We Are At War

Author: Bruce Cook

Two very good Christian books that I have read lately stress the point that we are constantly in a spiritual war, a battle for our hearts and our souls. The title of one of the books is Waking The Dead by John Eldridge, The story about the Glory of a heart fully alive. The other book is Peace With God by Billy Graham.

I started gleaning material from these books as well as adding some of my own, because I felt that this material was so good it needed to be addressed as much as possible, realizing that a lot of people, even Christians do not read many books other than their Bibles. I'm not being critical of this, but I would just rather read a good Christian book than watch a lot of television, or when I am spending time waiting somewhere.

John 10:10 tells us that there is a thief. He comes to kill, steal and destroy. The offer is life, but you're going to have to fight for it because there is an enemy in your life with a different agenda, there is something set against us. We are at war.

We're not living in a world of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry or the Cleavers. The world in which we live is a combat zone, a violent clash of kingdoms, a bitter struggle unto death. We were born into a world at war, and you will live all your days in the midst of a great battle, involving all the forces of heaven and hell played out here on earth. Where do you think all of the opposition is coming from? Lurking in the Garden of Eden was an enemy. This mighty angel had once been glorious as well as the captain of the Lord's hosts, beautiful and powerful beyond compare. But he rebelled against his creator, led a great battle against the forces of Heaven, and was cast down, banished from his heavenly home. He was not destroyed but waited for an opportunity to take his revenge. Unable to overthrow the mighty one, he turned his sights on those who bore his image. He lied about where true life was found, and we believed him. We fell, and our glory turned to shame. But God did not abandon us, not by a long shot.

A quick read of the Old Testament will convince you that war is a central theme of God's activity. God goes to war in Exodus to set his captive people free. He rains hail, locusts, darkness, death, plague after plague descends on Egypt. God drowns every last one of the pursuing soldiers in the Red Sea. Exodus 15:3 tells us that the Hebrews standing in shock and joy on the opposite shore proclaimed "The Lord is a warrior."

There was war to get the Promised Land.

Joshua and the battle of Jericho.

War to keep the Promised Land against the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Medonites, the Egyptians, and the Babylonians. Deborah goes to war, Gideon goes to war, King David goes to war, Elijah wars against the prophets of Baal, Jehoshaphat battles the Edomites.

The war did not end with the Old Testament. In Mathew 10:34 Jesus said I did not come to bring peace but a sword. His birth involved another battle in heaven. The birth of Christ was an act of war and invasion. The enemy knew it and tried to kill him as a babe (Math. 2:13). The whole life of Christ was marked by battle and confrontation. He kicks out demons, rebukes fever, rebukes a storm and confronts the Pharisees time and again to set people free from legalism. He wakes the dead, He descends to hell, wrestles the keys of hell and death from satan, and leads a train of captives free in Eph.4:8-9 - Rev.1:18. Rev. 19:11-15 says that when Jesus returns He will come mounted on a steed of war, with His robe dipped in blood, armed for battle.

War is not just one among many themes in the bible. It is the backdrop of the whole story, the content of everything else. God is at war. He is tramping out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored. The glory of God is man man fully alive. Paul says in Eph.6:10-18 to arm yourselves and the first piece of equipment he urges us to don is the belt of truth. We must get some clarity on the battles over our lives. God's intention for us is life, but those intentions are opposed by the enemy. You must fight for your life.

C.S.Lewis wrote the following; “one of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a dark power in the universe-a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the power behind death, disease and sin”.

The difference is that Christianity thinks the dark power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees - The universe is a war.

We must come to terms with war in the context of our days or we will not understand life. We will misinterpret 90 percent of what is happening around us. It's hard for some to believe that God's intention toward us is life abundant. It would seem that we are blowing it. Worse we begin to accept some really awful things about God. Child molestation, ugly divorces tearing families apart, plane crashes that took so many lives. Many people get stuck at some point because God appears to have abandoned them, and they ask why God allows this. I'm sorry but that's not where we are right now. That day is coming later when the lion shall lay down with the lamb and we beat our swords into plowshares. For now it is a bloody battle. Jesus warned that a thief would try to steal, kill and destroy it.

Why then don't we actually think that the thief does come to steal, kill and destroy? We won’t understand life and see what has happened to us or how to live, unless we see that it is a battle. A war against our hearts.

It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages satan. It is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons. The Heart of the enemy is determined to hinder, harm and ruin God's image bearers: The story of your life is the story of a long and brutal assault on your heart by one who knows what you could be, and he fears it.

The devil has more temptations than you can ever imagine. One of his all time favorite disguises is that of a lying spirit, to abuse your tender heart with the worst news he can deliver. That you do not really love Jesus Christ and that you only are pretending and deceiving yourself. John 8:44 calls satan the father of lies. He is a master at this. Starting with Adam and Eve in the garden and the evil one is still lying to us, seeking our agreement every single day. But your heart matters to God.

