Satan is an eternal optimist for only he is fully aware of his eternal fate yet he keeps on perverting the minds of people in the hope that more the crowd less are the chances of punishment from a loving God. But for a believer ideal life would be to live that even the devil cringes at his/her entering a place. God provided all that was needed by the ‘first couple’ in the Garden and has equipped us also with the power of His Spirit and the authority of His Word to overcome darkness and evil. Victorious is one who aligns himself with God in such a way to be one with His will and then live subject to His Divine power and authority.
Why do we become helpless before evil? – Satan is a liar and he spreads lies about everything including the Scripture by distorting the truth. One such distortion is the false teaching that we struggle unnecessarily and that is why we suffer. We must surrender ourselves and our efforts to God and “Let God do it all for us” and do nothing of our own, for the battle is the Lord’s and not ours. This has been propagated through a wrong interpretation of the verse “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). The distortion of this verse is ‘you have nothing to do, God will do it, and you do not have to overcome or do anything else. If we relate this verse to our daily life, our warfare against the devil and our human nature it is entirely opposite to this falsity. If this was so, then sin would not have entered humanity for God would have prevented the battle at the start itself rather than intervening at this later stage.
The half truth proclaimed is that God would not like His children to suffer and our suffering is attributable to our efforts to take up the fight. That our troubles would end immediately once we surrender our efforts to God and let God take up the fight for us. It is true that our faith is being tested during our times of trials and faith in God is the answer to this. But this does not mean that we accept defeat and surrender the battle and do nothing in the hope that God would take up our cause. The analogy that abiding in the LORD means not to struggle and do nothing to jeopardize the boat and let God steer us to victory with His power.
Does this align with Scripture? – No, for Apostle Paul the writer of the above verse commands something different altogether just two verses later. “Therefore put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). The call is absolutely clear on four counts – put on the whole armor of God – whole of it and not some weapons only. Then gain ability to withstand in the evil day, thirdly do all that is possible and it would mean – do not give up. Finally keep standing – maintaining your stand against the enemy despite anything that may happen. That is the problem with Satan’s lies and deceptions – truth is perverted and it is generally preached, ask the pastor to pray for you and he will get the answers to your problems from God. Lord Jesus assured us “Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you” (Matthew 7:7). All three actions are individual actions and cannot be contracted out to someone else, for this dependence on others may get relief temporarily but permanent solution is unlikely.
Apostle Paul cautioned his favorite disciple to “fight the good fight of faith and take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Timothy 6:12). This instruction is also for everyone and not a few chosen ones only for all believers are required to fight the good fight of faith and take hold of eternal life – not through being idle but by getting actively involved in this spiritual battle. Apostle Paul called it a good fight and a fight of faith to take hold of the medal of eternal life.
Why is it a ‘fight of faith’? – We require a wartime strategy to win this battle against the enemy of our souls but it cannot be done if we do not believe that there is a fight. Secondly, we must believe in the cause of the fight – fight for God and God’s kingdom on earth. There are two reasons to call it a fight of faith.
First, doubt and unbelief are biggest threats – maintaining faith, believing in God and His promises in the Scripture becomes most important in this. Apostle Paul admonishes Timothy to “pursue righteousness, godliness and faith” (1 Timothy 6:11) despite his being a believer. Thus the instruction here is to get more faith or become stronger in faith while holding on to what faith he had and this becomes the first part of the fight. It is a daily fight against the forces of unbelief and of maintenance of our guard against them. Giving His own example, he exhorts further “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Thus keeping the faith and fighting the good fight are synonymous with each other.
Second, faith is the weapon of this fight to attain victory beyond faith – thus faith must be maintained to obtain victory by means of this same faith. Thus command to ‘take hold of eternal life’ is the goal of this fight while faith is the weapon thereof. An athlete trains hard to receive a reward – a gold medal – and the medal of this fight is eternal life. The fact that eternal life depends on realization of faith in this daily fight is generally not grasped by many believers. “Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). Obtaining the ‘crown of life’ is the result of enduring trials or being in the fight, for how can a soldier claim to get a reward without even getting into the battle of victory in faith over temptation of unbelief. Lord Jesus has also promised the crown of life to those who remain faithful unto death – to those who faithfully fight unto death to maintain faith and use it as a weapon in the battle.
Why is it a good fight? – Apostle Paul has termed it as a good and not a bad fight because of five reasons. First, the enemy is evil causing sinful living and fall of believers from grace and our opposing these forces has to be good and for righteousness.Second, Apostle Paul further urges us to “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” and ensure that the devil cannot succeed in his plans against us. He then assures us that “God is at work in you both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12). We must not fear of being alone in this fight for God’s hand is on us to empower and guide in this fight for He gives us the willpower to defeat the enemy by sustaining us in faith. Third, the struggle is not to carry our burdens of life on our shoulders but to cast all our burdens onto His might shoulders. Such paradigm shift in our attitude of life brings in peace, freedom, hope and joy which are constantly under threat from unbelief due to lies from the devil. Four, we are required to humble ourselves before the throne of Almighty God and the battle is for His glory and our self exaltation by proving our strength at someone else’s expense. Seeking God’s grace and mercy, while accepting our own weaknesses, is the key to success in this fight. By nature we are not accustomed to admitting our own weaknesses whereas Lord Jesus declares “Apart from Me (the Savior) you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Essence of faith is this admission and developing humility is a good trait making this fight a good fight. Five, God desires us to overcome evil and our getting into the fight itself glorifies God for when we trust in Him we give Him glory. John the Baptist declared “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30) and our sole aim in life should be this to live our lives for Him and according to His will.The fight against evil is good for it brings glory to God and He is exalted in our lives through this good fight.
