Are you struggling to defeat the enemy in your life? A former SWAT officer, Pastor Phil Hopper knows a thing or two about adversaries. As lead pastor of Abundant Life Church in Lees Summit, Missouri, he has shepherded thousands of men and women, teaching them to defeat the enemy of their soul and apply the life-changing truth of God’s Word. You will not want to miss this powerful podcast!
Transcribed version of the podcast is below
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Genesis 2:18-20
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- MomStrong International
- Scripture Writing Challenge
- Abundant Life Church Lee’s Summit, Missouri
- Defeating the Enemy by Phil Hopper
Scripture Mentioned in Podcast
- 2 Timothy 3:5
- Hebrews 12:6
- Ephesians 6
- 2 Corinthians 3:17
- 2 Corinthians 2:14
- 1 Corinthians 15
- John 8:32
- John 10:10
- Matthew 28:19
- John 8:32
- John 8:36
- 2 Timothy 3:5
- Genesis 3
- 2 Corinthians 10:3
- 2 Corinthians 3: 17
- Luke 4:18
Join us at MomStrong International for our newest Bible Study and Scripture Writing!
Phil Hopper has been the lead pastor of Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri since 2000. He watched God do extraordinary things in the life of the church as it has grown from 100 people to a church touching thousands of people each week. Prior to entering the ministry, he was a police officer and sergeant with the Kansas City Police Department where he served as a SWAT team member. It was through this experience that God uniquely prepared him for the ministry. Phil lives in the Lee’s Summit area with his wife, Christa. They have three adult children – Jake, Makay and Josh.
Hey everybody, this is Heidi St. John. Welcome to the Heidi St. John podcast. This is meet my friend Friday and as always, I want to have people on the show with me who are thought-leaders, who are leading people into closer relationship with the Lord and today is no exception to that. My friend Pastor Phil Hopper, who is the senior pastor at Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri—and also at an incredibly gifted author—is on the show with me today. We’re going to be talking about spiritual warfare and what it really means to get off the bench and onto the battlefield.
Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
All right, so lots of stuff coming down the pike. Thanks for joining me today. I appreciate you guys spending a little bit of your Friday morning with me. I want to say thank you also to those of you who’ve been leaving reviews for the podcast over at iTunes. We’ve got well over a thousand reviews there now, and this podcast is reaching right around 100,000 listeners every time it airs. So thank you for tuning in and for sharing the podcast and for leaving reviews. For the summertime we have been going through the fruit of the spirit and we’re going to be talking about the fruits of the Spirit for the month of July—as they relate to biblical womanhood.
So the topic of male and female is very much under attack in the culture. You guys hear me talking about that all the time here at the show. And so for the month of July, we’re going to talk about what it means to be an image-bearer, how do we reflect the image of the One who made us? And I remember the first time I heard the term image-bearer, I didn’t get it—right? Whose image am I supposed to be bearing? The culture says to be you. But who am I really? And as women, we hear many voices when it comes to our identity. As some cultures will suggest that women are not equal to men going so far as to restrict their personal and intellectual freedom. Some cultures even cover the beauty of women with excessive clothing. Western culture, on the other hand, is at war with the idea that women are even different from men. Though the truth of this fact is obvious in Scripture and in Creation. So what’s beneath the struggle? It’s self-worth, identity, and belonging. So we’re going to t we’re going to dig deep into that at MomStrong International for the month of July. I hope you guys will join us there.
Without further ado—I want to introduce my guest today. I’m thrilled to have Phil Hopper on the show with me today. Phil’s become a friend of mine. I was introduced to him from my friend Steve Lambert, who’s been on the show with me a couple of times. Phil is the lead pastor of Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He’s been there since 2000, and he has an extraordinary ministry there, of which I have been blessed to just be a little bit of a part from the sidelines. But he has an incredible testimony and he just wrote a book last year, which I loved and talked about on the show: Defeating the Enemy. So we’re going to be talking about that and all things spiritual warfare. Phil and his wife Christa have three grown children. Phil, welcome to the podcast.
