I’ve never been in the military… have never have fought in a physical war. My dad did… he fought in Vietnam… and received the Purple Heart for being wounded. He wasn’t shot, but he took some schrapnel in his shoulder… still has a big scar to show for it. But Pop was anot only physically wounded in Vietnam, he was also wounded emotionally and psychologically. My mom said that for a long time he wasn’t the same after he came home from war. Today, Pop is doing well. I love him with all my heart and I’m very proud of him for all the strides he’s made, but for years he had many struggles… with alcohol and isolation, among other things. He was a quiet man, and likeable… but he was distant.
Wars will take a toll on you… physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
Physical wars are tough… some people never come home from war. But spiritual warfare is probably an even tougher and more devastating type of battle… for several reasons. For one, we’re fighting an invisible enemy. Those who fought in the Vietnam War can attest to the difficulty of this, because the United States military got our rear-ends handed to us, trying to fight an enemy we couldn’t see! Fighting in those jungles was not our type of battle. Secondly, in spiritual warfare, our enemy never takes any time off! In a human battle, you have to sleep sometime, right? Even if your “enemy” is your spouse (which should obviously never be the case, lol), your co-worker, your boss, or whoever… you’re never around that person, essentially, 24 hours a day. They don’t have the physical capabilities to exact around-the-clock devastation on your world. Not so, with the enemy of our souls. He never sleeps, and he’s always looking for ways to get us. Third, the intensity of his warfare is out of control! Listen to what the Bible says:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat…” (Luke 22:31).
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour“ (1 Peter 5:8).
Listen. The moment we crossed the line of faith and trusted in the finished work of Jesus Christ to forgive us of our sins and give us new life, we were in a war. Whether we wanted to be or not. We didn’t have to volunteer; we didn’t have to be drafted. Satan saw our decision to follow Christ, and his ONE M.O. FOR OUR LIVES… HIS ONE PURPOSE FOR US… became to render us ineffective in our service and witness for our Lord. He’s not playing. He’s set to take you out. He doesn’t have to hurt you physically… and he usually doesn’t… because he has so many OTHER weapons: temptation, discouragement, sin and defeat, loneliness, pain and trouble. All these things – especially when they happen one right after another (ask Job) – can take you off your A-game; they can leave you discouraged and unable to move forward… and they can destroy your character, and derail your life!
But God is our Helper and our Refuge, right? Of course, He’d never leave us without a way to defeat our enemy and live a victorious life. So, how do we do it? By going ALL IN!
If we’re going to win, we have to go ALL IN!
Again, let’s look to the Bible, God’s Word to us:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). How do we overcome the devil? By going ALL IN for God!! The apostle James says that we should “submit” to [fully surrender to; set ourselves up under the authority of ] God. Part of our problem in the Christian life is that we don’t submit to God… we don’t fully surrender the reins of our lives… we don’t go ALL IN with God… and we suffer because of it. Then after we submit, James says to “resist” the devil… stand up to him, don’t let him push you around! And he’ll haul tail! Sounds easy enought! But we are in a spiritual battle, right? So, before we resist, there is something else we need to do. The apostle Pauls says we need to:
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against [resist] the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:12). Just as a soldier in the Army or Marines would be foolish to hit the war zone without the proper equipment and weapons, so we as Christians are foolish to live in this spiritual warfare without every day putting on the armor that God provides for us (Eph. 6:13-18). Yet, that’s what we do… all the time… and it’s no wonder that many of us live spiritually defeated lives.
We have to take this battle seriously. Satan does! It’s an ALL OUT spiriual battle… and one in which he is taking no prisoners. The Bible gives us the prescription to defeat the devil and his schemes for our lives. Jesus has ultimately defeated death, hell, and the grave… but until we reach that time where we’ll spend eternity with Jesus with no interference from the enemy, we have to learn to defeat him here on earth. It will not be easy…
If we’re going to win, we have to go…