Home Pastor's Corner . Preparing for battle

. Preparing for battle

PREPARING FOR BATTLE

I  preached this sermon at the Remembrance Day Service held at the Moth Shell Hole here in Polokwane. While it is not a detailed exposition of Ephesians 6, I though it is appropriate to place it here under Pastor's Corner as well as I believe in it is a strong challenge to all of us. How are you doing in battle.

 

We are gathered today 94 years since world war 1 to remember those who died in battle, not only in the 1st world war but in all subsequent wars, and to spend two minutes in silence at the 11th hour on this the 11th day of the 11th month.

Wars are nothing new, and we find record of it in the Word of God, all the way from Genesis 14 to the final battle between Christ and Satan and their followers in Revelation 20. This will truly be the war to end all wars, and Satan and his principalities and all his followers will be cast into eternal hell.

However in the meantime we are caught up in the middle somewhere as far as recent battles are concerned. Even though at times the odds seemed to be stacked against a nation based on the strength of an enemy, the outcome is never easy and many lives are lost. I still remember operation Desert Storm against Iraq that started in August 1990 when America and coalition forces attacked with equipment that had never been seen before, like the F117 stealth bomber. The war has also earned the nickname Video Game War after the daily broadcast of images on board the American bombers during Operation Desert Storm. The effective armour that they used caused this war to last only 6 months, 3 weeks and five days. I stood in awe as I watched this war from my living room, as I saw the radar precision bombing that can take out any installation where they want to. Even as Iraq fired there scud missiles into Israel the effectiveness of the Patriot Missile Air Defense Artillery withstood the onslaught. The face of war has changed since the First World War, and it will keep on changing.

I remember the days where as a little boy I would sit and daydream about wars. I remember consuming those penny horrible comic books based on the 1st and 2nd world war. But my mind went back to wars in early Biblical times and in my daydreaming I thought to myself, if I can just do time travel I could be the biggest hero ever. Just think if I could suddenly appear in the Israelite camp as they face the Philistines and present them with some machine guns.

The better your armour the more guarantees you have in battle and the safer you are and we will face less casualties in the face of battle. Our armour is important, and while there are great strides in improving armour for the necessary evil of battle, the sad reality is that the enemy is continuously improving theirs as well, so the outcome of battle is continuously on knifes edge, and lives will be lost.

But today, as we remember those who died in battle, there is the stark reality that we all will die in battle, and on our journey to death which is the final enemy; we face another enemy which is Satan. We are told in Ephesians 6:12 “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.”

People, believe it or not, all of us here as well as our country are in a battle against the forces of darkness. Where do we think all the evil comes from that surrounds us? We live in a country that is filled with lawlessness, traffic violations that are out of control, hatred, racism, murder, hijacking, thieving, fraud, money laundering, rape, incest, corruption, drug abuse, broken marriages, dysfunctional families, drunkenness, marital unfaithfulness  and so the list goes on. And all of us can be right in the middle of those things if it was not for the grace of God. You and I have to fight against it physically and we have to fight against it spiritually.  All this spiritual darkness that surrounds us is the product of evil, of which Satan is the author. Verse 11 of Ephesians 6 says that “we are standing against the schemes of the devil.” The Greek word for ‘schemes’ is ‘methodia’ which can be translated either methods or stealth. We must study our enemy to know his methods and look around you, his methods are working.

Satan is at the centre of exactly what is wrong in society. Satan is at the centre of what is wrong even in our own lives.  Scripture is clear that Satan is the father of the deeds of darkness, of the works of the flesh and he is the father of lies. People try and argue their actions away and defend and justify their deeds instead of confronting the enemy. If the enemy is standing at our border with exceptional stealth, all our conversation about it will achieve nothing at all. We have to go into battle, we have to fight. For this reason Christ has put the church in the world and He has promised us that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.

Sin, Satan and Death are not the only problems, eternity is at stake. We all will die, but the question is, ‘where will I spend eternity’. It depends on whose side you were on in the battle.

The question we need to ask today is, how are we going to conquer him who does not just destroy the flesh, but who destroys the soul? Paul gives us the answer to that as well in verse 10 and the first part of 11: 10 finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

I do not know you today, I do not know your heart, I do not know your soul, but what I do know is that we all face the common enemy. We are either standing against him in battle and are looking forward to our final victory because we know we are on the winning side. We either have confidence in the armour at our disposal, or we are on the side of Satan and being led into a battle against the Creator of the universe and that guarantees defeat. The only confidence you can have is to be strong in the Lord and in his might. That means that I have to be in the Lord, which means a personal relationship with the Lord, which I do not obtain just because I am a South African, or because I am white or black, or English or Afrikaans. It means that I declare my faith in Him and follow Him and I stand with Him in battle on a day to day basis.  Only in Christ can I sing, ‘onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.”

If you ask me today, what the answer is to the problems we have around us of corruption, murder, strife, hatred, racism, rape and so we can go on, then I will tell you that Christ is the answer to this world today and above Him there is no other answer. We live in a world of evil and that is why Paul can go on and say, 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,”

I don’t have time to give the meaning of all of this, but is that your armour my friend if you are in Christ, and you will face the enemy with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes that can walk into battle within a society of turmoil because of the gospel of peace. We will be able to face all circumstances in faith because our minds are protected by the helmet of salvation, and we will conquer Satan and will secure the battle field with one weapon and that is the Word of God.

I believe that more lives are lost on a daily basis through evil in this world than on the battle field, as the battle on the war fronts are within certain localities, but the battle against Satan is faced in every home, every city and every country in the world.

What this world needs in our societies, in our politics, in our marriages, in our families, in our schools is truth, righteousness, the old-old gospel story, faith, peace, salvation and the Word of God  and all of this is offered to you if you are in Christ.

Today I present to you not red poppies standing in the battle field, but the blood of Jesus Christ that washes away all sins, and draws us onto the Lord’s side in the fiercest battle ever, and that is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the evil forces. And it is because of that work done by Jesus Christ on the cross that Satan has been defeated according to Colossians 2. The million dollar question today is, whose side are you on?  Yes we will all die, but will it be written on my tombstone: “here lies Nicki, he was victorious in Christ’, or sadly ‘here lies Nicki, he was defeated by and with Satan’.