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A Time of War And A Time of Peace
When General Douglas MacArthur died, the United States lost one of its greatest generals and noblest sons.
Writing about his background, one weekly magazine aptly said that MacArthur was "born to battle."
His life accordingly was molded and matured amid the perils and hardships of war.
It can be equally said that the Christian has been "born to battle."
While this warfare is carried on in a different sphere, it is nevertheless a battle.
It is a battle against self, sin, and Satan himself; and in this encounter we are asked to "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim.
6:12) and to "endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Tim.
2:3) (Prairie Bible Institute 1964, 206).
There is a very close connection between the previous couplet and the one we are about to consider.
When we love God and hate sin, we virtually declare war on the devil.
Of course, as victories are won, there is always the blessing of peace.
So, there is a time of war and a time of peace as long as life endures.
Through all the Bible, and particularly in the New Testament, the Christian life is likened to a fight.
But with the fight, there is also the reward of peace.
The apostle Paul could say at the end of his life, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Tim.
We must face then:
!! The Call to Battle
The Puritan, Charles Bridges (1960, 62-63), points out that a time of war may arise from man's ungoverned passions (James 4:1), the just reparation of injury (Gen.
14:14-17), or some legitimate occasion of self defense (2 Sam.
But he adds,
All this is not chance.
It is the providence or permissive control of the Great Ruler of the universe.
/War/ is his chastisement; peace his returning blessing.
It is his prerogative to 'make /wars/ to cease unto the ends of the earth' (Ps.
46:9) to 'scatter ... the people that delight in war' (Ps.
68:30); and, when the sword has done its appointed work, to 'make /peace/ in the borders of his people' (Ps.
This is certainly a helpful analysis of the biblical treatment of war and peace.
But our concern in this chapter will focus entirely on the Christian warfare.
In the Book of the Revelation we read about war in heaven, when "the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil" (Rev.
The strategy of that great victory is then explained as John the apostle goes on to say that "they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death" (Rev.
Among other things, we can learn two important secrets on how to wage this holy war against the devil.
First, /how to detect the devil.
"/The great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Rev.
With the instruction we find in the Holy Scriptures and the illumination we derive from the Holy Spirit we can learn how to detect the devil by studying his titles and tactics.
Consider /the titles of the devil./
In that one statement we have four names, or titles, which describe this archenemy of men and women.
He is called "the great dragon" because he is essentially a destroyer.
Peter even speaks of him as "a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet.
He is called "that old /serpent/" because he is a deceiver.
His subtlety and seductions are unmatched by any other creature in the universe.
He is called "the devil" because he is a slanderer and an accuser.
And then he is called "Satan" because he is an opposer of all that is holy, just, and good.
What an insight this gives us into the names and nature of this supernatural personality we call the devil.
But, then, examine carefully /the tactics of the devil./
We read that he "deceives the whole world" (Rev.
12:9); and again, he is "the accuser of our brethren" (Rev.
Here is his strategy spelled out in two words—deception and accusation.
With supernatural subtlety he can deceive anyone into rebelling against God.
And then having achieved this, he accuses his victim until he destroys the total personality.
The reason people try to drown their guilt and fears in harmful, or even harmless, preoccupations is because of the relentless accusations of the devil.
This does not excuse man's accountability for sinning against God, but it does explain the consequences that follow when man rebels against Him.
So by understanding these titles and tactics of the devil we can detect not only His presence and power, but also His purpose in the world today.
I am glad, however, that the Bible takes us further and shows us not only how to detect the devil, but also /how to defeat the devil.
"/And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death" (Rev.
In this one verse we have a threefold strategy for overcoming Satan himself.
In simple language, let me put it this way.
/We overcome the devil by the blood of Christ./
When Jesus Christ died on the cross as the Lamb of God, He made possible the conquest of the devil in our everyday lives.
The Bible tells us that when Christ hung upon that cruel tree He "disarmed principalities and powers, [making] a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it" (Col.
And in another place we read that "through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb.
The meaning of these verses is that in His death Jesus nullified the power of Satan to triumph over any person who knows the redeeming and protecting power of His precious blood.
While the devil is still alive and loose on the earth, his final doom was sealed when Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead.
In fact, as He anticipated Calvary, our Savior declared, "Now is the judgment of this world; /now the ruler of this world will be cast out/" (John 12:31).
On the basis of that statement alone, you and I can experience victory over the devil.
He knows that his power to defeat the child of God has been annulled through the cross of Christ.
When we remind our enemy of Calvary, /there is always victory./
/We overcome the devil by the word of Christ./
The only testimony that counts is that which is rooted in the Holy Scriptures, and there is power in the Word of God to overcome the devil.
This is dramatically shown in our Lord's temptation in the wilderness (Matt.
You will remember how the devil attacked Him three times, and on each occasion He overcame by the word of His testimony.
He could say, "It is written," "It is written," "It is written."
How true it is that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Eph.
How important it is, therefore, that we should spend much time in the Holy Scriptures, in order that we might be able to draw the sword whenever we are attacked.
/We overcome the devil by the Spirit of Christ./
There is only one power that can make us resist, even unto death, and that is the power of the Holy Spirit.
When our Lord confronted Satan in the wilderness He was "/driven/ by the Spirit."
When He fought the battle at Calvary He did it through the power of "the eternal Spirit" (Heb.
Isaiah reminds us, "when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him" (Isa 59:19).
In Jesus Christ, we have this threefold power to overcome the devil: the power of the blood, the power of the Word, and the power of the Spirit.
Some time ago I was in Norfolk, Virginia, where I saw for the first time a large, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Nimitz, named after Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Its overall length is 1,092 feet, and its flight deck is about 4.5 acres.
Its combat load displacement is about 95,000 tons, it carries a crew of 6,286 persons and has a speed of over 30 knots.
One of its significant features is that because of nuclear propulsion it can run for 13 years before refueling.
In many ways it is like a floating city, containing everything a community of over 6,000 would require.
Fighter planes can take off and land, at the same time, even at full speed.
The ship contains the most sophisticated electronic equipment for all purposes of peace and war.
The thing I learned about this remarkable carrier is that it is totally unarmed!
It has no mounted guns or missile-launchers.
On its own it is totally vulnerable to enemy attack.
But that is not the whole story.
When in action, this ship is protected by subs under the sea, destroyers on the sea, and aircraft above the sea—and this constitutes the total protection needed by the carrier.
As I recalled these facts, I couldn't help relating that whole operation to the text that we have been considering.
The submarines answer to the blood of Christ, the destroyers answer to the Word of Christ, and the planes answer to the Spirit of Christ.
In and of ourselves, we are totally vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy, but God has not sent us out as carriers of the gospel without adequate protection.
We have our submarines, our destroyers, and our aircraft!
In the holy war in which we are engaged we can be more than conquerors.
In the spirit of this victory, we can with confidence now appropriate:
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