This post isn’t about marriage directly. It’s something that a few things (sermon, conversations) have led me to over the course of a Sabbath. To me, it was … something big. Maybe it will be for you. Maybe not. Either way, I’m writing it here mostly so I won’t forget. Because I think this is important.
I’m sorry if this isn’t very polished. It’s 3am and I just had to get this out. So, here we go.
1. For most of us, we don’t really think about our theology
Most of us grow up in a church, and generally stay with the same beliefs we grew up with. Yes, I know, some of my readers will have come to the church from other faiths, or no faith at all, but even then, more often than not, what you first were introduced to becomes what you believe for the rest of your life.
It’s not that way for everyone, but I think it is for a large portion of people.
For myself, I left the church I grew up in, as did my wife. We grew up in the same church and left together. And I’m still trying to dig out some bad theologies. It’s hard not to have them ingrained in you when you’ve been taught them from birth (either physical or spiritual).
But those beliefs must be challenged. We should not assume that the people who came before us were right in their interpretations. After all, they can’t all be right. Ultimately there is one truth that is God’s and no church owns that truth. We must all faithfully seek it, wherever it leads.
However, most Christians will never challenge the beliefs they grew up with. They will blindly accept them, outsourcing their theology to the church, to their pastors and elders, or parents, siblings or friends. Whoever brought them into the church, or brought them up in the church.
When I now look back and examine some of the theology I grew up with, I’m astounded by some of the beliefs they still hold to. They make no sense to me anymore, though I remember rationalizing and arguing for them as a teenager. Though there were many I argued against as well.
2. Sanctification is important, far more important than we generally show in our lives
I had a conversation with a reader last night about justification. Now, for those who don’t know these terms, I will try to explain them as I understand them.
Justification is the concept of that, while we deserve death, destruction and hellfire, our debt has been paid. We are justified. This is the promise of salvation and it comes to a simple choice: The decision to love God. This is a simple yes, or no, state. Do we want to be with God forever? Will we accept Him as our Lord? Would we be happy in a heaven that lasts forever with the constant reminder that we owe our very existence, and everything in it, to God? Sadly, there are a great many people for whom the answer to that is “no”. Sadder still is how many of them sit in our church pews every week.
Sanctification, then, is what comes after that decision. It is the life-long process of becoming more Christ-like. Or rather, of surrendering our will to Christ’s perfect will. Of recognizing that every thought and impulse we have is sinful and evil and that the only way we can be good is to do what God wants, not what we want. It is the building of a character of serving God rather than our own selfish desires and pride. It is a slow transformation that will never be fully realized until Christ’s second coming.
And while justification is all we need to get into heaven, that is the true “pass” as it were, we generally ignore the significance of sanctification. Because throughout our lives, we will be constantly bombarded with temptations that are beyond our ability to resist. It is ultimately only with God’s will that we are able to deny those temptations. However, if we have not built up the habit of living by God’s will instead of our own, if we have not built that character in us, then we eventually will turn away from God in favour of our own pride and selfishness.
And so while justification is what gets us into heaven … is it sanctification which keeps that promise of salvation accepted. Because that is really the only thing we can do in our process of salvation: choose God. We can claim no other accomplishment towards our justification other than that we accepted the gift God freely gives us all. Sadly most will not accept it, and many Christians will reject it before that promise comes to fulfillment.
3. What if we practically thought about some of these theological points on a daily basis?
There are many concepts in Christian theology that remain only that: theological concepts. For most of us Christians, myself included, we do not think about them practically. Here’s the two that struck me this Sabbath:
Spiritual warfare is not only real, it is the world we live in – As Christians, we believe that we are in enemy territory. That from the moment we rise in the morning to the moment we fall asleep, we are under constant battle. But do we think about this on a daily basis? Not really. Because it’s spiritual warfare and we are not really spiritually minded. We say we are, as Christians, as believers, as “spiritual people”, but really we’re not. Some few are plugged into the true vine (Jesus).
