It Ain't Over Til It's Over
// ILLUSTRATION //
Right now, in the NBA Finals, it’s the Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers.
You know, last year it was the same two teams in the NBA Finals.
In Game 1, the Golden State Warriors won.
In Game 2, the Golden State Warriors won by almost 40 points.
In Game 3, the tides changed, and the Cleveland Cavaliers won by about 30 points.
In Game 4, the Golden State Warrior won again, giving them a 3-1 lead in the series.
At this point, the Golden State Warriors had everything going for them:
- No team ever, in NBA history, has ever come back from a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals.
- The Cleveland Cavaliers had never won the NBA Finals.
- For the past 52 years, no professional sports team in Cleveland has won a championship. In fact, in 2004, ESPN proclaimed Cleveland as the “most tortured sports city”.
But in the end, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up winning Game 5, Game 6, and Game 7 – winning the NBA Championship.
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
// WE’RE IN A WAR //
We’re in a war. Not a physical war, but a spiritual war – for our soul.
And if you put your faith in Jesus, you’re going to have to fight.
- You’re going to have to fight to keep believing.
- You’re going to have to fight to overcome temptation.
- You’re going to have to fight to stay married.
- You’re going to have to fight to live holy.
This is why we must be TRAINED FOR WAR.
We’re involved in a spiritual war, and it involves every single one of us in this room. We are in wartime, not peacetime.
It might look slightly different in each of our lives, but there are things going on in every single one of our lives in this room.
There are things going on that are attacking our faith.
- Some of us are battling for our marriage.
- Some of us are battling for purity in our minds and our lives.
- Some of us are battling against lustful thoughts.
- Some of us are battling against worry, doubt, and depression.
- Some of us are battling against materialism that is rampant across our culture.
- Some of us are battling against an addiction.
Maybe for some of us, it’s all of those things, or even things we haven’t mentioned.
You might think, “Well, I’m not even a Christian. This doesn’t apply to me.” Absolutely, it applies to you. There is a spiritual battle raging for your soul at this moment.
We’re involved in a spiritual war. And our enemy is 3-fold:
- The flesh.
- The world.
- The devil.
// IT AIN’T OVER ‘TIL IT’S OVER //
And the thing about this war, and it’s the same with every other battle, or competition, or fight, is that it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
And when it comes to this war for our soul, no matter how many victories we have, no matter how many battles we have won, we must understand that it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Sometimes, you might feel like you are up 3-1 in the series, like the Golden State Warriors, but the war ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
If we are going to follow Jesus, this fight for our soul, this fight for our heart, this fight for a holy life, isn’t over until we die.
We must win this war.
If we lose, we’re not just losing a championship. We’re not just losing a gold medal. If we lose this war, we lose everything, even our own soul, and we’ll be tormented in hell forever.
There is a God over this world who desires every single person in this room to be saved. And there is an enemy in this world who desires every single person in this room to burn in hell.
In the end, Jesus wins. In the end, Jesus wins the war against sin and evil.
The victory has been accomplished! Satan has been defeated! What continues to be at stake, though, is the lives of those who are still fighting. Jesus’ victory has yet to be completely enforced in this world. But the day is coming, it’s going to come, when He will come and force His victory finally and completely. Evil will be totally abolished. But for now, we find ourselves in the midst of a fight of faith.
So how do we end up on the winning side of this war? How do we let Jesus win in our lives?
There is one key thing we must do. This one thing will revolutionize the way we look at everything in our lives. It will completely transform the way we serve Jesus. This one thing will make sure we are always on the winning side of this spiritual war. And we will unpack this tonight.
// SCRIPTURE: 2 SAMUEL 11 //
1In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”
6 So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king's house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.”12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.
14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.” 16 And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died. 18 Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting. 19 And he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the king, 20 then, if the king's anger rises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”
22 So the messenger went and came and told David all that Joab had sent him to tell. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men gained an advantage over us and came out against us in the field, but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate. 24 Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall. Some of the king's servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” 25 David said to the messenger, “Thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter displease you, for the sword devours now one and now another. Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”
26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. 27 And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
2 Samuel 11:1-27
When we obtain victory, when we achieve success, when things are going good for us –
- We have a tendency to ease-up.