[Phil] Heidi, I am so excited to be on your podcast and to get more and more people on the battlefield. That’s what we’re talking about today—that’s what the book is about. I’m just thrilled that I get to be a part of your ministry and that you get to be a part of ours. Heidi, we need your voice in the body of Christ.
[Heidi] I am thrilled that you’re here and love what you’re doing. I remember when Steve sent me a link to your church and he’s like—you gotta watch this guy, he’s so good. I texted him back and I was like—Oh my word. If I lived in Lee’s summit, that’s where I’d be. I’d be all over attending Abundant Life. Partly because your really equipping the body of Christ with the truth of God’s Word and reminding them every week that it doesn’t change, even though the culture is rapidly changing.
[Phil] That’s right. I feel like, honestly, the enemy has disarmed the body of Christ. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. Eight out of 10 churches in America no longer believe the Bible is truly the inerrant, infallible Word of God. Where consequently, 2 Timothy 3:5 says we live in a time where we have this form of godliness but deny the power thereof. And so the very thing that was meant to give a life, the church, the gospel—can now only keep dead people dead. And so, that’s why we’re just a church that believes the Word of God still is the most powerful thing we have in our hands. It is powerful to change lives. The gospel is still the most relevant message we have in changing times, it’s still that old time truth that Christ died for our sins and rose again, Heidi.
[Heidi] Yeah, it’s a powerful truth. And you have experienced the life changing power of Jesus and His healing power in your own life. You have an amazing test when I was telling you before the show aired that I have it here, and I could read it—but it’s so much better coming from you. So can you give, since it’s your first time on the show, can you introduce yourself and kind of where you’ve come from so people can kind of get a sense of what God’s been doing in your life?
[Phil] Yeah, sure. So back in the 90s, as a much younger man, I took up a career in law enforcement, left University of Kansas and went right into the police academy and was excited about a career in law enforcement. People asked some times—why did you want to be a cop? The interview answer is—because I want to help people. The real answer is I didn’t want to be bored. And I can honestly say I was never ever bored. And so I was really enjoying that chosen career path. By that time I was walking with Jesus. I spent many years as a prodigal son having been raised in a Christian family, but by my teenage years into my young adulthood—was very much a prodigal in the far country, living in the pig pen of sin. But you know, Hebrews 12 has a promise— whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. [Hebrews 12:6]
So to make a long story short, at 21 years of age, I’m coming home from University of Kansas for Christmas break. I get run off the road by an 18 wheeler. I’m out of control. I come back on the interstate and I realize I’m about to hit another 18 wheeler. And that day I really resigned my life. In that moment, I really thought I was going to die. But as you can see, I lived. But I tell people that day in December, 1989 is the day I went to a funeral and that funeral was mine. And that day I died. I surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. And I can honestly tell you the moment I did, a new man was born and I’ve never been more alive. And started walking with the Lord then at 21 years of age and went on the police department just a couple of years later, I thought I would do that for the next 25, 30 years of my life.
But you know, when you begin to really pursue Jesus and begin to live life with that eternal view—you’d never know for sure where it’s going to lead. I had no idea it would lead to vocational ministry. I’d started going to a little church in Lee’s Summit, a little church plant with my young family. Hadn’t been going there very long. Then one Tuesday night, the phone rang and found out our pastor had resigned and they’d asked me to come fill in that Sunday morning and preach. Of course, yea, I had no idea what I was doing. I’d preached twice in my entire life at that time, once was on a Sunday night, about 12 people, two of which were mom and dad and four which were cops I brought along with me just to make sure I had an audience. So, you know.
[Heidi] I do, I do now.
[Phil] The second time was on a mission trip to Mexico and nobody could understand a word I was saying anyway. So my third time ever really preaching was at this a little church in the fall of 1999. I’m just really a young cop and just trying to fill in one Sunday. I thought it’d be one and done. But Heidi, they asked me to do it again the next week, and then they asked me to do it again the next week. And to my amazement, they asked me to fill in till we found somebody full time—until we found a real preacher, you might say. And four months later they called me to be their pastor. And in March of 2000 I went to bed a cop, I woke up a pastor and that was—going on 20 years ago. It’s hard to believe now.
