Are you facing a battle?
Date Published: 01 / 25 / 2022 |
“We do not wrestle against flesh and blood…”
-The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:11
What interpersonal conflicts are you facing? What are the main frustrations and hindrances in your life? What is the source of these conflicts? What weighs you down? What negative thoughts and emotions crowd out your joy?
We could easily say: “It is a fallen world so…” or “The sin within me is the problem so…,” or “Those other humans are the problem,” or “My family of origin is the problem" or “I just have bad luck and I never get a break, ” or “God is against me,” or whatever else we might be telling ourself or hearing inside our head. At some level, any or all of these things could be a problem for us. But none of these things are the ultimate problem.
The Christian life is lived inside a spiritual battle.
God has redeemed you, your sins are forgiven, and the Holy Spirit is opening your eyes, but there is still tension. Some days are brutal.
God’s Word tells us that the battle we face is spiritual. There are fallen angels (demons) that work against the Christian in the spiritual realm. Temptations, accusations, irrational feelings and thoughts, lies and mass deception are all the work of the Devil. The Devil is without a doubt working to sever or fracture our relationships with other Christians and drive us to a point of exasperation and misplaced conflict. The Devil plays on our vulnerabilities. He is an opportunist. He is looking for the chinks in our armor to exploit them. He then turns around and shames and guilts us in an attempt to leave us defeated. I also believe that the devil has both a short term strategy against us and a long term play that he is setting up for years. And then “boom,” one day we destroy our life.
So what can we do?
How do we stand against fallen angels with far more power, experience, and malevolence than we can possibly imagine?
How do we battle without getting destroyed? The answer is the same for the seasoned pastor, the church member or one of the kids from Small SoulsTM. The answer to this battle, like other battles, is defense and offense.
Defense: Picture yourself standing inside the armor of Christ. It is his own armor that he places on you. He owns and earned the armor for you. Ephesians 6 describes this armor as your protection that you access by faith. Included in the armor is a belt of Jesus’ truth - your only weapon against lies and a breastplate of Christ’s perfect and full righteousness that cover the unrighteousness of your guilt and shame. You walk in the shoes of His gospel, which has made peace with you. The helmet of salvation will protect your mind from the constant lies of the devil. All of this armor will also come with a shield of faith. Active belief in Christ (you believe with your will) and the effectiveness of the armor he gives you to wear, protects you from evil.
Offense: You are given two offensive weapons to accompany your armor. The Sword and the Spirit. The Sword is the Word of God. The Word of God has two components: visible and audible.
The visible words are known as Baptism and Communion. Baptism is a dunk into spiritual safety. You are now immersed into the church, which is the group on earth that is being freed from the schemes of the Devil. Baptism is a declaration of spiritual warfare and protection. Communion is the continual nourishment of the soldier in Christ. His body and blood continue to proclaim forgiveness and love over you like an ancient war banner.
Then, of course, there are the Scriptures. This helps you to see the story in which you find yourself. In this story, you are reminded every Sunday, under the preaching of the Word (the audible component), that you belong to the King who has won it all. Here in the Scripture he talks with you, directs you, affirms you and sends you.
And finally, “praying in the Spirit.” This is about constantly maintaining contact with home base. Pray all day about your life and your encounters. Confess, forgive, calm yourself, and turn to the one who will get you through.
Don’t be afraid. He has won the war.