A few years ago our two oldest children began taking Tae Kwon Do classes and later our son started wrestling. We wanted Elias to learn how to defend himself and to have the ability and the willingness to defend others. We wanted the same for our daughter since we live in a time and place of much bullying and abuse. Sometimes you just have to fight.
The Christian life is no different. We are called to “fight the good fight” (1 Tim 6:12), to put on the armor made for us by God himself (Eph 6) and enter into this battle between darkness and light (2 Cor. 10:3-6), between the devil and his followers, and Christ and his (the book of Revelation).
In Eph. 6 Paul gives us a list of the armor that we are to put on. We have a belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes we are to put on readiness, which comes from knowing the gospel. And we have the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. To defend ourselves and keep ourselves safe we need all of this as well as the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. Our spiritual armor gives us confidence as we face whatever the devil throws our way.
The question we have to ask ourselves is, “What exactly am I fighting?” Satan is not going to kick in your front door, drag you on to the front lawn, where the two of you will battle it out with flaming swords. The devil is generally more subtle. He is sly, deceptive, and sometimes quite. He wants to confuse or dazzle us, and he patiently waits for the right moment to tighten the noose that can choke out your life. His one consuming obsession is to destroy (1 Peter 5:8) and he has no compassion.
As Christians we live in a hostile land where we are attacked from many angles. Here are a few fights we need to be ready for.
We are to fight against our sinful nature.
Our sinful hearts can really get the best of us sometimes which is why we need to constantly be in God’s word in order to cut down our sinful desires. We all struggle with selfishness, impatience, and unkindness (just to name a few). Most often it ends up being directed at our families.
How do we fight against our sin?
We must examine ourselves regularly to know precisely where we are struggling. We must repent of those sins and turn towards righteousness by seeing Jesus as Lord and the conqueror over sin. It is also really helpful and important to live in community with other believers who can encourage and gently correct us.
We are to fight against the world.
Day after day we are fed lies that come from the world. “You weigh too much.”
“Your clothes are not the right style.”
“Your home does not have the right decor.”
“You need more stuff in order to be happy.”
“If you are not happy in your marriage, get out.”
“Getting older is bad, bad, bad.”
“Forget responsibility, just have fun.”
The world lies and we are tempted to believe it. We get into debt in order to buy stuff that ends up being the cause of our messy and disorganized homes. We make ourselves crazy dieting in order to fit into certain sizes. We put careers before family, and the approval of man before the approval of Christ all because we buy into the lies that the world feeds us. All of this is spiritual warfare!
How do we fight against the world?
We must be sure that we are grounded in God’s word, and therefore see things as they really are. The only way we can detect the lies of the world is by being sure of the truth of Scripture, where we see the excellencies of Jesus, the beauty of the Kingdom, and future hope of God’s people and our worth in Christ.
“In heaven we shall appear, not in armour, but in robes of glory. But here these [pieces of armor] are to be worn night and day; we must walk, work, and sleep in them, or else we are not true soldiers of Christ.” (William Gurnall)
We fight against Satan
Satan is very real and his desire is to destroy those who love Jesus. He wants to create in us weakness and doubt and he does so through deceit, manipulation, and temptation. One his favorite strategies is to lead us into doubt concerning God’s love and acceptance of us in Jesus.
For example, when you are not walking as closely to Jesus as you should be do you worry that God does not love you as much? That he won’t hear your prayers? Do you feel worthless, hopeless and down because you struggle with sin? Do you sometimes feel like the Christian life is just too hard, that you can’t do it? Do you secretly entertain the thought of walking away? These are some of the doubts and fears Satan whispers to us. It is an age-old trick that he used back in the garden with Adam and Eve and he still uses it today because it works.
How do we fight against Satan?
James tells us to submit ourselves to God, to resist the devil, and that Satan will flee from us. You must also remember to not be afraid. The devil is not your master. He has no authority over you. Hold on to the truths you find in scripture and Satan will not be able to lie to you. Martin Luther said, “It is almost incredible how God enables us, weak flesh and blood, to enter combat with the devil, and to beat and overcome so powerful a spirit as he, and with no other weapon but only his Word, which by faith we take hold on. This must grieve and vex that great and powerful enemy.”
I was struck by the fact that in all thing we must know God’s word well if we want to be effective soldiers for Christ. Then we will be strong in our personal struggles, in our marriage and parenting, in our battles against the world and against the schemes of Satan. Cling to God’s word, it is a living book and in it you will encounter the power of God.
Looking to Jesus,