1 Peter 5:8-11 (NLT2) 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.
No one wants to live in a warzone. No one wants to live under the threat of violence. However, not wanting to live in a warzone will not make the war go away. Once there is a war the only way to get away from it is to move away, be recalled by the commander or win the war. (We might also lose the war but the war we are fighting cannot be lost.)
Thankfully, in America we are not in the kind of warzone that puts our physical lives at risk. Nevertheless, we are in a warzone and the enemy is actively trying to “kill, steal or destroy” us.
John 10:10 (NKJV) 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
The thief in this scripture is the one with whom we are at war. He is here in the world. He comes for one multi-faceted reason. He wants to kill. That means if he can, he wants to take your physical life. We do not face guns and bombs in America, but we face sickness, accident, suicide and many other things that can take physical life. He also wants to steal. He may take your home, your family or your livelihood. What he really wants is to take you from your active relationship with Jesus in the body of Christ. Finally, what he really wants is to destroy. He wants to destroy your testimony, your faith, your family and anything else that will take you out of the war between him and God.
You can pretend he is not in the world. You can pretend that you have no enemies. The Bible teaches you have three. The world, the flesh and the devil. We can ignore them, but they will not ignore us. We can choose to live an ineffectual life with no impact for the kingdom. Keeping our head down in this way may keep us from being attacked, but it will not get us out of danger. We live in a warzone called the world and the only way we will get away from it is when we go home to be with the Lord or when the final victory is won. We are fighting for the souls of men, women, boys and girls. We cannot quit and we cannot fail.
Most of those who read this have never lived in a physical war zone. We live comfortable lives for the most part. Sometimes the war on terror may intrude or there may be some kind of mass attack, but that is not every day. It happens, we get all worked up and in a few days, we go back to the way things were.
There are those in the world who know what it means to live in a warzone. You may say you are a non-combatant, but the bullets are still in the air and the bombs still fall. You may say you do not want to fight but the war still finds you. There is no escape. There are people caught in the middle of terrorist groups or civil conflicts. Sometimes the so-called armies even take children by force and turn them into soldiers.
We may not think that is the case for us and in the flesh it is not. However, we do not war in the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3-4.) In the spirit the battle is raging all around us. The thief is working to kill, steal and destroy. He is opposing everyone who names the name of Christ. He is taking our children, stealing our wealth and opposing our ministry. If we attempt to rise up in righteousness or faith, he is there to attack. If we commit to prayer, study or evangelism, his weapons will be arrayed against us. We are in a warzone that we only escape with death or victory.
Let me ask another question. In a warzone, who is the safest person? Is it the one who runs from the war and hides? Most of the time the enemy will find a person who is hiding. If the hider is found, he is more vulnerable than anyone on the battlefield. Is it the one who goes to the enemy and tries to reason with him? That might depend on the enemy. However, our enemy will not listen to reason. Today, we see people like ISIS who kill everyone and anyone who will not bend to their will or who they consider a threat. The penalty for compromise is either death or slavery. As for me, I would prefer the former to the latter. However, there is another way.
The safest person on the battlefield is the one who is trained and equipped to fight the war. Today, soldiers of the most developed countries have powerful weapons and effective body armor. They have armored vehicles that can withstand more of the enemy’s firepower than ever before. We have heavy weapons that are pinpoint in their accuracy and completely irresistible to the enemy when used correctly.
If I am living in a warzone I want to be trained and equipped like our modern soldiers. If I am walking down the streets of Afghanistan, I want full Kevlar body armor. I want to be carrying every weapon at my disposal and I want to know how to use them. If I am driving around Afghani roads, I do not want to be driving a Toyota, I want an armored Humvee, personnel carrier or better yet an Abrams battle tank. None of this guarantees I will not be hurt or killed but it makes me more dangerous to the enemy than he is to me.
If we want to live in the most safety possible in our war-torn world we must be trained and equipped in the things of God. Paul says so in his letter to the Ephesians.
Ephesians 6:10-13 (NKJV) 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
We live in a warzone. We cannot pretend we do not. Pretending will not make it go away. We can live in this warzone without fear. We have armor that can protect us. We have weapons that are not carnal but that are mighty through God and able to pull down the strongholds of the enemy. There are still casualties in this war. People do lose their lives and people do reject the saving power of grace in the Gospel. Nevertheless, if we are equipped and trained, we can fight and win even when it looks like we cannot.
I wanted to spend more time on the scripture above, but, as is often the case, I got sidetracked. Let me at least point out a few things from these verses. First, we must stay alert and watch out for our enemy. His greatest weapon is deception. If he can convince you he is active in the battle, he has you where he wants you. Second, remember that he goes around like a roaring lion. That is not to say he is not dangerous. The Taliban, ISIS or any of the other enemies we may face today are no match for the might of a modern military. They win by deceiving and undermining. They are dangerous, but in many ways, they are like roaring lions. They make a great deal of noise, but their power is very limited. It is the same with our enemy, the devil.
Finally, remember that you are not alone. All over the world this battle is being fought. In many places, people are giving their physical lives for the gospel. Even if we are blessed to live where that is not happening to us, the war is still being fought. We are all together. Remember those who fight in ways we do not have to and pray for them. Fight the battles in front of you. God will never abandon us. He his always there whether the war is hot or seems cold. Even when it seems like a defeat, God will strengthen you, support you and put you on a firm foundation of victory. The only ways to lose are to quit or ignore the fight altogether.