Our role in this fight – This is a costly battle and God sacrificed His own Son on the cross to ensure our victory and some of the gory details of the final stages of this battle are revealed to us in the Scripture. Michael and His angels defeated “the dragon” and the significant aspect of this battle is the Satan as a ‘covering cherub’ was mightier that an archangel. God did not send His Son riding on a white horse to defeat Satan but as a weak and dependent child for “God chose foolish, weak, low and despised to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). He became man to defeat the mighty angel (the devil) through His sufferings and when we share in His sufferings through temptations and trials, we will also share in His glory (Romans 8:17).
Our role in this to be ready ourselves at all times as also to enroll more troops as fighters by moving out in Lord Jesus’ power and authority to make disciples. More the number of disciples more will be the frustration of the devil to force him to unleash all his vile tricks and thus bring the ‘day of judgement’ upon himself. Satan will enthrone a visible symbol of his power ‘the wicked one’ who will be working with all of his power performing various ‘signs and wonders’. This will bring in his final downfall leading to chains and eternal condemnation. In the meanwhile we must be ready at all times fully equipped with the weapons made available by our Savior Lord for this battle – the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-20).
Weapons given by Lord Jesus to us – The Messiah Lord has given us an armor not only to defend ourselves from the evil one but also to defeat him by using the weapon of attack – the sword. These weapons are:
- Belt of truth– Satan’s most potent weapon is his lies to cause confusion in and around us and we are given the belt of truth for all additional weapons and ammunition are attached securely to the belt. The truth of the Word of God is available to counter the devil in the manner that the Lord has ordained to set us free with His truth. Once we are aware we can discern and fight effectively and make every other weapon also more effective and under better control.
- Breastplate of righteousness– A breastplate covers and protects our heart; the most vulnerable part for it is the seat of all emotions and feelings. All attacks are directed at our heart to make us fall from faith, trust and from self worth in the Lord. God’s righteousness covers our evil nature, protects us and ensures His approval while defeating the lies of the devil – ‘you are not worth anything, there are no benefits from the cross of Calvary or your sins are far too many or unpardonable’.
- Shoes of preparedness – to spread the Good news of the Gospel to the unreached of the world and make them disciples. This helps and protects us from lies – no use of reaching out for they will reject the message; too big a task; stiff opposition and even threats to life, family members and property. These shoes provide us the motivation and strength to persevere.
- Shield of faith – A shield protects us from the bullets/arrows fired at us – insults, temporary setbacks and temptations. God is our shield and in faith we get empowered by Him to foresee the future and the ultimate victory as revealed in the Book of Revelation chapters 21-22.
- Helmet of salvation – While heart represents our soul the mind connects to our spirit and is our most sensitive part getting afflicted by doubts about God, the Son and about salvation available through His sacrifice. Various half truths disguised as truth are unleashed at us, even through the Church, to make us stumble and assurance of salvation protects us from these. Satan “blinds the minds” to stop us from understanding the truth and this helmet protects us from all types of doubts (2 Corinthians 4:4).
- Sword of God’s Word – This is the only weapon given to us for attacking the enemy of our souls and its use was amply demonstrated by our Lord in the wilderness against the devil and in the cities against his agents – the Pharisees and Sadducees. Truth of the Scriptures reveals his darkness to make the devil flee into his corner of lies.
Prayer and worship are the training area to prepare, equip and send us out into this fight in the mission fields. This helps us keep battle ready at all times and our intercessory prayers supply the necessary ammunition to others who are in direct battle lines – working earnestly for God’s kingdom.
Ensuring success in fight – This is fight of faith where the weapon is faith which “comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). In addition we can cry out to God “I believe, Lord, help mu unbelief” (Mark 9:24). In a battle every soldier fights for the same common goal and all believers are together in this and Scripture commands us “Take care brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil unbelieving heart leading you to fall away from the Living God. But exhort one another everyday as long as it is called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:12-13). The identified danger is an unbelieving heart and the remedy for that is exhorting one another daily without waiting for we are comrades in this fight. We share in Christ and this fellowship is mandatory not optional.
We maintain faith by stirring up one another through assembling together and in that encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24-25). This fellowship with each other keeps us in the light for ‘He Himself is in the light’ and blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). The Greek word “koinonia” has been translated as fellowship but it means more than that – to share together, joint participation and contribution. Without koinonia the blood of Christ also is not fully operational in us since then we are not working fully in the light. This ensures commitment not only to God and His will but also to each individual and the common cause and victory of one is shared by all. We fight together and not alone providing cover through prayer and worship to ensure success.
Elijah brought down fire from heaven to defeat the priests of Baal and Asherah leading to the death of 850 of them but the death threat from Jezebel, the queen, made him flee to seek death for himself. God not only provided for him in the wilderness but also revealed the presence of seven thousand of His priests in Israel. We also like Elijah are not alone in this fight against the reign of evil and all believers are together in the power of God in Holy Spirit. The fight is to maintain faith in Him and emerge victorious for God strengthens us for that.