There appears to be an increased level of warfare in the church this year for many. As I have talked with pastors and leaders across the country, and Christians in general, there is a noticeable similarity about what is happening to many Christians...discouragement, depression, wallowing in self-pity, having feelings of wanting to give up, dissatisfaction, critical and judgmental attitudes and actions, and especially a general apathy when it comes to dealing with what has been oppressing them.
It is as if a spiritual laziness has also set in: while they recognize they are being opposed and things need to change, they refuse to do what it takes to stand and fight, and overcome the problems. It appears that they want someone else to do the fighting for them, and they want the victory without lifting a finger, yet they do not hesitate to complain and complain, and complain.
What is this kind of Christianity that I see? It is not the one I grew up with. And it is not the kind that was taught and demonstrated to me by my parents, and various leaders all these many years. It is not the kind of Christianity that I read about in history, and it is definitely not the kind of Christianity I read about in the Bible.
Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth... (Ephesians 6:13, 14b AMP)
Ephesians 6 is a letter of instructions, and filled with language that shows Apostle Paul EXPECTS actions from the believer. Nowhere in here are the actions to be by Paul for the believers, or even God doing these actions for the believers - these are responsibilities that are to be DONE by the believers and not someone else for them.
AND it is written in the context of difficult times and warfare they were experiencing.
While we often think of Ephesians 6 as a chapter where we are encouraged into offense in warfare, please notice that in verses 13-14, above, Apostle Paul is telling them to put on the armor of God, and having done all they know - STAND YOUR GROUND!
When you have depleted all you know. Not all God knows, or all God has. Once you have depleted all you know - once you have come to the end of all your effort, experiences, strength - STAND YOUR GROUND!
There is no condemnation for not moving forward. There is no condemnation here for standing your ground - in fact that is what you are encouraged to do. However, there is no expectation or encouragement here for you to back up, to quit, to give up, to complain, to put in a little effort, or no effort and expect someone else to come and take your place so you can go and relax somewhere - stand your ground. Sometimes, that is the goal, that is the victory.
The truth is, if you don't show up, you can't suit up. And if you don't suit up, you will not win. Your uniform is your uniform. Your armor is your armor. David could not wear someone else's armor, and someone else could not take down Goliath. David had to show up to fight for the victory to be won.
It is every Christian's responsibility to learn how to do spiritual warfare, and everyone learns it where it counts - you learn it by doing warfare for yourself, before you do it effectively for others, and you never lose the responsibility of fighting for yourself.
When trying to encourage people in these circumstances, I often hear things like:
"I am so tired of warfare."
"When is this going to end?"
"All this warfare is not working."
On the surface these sound like legitimate cries for help. However, if we are to believe people have exhausted God's power, revelation, resources, and nothing has changed, then either God is not God, or they are lying. You know the one I am going to pick.
The truth is they have not obeyed the Word, they have not done warfare properly, effectively or consistently. When you read Ephesians 6, you will notice that Paul speaks of victory, even if the victory is to remain standing, however you have to obey the Word of God and put on the armor of God and use all the weapons God has provided...USE the weapons.
If someone tells you "it's not working" it is because they are not trusting God, not because God, His Word and His truth are broken.
This apathetic Christianity of folding under pressure like a wet kleenex, and running from the battle is dangerous - it puts you and others in danger, and it is cowardly, and un - Biblical. Notice who the cowards are included with...and what their "reward" is:
But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars — their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
Show up, suit up, and get on the field of battle.
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