THE SHOCK OF COMBAT: sharing the realities of our spiritual war. After 45 yrs. in the trenches, I want to pass on some lessons from experience. This is necessary because what passes for spiritual training in our church groups is mostly irrelevant to combat with Satan’s forces. Hosea 4:6 warns we are destroyed for lack of proper knowledge.
Perhaps nothing parallels our Christian warfare as actual combat. In fact, the Word of God substantiates that by repeatedly using combat as a picture of what we face spiritually. Paul advises his spiritual son Timothy to “war a good warfare” and to be a good soldier and “fight the good fight of faith”. (1TIM 6:12, 2 TIM 2:4, 1 TIM 1:18…cf. HEB 10:32, REV 12:17). The enemy is repeatedly described as seeking prey to kill. Our weapons are described in places like 1 SAM 17:45, ROM 13:12, 2 COR 10:4, EPH 6:17, HEB 4:12, 2 COR 6:12, 1 THS 5:8. With that in mind, let me describe the common experience of actual combat:
American troops have typically found their training to be irrelevant to actual combat. Before going into battle they are innocent, have been jacked up with unrealistic expectations of easy success, and told they are ready & superior to the enemy. Once they enter the insane world of combat, they have a very limited view, which is made worse by the fog of war. They are tired, know little of the situation, and the bigger overall situation of the war. Often they feel abandoned, & struggle on alone for survival. Everything is messed up, & the enemy is tougher than they were led to believe. Every now & then some rear echelon authority with prideful ignorance gives the soldier a tongue lashing or silly directive. The sins & mistakes of one’s nation & group come back to haunt the soldier. The enemy meanwhile probes for weaknesses & then strikes the weak points with surprise attacks. He always seeks to divide up his opponent. Events, disasters & what happens seems to follow no rhyme or reason…it seems like chance & luck determine success or failure. The true heroes often go unnoticed & unrewarded. It is safer when the unit pulls together as a team, and knows what to expect from the other side. Timing is critical; it can mean life or death. The soldier must resort to dogged endurance. It is difficult to forecast who will stay strong & who will run, but each has this in common: everyone has a breaking point. Often just before that is reached, the soldier cries out in anguish to God, pledging to seriously give his life to God if his life is spared. The enemy uses great deception. He will fight hard for his own territory. Blue on blue casualties occur. THE ABOVE DESCRIPTION applies directly to our spiritual warfare. You may want re-read it and ponder how the Christian goes thru the same thing.
Our commander (Christ) wants us to humbly acknowledge that we don’t see or know the greater reality around us—our senses don’t perceive everything. (This contrasts with the atheists who take great pride in what they see & can reason.) Having God (& His revelations) is like having aerial photos of what’s happening. We are ordered to build our bunkers on solid ground. Calling in prayers is like calling in artillery. The more precise one calls them in the better. On the flip side, the Word describes the enemy’s attacks like the barrage of fiery arrows (EPH 6:16). In Roman times, thousands of arrows w/ pitch on their tips would be lit, and fired all at once. It would rain burning arrows down on an opponent’s army. Even if the arrows missed, the soldiers still had flames around them. The experience was overwhelming…like a modern artillery attack. So the Christian may experience the death of a close one, loss of job, rejection, guilt, discouragement and fear w/in a short time frame. The Roman army had a strategy “divide et impera” or as we say today, “divide & conquer”. Satan will try to cull you out from the group so that you are an easy target without a support system. It is not an accident the CIA & some corporate leadership have Sun Tzu’s The Art of War as required reading. In our case, the Word of God teaches us that the demonic is gaining influence (1 TIM 4:1) and that it is gathering the nations to fight God. REV 16:14. Christendom, by being passive, has been captured.
The final word for this post will come from God: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you (a)…when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee (b)….be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart (c)…The eternal God is thy refuge…and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee (d)… [and finally] neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, …shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (e)
a. I PTR 4:12, b. ISA 43:2b, c. PS 27:14, d. DT 33:27, e. ROM 8:38,39