Saturday, September 20, 2014

Courier-Times article for Saturday, September 19, 2014

The Right and Righteous Fight

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20 ESV)

We live in a world where fighting and war are common. We glorify soldiers and boxers and MMA fighters. We laud soldiers as heroes and pay professional fighters millions. We love fighting so much we make fighting games that net millions upon millions in profits! We love fighting so much that we even cheer on fake fighters, like (so-called) professional wrestlers.

We seem to have a deep desire to fight.

Your desire to fight might be right, but is it righteous? It might be warranted, but is it worshipful?
If you desire a war, don't get a badge, join the military, and pray it never comes.
If you desire a war, don't join a gang and sell dope, join the military, and pray it never comes.
If you desire a fight, don’t put your pride and blood into the streets, join the military, and pray a fight never comes.  

If you really desire a war, one is upon you. If you really desire a fight, one is upon you. Do you know there is a spiritual war waging in and around you? Most people only consider the physical wars and fights that are common to the eyes.

There are wars, and people are killing and being killed; people's lives are ending and they are going forth to meet their Maker. They will be judged; some will pass on through the judgment because they have trusted by faith the finished work of the Christ; others have trusted their flesh or false gods, and they will be sent into outer darkness, away from God, suffering for eternity.

There are wars. Some are being waged on open battlefields, and others are being waged in guerilla and terrorists conflicts, in streets and alleyways and cities and towns, in villages and across farmlands.

There are wars. Some are being fought in city streets between citizens and citizens, citizens and law enforcement. Some are being fought with policies and politics. Some are being fought in families and homes, in schools and workplaces.

There are wars. Across the globe, people are striving and suffering, pursuing selfish interests, killing and being killed, maiming and being maimed, intimidating, wounding, frightening, thieving ... and more.

But, none of us seem to understand THE WAR. The war that is behind the wars, and the one every person is even in this very moment embroiled is spiritual in its root and nature.

The first war is the war within (see Matthew 26:41, Romans 7:14-20, Galatians 5:16-17). All of us are warring within, our flesh raging against our spirit, even wounding our spirit and ruling it. For those who've been quickened into life via the Spirit of God, the old nature is striving against the living spirit within, seeking to maim, oppress, depress, destroy, wound and devour. Yes, there IS a war within.

Still, there's a great conflict that even drives the wars within. Though not the only place in Scripture, Ephesians 6:10-20 is succinct in its description of the fight that is driving every sinful fight and war in the world.

We think our conflicts are really about flesh and blood, but they’re not! We rage and fight, but there’s a darker, spiritual force behind our conflict with other people.

In this broken world, we rage against people, we desire and we war against one another, when, really, truly our war is against demonic forces, “cosmic powers” and “spiritual forces.”

This broken world, filled with warring spiritual forces, should give us a desire to fight, but wisdom would teach us to not fight each other! That’s where we’ve got it all wrong! We must begin to question our motives and our targets. Our desire to fight might be right, but is it righteous? Our desire to war may be coming from the reality we are living in, but are we fighting the right things for the right reasons? 

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