[Heidi] Wow, that’s amazing. And you weren’t just, you really weren’t just a any old cop. You are a swat officer, right? A did I read right that you got the 1997 Swat Officer of the year award? That’s like, that’s no joke.
[Phil] So myself and our squad was awarded the 1997 National Tactical Officer of the year award and we had saved a woman who had been taken hostage by her estranged husband. And it was kind of one of those moments you train for that you’re never really sure will happen. But really one of those moments you see in the movies, it really was one of those moments where—it was going down. And all the times that we trained and trained and trained, this is the moment of truth. We knew that life and death things in the balance and—the good guys won that day. Sadly, the bad guy lost his life. But that’s why we were awarded that and several other awards. A 1997 gold award for valor from local news station here. I don’t take any credit for any of that either. Being a cop, especially squad cop, is very much a team concept, but you know—all of that prepared me for ministry. The ultimate team is the body of Christ. Moving together against an adversary that we can see is very much like moving with a group of men you can see against an enemy, physically. There’s so many parallels. And what I couldn’t have imagined is that God was preparing me in a very unique way for ministry, Heidi.
[Heidi] Well, and I am listening to you talk about that—and you stole my segway Phil, thanks a lot. Because I was listening to you talk about this and I was thinking—oh my goodness, here’s the Lord. He had got you out there and you can see a physical enemy in front of you. You got teammates around you, you guys know you’ve got a partner thing going on, and then he takes you, really out of the frying pan and into the fire. Because you know as well as I do, and a lot of our listeners are very much aware, that the enemy that the apostle Paul talks about in Ephesians 6 is very, very real. And you wrote about this in your book, Defeating the Enemy. And I just think it’s so fascinating because you’ve got a very unique perspective as a police officer seeing the real evil that’s out in the world. And yet the Lord has brought you into the church—and now you’re fighting, you’re helping to equip other people to fight the spiritual battle. What’s the biggest threat that you see to the church right now as it relates to the spiritual battle that we’re fighting?
[Phil] Well, the biggest threat, I think Heidi, is not the persecution from without. What Satan could not do over the course of generations, through outward persecution, he is succeeding in doing through inner corruption, erosion, and deception. The number one enemy the church faces is not on the outside—it’s on the inside.
[Phil] 80% of American churches do not believe the Word of God is without error, or infallible—as in perfect, or God breathed, God inspired. So consequently, we live at a time where the average church, and the average clergy, has a cut and paste theology. And with that cut and paste theology comes a water down, anemic Christianity. A. W. Tozer said— in most churches, if the gospel were poison, it wouldn’t kill anybody. And if it were medicine, it wouldn’t cure anybody, right? There’s the problem. Are your watered down anemic Christianity. Because we don’t take the Word of God seriously. So consequently we are easy, easy, pray to the adversary. And that’s why I am so passionate about this. And I wrote this book because, you know, you see these terms in the New Testament. Like Jesus said—I came to give them life and they can have it more abundantly. 2 Corinthians 3:17, where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 2:14—He always causes us to live triumphantly. 1 Corinthians 15—thanks be to God who gives us the victory.
So here are the adjectives the New Testament describes that ought to be the normal Christian life: life abundantly, victoriously, triumphantly, liberty. Jesus said—I came to set you free. But yet so many Christians live in mediocrity, if not complete slavery. So I noticed this pattern after being in the ministry for years, where is the abundant life? That’s the name of our church John 10:10—the abundant life. Why are we living the abundant life? Why are so many Christians living at best in mediocrity or inconsistent victory? And in some cases complete captivity, addiction, depression—you know, prison, in terms of sin and these invisible bars that they live behind. And so, I was moved finally to write this book. And for a long time I thought—you know what? What do I have to say that hadn’t already been said? I realize I do have something to say, maybe in a new way from a perspective of a guy that spent years in law enforcement that might really help connect some dots for people so that they can live out practically the victory that Jesus won for us at calvary. This is more than theology. This is more than just a theory. People really can appropriate it daily. And that’s what I want to help people do, Heidi.
