War is a common theme throughout the scriptures. It starts all the way back in Genesis, and then you see wars pop up all throughout the Old Testament. The imagery and warning of wars continues throughout the New Testament.
Ephesians 6 might be the greatest example, where Paul urges the Ephesian church to put on the entire armor of God as they fight against the Spiritual forces of darkness.
As God often does, He used the physical, material war to illustrate an even greater war waging in the spiritual realm, where Satan, our flesh, and the world fight against the powers of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Paul and others pick up on this, and they urge their churches to fight by equipping themselves.
Do you realize you're at war? Or are you living like it's peace time? Are you complacent?
Here are some signs that you might be complacent to the spiritual battle:
- Response to your own sin is minimal
- Easily drawn to entertainment instead of time with Jesus
- The gospel becomes less important
- Excuse the "respectable sins" because "everybody does it, even Christians" (i.e. stealing soda from the McDonald's by asking for a water cup and then getting soda, or illegal downloading of music)
- Getting mad at friends/other Christians for sharing the Gospel because it's awkward and don't want to upset others or be embarrassed
Ever been there? The enemy's best tactic to keep us from fighting the war is to convince us that there is no actual war to be fought. Fighting for lost souls instead becomes less important as a person's feelings (Ephesians 2 mentions that we were dead in our trespasses and sins! What's worse, feelings getting hurt, or someone staying eternally dead!) Fighting against sin, which enslaves our souls and lead us to death (Romans 6:23, Genesis 4:7), is treated as just a simple bad habit. Rather than the Gospel being the most important news in our very lives, the gospel becomes less central to our lives and we fail to see life through the lens of it and the scriptures.
How do we see that we are at war? Here are a couple of practical things I'm learning:
Be in relationship with Jesus! --> Find true refuge in your savior, and ask Him to show you His heart through prayer and His word!
Know that the War is won! --> On the cross, Jesus said it is finished. God's victory is secured through the Gospel!
Find Joy in fighting the battles --> As we fight to live for Christ, God continues to transform us like Him. So though we may go through hard trials, find joy in the fact that you and I are becoming more like Jesus as we press into Him. He will perfect us and make us more holy (Philippians 1:6)
Cling to the Gospel --> It's easy to want to give up. You don't want to see sin as bad. You don't want to believe people are going to hell without Jesus. You don't want to have to struggle that we are more messed up than we ever knew. But God sent Jesus when we were at our worst! (Romans 5:8). It allows us to cling to the truth that while we are worse than we could ever imagine, God gave Jesus up so that He could transform us, and bring hope to eternally dead people by making them eternally alive. There is hope, and we know that more will come to see Jesus as Lord and Savior, and there will be a final victory against sin, satan, and death. It's guaranteed by Christ.
In His Grace,
PS: Check out Andy Cimbala's Blog The Relentless Fight, which is devoted to fighting the lifelong fight of faith.