Always at War

*Posted by Joe Wooddell

Believers are always at war, and the enemy is personal: Satan (the devil) and his demons. We also fight against worldly influences (the world) and our own sinful nature (the flesh), but Satan is the father of it all, the father of lies (Jn. 8:44), always prowling about like a lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8). I am not looking for a demon behind every bush: a demon of lust, alcohol, or anger, for example. It is true, however, that our battle ultimately is not against other people, but against the rulers, powers, and forces of darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). Our weapons, therefore, are not primarily physical but spiritual, divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses (2 Cor. 10:4). The battles take place primarily in the mind, and we fight them by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Battles are also fought with prayer (Mt. 9:29), study (being transformed by renewing our minds; Rom. 12:1-2), and other spiritual disciplines (silence, solitude, worship, celebration, etc. See Richard Fosters CelebrationofDiscipline). Of course, when evil ideas take root in society, believers should work to overcome those forces with godly, biblical ideas, and this means action: getting involved in society, in the world, and changing it for the better (i.e. being salt and light; Mt. 5:13-14).

Every second of every day takes on new significance when we begin to see our lives through this lens of spirituality or eternality. There is no secular/sacred divide. All of life is sacred. Every activity is potentially an act of worship. I can, in my leisure time, watch the NFL playoffs to the glory of God. I can eat a pizza (or at least a few slices of one), teach a philosophy class, read Narnia, take a walk, exercise, work on an assembly line making widgets, kiss my wife, hug my children, thank the waiter at a restaurant, fix my broken dryer, and any other (non-sinful) activity, thought, or word to the glory of God, as an act of worship. I can eat or drink to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). In word or deed I can do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col. 3:17), doing my work heartily, as for the Lord (Col. 3:23). I can give thanks in everything (1 Thes. 5:18) and pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17). For what or whom can I pray? Personally, I pray every day over my family, for very specific things: their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, and for opportunities for ministry. We should pray for kings and all in authority (1 Tim. 2:2). We may pray for favor with bosses, colleagues, and subordinates. We may pray that we dont get ripped off at the auto repair shop, or that we wont rip people off if we own one of those shops. We should pray for the salvation of family and friends (Rom. 10:1). Every time we are tempted to worry we should pray instead (Phil. 4:6). I have never forgotten what my college pastor (Rob Jackson) used to say: use worry as a prompter to pray.

Nearly everyone wants to be part of something big and dramatic. This is why we love Superbowls, national championships, great novels and films, Beethovens ninth and Dvoks NewWorld symphonies, why we ache inside when we watch William Wallace free Scotland or Oscar Schindler free Jews, why some people join the CIA, the Navy Seals, or become UFC fighters, and why others enjoy true stories about such persons. Believers, however, should remember that their lives are more inspiring, important, and dramatic than any earthly drama. Your intentional decision to avoid a lustful glance is a crushing blow to the enemy. When you say an encouraging, loving word to your less than perfect husband, Satan hates it and Gods Kingdom is advanced. When you wake up a few minutes early, or stay up a few minutes late, in order to read your Bible and pray for your family, friends, church, country, and missionaries around the world, you become a significant, supporting actor in Gods grand narrative, of which Jesus is the Star.

The holidays are over, winter is setting in, and many are going back to work or school dreading how dull and insignificant it all seems. If this is you and you are a believer, take heart! Change your perspective. Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror reminding yourself that you are part of the greatest story ever, that your contribution matters even if no one ever realizes it, and that after a short or long life of faithful service, Jesus will welcome you into His eternal rest as He smiles and announces well done good and faithful servant (Mt. 25:21). Such a mindset and such actions demonstrate that you are fighting well, and that you are seeking a city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:10), that you are a stranger and exile on the earth, that you desire a heavenly country, and that God is not ashamed to be called your God (Heb. 11:13-16).

Recommended reading: C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

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