Not at Home: The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

 I am not someone who watches a lot television, especially award shows. The idea of people fawning over themselves is not that appealing to me. However, yesterday as I was checking the news I was reminded of an important truth: I am not at home in this world. Apparently, at the Grammys, while artist Macklemore performed his song Same Love, which is considered the anthem of LGBT movement, they conducted weddings for both straight and gay couples to demonstrate their love is exactly the same.

          I am not sure why the Grammys thought this was a necessary part of a music award show, but it was clear that they were celebrating homosexuality. It is also clear that they were sending a message to those who disagree with them. Was this surprising to me? No. Much like the fallout surrounding Duck Dynasty, the immorality and sinfulness of the world rarely surprises me, but it does remind me of two important things. 

          First, we are not at home. For a long period of time Christianity enjoyed a privileged status in American culture. This has led many Christians, myself included, to feel like we are at home here. We have gotten very comfortable in our culture. But that time has passed. 

          The increasing frequency of moments like the one at the Grammys reminds us that we are not at home at all.  In 2 Timothy 4:8 Paul says, “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Paul is eagerly awaiting the return of Christ. 

          “That day” is a reference to the day of Christ’s return and the subsequent judgment of the world. Paul reminds us as Christians we are to long for Christ to reappear as Paul did. As I look out at this world and see the reign of evil and the darkening of the clouds around us, my response is an intense longing for Christ to return. We are after all, exiles, awaiting the return of our Lord and awaiting our promised homeland with him. We are not at home in this world. 

          Second, I realize that we are at war. Part of us feeling at home and being comfortable is Satan distracting us from the reality that we are at war with this world. In Ezekiel 13:10, God rebukes the leaders of his people for failing to realize that they are at war, “Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace.”  We must be careful to not allow ourselves to be fooled, to be led astray by thinking that we live in a time of peace. 

          Any country that refuses to acknowledge it is at war when it is under attack is a country that will not long survive. One example of this is found in the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Theoden, a king of men, has been deceived by a wicked counselor to believe that there is no threat to the country despite the King’s own son having been killed by the enemy. The country was being attacked by someone who pretended to be their ally. Much in the same way, our culture lulls us into thinking that we can have peace with it, all-the-while it is seeking our destruction. 

          Theoden’s people would have perished if Gandalf would not have come and informed them they were already at war. In the same way, Paul warns us that we are at war and that we need the armor of God (Eph. 6) because we are soldiers. Incidents like what happened at the Grammys or what occurred with Duck Dynasty should serve as not so subtle reminders that we are at war. 

          When speaking of spiritual warfare Christians tend to only think in terms of the spiritually demonic, by this I mean when tend to spiritualize it and only look at what Satan and demons maybe doing. However, there are many battlefronts in which Christians must engage. I see at least three arenas in which we are to fight. 

          First, we fight a spiritual battle within ourselves. In James 4:1-2 we read about this intense inward battle, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” It is clear that within us a war rages between our old desires which come from our flesh and our new desires given to us by the Spirit. Why do we sin? Because sometimes our old desires win. Christians must recognize this is the first battlefield we fight in. We cannot engage in battle on a foreign field if our home front has been destroyed. We must battle against our fleshly desires first and strive to live in the reality of our new identity found in Christ. 

          Second, we battle against this world. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” We battle against arguments and strongholds found in this world. Our culture puts forward so many towering arguments which appear to be so wise, but as Christians, we have the divine power to cast those arguments down. The lies of this world cannot stand against the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our culture thinks it is so wise, that they have built strongholds that make Christianity look foolish and out of date. But we have the power of the Truth of the Gospel which is more powerful than any weapon or argument in this universe. 

          Third, we battle against demonic powers. The Bible is clear there are rulers and authorities in the Spiritual realm which work against us. So much so, that in 1 Peter 5:8 we are told that the Devil prowls around like a lion seeking to destroy us. But we are not without weapons (Eph. 6). Christ has not only given us weapons but he has won the victory for us.  

          As Christians it is important to realize we are not at home and that we are at war every single day on multiple fronts. We need live like soldiers fighting on all three fronts not like a people who are at home. Victory and peace are assured to us by the work of Christ, but that is not to be found in this world, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).