Not many of us today remember what it was like to live during the Second World war, especially not many of those reading (or writing) this. I certainly don't, I wasn't even a whisper of a person then. Despite having no memory of it, I've gleaned what I can from those who lived around that time to get a sense of what it was like.
So, what does this spiritual warfare look like then? It begins with the accurate realization of the spiritual and impending eternal state of the world we live in and of the people who live in it. This realization ought to bring about action that is distinguished by the following characteristics:
|Ephesians 6:10-20 "Put on the Whole Armor of God"|
Remembering the Past
Whenever I hear veterans or the elderly talk about their lives during the Great Wars, I always notice something. Something subtle, but altogether striking. The way they speak about their experience sends the clear message that time that they were born in and grew up in was one vastly different than our own. I see a sort detached puzzlement in their eyes at the current state of affairs, like we really have no idea as to what we have before us. In the US we are blessed to be free from war within our own borders, free from the draft, and free from the total transformation of a nation into a holistic war effort that was necessary to secure victory. Frankly, we can "go to war" and the only people that really go are the soldiers. We enjoy a freedom, among countless others, that many people will never enjoy; we enjoy insulation. Insulation from the reality of war and strife around us. One of the results of this freedom can sometimes be laxity. I think that this mindset is held by many leaders in the church and by countless Christians, especially in the US.
The Fact of the Matter
If you're a Christian, a follower of Christ who has been redeemed by His blood, then there's an inherent problem with this mindset. In fact, the reality is that you've been drafted into an Army, and a heavenly one at that.
If you, Christian, are indeed in Christ, you have been drafted. You have been predestined, called, conformed, justified, glorified, and are being sanctified (Romans 12:2, Romans 8:30, Ephesians 4:1). And yet, despite this reality, we live in a way that does not reflect the urgency of the times or our true nature as those redeemed in Christ. Too often do we embrace the peacetime mentality that leads to laziness and a lack of zeal for the Gospel. We in effect become silent soldiers, useless in waging war.
Roles, Goals, and Tolls
Soldiers never go into a fight without first understanding their roles, their goals, and the possible tolls (at least, those soldiers who want to live). When one's life is on the line, it becomes exceptionally important to know what might endanger that life. Similarly, as Christians we ought to know what our plan of action is, what our roles, goals, and tolls are. We need to understand what sort of warfare we are called to engage in.
Our role: Each of us needs to know what ministry God has called us to, and to do that to the best of our ability. This includes church-specific ministry as well as what God has called us to do vocationally. Furthermore, we need to know how we can best witness and share the Gospel within these roles. The Gospel is
Our Goal: Our ultimate goal is to fulfill the great commandment and commission; to love God and to share the Gospel. These goals are completely unattainable without the proper commander, namely our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without His atoning blood, we're not even fighting for God. In fact, the situation is far more dire than that: apart from Christ we are enemies of God.
The Tolls: If we really believe what Scripture says about the exclusivity of Christ and the reality of Heaven and Hell, then ought to be deeply and urgently motivated to share the Gospel. The casualties of the Great Spiritual War that is the central drama of human history are permanent, eternal fatalities. If someone doesn't hear and accept the Gospel before they die, they are lost forever. The reality that millions upon millions of people share this fate should spur us to compassionate, drastic action.
-Radical focus on God and His complete sovereignty; there is no fear that Satan will win this war, for it is already won. Spiritual warfare is not a fight against the demons of the world, but rather a war against unbelief, fleshly desires, and weak faith. Demons may come, but Christ will uphold us. They fight a lost war and we one victorious already.
-Radical faith and fear in and of God. Know that God is sovereign over everything everywhere and that He is working all things for the good of those who He has called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). It has been noted that soldiers are their bravest when they truly have nothing to fear; we, Christians, are the only ones who can truly claim this to be true. No fear in life, no sting in death. Christ won, we cannot lose.
-Understanding the Urgency of the Time. If we really look at each person as one with an eternal state that they might enter into at any moment, we would be much less bashful about sharing the Gospel with them and much more urgent that they come to know its sweetness.
In closing, it is my hope and prayer that you, Christian, consider reality: people need to hear that Gospel, we need to share it. We are all moments away from eternity, and today really is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Believer and unbeliever alike ought to read the text below and wake up: either to Christ or to the reality that we have been called to.
Ephesians 5:14–16 (ESV)
14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
m“Awake, O sleeper,
and narise from the dead,
and oChrist will shine on you.”
15 pLook carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 pmaking the best use of the time, because qthe days are evil.