For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places ~ Ephesians 6:12
We so easily forget where the real battleground is! We fall into the illusion that Christianity should be a pleasant walk in the park or a night out with some nice friends. By contrast, the Lord speaks of it as a war – a place where lives are at stake and casualties can occur.
We are vulnerable to Satan’s advances. Peter warns us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Paul urges us to put on armor (knowing that otherwise we may be gravely injured or worse, lost): “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). In another place he reminds us to “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). And finally, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Where else does one take captives except in a war?
We each of us are susceptible, often blindly accepting those unbidden thoughts of fear, guilt, insecurity, or bitterness. We allow the negative voices and the roots of our own sin to build strongholds in our heart. Instead of taking captives, we begin to spend time with and host those negative thoughts. We forget to fight back or sometimes we are too overwhelmed in the tide of those dark thoughts.
And yet, it’s not too late – for any of us. Resist Satan and he will flee. Rip out the strongholds built by fear and sin. Reach out to your fellow soldiers to ask for help. Ask the Lord, who alone can create in us a clean heart. And find in Him an eternal, mighty fortress where we will always be safe.
A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal. (Martin Luther)