A Spiritual War is All Around Us, so Get in the Fight
There is no escaping war. Our church has the privilege of being strategically located with one of the largest joint military bases in the United States in our front yard and the United States Naval Academy in our backyard. Members of our church work in every branch of the armed forces, at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill, in the FBI, for the NSA, and for just about every other alphabet soup government agency you can think of. Half of our church serves in the military, and another significant portion of our church serves as defense contractors for the military. One thing I have learned very quickly is that war is everywhere, and its consequences are deadly and devastating. Whether it is cultures that are clashing, a nation that is invading, an insurrection that is occurring, or genocide that is happening, war is a part of our lives and our worlds whenever we turn on the television, scroll through social media, or just open our front door.
However, the greatest battle with the most significant consequences doesn’t happen “out there” (in the world), but “in here” (in our own hearts). As believers, pastors, staff members, elders, and church planters, we have found ourselves the last few years walking through a perpetual mine field where issues such as COVID-19, masking, vaccines, racial tensions, political hostilities, and so much more threaten to explode with our every step injuring many with sin’s shrapnel. Reality is though, the ultimate spiritual battlefield as believers is in our hearts and our minds and not on the streets of our community or the seats in our churches.
Reality is though, the ultimate spiritual battlefield as believers is in our hearts and our minds and not on the streets of our community or the seats in our churches.
Paul teaches us in Ephesians 6 that we must understand and embrace the reality that life is war. Whether we want to or not, we all find ourselves on the battlefield of everyday life. The battlefield of how we treat our spouse when we are offended, how we respond to conflict at work, how we respond to adversity, what we choose as our source of satisfaction, how we steward our resources, what we pursue with our lives, where we seek our peace, where we source our hope, and so much more. Since life is war, what are we to do? God’s Word teaches that we are not called to run from the fight, but rather stand firm in the fight. We are not called to flee from the battlefield, but to fight faithfully on the battlefield empowered and emboldened by the reality that we do not fight for victory but fight confidently from victory. Jesus has won the war (1 Corinthians 15:54b-58), but we need to get in the fight of our daily spiritual battles. Embracing the battle begins with choosing to get off the sidelines. Here are three ways that the Bible teaches us to fight from victory.
Identify Your True Enemy
Paul declares, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” [mc4wp_form id="838"](Ephesians 6:10-12). You can’t begin to fight the enemy until you properly identify the enemy. A reality of our spiritual battles is that our true enemy is Satan. Satan’s language is lying (John 8:44) and his delight is devouring (1 Peter 5:8). He wants to turn us on ourselves and create a civil war instead of us fighting this cosmic war together in Christ.
Fighting from victory means seeing others with the perspective of Gospel centrality and choosing to love them unconditionally...
Where currently are you viewing that constant critic as your enemy instead of seeing them with same perspective as Christ? Where are you viewing your spouse as the antagonist instead of loving them like our Savior loves us? Where are you viewing your boss or co-worker as your obstacle instead of seeing and seizing the gospel opportunity? Fighting from victory means seeing others with the perspective of Gospel centrality and choosing to love them unconditionally which allows you to experience God’s peace continually as you watch God work powerfully.
Armor Up Daily
Paul doesn’t deny the difficulty or the hostility of the world as he teaches us the reality that even in the face of such adversity, we can stand faithfully. Paul writes, “Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:13-17a). These past few years have been extraordinarily overwhelming and exhausting. Friends, in the middle of it all, thank you for withstanding when you wanted to withdraw, and thank you for persevering every time you thought about quitting. The armor of God, and the power of God, empower us to stand when our flesh tells us to run. However, the key is we need to put on the whole armor of God, not just some of it or none of it to stand successfully and to endure.
However, the key is we need to put on the whole armor of God, not just some of it or none of it to stand successfully and to endure.
The armor of God is the undeniable truth of the Gospel of God. The reality is though, many of us have left ourselves vulnerable in battle because we have stopped covering ourselves daily in the gospel. The first person we need to preach the gospel to each day is ourselves. What parts of your armor are in your closet and not on your body right now? If your mind is racing, you need to be renewing it in God’s truth (Romans 12:2). The darts of our adversary are flaming, but our Deliverer is conquering so let’s keep believing.
Swing Your Sword Courageously
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. The good news for us in our daily battles is that God provides us with the best weapon of all time, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17b). The Greek word that Paul uses for “word” here is not the written word of God, but rather the spoken word of God. That means that the way we fight our battles is to proclaim God’s promises into our problems, to claim God’s character in every one of our circumstances, and to herald God’s life-changing truth into our trouble-filled world. Our hurting world needs the hope of the Gospel, and we are called and commissioned to share it boldly, lovingly, courageously, accurately, and patiently.
We must stand firm as God’s hope-heralding witnesses to a hurting and hostile world.
God’s Word equips us for battle (2 Timothy 3:16-17), God’s Word empowers us for battle (2 Timothy 4:1-5), and God’s Word emboldens us for battle (Ephesians 6:18-20). Where have you allowed the lies of Satan to hold you hostage from living in the victory that Christ purchased for you, and living out the mission that Christ has commissioned you? We are called to be in the world but not of the world, and we are called to be in God’s Word as we are in the world. We must stand firm as God’s hope-heralding witnesses to a hurting and hostile world.
We are not here to deny the world’s hostility, but to declare Christ’s victory faithfully. May we choose today to no longer live as captives to the world but to get in the fight as conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37). As you identify your true enemy, armor up daily, and swing your sword courageously, you are equipped powerfully to embrace your God-given and Christ-purchased freedom, and live confidently on your deployment here on earth as an ambassador for Christ in our dark world that desperately needs the life-changing light of Christ.
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