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Not By the Sword of Man!
AUTHOR: Wilkerson, David
PUBLISHED ON: March 19, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Christian Living

Times Square Church Pulpit Series
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Not By the Sword of Man!

You Can Enjoy Total Victory
Over the Power of Sin

  By David Wilkerson  August 11, 1997

God’s New Covenant with us can be summed up in one powerful statement: It
is his irrevocable promise to deliver his people from the dominion of sin
– through the power of the Holy Ghost!

This New Covenant does away with all of our puny efforts to please God
through our flesh.  It is the end of all our striving to overcome sin,
whether through determination, strength, reasoning or any other works of
the flesh.  In short, God’s New Covenant takes the pressure off of us –
and places it all on him! 

Through this covenant, the Lord says, “I will no longer ask you to bring
me a godly heart.  Instead, I will remove your heart of stone – and I’ll
put in you a new heart, one that has a desire for me.  I will cause you
both to will and to do my good pleasure, through the power of my Spirit!”

In simple terms, the New Covenant is the end of the “can do” man.  This is
the man in us who says, “I can do it all, in my own power and strength. 
If I can just spend enough time in prayer and Bible study – if I can just
think through my problems – I’ll be able to make changes in my life.” 

God’s New Covenant says goodbye to this old, “can do” man – and it
introduces the “new man,” who says, “I can’t do anything in my own
strength.  I don’t have the power to effect any kind of godly change in my
life.  But I can do everything through the power of the Holy Spirit!”

One of the most important things I’ve learned from my study of the New
Covenant is that it is the secret to having an overcoming life in the last
days.  As the time of Christ’s return draws near, the devil is going to
open up the floodgates of hell against God’s people.  He will let loose
wild, demonic powers such as the world has never seen.

We see this happening already within the walls of the church.  Satan has
infiltrated God’s house with subtle lies, false doctrines, demonic
teachings – and undiscerning Christians are swallowing it all.  At this
moment, multitudes of deceptions and heresies are swirling through the
church.  I ask you – how will believers be able to stand in such times? 

The Lord answers us by promising to take on the problem himself.  He
assures us, “Don’t be afraid.  I’m going to take this matter into my own
hands.  I will empower you against every onslaught of the enemy.  And I
will do it through my New Covenant with you!” 

As soon as I began studying the New Covenant, I saw its glorious truths
leaping out of God’s Old Testament dealings with Israel.  Paul states,
“All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written
for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world have come” (1
Corinthians 10:11).  I sensed the Lord asking me, “David, do you want the
keys to victory?  Do you want to know how to overcome sin, flesh and the
devil?  Do you want to know how to do battle with the enemy?  Then go to
my Old Testament, and you will learn from the examples there.  I have
recorded them all for you, so you can learn the lessons of godliness!”

The First Lesson We Draw From the Old Testament Is Just How Safe a Child
of God Is When He Trusts in the Blood!

On the night of Passover, not a single Israelite was in danger from the
death angel who swept through Egypt.  Every man, woman and child of God
rested safely and securely under the blood covering that was spread on the
doorposts of their homes.  This picture of safety in the Old Testament
represents the protective power of our Lord’s blood over his children
today.  As Christians, we are to be a believing, trusting people who have
the blood of Christ sprinkled on the doorposts of our hearts.

Israel’s trust in the blood of the slain lamb accomplished many things in
their lives.  It not only protected them from the death angel, but it also
brought them out of Egypt and delivered them from the bondage of Pharaoh.
Yet, there were other enemies from which Israel needed deliverance.  And,
likewise today, our trust in the blood of Christ is about much more than
obtaining salvation for eternity.  It also involves relying on God’s power
to deliver us from every stronghold of the enemy. 

Please don’t mistake me here.  If you are saved – living under the
covering of Christ’s blood, secured by faith in his work on the cross for
you – that is absolutely wonderful.  But what about your ongoing battle
with the power of sin, which rages inside you?  What about your besetting
habit?  What about the roaring lion who seeks to devour you?  What power
do you have to do battle with these enemies of your soul?

