Building Lasting Relationships: Selflessness (Philippians 2:3) By David L. Goetsch This is the second in…
The Most Important Battles
By Bud Hancock
Since my birth, during WWII, there have been numerous wars, many on an international level, within which were a multitude of lesser battles fought, most with disastrous results to those unfortunate enough to be combatants, or to live near the battlefields. The battles mentioned were fought using mostly conventional weapons, artillery, rifles, handguns, tanks, and aircraft dropping bombs. Most of the battles fought in the world’s great wars, such as those in WWII in Europe and Asia, covered very large land masses, and have affected the lives of tens or hundreds of millions of people.
At times, many hundreds of square miles became killing fields as great armies formed and attacked one another; many such battles have been named and have been memorialized as ‘historical’. From the world’s perspective they were indeed history-making, depending on which army was victorious. The human toll of these wars is mind-boggling as millions of people, soldiers and civilians, were killed in the most gruesome ways imaginable. For those people, the battles were responsible for changing lives and nations forever. But, as horrid as these physical battles were, there are more important battles being fought every day, in the spirit realm. These battles have the potential to determine a person’s daily success or failure as well as his or her eternal status and cannot, absolutely MUST not, be taken lightly, or brushed off as unimportant.
In spiritual battles, as in physical ones, before a battle even begins, it is absolutely crucial that any combatant knows who the enemy is and how to identify him. Failure in this area will almost guarantee that many will be injured by ‘friendly fire’.
The Really Important Battles
The “more important” battles I refer to are those that take place on ‘unseen battlefields’. I know that most people, even many devout Christians, are unaware of these battles, even though they are among the combatants. So, how can there be battles and combatants in those battles occurring on unseen battlefields? And, if no one can see them, how can they be that important? The most important battles, those that affect the lives of every human on earth, occur on a much smaller area, and to one extent or another, will determine the eternal destiny of every person who has ever lived.
When a war is declared, usually one nation, or sometimes a group of nations, declares that they are at war with one or more other nations. The desired goal is to seek the utter destruction of their enemy. All the stops are pulled out and every weapon available is used to that end. Unless the nations being attacked are prepared, or can mobilize quickly enough, they will likely be destroyed.
The Weapons of Conventional Warfare
Nearly every soldier in every army on earth is familiar with these weapons and is somewhat proficient in their use. As important as it is for a conventional, physical soldier to be proficient in the use of the required weapons, so is it important for soldiers in non-conventional wars to know how to use non-conventional weapons that are required for success in fighting such wars.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, conventional wars are fought using ‘conventional’, physical weapons, the kind that either explode with amazing power, such as bombs and grenades, causing terrible destruction, or rifles and artillery that shoot projectiles at high speed, also very destructive. Bombs and grenades leave a specific ‘chemical signature’ depending on what explosive is used and who manufactured them. In studying the aftermath of terrorist attacks, military scientists/chemists can usually determine who instigated the attacks based on the makeup of the weapons/explosives that caused the damages. It has been said that the famous Russian military rifle, the AK-47, has a distinctive sound when fired, thus the physical enemy can sometimes be identified by the weapons being used.
Preparation for Battle
There is a famous Latin phrase. “Amat Victoria Curam”, which, loosely translated means “Victory Loves Preparation”. When combatants enter a war zone without proper preparation, defeat is the usual outcome.
The most important step in preparation is, first and foremost, knowing WHO the enemy is, then understanding how he fights and finally, what weapons he has to use in the battle. The most critical part of any battle is the preparation; the right kind of preparation can bring the confidence that makes victory inevitable, and indeed victory is achieved through proper preparation. The Chinese general, and great military strategist, Sun Tzu, was said to have stated: “Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat, first fights and afterwards looks for victory.”
Many hymns have been written regarding Christian warfare. For instance, “Onward Christian Soldier”, whose great lyrics were written in 1865; the song was adopted by the Salvation Army as its favored processional. Though it ‘sings easily’, and is a wonderful song, the message does little to actually prepare a Christian for the spiritual battles he or she will eventually face. Understanding what the Word of God actually says, and putting its edicts into practice, are the only means of achieving victory in the warfare Paul wrote so much about.
