Battles, battles, battles! They are ever present to shatter the faithful. God’s children have been facing them since the time He began calling them. They are neither accidental nor incidental, but become necessary to survive the fearsome enemies who do not accept them and their God. Before Christ, God’s children fought battles on the open field or within the confines of the enemy’s walls. Wherever the battle, they won it, because God literally fought their battles. Had it not been for God, there would not even be a remnant of them. At times they won by actually not having to draw their sword. And, when it was beyond their strength to overcome the enemy, God cleared the way for them and they won the battle. He gave them immense strength, wisdom and courage. He led them strategically. He gave them plans for ambush; told them which groups ought to attack from which direction; in some instances indicated to them the tribe that must first go up to battle. Israel knew that battles are won by God.
Israel under the leadership of people like Moses, Joshua, Deborah and David knew they had to remain faithful to Him. She fought battles beyond number and won. The Israel that won knew they were a people of naught had it not been for their marvelous God of heaven and earth. They faced battles in more ways than one could imagine and each time their pure faithfulness toward God won them the battle. The reason for their faithfulness was the presence of men among them that uninhibitedly listened to God. They were men that neither allowed nor desired for the forms of sin such as unbelief and rebellion toward God to grow like gangrene. When those forms appeared they swiftly resorted to God’s counsel and purged them. God deeply associated with Israel and made them more courageous than a king that had an army more numerous than they. They did not look back. Israel had with them the God that acted for them. This is indicative when Moses toward the end of their journey in the wilderness reminded them saying, “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you” (Deut. 20:1).
What confidence! A confidence that is higher than the mountains and wider than the seas. Who could have authored such confidence in feeble men that knew nothing except the work of slaves? It is God, who shows His faithfulness toward the people He chose. What He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He did not break. He brought them out of slavery and made them as men of war that would decimate sin and its nations. He proved His might to them and they consecutively proved their faithfulness toward Him. To this day God’s children, now the church, share the same expression – battles, battles, battles! But, by the mercy of Christ these battles are fought not on the open field. When Christ preached peace to those near and far by the will of God, He established it by offering Himself on the cross. Or else, as He said, His men would have fought for Him. The blood He shed for the mankind became the ordinance of peace that brings joy. The battles the church must fight are of a different kind. They are fought upon her heart. She needs to fight the enemy that seeks to prevent or disrupt peace. On the outset the enemy noted is Satan and sin. But, she must also fight the hidden enemies with the power of sin among God’s children i.e. the ungodly, the unbelieving and the rebellious.
Yes, battles have to be fought by the church. There is no escape. Through these battles we obtain peace. If you are not fighting them along with Jesus, you do not belong to Him. For this reason, when Christ rose from the dead, He became the helper of those that believe Him to win the battles against the flesh and the sin it entertains. And, our faith in Him has become the victory that defeats the world. There is no way that one can perpetually win battles with the weapons of the flesh. This is amply noted when Israel is seen to have won their battles only with the help of God. Whether the weapons were the sword and shield in those days or education, traditions of men and philosophy in these days, unless men are led by the power of God, battles will not be won. Hence, Moses wittingly reminded Israel of the God that brought them out of Egypt. We, who are of Christ, if indeed we are, ought to fight the battle like Him with truth, the Spirit and righteousness. Our battles are on two fronts even as it was for Christ – one against sin itself that is authored by Satan and another against the ungodly and the unbelieving. We win battles only by possessing Christ, His teachings and the help He gives us. But, many churches in present days are unable to fight their battles, since they are giving into unbelief, unrighteousness and falsity. They do not seek the counsel of God. They are guided by the unbelieving.
It is good to understand the works of God. When Judah spurned Him, the consequence was laid. “Judah was defeated by Israel, and they fled each to his tent” (2 Chron. 25:22). In fact, God Himself planned that Judah should lose. Judah’s sin was turning to idols that produced in him unbelief making him arrogant. He was arrogant against God, His nature and His ordinances. Unbelief in God’s word leads men to the kind of arrogance that falsely defines God. With it they begin to define or claim the knowledge of how God works, or what He does or does not perform. This is quite commonly seen in the churches of Christ. Again, unbelief in God’s word signifies selfish motives. This is quite commonly seen in many churches. Whatever be the case, the churches that are not lawful in their faith will certainly meet the fate of rebellious Judah. They will certainly fall short of the wisdom of God that wins them their battles.
On the contrary, there is a blessing to those who uninhibitedly listen to God. “They will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west; Together they will plunder the sons of the east; they will possess Edom and Moab, and the sons of Ammon will be subject to them” (Isa. 11:14). They are described by God as the blessed, since they have resorted to His Son. All those who turn to His Son from the vain teachings of men will be filled with the knowledge of His Son. The vain teachings of men amount to idolatry while the knowledge pertaining to the Son is like the dew of heaven. This knowledge is the key to strength, wisdom, understanding and counsel. For God has given Christ the authority to lead people by His Spirit. And, those who are led by Christ are of God. Therefore, it is also said that he who knows the Son knows the Father. What God was to the faithful Israel He is to us through His Son that we may inherit peace. God sending Christ in the flesh signified an end to the restlessness of His believers. The suffering of Christ made sure that the weapons of flesh are no longer needed. Hatred and jealousy have been replaced by love and peace. When these have not been the riches of the churches, they did not resort to the Christ that gives peace. For the churches to win their battles over sin and the unbelieving they must obtain the Christ of peace. Then, Satan will be crushed as blessings flow upon them like the rivers of water.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go” (John 21:18). This is the word that Jesus prophesied concerning Peter. A wonderful blessing Peter did receive. Christ blessed him with good life and a life full of peace. Not only did he become an eminent apostle, but also an elder to the church; a shepherd after the true Shepherd. Because he listened to Christ and willed to perform the work that He ordained to him, he was blessed. He evidently lived a long life. More importantly, he won his battles against Satan, sin, the ungodly and the unbelieving. He led the church to win her battles. He became to her a true counselor in Christ. The peace of Christ was his. Christ’s commands and counsel to him and his works for Christ became a testament to it.
Unless the leaders of the churches and the churches themselves fully accept Christ as their counselor, they cannot become like Peter. They will not receive like him. And, Paul in the Spirit strongly asserts: “but I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3). How do you intend to win your battles? Your education, work resume, traditions or intelligence can never win you the war against sin and its forces. But when you make Christ your head, He will make everything that is His to flow into you. He has the authority to do so from the God who led Israel through the Red Sea. Whatever is God’s belongs to Christ. He will win you your battles by the wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge and strength that rest on Him by the Spirit of God.
Therefore, we ought to lower our necks that we may understand the will of God toward us. “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16). This is neither accidental nor incidental, but a necessity. Just as the men of war need a full armor to enter the battle, we ought to possess the word of Christ beyond the usual that He guide us to victory. Then, we will not fight the war of minds, but of faith. We obtained counsel from His word. His counsel has every strategy to overcome. Satan, sin and the ungodly will continuously face defeat at our hands and peace flows relentlessly in our hearts. To think of fighting them is weary. But, to fight them by faith is victory inevitable. The psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are a great way to tell of all God’s marvelous works toward us. Incidentally, the godly have sung them to proclaim the mighty God. Where the word of Christ richly dwells there is faith that proclaims God. This is proving God who proves His might to us, because we believe in the written word that says, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13).