- We have a tendency to let our guard down.
- We have a tendency to get comfortable.
For some of us, before we got married, when we were still dating:
- We were exercising.
- We were eating right.
- We did our best to look good.
- We did our best to smell good.
Then we got married, and all that stopped.
We won. We got comfortable.
In the early stages of our relationship, we put our best foot forward.
- We are opening every door (car door).
- Hand writing special letters just because.
- Sending things to their job (gifts).
- Sending nice texts randomly throughout the day.
- Just lavishing love on them.
Then we get married, and we get comfortable in our victory, and all that stops.
We stop fighting for our relationship, because we think that the war is over, we won.
// WE MUST KEEP FIGHTING //
All of this could have been avoided if David had been at war. Lusting, adultery, lying, murder, all of this could have been avoided if David had been out fighting.
You see, at this point, David has been quite victorious. He has been quite successful.
Then, the time comes when kings go out to battle. In the Near East, spring was a logical time for military campaigns, the winter rains had ceased and the labor-intensive harvest had begun, so there was grain in the fields for consumption. But David remained at Jerusalem. Something is wrong: the kings go out to battle, but this king does not. And all Israel went out to battle, but Israel’s leader did not.
It seems maybe David was a bit comfortable, maybe he was a bit satisfied with past victories.
As Christians, if we are going to end up on the winning side of this war, we must understand that it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Which means, we need to keep fighting. That means we can’t settle for past victories, we can’t get comfortable with our past successes, we must keep on fighting.
The tendency for us is that once we experience a little victory in our lives, we get comfortable. And when we get comfortable, we let our guard down. And when we let our guard down, we become vulnerable to sin and temptation. This is what happened with David. He should have been at war, but since he wasn’t fighting, he got comfortable, and his guard was down, and he became vulnerable. And when temptation came knocking at his door, he was defenseless against it.
And the same happens to us.
We’ll have a good day in our marriage, no arguing, no fights, no talk of divorce, no one got kicked out of the house, and then we rejoice in that victory, and we get comfortable, we let our guard down, and then the next day, we blow it again.
Or, we come to the altar, we cry, we pray, people lay hands on us, we feel the presence, we feel freedom, we feel delivered, only to go back out and blow it a few days later.
Why? We stopped fighting.
We thought that our victory meant no more fighting.
You see, when we’re fighting this spiritual war, the reward for winning a fight is not peace. Victory doesn’t mean no more fighting. We must not only fight to obtain the victory, we must fight to hold on to it.
I heard a pastor put it this way, “the reward for winning a fight is another fight, on a greater level.” That’s a principle of spiritual growth.
Victories are good, and necessary. But it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. So we need to keep fighting.
This is why we fail so often, especially in our marriages, because we fight to get what we want, and then we stop. We need to fight to keep what we got.
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. We need to keep fighting.
The same thing happens to us when it comes to sin.
We’ll be praying for God to help us overcome some sin in our lives, and we’ll even be on knees crying and repenting. And God will deliver us from an addiction, He’ll help us overcome some serious sin in our lives. And so what do we do? Often times, we stop praying about that. We think, God delivered me, I’m good. That is partially true. But what we’re doing in that moment, is letting our guard down.
So many of us fall back into the same sin, the same circle, over and over. We’ll experience a moment of victory, but then we’ll end up right back where we were. Why? Often times, it is because once we tasted victory, we let our guard down.
// CONCLUSION //
We are in a spiritual war for our soul.
We tend to get comfortable in our victories, and we tend to let our guard down. But the fight isn’t over. The war isn’t over.
We must continue to fight, we must continue to stay on guard.
If we get comfortable, we let our guard down. If we let our guard down, we become vulnerable. If we are vulnerable, we more likely to fall.
I don’t want to keep falling. I don’t want to keep going through cycles in my life.
In the big picture, in the grand scheme of things, Jesus wins.
But if we want Jesus to win in our lives, if we want to walk in victory, if we want stop seeing the enemy win battles in our life, if we want to stop seeing our flesh win battles in our life, we need to realize it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
Keep your guard up. Keep fighting. Don’t get comfortable.
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.