Notes on Christian Warfare (2)

“Fighting the Good Fight”

The way, the truth and the life!

The Strong Man   (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verses 10-20)

The Christian is up against a strong foe, “a strong man” (Luke 11:21). But by virtue of the new life that is ours we have power (2 Timothy 1:7-8). We have a constant supply of all that we need for our Christian lives through our union with Christ. We are united to his operative strength, we are his possession, so his power is our power to draw upon by faith. For he is stronger than all these powers arrayed against us. This is a General barking out an order to his troops, “be strong!” Because we strength and courage for this warfare and it is ours in Christ. We need this injunction because the seeds of fear are there in us all that need weeding out. The war zone is no place for souls possessed with fear and dispirited. As an army preparing to go into battle needs to be briefed. The logistics, the battle order, the rules of engagement, then the General finished with a rallying cry to his troops, “be strong!”  Or if he finds his army in flight it needs to be stemmed, turned around to face the foe again, but they need to be even stronger in such a case. It’s a very contagious thing is fear. I recall reading the history of the American Civil War. There were tremendous acts of courage and bravery, heroism. But there were also tremendous acts of cowardice when entire armies turned and fled the battlefield. Men dropped their weapons, their supplies, food, clothing, ammunition, everything. But it only takes one to panic, to turn and run and before you know it everyone else is running too. Well, says Paul, we want none of this in this spiritual warfare we are caught up into. We dawn the full armour of God, we don’t drop our weapons, our spiritual swords, and shields. Rather we stand firm, in the Lord. “Be strong, he says, “be strong” (v10). For the Lord your God is with you (Isaiah 41:10).

Then, of course, we have the appeals of Scripture to uphold and strengthen us. We so many precious promises that we can suck the juice of courage out of the Bible is littered with them. Think of the picture of the true vine given us by Jesus (John 15: 1-11). We are the branches and so we draw all the sap and strength from the vine, enabling us to grow and be strong and fruitful. This is what we need for this battle of the ages, “say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4). Think of Joshua, Israel’s General who led them across the Jordan river with the mandate to take the promised land. But also to drive out the enemies of God, ungodly, wicked, powerful nations. What is he told as he heads into this warfare?

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-9).

That is an Old Testament picture of what we face in the last days. We’re heading for the real promised land, heaven. But on the way, there are all these enemies to be conquered. So we need to strong too. To obey God’s commands, not moving to the left or right, being faithful to our risen Lord in the midst of the fray. This takes more than the world’s carnal courage, it takes spiritual courage. This we obtain only by spiritual means. Here in these verses, the Holy Spirit gives us our rules of engagement. Alas, we ask ourselves, why is that there appear to be so few noble-spirited souls willing to stand for the truth?

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2014)
Sermon Audio

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