Just about daily, we're provided with news about the two current wars our nation is involved in - Iraq and Afghanistan. And, most generally, that news is in regards to the casualties of those wars. With your indulgence, I'd like to offer a short lesson based upon some thoughts derived from those two wars and wars in general.
I cited a statement made by Sir Winston Churchill during a speech he gave back in 1940 at a time when England was facing the onslaught of Hitler's Nazi war machine and the situation looked very bleak for England. We'll come back to some more of his words a little later on, but first I'd like you to consider some Biblical thoughts that constitute our lesson in chief.
I know that you know this, but it never hurts to remind ourselves of a very real fact and that fact is: the Church is engaged in a continual war with a very determined enemy. Oh, it's not what is termed as a "physical war" but rather it's a "spiritual war."
A few editorials ago we looked at a lesson based upon the passage found in Eph. 6:10-18 where it talks about the "armor" and the weaponry we have, as Christian soldiers, to fight this war. Plus, that passage told us who we are fighting against and how we are to wage this war.
But, whether we're talking about a "physical war" or a "spiritual war" there is one thing common to both - casualties. And, sadly enough, I think that we all have personal knowledge of casualties that have occurred in both types of war. Our lesson today will be geared toward the thought of the casualties of "spiritual warfare" and how to avoid becoming one.
To start with, let's look briefly at a parable found in Luke 8:5-15, the one Jesus told about the "sower" and the "seed." A quick study of this parable will teach us that there will be casualties in our "spiritual war." The first thing I'd like to point out is what we see in verse 11 where the "seed" is identified as being "the word of God." If you recall from our editorial abased on Eph. 6, you'll recall that the Christian's only weapon is "the word of God."
In verse 12 we find out exactly who our opponent is in this war, who our "adversary" is - the devil. He is the commander of the forces arrayed against us. We know that he is a ruthless opponent because of what Peter tells us about him in 1Pet. 5:8 - that he is like a "roaring lion (insatiable) walking about, seeking whom he may devour." Relate "devour" to the word "destroy."
Verse 12 also shows us how he operates and also identifies our first casualty. Notice there that he "takes the word out of their hearts." It says that "the Word" was received (in the heart) but, like the "seed" along the "wayside" it got taken away. Verse 13 provides us with our second casualty. These casualties consist of those who heard the "Word" and received it with "great joy," but let the temptations of the devil pull them away from it. Thus, becoming a casualty.
Our next casualty is found in the next verse, 14. Here we see that those who are even stronger believers will get caught up in worldly things to the degree that they are as good as dead because they "bring no fruit to perfection." They don't produce anything for the cause of Christ and Satan takes another Christian soldier off of the battlefield.
Then we get to verse 15 and we find out who the survivors of our "spiritual war" will be. Just who the victorious army is: those who received the "Word" with good honest hearts, kept it and brought forth fruit with "patience." A closely related word to "patience" is "diligence."
We see this word several times in the Gospel used to indicate a characteristic of a Christian. I particularly like the way Peter uses it in 2Pet. 1:10 where he says that if we're "diligent" about keeping the Word and the other characteristics of Christians, then "ye shall never fall." In other words, we won't become a casualty of war.
Let's return to some thoughts regarding our enemy, our "adversary" and better understand just exactly who we're fighting against. It's fitting that all of the various descriptions of the "devil" seen in the original Greek means things like "slanderer, accuser or traducer" which explains that this sort of enemy is seeking to "break the bonds" between God and man. If that bond is permanently broken, that person's soul has become a fatal casualty of war.
Remember I mentioned the words of Peter where he described the devil as a "roaring lion" and I said to note the word "destroy" as relating to "devour?" Look at the warning Jesus gives us in Matt. 10:28 that directly relates to the devil and the casualties he inflicts: "...fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." That is the location of internment for the casualties of a "spiritual war."
One of the things that I find hard to grasp is, according to Bible predictions, there will be many casualties in our war against "the devil and his angels (army)" even though our parable in Luke 8 tells us WHO WINS THE WAR! Who the ultimate victor will be. Why wouldn't you do everything in your power to NOT be a casualty? And we know that we have that power because James tells us "resist the devil and he will flee from you." (4:7) We just have to stand up to him.
Paul tells us in 2Tim. 4:2 to be "instant in season and out of season." That simply means "be prepared to fight, to resist, at all times." To never let our guard down because if we do, the devil has an opening and he moves in for the kill. And, as Paul told us several times in Eph. 6 that we are to "stand" against the "wiles of the devil." To be strong and courageous in this "spiritual war." If we are not, we become a casualty and we know where our eternal graveyard will be.
In closing, I'm going to provide you with the full paragraph of Sir Winston's speech from which I drew our opening citation. I believe that all Christian's could adopt his words as the battle cry for our army as we engage in our war. See if you don't agree with me.
"We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight
in France; we shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight with
growing confidence in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever
the cost may be.
We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds.
We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills.
WE SHALL NEVER SURRENDER!"