Where does Satan, the World, and the Flesh wage their war in your home? Join AMBrewster as he opens the Bible to help Christian Parents understand the three main fronts on which their families will be attacked.
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“Family Worship” series (starts in episode 191)
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Welcome to Part 6 of our Spiritual War in Your Home series. I pray the foundation we’ve been laying is helping you see your family in a whole new way.
And I hope you were blessed by my interview with Becky on our last show. It was a nice break in this series, but it also dovetailed with it so well. That episode focused on just one of the many attacks that Satan, the World, and the Flesh use against us parents. They all try to convince us that we’re not the right parent for the job. But God says otherwise, and I’m so glad Becky shared her book with us. If you haven’t bought a copy yet, you should, and if you’re trying to win a copy through our giveaway, there’s still time.
Now, back to our series in Spiritual Warfare. Yes, it’s important to know who your enemies are, but it’s even more important to know who your allies are and to know that your allies aren’t your enemies and your enemies aren’t your allies.
I hope you’re well on your way to distinguishing the two.
Let me give you some direction here for our next few episodes.
We talked about the basic realities of spiritual warfare. We’ve talked about how your family is not the enemy, and then we introduced our three spiritual enemies: Satan, the World, and the Flesh.
And I know there were a ton of things you wished I said about those enemies, but that was just supposed to be a brief introduction.
Over the next few episodes we’re going to talk about the fronts on which those enemies attack our families, the weapons of our warfare, and the statistics — basically, how do families fare in this spiritual war. As we talk about each of these, we will reveal more about Satan, the World, and the Flesh so we can understand them even more. We’ll discover how they engage us on the three battlefields we’ll discuss today, we’ll look at how they respond to the spiritual weapons (and see what weapons they use), and we’ll discover how well they fare in their mission to destroy families.
And then we plan to use the final three episodes to get super, nitty-gritty, applicable. Of course, we’re always relevant and applicable and practical here, but I hope those three will really equip you to have victory in the very real spiritual war swirling around you today.
By the way, if you’re new to the show, I’d encourage you to go back to episode 354 to get caught up on this series. Of course, I always encourage new listeners to work their way back through previous seasons. Start in our Pilot Season and walk through this journey with us.
Yes, with the exceptions of our series, most of our shows can stand alone. But we’ve been doing this for nearly four years now, and so many of the lessons we’re learning now stand on the shoulders of past lessons.
And don’t worry, our content is evergreen, so it will always be valuable and relevant. You can hop around and look for topics that might be applicable to your family right now — whatever you want.
And you should also check out TruthLoveParent.com. There are so many awesome resources there for you. One of those is our TLP Store where we have a free parenting course called “25 Days to Becoming a Premeditated Parent.”
You should check that out and join the hundred of other families that have dedicated themselves to becoming more premeditated.
And while you’re there you can get our free episode notes from this series as well as read our transcripts.
Now, let’s pull back and get an idea where we can expect Satan, the World, and the Flesh to attack us and our families.
I want to start our discussion day in I John 2.
The author of this letter also wrote the Gospel of John, as well as 2nd and 3rd John.
This is the man of whom it was said Christ loved. Of course, Jesus loves everyone, but His relationship with John was unique among the disciples. I believe it had a lot to do with John’s devotion and His understanding of Jesus’ character.
Either way, some people get the idea that the disciple whom Jesus loved and who reclined on Jesus’ chest must have been some weak little man. But when you read John’s letters you find them filled with deep doctrine, passion, and — sometimes — a coarse reality check.
I love taking people through I John, especially when they are uncertain whether or not they’re truly followers of Christ. I John is the go-to for most pastors and counselors because John makes it so incredibly . . . painfully clear.
And we’re going to see this as we start at the beginning of I John 2.
John starts the chapter saying, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
This idea of “not sinning” is a theme — not only of the chapter, but also of the whole book.
John then goes on to make it perfectly clear that — if you want to know whether you have a saving relationship with God, all you have to do is see if you’re obeying Him.
Verse 3: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
That’s an example of that boot-on-the-neck truth John throws at us. It’s really that simple. If you don’t keep God’s commands, you’re not born again.
Now, don’t misunderstand, John isn’t saying that you have to keep them perfectly all the time without ever sinning even one time. The Greek is clear that John is referring to consistency. Christians sin, they choose to live in the dark, but they don’t stay there. They repent. So, yes, a genuine follower of Christ may sin, but he will be known as someone who strives to obey the Lord — though imperfectly.
Moving on . . .
Verse 5: “but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 7 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9 The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
And then John breaks from this discussion to offer encouragement for families: Verse 12 reads, “12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
I hope to work through this passage more carefully in the future, but for now take comfort that any success we ever hope to have in this spiritual war is going to come through Christ. Do you want your family to overcome the evil one? It’s possible, but we’re going to need to use the right weapons and learn the right strategies, and I can’t wait to talk more about that.
