“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. 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.” Ephesians 6:10–13
WE LIVE IN A WORLD AT WAR. We sing hymns like Soldiers of Christ, Arise! (Wesley) and O Church, Arise (Getty/Townend)—battle cries that echo the words of Paul to the Ephesians. But for the most part, our church gatherings feel more like a warm, friendly family gathering at Cracker Barrel than a battle rally. The most dangerous threat the church senses is the leaning tower of communion trays. Otherwise, it’s all smiles, hugs, and warm greetings. I love Sunday gatherings at my home church, and I am so thankful for peace. But I need to be reminded—we are at war.
“Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not,” said Aragorn, to a king who had succumbed to the poison of apathy. Our battle is spiritual; it is beyond this earthly realm. The scripture gives us glimpses of great battles raging in heavenly places. But for our part, the battleground is our hearts and minds; at stake is our souls.
The battle is different for everyone, and yet, much the same. At times we struggle with our personal faith; other times marriage, parenting, extended family issues, work, finances, thoughts, bad habits, compulsive behaviors, addictions, abuse, fear, anxiety, depression, disease, death, loss, and loneliness. All of the pain and struggles we face are but manifestations of the battle we fight daily. We are under attack, and we are all of us wounded.
Before sin, the world was at peace. Even man and animals lived in harmony. All that God created was very good, but sin brought death and destruction. We live in a fallen world, the battlefield of life. Some days are better than others. Sometimes we feel that we are on top and winning easily. Other days it is as though the weight of the world is piled upon us, and we are pinned beneath the carnage.
God is relentlessly fighting to save and restore what has been broken; broken, but not entirely lost. God made man in his own image, the crown jewel of all creation. His eternal purpose is echoed in his covenant; he wants to be our God and us his people—he desires relationship. Satan is working relentlessly to alienate man from God. He has only to deceive, corrupt, discourage, or cause to doubt.
We must be relentless in our pursuit of relationship with God and other Christians. Too many Christians are being taken out by the battle without a fight. Men are literally being mowed down by the pervasiveness of sensuality, a direct attack against the spiritual leaders of our homes and culture. The enemy is strategic. Yet, in a morning mens devotional, one of my friends once said he doesn’t really feel that he is in a battle. Dangerous, and perhaps not all that uncommon. But for those of us who have learned to discern and engage the enemy, we see the casualties all around us. We know what is at stake. It is time for the people of God to go down to the battle lines in faith and fight with courage.
Soldiers of Christ, Arise
And put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Thru His beloved Son.
CHARLES WESLEY (1742)