We Are at War
To be at war is to have a struggle. There have been, there are now, and there will be wars throughout the earth, but those are not what I am referring to. I am referring to Christians being at war:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
As is the case with any war, there are two sides, and they are diametrically opposed to one another. Jesus Christ, who is not only the only begotten Son of God, but who is also the only provision that God has made for the forgiveness of sin, stated His position succinctly:
“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters. (Luke 11:23)
If people do not accept Jesus Christ into their hearts as LORD and Messiah, Savior and King, believing in His shed blood for the free pardon of their sin, they do so at catastrophic peril to themselves… for the wrath of God against the unrepentant is certain:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29)
God is loving… God is also just (italic emphases mine):
For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
And I will stretch out my hand against them and make the land a desolate waste from the desert to Diblah – wherever they live. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’ “ (Ezekiel 7:14)
“Prepare chains, because the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of violence. I will bring the most wicked of the nations to take possession of their houses; I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated. When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders. The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 7:23-27)
Jesus Christ told the multitudes of the absolute power of God, yet also of God’s beneficence:
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:4-7)
It should comfort everyone who reads the Good News of Jesus Christ that God the Father is in every moment of time: past, present and future, as well as in every dimension that we are not aware of and cannot see or comprehend. When we in awe consider by the God-given intelligence that we have that God the Father knows everything about every creature small and great, and that all of our days are already numbered in His sight, we infer that He has a plan for us that has been in place even before the foundations of the earth were laid, as attested to in Holy Scripture:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
I mentioned that we who are Christians are at war… the 12th chapter of the book of Revelation speaks to the war that we are engaged in (italic emphases mine):
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring – those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. (Revelation 12:1-17)
The woman described is the Church (Israel first, then the Gentile Church), who gives birth to the Promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, while the red dragon described is the evil one: thus was set the Kingdom of God against the kingdom of evil, and war broke out in heaven with the result being the evil one and a third part of the host of heaven being cast down to the earth in defeat. Note that the dragon ‘… went off to wage war…’ against those who keep God’s commands and believe on the One He has sent: the Lord Jesus Christ. We as the believing saints of God will be locked in this deadly combat until Jesus Christ returns in His glory to bring the holy, just, pure and righteous judgment of God upon an unbelieving world.
So what do we as God’s precious and dearly beloved saints need to do in this war?
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Understand that the moment you place your faith in Jesus Christ, the evil one will come against you… and he will not stop his attacks, because his desire is to kill and destroy. He hates you because you are created in God’s image, and he will do all that he can do to ensure your demise. Fear not… when it comes to the evil one and his demons, Holy Scripture gives us comfort and strength:
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
We have God. We cannot be defeated!
However, there are those who say ‘God could not be tempted because He was perfect… I am human and fallible. How then can God understand what I am facing?’ Don’t let this attitude separate you from the love and forgiveness of God, because God knows exactly what you are facing: His own Son Jesus Christ came in the flesh, and He was sorely tempted by the evil one:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.”If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ” ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Learn two critically important truths from this record of the temptation of Jesus Christ:
1) Jesus rebuked the evil one with the ‘sword of the Spirit’ (spoken of in Ephesians 6:17)… the Word of God.
We as Christians must be in the Word of God constantly, and we must know it thoroughly. It is our weapon against all evil!
2) When Jesus rebuked the evil one with the Word of God, the evil one left Him.
When armed with the Word of God, we have authority over the evil one.
We further see from Holy Scripture that God is faithful; He will not abandon those who trust in Him:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
The ‘way out’ is knowledge of the Word of God, and total trust in the One that God has sent to offer salvation to all:
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
The book of Hebrews has powerful testimony regarding Jesus Christ as the High Priest of His people… one who can actually help us in our weakness (italic emphases mine):
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-18)
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Now that we know that we as Christians are at war with the forces of evil, and now that we know what our armor and weapons are and how to use them, understand this:
THERE ARE NO FENCE-SITTERS. THERE IS NO ‘NO-MAN’S’ LAND.
Everyone in this battle is either for God or against God.
“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8-9)
God desires us to be fully reconciled to Him, made able to stand before His Son in the Day of Judgment as blameless because we have placed our faith in the One that God has sent, and have asked to be covered in the blood of Jesus Christ for the free pardon of our sins:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
Those who reject the free gift of salvation by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross will spend an eternity in the lake of fire, therefore Holy Scripture warns everyone in a sober fashion (italic emphases mine):
As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
Therefore, let your proclamation to the world be this (italic emphasis mine):
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15)