They were two tough men – one who served in the Marines who was still in excellent physical condition at mid-life – the other a guy in his 20’s who worked hard every day with a frame that was solid muscle. They started with arm wrestling at a church picnic. The ‘contest’ became serious when they stood up. Moments later these two men were on the ground fighting. It went on for a few minutes until they got up, shook hands, and laughed in spite of dirt on their clothes, scrapes on their arms, and blood on their faces. They were just ‘having fun.’ I don’t care for that kind of fighting, never have! If you want to mix it up with me in verbal jousting; I’m good for that. I’ll ‘fight’ with you in the realms of ideas and enjoy the encounter.
The idea of fighting and following Jesus strikes most of us as being incompatible. Christians are to be peaceful people, right? Yes, we are. It is a mistake to think that we have to take on every person or institution with whom we disagree, struggling for power, waging a war of destruction. We are, however, living at cross purposes with the world in which we live. Christians are at war, though not with other people. The real enemy is the Evil that is real, that is persistent, that threatens what is of God and good. So, how do we fight that evil?
The Scripture teaches this about the nature of the battle. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV) We do not need to buy guns and bullets to fight for the right! We do not need to build political parties or create bigger blocks of voters to force change in public policy that align with Christian values.
Our fight is for Truth, our weapons are spiritual. With the Truth about life, about God, about ourselves; we encounter the ‘father of lies’ and his power is neutralized. The transformation starts personally, in me, in you, then moves from us to our sphere of influence. Jesus says this – “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NLT)
The war that is waged against God and those who love Him centers on selling big lies. Apart from the Spirit’s revealing the truth we believe the ‘natural fact’ that life is about ME, that happiness is found in unrestricted Self-expression, that real wealth is about having more things, that pleasure is largely sensual … and more. In the Creation story, when the devil approached Eve, he offered her an alternative to God’s truth. She believed it as did Adam and you know the rest of the story. He still uses this strategy. Jesus rips away his mask telling us that – he” has always hated the truth. There is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44, NLT)
Love, self-sacrificial serving, grace, peace – these are the powerful weapons that defeat evil. If we are not ‘in Christ,’ if we have not been made alive by the Holy Spirit, the idea that evil in all it’s terrible power can be defeated with love seems to be quite stupid! But, it is actually the wisdom of God. IF you do not ‘get it,’ then go to the Lord in humble prayer and ask Him to give you the mind of Christ. It is not arrogance nor exclusivity to which I speak. It is receiving, by God’s grace, a new set of eyes that see past the natural world.
That is why Paul was inspired with these words – “People who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means. We who have the Spirit understand these things, but others can’t understand us at all. How could they? For, “Who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who can give him counsel?” But we can understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16, NLT)
Jesus powerfully reveals the path of resistance to evil for each of us. “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it.’ But I say, don’t resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too. If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.” (Matthew 5:38-42, NLT)
That’s God’s wisdom! Christians do not fight with ever escalating armed encounters. We live in the Truth, secure in the love of God, convinced of eternity, and lead others to the Light. It sounds simple but I assure you it is not. The love is costly. It took Jesus to the Cross!
Feeling like you are under siege in our world? Me, too. Sin abounds. Evil seems to be winning. But, I have read the whole Book and I know the end of the story. God wins and Heaven awaits the faithful.
Here is a word from the Word. John, in the Revelation, heard Jesus say, “Do not seal up the prophetic words you have written, for the time is near. Let the one who is doing wrong continue to do wrong; the one who is vile, continue to be vile; the one who is good, continue to do good; and the one who is holy, continue in holiness.”
“See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life.” (Revelation 22:10-15, NLT)
Steady on, in faith, hope, and love – ‘and the greatest of these is love.’
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
Keith Getty | Stuart Townend © 2001 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055