and was connected to the breastplate and the sword hung from this belt.
  • The Christian’s belt of truth: Focused on the mind in a spiritual sense. Christ is the Truth with which we gird our minds. His Word is Truth. Truth is in direct opposition to Satan who is the father of lies. Truth protects us from us his lies. We must consciously abide in Christ (know our identity in Him), abide in His Word, and believe and do His Word.
  • Truth is the foundational piece of the Christian’s armor. It supports us in the battle and gives strength. Christ is our Truth.
  • Scriptural exhortation: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).
contending personally defensive armor1
Contending Personally: Defensive Armor
  • The Breastplate of Righteousness (Eph. 6:14): The breastplate covered the chest and abdominal area and protected vital organs.
  • The Christian’s Breastplate: Christ’s righteousness. His active and passive obedience.
  • Its Use: When Satan attacks us that we are standing on our own works or feelings, we can rest in Christ’s righteousness. When we are accused of unforgiven sin or sin that is too great to forgive, we can use the imputed righteousness of Christ which cancels all our debt and gives us a limitless supply of His righteousness.
  • My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus blood and righteousness.

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Contending Personally: Defensive Armor
  • The Sandals of the Gospel (Eph. 6:15): the sandals of the Roman soldier were made of leather and had metal spikes on the bottom to aid in combat and walking.
  • The Christian’s Sandals: a clear understanding of the gospel and experience of gospel peace, reconciliation with God.
  • Its Use: a clear understanding of the gospel allows us to withstand error and keeps us from temptation. Gospel peace keeps us from being tempted and tossed about. It allows us to stand firm in the midst of battle. We can answer our enemies. We can walk a long road with a clear understanding of the gospel. Satan will not be able to confuse you.
contending personally defensive armor3
Contending Personally: Defensive Armor
  • The Shield of Faith (Eph. 6:16): Roman shields were often large enough to cover the whole body and were fireproof. In formation the troops could lift up the shields and provide a cover for all the troops from the enemies’ arrows.
  • The Christian’s shield: faith helps us recognize the enemy and put up the shield against his advances. Faith lives out of Christ and so protects us from the fiery darts of Satan.
  • Its Use: “Hold it up…take good care of your shield by living in faith. Rest in the person of Christ – come, hear, see, trust, take, know, embrace, rejoice, love, triumph in Christ. By faith, lay hold of Christ, surrendering every part of yourself…Rely on his promises. Faith honors Christ, makes us strong, comforts us, makes us useful, and guarantees Satan’s defeat.” (Joel Beeke, Striving Against Satan)
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Contending Personally:Defensive Armor
  • The Helmet of Salvation (Eph. 6:17a): the Roman soldier wore a helmet of leather covered with metal plates and protected the head.
  • The Christian’s Helmet: we need to be wearing our helmets, what Paul calls elsewhere the helmet of the hope of salvation. Our minds must be protected in the battle against Satan. He tries to undermine our thinking and discourage us by wiggling into our minds and hearts with nagging thoughts about sin and the impossibility of winning the battle.
  • Its Use: put on the helmet of the hope of salvation. This helmet helps us to keep perspective. Hope is not something wishy-washy and a vague generality. Hope is anchored in Christ who has finished salvation. Hope preserves us and reminds us of what we have in store, both present and future (Heb. 11:1).
contending personally offensive armor
Contending Personally: Offensive Armor
  • The Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17b): the Roman soldier would use his sword to protect himself, but also thrust to cause damage.
  • The Christian’s Sword: The Sword of the Spirit is none other than the Word of God. We cannot contend properly without it, because it contains the substance of our faith and the gospel. We need to know the Word, study it, weigh it, practice with it, and know its power for our lives.
  • Its Use: we can defend ourselves with the Word of God by saying as Jesus did, “It is written…” We use the Word in our daily lives obeying its commands and so fighting offensively. We use the Word in personal evangelism to tear down Satan’s strongholds.
contending personally offensive armor1
Contending Personally: Offensive Armor
  • Praying in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18a): this is not part of a Roman soldier’s armor per se, but it is part of the Christian armor. It can be compared to the communication of soldiers with their general or captain.
  • Praying in the Spirit is communication of the Christian soldier with His Captain. Powerlessness and vitality in prayer lead to cracks in the armor and leave us exposed to Satan’s attacks.
  • Its Use: pray without ceasing, pray with heartfelt and pleading prayer, pray in the Spirit (Rom. 8:26). Pray for ourselves; pray for others.
contending personally offensive armor2
Contending Personally: Offensive Armor
  • Watch with perseverance (Eph. 6:18b): a soldier cannot fight without being vigilant.
  • The Christian soldier cannot be spiritually drowsy, but must be awake at all times, wary of the attacks of the enemy. Watchfulness means life. Drowsiness could very well mean death. Be watchful of your hearts, know its tendencies. Be watchful of the world. Be watchful against Satan.
contending personally look to your captain
Contending Personally: Look to Your Captain

