For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).
Who was the enemy on Sunday morning in Sutherland, Texas? A young man with anger management problems and mental health issues? A government that failed to pass sufficient gun control laws? The Air Force’s bookkeeping department? The powers of evil? All of the above?
What do we do? What can we do? We log into our social media accounts and pour out our thoughts, our fears, and our heartache, and then we state what we think will fix the problem. Next we discern who agrees with us and we make our alliances. We unfriend or unfollow those who disagree and then we wait for the next shooting and do it all over again.
Will any of that stop the next shooting from happening? Maybe I’m a skeptic, but honestly, I don’t think so. I think it is a bigger problem than guns or government or mental health.
If we want to win this war, we must recognize the enemy is not guns. It is not mentally ill people. It is not the government. Our enemy is evil. It is demonic. It is Satanic. And this evil manifests itself through the evil acts of wicked people.
Christians, I’m speaking to us now, and I say us, because I am in the same boat. It seems that we are afraid, that we are narcissists, hedonists, prideful and arrogant. Are we losing the battle, not because we are weak, but because we have not engaged the real enemy?
Are we afraid of looking like fools (how many of us cringed when I mentioned the word demonic because we don’t want people thinking we’ve moved to the fringe?). Are we afraid of breaching the boundaries of political correctness and losing our reputation? Whose reputation is more important, ours? or God’s?
Are we narcissists, more concerned with ourselves than anyone else? We appear so self-obsessed that any different opinion becomes a personal affront. How dare anyone challenge our perspective? As Christians, would we rather live divided, than unite to fight a common enemy, if it means compromising our position?
Are we hedonists, wanting only pleasure and comfort? Do we indulge our desire for ease at the expense of entering the fray? Could it be that we want just enough religion to be comfortable and therefore we gladly hand the reins to the government, while we sit in our easy chairs, and tell them what they need to do to protect us and ease our guilt? We want to keep the battle outside our doors.
Are we prideful and arrogant? Is it true that no one is more important than we are, no one is more able to see things from a wider perspective, and no one has a better grasp of the issues than we do? Would we rather fight for our right to be right than unite against evil?
Let me repeat, I am speaking to Christians; we are losing the battle because we are divided and a house that is divided cannot stand. The evil one is accomplishing his goal.
How do we enter the battle? How do we unite? What can we do? I’m not sure. But I would challenge each one of us to ask ourselves a few questions about our motives and our actions: Am I trying to convert people to my agenda for my own comfort? Whose reputation is more important to me: mine or God’s? How will my words, actions, and activities glorify God? How does my thinking align with the Word of God? Who is the enemy I am fighting?
The evil one distracts us with backfires so frequently that we forget (if we ever knew) where the front lines are. The front line on Sunday was in Texas. The front line is wherever the enemy is advancing. The front line is wherever we are forfeiting ground because we are afraid.
What does it mean to fight on the front lines? It means recognizing that our enemy is a very real entity, who is using very real people, and very real circumstances to accomplish a very real goal.
“Those who are not ‘flesh-and-blood’ enemies are demons over whom the devil has control. They are not mere fantasies – they are very real. We face a powerful army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, these beings become our enemies, and they try every device to turn us away from him and back to sin. Although we are assured of victory, we must engage in the struggle until Christ returns, because Satan is constantly battling against all who are on the Lord’s side. We need supernatural power to defeat Satan, and God has provided this by giving us his Holy Spirit within us and his armor surrounding us. If you feel discouraged, remember Jesus’ words to Peter: ‘Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it’ (Matthew 16:18).*
The victory is in Christ Jesus, who died on the cross, defeating death and sin, who rose again on the third day, and who sits exalted in heaven at the right hand of the Father. Only as we claim him as our Savior and Lord, and submit to his authority in our lives will we experience this victory. Only as the Holy Spirit dwells within us will we experience his power.
We may not be able to stop the evil in the world, but we can offer hope to everyone affected by it. We can offer abundant and eternal life. If each one of us who believes in Christ Jesus and the victory he won over evil, shares our faith story, our testimony of who Jesus is in our lives, with one other person, perhaps, just perhaps, there will be a revival of faith and some of this horror will diminish.
Or, perhaps not. Perhaps this is the way it will be until Christ Jesus returns. Perhaps it will get worse. Perhaps governments will fail. Perhaps more and more demonically influenced people will commit more and more heinous crimes. Either way, our responsibility is to let our light shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glory our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). As we do that, people will want Jesus, and the victory he brings.
There is only one solution: Christ Jesus. What will you do today to enter the battle and point people to Jesus?
*Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale House Publishers
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