Preparing for War

There are multiple verses in Scripture which reference our fight against Satan and his kingdom.  Two such passages that are quite widely known are I Peter 5:8, which shows him to be a lion on the prowl for food, and Ephesians 6, with its description of the armor of God.  Both texts are very telling.  We learn that the “adversary” is a formidable one indeed.  It is only by the grace of God that we might remain sober minded enough to pull on the heavy armor necessary to defend ourselves.  Being lax and not taking the threat posed by the devil seriously are grave errors for the child of God to make.

However, there is more to be learned from Scripture with regard to this warring.  In Numbers 32:6, we read, “And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?”  Moses was of course speaking of literal war, but application can be made to us as well.  The first few verses of the chapter reveal that the Gadites and Reubenites sought to settle down prematurely, raising their cattle on the lands which had already been conquered.  Moses’ response in verse 6 is a striking one.  First, it reinforces what we saw already in the previous two passages: preparedness is vital.  The devil is an incredibly strong opponent to go up against, and must be taken seriously.  As such, we cannot simply lounge around until temptation presents itself to us and expect to be able to defend ourselves effectively.  If we do assume we can do this, we deceive ourselves greatly.  Our spiritual armor is not something that can be simply slipped on and off at our leisure.  Rather, the true child of God keeps it on constantly, maintaining it through proper spiritual exercise.  We ought not allow our breastplate of righteousness to grow rusty!

Secondly, there is an underlying truth expressed in Moses’ question.  By including in it the fact that the other Israelites would continue to fight, he shows that this fight is a communal one.  So often we think of the struggle against sin and our own sinful natures to be a wholly individualistic fight.  Certainly, there is a place for considering it in this way – there are many instances when there are no fellow saints we can look to for help in a moment of temptation.  However, when we do have the opportunity to do so, we ought to share our burdens with one another.  By working together to keep one another accountable, we are more likely to be successful in our striving against sin.  And of course, we never are truly alone; through prayer, we have access to the one who was tempted just as we are but who never once succumbed to the pressure.  By God’s grace and guidance, we can help one another to resist against all temptation to sin.  An army’s strength is not in the feats of individuals, but in the cohesiveness of a disciplined unit of soldiers fighting side by side, following the orders of its commander; so it is with our fight against Satan and those who serve him.

If we do not do these things, Moses has a dire warning for us.  In verse 23, he says, “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.”  We must know and remember that God is displeased when we neglect our spiritual lives, taking the easy road as it were.  Not preparing for temptation’s next onslaught is not only foolhardy – it is also sinful, and that sin will not go unnoticed.

So, child of God, be prepared!  Go about your day as one who is armed to the teeth, ready for a sneak attack at any moment.  But also be prepared to help a wounded comrade – you are certain to find many as you travel the walk of faith.  Lastly, and of course most importantly, lean on God and His Son, our Savior.  As our general in this fight, He rides out conquering and to conquer.  His commands are wise and true, and they lead on to victory.  Onward, then, Christian soldiers!

Matthew Koerner

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