In January of 1790 President George Washington addressed the joint houses of Congress. This address is known as the first State of the Union address in US history. In it, President Washington described the need of an armed and disciplined militia. For, he declared, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”
The New Testament does not shy away from describing the Christian life with war imagery.
- Suffer hardship with [me,] as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
- By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. (2 Corinthians 6:7)
- Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)
- But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need. (Philippians 2:25)
- And to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house. (Philemon 1:2)
- For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
The Strategies of Satan
As Believers, we often are unaware of this war. We do not recognize Satan’s strategies, and we do not understand the spiritual armor we have been given in Christ.
How can we win a war we are not aware we are fighting, much less prepared to engage in?
If being prepared for war is one of the “most effectual means of preserving peace,” being unprepared, or at best ill-prepared, allows Satan to gain an advantage over us.
- He prowls around seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
- He is a liar in whom no truth dwells. (John 8:44)
- He produces accusation and condemnation. (Revelation 12:10; Job 1:7-11; 2:1-5; Romans 8:1)
- He inspires doubt. (Genesis 3:1-5)
Doubt is one of Satan’s key strategies. It has been since Garden of Eden. Satan strives to undermine our faith in God. He disguises himself as an angel of light, (2 Corinthians 11:14) and in the same way, seeks to disguise his actions as born of God. He loves to whisper lies, accusation, scorn, and condemnation in our ears, with the goal of convincing us that it is truth.
The Necessity of Faith
Satan knows that faith is central to the Christian life. It is so important that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) And whatever is not done out of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23b)
Every aspect of the Christian life hinges on faith. As A.W. Tozer wrote: “Faith will get [us] anything, take [us] anywhere in the kingdom of God; but without faith, there can be no approach to God, no forgiveness, no deliverance, no salvation, no communion, no spiritual life at all.” (1) If Satan can undermine our faith by causing us to doubt he will inevitably undermine the entirety of our Christian life.
Tozer goes on to describe faith as “the gaze of the soul upon a saving God.” He says, “Believing is directing the heart’s attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to behold the Lamb of God, and never-ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives.” (2)
Faith is a covenant between our eyes and Jesus. It is a choice to ignore every lie, every doubt, every fear, every worry, every distraction that would remove our eyes from Him. Faith fixes its eyes upon Jesus, takes Him at His Word, and steps out on it. Just like the apostle Peter stepping out of the boat unto the Sea of Galilee. With Jesus’ invitation to come, and his eyes fixed upon Jesus he did indeed walk upon the water. It was only when he looked away and at the storm that he began to sink. Doubt caused him to sink. (Matthew 14:23-31)
Resisting the Enemy
As Christians, we will face temptations of doubt, fear, worry, anxiety, discouragement, distraction, etc. But we don’t have to give in. We are made a promise in Scripture:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Jesus provided an example of this in Matthew chapter 4. Satan came to him and tempted him three times, twice to doubt, “If you are the Son of God…” Each time Jesus resisted the temptation with Scripture. His eyes were fixed upon His Father.
The Shield of Faith
Perhaps the most well-known passage in the Bible on spiritual warfare is Ephesians 6. Listen to its description of faith:
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Satan’s fiery arrows fly to their mark with stunning accuracy. But the shield of faith is able to extinguish every one. You see, Satan fights a losing battle. Jesus defeated him on the cross, and one day he will be finally and fully destroyed. As we wait for Christ’s return we war against rulers and powers, world forces of darkness, and against spiritual forces of wickedness. (Ephesians 6:12) But we war with confidence– confidence that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
If you find yourself lacking in faith do not despair. As Corrie ten Boom wrote: “Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. If there is something wrong with my faith I send it back to the heavenly manufacturer. When He has repaired it, it functions perfectly… Let us, therefore, look more and more to Jesus, and not upon our own faith. Let us look not upon the storms around us, but keep our eyes fixed on Him. Then we shall be able to walk upon the waves of the turbulent sea of life” (3)
It is not a great faith we need, but faith in a great God.
1 Tozer, A.W. : The Pursuit of God: Aneko Press: pg. 63
2 Tozer, A.W. : The Pursuit of God: Aneko Press: pg. 67
3 ten Boom, Corrie: Amazing Love: CLC: pg. 47