[Heidi] Yeah, and it’s so true. You know, we talk about living a life that’s abundant and we know because the Bible teaches us that we have an adversary and he comes to kill and steal and destroy. But we see God’s people living in captivity to sin. And in many ways the culture is now celebrating it. Part of, and you and I’ve talked about this before, but part of my frustration with the church out there at large is that we have done exactly what you’re observing—which is to step away from the authority in the inerrancy of Scripture. So I’m gonna to ask you really quickly, because I know there are a lot of people listening to this right now who are like—why does it matter? So what, you read the Word and you think,—maybe God, maybe that’s allegory. Maybe God didn’t really mean that. Or maybe the culture has changed. The Guy didn’t mean what He said about homosexuality. This book was written a long time ago. Why is it so important that we do what God asks? And that is to take His Word at face value, to believe that it is inerrant and inspired Word of God. Why is it so important?
[Phil] Well, it really comes down to who will we believe—the world is one thing, God another thing. So who will we believe knows best about our lives? And I would suggest that we can see this if people pay attention to the facts. And we live in an age where feelings always trump facts. People make purely emotionally based decisions. And God made us emotional creatures, like emotions aren’t bad, but we’ve never been called to check our brains either. The prophet Isaiah said—come now, let us reason together.
So here’s the rational, reasonable facts that we live in today: teenagers and 20 something suicides at an all time high. For the first time ever in American history, the life expectancy of the average American has gone down instead of up. And the reason why is that more and more younger people are committing suicide. They’re lowering the average life expectancy. Not only do you see soaring rates of suicide, you see soaring rates of STDs among American teens, soaring rates of unwanted pregnancies. You see increasing numbers of broken families, broken hearts, broken. Depression is an absolute epidemic among America’s young people. You can ask anybody in the counseling industry.
So here we live in a society that says—oh, we’re in the light and we are finally free from those ancient, antiquated, moral values taught in the Bible. Yet the interesting thing is we’re not free. We’re a society going in captivity—captivity to suicide, depression, addiction. We’re the most addicted generation in all of American history. Everybody knows about the opioid epidemic. Yet here we have a generation that’s the most addicted generation in history, a generation where there are more suicides than any other generation history, a generation with more depression than any other generation in history. So clearly we’re not a people getting free—we are people going to the captivity.
[Heidi] Yeah, that’s exactly right. I read the other day that on average, millennials spend six and a half hours a day on social media. And that they are regarding themselves as one of the most lost and the most lonely generations in history. And yet we have a church, in its effort to become relevant, we’ve ditched the thing that makes us relevant—which is the hope that comes from knowing Jesus.
[Phil] Yes, this is the social sciences. This isn’t preacher rhetoric, preacher propaganda. This is the social scientists who are saying this, Heidi. This is the data. And so consequently, you can look directly at the churches lack of voice, a prophetic voice speaking into the culture with the Word of God that never changes. I’m the same yesterday, today and forever. God knows best about what makes people healthy and happy. And the simple reality is that when we stop pursuing a life that is holy, we will soon quit healthy. And we cannot live happy. If you try to live a life that’s happy, apart from being holy, you’ll be neither holy nor happy.
We live in an age where people want to be happy, but they don’t want to be holy. And so consequently, we’re neither holy nor happy. Hey, we’re at society going into anarchy. It’s a state of anarchy—where there is no authority. We’ve abandoned God’s absolute authority. And so consequently, even the church is anarchy and there lays the problem. As the church goes, so goes the nation.