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. – John 15:1-11
While most of us are connected to false vines. We don’t bear fruit, or if we do, we bear bitter, small fruit. Because we’re not connected to Christ directly. We just leech off the edges of a small contingent of those who are really connected. Most of us are doing more harm than good. We are hypocrites and liars showing the world just how fake Christians can be. Most of us really aren’t fighting for God. We’re fighting against Him from inside the church.
It’s sort of like the Matrix:
Morpheus: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Business men, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it. … anyone we haven’t unplugged is potentially an Agent.
Whether you believe in God or not, believe in Satan or not, if you are not connected to the true vine (Jesus) by having a real, living relationship with Him, then you are ultimately fighting on Satan’s side. We live in conquered territory. This is Satan’s domain. He rules this world, by and large, and we are behind enemy lines.
Furthermore, our own body and mind fight against us.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. – Romans 7:15
So that from the moment we are conscious, we are in a spiritual battle. For our every thought is circumspect. And we don’t even realize we’re in a battle most of the time. It’s so subtle we don’t realize we’re in a battle all day, every day. It has become normal and mundane. And so we practice a form of Christianity with is full of high-minded theology with little to know utilization of the real power of God. By refusing to acknowledge the battle, we don’t see the need for God on an hourly basis. And so we passively reject His help throughout the day.
We become Christians who block God from moving in our lives, and ultimately, in the world.
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. – 2 Timothy 3:1-5
This verse is not talking about unbelievers, but rather those in the church. Those of us who have an appearance of godliness, who fill the pews, who lead the ministries, who praise and worship … and never let God’s power really work in our lives.
And so we will approach the end of days without God’s power. Without the habit of letting Christ reign in our lives. Without the practice of constant battle. Without the character of submitting to Christ in every decision. And this is what will happen to us:
As the storm approaches [the end times], a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message [see Revelation 14], but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. – The Great Controversy, E.G. White, Page 608
This is not the Bible, but I believe this to be a true statement. The majority of Christianity will turn against those who actually exhibit this power in their life. Let’s face it, we see this in the world already.
When we hear of miracles, we are suspicious and really not open to believing. We “know” there must be a scientific explanation. We deny God’s power in the world. Don’t get me wrong, we should be circumspect. Not every power in the world is God’s. There are fallen angels as well as God’s roaming the Earth. But we don’t even give God’s angels a chance to work. We deny His power working in them.
Eventually, Christians who are not tapped into that true vine will resent those that are. They will begin to openly war against them. Not just individually, but as a church. We will see the persecution of real believers by denominations, in the name of God. In the name of love. We see it already starting. The war on Truth is being masked as a war on intolerance. Sadly many churches are fighting God’s truth under the guise of love.
4. What if we took it seriously?
What if we woke up every morning knowing we were going into battle. Not just knowing in a theological sense, but really knowing and believing that we were going to head into a world that is trying to destroy us. I don’t mean just at work, or the stuff on the TV and from the internet. I mean our very bodies being at war with us. That even the members of our church are, unknowingly, largely working towards our destruction.
In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people – Isaiah 28:5
Our pastor read the above verse in church this Saturday. Do you realize that almost every time the Bible talks about God’s real believers and followers, it’s a very small portion of the whole? I love how the KJV version puts this: A residue of the people. This often gets translated as the remnant, but I think even a remnant is too big. If a remnant is the piece of the cloth at the end of the bolt, the residue is the fibres left in the bin after the remnant has been removed. My point is: even when you get up to go to church, recognize that this is not a reprieve from the battle. There are no safe havens. Even our mind will try to poison us.
So, what if we woke every morning knowing we were going out into this battle. If we realized that subtlety, subterfuge and infiltration were the biggest weapons of the enemy. If we knew that the worst thing we could do is not even realize what is going on.
The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. – The Usual Suspects
Would we wake up every morning strapping the armour of God on?
