I don’t like war. If I had my way, I’d turn back the clock of time and make sure all the terrorists were arrested before they ever boarded those aircraft last month. Still, I realize that the prevention of just one tragedy would not halt the tendency of human beings to fight against each other. No matter how much we may wish differently, it seems some battles just cannot be avoided.
Whether we like it or not, Christians are engaged in spiritual warfare. God commands that we, “put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11).” We face an enemy who is every bit as vicious and deceitful as any terrorist, and what’s more, our enemy refuses to show himself. Satan is content to work behind the scenes, never quite revealing himself, even though we all can see the effects of his presence (read Job 1).
And herein lies the real danger: because our enemy is unseen, it becomes very easy for people in the church to forget our true purpose. Some have forgotten who the true enemy is, and others have begun to question whether we are even fighting a war at all!
There are some soldiers in the Lord’s kingdom who have decided to give up the fight altogether. These “deserters” have decided that it would be easier to surrender their lives to sin. They know the consequences of sin (Rom 6:23), but would rather be amused and entertained than fulfill the purpose for which they were created (Eccl. 12:13). To them, the Christian life seems too inconvenient and too demanding.
Some soldiers of the cross are passionately fighting the wrong battles. Instead of working to win more souls to Christ, it seems that these brethren are intent on scrutinizing every action and motive of their fellow Christians. And woe to him with whom one of these overly suspicious soldiers finds fault! Brethren, we should be concerned about sin among us (Jude 3), but let’s be sure that we are not developing the kind of critical, judgmental attitudes Jesus warned about (Matt. 7:1-6). To this kind of soldier, the enemy seems to be everywhere, and everyone’s intentions are suspect!
Still other soldiers pay lip service to their struggle, but in reality they seek to embrace the enemy with open arms. “We shouldn’t get so worked up over doctrine,” they say, “but instead we should unite under the cross and celebrate God’s grace.” Fact is, the Bible says that doctrine is VERY important since it will be the basis for our judgment in the final day (2 Jn 9; John 12:48-49). Those who seek unity at the expense of clear Bible teaching will one day realize that they have, in reality, stopped fighting and embraced that which is ungodly (Amos 3:3; Eph 5:11). It seems better to these soldiers to call a truce than to fulfill their marching orders (see Mark 16:15-16; Matt 28:18-20).
Brethren, we are engaged in the most serious kind of warfare — spiritual warfare. We fight by teaching people the truth. We fight by keeping our hearts pure. We fight by checking our attitudes and motives constantly. We fight by loving those outside of Christ enough to tell them that they are in danger (Jude 23). What kind of soldier will you be? Jesus has already gained the victory (1 Cor 15:57). “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).” — John Baker