“…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
Today the American people, people in the Middle East, and people throughout the world were given hope. This hope came after nearly a decade of perseverance. We fought a long hard battle and we won. It came with much tribulation, suffering and sacrifice. A merciless and ruthless figurehead for foreign terrorism, Osama bin Laden, is finally dead. People have been given hope that our future may be more peaceful than it was before bin Laden began a vast network of terror cells to reap destruction upon innocent people.
Did you know that as Christian, the battle against our enemy has already been won? Colossians 1:12-14 says that God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. When Jesus died on the cross, he won victory over Satan. And in Revelation 20 will learn about a time in the future when Satan, sin and death will finally be eliminated once and for all.
It can be difficult continually fighting against the devil. “For 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. It’s hard to fight against what we cannot see with our physical eyes, but God gives us spiritual eyes to see that which God considers evil. We must always be vigilant in our personal battles against Satan. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8. Satan has no days off! He will look for every opportunity he can, with the help of his demons, to destroy us. Just as bin Laden helped establish terror cells, Satan has strongholds. God is even described as a Christian’s stronghold in the Bible. Psalms 9:9 says, “The Lord also will be a refuge and a high tower for the oppressed, a refuge and a stronghold in times of trouble.” It is scary thinking of Satan’s attacks upon us. (The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and Frank Peretti’s books–The Oath, This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness–paint some very vivid images of the spiritual battle that takes place everyday.) Hopefully, we can live out each day ready to fight against the devil and his demons.
We are blessed to have spiritual armor to fight against Satan’s strongholds. In 2 Corinthians 10:4 we learn that ” the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds.” The Bible describes spiritual weapons and compares them to earthly weapons of warfare. Together each of these items are referred to as the “Armor of God.” Anyone who believes in what Jesus did on the cross can take possession of this spiritual armor. Ephesians 6:10-18 describes the Armor of God:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
This armor may seem easy to wear, but Satan is a master at distracting us from putting it on in the first place. Remember in Genesis we learned that Satan is crafty. We also know that Satan likes to to twist the Truth; God’s Word. If he can convince us we can do something in our own strength, with our own might, or even that something else is of greater importance, he can gain a foothold. It is easier to buy into his wily schemes than we think! We must never give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27), for when he gains it, he can cause much destruction. The best thing we can do is submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, and the Bible says that he will flee from us (James 4:7).
It takes a lot of perseverance to fight off the devil. It can be so much easier to conform to the ways of this world than to do whatever is unnatural. It is human nature to be self idolators. “It is written, the Lord thy God shalt thou worship, and Him only shalt thou serve” Matthew 4:10. It takes the transformation only Jesus can do in our hearts to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow him (Matthew 10:38). When we can’t physically see our enemy, it can be easy to forget he is there if we aren’t aware of what the spiritual battle looks like and how it is fought. I encourage you to take some time to learn about spiritual warfare if you have not already done so. It is fascinating topic. One of my favorite books I would recommend to anyone is called Your Adversary, the Devil by J. Dwight Pentecost. (I have read this book many times, and normally I don’t reread books too often!)
I will leave you with some scriptures about the importance of perseverance as a Christian. It may take more or less than a decade (as in the case of bin laden) to fight off Satan’s attacks against you. We are all spiritually weak in one area or another, and we must ask God to help make us strong. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” John 16:33.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-1
“…let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Hebrew 12:3
“…if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.” Romans 8:25-26
“You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James 5:11
“…add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
Pray this Prayer: Thank you God that the battle against our enemy is already won! Please help me to fend off Satan’s attacks against me when they come. Help me to put on Your armor each and every day in my waking moments and to wear it throughout the day. Help me to recognize the signs of the devil and his evil attempts to gain a foothold in my life or in the lives of others. May I always persevere and never weary of doing good knowing what awaits me after my life here on Earth. Thank you for the hope you have given me and may I carry it with me always, all the days of my life. Amen.”