The fact is, even if we have been saved and secured by Christ’s blood, we
are still engaged in a battle with overwhelming principalities, satanic
powers, demonic strongholds.  And we are to claim the power that is
available to us through God’s New Covenant.  But that power comes only by
faith!

Isaiah Delivered a Strong Message to the Blood-Secured Children of Israel.

The prophet Isaiah warned Israel that there was no possibility of victory
for them if they attempted to fight their adversary in their own strength.
Isaiah 31 paints a perfect picture of the futility of trying to do battle
with the enemy in our human ability.  I believe this chapter is a type and
shadow of the ineffectiveness of our attempts today to defeat lusts,
habits and besetting sins by relying on human ideas and aids.

At the time Isaiah wrote this message of warning, King Sennacherib and the
Assyrian army had already marched through Judah.  They had captured most
of the cities in their path, and now they planned to besiege Jerusalem. 
In Hebrew, the word “Sennacherib” means “successful.”  And “Assyria” means
“sin on the increase.”  Put together, these two words provide an image of
an evil enemy who was having great success against God’s people.

Indeed, Assyria represents every sinful, demonic, lustful spirit that
comes against us.  And Sennacherib is the devil himself, convinced he will
succeed in defeating us and bringing us into despair.  I believe God wants
to show us through this chapter how the devil and his demonic hordes are
bringing waves of temptations against the church – with increasing
intensity and much success!

This chapter is also an example to us of how sin will increase in the last
days.  Scripture says society will wax worse and worse, and the church
will be inundated with deceptions and doctrines of demons.  I believe
we’re seeing that happen right now.  Demonic hordes have infiltrated all
media and every form of technology, flooding our culture with sensuality,
nudity, perversions of all kinds.  As prophesied in Revelation 12, Satan
has “…cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman…”
(Revelation 12:15).

Hezekiah was king in Israel at the time Sennacherib and the Assyrians
approached.  And as he looked down on the huge army surrounding the city,
his old “can do” man kicked in.  The king reasoned that with just a little
time, thought and some outside help, the Israelites could deliver
themselves from this awful circumstance.  He said, “We’re facing an
overwhelming situation here.  Assryia is a powerful enemy.  But I think
all we need is a little military aid.  We can probably hold off their army
while we scout around for someone to help us.”

So Hezekiah sent an envoy of ambassadors to Egypt, bearing gifts of silver
and gold, in an attempt to hire their army for support.  He thought that
with the Egyptians’ horses, chariots and infantry, Israel could push the
Assyrians back. 

Now, you may think Israel simply lacked faith in the midst of this
situation.  But God called their actions outright rebellion!  Isaiah
writes: “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses,
and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because
they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel,
neither seek the Lord!” (Isaiah 31:1).  God was saying, “You have revolted
against me!  You know I am your only source for victory.  Yet you have
refused to turn to me!” 

Israel here represents the believer who puts his trust in the flesh.
Isaiah writes: “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses
flesh, and not spirit….” (same verse).  The prophet is saying, in
essence, “You think you are able to deliver yourselves from this enemy by
your own power. You think victory lies in your own strength, intellect and
abilities.  Yet you are trusting in mere flesh!  Return now to the Lord.
He is your only hope of deliverance!”

The Church Today Has Its Own Versions of Egyptian Chariots!

Like Israel, many Christians today quickly turn to manmade things in an
attempt to achieve victory over the flesh.  One glaring example is the
vast number of self-help books found on the shelves of Christian
bookstores. Literally thousands of books promise surefire ways of
improving our flesh, appeasing our flesh, subduing our flesh.  Indeed,
everywhere we turn, we’re offered fleshly options to all our needs. 
Churches promise anointed revival meetings where we can have all our
spiritual needs fulfilled by a prayer or a touch.  Evangelists offer
instant deliverance, instant healing, instant words from God.

The truth is, God gave Israel the option of choosing himself or the flesh
in the midst of their situation.  He said, “Go ahead and exercise your own
will.  Dig deeply into your inner man, and pull out all of your strengths
and abilities.  Study your books, plan your strategies, do everything you
know how to do.  But you’ll still be leaning on the arm of the flesh!
Nothing you try will work.  None of your efforts will bring you one moment
of victory!”

