By John Miltenberger
“Everyone’s a winner before the contest begins.”
Sometimes I shudder inwardly when we sing warfare songs in church. While we loudly, dare I say proudly, proclaim to the heavens what mighty warriors we are, the truth is we are baiting a bear we perhaps have never met. Let me say right here that while I do not fear Satan, I respect him, and I respect him because fighting him by myself sometimes isn’t very effective, and I don’t want to die trying.
Depending on the stakes in play, he’s sometimes stronger and smarter than I am by myself, and he’s been around a lot longer. He knows me far better than I know myself, and he knows just which buttons to push. He’s good at surprising me when I don’t have my feet set for battle. I would be foolish indeed to consider this adversary too lightly. He’s very cunning, has no sense of humor, plays for keeps and is completely without mercy.
With regard to spiritual warfare, my favorite, oft-used quote is from Ben Franklin: “We must hang together gentlemen….else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.” The more deeply we are involved in spiritual warfare, the more pertinent is Ben’s quote, and as we begin to make inroads into Satan’s kingdom, the more true it is.
At our church, we’ve been praying and hearing sermons all month about freedom from demonic oppression. The topic is largely ignored by many Christian churches because it is just too frightening, irrelevant and/or uncomfortable, depending upon one’s doctrinal background. But regardless of what we want to believe, the topic is biblically valid and needs to be effectively addressed from our pulpits. One of the first things Christ did as His public ministry kicked off was to cast out a demon; He apparently had no qualms about the topic! And if it’s good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for me.
[There is a progression in living the Christian life that closely resembles biological life. We are ‘born again’, and hopefully soon afterwards, depending upon our food intake, we begin to mature. That’s why it’s critical to join a Bible believing church, and just as critical to join one that doesn’t want to take your money while keeping you in a religious crib. Jesus didn’t stay in the crib; neither should we. If we find ourselves at the end of the road, and can grow no more, it’s time to find a longer road. Our God is eternal and never ending; He is not the author of dead-ends.
No pastor can take you farther than he’s willing to go himself, but the obverse is just as true, no pastor can take you farther than you’re willing to go. If we’re only comfortable eating Christian baby food, what need do we have for teeth?, and every Sunday, pews across the fruited plain are full of perpetual, spiritual babies.]
In my opinion, once we “get free”, the natural progression should be to get unified. In John 17:20-21, Jesus prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
That’s the unity Jesus prayed His disciples would have, but I’ll admit right here that I don’t even begin to understand it experientially. However, I know it’s a critical component because ultimately, it’s only by being unified that the Church of Jesus Christ will impact the world as God intends. And that means fighting together as a unified army to take Satan’s kingdom down, and that fight is simply too big and too vicious for any one person to survive.
Sad to admit it, but I’ve quietly fought against unity most of my Christian life. Frankly, there are some Christians I’d just rather only see on Sunday mornings, and the idea of sharing life, meaningful life with them, is daunting. It’s daunting because to do it well, I’ll have to change, and change means sacrifice, and sacrifice means death-to-self. It’s easy to smile at folks Sunday mornings because I know MY Sunday afternoon is approaching. Can you relate?
If we want to grow past Christian infancy, we first have to get free, then get unified and join ranks. This is a serious battle, and lone wolves get taken out. Believe it – there is a price on all of our heads, and if we don’t learn how to hang together in the fight, we will hang alone. Satan’s main tactic is to divide and conquer, and he’s really good at it; our only contrasting strategy is to unify and fight together. Jesus said the gates of hell would not withstand His Church, and that Church is one army of many unified individuals.
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