IT’S ALL-OUT WAR
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:10-12).
O, what a mess we have made of this Scripture! Paul has taken pains, in all his letters, to ensure that his readers understand one thing. We can do absolutely nothing to save ourselves. All our religious activities including rituals and rule-keeping, even strict adherence to the laws of Moses, impress God not one little bit. He swept it all aside as useless and ineffective to deal with the barrier of sin that separates us from Him.
There was only one effective solution to deal with sin – the death of a perfect human being. Since none on earth could be found, He sent His own Son, born of a woman, to take the place of sinful humanity and to die a death He did not deserve to die in the place of sinners.
The death of Jesus dealt not only with our sin; it also dealt with the enemy who was responsible for luring the first pair into disobedience to God’s one requirement. The devil won the first round by deceiving the woman into mistrusting the love of God. She fell for his lie and dragged her husband into disobeying God’s instruction not to go the route of independence from Him.
Jesus exposed his modus operandi and beat him at his own game by dying as a sinless man in perfect obedience to His Father’s will. He cancelled the debt of sin which the human race owed Him, took back the spoils of war, His children, and gave us the power and the freedom to stand firm against the devil in the truth of what He has done.
The problem is that we (and by this I mean the church in the main, led by those who have superimposed their own ideas on God’s Word), have fouled up Paul’s understanding and instruction about conducting this on-going war. We still have the tendency to want to make a contribution to this life we are called to live as followers of Jesus in spite of the fact the He said, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing.’ We have invented our own way of conducting “war” against the enemy.
Firstly, we have misunderstood the site of the battle. We believe that we must fight the devil in our circumstances. When life throws us a curve ball, we immediately blame the devil and take up arms against him. We “resist” him by speaking into the air, as though he is omnipresent just as God is. From where does this idea come? Satan is a created being, not the evil counterpart of God. We “take authority” over him. Where do we find anyone in Scripture doing that? Did Jesus “take authority” over the devil? No! He spoke the truth of the Word.
To make our warfare more effective, so we think, we must “identify the principalities and powers”. We have to know who they are so that we can address them by name. Where are they? In the heavenly realms. We must, therefore, “pull them down” to break their power over countries and regions. We must find out what the “altars” are to which people give allegiance. What a lot of responsibility God has given us to conduct the ongoing war against the devil and his minions!. It we don’t, God can’t save the people in those areas from their sin!
Another round of victory for the devil! Another huge distractor to keep us from dealing with the real issues! Since when does God give the church the responsibility to “fight” the devil in the world? Yes, we do have a ruthless enemy! Yes, we are in a constant state of war which many parts of the church have forgotten, but we are fighting the battle where the devil and his legions are not even bothered about.
Secondly, the real war is going on, not out there among the pagans but in our minds. Jesus is taking back the spoils of war. He is winning the willing allegiance of those who believe in Him. He is extending His kingdom, one person at a time, on earth by revealing the truth about God, about us and about His victory over the devil on the cross and by restoring those who believe in Him to His family.
Satan hates what Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is doing. He works hard to win back those who have recognised the truth, by attempting to reintroduce his lies, to discredit God and deceive His children into doubting His love and goodness and defecting to the enemy once more.
We live in a world which has been thoroughly corrupted by sin. Believers are subject to the same hardships and suffering everyone else in the world goes through. Being children of God is no guarantee that we will escape the effects of sin on this planet. Unbelievers hold God responsible for not intervening. Satan loves to blame God, to undermine His character and to lure God’s children into judging Him and even, if possible, deceiving them enough to lure them back into their old independent ways of thinking and behaving.
People in the world do not have to fight the devil. He already has them in his clutches. Paul is addressing the children of God. We are the ones who need to understand Satan’s strategy and beat him at his own game. Yes, we have a powerful and ruthless unseen enemy. He is clever and subtle and he has no rules but, as Paul triumphantly declared, “We are not ignorant of his devices.” Jesus exposed him and his lies.
Our job is not to fight what we think he is doing to us but to call his bluff! More tomorrow.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com