July 27, 2007

Winning wars

Key to winning a military battle is clever strategy and a mighty and well-organized fighting force. Key to winning a spiritual battle is somewhat the same, but with different weapons.

The Old Testament blessings and curses, repeated in several places, tell how. In Leviticus 26 the first 13 verses concern blessings. He promise His people, “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then . . . you will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you” (Leviticus 26:3, 7-8).

Today God’s people fight a spiritual war using spiritual weapons. Our sword is the Word of God combined with our greatest weapon, prayer. The power of prayer is largely unknown to the rest of the world, but the people of God know it well. We understand by experience that one believer on her knees praying in the will of God defeats evil, and that a hundred Christians praying for the same thing is a formidable force against whatever our enemy throws at us. However, there is one condition; we need to be obedient, holy people.

In Leviticus, God also ‘promises’ a horrifying list of curses for disobedience. He says, “You shall have no power to stand before your enemies. You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.”

If my life is not in line with the commands and principles God sets before me, then He will certainly be busy, not working against my foes, but on me—to get rid of my sinfulness. Godliness is important to God than anything, and the reason He sent Jesus to die for me. Even though my sins are forgiven and I have the life of Christ living in me, what a waste if I treat as nothing the obedience and purity He has made available.

Without Jesus I cannot do it. I cannot “fight the good fight” or keep His commands, never mind rout the enemy and put him to flight, yet 1 Peter 5:5-9 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 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 . . . .”

These verbs are obedience words. Obedience takes humility and a faith that can trust God with my cares. It takes watchfulness, a vigilant awareness of what evil is trying to do. It also takes a persistent trust in God and a determined resistance to the enemy.

James 4:6-7 puts it like this: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

The word order is the same as the blessings promised in Leviticus. Obey. Submit to God and only then I will be able to resist my spiritual enemy and make him run for cover. This cannot be done if my attitude is “I can do this myself, I don’t need God, I can do my own thing.”

Even that attitude is a spiritual battle, and to win it, and many others always in progress, I must first yield to my commanding Officer. Then I’m fit to go to war—and win.

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