Waging Spiritual War: What does it take?
"War is very simple, direct, and ruthless. It takes a simple, direct, and ruthless man to wage it."
--George Patton General George "Ol Blood & Guts" Patton, he was either loved or hated because of the way he conducted his life. Things were Black or White; they were right or wrong. He knew how to wage war and how to win. When his superiors disagreed with him, he found a way to do it his way, and he won. But what can we learn from Patton regarding the Spiritual War? The leading quote defines the person who will be successful in waging war. War is not complicated. We lose when we overcomplicate it. These are three simple truths:
There is an enemy. He must be killed. There will be casualties.
The same truths apply in spiritual battle.
There is an enemy:
Who is the enemy? In most cases, you need to look no further than the mirror. The enemy is not the Muslims, Atheists, or the liberal media. The enemy is the sin in our own lives that keep us from full devotion to our God. It defames the name of Christ and makes His mission on this earth less effective because of our sins. Our enemy is the silence of our tongues, which fail to proclaim the glories of Jesus Christ. Our enemy is our self-love and tolerance of disunity within the body.
He must be killed:
There is no way around this truth. To win you must kill, kill the selfish drive in your heart so that you can learn to love your neighbor more than yourself, kill the addictions that distract you from the one true God who is sufficient to meet all of your needs, Kill hatred, bigotry, prejudice. Kill self-righteousness, pride, and love of money. Kill fear, disobedience, and deceit. It's spiritual Suicide, Dying to yourself, He takes your sin, but you have to kill the Old Man. It is the ONLY way to see victory. He provides the tools and the sanctification, but you have to be willing to do the ugly work of war. It's bloody and brutal, but you must kill.
There will be casualties:
Some will be heroes, and some will prove to be cowards. The heroes are the ones who willingly give their lives (kill their old man) in love and service to their Savior. They submit themselves to the Lord's discipline, and they allow him to mold them into the person he intended them to be. These men change the world. These men plant churches that bring hope to the hopeless; these men lead others to follow their example; these men are true disciples of Jesus Christ. The other casualties are the cowards. Patton famously got in trouble for slapping a soldier who he considered a coward and kicking him out of the hospital because he did not deserve to be treated with the other heroes who were there. We should feel the same about the nominal Christians who use the name of Christ for their gain but do not obey the teachings that define a follower of Jesus. They are imposters, and we should confront their hypocrisy. These cowards want to wear the outward signs of the cross. They want to be known as believers, Christians, even leaders. But they are not willing to make the sacrifices that make them heroes.
They shy away from self-sacrifice, allow their sin to rule them, and they hide it from their peers. They talk about spiritual maturity, but they are only babes.
We have all seen these casualties exposed in the public eye, as a minister falls into sin, or a leader loses his faith. We have witnessed once influencial leaders lose their way and bow to cultural "truths" instead of standing on the firm foundation of God's word. These failures are inevitable, even one of Jesus' disciples lost his way. There is a real temptation is to be discouraged by their cowardice. But I want to encourage you to look to the true heroes and emulate them. The ones who are sacrificially serving those in need or living out their faith in practical ways that encourage real change. Let the cowards fall into obscurity and keep your eyes on the ones that can lead you to victory. Spiritual War is very simple, direct & ruthless. It takes simple, direct & ruthless men (and women) to wage it. So, brothers and sisters, let us be serious-minded and devote ourselves to the spiritual battle. Let us discipline ourselves and deal with our sin, as we lead others into the disciplined spiritual life.
Jesus is the perfect example of what we aspire to. He did the hard thing, not seeking glory, but obedience. Let us do the same.