[Heidi] So here’s a great question for you because I know there are lots of people listening that are in your neck of the woods. And if you are listening, and you’re anywhere near a Kansas City, Missouri— Lee’s Summit area— you gotta check it out. You got to go visit Abundant Life. I live near Portland, Oregon. But if I lived there, I’d be all over checking out Abundant Life. But Phil, for the people who are listening to this, and there are thousands of them, who are saying—okay, I don’t even know how to find a good church. How can I know that the place that I’m going is going to be giving me the truth of God’s word? When you direct people to churches, what are some ways that you can help them find a healthy, a biblically sound, church?
[Phil] Well, there’s two things you should look at it. Kind of your litmus test, your metric for—is this a biblical church? It’s the mission and the message. A lot of people look at all the peripheral issues. I don’t like this church because of the music, or I like this church because I love the music, or I love this church because they have an awesome kids program, or I don’t like this church because they don’t have anything from my teenagers. Those are all issues that you should consider, but their are two issues you should really consider.
One, do they have the right mission? The mission of the church is: make disciples. Matthew 28, Jesus gave us the mission it hasn’t changed. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations [Matthew 28:19], beginning with the neighborhood. So Acts 1:8 not just do it globally, take it locally. And so is there a real vision to strategically advance the gospel to all nations beginning with our neighbors. All right.
Then the second thing is the message. Is this really just a church for, you know, maybe a pep rally on Sunday morning? A little motivational speaking, with maybe a Bible verse sprinkled in? Or is it truly a church that is founded on the Word of God, where people are learning not just principles from the Bible, but they’re actually learning the Bible? There’s a difference between preaching the Bible and teaching principles from the Bible like it’s a success seminar. And there’s a place for that, I’m not saying that’s completely wrong—I’m simply saying it won’t take long. If you go four or five times, you’ll figure out if this church is serious about the Word of God, or if they just say it.
[Phil] And the key thing is that you gotta be serious about it. We believe it really is God’s revelation to every generation, every man, every woman—for all time.
[Heidi] And it does not change.
[Phil] It doesn’t change. God hasn’t changed His mind about anything He has ever said. He’s never changed His mind. Now we got to put it in a cultural context. We have to put in the context of 21st century America to apply it to our lives. But, in terms of the doctrinal teaching, the moral values as it pertains to—you know, human sexuality, and marriage, and the sanctity of life, and the theology related to who God is and who we are—it hasn’t changed. God has not changed His mind about anything He’s ever said.
[Heidi] That’s right. And I, I have observed as I travel, you know, I travel for a living and I have been privileged to be in many churches over the years. And something I’m noticing as I traveled the nation is that people are hungry for truth. They are starving for it. They’re not getting it in their churches. We’re not even gettingæreally so many Christian authors that I know, they’ve kind of gone off the theological deep end. And what they’re doing is they’re trying, through the lens of Christianity, to give people emotional answers for what a spiritual problem really is though. So the root is a spiritual problem and we’re giving people all these emotional answers. And a good church, and something I love about what you’ve been doing for all these many years now in Lee’s Summit— is to say: no, there is a spiritual answer for your problem that the problem is spiritual in nature. And a good church is going to do that, right?
[Phil] Absolutely. And I think part of the problem is a lot of pastors think that, you know, if we don’t somehow make the truth more palatable to our generation—people won’t come. Well, here’s the reality: the truth is what sets people free. The truth is what changes lives. Jesus said: you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.. If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed. So here’s the reality. The one thing that has the power to radically truly transform a person’s life is the one thing a lot of pastors are unwilling to fully release–because we’re afraid it’s going to be offensive or we’re afraid it’s going to be divisive. Here’s reality, the truth does divide. They crucify Jesus. They crucified the Christ.
Yes, not Everybody is going to come to the truth, embrace the truth. Yet the reality is it draws more than it repels because people want to be where lives are being transformed. I talked to a pastor of a mainline denomination that has dying in America, and he said—we know the numbers, we have already run the data. We know by the year 2050, if something doesn’t change already, nomination will die. We are losing membership. We’re dying off. The young people are leaving. And he wanted to ask me because of the growth of our church, about methodology, models, and philosophy. I said— no, you’re asking the wrong questions. The problem is theology. See, this denomination many years ago had abandoned the Bible as an absolute inerrant Word of God. So they now have a cut and paste theology. And I said— look, why would young people stay when what you’re teaching them it’s not true? We need to tell them what to believe in, not what to believe not in. There’s the issue.
