Wednesday, April 23, 2008

FIGHING SPIRITUAL BATTLES




Every day, the Christian who desires to please the Lord in all that he or she does (1 Corinthians 10:31) will encounter opposition from the enemies of God. Notice that I use enemy in its plural form, for we have more than one. Scripture reminds us of the hosts of spiritual forces confronting the believer: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We face opponents who are not only a threat in numbers, but by their very nature. Flesh and blood would be more than enough to contend with, but an unseen, immaterial opponent is all the more dangerous. As spirit-beings (fallen angels) they are undetected and their assaults come without any advance notification. I liken them to a physical virus that brings a sudden illness upon our mortal bodies without warning. How did we contract it? From where did it come? Seemingly out of nowhere, yet the evidence of its appearance in our flesh cannot be denied. We can also ascertain from Scripture that the legions of darkness are very experienced in the art of warfare, with a superior intelligence that subjects their victims to a vast array of effective tactics, mentioned in Scripture as “the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). In addition to this, we know that Satan’s minions can operate at lightning-speed without growing weary; they are deathless, organized in ranks, and unified in their wicked purposes.

Thankfully, the Lord has not left his embattled children ill-prepared. One of the great warriors of the Christian faith, the apostle Paul, outlined the Christian’s strategy for victory in the book of Ephesians (6:11-18). Each combatant must be fully clothed with the spiritual armour that God has provided. No part can be missing. Vigilance is the watchword of the hour in days that are evil (Ephesians 5:16) because Satan will never let up in his desire to ruin the testimony of those who have been washed in the blood of Christ. He is as persistent as the day is long and a very determined foe. Jesus told Peter that Satan desired “to sift [him] as wheat” (Luke 22:31). The prince of darkness hates the holy character of God, despises all the wonders He has done, and fights foolishly onward as if he could overthrow what the Lord of Glory has willed for the consummation of all things in heaven and upon the earth. He knows that he himself will be caught up in the scope of God’s final judgments and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Surely the thought of endless torment and the ignominy of defeat is motivation enough to compel him onward in a relentless campaign against all that is good, true, and worthy of praise. Although the fierceness of the foe may seem daunting, the saints of God need never fear, suffer discouragement or sound the trumpet of retreat. God’s grace always prevails because Christ has prevailed. In His temptation in the wilderness, in His sufferings on the cross, and in His resurrection from the grave, Jesus has proven that He is the all-powerful, all-sovereign King of Kings. It is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, not the roaring lion Satan, “who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22). Thus, when we reflect on the armour of God more deeply, we see it is none other than Christ Himself, in the fullness of His power, who is being made available to us:
“Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). Certainly, every child of God can be “more than [a] conqueror through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
I will conclude with this thought: Abiding in Christ is the surest way for a Christian to find refuge, rest, and resources for resisting the devil and putting him to flight (James 4:7). "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8).

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).


Pastor Tom