Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spiritual Wars Part 1

"David slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening of the next day; and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled.." 1 Samuel 30:17 (emphasis mine)
When I read the passage above, I begin to shudder in my soul at the bloodshed that has taken place throughout time so that one country could invade, control or destroy another country. When I think about the atrocities that have happened to men, women and children in the throws of war, my soul aches. When I read that David 'slaughtered' they Amalekites, I picture swords cutting flesh, spears breaking bones and heads dashed against rocks all in a sea of dark red. I can imagine men being intoxicated with destruction and death, turning numb to the extinguishing of something so precious as life. I think of David, a warrior king in many ways and how hardened he must have been, especially in a battle where he was slaughtering people. I mostly wonder what in the world can I learn from a passage like 1 Samuel 30:17? Why would God include these type of stories in the Bible? My football coach used to say, "War is Hell", and he was right.
I can think of a few reasons why God includes such passages as the one I quoted above but I would like to focus on just one reason. The reason, in part, is to remind those us living in 2010 about the reality of war, spiritual war. For those of us who live in non-war torn countries, we really have no idea what war is like (unless we have fought in the military). For many today, war is fought on video games or enjoyed on the silver screen or on our oversized T.V.'s. We may see blood and turn our heads at an overly graphic part of a war scene (like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan) but beyond that, war happens somewhere else and for that we are grateful.
But what about spiritual wars? I strongly sense that God puts verses like this in the Word to rouse us up from our spiritual slumber. For too long and for too many, spiritual wars are fought somewhere else, at least for the most part. We think of China or India or South America and certainly in Africa and parts of the Caribbean. We may tinker with thinking about spiritual war when our lives get really confusing or difficult but for the most part we tend to think that life just happens so let's just roll with the punches. But the punches [and they are intentional] are effective. They are causing our brains to go numb and our spiritual sight to become myopic. We must come to realize that open war is upon us whether we like or want it or not.
Here are a few verses that speak about ongoing spiritual wars in the life of believers...
8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist 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
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
31"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31-32
11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For 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. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground... Ephesians 6:11-13
He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. 1 Timothy 3:7
25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:25-26
14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:14-16
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?"
Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."

8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."

9 "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."

12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."
Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. Job 1:6-12

With those Scriptures fresh in our minds, I suggest we understand that there has been some deception going on in the church. We've been deceived into thinking/believing that spiritual wars either don't exist, don't happen that often or really aren't as bloody as physical wars can be. Next time, we'll go a little further in learning about how "War is Hell"!