We have hundreds and hundreds of millennials, and twenty somethings, that are at our church every single week. And it’s because they have a cause they believe in, and most importantly, their life has been radically changed by Jesus. Yet the problem is we have a church in American now that denies the power, still having that form of godliness… and Paul prophesied it. It’s like 2 Timothy 3:5— have the form of godliness. We go through the rituals, and the routine, and the weekend motion of going to church. But the power of God has gone because we let go of the Word of God. When you have been in the Word of God, the Spirit of God abandons you. And now you have dead religion. That’s all it is. It can’t give life.
[Heidi] It’s powerful. It’s a powerful truth. And parents, especially raising kids in the culture right now need to know that. I think so often, you know, we’re drawn to the flashy. And like you were just saying, you know—does it have a great children’s program? Does it have amazing music? Do we have a fog machine that’s working? And if we don’t really know the mission and the message of the church, which is, it should be synced up with the mission and the message of Jesus, right? That’s what we’re trying to do. And that’s what sets people free.
Phil, when we talk about your book, Defeating the Enemy— and I know you’ve got a new one coming out next year, which I’m really excited about because I love that you’re equipping people to understand, to really understand what’s happening around them, the spiritual battles that we’re facing. We often think it’s a flesh and blood enemy, right? We can look at a people group, we can look at an ideology that’s being pushed in the culture—but behind that ideology is always the adversary, right? If it’s an ideology that opposes God, then it’s the adversary. And when people are thinking about learning spiritual warfare, understanding how they can defeat the enemy, I guess a good question for you— because you’ve written about this extensively is— why is it so important for us as believers to know and understand the enemy’s tactics?
[Phil] Yeah, so Amos said my people suffer for lack of knowledge. You’ve heard the old saying— knowledge is power. People that lack knowledge, lack power. We don’t know our enemy. One of the things I learned on the police part many years ago as a swat cop—before we would ever serve a search warrant, we might do surveillance for days, maybe even weeks. We would watch the criminal element. We would learn their moves and only once we learn their moves did we make our move. And that’s a critical element of warfare, whether physical or spiritual. You’ve got to know your adversary, you’ve got to know their strategy. And so consequently I wrote the book Defeating the Enemy. What is intel on the adversary. It’s intelligence gathering. And here’s the reality, in 2 Corinthians 2:11 the Apostle Paul said: we’re not ignorant of his devices, lest Satan take advantage of us.
Now here’s the point. Satan takes advantage of many of us because we are ignorant of his devices, but Paul’s point there is we don’t have to be because we have the Word of God to tell us the enemy moves. So his strategy has not changed since Genesis 3. He used the same strategy on you and me that he used on Eve at the tree. He attacks through lies. He attracts through lust. It’s a three step process and you can trace this in Genesis 3 as he attached Eve. First he disguised his appearance, then he distorts man’s mind, and then he deceives with lies.
And so we have a society that has believed the lies of the enemy. Consequently, the lies of the enemy is what takes us into captivity. Any area of your life where you’re captive to something—is a lie that you believed somewhere along the way.
Jesus said he [Satan] is a liar and the father of lies. When you believe the lie of an enemy, you will go into captivity. Now here’s what Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 10:3— though we walk in the flesh, we don’t war according to the flesh. What he was saying is— listen, our warfare is not physical, it’s spiritual. Your real issue, if you’re an alcoholic, it’s not the alcohol. Your real issue if you’re a meth addict, is not methamphetamine. Your real issue, if you’re addicted to nicotine, is not cigarette. Those are symptoms and Satan loves you to fight against the wrong front. You got to get to the root of the issue, and that is the bondage that we’re trying to overcome through physical solutions, when what we need is not behavior modification—I’m going to try harder to do better—we need a work the Holy Spirit inner transformation, and that’s what Jesus can do. If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.
