“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” ~Jude 24-25
In order to plot a winning strategy in the battle for the mind the hope of ultimate victory must never waver. During the American Revolutionary War there were many dark days for General George Washington and the men he led. None seemed so bleak as those days from December 19, 1777 to June of 1778 when about 11,000 soldiers camped at Valley Forge, west of Philadelphia.
The Continental Army had very limited resources. A harsh winter was about to descend and the army was desperate for food, clothing, and ammunition. Hundreds of horses did in fact starve to death, and for the army starvation was a mortal danger. “No meat, no meat!” was the constant wail.
Improvements came about after Nathanael Greene assumed the duties of Quartermaster General on March 23rd. Yet, despite the ever-present fear of mutiny, no real disaffection occurred. As Hessian Major Baumeister conceded, the army was kept from disintegrating by the “spirit of liberty.” Men and officers accepted their tragic plight with a sense of humor and extraordinary forbearance, but it was an ordeal that no army could be expected to undergo for long. Nathanael Greene wrote to General Washington, “God grant we may never be brought to such a wretched condition again.”
God was gracious. Victory came to the army and through the army liberty came to millions of Americans. Through it all individuals never gave up on the hope for victory. Faith in the cause became the hope for victory. Spiritually the believer must have hope. The Christian must never give up the struggle for a winning strategy. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.”
Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.
His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God.
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field.
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.
On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array.
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout.
To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n.
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in Heav’n.
Then onward from the hill of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring Name.
In addition to hope, the Christian must have confidence that God will sanctify His people. Salvation is still of the Lord. Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” While the believer is not left to be idle in the spiritual conflict, neither is the Christian to despair thinking it is all up to him. El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty, shall not only redeem His people, but also will sanctify and preserve them. This is a great responsibility He has taken upon Himself.
The means by which the Lord has been pleased to work is through the His Word, and by His Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is to the Word the believer must turn as a strategy for winning is devised. In the Word the plan of victory is revealed. All of the details of the plan are set forth. They must not be lost. Much damage is done to the soul, and the cause of Christ when His Word is not protected. From the civil war era comes a compelling illustration.
On September 13, 1862, Robert E. Lee’s Special Orders 191 found its way into the Union hands. It detailed the detachments and orders of march of his Army of Northern Virginia, which had disappeared behind the Blue Ridge Mountains during its invasion of the North. With this intelligence, the hesitant George McClellan was able to make an immediate and concentrated strike at Lee’s scattered army that culminated in the Battle of Antietam four days later. This battle ended Lee’s first invasion of the North and, probably, sealed the fate of the Southern cause.
President Abraham Lincoln used the military success from the Battle of Antietam to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, injecting slavery as an emotional and moral war issue. Powerful European nations eventually refused political recognition of the Confederacy and its military and economic benefits. Lee withdrew his battered forces back into Virginia, his first foray into the North a strategic failure. Antietam thus redirected the course of the war, and ultimately led to the downfall of the Confederacy. Prior to the Civil War Battle of Antietam, General McClellan was able to write President Lincoln, “I have all the plans of the rebels…”
Exactly how the Special Orders of General Lee’s were lost remains a mystery. What is certain is that much harm was done to his cause. Had the orders been protected, and properly executed, the outcome of a great battle would have been far different. In like manner, when the Word of God is protected, the outcome of the great battle for the soul will be far different than if the principles of God’s Word are lost.
Consider three great principles needed in order to execute a winning strategy.
The first principle, is to understand the new position the believer holds because of Christ. Nothing is more foundational to spiritual freedom from the bondage of Satan than understanding, and affirming, what God has done in the life of the Christian. All of our responses to situations in life, consciously and subconsciously hinges on this very point of self-perception, which is why the New Testament writers use a variety of images for the Christian to identify with.
The Christian is called a disciple. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
The Christian is called a member of the little flock. “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
The Christian is called a friend. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:14-15).
The Christian is called a servant. “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1).
The Christian is called a saint. “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2).
The Christian is called branches. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
The Christian is called the bride. “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2).
The Christian is called a lively stone. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 2:5).
The Christian is called a royal priesthood. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
The Christian is called a king. “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:6).
