Friday, November 12, 2010

"Not Against Flesh and Blood" Conclusion

   "We wrestle not against flesh and blood" (Ephesians 6:12).  This series of messages began with the Biblical teaching that the Christian's true enemies are not human.  The devil and those angels who rebelled with him comprise the forces who originate and empower the challenges we face in seeking to live lives that glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.  Satan attacks through human agencies, of course, and people are responsible for being the pawns of his power.  Nevertheless, as we conclude our consideration, I want to emphasize the point that all temptation involves devilish entities acting through the world and the flesh (our own and that of others) to mislead us.
    To "fight the good fight of faith," we must be "spiritually minded" (I Timothy 6:12; Romans 8:6).  We must increasingly know God and His truth rightly, and in this foundational context, we must also rightly know and understand the challenges we face.  "We are not ignorant of Satan's devices" (II Corinthians 2:11).  Failure to understand that we fight "principalities... powers... the rulers of the darkness of this world... spiritual wickedness in high places" relegates us to a limited or distorted role in serving our Lord's redeeming purposes in the world (Ephesians 6:12).  We will wrestle against flesh rather than spirit, leading to condemnation of both ourselves and of others rather than the spiritual foes who rightly deserve our vehement determination to overcome by the power of the Lord Jesus and His victory.  "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world... this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (John 16:33; I John 5:4).
    Our awareness of the spiritual nature of conflict does not call us to direct confrontation with our enemies.  "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).  We rather fight our enemies by trusting and prayerful consecration to the Lord Jesus.  No direct confrontation is necessary because "the battle is the Lord's" (I Samuel 17:47).  Our calling is to serve as His ambassadors who are led by the Holy Spirit to see where the devil and his angels are fomenting their wickedness.  We then take the matters to God, requesting His retaking of ground lost, His working to confront and overcome present challenges, and His protection regarding those to come.  We also offer ourselves to serve as His "good soldiers" in any way He may determine to wield His sword by us (II Timothy 2:3).  "Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight" (Psalm 144:1).
    "The good fight" is not optional, nor is it reserved for a select class of believers.  We will either mindfully engage, or we will find ourselves as did King David, tempted by Bathsheba because he "tarried still at Jerusalem" when he should have been on the field of battle with his men (II Samuel 11:1-3).  The results were disastrous for David, and for those whom he hurt by his warless hands and fightless fingers.  In the same manner, the believer who does not fight the good fight will be savagely tempted and attacked by the devil who sees weakness and pounces upon it.  Conversely, the Bible plainly states that Satan flees the Christian who watches, stands, withstands, and affirms the victory of the risen Captain of our salvation.  We fight from His triumph, in His triumph, and by His triumph.  May we open our eyes to to see a doomed enemy encamped on the hills around us.  May our ears hear the noise of the conflict in which the mere sound of our Lord's voice confuses and puts to flight our enemies.  And may our nostrils smell the smoke of the battlefield whereupon we awaken in every day of our lives, and wherein our Lord's triumph ever wafts upon the winds of war.  And may we fight!
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
(Ephesians 6:10)

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