Joy in the Midst of Conflict March 18, 2014

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Lester Roloff used to sing an old gospel song that said, “It’s a battlefield brother, not a recreation room. It’s a fight and not a game! So run if you want to, run if you will.  But I came here to stay!” Our generation would much rather have a recreation room. Give us the games, because there is little fight in us!

The problem with this, of course, is that the fight doesn’t go away because we hunker down in the trenches.  Our adversary keeps shooting his fiery darts. Casualties are falling all around. We have ignored the spiritual conflict, but it is hotter than it has ever been.

A few days ago I sat in a coffee shop with a young man who is seeking direction for his life. Somewhere in the conversation, he commented on the spiritual battle that seemed to be raging. Such discernment is critical in this crisis hour. It is not about us. About pettiness and selfish ambition. About nations and political parties. It is not about time. It is about eternity.

Satan has launched an all attack on a holy God and those who follow Him. Thankfully, we know how this battle will end! The question then is: what is to be our mindset in the midst of the fight?

There are two extremes. Both are perilous.

1. There are those who would prefer to ignore spiritual warfare. Have fun! Laugh your way through life, they say. Don’t think about serious things like the enemy and the dangers.

5 times in the New Testament we find this interesting phrase: “flesh and blood.” Christ took on flesh and blood to bring us to God (Hebrews 2:14). We are told that flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). The Lord Jesus reminded us that flesh and blood do not reveal spiritual truth (Matthew 16:17), and we should not get our orders for life from flesh and blood (Galatians 1:16). In each occasion we see the limits of flesh and blood!

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

People want to live like flesh and blood is the only reality there is. God’s battles are not physical and they are not won by force. Living a “flesh and blood life” will never produce spiritual victory.

This will inevitably lead to disaster. The enemy would like nothing better than for you to think he is not real, or at least act like it.

2. There are some who get so consumed with the spiritual conflict that they lose sight of the victory. Yes, Satan is real. His attacks are strong. But “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world!”

Never forget it! Keep your eyes on your Captain and you will have what you need to face the adversary.  Don’t live with morbid, melancholy thoughts about evil. The gospel is advancing! God is at work! The Holy Spirit is with you! Jesus is coming!

Only in the army of Christ does the Commander promise joy in the battle! Think of it – joyful soldiers!  God’s soldiers endure hardness, but they do not get hard. Their hearts are kept soft and encouraged by their nearness to their Captain.

Joy does not come from ignoring the battle and refusing to take our place in the cause. Likewise, joy must not be laid aside to put on the whole armor of God. Joy is found in Jesus, and He is on the front lines. Where the battle is fiercest, you will find Him.

I leave you with the happy, hopeful words of an old soldier of the cross:

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  Amen” (Romans 16:20).

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