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints – Ephesians 6:10-18
Maybe if we started believing the threat was real, we’d start believing we actually needed this protection. Maybe if we saw the peril we walk into every hour of every day, we’d at least start our days with earnest prayers. Maybe we’d read out Bibles, not because it’s habit or because “that’s what we should do”, but because our usefulness in the spiritual battle depended on it. Because we knew that to not do so would be to walk into a war unarmed. Because without it, we’d have no way to protect ourselves, our spouses, our children.
I wonder if we’d finally start to live out our faith in a real, and practical way.
Tomorrow I’m going to start my day with prayer with my wife, for ourselves, for our children, who will spend the day in a spiritual war they barely understand. What about you?
24 thoughts on “What if we took spiritual warfare seriously?”
I read about these guys who tried to sanctify themselves by going out into the desert by themselves and not even contact another person. Food was brought to the entrance to the cave. Others would climb a pole and not come down for years hoping to be free from sin. As I recall, even Martin Luther tried to cleanse himself of sin by isolating himself and inflicting pain on himself, but could not do it. He finally found “Grace” and it freed him of his burden of guilt.
I’m not sure if these guys did this pre or post Christian. But I know Sanctification is tough. When I became a Christian as a teen, I could not keep from sinning. No matter how hard I tried I failed every day. I still cannot do it on my own, I have to rely on the Grace of God every day, maybe every hour.
But that’s not sanctification then. If we try harder to be sanctified were really trying to be justified. Instead we need to build the habit of dying to self better. Of surrendering, not trying.
What would be an example of “dying to self?” Surrender to what or who?
Surrender to God and His will. We spend so much time “trying” to be good Christians, when really, the Bible tells us all we have to do is listen, and do what God tells us. It’s more dying than trying 🙂
It sounds so easy when you write it but it is so hard. How do you do that? I sometimes feel like cypher in my spiritual life. You know the bald guy in matrix that regrets that he got out. I mean I don’t regret ever following Jesus but the passion is gone. I am not saying this to brag because I don’t live like this anymore but I was a burning Christian. Of course I had my flaws but I prayed every day, I read the Bible multiple times a day, I fasted at least once a week and I really tried to be involved in the church. This went on for years but as we talked before I got married and 6 months in my marriage the passion disappeared. I can barely pray anymore. I would like to do as those monks. Just escape everything. Live without any connection to the world. I often wonder where I would be if I hadn’t gotten married. I would be burning so much for God. Reading what you write here makes me realize I am doomed. I hate myself so much for being this worthless. Everyday shame and self loathing, I deserve hell and would send myself there if I could. I don’t take my life because I’m a coward or else I would have a long time ago.
Whoa whoa buddy. Lets not forget how much God loves you. Your current behavior has not suprised him. He knew what you would do when he redeemed you. He dosen’t want you to go to hell, He is still thinking about you constantly and loves you enough to count the hairs on your head. And if He has forgiven you who are you to not forgive yourself? Welcome to grace.
The thing is I don’t understand grace cause I only see part of what others see. People talk about Gods grace and so on and that we are saved by grace and we get to heaven for following Jesus. What I see is that Jesus died yes because He loved but that only opened a way. The rest is up to me. If I don’t walk on that way I am doomed. So I don’t get the grace thing. “It’s by grace not deeds” but I don’t get that. It has to be deeds! If you look what it says in Revelationa 22 when it mentions those who are going to hell it doesn’t say anything about faith it only talks about people who have done things. So you get to hell by DOING the wrong thing and the same must be for heaven and that’s why I hate myself. I am a piece of garbage and I feel like it every day. I’m a porn addict and I have confessed to pastors and other leaders but I can’t get help. When met my wife I wasn’t sure about the relationship and I who had been free for months fall into pornography and haven’t come out from it yet. When I got spiritually burned out because I tried to be as good as I could I fell harder and now I am monster. I deserve hell. Even when i fight to not look i know that I am a worthless piece of crap because I can barely pray. Or engage in church activities. I used to lead youths and now I sit in this garbage. I may become free of porn but the passion is gone and I hate it. I hate that I everyday how to feel like the most horrible person in the world . I don’t see that God has grace , pity maybe because of the horrible creature I am but grace are for people who really follow Him and who aren’t tired
AC, grace is essentially being giving what we don’t deserve. We didn’t deserve his mercy and grace at salvation nor when we sin after. You are not in a unique state as a Christian. But what is clear throughout your posts is your reliance upon yourself to become worthy of that grace. It is not in our power. We need to do our part and not flaunt grace but the power comes from the Holy Spirit God put within us at salvation. It is there my friend. Now grant yourself some grace and look to the Holy spirit for the power. You’re not on your own. God offers the grace but you must accept it. Your have bought into subtle agreements with the enemy that you aren’t good enough, don’t have what it takes, God’s goodness isn’t for you. Recognize the agreements, break them in the authority Christ has given you as an heir to all God has to offer. Seek out mature brothers who understand this warfare and bring them in as well. Allow yourself the grace to grow and mature in Christ by building confidence in the goodness of God; start by offering up small things to him and see that he is good. This is not easy, you must go deep. It is war, but you are not on your own!
