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One Weapon

• Greg Boyd

In this final sermon of the Without Borders series, Greg explores our ultimate weapon for fighting the powers of this present darkness. (Hint: it isn’t more darkness)

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This is the last sermon in the Without Borders series, which has been contrasting the kingdom way of dealing with conflict vs that of the ways of world.

It is said by some historians that human evolution can be traced by our weapons. We started out with clubs and stones, then grew to swords, bows & arrows, catapults, gun powder, bullets, then we made those bullets more accurate, shooting for longer distances, then machine guns, cannons, bazukas, tanks, nuclear, chemical weapons, and now drones. This evolution is a testament to original sin that we are so ingenious when it comes to killing each other. But it doesn’t stop there, words, gestures and expressions are also weapons. These are all designed to hurt people, and the assumption of them all is that other humans are the enemy.

In Ephesians 6:12, Paul teaches that our struggle is never against flesh and blood but against the powers of this present darkness, also known as the principalities and powers. They deceive us into thinking humans are enemy.

We can fight these unseen powers by refusing to hate anyone. When we see an action that looks like evil, do not hate the person, but the powers that have deceived this person into thinking this way.

But refusing to hate, while noble, is simply pacifism– this is good but we have in our possession the ultimate weapon to fight and defeat these powers of evil.

Our secret weapon is entirely different than the weapons of the world. It is designed not to kill people but to free them. The weapon is the Self sacrificial love that God displayed on the cross. The world never suspected, never saw it coming. From the start it looked weak and foolish. This “weakness” is the Power of God almighty. The way God fights and vanquishes the principalities and powers is to sacrifice himself out of love, which obliterates all debts. This is the one weapon he uses and wins with, and calls on us to use too.

It is the sheer extravagance of this love that makes it so powerful — he goes to the absolute extreme. He didn’t stop at “just enough” but went as far as possible. It is what we see in Ephesians 1:3-8 — Paul says God doesn’t just sprinkle, but he *lavishes* the richness of his grace on us. This is what defeats Satan and his minions. The extravagant extreme of his love.

The Cross reveals a God who would do absolutely everything to give us absolutely anything when we deserve absolutely nothing. It is echoed in Romans 5 – where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.

This extravagance changes us because it compels us to love him back. It gives us a new motivation, and a new destiny. It replaces the darkness in our life with light, and transforms us into a Child of God with new identity. Nothing can do what the love of God can do in a person’s life.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Paul instructs us to “be imitators of God” This is our call, to echo this extreme love to our enemies. Paul spells it out in Romans 12:14, 17, 20-21. Never respond to evil with evil. Instead, overcome evil with good. Don’t just be neutral, either, but go overboard! Actually push back in the opposite extreme. Be aggressive in loving back. That is why in Revelation, the lion of Judah is a lamb. It is the ferocious power of a lion, packaged in the vulnerability of a lamb.

When we retaliate, we sink to the level of evil and are defined by their evil. But responding with love protects us from being sucked into the evil being brought against us. At the very least it takes the wind out of their sails, and allows us to be defined by love since this is our new identity.

But when we take it further– when we respond with even more force, even more love, the result is often much more pronounced. Responding to evil with copious and undeserved amounts of love actually short-circuits the destructive cycle of “evil escalating evil.” In Romans 12 Paul says this tactic “Heaps coals of fire on their head” meaning it shocks them, lets the other person see their own sin, and convicts them, and the result of this can be that they repent and reverse course. The destructive cycle of anger is thus interrupted and replaced by a cycle of escalating and self-perpetuating love.

Greg tells a couple of good stories that illustrate this, such as one time when a guy was super mad at him and yelling at him, and Greg responded by inviting the guy out to dinner. Totally threw the guy off and ended the conflict.

It’s hard, of course. You have to swallow your pride and slay your own nature. This is part of the reason Paul tells us to offer up our body as a living sacrifice. It’s not easy or comfortable. But sacrificing ourselves is an act of worship, and not only that but it feels so good when you do it and when it works, either by just ending a conflict or by actually restoring a relationship.

Here are some tips to help you get good at this:

  1. Have your identity anchored in Christ. That frees you from needing approval (or respect) from others. Know who you are, know your source of life. Remember who you are.
  2. Remember that love starts in the mind. This is our primary battleground. We cannot operate on auto-pilot, we must be vigilant about our thoughts. It’s why Jesus said lust is same as adultery and anger equals violence. If you are not loving them in your brain, it negatively affects your ability to respond in love. You have power over what you think. Purge from your mind any thoughts that are inconsistent with love. It starts with a decision in your mind.
  3. Practice makes perfect. Start out by imagining yourself responding in a Christlike way. Practice it in your mind ahead of time. Ask Holy Spirit to guide you on how to bless that person. Just like a basketball player, you have to see yourself doing it first, in order to act it out for real.
  4. Speak the truth in love. Sometimes it is not right to simply stay silent. It can be godly to speak up. But we must confront in love. If you can’t do this, then skip this step until you can (and repeat steps above). Paul said to do everything in love. This is a must. When confronting evil, we can call it out for what it is, but we must do so with love (the act of ascribing unsurpassable worth) pouring from our words.
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Topics: Conflict, Kingdom of God, Love

Sermon Series: Without Borders

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Audio File
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Focus Scripture:

  • Ephesians 6:12

    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.

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2 thoughts on “One Weapon

  1. Patricia Rein says:

    Pastor Boyd:
    I thuroughly enjoy your sermons! We are Blessed by your delivery of the word. Thankyou! ❤

  2. Peter says:

    While the importance of Greg’s message cannot be ignored, neither can his service to the ‘pulpit’ as was acknowledged at the beginning of the message.

    More recently WHC ran a series on “The Gifting Spirit” and it is noted in 1 Corinthians 12:28, “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” The provision of these gifts (and especially in this case teaching), to the Church from Christ through the agency of the Spirit is to build up members in their faith and the unity of love. And, as Paul mentioned earlier in 1 Corinthians 12:7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” In other words, the gifts given to a believer are effectively to be used for the benefit of other believers and non-believers. This, in turn, provides assurance to the believer that he (or she) is at work in the Spirit, “for the common good”.

    Developing this last point, if each believer has a gift (or gifts), each is a minister/servant and if they are ministering within that gift in the Spirit, then that person is edified, given dignity, and a rich sense of vocation, and senses that he or she is participating in God’s will and plan. Further to this, there is in one sense no ‘individual Christians’ as we are told in regard to the gifts that ‘we are members one of another’ (Eph 4:25). We should not see ourselves elevated above another because of the gift or the nature of the gift. Indeed, following 1 Corinthians 12 is chapter 13 that is a powerful exposition on love and especially how it relates to using Spiritual gifts. If believers allow their characters to develop this way (per 1 Cor 13), the community (Church), will increase in love both personally and corporately.

    The situation we therefore need to acknowledge and praise, is the grace of God in the provision of Greg and the rest of WHC’s believers (as a unity), as they have and are, responding in obedience to the call of the Spirit, locally, nationally and internationally in the proclamation of the Gospel.

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