For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:3-5).
I am starting to believe that nothing is quite as it seems, like “opposite day” at the preschool my kids attended. They wore their pants and shirts backwards and worked under the desk rather than on top of it (so cute). Only it is so much more complicated. We learn, from what we see and hear on this earth, that life runs a certain way.
But God’s reality is entirely different: because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Cor. 1:25). Because Jesus brought us life through His death (Romans 5). Because we ourselves must die to self in order to live (Romans 6:5-7). Because we must become “slaves to righteousness” and servants of the Most High in order to be free (Romans 6:18). Because it is in yielding to God, submitting to Him, that we are given authority (Luke 10:19).
Because Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”…that is why, for Christ’s sake, [Paul says] I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
There is a lot of irony in the Christian life!
What we believe runs counter to our culture. This is, at the same time, both a problem and an opportunity. The problem is God’s upside down ways really test our faith sometimes…reminds me of the old “Magic Eye” pictures where you had to stare and stare, until you lost focus of what was in front of you, in order to see the real picture (am I showing my age with this reference?).
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see (Heb. 11:1). God gives us opportunity because His upside down ways are so simple that a child can understand; therefore in order to believe, we must only have the faith of a little child (Mark 10:15)…easier said than done – we find it hard to unlearn worldly reasoning; we have grown up and away from childhood, away from simple faith.
But is it “the world”, or worldliness, that we are battling? Our culture, or something more? Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12). So the battle is spiritual in nature, yet we live in a physical world. Our enemy…is the devil (Matt 13:37-39).
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist ~ The Usual Suspects
We don’t recognize him when we encounter him. We usually know evil when we see it in others, but not always in ourselves. Sin is anything that separates us from God or pulls us in a direction away from His purpose for us – our primary purpose is to glorify God (1 Cor 10:31). We must be alert and of sober mind. [Our] enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1Pet. 5:8).
Jesus says, “he was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). The devil has an insidious manner…he plants lies in our hearts and minds that we mistake for our own anger, depression, fear, low self-esteem, “negative self-talk”, pride, various compulsions and so much more.
These ways of thinking and living are so painful, yet so comfortable; they can become such a part of our identity that we cannot imagine thinking or living any other way. Our eyes are on ourselves, rather than on God. We do not see how easily we have been deceived and drawn away from God’s purpose for us. Scripture warns us: do not give the devil a foothold (Eph 4:27) Submit yourselves, then to God, resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7).
Bad choices, bad habits, wounds that won’t heal…yet it is all this simple: in a moment, in a decision, we turn. We repent. We submit to God. We allow that He knows best. We accept His plan for our lives, even when we don’t understand it. We develop the discipline of submitting and resting in His goodness.
I am still learning how to do this and how to listen to the Voice of Truth rather than the father of lies. It is a daily battle. It is spiritual warfare, but Christ has already won the victory (1 Cor 15:57). Remind yourself to put on the full armor of God today – read Ephesians 6:10-20!