Sunday, April 19, 2009

words at war

In June 1940, German troops pressed across Europe heading toward Great Britain. Winston Churchill spoke his famous "Words at War" speech to rally English forces to war. His conclusion is powerful:

The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'

Churchill is a great commander communicating a great charge. Similarly, in Ephesians 6:10-13, the Apostle Paul is a military general rallying spiritual soldiers to war:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

In this passage, Paul warns about the reality of our spiritual adversary. This enemy is:

1. ...spiritual, not physical. Our struggle isn't "against flesh and blood" but against forces in heavenly places.

2. ...multiple, not one. Our enemy is the Devil and his legion [see Mark 5:9] of demons. Our enemy is also our flesh and the world. These three converge in Ephesians 2:1-3.

3. ...purposeful, not passive. The devil's "scheme" is to turn to chaos what God has created. He undoes what God does. That's why, when God's people decide to pursue spiritual things, they can expect greater spiritual attack.

Knowing that our enemy is real and the danger is real, Paul's charge is for Christians to stand up and stand strong. Be alert and steadfast resting in and relying upon the power of the Lord. Greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world!

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