Preaching‎ > ‎>SERMON COLLECTIONS‎ > ‎

Powers of Darkness

Powers of Darkness is a strong original series where the primary source material comes from Clinton Arnold's book: Powers of Darkness. It takes courage and years in ministry before most of us are ready to preach this content to a modern congregation. Indeed, I sidestepped it for 17 years before deciding that I simply must help our people understand it. So I prayed about it and sought the advice of some Christian college professors. My friend Dr. Dean Flemming, a classmate of Clinton Arnold at Aberdeen, suggested his book to me. I found it incredibly helpful for building a theological and biblical understanding. The rest comes from my experience pastoring a multi-congregational church with many first-generation Christian parishioners from families with long histories in ancestor and other pagan worship traditions.

While the full series is four weeks long, I once needed to preach the central concepts in a single sermon. So, on this posting you will find both the 4-sermon series and also the 1-sermon version.

Lectionary preachers: There is no perfect place in the calendar to connect all 4 of these sermons to 4 consecutive lectionary weeks. However, it's easy to use any 1 of the sermons to a single week in the lectionary calendar, and then interrupt the surrounding weeks to preach the rest of the series. In my case, I connected it to the 2009 schedule for B Proper 13-16 because the final sermon in the series uses the epistle scripture for B Proper 16.

If you are looking for fresh material on this challenging subject, you will find it in this series.

The Powers of Darkness (a 4-sermon series)

1. Jesus and the Powers of Darkness

Mark 1.21-28, Mark 5.1-20, Mark 9.14-27, Luke 4:18-19

Thesis: Satan and his army of demons exist, but Jesus is more powerful than these, and Jesus empowers his people to win the battle with darkness.

This sermon begins with an overview of the pagan influences and religions of the first century. It moves on to Jesus defending himself during the temptation in the wilderness, and then scriptures of Jesus taking the offensive against the Powers. Later, the sermon moves to Jesus' teaching about the Powers.  

Lectionary connections: 

  • B 4Epiphany (Mar 1)
  • C 3Epiphany (Luk 4)
  • C Proper 7 (Mar 5 / Luk 8.26-39)

2. Paul and the Powers of Darkness

1 Cor 2:6-8, Col 1:13-14, Col 2:15

Thesis: God’s call is to subordinate our citizenship in the kingdoms of this world to our citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

After a quick summary of the first sermon, this one asserts that the Apostle Paul is just as interested in the Powers of Darkness as Jesus. Indeed, his assignment to carry the gospel to the Gentile world makes this an especially important topic for Paul, as it is for us. The sermon contains a lot of scripture showing Paul's emphasis on living as citizens of the Kingdom instead of being so absorbed into the kingdoms of this world. The sermon finishes with a call for the modern Christians to live in this same fashion.

Lectionary connections: 

  • A 5Epiphany (1 Cor 2)
  • C Proper 10 or C Reign of Christ (Col 1) 
  • C Proper 17 (Col 2) 

3. The Believers and the Powers of Darkness

Ephesians 2:1-3

Thesis: Christians need not fear the Powers of Darkness because we live in an intimate relationship with the Lord who already defeated these powers.

This third sermon is about the first-century believers and the Powers of Darkness. The first major section deals with a believer living "in Christ" and simultaneously in proximity to the Powers of Darkness. The other major block uncovers Paul's teaching about Satan's three interconnected strategies to derail Christ-followers: 

  1. The World... "the ways of this world."
  2. The Devil... "the ruler of the kingdom of the air."
  3. The Flesh... "the cravings of our sinful nature."

Lectionary connection: B 4Lent

4. Dealing with the Powers of Darkness Today

Ephesians 6.10-19  

Thesis: Our success against the Powers of Darkness depends on scripture and prayer.  

This sermon begins by asserting that the Powers of Darkness are not just some Christian myth that we can ignore in modern times. To make this point I include two stories from my pastoral ministry that illustrate how the Lord helped me deal with the Powers of Darkness. I also provide a Powers of Darkness Scripture List to use as a resource for yourself or as a handout to your congregation. Or, of course, you can provide the URL to your congregation. The sermon closes by unpacking the Ephesians 6 "armor of God" passage.

Lectionary connection: B Proper 16. (In my case, I preached this series on Year B for Sundays Proper 13-16 because this fourth sermon's text is the Ephesians passage for B Proper16. But on this page I've provided the other lectionary connections for all the sermons in case you want to find another place in the calendar to fit this series.)  

The Powers of Darkness - (a 1-sermon option)

Paul, the Powers, and the Kingdom

1 Corinthians 2.1-16, Matthew 5.13-16

Thesis: Despite the powers of darkness in our world, God calls and empowers followers of Jesus to live as citizens of God’s Kingdom even while residing at postal addresses in the kingdom of this world.  

This sermon integrates material from the 2nd sermon in Powers of Darkness Series and the Kingdom of God concepts in the Alternate Life series. This one begins by describing the ancestor worship that is so prevalent among the Asian families of New Life Church. These people are well-educated professionals working in technology, who come from families practicing ancestor worship. It follows this with the two stories from the fourth sermon above. These are the stories that illustrate how the Lord helped me deal with the Powers of Darkness. When preaching this sermon, I also provide the Powers of Darkness Scripture List as a handout. 

The sermon moves to some teaching about Jesus and the Powers, uses the Kingdom of God icon on the intro PowerPoint slide to describe the Fellowship of Believers that is at the core of every local church, and then circles back to some integrate Paul's teaching about the Powers and the Kingdom of God.

This is a very strong sermon, but it is a bit on the long side. Still, if you simply must address this topic in one sermon this is a powerful way to do it.

(Page edited by Grammarly)

To learn about or subscribe to email or RSS feeds from this website, click on IsbellOnline News.