“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)
Last month, just prior to returning to college for her senior year, my daughter completed a Summer Dance Intensive with Ad Deum Dance Company. Part of the week was spent in dance electives which each student chose according to their interests. One afternoon, my daughter chose a class on stage combat. Now, if you happen to know my daughter, she is a petite little thing: barely five foot, one inch tall, and a redhead. Most people don’t think of her and combat in the same sentence. So, when she told me that she was going to take this class that afternoon, I had visions of her walking around on the stage with swords and guns almost as big as she is; a visual that had me laughing.
That evening, as she was explaining to me how much fun the class had been, and what they had done, it was clear that what she had learned that day had applications to her dance career and, by extension, her life.
This has direct applications to our Christian lives as well. Each day, we are in a spiritual battle. We may understand that intellectually, but most Christians live out each day by trying to “play nice in the sandbox.” We are taught from pulpits and publications that we are love everyone and be tolerant and accepting of all, as if Biblical standards of behavior have somehow allowed us to be neutral.
There are only two kingdoms in this world: God’s Kingdom (good) and Satan’s kingdom (evil). Everything that we know and experience, flows out of one of these two kingdoms. There is no neutral ground, there are no exceptions, and as my husband would say: “There are no grey areas.” G.K. Chesterton has said: “Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.” It is that “excusable” part that gets us into so much trouble.
We have a real adversary in this life:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV)
To think that we can placate or ignore this enemy and he will go away, is to do so at our own peril. God’s Kingdom ends with life, Satan’s kingdom ends in death. We only get two choices in the matter. There is no acceptable neutrality; no way to straddle the fence.
I think men have an easier time with the concept of fighting and combat than women do. Women are taught to be sweet, kind, loving, thoughtful, submissive, acquiescent, and pliable. The thought of fighting doesn’t seem to correlate too well with these desired feminine virtues. And yet, if you threaten a woman’s child, most mothers will switch into combat mode pretty quickly.
I was well entrenched in maturity when my daughter was born. Her birth was an example of God’s miraculous power–the child no one ever thought we could have. So for me, there were very few things about motherhood that really surprised me. Actually, there was only one thing about motherhood that surprised me. I remember so vividly the day when an overwhelming love for her washed over me. The power of it took my breath away. I had read about it happening, but I wasn’t prepared for the force of it. For some mothers that happens at birth, for some like me who are “late bloomers,” it happens later (Hannah was about thee months old). The end result was the same: I knew that if someone tried to physically hurt my child, they would live to regret it.
So why is it that we think God would leave us defenseless against our enemy, the devil? If we would protect our children from harm, would He not, as our Father, do the same? We teach our children how to deal with the dangers inherent in this life. We teach them how to cross the street safely; we teach them how not to talk to strangers; we teach them how to make wise decisions; we teach them how to stand up for themselves in situations that are harmful to them; we teach them how to protect themselves.
God does the same for us. He gives us the power of His Word and the presence of the Holy Spirit to protect ourselves and fight the evil that runs rampant in this world.
When I was in grade school and junior high school, like many others, I was the recipient of bullying. There were a select few of my classmates who appeared to receive great joy from socially tormenting me. I was taught to ignore them; to walk away, not to give them the satisfaction of a response. I was taught to not fight back.
I wish that I could say this was an effective deterrent. It wasn’t. The mocking, the laughter, and the bullying continued until high school when they moved on to other targets more vulnerable than I was. I did not understand about spiritual warfare. I believed and understood that it wasn’t right to “fight.” I actually learned (although this wasn’t the intended lesson) that to fight and protect myself was somehow wrong. I learned that I just had to take whatever came my way and “live with it.” I internalized a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, but I did learn how to endure.
God does not intend that, as His children, we are left defenseless in this world; at the mercy of whatever the enemy throws at us. He has given us weapons of warfare; a concept most of us are intensely uncomfortable with.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV)
This warfare is not stage combat: the appearance of a fight only. King David was a “man after God’s own heart,” and yet he was a man of war, executing God’s judgement on God’s enemies. This was hardly a “good news bulletin” for the recipients of God’s judgement. David was zealous for the Name of the Lord. King David, were he alive today, would find no shortage of God’s enemies to fight. His weapons of warfare might be different, but the end result would be the same.
Obviously, I am not advocating we take up the physical weapons of warfare and do battle on Main Street, U.S.A. However, we must stop being so passive when it comes to spiritual matters. Satan is the ultimate bully. He is not going to “place nice in the sandbox,” or go away just because we wish it or don’t talk about it. The evidence of the carnage of sin and his destruction in people’s lives is everywhere we look.
Fair warning: if anyone should try to hurt my daughter, you are going to have to come through me first (and my husband as well). God has given her to us to protect until she marries. We take that responsibility seriously.
Why should we believe that God takes His responsibility any less seriously? He does not leave His children without defenses any more than we would leave our children defenseless. He expects that we will take the weapons He has given us and fight the battles that are ours to fight. He expects us to fight for those who are not yet able to fight for themselves. We are to stand in the gap. We are to intercede for them. We are to step into the combat zone with the weapons of war that God has placed in our hands. We are to fight against the evil that comes from the enemy of our souls.
Jesus Christ is both priest and king. As priest, He intercedes continually at the right hand of the Father on our behalf. As king, He is judge over all the earth.
Jesus calls us to stand at His side exhibiting His character: both sides of it. We are to administer His grace, mercy, and love, until the fragrance of Him permeates everything that we touch. We are also to administer His justice and stand against the evil that crosses our path.
Our weapons of war are not guns or knives or swords. Our weapons of war are the Blood of the Lamb, the Word of His Testimony, radical praise, intercessory prayer, abiding faith, obedience, and God’s mercy, grace, and love.
He has called us to have the heart of a warrior.
Will we answer that call?
“You are My battle-ax and weapons of war: for with you I will break the nation in pieces; with you I will destroy kingdoms.” Jeremiah 51:20 (NKJV)
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:8-10 (NKJV)
Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
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