“Before the Throne of God Above”

When Satan tempts me to despair,

And tells me of the guilt within,

Upward I look and see him there

Who made an end to all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,

My sinful soul is counted free;

For God the just is satisfied

To look on him and pardon me,

To look on him and pardon me.

-Charitie Lees Bancroft

contending personally look to your captain1
Contending Personally:Look to Your Captain

Going back to our Identity

  • Our victory
  • Our refuge
  • Our strength
  • Our confidence
  • Our hope
  • Looking to Jesus…
contending personally looking to your captain
Contending Personally: Looking to Your Captain
  • Christ has worn the armor:
  • “Each of the pieces is rooted in the OT, mainly Isaiah. Note that the Messiah girds his loins with the truth by fearing God and walking in the power and wisdom of the Spirit (11:5). The LORD God puts on the breastplate of righteousness to deliver his people from bondage to sins (59:17). The LORD himself comes – his feet shod – bearing good news of peace to those captivated in sin and judgment (52:7). In the one piece of weaponry not rooted in Isaiah the LORD himself is the shield behind which faith takes refuge from enemies. The LORD wears the helmet of salvation as he brings deliverance from the power of sin and gives His Spirit and Word (59:17). The sword of the Spirit is God’s Word and proceeds from the mouth of the Messiah, the Servant who will deliver the nations from the power of darkness.” – David Powlison, Power Encounters, 114.
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Contending Personally: Look to Your Captain
  • Christ has won the battle.
    • He is battle-tested.
    • He was made perfect through suffering.
  • One of the greatest comforts is that Christ has gone before us in this battle.
    • Christ did not revert to his divine nature when He was tempted.
    • He had the same Holy Spirit that is made available to us.
    • He used the same armor.
    • He used the same Word.
    • He exercised His perfect faith in His Father.
    • He battled sin by perfectly obeying.
    • He battled sin by laying down His life and enduring the hell that sinners deserve.
contending personally looking to your captain1
Contending Personally: Looking to Your Captain
  • There is incremental victory now.

Putting off the old man and putting on the new (Eph. 4:24-28)

  • There is complete victory in the future.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:37-39).

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son (Rev. 21:7).

contending personally further reading
Contending Personally: Further Reading
  • Ambrose, Isaac, The Christian Warrior: Wrestling with Sin, Satan, the World, and the Flesh. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1997 reprint.
  • Beeke, Joel. Striving Against Satan: Knowing the Enemy – His Weakness, His Strategy, His Defeat. Bridgend: Bryntirion Press, 2004.
  • Brooks, Thomas, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices. Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2008 reprint.
  • Bunyan, John. The Holy War. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977.
  • Gale, Stanley D. What is Spiritual Warfare? Basics of the Reformed Faith Series. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008.
  • Gurnall, William. The Christian in Complete Armour. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1989 reprint. See also the devotional based on this work.
  • Leahy, Frederick S. Satan Cast Out: A Study in Biblical Demonology. Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 2004 reprint.
  • Powlison, David. Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1995.
  • Spurgeon, Charles H. Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1998.