[Heidi] That’s exactly right. I praise the Lord for what you’re saying because I think more people— I wish, I wish everybody in the world could hear this because it is the truth of the gospel, it’s the message of Jesus that sets people free. And I’m always telling people, listen— you got to know your adversary. You got to study. Because believe me, if you haven’t studied him, he is studying you. He knows what your weaknesses are. He knows exactly how to get to you. And Jesus said— I came to give you abundant life.
I know that you’ve talked about this before, but really briefly, you know, if there’s somebody who’s listening to this today and they’re like— man, I just don’t know. I don’t know if it’s possible. My life is so screwed up. I’ve been walking from the Lord for so long and I tried for that abundant life at one point, and it just seemed too—it eluded me, I couldn’t find it. Is it possible to live—and I know what you’re going to say, but I just want listeners to hear it, —to live that abundant life that God has promised in His Word?
[Phil] Well, absolutely possible. And I want to encourage, and maybe hopefully give a little hope to somebody out there. But I was probably one of the most screwed up people, anybody had ever met. I know it’s possible, not just from the authority of God’s Word, but personal experience, Heidi. I know where I’ve been in life. I know the self destructive patterns of behavior that I was establishing early on in my life. And had Jesus not intersected my life—I know today I would be an alcoholic, I’d be an addict. That was the path I was following. I would probably be a repeater cheater. I was going down a pathway of sexual addiction as a young adult. I know how people end up at that destination because I was going that direction–and Jesus changed everything.
Now here’s what people need to remember: This is not a one and done. People think it’s a quick fix. No, here’s what happens. Jesus heals you instantly, but then you need to be healed daily. He set you free instantly, but then you need to stay free daily. And so it is a process. People need to know that healing is as much of a journey as it is a destiny. And so people often, quite frankly, quit too soon. They want it to be easy because we live in a time of society where we want to take a pill to lose weight. We don’t actually want to work out or change the way we eat. We want a six figure income, now.
[Heidi] Right. We want our best life—now.
[Phil] The best life is what Paul called the crucified life, alright? So if you want to live the abundant life, what it means is the crucified life. And that’s not coming to dying, that’s coming to die. And that’s the key. That’s the paradox. It’s not a life of suppression, rather a life of submission. I want to suppress my sin. I want to manage my sin, Heidi, ike I manage my dandelion problem at my house. Mow ‘em over–yeah, looks good for a few days and I can manage it for a little bit, but eventually the weeds pop up again. I didn’t get to the root of the problem, did I? I got to get below the surface and only Jesus can do that. And that comes not by suppression, but a life of submission.
And here’s the reality. We can live a life of liberty 2 Corinthians 3: 17, but liberty and authority go hand in hand. To the degree I’m submitted to Christ’s authority is the degree I’m going to walk daily in that liberty.
[Heidi] So powerful. It’s so good. For everyone who’s listening and they’re, they’re thinking— all right, so Phil wrote this book, Defeating the Enemy. You know, Heidi ready, she talks about it. Why should somebody consider a reading? Who’s the person that you’re trying to reach with Defeating the Enemy?
[Phil] Well, men and women. It’s really a book for any Christian that wants to live in all the promises and all the power that the New Testament promises us—I’ve come to give you life and have it more abundantly. Why aren’t more people living that way? So it’s learning practically how to take this theology and live it out daily. That’s really the goal of the book. We talk about the theology of Satan, where he came from, what does he want, why are we at war? And then the last half is really a practical handbook on warfare—understanding the enemy and understanding myself. What people have to know is that Satan crafts the bait he knows you’re apt to take because he knows the brokenness of your life. All right?
Jesus quoted in Luke 4 from the Isaiah Scroll. He said— the Spirit of the Lord God has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives. And I want you to notice the order here. First he says— I’ve got to bind up your broken heart. Then He comes to set the captives free. And so what we need to learn is that my bondage is related to my brokenness. That broken heart inside of all of us, broken by the sin committed by us or sin committed against us. Satan knows that brokenness, and then he crafts the bait based on our area of brokenness—as we call it today, baggage.
