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.
Yesterday was Veterans’ Day in America and Remembrance Day in Europe. It was originally created to remember and honor those who served and died in WWI. November 11 marks the day that the armistice was signed, ending that world conflict. Over the years Veterans’ Day has been expanded to include all veterans up to today.
As I reflected upon how conflict and war has changed since WWI, I thought of the parallels with the spiritual battle in which we are engaged. In WWI and WWII, the battles lines were clearly marked. It was obvious who the enemy was and who your allies were. Those distinctions started to blur in the Korean War and almost disappeared in Vietnam. Today, in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are no clear defining lines for who is friend or foe.
In the spiritual battle that we face, the defining lines have definitely been blurred, especially in America. In many parts of the world, there are still very clear distinctions between Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers. In certain places, there is open conflict, with the church being actively persecuted and oppressed. In some places, there is an uneasy truce, similar to North and South Korea. There is still antagonism, but there is some room for Christians to practice their faith opening. In America the defining lines have all but disappeared. With a façade of cultural Christianity, Satan is waging a spiritual guerilla war. Officially we have complete freedom of religion, but in practical terms that freedom is constantly under attack and being confined and restricted.
Both open conflict and subversive action are dangerous, painful and costly to the Church. Open conflict tends to unify the Church and draw it together. Subversive conflict tends to divide the Church and push us apart. Open conflict often results in the loss of property, social status and even life. Subversive conflict results in a watered down gospel, a degrading of morals and a general loss of faith. Both forms of satanic attack are real, powerful and dangerous. One form is easy to see, while the other is harder to detect. The Bible warns us to be on our guard against both forms of attack.
Paul warned the church in Corinth to be discerning about what influences they allowed to shape the church. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
Peter challenges us to stand firm in the face of Satan’s attacks. He is looking for any vulnerable place where he might gain an advantage. Peter calls us to stand firm along side of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9
The biggest difference between those who face open conflict and those who face subversive conflict is perception. Those in the openly persecuted church know they are in a battle. They live with the reality daily. Those of us who live in the comfortable West often forget. We let our guard down. We compromise. We become complacent. All of these play right into the hands of the enemy.
The hardest battle to fight is the one that you don’t know you are in. We in America need to open our eyes and our hearts. We need to pray for and support our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church. We also need to embrace the reality that we are under siege as well.
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.