In case you didn’t realize it, we are at war.In fact the spiritual war for the souls of humanity has been going almost as long as humanity has existed.In 2013, we are truly a church militant- spiritually militant that is.Unfortunately, in those few times that the church has actually believed it has been engaged in battle, the theatre has most often been the physical one.Sadly, the results have been mixed at best.More times than not the church may have received an “A” for effort;but nothing more than an “F” in terms of success.
What is arguably more regrettable is that so often the church has been lulled into this ideology that we are at peace.In his book “Tearing Down Strongholds & Defending the Truth”, R. C. Sproul jr. contends that “If the enemy is persuaded that peace has been declared, then the war is already won. This has been the strategy practiced of late by the leader of the forces of darkness, Satan.”In some circles Satan has sown this lie with incredible productivity and success.
In some cases a more subtle ideology has crept in- an ideology and belief that the church is going to fail.Statements about this type of ideology are often indirect but directly impact a believer’s thoughts and values about the mission of the Jesus and the church that He has built.Statements like “God sent us to be fishers of men, not to clean up the fish bowl” and “We should live like people who don't expect to be around much longer” (Hal Lindsey) only further the idea that we should just try and get people saved and not worry about how the world looks because the church is not going to make a difference.J Vernon Mcgee once declared that “You don't polish the brass on a sinking ship” to describe why the church shouldn’t be upset or worried about the way of the world because it doesn’t really matter in the long run.All of this seems to run against the greater narrative of scripture further solidifies a line of propaganda that the enemy has insinuated into Christian worldview.It is a propaganda that for all intents and purposes has led to many Christians putting down their weapons and walking away from the battle line.I believe that Satan knows that he can’t win.That being said, he is a master strategist and his line of defense is to simply mitigate his losses by keeping God’s people from living up to their full potential and their true calling under God.
Jesus’ words following Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Son of God were “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:18)This statement is loaded with truth as it conveys both how the enemy will attempt to shutdown the onslaught of the church and more importantly how unsuccessful he will be in doing so.In ancient times court proceedings and business took place at the gates of a city.In addition and perhaps more importantly the city’s council would sit and declare policy and law just inside the gates as well.The devil, safe inside the gates of hell is continuously spouting forth poor ideologies and worldviews intending to confuse and manipulate the unsaved world and Christians both; though I would suggest his primary attack since the time of Jesus has come against the latter.His hope is to find some way to take as many of the unsaved with him as possible through subtly disarming those who have the power and the authority to steal them away from him.He knows his time is limited and the battle is nearly over.The most definitive of battles has already been fought and he has retreated to his place of supposed safety and fortified his gates.Here is truth about gates: they are not an offensive weapon.They serve as a shield only.In most cases they are the last defense against an opposing force.They are a defensive mechanism (tall, strong, not easily scalable) – designed to be daunting, impregnable, impassable.However once breached, knocked down or forced open the prize that they protect is easily accessible.Yesterday I was talking to a friend about golf and I believe the Lord gave me a golf picture that explains much of what the devil’s lies are like.I am not a great player of the game of golf, but I have learned that a shot over a water or sand hazard is the same as a shot over the fairway or rough.The hazard simply screws with your mind.I have made many shots of the same distance before- the water and the sand really change nothing and yet I miss more of those shots because of doubt.This is what the gates of hell do.They make you doubt, they make you second guess, they make you walk away.
However, the gates of Hell (all of the rumors, lies, false and faulty worldviews and machinations from the pit of Hell) will not prevail against the church which Christ has built- that is what Jesus said.It is time for the church to throw off the lies and deceptions which the devil has wooed it into believing.Think of the word ‘prevail’.What does it mean?One definition suggests that to prevail means to prove more powerful than the opposing forces.”According to Jesus (and what He says does count), The gates of hell will not prove more powerful than the opposing force- His church.If gates are defensive in nature and they are unable to prevail against the church, what does that suggest about the nature of the church?The church is on the offense… or should be.The devil knows that he cannot prevail, but he doesn’t have to prevail if there is no battle or war being taken to him.We have allowed his gates (the lies and falsehoods he has spoken) to lull us to sleep, to tell us we have lost, to communicate that the gates are to high and strong for us to knock down.We have laid down our weapons.We have taken an extended nap at the army camp.We have walked away from the battle line and left hell unopposed.Jesus has come conquering and to conquer- we are his army.D-day has been fought and won by the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.We are waiting for V-day.Until that day comes we must pummel the gates of hell and plunder the enemy’s store house as the victorious church that Jesus created.
Jud 1:22,23 And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Battle requires commitment. I think sometimes we are hiding in the church from the world and the devil instead of suiting up and going out into battle. We need to put on the whole armour of God and go out with the gospel and win people to Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. We needto give our lives as living sacrifices so thatby all means we may win some. We need to weep over the lost and over sin.