He knows the baggage that we brought with us into adulthood from our childhood. And we started picking up those lies early on in life. The lie that you believed the earliest is the lie that you believe the longest. I dealt with deep sin. Here I was a division one football player. I was big man on campus. I’m the kid walking around the high school with all these patches on my letter jacket. Everybody would’ve thought—Phil is this popular kid. He’s the school jock, division one athlete. I was full of insecurity. I was full of anxiety about my masculinity. As a young man I was full of feelings of being unworthy because of the rejection I had endured on these adolescent and teeny bopper relationships that are deeply impacted.
[Phil] It was a soul wound. And so consequently, because of this brokenness, Satan knew that the bait I was apt to take, and I began pursuing women as their young man—and seeking their affirmation. And treating that broken masculinity inside of me by their attention. Now that is the beginning of sexual addiction. And I know it personally. I know what drives me into pornography or into affair—it is not the sex, it is the emotional fix, right? Satan knows that too, he knows it better than you. So he crafts the bait specifically for you based on your brokenness, then that becomes your bondage. So there’s the prison.
So what did Jesus say? First, I need to heal your broken heart and then I can set you free from your bondage. And see, we try to get set free from our bondage before we deal with the brokenness in our heart. That is why most of the time counseling doesn’t work…12 step programs, behavior modification, self reformation, another new year’s resolution. No. You’ve got to get to the heart of the problem. In the heart of the problem is the human heart.
[Heidi] Yeah. I’m sitting here, like I always do when I listen to you— I can’t write fast enough, so I have to go back and listen to this again. You have so encouraged us. We’ve gotten a little bit over today, but I want to just encourage listeners today. I want to, I will link back to a Phil’s book, Defeating the Enemy, in the show notes today. You can find Phil’s church—if you’re anywhere near a Lee’s Summit, Kansas City, Missouri. You can find them at AbundantLifeLs.com, right? Is that right? And then Phil, you have a website too. Is it PhilHopper.org.
[Phil] Yeah, so yeah. So PhilHopper.org.
[Heidi] Phil, you are a treasure to the Lord and to His people and I’m so grateful for you taking the time to come on here and reach out to my audience and just encourage them that they can have victory and it comes from Jesus. Thank you so much for coming here. I appreciate it.
[Phil] God bless you Heidi.
[Heidi] Thank you. For more information on Abundant Life check them at AbundantLifeLs.com and I will link back to it in the show notes. If you’re driving, you know, don’t pull off the side of the road. I will link back to this in the show notes like I always do. You can go to HeidiSt.John.com/podcast. These show notes are now being transcribed and the Scripture Writing Challenge is being translated into Spanish now. So if you’re interested in digging deeper into the Word of God with me at MomStrong International, or you want to know more about the Word of God, about Phil’s message and my message– it is the same, and that is there is hope and freedom in Jesus. So I hope you guys have been encouraged today and I hope you’ll dig into the Word of God with us.
I also want to give a big shout out to our sponsor today and I know that summer is finally here. Amen. Amen. Amen. But for those of you who are thinking about fall curriculum and fall classes, we are excited because here at the podcast we have partnered with The Kingdom Code and you guys, I gotta tell you—they have an awesome course for students ages nine to 13 that I think you are going to love.
The Kingdom Code provides parents with easy to follow lessons that include a separate teacher’s guide, worksheets, assessments, flashcards, activities, extra bonus activities, and a system to reward your kids as they progress through the lessons. The course is for families, not just for homeschoolers, and The Kingdom Code’s goal is to empower Christian students with life lessons that will empower them to be the leaders in whatever profession they choose. So if you guys want more information, visit TheKingdomCode.com/Heidi and you guys will get a coupon for free samples and 10% off your entire purchase. So remember, it’s that TheKingdomCode.com/Heidi.
Thanks for listening everybody, I’ll see you back here on Monday.
Write to Heidi:
Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
Support this ministry by donating through E-giving. You can also send donations to: 1100 NE34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682