NEW - THE FIGHT IS ON - ARE YOU UP FOR IT?
THE FIGHT IS ON: ARE
YOU UP FOR IT?
By John Aldworth
Published 24 February 2013
Psalm 110: 3: Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.
Eph. 6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Like it or not we are caught up in a battle. The opening shots were fired the minute we got saved. And the salvos have kept coming since. Only those who have “surrendered” to the enemy experience an illusory cessation in the two-way barrage. And that is only because already they have been struck down.
For the rest of us the fight continues. And it is not optional. A literal translation of the opening phrase of Eph. 6:12 is: "To us the wrestling is not against flesh and blood…” Take that a word or two at a time. “To us ... the wrestling”. That is our appointed role. You see, fighting with the spiritual forces of darkness is the inevitable and necessary lot of every true believer who seeks to be “taught by Him as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21).
In fact we are embroiled in the same conflict as the Apostle Paul simply because the God has determined it should be so. Phil. 1:29-30 makes this clear:
“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him but also to suffer for his sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me and now hear to be in me.”
The Greek for “conflict” is agon, which word is also used in Col. 2:1, 1 Thess. 2:2, 1 Tim. 6:12 and 2 Tim. 4:7. Our "conflict" then is established in the mouth of more than two or three witnesses. Check it out for yourself.
WE’RE IN TO WIN
Now for some good news. We’re in this fight to win not to lose. Not only are we on the winning side (I read to end the end of the book and God and his saints win hands down) but the Bible also assures us that also we can personally prevail in hand to hand combat with the enemy.
Truly, we can put the adversary to flight; we can drive back the enemy of our souls; we can put him on the run. It is not for nothing that James 4:7 says: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you”. And in Eph. 6:12 Paul speaks of our being able to “withstand in the evil day.” Well, “withstand” means to resist, to repel an attack and to drive the enemy back. And the “evil day” is the one we are living in right now (see Gal. 1:4). So let’s put on the whole armour of God and get to the fight and, knowing that we’re going to win, learn to enjoy the overcoming just as Jesus did (see Heb. 12:2).
But first things first. Let’s realise we are summoned to war not only in our personal fight with the enemy, with unbelief and our old nature (which we defeat by putting on the new man and counting the old man crucified with Christ) but also in the big cosmic conflict which the Lord will wage against the forces of darkness. That means that we should have a dispensational understanding of the big fight, of when it takes place and of our part in it both now and then.
BOOT CAMP TRAINING
Actually our present “wrestling” against the foes outlined in Eph. 6:12 is really just boot camp training for the “big one” up ahead. Right now we’re in “David” mode, learning to take out spiritual bears and mountain lions so that one day we can fell a giant-sized Goliath. And this God-given military training comes with a built-in safety factor. God has already promised He will not let us be tested above what we can bear and “with the temptation will make a way of escape that ye may able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
So don’t be surprised when you stand for the truth – believing it in your heart and telling others about it when called on to do so– that you come under attack in unexpected ways. It’s not your fault; you didn’t cause the trouble, although the devil will claim you did (see 1 Ki. 18:17). Far from such attacks being proof of things going wrong, they are actually proof that they’re going right.
To put matters in the right perspective we should realise we have already received our “call up” papers from the Lord. They came in the post, in a letter addressed to “the faithful in Christ Jesus”, and the relevant verse (Eph. 6:12) is cited at the head of this study. Our boot camp entry ticket is also contained in Psalm 110:3:
Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.
Omitting the words in italics - which were inserted as an ellipsis by the translators - we read: Thy people … willing in the day of Thy power. The meaning is that God’s people will offer themselves as freewill offerings in the day of the Lord’s battle. And the phrase “in the day of Thy power”, actually means “in the day that Thou warrest”.
It means the day in which the Lord goes out to fight and wins. The Hebrew for “power” is chayil, meaning “a force, an army, strength, a host, great forces, war”. In English “power” means both force and authority, with the latter having been derived from victory in battle.
So Psalm 110:3 is talking of that day in which Christ Jesus the Lord will “take unto Himself His great power and reign” (Rev. 11:17). While Revelation sees this in relation to its effects upon people on earth, Psalm 110 pictures the “day of Thy power” as Christ ruling as King “in the midst of thine enemies”, that is, in the heavenlies. So the enemies He will rule amongst – and we with Him - are the dark and satanic powers on high.
Strangely, it is widely thought in Christian circles today that this battle must be won with money and Ps. 110: 3 is often interpreted in this light. Seemingly the saints can’t fight without costly buildings, huge organisations, salaried ministers, expensive equipment and glossy publications.
