War and Peace
A great paradox as we live the life of faith in Jesus Christ is that of the existence of both war and peace. Because we have been forgiven and delivered from our past sinful lives we have peace with God and within ourselves. We have a wonderful sense of security and well-being in the knowledge of God’s love for us.
On the other hand, we are told that we have an enemy that would stop at nothing to destroy that peaceful relationship with God. He is very good at what he does, for he has been at it for quite a long time. He is sometimes called the devil or satan. The title devil comes from a Greek word that means slanderer, while satan is from a Hebrew word meaning opposer or adversary. Why our Lord permits this enemy to exist is known only to Him. It could be that we need the challenge for our spiritual growth. What ever the reason the fact remains, we have a powerful and cunning enemy.
As recipients of God’s love and grace we are given certain responsibilities to both protect ourselves and continue to bless and glorify our heavenly Father. We are warned by the apostles in their New Testament writings of the dangers our enemy presents and how to face them. The battle we face is commonly known as “spiritual warfare.”
In one sense we are already overcomers because the victory has already been won on our behalf by Christ. However, simple observation of Biblical history, church history, and present experience reveals that many sincere believers, whose salvation is secure in Christ, have fallen in their testimony for Christ.
My question for us all is, are we satisfied to have an eternal destiny in heaven secured, but uncaring for the testimony we have for Him now in this life? Do we not love Him such that we care enough to bring glory and honor to Him in this life? Should not our love for Him also extend to the rest of humanity, where many desperately need to see His love demonstrated by our living witness?
Here we come to the plan and purpose of our enemy. It is to hinder the plan and purpose God has for us.
God’s plan from the beginning was for us to bear His image, to take responsibility for His creation and to be fruitful and to multiply, thereby increasing His glory in the earth. We do this by loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and by loving our neighbor as ourselves.
The simplest, most basic description of the enemy’s goal is to prevent us from loving God and one another. He has several methods, but this will always be his goal. When we fail in love, we fall short of bringing God the glory he desires, and fail to live in full victory.
One of his very successful tricks is to convince us that if we have few bad habits, attend church regularly, and perform the correct rituals, we are doing just great. Then we might give little attention to the condition of our hearts. We can secretly harbor bitterness, jealousy, resentfulness, and even hate, without realizing that the devil has had his way with us!
Jesus exposed this trick when He distilled all of God’s laws into one principle: love. Love is the litmus test for true spirituality.
So even if the devil appeals to our human weaknesses, and tempts us to lust after things that harm us and others, the end result is the loss of love. Can a person who is obsessed with power, money, possessions have time to truly love God with all of his or her heart? Can a person who lusts after another’s spouse have truly loving thoughts for them and their families? Can someone who steals from or murders another be living in love? How about the one who ridicules another individual because of their shape, size or skin color?
If we look around, it is not difficult to find confessing believers in Christ who have become distracted from the love of God in Christ, and have chased after things that bring not glory but shame to the name of Jesus.
So we are here to answer the higher call of God in Christ! We not only want to receive eternal salvation but to bear His image before the world! We want to also enjoy the bliss of His love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith and self control, and to share these blessings with others!
The first step is to understand the nature of the battle. The next step is to engage in the battle. In this our victory is assured, for God is on our side when we are on HIs side!
He has given us powerful weapons. (Ephesians 6:10-20) These weapons are not to be used against people, but against those spiritual forces that work against the love of God that is within us. Because our minds are under constant attack, we must be diligent in our search for God’s wisdom and understanding, and get our strength from the knowledge of His Word.
The belt that supports our armor is Truth. it was a lie in the beginning that caused the loss of paradise. It is always the lie. Why else would the enemy be called a slanderer and deceiver? So we can only stand in the truth. Every other foundation is doomed.
This is about the reality of our problem, and the solution the God granted in Christ. Only a perfect sinless man could take upon Himself the debt we owe for our sins by His death on the Cross. This is the Truth that makes us free! We believe Him, and not the lie of the devil who accuses us and wants to keep us as slaves to sin! We have been set free by Christ’s death, ressurection and the Holy Spirit within us Who empowers us to live and love like Christ!
His Righteousness is our Breastplate over our hearts. Even though we might fail, we trust in His righteousness alone. When we succeed in loving we will not forget that it is always of Him, Who has saved us from ourselves.
It is equally important that we walk in the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom. Our feet are protected as we go forward in the battle telling the Good News to others. In this the devil is defeated because it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes!
Without the Shield of Faith we can become extremely vulnerable. The enemy will constantly challenge us to doubt the goodness and trustworthiness of our Heavenly Father. Our commitment to the fact that He has already proven His love for us will protect us from these accusations against the love of God.
The Helmet of Salvation keeps us from forgetting the wonderful Grace of God we have received. It keeps our minds filled with thoughts of love and gratitude instead of resentfulness and complaints.
By the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God we cut down falsehood and continue to live in the confidence of what He has done for us and in us. We are More Than Conquerors through Him! Even when we feel weak and our emotions begin to take us downward, the Word of God strikes down the thoughts of failure and disobedience. His Word we have hidden in our hearts so that we will NOT sin against Him!
The last weapon in Paul’s teaching is prayer in the Holy Spirit for ourselves and one another. We both build up ourselves through prayer in the Spirit and one another. After all, it is only by the power of the Spirit that we overcome the weaknesses of our flesh. Anyone who tells you that your fleshly weaknesses are greater than the Spirit’s power is wrong. We can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us!