Saints & Soldiers

undefined Two of my favorite fictional novels are This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. In the former, Peretti weaves together a very realistic storyline with a backdrop of the supernatural to form a cohesive plot that reveals the existence of the spiritual realms and the spiritual warfare occurring behind the scenes. It is an exciting page turner that I encourage you to read if you haven’t already.

Likewise, Lewis draws for us a behind the scenes picture of the ways the devil tries to manipulate events in our realm to his advantage. The Screwtape Letters is, essentially, a collection of 31 letters written by Screwtape, a devil, to his evil and rather incompetent minion, Wormwood. The book is both humorous and eye-opening. As I read it I started visualizing how some of the letters could be reflective of my own circumstances at the time.

Both of these literary works are fictional, yet they reflect a certain aspect of reality we all too often ignore….that there truly is a spiritual battle happening in real life. Behind the scenes, one could say, because we do not see this battle occurring with our eyes; but intrinsically, I think most of us at least suspect it is occurring. And if our suspicions aren’t enough to convince us, then the Bible certainly should; Paul tells the church in Ephesus about it: “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)

This is not the only reference in the Bible to the battle that occurs in the spiritual realm. In the book of Colossians, Paul mentions how Jesus’ resurrection disarmed and publicly shamed the spiritual rulers and authorities: “In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.” (Colossians 2:15) And Peter tells us to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Clearly, there is more to life than what we see with our eyes. I honestly think even those who don’t believe in Jesus sense the spiritual realm, too, and some of them even try to tap into it through such evil practices as séances, Ouija boards, psychic readings, consultations with mediums, etc. While occult practices are nothing new, we see them condemned in the Old Testament (ie: Leviticus 19:31), there has been a rise in their practice in recent years. For example, those practicing Wicca have increased dramatically in the last 30 years. I would propose to you that this fact also supports the reality of the spiritual warfare that is occurring in the heavenly realms.

My perception is that the tumultuousness we see this year is a direct reflection of the battle occurring in the spiritual realm. Satan is mounting an offensive and we see the direct results in our current events such as the Covid 19 pandemic, the rioting and looting that occurred after the tragic incident in Minneapolis, the extreme political division that has found its way into our family relationships, our friendships, and even our churches. All of this points to the reality of Ephesians 6:12.

So what are we to do? Paul had the answer for the Ephesians and this answer is the same for us today: “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:13-18)

The battle is very real, though we do not see it directly. But victory is assured for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Do you belong to Christ? If not, why not make today the day of your salvation? God desires that you be saved and he longs for you to ask him. It is easy, start by getting alone. Take some time to truly reflect on your life and your need for God. You probably sense the spiritual battle already so you know this is real. After you have reflected and you feel it in your heart, say a prayer something like this: “Dear Lord, I know I have sinned and I know you are real. Please forgive me. Thank you for Jesus and help me make him Lord of my life that I might start living as a child of God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

If you said that prayer today, the next step is to find a strong, Bible-based church you can attend regularly. Contact us and we’d be happy to help. Just drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To learn more about a relationship with Jesus, please visit: KnowGod.org

For a bit more depth on God’s armor, read our blog: Battle Ready

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Battle Ready

battle ready 2  We face many challenges in life. Some of these challenges are of a personal nature, involving our work life, marriages, families, neighborhoods, finances, health, or more. Others are cultural, we live in difficult times with many competing worldviews and a never-ending cavalcade of issues to be debated. When do we get involved and when do we accept our differences and move on? We also face world issues such as terror attacks, travel bans, wars and rumors of wars. The challenges can seemingly be endless for those of us living today.

So how do we face these many challenges? Perhaps we’re on a business trip and face a temptation to cheat on our spouse. Or one of our children is struggling with a behavior issue at school? Maybe our boss is being unreasonable and the job we were once so happy to have has become a place we dread going each day. How do we stand up for the Biblical definition of marriage in a culture increasingly hostile to the Christian worldview? Do we live in fear over the possibility of terror attacks or do we go forward with our life and travel plans regardless?

These are the kinds of concerns we all face in one way or another in this day and age but the way in which we face them has not changed! The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 that “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.”. And that truly is our first task: to remember that there is a spiritual war raging around us. We are in the midst of this spiritual war and Peter warns us: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Since we are on the front lines of a spiritual war, it is good for us to recognize that we are unequipped to win the battle on our own. Just as in any army, a soldier needs the proper gear to be equipped for battle. For today’s soldier they may be equipped with body armor, helmets, machine guns, night vision, GPS, and radio transmitters, and other special equipment. And just as the army soldier has specific equipment with which they are prepared for the fight, those of us engaged in the spiritual battle of life also have equipment that helps us engage the enemy. But unlike the army soldier, whose equipment changes with new battlefields and new technology, our equipment is unchanging and has been battle tested for thousands of years.

Ephesians 6:10-11 tell us to: “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” So the first tool in our arsenal is God himself! In Deuteronomy we read: “For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!” (Deuteronomy 20:4) and in Jeremiah 1:19 we read: “They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” So we see that God is on our side and when we acknowledge Him, we avail ourselves of his mighty power!

Once we acknowledge God, then we can put on his full armor. The first pieces of armor we put on are found in Ephesians 6:14: “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.” The belt of truth is God’s unchanging Word, which is found in the Bible. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16) It is by God’s Word that we know right from wrong, that we understand who God is and His glorious plan for the world. When we read and study the Bible we equip ourselves with the knowledge that comes from God and correctly inform our worldview.

The second piece of armor mentioned in Ephesians 6:14 is God’s righteousness. How do we put on God’s righteousness? There is only one way – it is imputed (credited) to us through Jesus Christ. So when we repent of our sins and believe in the atoning sacrifice that Jesus made for the forgiveness of our sins, we are clothed in the righteousness that comes from God (and we no longer have to try to get by on our own good deeds, a method that surely proves itself futile). The Apostle John wrote: “And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:5) So believing in Jesus is how we put on the righteousness of God and without that belief we are destined to lose the battle.

Likewise, our faith in Jesus Christ helps us with the remaining items of our spiritual armor: “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:15-17) When we come to Christ in repentance and faith and receive the gift of salvation, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and in the Spirit we begin to understand the Word of God more and more. We begin to have understanding and conviction of right and wrong that is in agreement with God’s design and from this we face the spiritual battlefield fully equipped so that we might stand firm.

But there is one last element of preparation for our spiritual battle, however, and this is one we cannot neglect. Just as an army soldier exercises to maintain top physical conditioning, we must pray continuously to maintain our top spiritual conditioning. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18) We see by way of example that Jesus prayed regularly throughout the Gospels (while Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. -Hebrews 5:7) and the Apostle Paul instructs us to “never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

In James 5:16 we read, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” So let us not neglect prayer but let us seek to pray on every occasion, bringing our requests to God and asking him to prepare us for the battles we face every day. Paul teaches us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

In the spiritual realm, for those of us who have put our faith in Christ, victory is ours! As Jesus said: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) If you haven’t yet placed your faith in Jesus, why not make today the day?

If you’ve made the decision to accept God’s free gift, or you just want to say “Hi”, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.