Marshall Applewhite, the leader of the Heaven’s Gate cult that committed
mass suicide in March of 1997, had expected to be taken on a space ship to
a “higher level” of existence.  I ask you – why would anyone ever believe
such a fantasy?  I believe there was a very tragic reason behind it all. 

This man grew up the son of a Presbyterian minister.  As an adult, he
became active in the church himself, serving as a choir director.  He got
married, had two children and was considered a wonderful family man by all
who knew him.  But Applewhite had a problem that wouldn’t go away – a
strong homosexual drive. 

He lived with guilt, fear and condemnation, all raging inside him.  He
consulted doctors and psychiatrists, saying his urge was a “beast” that
had total control over him.  He even checked himself into a hospital once,
in the hope of being “cured.”  This man tried everything he could to rid
himself of his desires.  But nothing ever brought him deliverance. 

Years later, after Applewhite had left his family, he started a group
called “The Overcomers.”  This group taught sexual abstinence, and
Applewhite hoped that the kind of lifestyle they preached would free him.
But it never did.  One news account said he eventually castrated himself
in order to “evict” his demon.  Of the thirty-eight others who died in the
Heaven’s Gate suicide, one-third had submitted to castration in a
desperate attempt to find freedom from the dominion of “sin.”

We may be repulsed by Applewhite’s cultic practices and the mass suicide
he orchestrated.  But, sadly, multitudes of Christians today also fight
losing battles against life-controlling habits and lusts.  Sin has taken
dominion over many in the church, even those who weep and plead for
deliverance. Their cry is loud and clear: “O wretched man that I am!  Who
shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). “…what I
hate, that I do” (verse 15).

The more I study God’s word, the clearer it becomes to me: All human
striving for deliverance from sin is doomed to fail.  And God will let us
go through the wringer time after time, until we’re totally convinced we
must die to all efforts of the flesh.

When Israel attempted to defeat their powerful enemy through human power,
God immediately denounced the effort: “…both he that helpeth shall fall,
and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together”
(Isaiah 31:3).  God’s word declares in very clear language that all
victory depends on him alone.  Only he has the power to deliver us from
our enemies.

You may have a godly will, a solid moral background, an unpolluted mind.
In fact, you may be one of the cleanest people walking this earth.  But
none of these things is an effective weapon when it comes to battling the
powers of hell.  The Bible says none of your human gifts or abilities will
ever work against the devil.  You will always fail by your own efforts!

Isaiah Makes It Clear – Our Enemies Will Never Be Defeated By the Sword of
Man!

If you are in the midst of an overwhelming struggle, you must learn the
word God gave to Zechariah: “…Not by might, nor by power, but by my
Spirit, saith the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).  Your victory will never come
through the sword of man-not even your own sword!

Isaiah writes: “Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a
mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he
shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited” (Isaiah
31:8).  The prophet is saying a sword will indeed defeat the Assyrians.
But what kind of sword will this be, if not Israel’s? 

In the book of Revelation, the apostle John mentions a holy sword of the
Lord: “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should
smite the nations…” (Revelation 19:15).  John is speaking of Christ
here, saying, “A piercing, victorious sword will come out of our Lord’s
mouth!” 

By associating this sword with Christ’s mouth, John is saying our that our
effective weapon in battle against all our enemies will be the voice of
the Lord.  Indeed, this is the very image Isaiah uses to describe how God
will overthrow the Assyrians: “For through the voice of the Lord shall the
Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod” (Isaiah 30:31). 

Isaiah is saying, “Your Lord promises to fight for you.  He will make his
voice known, and it will put all your enemies to chase!”  “The Lord shall
cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of
his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a
devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones” (verse 30). 

Next, Isaiah uses the image of birds to illustrate God’s protective power
over his people: “As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend
Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will
preserve it” (31:5).  The Hebrew meaning of this verse is, “As the hen-
birds flutter over their young, so shall Jehovah, God of hosts, spread out
his wings over Jerusalem.”

God was telling Israel, “If you want to be protected from the onslaught of
the enemy, then hide under my wings.  I will secure you, covering you the
way a mother hen covers her chicks.  You don’t have to live in fear of
your enemies any longer!” 