Thank you very much for your words! I understand what you are saying but it is so hard. I dont get the part that the Holy Spirit is going to help me. WHen i read the Bibel i only see that i have to make an effort. Read the whole book of James and you will see that he only talks about “us” doing things. If you read John 14:15-25 you see there that He says that He will send the Holy Spriti if we keep His commands. It is us doing things that leads to that. So thats why i dont really see the grace thing. Yes God let Jesus come becaue of grace but after that we have to do things. So either i am not doing enough or i am not saved. IAnd i have prayed over and over that God would save me but i am still the same and getting worse. I dont know what to do.
Some reading for you:
1 Corinthians 12:7-11
1 Corinthians 2:12-13
The Holy Spirit will guide you, give you wisdom, strength, rest, knowledge. All you have to do is listen for Him and be willing to follow.
And yes, you will fail at times, and other times succeed. Really, the failing and succeeding doesn’t matter. What matters is the willingness and desire to continue to listen.
It’s like going up against a much larger opponent. You will probably lose your first fight. But, you’ll get stronger from it. You will likely lose the second, but you’ll learn where your weaknesses are. You might lose the third, but you’ll learn how your opponent tricks you. You may continue to lose, but every time you will learn something. About yourself, about the enemy, about God. What matters is staying in the fight. Continue to battle.
Jesus has already promised that He will step in and finish the fight when the time comes. All you have to do is keep in it. If you give up…well, then there’s no fight for Him to step into. So, keep fighting. Keep failing. Keep learning and training. Keep growing, keep perservering. The fight is already won. You just have to ride out the time.
Jay Dee is spot on citing the need to just stay in the battle and to have the willingness and desire. God is faithful to the right intent of our hearts. We simply can’t work our way into salvation and heaven as the scriptures are clear about it being a gift we either choose to accept or not. Could it be your response or scriptural interpretation is a rationalization to step away from the battle for whatever reason ( tiredness, self desires, feeling unworthy, etc)? Be honest with yourself. Many of our desires that we look for satisfaction in worldly things are really the longing for true relationship with God. You have to break the agreements with the enemy that this is up to just you. If that were the case we would have to dismiss the key scriptural role of the Holy Spirit as our empowerment. Don’t concede because it seems easier to do so. Stay in it man.
