The battle lines have been drawn

photo by Matt Cockbain

Do you feel that you are a woman of strength? Are you powerful? Strong? Equipped? Do you feel prepared to face the battles that may come your way? Are you angry? Hurt? Burdened? At war?

Do you know what “Victory in Christ” is?  I wonder if any of us truly do, because it seems clear that very few of us are living victoriously. The saving work of Jesus and his Gospel is an ongoing event in your life.  It predates the moment when you accepted Christ and submitted to him—because he was working toward this goal before you knew it—and continues every day after.  Salvation in Christ is MORE than simply acknowledging him as God and your Savior.  The work that Jesus does in the life of every believer is a continual process that includes saving, healing, equipping, instructing, and sanctification.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I get the sense that an identity of victimhood and false-martyrdom has entered our theology as women of God.  We’ve exalted and romanticized the idea of laying down our lives, living out a subtly warped idea of what it means to live sacrificially. We use this fantasy as an excuse to run ourselves ragged, spreading ourselves thin, and making ourselves all but useless to ourselves and others.  But, we’re not always laying down our lives, at least not always for anything real or valuable.  Sacrifice has to have some meaning, and I think we sometimes get fooled into making valueless-sacrifices.  If you were in a boat in the ocean, and a Great White shark swam by, would you jump into the water and offer yourself up as lunch simply because it was hungry? Absolutely not!  But, let’s say your child fell out of the boat.  Darn right you jump out of the boat to save your child, even if you lose your life in the process. That is a meaningful sacrifice. There is a difference, and we had better start learning it.

Have we swallowed some kind of false gospel that teaches weakness as a virtue?  I don’t see that anywhere in the sermon on the mount.  Let’s be clear: we are weak, and we have weaknesses.  It is right and good for us to acknowledge this truth so that we can recognize how God overcomes and works through those weaknesses. Understanding our weakness as a given, I think we need to be weary of exalting it.  I am suggesting the dangerous notion that when Jesus hung on the cross it was even more than the beautiful sacrifice many of us recognize it to be.  It was a decisive, explosive, and final battle plan.  It was THE atomic bomb of the ultimate spiritual war.  Jesus didn’t just make a sacrifice.  He didn’t just die on a cross and then come back to life.  He delivered the death blow to your enemy, in the most radical and powerful battle move of all time.  Yes, he sacrificed his life, and he simultaneously executed the most incredible act of war—and I think that our truly Biblical sacrifices echo this act just like an aftershock echoes an earthquake. In the age that has followed, we have lived in a time where our enemy continues to writhe in pain as he slowly bleeds out from his fatal wound, unwilling to acknowledge or accept that he has lost.

Have you ever noticed that a wild animal can be at its most dangerous when it is wounded? Well, that is the age we live in. Let me tell you sister, Satan is real, and he wants to devour you if he can.  Should we focus all of our energy on this fact? Absolutely not!  We should not make the mistake of focusing on him so much that he ends up replacing Jesus as the focus of our lives.  That would be a tragic, perhaps even fatal, mistake.  It is a trap that Satan will tempt many of us with, trying to distract us from focusing on Jesus.  But we cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into a sleepy complacency that whispers to us that Satan is only a concept or idea that we use to personify the evil that naturally occurs in creation. Anyone who teaches this has swallowed a lie.  The challenge here to us is to find the middle ground where we neither deny the existence of Satan, nor focus on him to the point of essentially worshipping him—and the we way we do this is to focus on Jesus and his ongoing mission in our lives.    There are times that we must fight—which means that we need to know how to fight, when to fight and who to fight.  Are you equipped to be victorious?  The battle belongs to the Lord, and Victory is already won, but we are still in the trenches.  Are you ready to get out?


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