The enemy is the devil.
We are at war.
I’m standing in the common space at my office today. Below it’s loud. Traffic, people moving about, the market churning out another business day. It’s busy. It’s painful. Sin, crime, pain, wounded hearts, possession. It’s horror and terror. It’s also beautiful, lovely. But from where I was standing, it’s utterly silent save for the cool air conditioning cascading over my head and shoulders. I am a man looking out upon a massive war taking place. As if I have a front row seat to the bloody trenches in World War 1. But I am a not a viewer, I am warrior in it as well.
I think we have three major fronts of the war with Satan going on. Three theaters of war.
As the redeemed, we are responsible for only two of them.
1) The heavenly realms.
This is a place where the war has, is and will be bitterly fought. This is also, I think, the easiest place to completely annihilate the enemy. Satan has strongholds in the air though and throughout our universe. Ephesians 2:2,
…in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Jesus has fought in this theater as well. None can oppose the omnipotent Son and he utterly lays waste his enemies when he, the Captain of Angels Armies, Jesus Christ himself goes into battle.
My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed.
And, one day soon during the Tribulatuion, Michael will defeat Satan to end Satan’s reign in the heavenly realms. Revelation 12:7-9,
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
2) Ourselves. This is a war for the control of not just heaven and earth, but your very heart, your mind. Yes, we do make choices every day that are either for Christ or against him, but Satan is waiting for us to make a sinful choice, to slip up so he can attack. 1 Peter 5:8,
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Notice how Peter says this. We are to be alert and have a sober mind. We have an enemy ready to attack if, IF, we choose sin, if we choose to be drunk with our own sinful desires. It is still highly based around our choices, but if we don’t choose to be near to Jesus, we put ourselves in danger. We are safe near Jesus, only near Jesus. Anywhere else there is peril. One reason Jesus allows Satan’s presence is to refine us. God used Satan, because God’s will be done. Even when Satan tormented Job, he had to have Jesus’ permission and he was given boundaries that he could not overstep (Job 1:6-12). God’s power is ultimate. Satan’s power is on a leash, that much is for sure. One lever God can pull in our daily renewal is that he uses him a mechanism in our lives to drive us closer to Jesus. Jesus wants us closer to him. It’s dark and scary anywhere else but near him and Satan is out there in the shadows, in places where we are powerless without Jesus, therefore it helps mold our natural tendency to want to be near Jesus at all times. Which is exactly what we were created to be. Just like my son or daughter asks me to walk them to their bedroom when it’s dark at night, they want me, they want my presence. It’s a good analogy (not perfect, granted, and there are lots of caveats to this and nuances, but it helps to illustrate what God is doing here) .What we do need to remember is that we are powerful in Jesus. Ephesians 6:10,
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
But only in Jesus are we strong. We are weak human beings, ready to be picked off, if we are not filled with the Holy Spirit.
One last note on this theater, not everything is Satan’s fault. It’s just not. Sometimes we have a bad morning, traffic sucks, we spilled oatmeal on our dress clothes, the coffee didn’t do its job, or maybe someone said something rude to you, maybe it was someone close to you…it’s not always Satan. Or as Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” But we do need to be of sober mind and vigilant in the spiritual warfare over our own hearts. As Proverbs 4:23 says,
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
3) All of Humanity. Once upon a time, God made a bride. He wanted to get married. He wanted to share the special love and intimacy that only a husband and wife know, in truly knowing one another, one spirit skin of two beloveds, melted together in one body, one heart, one mind, that of the Son. Once upon a time he had children. He wanted a house full of the pitter patter of little feet running around his home. Ephesians 1:4-6, 5:30-32,
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves… for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
He has wanted you from the beginning of eternity, if such a thing existed! You, yes YOU, are the desire of God’s heart. But you are also fought over. Just as your heart is coveted by evil, so is everyone else’s. We are not just at war for ourselves, we are at war for 1) our own sisters and brothers in the family of God (who are fighting, some desperately trying to keep their heads above water, to win their own hearts for Jesus) and 2) the unsaved, those who have not tasted of the love of God.
This goes straight back to all of the verses about loving your neighbor as yourself, loving your sister and your brother, loving the fallen, the downtrodden, the sinner, the sick, the frail, the strong, the castaways, everyone. He wants everyone. And he is willing to wait, to wait for his crashing down upon Satan’s weak, tiny kingdom like a tsunami wave wrecking the beach. ..he waits because he wants everyone to come home to him. 2 Peter 3:9,
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
He wants everyone. And he is doing it through us, his body. He is using us to shows God’s love to the world. This is how this theater of the war can be won. John 17:21-23,
…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Through our love for others and especially through our love for our family in Jesus, they will see God’s love. Today we will all fight in theaters 2 & 3. We will strive in warfare for our own hearts, so that we will do what we really want to do, God’s will. We will also have the choices to love others, our own spirit skin family, and those who are hurting and lost. We can push back darkness today. We can, because we have Jesus Christ inside of us.
God bless you my friends. Be warriors today, know that you are cherished and you have an incredible role to play in this story that God has called you up into. You are a prince, a princess, a warrior, a beloved, a son and a daughter, a friend, you are the apple of his eye. Let’s go to war today, our spirit’s arms locked together in unity, together with our armor on, ready to stand and fight in the Lord’s mighty power.