The World: Playground or Battleground?

I was reminded of this writing by A.W. Tozer by a brother from Parkwood this week.  Tozer is reflecting on Ephesians 6:12  “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant

influence over American thinking, men and women conceived

the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and

the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in

God and righteousness and heaven as the other. By their very

nature, these forces were opposed to each other forever in deep,

grave, irreconcilable hostility. Humans, our fathers held, had to

choose sides — they could not be neutral. For them it must be

life or death, heaven or hell, and if they chose to come out on

God’s side they could expect open war with God’s enemies. The

fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life

continued here below. People looked forward to heaven as a

return from the wars, a laying down of the sword to enjoy in

peace the home prepared for them . . .

How different today. The fact remains the same, but the

interpretation has changed completely. People think of the world,

not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to

fight; we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land; we are

at home. We are not getting ready to live, but we are already

living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions

and our frustrations and live this life to the full.

How do you know that you are going through a spiritual battle?

As I have pondered how to answer this question that I received yesterday, I would respond, “The better question is how do I know that I am not in a spiritual battle?”  The point being that we are constantly involved in spiritual struggles.  (Let’s use the word struggle instead of battle…Eph. 6:12)  Let me attempt to simply explain a typical day in my life and what these struggles look like.

I woke up on this Monday morning with this struggle in my thinking…the sermon yesterday missed the mark, …it just did not connect,…people could not have gotten anything out of that…etc.  By the way every sermon presented from human lips will have human limitations.  However, I fight with these truths.

  • “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6  ESV
  • “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11 ESV

As I read the news and consider the events of this day, the world appears to be a bleak place.  Lies and deceit have dominated the headlines for over a week.  The cover of Newsweek features a picture of President Barak Obama with the caption “The Second Coming.”  A 15-year-old boy murdered his parents and three younger siblings in New Mexico over the weekend.  I can quickly allow this struggle to overcome me to the point of despair by giving into hopeless thoughts for the world and the future.  Then, I fight back…

  • “But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.  You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed.  But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”  Hebrews 1:8-12 ESV

I am sure that the rest of this Monday will be like most and similar to yours. Lots of emails, lots of questions, details, details, details, solving problems, putting out fires, creating a to-do list, fighting off others giving me a to-do list, on and on and on.  Then, I will get in my car and go home to my family.  The 10-minute drive and the first steps into my house are a struggle every day, particularly Monday.  I want to engage my family and be the husband and father that I need to be.  I remind myself that they are fighting their own struggles. If we are not careful we will get confused as to who our opponents are and attack each other.  How do I fight this struggle?

  • “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV
  • “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,”  Ephesians 5:25 ESV
  • “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:4 ESV

Now let me be clear, these are not verses to be claimed by simply speaking them.  These are truths to be obeyed and lived out with the clear prayerful confession, “apart from You oh Lord, I can do nothing.”

Let me summarize my point with this simple statement.  Quit looking for the big battles that people write books about.  You will definitely know when one of those comes your way.  Spiritual warfare is lived out in the simple narrative of your life and mine.  Ask God to open your eyes to see it so that you can engage it according to His Word, not so you can be fascinated by it.

Spiritual Warfare Study Begins

Spiritual-Warfare3-FINALex-800x500Parkwood begins the journey together today in our study of Spiritual Warfare.  I was thrilled to hear that we have already sold 600 copies of Putting on the Armor by Chuck Lawless.  (In fact, we sold out of what we had on hand.  We will have more copies available by this Sunday.)

The personal time that we spend studying this material throughout the week will help us to grow personally and spark discussion during our Growth Groups when we meet.  If you are not already in a Growth Group, I strongly encourage you that now is the time to find one to plug into.  You can find more information about our Growth Groups at http://parkwoodonline.org/ – /discipleship or stop by the Info Desk on Sunday morning.

As I spent time in the workbook this morning, this point particularly stuck me…

  • Right beliefs must lead to right actions, and those right actions defeat the Enemy. 

Spiritual warfare is about the attempts of the Evil One, the world, and the flesh to derail what we believe in order to get us to do that which is contrary to the will of God. The issue really comes down to lies believed that lead to lives damaged or destroyed.

Let’s go back to the young man in the opening illustration of day one in the material that is questioning if Christianity really is true.  What should the parents do?  I agree that they should pray but that is not all. They should prayerfully and honestly deal with the questions that the young man has by answering them from the Scripture.  As they do so, they should display love, compassion, and conviction.  They should not be threatened.    What if the parents do not do these things in the right way?  They could alienate their son to the point of anger. (Eph. 6:4)  Silence could lead him to believe that Christianity is not robust enough to stand up under such scrutiny.  What could happen to the son if he believes the lies that he is hearing?  He could abandon all moral restraint concluding that he is just an evolved animal.  He could deny the faith entirely and give no thought to the things of God and pursue whatever he pleases.

How do we fight these kinds of battles…believe the right things and obey with the right actions.  Where does right belief come from?   The Bible…God’s Word.

Looking forward to tomorrow.