The Weapons of Spiritual Warfare
Our enemy, Satan, and his minions have only a few weapons that they can use to destroy a person, but, they are extremely proficient in their use. These are namely: deceit (lies) and fear, caused by events that are mostly unseen, such as a virus like the COVID-19 that is now spreading around the world.
Deceit and fear are the very weapons that Satan, through the serpent, used to take down Adam and Eve and gain control over the dominion that had been given to man. That sneaky devil did not try to physically attack his enemy, and had he done so, he would have failed because, before they fell through disobedience, both Adam and Eve were eternal physical creatures who were protected from any harm through God’s providence. So, Satan very subtly spoke to them, and using deceit and lies, he questioned whether God had actually said what He did in Genesis 3:1. Being deceived into questioning what God had already said, they gave in to the temptation offered by Satan and forfeited their right to take dominion over the earth and everything in it.
The really important battles that we, as Christians, face are not fought using any physical weapons. Paul said, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:” (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Paul is telling us in this letter to the Corinthian church that we do NOT war after the flesh, so our warfare MUST be in the spiritual realm.
This is further borne out by Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers. He said: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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…Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:10-18 KJV).
Paul certainly had sound knowledge of his enemy, not only who he was, but also the weapons that were being used against him. But as can be seen, he was also aware of the mighty arsenal of weapons that God has provided for us to use against our enemy, Satan. But, will these mighty weapons actually work against the enemy? James, the half-brother of Jesus, seemed to think so; he stated: “Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:6b-7 KJV). So, it is clearly stated that we can put Satan on the run by using the weapons we are given after we humble ourselves and submit to God, which is exactly the same thing as submitting to His Word. But, as in every battle, certain preparations are expected for us to be ready to fight our enemy.
We contact the world and interface with other humans through the human mind, using the five physical senses given to us at birth. If this is true, is there additional preparation that must be made in the mental realm? Indeed YES! Paul also taught: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). I have long equated this renewal of the mind to a computer that has been in use for many years and has a lot of old, unnecessary and useless data stored on its hard drives. This data only takes up needed storage space and sometimes slows down the very processes needed to function quickly and without errors.
Regarding achieving victory through preparation, Paul also wrote: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6). Is Paul actually teaching us that we need to control EVERY thought that enters our minds? It certainly sounds that way. But, is that even possible? Yes, but, just like the computer that has too much useless data stored on it, unless the owner of the computer constantly maintains the hard drives and cleans up the bad data, the computer will never function properly, so the human mind MUST be maintained and we must make sure that all the data we allow in to it is proper, up to date and in line with God’s Word.
If we fail to have our minds renewed and ready for the spiritual and mental battles we will face, at times on a daily basis, we have almost guaranteed our own defeat because we will be trying to use a worldly, flawed reasoning capacity. And, what is the tool that renews the mind? The Word of God.
The Real Battlefield
The distance from the right ear to the left ear is small indeed, but it covers the area housing the human brain, whereby a man is able to think, reason and interact with other humans using his brain and his five physical senses. That tiny area is the real battlefield where those extremely important battles, the ones that decide the eternal destiny of men, take place. It is not just important, but is absolutely critical, for every Christian, to know where the really important battles take place, who the enemy is and what weapons he will use, especially in this time when Satan is ramping up his attacks on the Body of Christ.
Only those of us who follow the preparation guidelines given to us in the Word of God will experience the success that has been planned for us before the world began. As I stated previously, being unaware of the real battles, where they take place and what weapons we are up against is a sure recipe for disaster, the kind that can, and will, determine our eternal status.
Here is a simplified, down to earth version of the statements made by Paul and James regarding our chances for success in the most important battles we will ever be involved in: 1) Humble ourselves, 2) Submit to God and His Word, 3) Put on our armor, 4) Become transformed by the renewing of our minds. Becoming proficient in these ‘preparation steps’ will not stop Satan from attacking us, rather, the attacks may actually become more fierce and closer together. Trust me, Satan is aware of those who decide to get prepared to defeat him in battle, and he is not a good loser. However, according to God’s Word, we can be comforted in the fact that he is ALREADY defeated. However, we still fight on, knowing that every victory, small or large, that we achieve in our battles, brings glory to God and to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
So, stand up, look up, suit up and get ready for the battle, and the victory!