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We are in spiritual warfare every day. We sometimes think of it as some abstract battle that is unseen to others around, but is this true?
I believe the horrible things you see in the news is evidence that the spiritual war spills into the physical. When a teenager, going through the angst of growing up, has the strong urge to see what it feels like to kill another person, who do you believe is putting those urges into her head. If she knew and was staying close to God, I believe she would be shielded from that urge to a great extent. Dozens of stories like this every day run along the lines of, How could someone do that?
These are extreme examples of the warfare that happens every day, our minds in battle to follow the ways of God, or twisted by the devil. It is there whether specifically directing thoughts at us or indirectly through societies values and pressures.
There are the attacks, of thoughts that we are not good enough or anxiety over every little administrative task thrust at us in life, or other little things that distract us, whatever will keep our focus off of God.
Of course we will all stumble to various degrees, but as to the extent of our fall, and the degree we get back up depends on our putting on the armor of God, meaning staying close to Him, calling on Him when we need assistance. In this especially, we need God s strength, guidance and protection.
I had a dream that was not a normal dream, soon after I found my relationship with Christ. I fought one person hand to hand, then after that another with swords, then a different person with clubs, and so on and so on. As it continued I realized that I was fighting the same one again and again, the devil. He will come at us again and again in different guises and in different ways, relentlessly, just waiting for us to let our guard down, to not be up to the task the one time. This dream stuck with me unlike other dreams that usually fade from my min moments after waking. God talks to us in many ways and I believe He showed me this for a reason. I wish I could say I kept it in mind when useful from that moment forward, but there have been occasions that I have recalled it on timely basis.
As for why we fight so hard not to fall into satan s influence on various occasions, is not regarding being saved. Our souls belong to Christ the moment we surrender to Him, ask His forgiveness, and proclaim Him Lord in our lives. If it is sincerely in your heart, that is it, regardless of if you have fallen away from obeying our Lord, He will welcome us home. We have grace, thank God, literally. We try to win those spiritual battles, and stop even what we consider small sins, to glorify God, to become closer to Him. At times I fear that we use grace as a free pass. We should not beat our selves up mercilessly for our shortfalls, but we should be enthusiastic about growth, and not comfortable in our transgressions, abusing grace.
As for what we look at in others as horrible sins, and understandably have trouble forgiving, we must. Aside from that fact that it states in the bible that we should forgive, as we will want to be forgiven when we are judged, but also, if you do not forgive, and hold bitterness turning to hate in your heart, you have enabled that person s sin to work it s wickedness into you as well. Psalm 37:7-8 says Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil. I know easier said then done, but still true.
Does that mean that we forgive those who do evil and let them walk free, waiting for God s judgement on them? Not necessarily. The bible has many instructions for punishment, but one comes to mind. Deutronomy 19:16-21 regarding false testimony, stating after thorough investigation if judges find the witness was slandering the accused then the accuser is to receive the punishment of the accused, showing no pity, a life for a life, an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. It says, You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid. I interpret this as God knows that not everyone will know Him, and desire to do good. Therefore, I see this as God calling for justice to be done. Justice, not vengeance. A person carrying out the enforcement or judgement with a wrathful heart, will not be doing God s will, but I believe God does call for order in the world through justice . The spiritual battle here and in much smaller matters of conflict is to not have a wrathful heart. This is one I, and many other men struggle with, but after years I have finally started to see it.
This is why trying to stay in a state close to constant prayer is important, so that we are armored with God s guidance, and can call on Him to take the attacks of the father of lies away.