First Things @ First
In America and the world at large, the struggle between what is right and wrong continues to escalate as the Lord's coming draws nearer. While some call for unity in this nation, what is often overlooked is the one who is continually working and lurking in the shadows to ensure continuing division. This person has no political party affiliation whatsoever. Never has. However, he will use anyone willing to be used for his destructive purpose. As this world progresses toward its end, the adversary will continue to increase his deception, disruption, and division. He will continue to target families and friends turning them against each other because of some 'issue' that is driven by pride. What is overlooked is the truth that people are not the enemy. Never have been. As followers of Christ we have always had only one adversary and that adversary is the Devil. Human beings are often used by the adversary to steal, kill, and destroy what God calls good. If humanity is to avoid destroying itself, efforts must be targeted at the proper adversary in order to realize victory in adversity.
In the book, 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu, I was recently made aware of dozens of principles on warfare found in thirteen chapters. By the way, I'm told this book is twenty-six hundred years old and is still used today for preparing military personnel in their strategy of overcoming their enemy. Principle eighteen may be helpful for those in the family of faith today. It reads, 'If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.'
If we fail to recognize our real enemy there will surely be 'friendly fire'. Friends will be wounded, possibly irreparably. Families will find themselves at odds with each other for generations. The 'koinonia' fellowship of the Lord's Church is subject to being forfeited and Satan is given a victory in 'the battle'. The only way our adversary can achieve victory is IF those who stand with God refuse to stand with their brethren in the body in opposing the correct enemy.
I read a few days ago in one of David Jeremiah's books, 'The Book of Signs' that as we draw closer to the time of the Lord's return, we can be certain that satanic activity will increase. The Bible records these important words for us today, "In the latter days some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1). Jeremiah continues with the same theme--"we often blame those who lie, deceive, divide, and destroy for everything wrong in the world. Yes, the people who do those things must be held accountable--and God will do that in His time. But our true enemy is Satan, who uses people for many of his evil actions. As long as we see people as our enemies and wrestle against them, we will spend our strength in vain." end
As scripture reminds us, "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" (Ephesians 6:12).
So, the next time you find yourself in a struggle with someone in the community or the Lord's Church exercise the wisdom necessary to understand who the real enemy is. It is not an easy thing to hold one's tongue when the flesh desires 'to carve' someone up with sharp rhetoric in retaliation for what is considered wrong and taken personally. We must be compelled to courageously share what is right according to the Word of God under the counsel of the Holy Spirit, not the coercion of the flesh.
When Judah's enemies showed up with death and destruction of God's people on their mind, God gave King Jehoshaphat some enduring counsel in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles 20:15. This counsel was provided by God in the face of overwhelming circumstances. The Bible says that Jehoshaphat directed the people of Judah to pray and fast in seeking the face of God and as they responded with obedience, God intervened. God reminded King Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah of who was in control. God responded to the prayers of His people with enduring counsel. "Do not be afraid, nor dismayed because of the great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's."
We are reminded in this text that God has no equal (Isaiah 40:12-31; Isaiah 45:5; Isaiah 46:5) and no rival (Nahum 1:2-8). The equal of Satan is Michael, the archangel (Daniel 10 & 12; Revelation 12 & Jude 1:9), not God. By the way, Michael is the only angel referred to in the Word of God as the archangel. Both Lucifer (as he was known in heaven) and Michael were created by God. Both are finite. God is infinite, having no beginning or end. Why is that important? Simple. Our source of strength must come from the One who is infinitely able to defeat the Devil and the evil he proposes.
When things don't go the way you would like and/or when evil seems to prevail, remember, no one gets away with anything. All will be held accountable. There will be a reckoning for both words and works, whether good or evil. Question is, what do you want to be held accountable for? Doing things your own way for your own purpose OR doing things His way for His purpose? The latter will always require releasing more of who we are to the One who requires that we learn to depend on Him through faith and not on ourselves.
"Be still (stop trying to control everything/conquer everyone-release it to God) and know that He is God. He will be exalted among the nations; He will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10).
When governed by the flesh, 'digging in' to somehow hold your position only assists the Devil, (the real enemy) in burying you. If you're tempted to 'stand your ground' when opposed, make sure the ground your standing on is worth holding. And always remember, the battle is the Lords who made heaven and earth as well as you and those who oppose you, whoever that might be currently.
The war has been won! Jesus has overcome! May we live like it in the face of adversity and love like it, as well! It will help build enduring relationships in the community and in the Lord's Church.
God's best to all as we continue the upward journey home!
Until then, be faithful unto death and He will give you the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
ref. ( 'The Book of Signs'--David Jeremiah--pgs. 125-126)