“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10–11).
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Every New Testament writer agrees with Paul and Peter that Christians are in a fight to the death.
Let me say right up front that I’ve never served in the armed forces of my country in any capacity (unless I’m allowed to count high school ROTC), much less on a for-real battlefield. I haven’t personally known the physical torture and mental terror that causes grown men to weep uncontrollably and often retreat into stubborn silence.
But every dedicated Christian must be aware of the threat posed by the spiritual forces of evil that surround us every day. As Christian writer Gary Henry wrote, “Our hearts are under attack on all fronts. There is not a single dimension of our thinking where we are not challenged by evil and confronted with crucial choices. In our intellect, the choice is between truth and deception. In our affections, we must decide between love and hatred.”
Satan seeks to destroy us at every turn, putting every temptation possible in our paths. Several years ago I read that during WWII, London golf courses posted special rules reflecting the conditions of the time. One sign along the cart path read, “The position of known delayed-action bombs will be marked by red flags; competitors during gunfire or bombing may take cover without penalty.” Now, only a golfer could understand such a stipulation!
But think about this: The paths on which we walk in life are littered with live explosives, designed to maim and destroy. The devil has tried to hide them, but they are there, nevertheless. During and after the conflict in 1990s Bosnia, estimated millions of antipersonnel mines carpeted the countryside. Safety was possible by observing the red flags used to mark their locations.
God has also put out some red flags in our battlefield to mark the dangers we face. Words such as “avoid,” “beware” and “flee” are designed to give Bible readers a warning of the danger. And, as in war-torn England, rather than being penalized, we are encouraged to seek shelter in the Lord from the ferocious attack of our enemy, the devil. Rather than cowardice, this is acknowledged dependence on God for survival.
So, with the apostle Paul, let us declare our confidence in God’s conquering power: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18).