“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.”
Winston Churchill, June 4, 1940
Churchill was one of the greatest leaders of western civilization. He had taken his place as British Prime Minister eight months after World War Two had erupted in Europe. France had been invaded by the Nazi’s and there was a possibility of an imminent attack on the United Kingdom. This possibility could easily have caused mass panic among British civilization. Churchill did not lie to the people. He realized the threat and made it known to them. However, he spoke with certainty of unconditional victory. Even though there would be casualties, the Allies would emerge victorious.
We, as Christians should learn from Churchill. We are in the same situation as the Allies in World War Two. There is an imminent attack on us. But it is not our physical lives at stake, it is our souls (Ephesians 6:12). The horrors and travesties of the Nazi’s were just child’s play compared to what Satan and his armies are capable of. Every moment there is the threat of invasion. But Satan is not as up-front and visible as the Nazi’s were.
Satan is sneaky. In the Garden of Eden, in Genesis, he is called “crafty.” He sneaks in our thoughts and decisions. He is constantly telling us that lying is not wrong in a certain situation; stealing is not wrong if your family is starving; sex is not bad as long as you “love” each other and that you are something special and very selfless and deserve a pat-on-the-back for that charitable act you committed last week. He has launched an all-out attack on humanity with special focus on God’s elect. He will and is doing everything in his power to turn us away. But, before we can fight Satan, we must know who he is and how he often appears to us.
Satan was once an archangel named Lucifer. He was in charge of the worship of God in heaven. Time went by and he began to grow jealous of God. He believed he was something special and deserving of praise. God threw him down to earth as well as the angels who had followed him. Now, Satan hated Man because he bore the image of God and would do anything to mar that image. He found Eve alone in the Garden and, through twisting of God’s Word, got her to doubt what God had said.
Satan knows scripture. He knows it very well. He will use it and twist it to say something that it does not. He causes us to doubt God’s Word. He enters our thoughts and minds and plants ideas and desires inside us. He is devious. Paul says to the Corinthians, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” This idea of Satan entering our thoughts is also presented in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. In which, the demon, Screwtape, kept a man from thinking of God or a higher Meaning to the mundane world by using something which he could easily control; his stomach. Satan will attack us with thoughts. Dr. Russell Moore says that, most often, the devil manifests himself to us, “invisibly but with the painfully personal suggestiveness that disguises itself as one’s own thoughts.” However, there is good news for us.
Christ, being “tempted in every way, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), has overcome Satan and his armies and has given us the power to do so, as well. In the wilderness, our Savior, the Second Adam, defeated Satan; the enemy of Man since that day long ago in the Garden. He has warned us to watch out and be aware of Satan’s wiles. Peter says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” This is not something that can be done passively or even just defensively.
We are to “be watchful.” We are commanded to constantly be on the lookout. We have been taught that we must always be on the defensive. However, that is not good enough. The armor of God, which Paul describes in Ephesians 6, talks about the weapons we have been given for spiritual warfare. Interestingly enough, though there is strong armor there, there seems to be no covering for the back, implying that we are to meet battle head on. We are called to be on the offensive. The command to be watchful means that we are to always keep a lookout for the attacks of Satan. Like a warrior amidst a battle, keeping his eyes open for the next enemy to approach him (and the next one for him to attack); keeping watch behind him, in front of him and in all directions. My mind pictures the images of the battle scenes in movies like Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. There are enemies everywhere around you. If you focus on only one, you are susceptible to attack from any other direction. Be watchful. Be vigilant. Watch all directions.
There is one point in which, I believe, we, as Christians, have gotten things wrong. We sit back and passively wait for temptation to come to us. We wait for sin to show up on our doorstep and attack us head on. Unfortunately, this leaves us open to the craftiness of Satan. While we wait for a visible, all-out attack, we become apathetic and lazy. We grow weary and weak. This leaves holes in our defense that Satan can easily sneak into and corrupt us from the inside. I propose a change in our thinking of how we should battle sin.
The time has come for a spiritual D-day; An all-out offensive on sin, Satan and the principalities and powers of this world. Churchill said his policy was, “to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us.” By this Churchill meant that they would wage war against their enemies in every way they could. John Owen, a 17th century church leader and theologian, got it right when he said, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” We need to be on the offensive. We need to wage war on sin by sea, land and air. It is in every aspect of our lives so we must hunt it down and overcome it in every aspect of our lives.
God has given us the strength to overcome temptation. But even a sharp sword put into the hands of a coward and a pessimist does not accomplish much. We must stay active, for the moment we fall asleep the devil will pounce and devour us. We need spiritual adrenaline; like the adrenaline soldiers have when they are in the midst of battle with bullets flying all around them, they are able to recognize, locate and defeat the enemy faster than they would be without it. Pray that God will give us “spiritual adrenaline” to make our sin evident. Especially the sins we do not see or count as miniscule. Pray that God will make our scarred consciences new and that we would clearly and decisively follow His battle plans. God has called us to be on the offensive, to be vigilant and to never surrender. Soli Deo Gloria.