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Cage Free Living

• Greg Boyd

In this opening sermon of the Cage-Free series, Greg gives us an overview of the basis of the Spiritual Warfare worldview. This view is central to our picture of a Jesus-looking God who does not himself cause evil or suffering.

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In our modern world, most westerners dismiss the idea that there are spiritual influences in the world. But Greg gives several reasons why he believes this is true. He told us about a few very hard-to-explain experiences he had personally which support this view. And there is also ample biblical support for the view. Jesus himself believed that this was a reality, and it is a major theme throughout the Old and New Testaments. So when we follow Jesus, this needs to include his theology.

Paul uses this terminology extensively. In Ephesians 6:11-12, Paul tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but “against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” He refers to Angels and powers, and categories of hierarchy. Like humans, who were given authority over the earth and animals, angels were in turn given authority over humans — but we all were given free will. So when some of us (both humans and angels) fell, we retained our authority. This is why they (and we) still have influence in the world despite having fallen.

CS Lewis wrote that the two primary mistakes people make with regards to Satan (and spiritual warfare) is in the one hand to ignore its reality, but on the other hand to obsess over it.

First, we should not over-estimate the power that Satan has in the world. This theology should not scare us. In Ephesians 1:19-21, Paul says that Christ has been given power and authority “FAR above” that of Angels and powers. Not only this but we too have been raised up in Christ. In Christ, we humans have authority over spiritual influences here on earth. This belief is what deliverance prayer is founded on. We can and should assert our authority over the demonic.

James 4:7 says “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Not that he will simply cease to bother you, or will walk away gradually, but that he will FLEE– run away, like a frightened animal. Satan was made into a laughing stock through the cross. (Col 2:15) So don’t be afraid of him, he is afraid of you!

However this is not to say that these powers have no influence in the world at large. On the contrary, Satan is referred to “the archon” (a ruler or leader) of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). In Luke 4:5-6 Satan states that all the kingdoms of the world belong to him, and Jesus does not dispute this. Ephesians 2:2 calls Satan “the ruler of the kingdom of the air.” 2 Cor 4:4 he is referred to as the god of this world. Revelations 12:9 & 13:4 call him the deceiver of the world, and in 1 John 5:19, John claims no less than that Satan controls the entire world! (It’s a hyperbole, as is his style, but it gets the point across.)

It was also Jesus’ view that sickness was often a symptom of spiritual attack. In Luke 13:15 Jesus says about a woman in need of healing that “Satan kept her bound for 18 years.” In fact the Greek word for infirmity is “mastix,” a word that infers flogging or scourging (Mk 5:34; cf Mk 3:10, 5:29; Luke 7:21). Peter in Acts 10:38 says they went around and healed all who were under the power of Satan. Even things that seem unnatural like death and decay are seen as the fault of Satan. (Heb 2:24). In Matthew 13:28 Jesus uses a parable of a field overgrown with weeds and concludes “an enemy has done this.”

This idea of spiritual warfare is not a small point that we can agree to disagree on; it is central to our picture of a Jesus-looking God who does not himself cause evil or suffering. Without this foundational belief, we are left with a theology that “blames” God when bad things happen. We say no to this. James 1:17 says that “every good gift is from above.” When disaster or evil happen, we need to trust that God is not causing it. Rather, he is the one who stands by and supports us through it. Let us trust that God does not cause our suffering; he relieves it.

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Topics: Spiritual Warfare

Sermon Series: Cage Free


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Focus Scripture:

  • Ephesians 6:11-12 (NRSV)

    Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

    Ephesians 1:17-21 (NRSV)

    I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.

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5 thoughts on “Cage Free Living

    Jill Hoschette says: Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Great sermon! The “Our Father” says at the end “deliver us from the evil one”. But I think so many just recite that prayer without really internalizing what it’s saying. It also says “on earth as it is in heaven”. I try to remember that in every decision I make; from what I buy, to what I eat, to what kind of entertainment I spend money on, etc. It helps me discern everything I do. I think if we can understand Satan, and his army of demons, we can then understand and love God even more. Your analogy of how smart we are, yet how dumb we can be was right on. I think Satan has us so self absorbed with gadgets, social media, merchandise, food, entertainment and more that we forget to take a look around at the immense evil going on around us. Once we take our eyes off ourselves and look around at the horrible evil, you absolutely have to be prepared to put on God’s armor everyday, because it’s bad.

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    I’d like to put up a link for other ‘Podrishioners’ who want to dive even deeper into the subject –

    What is the Warfare Worldview? – Greg Boyd – ReKnew
    reknew.org/2008/01/intro-to-warfare-worldview/

    Near the end, Greg also has a link to “Six Theses” that further expand on the topic. The one that I found most profound was #4 –

    4. Moral Responsibility is Proportionate to the Potential to Influence.

    “The potential a creature has for love is proportionate to the creature’s potential for evil. The greater the creature’s potential for love, the greater risk their freedom entails, for they may choose to use their potential for evil instead. Greater potential also entails greater responsibility for how the potential is used.”

    Cheers

    Reply
    kathy d says: Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    My sentiments, too Jill; I think about what Jesus said when he told his disciples he was sending them out into the world “like sheep to the wolves.” I was thinking about this the other day during a conversation with an animal welfarist, who bless her heart, believes the perpetrators of animal abuse are the enemy. I was trying to explain to her that what we do when we act toward the perpetrators with anger and hate isn’t any different than what the perpetrators do only they add the violence toward the animal; as animal welfarists we’ve got to remember who the enemy is. There is such need for leadership on this subject with animal welfarists, such need for humane Christian education, not just to Christians or in churches but within the secular animal welfare movement as well. The thing is they see the evil happening, and it is horrific, I’ve see it; but the secular welfarists do not know how to process it or address it often times because they do not see the spiritual warfare.

    Anyway, thinking “sheep to the wolves.” Here in America, a person would be hard pressed to find within the Christian faith people experiencing their faith walk as though they are being fed to wolves, but that is what Jesus said it would be like; so when we are persecuted, shot down, not believed, thought of as crazy (in my case in this instance my animal welfare friend likely thinks I’m a little off my rocker ! but that is okay, she does not see the spiritual warfare all around!), not popular, yada-yada, it should not come as a surprise. Rather, I think Christians, when walking in the Spirit, should expect the reaction. And if as a Christian I am blending in with the rest of society, it might be a sign my faith walk has detoured from the “narrow path.”

    Reply
    Sigmund Brenna, Norway says: Sunday January 17, 2016 at 4:24 am

    I’m having trouble watching the serman from the blog. The recording just won’t start. something that can be fixed?

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Sunday January 17, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Sig,

    Instead of clicking on “WATCH ON THE BLOG”, go to the Sermons & Media menu on the top immediate right and click on that and the most recent message should come up below on the left/center area – “Cage Free Living”. Click on that icon/graphic and then you’ll see the download options there on the right once again. For some reason that pathway works better? Try any of the first four options listed and it might clear up your troubles. I know that only the “High Quality MP4” for example works well on my particular iPad 4, but others may have different tech experiences.

    Cheers

    Reply

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