Let me ask you: Are in a great warfare right now?  Are you facing an enemy
that is too powerful for you?  If so, how do you expect to remain pure,
faithful, Christlike, while others around you are falling left and right?
How will you gain victory over your lusts and temptations, when Satan
comes against you like a roaring lion? 

God asks simply that you lay down your sword – and that you trust him to
take up his sword on your behalf.  He wants you to come to the point where
you say, “Lord, I know the battle is not mine anymore.  I’ve failed so
many times.  Now I come to you in simple faith.  Help me, God.  Deliver me
from these overwhelming foes!” 

God Let Israel Do Things Their Own Way – and They Failed!

Egypt never responded to Israel’s request for help.  That once-mighty
nation had become a broken reed.  Meanwhile, Sennacherib and the Assyrian
army had surrounded Jerusalem.  And at that point, Hezekiah decided,
“We’re not going to lean on the arm of the flesh this time.  We’re going
to do it all God’s way!”

The king immediately humbled himself and sought God in prayer: “And it
came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and
covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord”
(Isaiah 37:1).  Hezekiah confessed, “Lord, I know I have nothing of myself
to give you, except my faith.  I can’t fight Sennacherib.  I’m helpless in
my own strength.  It all has to come from you, Lord.  So, what should we
do now? We’re surrounded by our enemies.  Please, give us your direction!”

Hezekiah knew that Isaiah would have God’s word of guidance.  So this time
he sent his envoy to the prophet.  These men said to Isaiah, “…the
children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth”
(verse 3).  In other words: “This time we want to do everything God’s way.
But you’ve got to know, we’re totally weak.  Our defenses are depleted,
with no strength left.  What should we do?”

Isaiah did have God’s word for them.  The prophet said, “…Be not afraid
of the words that thou hast heard…I will cause (Sennacherib) to fall by
the sword…” (verses 6-7).  God was saying, “Any enemy of yours is an
enemy of mine now – because you have turned the battle over to me!  If
anyone talks against you, hurts you or abuses you, it is an attack against
me.  And I will take care of that enemy, whether human or demonic!”

“…He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come
before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it” (verse 33).  God says,
“Others may be falling all around you, but that doesn’t mean a thing.  You
are walking in covenant with me.  And I have promised to do battle against
every enemy that assails you!”

I think God must have an incredible sense of humor – because he sent just
one angel to put the entire Assyrian army to flight.  Scripture says,
“Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the
Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose
early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses”(verse 36). 

What an amazing sight that must have been.  That morning, the Assyrians
awoke to find 185,000 of their fellow soldiers slain – yet not a mark was
found on any of them.  And it all happened because the Israelites merely
humbled themselves and sought God!

The Bible tells us the Assyrians quickly hightailed it out of Judah: “So
Sennacherib king of Assyria departed…” (verse 37).  Yet, not only were
Israel’s enemies scattered, but God made sure they were destroyed as well.
Scripture tells us that soon afterward, Sennacherib was slain by his own
two sons while worshiping in his pagan temple (see verse 38). 

What a wonderful picture God has given us of his power to deliver us from
our enemies in our flesh.  The enemy may shoot fiery arrows at us, but
they will not strike.  Satan may noisily attack us with a huge army of
lusts and temptations, but in the end he will turn and run.  God has
declared, “I will defend every child of mine who believes in me enough to
lay down his own sword!” 

Dear saint, the Lord is urging you: “Cling to me in the midst of your
battle.  Your victory is all a matter of faith in God’s power and
willingness to deliver you.  When the enemy has overwhelmed you, come to
me and pour out your soul.  Seek me with all your heart, and I will do
battle for you.  I’ll protect you as you walk in covenant with me.  Your
part is simply to humble yourself, truly believe in my covenant promises
and seek my face.  Then you will receive my word of direction.  And you
will see all your enemies put to flight.  Your only way to full and
complete victory is to faith your way out of your crisis!”

The battle is never ours.  It is always the Lord’s.  Faith and faith
alone-faith in God’s promise to keep you from falling, to put in you a
will to want to do right – this is the way to glorious freedom.

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