In the early hours of June 6, 1944, the morning of the great D-Day invasion of France, the young soldier of the 101st Airborne Division sits expectantly in the belly of the airplane. He can’t wait to step foot on French soil and drink French wine and eat French pastries with a beautiful French mademoiselle. “This is gonna be magnifique,” he thinks to himself. Walking up to the plane’s door, ready to jump, he’s too focused on an inner debate regarding the French kiss to notice the angry flak and apian tracers lighting up the sky. The impact of the cold wind as he jumps is enough to get his attention though, and he is stunned to realize he’s being shot at! The swarm abates not in the slightest through his descent, and his surprise continues as his feet are welcomed to the soft earth, not by warmth and fanfare, but by German gunfire from the nearest hill. This isn’t even close to what he expected! That recruiter told him this was vacation in the French countryside with the fellas, not war!
Many people assume that life will be easy when they become Christians, that the good life found in Christ means the easy life here and now. While some of this can be chalked up to ignorance and convenient assumptions, the fault largely lies with deceptive Christians, smiley, happy-clappy folks with lots of hair gel and well-detailed sedans, and false teachers, of the Friyay variety.
Thinking that the Christian life is going to be easy is even more wrong than the young soldier thinking he was parachuting into France for the vacation of his life. Life with Christ is the best; but it ain’t easy. In fact, it’s war.
And it’s the Christian’s war that we are considering together today. To do so, we will look at what the Bible says about us before being converted and what it says about us now that we have been converted.
BEFORE YOU WERE A CHRISTIAN…
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Before becoming Christians, we knew not what it meant to fight, for…
We were dead in sin.
We walked with the world.
We walked with Satan, our father at the time.
We walked in the lusts of our flesh.
We were in an alliance of death, fighting not against the enemies of God, headed for hell. But God has changed all of that.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
NOW YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN…
Now, God has made us alive together with Christ, by grace alone, through faith alone. Now, created for good works, God’s enemies, the world, the Devil, and the flesh, though once our allies, are our enemies.
At some point, that young soldier joined the United States Army and put on that uniform. As soon as he did that, he gained enemies. Because of who he was, a US soldier, his life in France was war, the peace only to come only when the enemies had finally been chased from the earth.
When you convert, when you become a Christian, when you turn away from a life of rebellion against God and turn to Christ in faith, when you profess faith in baptism, you are gaining enemies and entering a war that will only end when you die or Christ returns, whichever happens first.
“Where there is no conflict, there is no Spirit of Christ at all.”—Richard Sibbes
“Where there is grace there will be conflict. The believer is a soldier. There is no holiness without a warfare. Saved souls will always be found to have fought a fight…We may take comfort about our souls if we know anything of an inward fight and conflict…Do we feel anything of war in our inward man? Well, let us thank God for it! It is a good sign. It is strongly probable evidence of the great work of sanctification…The child of God has two great marks about him…He may be known by his inward warfare, as well as by his inward peace.”—JC Ryle
Far from shocking you, if you find the Christian life to be really hard, a slog, a war, take heart. Be encouraged. The war against the world, the flesh, and the devil shows you are saved.
ENEMY #1: THE WORLD
“In a similar way, these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
What are we told about DEMAS in Colossians 4:14-15?
He was a companion of the Apostle Paul, a fellow worker, alongside Luke and others.
What do we learn DEMAS did in 2 Timothy 4:9-10?
He did not sufficiently guard against the allurements of the world. Paul in prison and facing death, Demas leaves the man he once so faithfully served for Thessalonica, likely for the sake of self-preservation.
What do we learn about fighting against the WORLD in Romans 12:2?
We will either be conformed to the world or transformed by the renewing of our minds through the regular reading and studying of the Bible. It is an either-or.
How does the world presently, specifically want to conform you?
Three significant battle lines: 1. Castration of masculinity 2. Homosexuality/LGBTQ 3. Objective, binding truth (“I feel/I believe…” v. “Such is the case…”)
What is the message from the world? Conform or be punished…
What is the message of Christ? Stand firm.
ENEMY #2: THE FLESH
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Empowerment for Fighting the Flesh: Blessing of the New Covenant
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
ENEMY #3: THE DEVIL
“These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.
2 Corinthians 4:4
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
1 John 5:19
“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
What are we told about Judas in John 13:26-27?
Satan entered him upon his partaking of the Lord’s supper.
What are we told about Simon-Peter in Luke 22:31-32?
Satan asked God to sift Simon-Peter like wheat. But God would preserve him.
What do we learn about fighting against the Devil in Matthew 4:1-11?
We are to fight against the lies of the Deceiver with our offensive weapon, our sword, the Word of the Living God.
How ludicrous would it be for our D-Day paratrooper if, while knowing he was jumping from the plane for battle against the Nazis, and not for vacation, he jumped butt-naked, a bright moon in a dark sky, without any uniform, armor, gear, or weapons of any kind? How would he expect to fare against the enemy in such an exposed state?
Christian, you know that you’re in a war against enemies that want to destroy you. Your own flesh, the world, and the devil hate you. Armor up, or prepare to get wrecked, often and hard.
What is our armor for the battle?
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Christian, the rest of your life in this world is one of war. That war is evidence of your salvation, the fight against the enemies of God instead of the alliance with them.
Stand in the fight by putting your trust in the Lord. Christ has secured victory at the cross. Trust in him.