Only War Describes the Battle
It’s not an emotional weakness that you are facing. Neither is it a bad attitude in someone else, a bad day, or a challenging past. It’s not about inner turmoil, drugs and alcohol, a family break up, or old age. Every time you encounter another human being, you are encountering someone who is carrying the most formidable enemy known to mankind.
There are many formidable opponents in the world today. In a head to head battle of military might, there is no greater force than the United States war machine. When it comes to the war on drugs, the cartels in Mexico have an entire nation intimidated, including law enforcement and military. On another front there is the growing army of terrorists, many of whom have demonstrated their willingness to commit suicide for their cause. Yet, there is one more opponent that is worthy of competing for the top spot. What greater force is there seen among men than the willingness and ability demonstrated in those who killed Jesus. The Bible calls it the flesh. All the wars of history past and present happened because there is war in the heart of man.
Gal 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like;"
How little heartache we would have without this!! When your Christian life gets tough, it’s because you’re in a war with the flesh. When you struggle with relationships, addictions, or attitudes, it’s because there’s a war going on in you and in others. You’re not merely in an inconvenient, uncomfortable dispute because someone is having a bad day, or because people are struggling with their finances, families or egos. It’s all out war that is going on because of what the Bible calls the flesh.
The power that fights within you and towards you from your world is the same power that built the golden calf, caused God to open up the earth and swallow up entire families, that defeated first generation Israel in the wilderness so that they could not inherit the Promised land. It is the battle that sent Israel to Babylon, and it filled the Pharisees and the Roman Empire with enough hatred to martyr Christians. It has fueled over 14,000 wars in recorded history. It is the jealousy, hatred, selfish ambition, and hypocrisy that caused men to kill the incarnate 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Son of God. It is a formidable opponent!
James says that we have desires that wage war within. These desires don’t just offer suggestions to us. They have declared war upon us, and they fight with the force of warfare. He teaches that we ourselves also war against one another. Peter says that fleshly lusts wage war against our souls. Paul teaches that the weapons that we have to fight with are mighty against this war that we face.
It is a war, not a debate, or a decision. People don’t get in trouble merely by bad choices. They get in trouble because war was been waged upon them regardless of the choices they have made! It is not an intellectual contest, an emotional crusade, or an argument of wills. It is war! And it is raging in everyone that you come in contact with! Little wonder the Bible mentions war 247 times!
When you heard Eric Ludy’s description of the ancient war cry, it sent chills down your spine. It stirred up something inside that you relate to. You’re in a battle, and it’s going to take more than a cheer leader, a rousing speech, a pep band, or a crowd’s enthusiasm. It’s going to take a wake up call to realize that we’re not here for a meeting, a seminar, a recovery program, or a sermon to merely get us through a tough day. We’re not going to win without recognizing that our problems are not about how we were brought up, how many bad breaks we’ve had, or how bruised our self esteem is. We’ve got to understand that we are in a war, and then we’ve got to start waging war back. Rev. 19 says that when Jesus comes back, He’s going to make war!
There has never been a convenient war, an easy war, or a war without casualties. Not everyone will survive. Not everyone will even fight. Many will live in denial. Some will minimize, trivialize, and even out right oppose warfare. Paul made it clear that as soldiers we are not to get our lives entangled with the affairs of this world. The war we fight is primary. It’s why we live. It’s why we’re hear. No soldier ever lived on the front lines because he wanted to see the beauty of foreign lands. He never sat in a foxhole thinking that he was there because he was on a camping trip. He knew he was in a war, and if he didn’t advance on the enemy, the enemy would find him and kill him in his foxhole.
Why is ministry so hard? Why is it difficult to be a successful witness? Why are there so many counter-attacks? Why do we get beaten down so often? It’s because we are fighting a very formidable enemy. The carnal man, the flesh, is a killer. He wants to hate, to exalt himself above others, to pursue pleasure at absolutely any cost, to defend himself, to boast about himself. He will knock down any perceived threat with any amount of force necessary to protect himself. The flesh is out to win at any cost. The enemy you face is the most formidable foe anyone has ever faced. Don’t be surprised any longer when you have a bad day, and stop blaming yourself. You’re in a war! Furthermore, you have to use your weapons.
When Hitler invaded Europe and Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the Americans didn’t send an army overseas to say, "Well, that Adolph has a bad attitude. He’s been gossiping about us, and doing all kinds of, well, I hate to say it, mean things. We need to have a meeting with him and scold him." Nor did they say, "Maybe we should just not get involved, because maybe we deserve this, and maybe Europe has been naughty." It was warfare, and it had to be met with the ferocity and the power necessary to stop it. It wasn’t going to go away. Minimizing Hitler’s war machine wasn’t going to change anything. Ever since World War II, the world has tried to maintain the commitment - "never again!" Too many lives were lost. Too many atrocities were committed. But now there is an eternal holocaust going on, and we must face the enemy with the same ferocity and with the mighty weapons afforded us. Our own will power, emotion, and intellect will never win this battle. We need the power of God and the courage of Joshua, David, and Elijah to use what God has given us.
The first war recorded in the Bible includes the testimony in Gen 14:20 "And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." War has been in the world since Cain and Abel, and this age will end with war. Rev 19:11-12 "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns."
When you are in conflict or are upset with someone - a spouse, a child, a neighbor, consider carefully these words about warfare. Take the time to internalize the fact that they are locked in a battle with the flesh and Satan. You are being drawn into warfare. Don't take action simply because your heart has been stirred and your peace disrupted. Don't take it out on them. They are locked in warfare and probably don't even realize that it's about war, about eternity, and not about the temporary distractions and temptations of the moment. Approach the issue as a battle in a spiritual and eternal dimension, and you will find yourself settled and more compassionate. Once you have identified the real battle you will be more easily able to engage it with the weapons of heaven instead of with carnal armory.