We’re in a War

I realize I’m probably writing for a small crowd today as a good many visitors living in the US are off having a final summer fling on this long Labor Day weekend.

I, on the other hand, am used to laboring on Labor Day. When I taught, I usually had much to do to get ready for school (here in California, the traditional start of school is after Labor Day). So starting a typical work day today doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.

But on to the topic. One reason I love writing fantasy is because of the clear depiction of the struggle between good and evil. In real life, however, I think we Christians get it wrong. Some don’t really think we’re in a war. Some think the war is a cultural entity, and some think Satan is the enemy, from beginning to end.

I don’t think any of these are Biblically accurate.

First the culture war. If God chose to leave us on the earth to change the culture, why wasn’t Jesus more concerned about changing the culture of His day? Where were His activities designed to condemn or bring down Rome? And even His moves against the Pharisees had more to do with what they stood for spiritually than anything.

On top of Jesus’s example, we have His commission. Go and change your culture, or go and make disciples?

Of course, there are professing Christians who don’t think we’re in a war at all. We are supposed to love and accept and tolerate and in the end everyone will be saved, so it’s all good.

Yes, we are to love. “Accept” might be a different story, and so “tolerate.” But in the end, only those on the narrow road will be saved. Those on the broad way are headed for destruction, so all is far from good.

But are we fighting those on the broad way? Is the war between the narrow-road minority and the broad-way majority? You’d think so to listen to a lot of professing Christians, but God never told us to go out and wrestle others into the kingdom of God. There’s still that “make disciples” command that mitigates against a war-like approach to other people.

So if the enemy is not others who believe differently, maybe it is Satan. The old “the devil made me do it” approach. And certainly he is an enemy. Scripture says he is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. I can’t see taking a passive approach with an aggressive enemy like that.

Scripture tells us we are to be on the alert against Satan and his schemes, we are to flee him, we are given spiritual armor and told to stand against him.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 5:12)

That being said, I don’t think we should neglect the war that goes on in our hearts for rule over the throne of our lives. Romans 6 spells out our options, but I get the impression that this is not a one-time decision:

Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Paul clarifies the battle waging inside us in Romans 7:

But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (emphasis mine)

The war is real, not to be taken lightly, but we also need to remember, the outcome is certain.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

The odd thing is, the fight continues.

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 Comments

  1. Amen, great article. The war is against Satan but it is a war in our minds as Satan subtly moves us from the simplicity and power of Christ and gets us caught up in doctrinal issues instead of showing the power and victory of Jesus on the cross. As Jesus said, we should “take heed how we hear.” -C

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  2. Of course, “going and making disciples” has the ultimate result (as God knew it would) of changing cultures. Cultures are ultimately made up of people and the things they value, and the more people in a given nation who value what God values, the more their culture will be transformed as a result. But you’re absolutely right that “winning the culture war” is not our mandate, however God may use our obedience as we go and make disciples.

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  3. My current WIP deals with this though I haven’t quite nailed down exactly how.

    One thing that was clear from your article is where Jesus put the emphasis – on people. Change people from the inside and you change the culture, not the other way around. I fully agree with you that many in the church have it backwards and are playing to their weaknesses instead of their strengths.

    The book, Battlefield of the Mind, is a great read on this topic too. I could re-read it again tonight if I had the time.

    Update: I just now read Rachel’s comment and fully agree.

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