But David had only a sling and five smooth stones to defeat the Philistine army. What’s more the Apostle Paul said the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. I checked out his words in Eph. 6:13-18 and there wasn’t a dollar among them. Accordingly, here in Ps. 110:5, the freewill offering called for is not money in the offering plate; it’s the offering of ourselves as willing combatants in the Lord’s fight.
THE DAY OF HIS WRATH
Dispensationally, it is important to see that the “day of His power” is also the “day of His wrath” (Ps. 110:5) and that this time period is also that which seven times in Paul’s epistles is described as the “day of Christ”.
The dispensational difference is this: In the day of Christ it is largely Satan and his wicked hosts in the heaven that get clobbered. True mankind is also judged but then mankind is also greatly blessed in this, His day (2 Tim. 4:1). By contrast, in the day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:1-3 and 2 Thess. 7-9), those who rebel toward the end of the Day of Christ are punished with everlasting destruction. Then also and the devil in the form of “that Wicked” is brought down to earth and with his angels destroyed in the lake of fire with the brightness of the Lord’s coming (2 Thess. 2:8).
So the “day of Christ” (2 Thess. 2:2, 1 Cor. 1:18 and 5:5, 2 Cor. 1:14, Phil. 1:6, 1:10 and 2:16) is the time when the Lord appears in kingdom glory to knock the devil and his evil spirits for six and bring the whole satanic system of false government in heaven and earth crashing down. Having thus cleaned up the heavenlies in his kingdom glory Christ then proceeds to refresh and restore the earth to its original pristine condition at the first creation. Now, who wouldn’t want to be fighting alongside the Lord when He does that?
The good news for us is that if we, as faithful believers are pressing upward in the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14), then we will be revealed in with Christ when He appears in glory (Col. 3:3-4).
The day of Christ is also the day in which the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) is realised. It is the time of the Lord’s appearing when He shines forth his glory and sounds out his word throughout the earth so that everybody sees and has to listen. This is when He comes into his own kingdom in his own right, as Ps. 110 sets out, and then judges the “quick and the dead” (2 Tim. 4:1).
But to be part of it requires that we be obedient to the Lord’s repeated commandments to be willing to fight and join the battle. Here are some of them:
1 Tim. 6:12: Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God who quickeneth all things and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Tim. 2:1-4: Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus … endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ… No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him (i.e. Timothy and you and I) to be a soldier.
Eph. 6:12-13: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
THE BATTLE ON HIGH
Yes, we’ve been chosen to fight. Importantly, the battle we are called to join takes place in the heavenlies, in the “high places”. You see before righteousness, peace and plenty can be brought to earth, the spiritual wickedness “up there” must be defeated. For example, famine stalks the earth today as it has for hundreds of years despite the fact the earth is more than capable of producing food for all. In lands where the gospel of Christ Jesus has been little believed, hunger is often aggravated by savage war. In many Third World countries crime and hopelessness abound despite the best efforts of the United Nations and the NGOs. The truth is that unless the evil spirits that cause these ongoing evils are defeated then matters will simply grow worse.
The “rulers of the darkness of this world” are powerful wicked spirits who together determine and execute the present order of world misery in all its forms. As the results clearly show they, like the devil their master, work only to “steal, to kill and to destroy” (John 10:10). And it is no use just attacking their organisations and human representatives on earth, wicked as they are. Their heavenly citadel must be attacked and overrun. And it is just that conquest God is training us for.
A DEFEATED FOE
Yet already this evil power is already a defeated foe in the personal experience of any believer who knows and believes he or she is “translated into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13). This because already (Col. 1:12) God the Father “hath delivered us from the power of darkness”, which means that much as they might like to, these wicked rulers are powerless to harm us.
Eph. 6:13 advises: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand”.
Again, the “evil day” is today, and to “withstand” means to repel and to drive off. In the fight we don’t have to just stand there and take it, as many seem to think. To the contrary we can dish it out too. After all that’s what the “sword of the Spirit” – the word of “present truth” is for. “And having done all to stand” means to secure the victory won and take possession of the conquered territory. Of course, it is only in Christ “in whom we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37) that we can do so.
In Christ we can both prevail and take ground from the enemy through the “power of His might” (Eph. 6:10), through the “power of God” (2 Tim. 1:8) and by being “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1).
Paul at the end of his life was able to say, “I have fought a good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7). I pray we may all follow his example.