Sometimes I think we forget as pastors and leaders that we have intentionally placed ourselves in the line of fire, the front of the battle—directly in the crosshairs of the enemy—this is our reality every day—are you ready for it?
God wants you to be strong in Him because we are fighting against powerful forces of darkness.
In battle, the giants we face take many forms—power, anger, building projects, staffing issues, sexual temptation, gossip, slander, serious illness, the loss of a loved one, hatred of others, jealousy, coveting, envy, money, addictions: alcohol, drugs, pornography, even simple yet very deadly pride...
• The truth is there are spiritual forces ready to weaken you, corrupt you, condemn you—hoping to cause you to fail and fall, and then to trample you under their feet.
• The enemy of your soul seeks to take advantage of you by capitalizing on any reliance you may have in yourself, using both your strengths and weaknesses as tools to weaken your dependence on the power of God through Holy Spirit.
What kind of strength is it that we need as leaders?
Let me be clear--You and I are not simply fighting our fellow frail humans with all their physical and mental deficiencies. We are fighting a much worse and far more powerful enemy, the Devil himself, as well as an innumerable host of fallen angels and a worldwide system, that is firmly entrenched against God and His Word and thereby us as leaders in God’s church. It is they who are in control of the world of temptations, biblical ignorance, rampaging sinfulness, resulting sadness and destruction. Therefore, we must be strong in the Lord and fight the battle with spiritual weapons, not simply muster large helpings of our own personal strength.
How strong are you? Below are case studies of three very strong men: Solomon, Samson and David:
1. Solomon was the wisest of all men. Because of that mental strength, an ability to use reason and logic, he possessed tremendous wisdom---from that he gained great wealth, prestige and power.
2. Samson was the strongest of all men. Because of that physical strength, he was able to defeat 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey, and he toppled a temple with his own hands.
3. David was the most devoted and spiritual of all men. Because of that devotion, he loved the Lord and sought to honor and glorify God like no other resulting in God declaring David’s heart closest of any humans to God Himself...Just look at his Psalms and their beautiful poetry of adoration for God’s glory.
Yet, all three fell -- as strong as these men were -- they were no match for the schemes and strengths of the god of this age.
1. Satan: In his evil cunning, Satan led Solomon to marry many foreign women and through them, Solomon fell to the temptation to serve false gods.
2. Samson: As strong as he was, he was unable to resist the persistence of a woman. Delilah hounded him into telling the secret of his strength, and through Delilah's betrayal, he ultimately fell.
3. David: fell into the temptation of lust, then adultery, then murder.
Perhaps these three men thought to themselves—“ I am too strong to ever fall, others sure; they are obviously weak, but me, never.”
Let me ask you a question: Do you think you any stronger than they were? —or could it be perhaps you think you are immune to what befell them?
• Maybe you are emotionally strong.
• Maybe you can handle tremendous amounts of pressure.
• Maybe you can work for long hours, day after day after day.
• Maybe you are a multitasking machine of mind and intellect.
• Maybe you are the one who is the emotional anchor, the rock everyone leans on for support.
There are many kinds of human strength, and each of us is prone to rely on the strengths that we have in greatest measure---so in that sense, our strengths become our weaknesses.
• The most important strength of all is the strength you have in the Lord.
• True Christian strength is not of the body or mind.
• True Christian strength is of the spirit, measured in faithfulness, trust and perseverance.
God wants you to be strong in Him because the spiritual battle can only be won by putting on His armor and relying on His Strength.
It’s relying on God, not simply your human abilities.
Most of us know the description of His armor is found in Ephesians 6:13-15:
"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints..."
Let me be very clear, often we seem to think we can just run and grab a piece or two when we need it, don’t we?
Why do we need to put on all these pieces of armor? Because when the fighting starts, it’s too late, you will be shot full of holes before you can blink---you need to constantly be ready for war—all day, every day--So you won’t be ill-prepared—or naked in battle and forced to rely on your own strength—using a shoe for a shield—that will get you shot.
So you may remain strong (Ephesians 6:10):
Strong in faith, rooted in the gospel, living in truth, empowered by the Word, walking in peace and victorious through faith. It is the armor of God that keeps us safe and strong continually, and it has already been field tested and proven battle worthy, deserving of our implicit trust. To trust the armor of God is to trust God Himself---so that we do not lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:8-9).
Ultimately, we can only trust God’s provision for battle, not our own, but God’s faithfulness to us because it has already been manifested in the cross. You have already tested the armor of God, and it works—your eternity is resting on its sufficiency. You have already trusted in Him and His provision.
We live daily testing the whole armor of God:
Let’s return to the life of David for a moment. When David was about to fight Goliath, Saul wanted to give David his own armor, "So Saul clothed David with his armor and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, "I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them" (1 Samuel 17:38-40).
So David took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook and put them in a shepherd's bag, in a pouch which he had; and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.
Now let me ask you a simple question: What kind of protection is a sling against a giant nine-foot tall giant who could crush your head between his hands? The word “useless” comes to mind--It is very little protection even in the hand of a skilled sling master---Or said a different way, what confidence did David have in his own abilities when he stepped into that creek bottom?
None---Yet it was completely clear that David was more than a match for Goliath, and he knew it—Why?--because he did not go out onto the battlefield alone. He went with the company of the Lord God maker of Heaven and Earth—David was wearing the only Armor that could assure him of the victory—and David knew that armor would be sufficient---Why?---because David had tested it!
Earlier in his life, David had killed a bear and a lion with nothing more than a sling:
Moreover David said, "The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you!" (1 Samuel 17:37).
He went with the full armor of God: faith, righteousness, the Word and truth.
He went out to the place of battle—the Valley of Elah, to that place where the Devil himself had brought an army to oppose God's people.---and it was there in the face of insurmountable odds with apparently nothing more than an insufficient strip of flesh---David met Goliath.
It was not a shining sword that brought the giant down; it was not the arrow; it was a small stone that crushed the enemy’s head, the way God promised in the garden that the head of the serpent would be crushed. Goliath was a manifestation of that serpent—your enemy and mine to this day.
Incidentally, have you ever wondered why David picked up five stones to do a job that took only one. Were the extra four back-ups just in case that first didn't work? Not at all. David had full confidence in the Lord and picked up five stones, not to insure the death of Goliath, but to take care of Goliath's relatives.
There was Ishbi-benob, Saph and Goliath’s brother, and another, each one with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. As 2 Samuel 21:22 says, "These four were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants."
The Armor of God is already battle tested—death itself has been defeated
We simply need to lead fearlessly by getting ready for war each day, put on the whole armor of God—and march to the frontlines to face our giants with confidence. Because God is with us—who can be against us-- in doing so, we can view every giant as a dead one waiting for a place to fall.— because that’s what real leaders do.