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

Come unto Me

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:28-30).

How comforting these words of our Lord Jesus Christ are to all his elect! Come unto me and I will give you rest. It seems that sometimes that is all we wish for in our busy lives – just a little rest. We can find ourselves so caught up in the stress and business of life that it can be so hard to find even a small window of time to enjoy some peace and quiet. The pile of papers continues to grow, deadlines loom nearer and nearer, and the to-do list seems to go on endlessly. When will you ever find the time to just relax?

But that’s not the kind of rest that Christ is speaking of here. “Come unto me… and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” The rest our Lord promises is rest in the truest sense – not a mere break from physical labor that replenishes our earthly energy for a brief time, but a lasting spiritual relief for the soul from the constant battle it wages in this life. Daily we struggle with fierce spiritual enemies that attack us from every side as we fight the good fight of faith. Satan and his hosts lurk around every corner, poised with fiery darts to hurl at us when we are least expecting it. The world tempts us to abandon the straight and narrow path, sweetly inviting us to “have a little fun.” But when, by the grace of God, their invitation holds no appeal to us and we refuse to join in their revelings, we are faced with hateful mocking and ridicule. And perhaps most taxing on the soul is the sin residing within ourselves. Daily we must fight against our own sinful natures that are part of who we are. A constant war wages within our own beings – the old man of sin versus the new man of regeneration,  so that we confess with the apostle Paul, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Rom. 7:19). Truly we need rest!

And truly our Savior Jesus Christ is the only place we can truly find rest. He is our High Priest who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.  He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). He is the sole source of our rest and comfort for He made Himself a propitiatory sacrifice on account of our sins and imputes His perfect righteousness to our account before the Almighty Judge of heaven and earth. He gave us the ultimate victory over all our spiritual enemies and daily gives us the strength to fight the battle of faith through His poured-out Spirit. And one day He will bring us to be with Him in everlasting heavenly rest and covenant fellowship with God in heaven. That final reality is not ours yet, but we do have a small foretaste of that heavenly rest here on this earth. Every week when we enter God’s house of worship, we receive a small glimpse of the perfection that is to come. We sing His praises with fellow saints, come before the throne of God in prayer, and hear the voice of our Lord through the preaching of the gospel. When we hear and receive the preaching, we hear Christ. And doing so, we come unto Him and receive rest for our weary and heavy-laden souls. So let’s prepare ourselves to enter into that rest tomorrow. Prepare yourself to lay your burden at the cross and be comforted. Come unto Him and you will find rest for your soul.

Anna Langerak