The Christian is called the elect of God, holy and beloved. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” (Col. 3:12).
The Christian is called the children of God. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16).
Here is a partial list of twelve ways every Christian should conceive of themselves.
Every Christian is a Disciple
Every Christian is a Member of the Little Flock
Every Christian is a Friend to Jesus, and to Others in the Church of Christ
Every Christian is a Servant
Every Christian is a Saint
Every Christian is a Branch of the Vine
Every Christian is the bride of Christ
Every Christian is a Lively Stone
Every Christian is a Member of a Royal Priesthood
Every Christian is a Citizen of a Holy Nation
Every Christian is a King
Every Christian is the Elect of God, Holy and Beloved
Every Christian is a Child of God
What is conspicuously absent is the concept of a “sinner”, even a “sinner saved by grace”. Perhaps that is significant.
There is no doubt the Lord would have His children think of themselves in exalted terms that corresponds to spiritual realities of being in Christ. Consider the language of Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
The resurrection of Christ gave Him victory over the rulers and authorities of the kingdom of darkness. “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15).
Today the Lord shares His victory with all who love and follow Him. Therefore, the Christian has a right to think of himself in exalted terms. This is not a matter of building up one’s self esteem. It is a matter of knowing that perception becomes reality.
A person who thinks in terms of being a sinner, and nothing but a sinner, will sin. A person who thinks in terms, with divine permission of spiritual nobility, honor, and dignity will find movement toward being conformed to the image of Christ. Understanding the new position the believer holds because of Christ is essential in plotting a winning strategy.
The second principle is to understand the usage of spiritual power and authority. Sometimes a popularillustration is used to draw a distinction between power and authority. The illustration is that of a policeman. A policeman can step onto a busy street to direct traffic. He holds up his hand and cars stop. He has authority over them. In and of himself he has no power to stop traffic for the drivers are many, and the cars fast and strong.
The application of this particular illustration points out the fact that the Christian is not as strong as Satan. The Christian does not have the vast resources at the disposal of the Enemy. Nevertheless, the believer has been given authority over the devil and the demons of darkness. This authority was manifested in the ministry of the disciples. Luke 9:1 Then he [Jesus] called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. Luke 10:17 records what happened. “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”
With the death of the apostles the authority over the principalities and rulers of darkness has been passed on, and entrusted to the church. Specifically, every Christian has authority to deal with sin and Satan. But there is something else. Every Christian also has power for the right to command, but is of no effect without the power to implement what is commanded.
If a government passes a law, it must enforce that law or the giving of the law is meaningless. By way of illustration there is the 18th amendment to the US Constitution. This amendment prohibiting the manufacturing sale or use of intoxicating liquors was ratified on January 16, 1919 having been approved by 36 states. It went into effect one year later on January 16, 1920.
However, the amendment was later repealed by the twenty first amendment in 1933 for one simple reason. There was no power to enforce the law. The congress and the people had the authority to pass the law, not they did not have within themselves the power to enforce it. New terms came into existence such as “bootlegger” and “speakeasies”. Corrupt and evil men such as
Al Capone built a financial empire over supplying intoxicating beverages to people. Crime and corruption were rampant in relation to this industry.
Spiritually, God’s people must have not only authority, they must have invested power if they are going to deal with indwelling sin, external sin, and the powers of darkness. Jesus did not send His disciples to combat the Enemy only with moral rectitude. He invested them with power and authority.
The third principle is to claim the victory that is in Christ. At first this seems awkward to do, and yet there is biblical precedent.
There is the illustration of Abraham. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:8-10).
There is the example of Moses. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. 24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28 Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them” (Heb. 11:23-28).
There is the pattern of Christ. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1).
Here, then, are three principles to be used to strengthen the soul in seeking a winning strategy against the spiritual warfare the saints are engaged in.
The first principle is to understand the new position the believer holds because of Christ.
The second principle is to understand both spiritual authority and power has been invested in the soul of the believer.
The third principle is to claim the victory that is in Christ. And there is more to follow. Slowly but surely a winning strategy is being set forth so that mortification of the flesh can take place. May God the Holy Spirit illuminate our hearts and minds, and beyond that, lead us on to victory by His omnipotent power. Amen.