Thursday, April 9, 2015

Focusing on the Real Enemy

“For 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.”  (Ephesians 6:12 NIV) 

She comes every morning to defend her territory.  Banging against the window, she seeks to chase off the intruder into her sacred space.  But the unwelcome bird keeps coming back for more.  Or so it seems.  If the female cardinal only realized her time and energy was being spent on defending her territory from herself, she could have a much more peaceful existence.  Her enemy is imagined and defending against it is a waste of time and energy.  But she keeps up the fight.

As I read the news and social media posts about religious freedom laws, same-sex marriage and the like, I am reminded of the cardinal battling herself on our back deck.  Followers of Jesus are fighting to defend their perceived territory of truth, but they’re  fighting themselves. “Progressive” believers lash out and condemn “conservative” believers as being unloving and intolerant.  And the “conservatives” respond in kind by calling their brethren on the left tolerant of sin and undermining the authority of the Scriptures.  And, believe me, I am often very tempted to join the fight.  It would feel good to bang some heads with irrefutable theology and pithy arguments.

But what I have begun to realize is that is a losing strategy because my energy should be devoted to fighting the real enemy.  My brothers and sisters are not my adversaries; the devil is.  I may vehemently disagree with their views and interpretations of the Scriptures, but my energies need to be spent on fighting Satan, who is the real source of our conflicts.  For example, I may truly be right in my views, but my desire to be right and to prove I’m right can be the actual impetus for me to fight my brothers and sisters.  Thus, I am not fighting for truth, but as a result of my pride.  So while I may be focused on the battle for truth, I have lost the one on pride.

Satan is a master at diversion.  He delights in diverting our attention from what is crucial to what we deem important.  For instance, getting us to focus on the sin “out there” or “in the world,” and failing to notice the sin in our own lives and repenting of it.  The former of course is important, but the latter is crucial.  

Like the bird on our deck, I believe we have been fooled into thinking our enemies are those brothers and sisters on the “other side” and we waste so much time and energy defending ourselves against them, when, in fact, our true enemy is in the spiritual realm and against whom only spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:10-18) will be effective.

Today, regardless of what you believe or how strongly you feel on many issues in our world today, always remember the fight is not against flesh and blood, but against those in the spiritual realm.  For they are fighting the real battles, the ones that truly matter and we would be fools not to focus our energies on those.

© Jim Musser 2015

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