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A Spiritual War

The Christian's Battle

From the Editor (ACTS magazine - July/August 2007 - a publication
of the General Churches of God, 7th Day, Meridian, ID, USA.

     War and peace are two enduring themes throughout the Bible
as well as two realities in our world. Because Israel serves as a
land bridge between the Near East and Egypt, trade routes
crossing Israel inevitably led to conflicts among the ancients.
One such trade route known as the Via Mans to the Romans, or "way
of the sea;" connected Egypt and Assyria. Megiddo, located on the
Via Mans, was home to numerous battles as early as the 15th
century B.C. to as late as World War I. Because many battles were
fought in Megiddo (Judges 5:19-20; 2 Kings 9:27; 2 Chronicles
35:20-24), it holds the naming rights to the final battle of
Armageddon, meaning "mountain of Meggido" (Hebrew: Har-Megiddo;
Revelation 16:16).
     Despite the many wars and battles in the Bible, there were
times of peace and stability, too. Strands of peace in Israel
existed as far back as the Old Testament patriarchs. In the New
Testament Jesus maintains a pacifistic stance toward the Roman
aggressors. This is evident throughout Jesus' ministry (Matthew
4:57; 26:52; John 18:36). In fact, Jesus not only teaches us to
love our neighbors as the Old Testament had commanded earlier
(Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39) but also our enemies (Matthew
5:44).
     Witnessing firsthand the Roman crackdown of three Jewish
revolts (A.D. 66-73, 115-117, 132-135), the early Christians
followed Christ's example of pacifism. Paul, for example,
instructs the first century Christians to obey their rulers
(Romans 13:1). In the third century when the pagan Celsus
condemns Christians for not joining the Roman army, Origin
defends the Christian position by stating more enemies could be
overthrown through faith and prayer than through physical
warfare. 
     In our own church tradition, the Church of God (7th Day) has
a long history of promoting pacifism.

     Physical warfare, however, is not the only kind of warfare
in the Bible. The Bible places a great emphasis on spiritual
warfare, which has been in existence ever since the temptation
and fall of Adam and Eve. For Christians, the greatest battles
are not fought in distant battlefields but in our very minds and
hearts. So, how can we defend ourselves from the enemy, the
Devil?
     The Apostle Paul exhorts us to put on the armor of God in
order to stand against the Devil's evil ways, clarifying that
"our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the
rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark
world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly
realms" (Ephesians 6:12 NIV). Based on the imagery of Isaiah
(11:5; 59-16-17) as well as the Deuterocanonical Wisdom
(5:17-23), Paul depicts the Christian in terms of the uniform and
apparatus of Roman soldiers, with the purpose of promoting
courage and prayer in spiritual warfare.
     As we explore ACTS 2007 theme on living the Christian life,
it should be stressed that our totality, every facet about us,
should be given over to Christ. We cannot be double-minded (James
1:8; 4:8), with one part in the world and the other in Christ.
And one cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13). One's body, for
example, is to be a living sacrifice to God, not to the world
(Romans 12:1). Every thought is important and must be brought
into the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Through the
renewing of our minds by the Holy Spirit and by practicing
spiritual disciplines, Christians can please God and discover His
will (Romans 12:2).
     And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall
keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians
4:7, KJV.

Blessings,

John R. Kennedy


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