|Freshly reminded of the spiritual battle believers are constantly in, Nick van Ruth reflects on this truth and discusses the need for us to be constantly on our knees as we seek to remain strong in the Lord, for his glory.|
On my way into work this morning I was reading “Strange Days” by Mark Sayers – great book, excellence social commentary. I love everything by Mark.
But something he raised that really resonated with me and sent my head in a spin was the thought that we are in battle – whether we realise it or not. Here is how Mark puts it: “The church is God’s army. However, in the West she has been away from battle far too long. Not only has she forgotten how to fight, but she’s forgotten that she’s in battle… The armour of God is gathering dust in the corner.”
Mark would explain it a lot better than me but let me give it a go. Christians are in battle, whether they are aware of it or not. Who are they in battle against? Well, it is not against people, not against “the extreme left or right”, not against sinners.
The battle is against the culture we find ourselves in. Just scrolling through my facebook feed now, there are ads for watches, posts about procrastinating over homework, a funny video of a child not paying attention in class and a report to make us more afraid of refugees, and another to make us afraid of the government. This online culture is distracting, fear mongering, brainwashing. It is pulling the Christian away from their intimacy with Christ by offering other, immediate, addictive dopamine inducing clickbait articles. It is drawing us away from any hope of an eternal future with Jesus by inducing fear and scepticism of other people groups and authorities. It causes doubt in our own identity and for the Christian that means who we are as God’s creation. It offers us what we could be with that product or that workout routine or in that relationship, leaving us to constantly chase after an impossible to achieve perfection. We are in battle with culture – we need to be fighting against these things, to not be caught up and drawn into this
Our battle is against ourselves. I can’t remember the quote exactly, but it goes something like: “Without concerted effort to move forward, we will always fall backwards.” I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been in a rut for a while, and I’ve been letting the important things I know I should do fall by the wayside. Sin and the devil are always crouching at the door, ready to creep in when we stop paying attention to it. I’ve felt this a lot recently. I’ve been so busy trying to figure out being a dad, starting a new ministry, keeping up in my studies, that other things have slipped – like prayer and bible reading. And I’ve noticed I’ve been slipping to a place of complaining, anger and discouragement about work, ministry and where I’m at with God. Wow – it is a battle, a hard slog constantly trying to draw myself back to God to keep being fed and loved by him. Thank God that my standing is not based on my efforts but on Jesus – otherwise, just like you and everyone else, I would fail miserably.
Our battle is for Christ. There are so many people who don’t know Jesus. I’m having lunch with an old friend from Uni today, and I’ve been wanting to ask him to read the bible with me but keep backing out. But I love him, and I want him to know Jesus so I will keep battling on, fighting my own fears and doubts and trusting in Jesus and the Holy Spirit to give me the courage, the words and the opportunities to share my faith with him. And it is not just him – my neighbours, work friends and family all need to know Jesus, and our culture and Satan are working hard to keep them from Him.
We are in battle whether we know it or not. And if we don’t know it, I think we are much more vulnerable. Where is my armour? Is it still left in the cupboard? I’ve realized I’ve written this whole article and yet have not prayed for God to equip me with his armour yet. I’m going to do that now, and I’m going to paste those words from Ephesians here, so you can pray for it too.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.