It becomes the devils business to keep the Christians spirit imprisoned. He knows that believing and justified Christians have been raised out of the grave of his sins and trespasses. This causes satan to work that much harder to keep us bound, gagged and imprisoned in our own grave clothes. If we continue in this kind of bondage he knows that we are no better off than when we were spiritually dead. Be careful when you make agreements with demon forces suggesting things to us, we come under their influence. It is a kind of permission that we give the enemy. The bronze gates start clanging shut around us.

Accusations can actually be spoken by Christians. Satan incited David in 12 Chron. 21:1 when he wasn't watching for it to do his evil. He incited David to take census of Israel. Satan tried to use Peter in Mathew 16:21-23 when he had him take Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him. Jesus turned to Peter and said get behind me satan. Satan’s words can come from anywhere. Satan will suggest all sorts of things, during these assaults remember to make no arguments with him, for he is the greatest debater of all time. Satan realized that he couldn't stop the church. He tried, he arranged to have Jesus killed as a babe. (Mathew 2:16). He tried to seduce Him as a man. He tried to marginalize his message by having the religious establishment discredit him. Finally he had him crucified. It Backfired! Badly. So he turned to a backup plan. If you can't beat em, join em. Infiltrate their ranks dressed as an angel of light. (Gal. 1:8) Then to bring a veil over all that is good and beautiful and true. Take them captive through their own religion. There is and old song titled" Onward Christian Soldiers, Marching As To War. We hardly sing it any more because it's not the musical fashion; we don't sing it because we feel foolish or because it isn’t true. Let me tell you we have surrendered without a fight.

Sin entered the human race in the Garden of Eden and we humans have been trying to get rid of it ever since. Man has been seeking in vain to reverse the curse. 1 John 3:4 says that sin is lawlessness, the transgression of the law of God. God established the boundary between good and evil. When we overstep that boundary we are guilty of intrusion unto the forbidden area of evil whenever we fail to live up to the Ten Commandments, or contrary to the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount. We have transgressed the law of God and are guilty of sin.

If you look at the Ten Commandments one by one, you will note how today mankind is deliberately, it seems, not only breaking them, but glamorizing the breaking, a deliberate attempt to make it attractive to do so.

The bible says that there is a certain pleasure in sin, however it is short lived and fatal. But when you stand alone before almighty God and be judged, that will be the climax of all the loneliness of earth, and but a preview of the loneliness of hell. Hell is the loneliest place in the universe. Hell is separation from God. The loneliest soul of all is the man whose life is steeped in sin. There is a satanic principle involved in all that is happening today. Rev. 12:9 calls him "the old serpent" "the devil" and satan which deceives the whole world. His handy work is seen at every turn and we seem to be standing on the brink of Armageddon.

Satan is a mighty fallen prince, with hosts of fallen angels at his command. He has set up his kingdom here on earth. His power and position here are the very reasons that the scriptures come to be written. Had satan not set himself in opposition to God, there would have been no need for God to send His Son to the cross.

There is modern confusion about the personality of the devil from caricatures of him as a foolish, grotesque creature with horns and a long tail holding a pitchfork in his hand and a feeble minded leer on his face. The truth is that the devil is a creature of vast superior intelligence, a mighty and gifted spirit of infinite resourcefulness. We forget that the devil was perhaps the greatest and most exalted of all God's angels. He was a sublime figure, who decided to use his divine endowments for his own aims instead of Gods. His reasoning is brilliant, his plans ingenious and his logic well nigh irrefutable. God’s mighty adversary is no bungling creature with horns and tail, he is a prince of lofty stature, of unlimited craft and cunning, able to turn every situation to his own advantage. He is unrelenting and cruel. He encourages addictions to gambling, alcohol, sex, drugs, money and power. You hardly realize it, he just creeps in. He is not however all-powerful, omniscient or omnipresent.

We know that the anti Christ will appear and try to ensnare our minds and hearts. The time draws near, the stage is set. The tempo is speeding up and events are moving more swiftly. On every side we see men and women consciously or unconsciously choosing up sides aligning themselves with the devil or with God. It will be a battle to the death, in the truest meaning of the word - a battle that makes no allowances or exceptions.

At this moment in history two mighty trinities stand face to face: The trinity of God (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and the false trinity that satan would have us worship in its place. The trinity of evil (the devil, anti christ and false prophets. Rev. 16:13 says that I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

Always the devil is standing at your side coaxing, threatening and cajoling. And on the other side stands Jesus, the all loving, the all forgiving, waiting for you to turn to Him and ask for His aid, waiting to give you supernatural power to resist the evil one. You belong to one or the other, there isn't a no mans land in between where you can hide.

When you feel helpless in the grip of events that you cannot control, when despair and disappointment overwhelm you. It is in these moments the devil will try to catch you at your weakest point and push you along the path that Adam took. In these moments remember that Christ has not deserted you. Remember 1 John 4:4 "ye are of God" and have overcome them: Because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

It is the evil and distortion within us that keeps us from seeing and experiencing God's perfect world. It is our own sin that blurs the image, and keeps us from being Gods pure children. Paul spoke of this and recognized the dreaded enemy in Romans 7:19. He cried out "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin”.