It sounds easy when other say it but ni dont know. I mean read revelations 3 where it talks about lukewarm christians. The way i am right now is lukewarm. I am not burning as i used to, i dont do what i used to etc. So i cant possibly be going to heaven. I mean how does grace work in that situation? If its by grace and “everyone fails” then every lukewarm person would go to heaven but they arent apparently. So i dont see the grace part. If the word says that the lukewarm will be spit out and lukewarm people are people who dont care about God ENOUGH, dont BURN enough wich means they dont DO enough then are people really being saved by grace? The only answer must be that those who are being saved are being saved because of theire deeds. Because theire deeds show that they really have faith as James says. So what do i have to do? I have to do more because my deeds show if i believe. If i dont do i dont believe and i am doomed to hell where i deserve to be. Now we can say that it must start with us receiving Jesus and etc. But the Bible never talks about that. We need to believe and what? DO! DO! DO! DO! “Its not who you are underneath but what you do that defines you” (Batman begins) Its not scripture but it really points out what it says in the Word. My beliefs dont matter if they cant be seen in deeds. So if it is not seen in DEEDS then i dont have faith! So i have to do! Are we lying to people that we get saved by grace? Paul says that we are saved by grace but at the same time He says in Phillipians that we have to work with fear on our salvation. So i am saved by grace and still have to work? I am not critizicing the Scriptures its just that i dont understand. I
From what i see in revelation 3 and many other parts of scripture is that we have to DO. If we dont Do we dont believe and if we dont believe we are going to hell. I dont know what Paul meant when He wrote that we are saved by grace because everything else points to the face that Jesus died because He loves us and He opened the way. The rest is up to us. If we dont get over its our fault. The Holy Spirit may help us but if we dont take the steps we are doomed. What is really hard with this is that some of us really were taking steps. We were running but then we stumbled and now we cant get up. We try to crawl but we cant get up. We remember the days that used to be but we now that God only cares about what we do now. Not the effort we used to put in before. Not all the prayers we prayed before, not all the hours we invested in the Lord, not all that we left behind, not all the prayers, and fasting where we beggeed Him to come closer, no because everything that matters is what we DO now and if we die lying there there is only one place for us, the butning fires after this life. And thats how it is. The only other possible answe i can see is that God has chosen some as Calvinist believs and then my fall is a proof that i am not one of the chosen. I thought i was but apparently not. And i will live an eternity not knowing why i wasnt chosen. I really thought i tried but as Paul says in Romans chapter 9 who am I to question the Almighty? I just have to accept that i am and will be damned because i am and will forever be a loser. And that realization sucks. We should be honest with people and tell them the truth, not giving people false hope and an escuse to sin.
A.C, reading through what you wrote it seems to me you have passed judgement on yourself for whatever reason though it’s not your job but God’s, and will do what it takes in picking scripture or rationalizations to justify your judgement/decision. You give yourself away in how hard you are trying to counter what others have shared. I certainly don’t know why. You can’t see truth nor be helped until you’re ready. You have some tough choices. My heart hurts for you. And yes, God cares about what we do, but he cares more for us. Christ proved that.
A.C, I felt the same way as you. I tried every day, failed every day, went to church asked for forgiveness, failed again, felt bound for hell. Then I met Christ in a new and real way. He forgave me in a permanent way and gave me grace. I no longer fear hell. Even though I am still not perfect, I do not feel lost anymore. I feel accepted by God and am his child.
Great post. So many times we think we are at war with our self, but really the battle is from an unseen enemy. Whether it be through thoughts that need to be cast down, or images on the TV, we are all in the same battle. “we wrestle not against flesh and blood”. This includes our own. we don’t wrestle thoughts, we cast them down and choose to think on “whatever is good, pure, praiseworthy…” we don’t wrestle lustful situations, we are to “flee from youthful lusts”–turn off the cable and the internet or get a porn blocker, and run from those pursuing us with lustful intent. we are to crucify the flesh daily (starving it of evil desires), eventually the spirit over-rides it, as we are obedient to the Word. Lastly “pray that you do not enter into temptation” <—mostly and importantly! God bless!
I think much of the battle is in our thought life. Are we in worry, anger, stress, temptation? All these start with thought and they may not be our own but planted by the enemy. Phil 4 says about what we are to be thinking about: good, virtuous etc. In Proverbs says “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” It starts with our thoughts, leads to spoken words and then actions. If we can stop the destruction in our minds first, the battle is mostly won.
