Every month there is another email about a possible data link involving our information. I continue to be shocked by the cost of groceries and the price of a new sweater. My cell phone is ringing constantly with telemarketers, or worse. Social media is a playground for bad guys who are smarter at technology than most of us. The border is open and the media companies are now reporting the news with their own biases and opinions.
Wars are raging, but the fact they are not in our backyard might mean we don’t realize we are at war too. We tend to deal with life in a day-to-day, month-to-month fashion. Our enemies’ strategy is generational. They are playing to win the long game. In many ways, today’s culture has taken their ideas right out of Satan’s strategies for spiritual warfare.
Christians are at war and we always have been at war. The difference is our changing sense of responsibility toward the victims. When I say, “We are at war,” how do you define we?
Satan wants servants too
Christians are well aware that we are called to serve God and others. That was the example Jesus set for us. Serving God is often the subject of Sunday sermons, Bible studies, and articles like this one. I recently heard my husband talking to my son Ryan about the backlash on NBC’s reporting of C. J. Stroud’s interview and realized that Satan wants people to serve his plans as well.
Stroud is the rookie quarterback for the Texans who had a phenomenal year. He was interviewed after his playoff game and said, “First of all, I just want to give all glory and praise to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” When NBC posted the clip of Stroud’s interview just moments later, they had edited out those words of testimony. Stroud had considered those words about the Lord most important and put them first. Did NBC consider Stroud’s first statement unnecessary, unimportant, or maybe unlike their opinion and brand? The good news is that even the New York Post cried foul on their reporting!
There is a huge trend in the media right now to shut down any message about Christ and Christian values. It has become abundantly clear that Christians are at war with popular thinking. It serves as a good reminder that God’s people have always been at war with Satan’s strategies. We have just reached a new level of involvement because the fight is now in our backyard.
Joshua knew his people would never be able to sit back and relax. The enemies had been defeated, but they hadn’t been demolished. The popular foreign gods weren’t real, but people still served them. Jesus will defeat Satan one day, but for now, the devil is still very much at work in this world. That’s why Joshua warned the Jewish people, “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lᴏʀᴅ, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Joshua 24:15).
If we don’t serve God, we will serve Satan. We are in a war, and we have daily choices to make.
Practical ways to serve God’s purpose and avoid Satan’s
1. Learn to recognize Satan disguises himself as “a good guy.”
Paul wrote, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Christians are less likely to be tempted by what is obviously evil. Therefore, Satan tempts God’s people to do what appears to be good at the expense of doing what is godly.
For example, there are a lot of Christians who feel like kinder, better people when they don’t condemn a person for their sin. That is a biblical position, but only if they don’t condone the sin by their silence or words of support. We all sin (Romans 3:23), but none of us are supposed to teach that sin is acceptable or unpreventable. If a person’s sin keeps them from choosing God’s higher calling to be godly, then that person will live with the consequences of their sin eternally.
2. Satan is a murderer and incapable of truth.
Jesus taught his disciples that Satan “was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
We live in a culture that is often more accepting of partial truth than full truth. God’s word teaches us that if something is only partial truth, it isn’t of God. When you study the temptations of Adam and Eve, or Christ, you will see that Satan quotes just enough Scripture to appear credible. That is the best way to recognize if an idea or belief is false. If an idea does not stand up to the full light of Scripture, you can know who authored the idea. Satan uses just enough truth to hide the fact he is a liar. That is Satan’s character, and there is no light, no truth, in him.
3. When we don’t serve God’s will, we will serve Satan’s.
Paul told the Corinthians, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Christians would never want to serve Satan, but we all do. If we have been gifted through salvation with God’s Holy Spirit, we are saved, and Satan cannot have our souls. When we don’t use the gift God gave us, when we don’t “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), we are not serving God, we are serving Satan. If we encourage or enable people to live apart from God’s truth, we serve Satan’s purpose. He wants to “blind the minds of the unbelievers” so they will not desire to know the light of the gospel. Satan doesn’t want Christians to follow Christ because “Christ is the image of God.” If we don’t “walk in the way,” then we won’t lead others to their salvation in Christ.
4. Recognize we are at war.
A “pacifist” is someone who opposes war or finds it “unjustifiable.” Paul said, “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 forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). As Christians we are called to fight against what Satan wants to do in this world, but lately we have been influenced or encouraged to be a pacifist rather than a soldier.
Many in our culture find Christian beliefs and values to be “unjustifiable,” and that is a normal response for an unbeliever. Satan “blinds” unbelievers to the truth. What is changing is the tendency for God’s people to see some of Scripture, which is God’s truth, as “unjustifiable” too. God would tell us what he told Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). We are at war and the battleground is often “biblical truth.” Pacifism about God’s word is not an option for those who are called to serve God.
Are you willing to fight to win?
I’ve spent most of my Christian life aware of the “war” against Satan’s ideas. Never in my life have I been so aware that the front line is now in my own backyard. The frontlines exist now in many of our churches in addition to other places of influence in the culture.
It was easier to think about spiritual warfare when most of the fighting was at a distance. Now, the fight is near and feels more personal because we are fighting for our own witness.
Jesus said, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). That verse takes on new meaning when the fight is in our own backyard. And the fight is in our own backyard.
Are you willing to fight to win?