Two overwhelming adversaries were clearly apparent to Paul and he was acutely aware of being torn between their mighty magnetisms.

1. The power of good pulling his mind and heart towards God.2. The power of evil trying to drag his body down into death and destruction.

Though satan was beaten at the cross by Christ he still has power to influence men for evil. The Bible calls him "the wicked one" "the devil" "a murderer" a liar and the father of lies, "an adversary seeking to devour," "the old serpent" and accuser of our brethren. (Math.13:19) (Luke 4:33) (John 8:44) (Peter 5:8) (Rev. 12:9-10). He will make you feel proud and important, confident of your own powers, ambitions, desires and aims.

On occasion he will put hatred in your heart. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be sober and vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walking about seeking whom he may devour. Eph. 2:2 says that he is a personal devil who controls a host of demonic spirits that attempt to dominate and control human activity, and works in the children of disobedience.

Don't doubt for a moment the existence of the devil! He is very real and extremely clever.Look again at your front page of the newspaper.Switch on your radio or television news commentator.Note TV shows and theater listings.Glance at the magazine stands and bookracks.

In short just look all around you if you need the concrete evidence. Could hearts filled with God's love and goodness conceive and carry out these acts of violence, malice and lust of all sorts? How can we account for all the sufferings that we experience if evil isn't a potent force?

Modern education has, in truth, impeded our minds. Because of scientific findings, some have lost their belief in the supernatural power of satan. While others worship him. We constantly pass up the rich and enabling experiences and seek out the tawdry, the cheap and the degrading. These are the works of the devil, and they flourish on every side. What we see happening here on earth is but a reflection of the far greater struggles between good and evil in the unseen realm. A struggle of infinitely greater magnitude is being waged in the world we cannot see.

Let tragedy or sickness come to us, let us suffer the consequences of our sins, and we immediately blame God for it. We lose sight of the fact that God, like a great master television station, is sending out a perfect image of love and righteousness all the time, and that the faulty reception lies with us.

Satan will tempt you to say unkind and ungenerous things about others, put envy, discontent and malice in your heart, tempt you to lie to make you a hypocrite. To lead Christian friends astray, discourage you, divert you and he will seek to dilute your testimony. Anything to destroy your relationship to Christ and your influence upon others. In 2 Cor. 11:14 Paul warns that satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

Satan greatly misunderstands the breadth of God’s mercy and forgiveness toward those who believe in Him. Satan the accuser will ultimately be destroyed (Rev. 12:10), while everyone who is a believer will be saved. (John 3:16)

Once asked how he overcame the devil, Martin Luther replied, "Well when he comes knocking upon the door of my heart and asks," Who lives here?" The dear Lord Jesus goes to the door and says, Martin Luther used to live here but he has moved out. Now I live here." The devil, seeing the nail prints in His hands, and the pierced side, takes flight immediately.

G. Campbell Morgan says: Our distance from God is that of inability to know and apprehend the near. It is the distance of the blind man from the glory of the picture in front of him. The distance of the deaf man from the beauty of the symphony sounding round about him. It is the distance of the sensate man from all the movement of life in the midst of which he lives.

Billy Graham says in his new book titled "The Journey” the world is not a playground but a battlefield.

The bible says that all the Angels in Heaven rejoice when one sinner repents and comes to the Lord. But don't you think that satan and his demonic angels also rejoice when they can cause one of God’s children to fall back into sin?

Job 1:6 in the translated bible called the Message by Eugene Peterson says that one day when the Angels came to report to God, satan who was the designated accuser, came along with them, God singled out satan and said, " What have you been up to? Satan answered God, "Going here and there, checking out on earth”.

In Gen. 3 after satan had enticed Eve and Adam to eat the forbidden fruit and they saw themselves naked. God said to the woman, what is this that you have done? The serpent seduced me, she said and I ate. God told the serpent, because you have done this, you're cursed, cursed beyond all the cattle and wild animals, cursed to slink on your belly and eat dirt all your life. I'm declaring war between you and the women, your offspring and hers. He'll wound your head; you'll wound his heel.

The phrase "you will strike his heel" refers to satans repeated attempts to defeat Christ during his life on earth, "He will crush your head" foreshadows satans defeat when Christ rose from the dead. A strike on the heel is not deadly, but a blow to the head is. Already God is revealing His plan to defeat satan and offer salvation to the world through His Son Jesus Christ.

I hope that I have convinced or reminded you that we are at war. As Christians we need to always need to be on our guard and that we should always be true to God's word. We all know who the winner is going to be in the end, so let me ask you, where will you spend eternity?

I highly recommend that you read both Waking The Dead and Peace With God. These books were used extensively to write this article.

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