In the Beginning, There Was War
Our great country was born in war and, throughout its history, war has shaped this nation. Ever since our birth we have been fighting wars for various reasons, and it has framed our government and expanded our borders. It has united us as citizens but also divided us in dissent and grief. Through the course of our existence as a nation, we have faced an enemy that we felt obligated to fight. From battling the British tyranny in the American Revolution to our current war on terrorism, we have always faced a war with a great enemy.
It true of war that you face an enemy, and to conquer it, you must have the right economic and social resources. This is an ideal image to describe the daily war that takes place in the Christian life. For Christians, there is a war going on. It is real, it is deadly, and it is costly. According to the Bible, there are three enemies that we face: Satan, the world, and our sin nature. All of which are waging an ongoing, costly, deadly war against us.
1. Satan is our enemy. Since creation, Satan has been at war with the people of God. Peter tells us to be watchful, as soldiers, on guard against him: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Contrary to many images circulating on the internet, Satan is not in an equal war against God with his soldiers, with ourselves caught in the middle. Satan is in a war against us, and he prowls around like a hungry lion, seeking someone weak, who isn’t keeping watch. He wars against us by tempting us to sin, deceiving us, and sometimes inflicting us.
2. The world is our enemy. The worldviews, desires, and influence of the world is at war against us also. The world’s ideas, desires and influence are against God and against Christians. You can see this evident more today than ever before in the history of the world. Today, the basic tenets of the Christian worldview are considered as hate-crime or arrogance. James tells us that we are to keep ourselves from being influenced by the world and associating with its worldviews and desires: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Because we are different, because we are God’s people, we suffer persecution and rejection from the world because we are “not of this world” (John 17:16).
3. Our sin nature is our enemy. Satan is powerful and the world can exert a strong influence on us, but no enemy is as powerful as ourselves. The 90’s rock band Lit had it right they said, “It’s no surprise to me that I am my own worst enemy.” The Bible does warn us strongly about keeping guard against Satan and the world, as the Scriptures above testify. But no warning is as strong as the warning against our own sin nature: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). No other passage of Scripture is as stark in its warning. The passions of our flesh wage war against the most valuable thing we possess: our souls.
We are all fighting a war of desire to do what God wants, and to do what we want and commit sin. In this series, we will see what we are fighting, why we are fighting, and how to battle what we are fighting. The outline of the series is as follows:
1. The Battle Within (1 Peter 2:11-12)
2. Sin’s Greatest Weapon (James 1:12-15)
3. Empowered to Fight (Gal. 5:16-18)