Thank you for the great post Jay,
Most Christians I see, myself included at one point, seem to think that salvation is enough and therefore, try to bask in the glory of God. I find that the church today lacks many mature Christians, but rather that it is full of devoted immature Christians. Additionally, there continues to be an influx of non-believers seeking salvation. Hebrews 5:12-14 NKJV tells us, “12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Jay, great reference to Eph. 6:12. Expounding on your thoughts, I’d like to add that we are meant to be trained in the knowledge of spiritual warfare, “the senses exercised to discern both good and evil”, and this takes a different level of commitment from the believer and new believer alike. As believers, we need to start by remembering that we are to seek first His kingdom [Matt.6:33], that “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness, For His name’s sake.[ Psalms 23:3 NKJV]. We must remember one longstanding principle, that is; we are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. The enemy is always waiting for us to make a mistake with our walk. We are commanded to study His Word, 2 Timothy 2:15 says, ” Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Lastly, Matthew 28:19-20 reminds us that we have a purpose beyond salvation, “19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Christians will take spiritual warfare more seriously if we can get back to applying basic foundational principles that are aligned with God’s will.
Yes! I loved this truth! Thank you for sharing your heart! Most of us are blind to spiritual warfare. We don’t recognize it like some do in other countries, where it’s part of daily life. I absolutely loved Priscilla Shirer’s Bible Study, Armour of God and highly recommend it. I’m going to do it again.
May God continue to bless you and your ministry.
YES! Preach it, bro. Modern Christianity that is taught in evangelical churches is so often “a form of Godliness lacking power” because have embraced a partial gospel. We think of heaven as only a future state. We focus entirely on God our Redeemer & God our Saviour, but forget about God our Healer, God our Provider. We have too long believed the devil’s lies and adopted a very narrow view of God and Christianity – one that the devils is ok with because we stay safely away from the work of “destroying the works of the devil” that Jesus himself taught us to do. Well I could go on and on.. but if anyone really wants to hear more from me, feel free to check out my site on Healing at http://www.christianhealing.info/encyclopedia/doku.php/i_was_one_of_those_skeptics
God heals our sexuality and our minds and our bodies!
Thank you for this article. It really woke me up!
Sanctification must be preceded by justification, in other words, we need to bring our outward actions sufficiently in harmony with the will of God before that inward sanctification and spiritual rebirth Christ died to give us can happen. The war is one we wage against our fallen natures more than anything else, with the objective of bringing our flesh into submission to the spirit so that not just our actions, but our thoughts and desires are righteous. Yes, Satan tempts us, but the power of choice lies in us.
In terms of marriage, the further down the path to sanctification a couple go, the better their marriage will be.
Powerful article. So much in it from salvation to sanctification to the spiritual warfare. I believe the church in general has quietly put aside the reality of spiritual warfare (with a real enemy) for the perceived safety and comfort of rule following (just posing really) without any deep intimate relationship with God from who true sanctification comes. But it is in this comfort that the enemy knows we are impotent and he has little to do but keep us feeling secure. Once we go deep into a relationship with God, with revelations of his full character (including warrior) we can’t but be moved toward sanctification and a true desire for holiness. Nor can we not be aware of and experience the warfare from the enemy seeking to destroy us as the last thing he wants is a Christian fully aware of the the enemy and the authority they have that Christ grants us as heirs of the Father. But that takes dropping the posing, going deep, recognizing we are at war with a real enemy. The enemy knows our weaknesses and will attack in those areas subtly often in a way to make us believe it is merely our lack of faith or doubt in God’s goodness, or from lack of trying hard enough. Our best defense is to go deeper into our relationship with God, experience his overwhelming goodness, find our identity in him, reclaim our warrior heart, and take up the armor of God and engage. But for this to happen in the hearts of people in our churches in a significant way we have to drop the pretense (posing), become vulnerable and real (honest), pursue that depth of relationship and engage in the battle. It is what we are made for and long for at our core. Thanks Jay for bringing awareness of the long dismissed reality of spiritual warfare.
Jay, I just started reading The Fire and the Staff, by K. Preus, on Sunday. It is excellent and discusses much of what I think you’re trying to say here. You should check it out.
Wow, that is not a cheap book.