And now John get’s to our main focus for today. Starting in verse 15: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
There is so much good stuff here, but let’s take a closer look at this idea of the Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life.
A couple episodes ago when we talked about the nature of the World we saw that is was nothing but death and destruction because it was made up entirely of this triplet of lusts.
This is the battlefield of our Spiritual War. Yes, we’ve established that the war is waging in your home and with your family, but — since it’s a spiritual war — it’s not waging in a physical location. It’s happening on a spiritual front.
So, let’s work carefully through these concepts so that we understand what they are, how we interact with them, and how your kids and spouse are — right now — being attacked on these fronts
Let’s start talking about this word “lust.”
1. Lusts are desires . . . both good and bad.
Jesus used the word in Luke 22:15 to refer to His own desire to eat the Passover with His disciples.
But in John 8:44 Jesus — talking to the Pharisees — said, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.” Satan’s desires are obviously wicked.
But given the way that the word is being used in I John 2, I believe translating it as “lust” instead of “desire” was best. The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes are sinful and are consistently communicated as such throughout Scripture. We’ll look at a number of them before the day is out.
Now, I believe John listed these battlefronts in ascending order. I believe the first grows from the second which has its roots in the third. And I believe he listed them this way so that we could appreciate how each battlefield overlaps with the ones after it.
But — for our purposes — we’re going to discuss them in reverse order so that we can understand how they overlap and how they affect each other.
2. The Pride of Life is the battleground of Self-Worth.
We talked about self-esteem last time. These ideas are very similar. If you’ve been with us for any length of time then you know that we have only two options for our worship. We can worship God or we can worship self. Worship — simply put — is the act of showing that we value something over something else.
A silly example may be valuing a healthy meal over junk-food. The healthy meal has a higher value — more worth — to me than the junk-food.
In regard to God and self, when I replace God’s commands with my desires, I’ve shown God, everyone else, and myself that I value myself over God. My way has more worth. I’m worshipping myself.
You can learn more about this in our “Family Worship” series.
It’s been said that pride is at the core of all sin. The arrogance it would take to suggest that my desires, my plans, my expectations, my abilities are better and more trustworthy and more valuable than God’s is so deluded.
This is the meaning of the word here in I John 2. It’s used only two times in Scripture — here and James 4:16 — where it says, “But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.”
And the word basically refers to a quack — a charlatan selling snake oil. This person who has a worthless product claiming with loud voice and arrogant assertion its grand and glorious worth.
This kind of arrogance actually exceeds the pride of Satan from Isaiah 14:14. Satan thought he could make himself like the Most High. At least Satan was a spiritual being with supernatural powers. We’re finite creatures, in many ways far more impotent than the angels, and yet we try to make ourselves like the Most High — we get to be the final authority in our lives.
How do you know whether Satan or the World or the Flesh is overcoming you or your family members on the battlefield of the Pride of Life? There are two main ways:
A. What’s being said?
The Pride of Life speaks its heresies. This may sound like, “But I don’t want to go to bed,” “Leave me alone!” “But I . . . ,” and even a firm “No!”
But it can also sound religious: The sentence “God wants me to be happy!” used to justify sin. “I feel like God wouldn’t want me to make other people feel uncomfortable,” used to avoid confronting people about sin.
And B. What’s being done?
Remember, the Lust of the Eyes and the Lust of the Flesh flow from the Pride of Life. Therefore, where they are, you know the Pride of Life is involved.
Satan, the World, and the Flesh are constantly trying to destroy our families on the the battlefield of the Pride of Life. If Satan can use those under his control to fill your child’s head with lies, He will. If the Devil can guide the World system to overwhelm your spouse’s mind with thoughts that run contrary to the Bible — thoughts about how he or she “deserves peace and quiet” or “has a right” to be treated in a certain way — Lucifer will not hesitate for moment to unleash that barrage.
And Satan knows that our own hearts are desperately wicked. He knows we’re regularly being tempted from our own minds to value our way over God’s way. All Satan has to do is apply the right pressure on the outside in order to multiply the pressure already coming from the inside.
Today, your children’s words and actions will betray what they’re worshipping. Listen and watch carefully and know that every self-centered word and sinful choice is the revelation that your child has been overcome on the battlefront of the Pride of Life.
We’ll talk about how you can respond in those situations in a later episode. For now, we need to focus our eyes so that we see the Spiritual Warfare waging around us. We’ve taught ourselves to see the participants, and now we need to be ale to identify the battleground.
3. The Lust of the Eyes is the battleground of Self-Seeking.
When defenses have fallen on the frontlines of pride and arrogance, it’s not hard to overcome the backup forces defending the piece of ground called the Lust of the Eyes.
The Lust of the Eyes refers to the unique place our eyes play in our desires. Imagine what you would not desire if you could not see. Nearly 100% of after-school commercials would cease to appeal to your kids.
But once Satan has overpowered our defenses in the Pride of Life, he can send his beautiful sirens in to distract and seduce our compromised army.
