Wednesday, March 20, 2013

P2 - The Christian's spiritual warfare

1 John 2:14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Yesterday we consider the subject of Christian spiritual warfare, noting the various scriptures and John's specific take on the subject.  Thus far we have noted two elements of Christian spiritual warfare:

1. Satan is the adversary in spiritual warfare.  We saw this in 1 John 2:14 and other texts which reveal the Christian's indirect warfare with the enemy.  Only the Old Adam and Jesus the New Adam had to deal with Satan directly.  Old Adam lost but Jesus the New Adam won.  As Christians, we deal with satan indirectly either through the network of the kingdom of darkness or the world system.  

2. The World is the arena of spiritual warfare.  In 1 John 2:15-16 we see John describing the organized system of unbelief called "the world".  The "world" is the arena of spiritual warfare.  Through ideas and the lusts of the flesh, eyes and pride of life, Satan wields his indirect but still damaging assault on Christians.  

With those two ideas explored we continue in today's blog with two other components of the the Christian's spiritual warfare: namely the flesh and the use of the scriptures.    

The Actual Target of Spiritual Warfare - The flesh. 1 John 2:16
We have seen the adversary of spiritual warfare being the devil and the arena being the world, but what about the actual target? The Bible terms "the flesh" as that target. Now in scripture the Hebrew and Greek words translated "flesh" refer to one of two things: physical blood and bones (Hebrews 2:14) and the area of our being that is the sum total of the drives and passions. (Galatians 5:16-21) Jesus had to battle with satan in the realm of the flesh in Matthew 4:2-3 "And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  The sinless and fully human Jesus won the battle of the flesh, refusing to give into the temptation - demonstrating Himself to be the perfect Second Adam. (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:45)

The flesh as the active target in spiritual warfare includes the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Thus when we see King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:30 boasting over all he has accomplished, we see the personification of the "pride of life". Clearly Nebuchadnezzar was acting in the flesh. For seven years he was reduced to a crawling beast of a man. Or how about the lesser known figure Achan in Joshua 7:21 whose "lust of the eyes" led to Israel's defeat at the hands of her enemies. Achan admits that he "saw" the plunder of the enemy, then "coveted" it, then "took" it and finally "concealed" it in his tent. The end result was death. When you and I get in the flesh, it grieves the Spirit of God who indwells every child of God. (Ephesians 4:30) The only way we can defeat the flesh is through repentance and following the leading of the Holy Spirit through the scriptures. (Galatians 5:16)

The Active Weaponry of spiritual warfare - The scriptures. 1 John 2:14,17

We have noted the adversary of spiritual warfare, the arena in which it occurs and the actual target. Indeed it can seem an overwhelming task in winning the battles of spiritual warfare. However I am here to tell you that God has prescribed an active weapon that is greater than all of Satan's devices combined - the word of God. In fact we see the scriptures bracketing this section of 1 John 4:14-17. 1 John 2:14 states - "I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." Note the underlined phrases and the outcome - victory over the evil one by the scriptures. Or consider 1 John 2:17 "And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." The "will of God" in this verse refers to God's revealed will, the scriptures. (Deuteronomy 29:29) Hebrews 4:12 tells us of the active nature of the word of God - "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

When you consider Jesus' battles with satan in the wilderness, how did he meet each challenge?  In Matthew 4:4, 7, 10 Jesus quoted scripture back at the Devil from Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16 & 6:13. Why? Because only by the Word of God can we defeat the adversary. Commiting it to memory will ensure effective Christian living and spiritual success. (Joshua 1:8) Truly we are engaged in spiritual warfare at all times, but let us take up the spiritual armor, and wield the active weapon - the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)