Matthew 6:22-23 reads, “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
This is why Proverbs 27:20 warns the darkened man, “Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.” The arrogant braggart — consumed with his self-worth — will never cease trying to satisfy himself. For — if he really is the god of his life — nothing matters more than his own desires.
Ecclesiastes 1:8 tells us, “The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing,” and
Proverbs 17:24 says, “Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.” They’re always looking for something else that will make them happy.
Psalm 73:7 gives us a gross picture of the consequences of the Lust of the Eyes being fulfilled, “Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of their heart run riot.” They see something and covet it, and the more they greedily give in to that lust, the more their imaginations want even more!
The Lust of the Eyes includes gazing, coveting, lusting, and greed. It’s Self-Seeking — constantly searching for that which will make us feel the way we want to feel.
II Samuel 11:2 records, “Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.” David’s eyes saw something that would make him feel good and he coveted it and he took it.
But even if he hadn’t taken it, in Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
The is why Job in chapter 31 verse 1 says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?”
How will you know if your family is being overwhelmed on the battlefield of the Eyes? This one is harder. You can’t always know what your kids are seeing and how they’re responding to it. Greed and envy and covetousness is an inner man problem. But, just like the Pride of Life, it will slip out in what we do and say.
So, just like with the last point, you need to be an interpreter of your kids. You need to hear their words the “I want” and carefully determine what’s motivating them.
And anytime your children disobey — any time they refuse to eat their food, refuse to go to bed, hit their sibling, pop the pills their friends gave them — you can know for certain that they saw, they lusted, and they gave in. Satan, the World, and — ultimately — the Flesh overwhelmed them and left them in ruin.
See the spiritual war unfolding in your children’s words and actions.
And — speaking of actions . . .
4. The Lust of the Flesh is the battleground of Self-Autonomy.
Pride says, “I’m worthy of worship.” The Lust of the Eyes says, “I see the thing that will satisfy me.” And the Lust of the Flesh says, “And here I go to claim it.”
Each sin is a choice to claim my own pleasure. Each transgression of God’s Law grows from the lust to have something He forbids or to reject something He expects.
Every single one of us is born into this world consumed by the flesh, dead in our trespasses and sins. This is why Paul says in Ephesians 2:3, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”
Only through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit rooted in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ can enable us to overcome the Flesh. But that doesn’t mean we do it perfectly every time.
This is why God commands us in Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
And again in I Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.”
And this is the very stuff of spiritual warfare. Thank the Lord that the Pride of Life and the Lust of the Eyes exhibits itself in the physical realm . . . or we may never see it in our families.
But when the fronts of Pride and Covetousness are compromised, there will be defeat on the battleground of our Behavior.
Galatians 5:19 describes how the Lusts of the Flesh are manifested: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
I like to take my children and my counselees to this passage. Sure, they may not necessarily be struggling with immorality and sorcery and drunkenness and carousing . . . but are you going to tell me your kids aren’t being sinful? There’s no enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, pitting child against parent and mom against dad, envying, and self-worship?
All of the behaviors that fill out those descriptions prove that all of your children’s defenses have fallen.
It’s no longer a question of helping them defend that front, the best we can do is retake the ground that was lost.
In Matthew 4:3-10, we read about the Temptation of Christ. And we see how Satan attacks Jesus on every front. The temptation to turn rocks into bread was designed to appeal to the Lust of the Flesh. The alluring thought of ruling the world was supposed to put pressure on the Lust of Eyes. And the temptation to jump from the Temple was intended to subvert the Pride of Life.
But though Jesus could be tempted from the outside — from Satan and the World — He was not tempted on the inside from the Flesh.
We’ll be using His model in future episodes to talk about how we can fight against Satan, the World, and the Flesh.
We need to know how to do that for ourselves, but also so we can help our kids and our spouses defend that spiritual front.
But too often the battle is lost on all three fronts. Genesis 3:6 is a perfect picture of this. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food [Lust of the Flesh], and that it was a delight to the eyes [Lust of the Eyes], and that the tree was desirable to make one wise [Pride of Life], she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”
The very first sin that plummeted all of us into iniquity and self-worship was no different from every sin that has followed it.
But not only do we have to constantly defend those fronts against the never-relenting onslaught of Satan and the World and the Flesh, but not only do we need to help our family members recapture lost ground, sometimes the fight to recapture these battlefields is much harder than others.
When the enemy forces are allowed to occupy those areas of our lives day in and day out, they set up fortresses and bulwarks and landmines.
Thankfully, though the thought of helping your children turn the tide of the spiritual war in their lives may seem impossible, God has given us the weapons we need.
Consider II Corinthians 10:4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”
And that’s our topic for next time.
If you need help because you see that members of your family are losing their spiritual war, and you’re not sure how to help them, please reach out to us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. I and the other TLP Counselors would be honored to help you biblically address the spiritual issues in your home.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love.
To that end, join us next time as we look at the weapons of our warfare.
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