I’ve been wrestling with the Lord over something during the last 5 or 6 months. Like Jacob, I’ve finally had my hip touched by Him, and am blessed to see things His way – accompanied by the requisite paradigm shift…
A significant element of my becoming a new creation in Christ was grasping onto the identity of a “Warrior,” as one who “Fights”:
- To overcome my sin
- To “battle” temptations
- To “war” against the enemy
- For my family and brothers and sisters
So much so that I even own a huge sword, a bona fide sword – and have been known to carry it into prayer meetings like I am about to cut the head off of some demons.
“I am a mighty warrior, fully armed and ready to do battle with the forces of darkness!”
It all sounds pretty awesome, right?
It feels even better.
There are few times I’ve had an adrenaline rush as epic as raising a sword high in the air, joining other brother’s swords, and bringing forth a guttural battle cry of victory.
I had felt supported in this identity. After all, Christian culture is replete with books, DVDs, teachings, T-shirts, etc. espousing the virtues of “Taking up Arms” for Christ – with promises of the gore and glory of battle.
It has become very mainstream and “cool” to be a Warrior. We even teach our kids to sing, “I’m in the Lord’s Army…Yes Sir!”
Further, there is plenty of Scripture in the Bible describing war, warriors, weapons and fighting. God Himself is even called a “Warrior”:
The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is His name.” – Exodus 15:3
And here, in one of my favorite Scriptures, Zephaniah 3:17:
The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”
I fell in love with Nehemiah’s charge to his ragged remnant bunch, admonishing them to:
Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.” – Nehemiah 4:14
So I wielded my sword like the “Soldier” that I had come to believe I was, loving every minute of the adrenaline-pumping, action-packed, testosterone-inducing movie I had produced for myself to star in.
As He is apt to do, Jesus messes everything up. Everything. He came from the Future to bring His Future into the now. The Future doesn’t look like the past, and it doesn’t look like the present.
The Future is now. It (He) Lives inside of me. And you.
He brings with Him a new Life, one that made that old life obsolete, in fact, dead.
To live His Life is to be dead to all the war and warriors and fighting and weapons found in the Old Testament.
To live His Life is to be dead to all the teaching of and participation in warrior and fighting mindsets of the present.
To live His Life is to be alive to the reality of the Victorious Lamb – resting in and declaring of the triumph that is already ours in Him.
Make no mistake, There was indeed a battle. There was absolutely a fight.
But “it is finished.”
The message of the Gospel is that God Himself “fought” for us. He “warred” against sin and “battled” death for His Beloved Bride. And now He Lives and Loves and Rules and Reigns – Victorious.
And since we have been given His Divine Life, we are called to do the same.
What are we still fighting for?
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, said to put our swords away – that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. He said that in His Life, the sword is meaningless, and that appealing to His Father and submitting to His will was all the “fighting” He would do. (Matthew 26:51-53)
He also said things like turn the other cheek, love your enemy, and do good to those who hurt you.
He never raised a fist, let alone a sword. Shouldn’t we take notice of that?
Jesus was able to live this way in the flesh and make these claims because He knew what was ahead of Him, the Future – ultimate Victory. A Victory that is now complete, and ours in Him. We don’t have to fight anymore because it’s already been fought for, and won – and the glorious spoils have been given over to us.
Jesus never described His followers as warriors, but instead exhorted them to be child-like, full of Love and people of Peace.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Jesus never said once to fight for Him or anything He came to give us. Repeatedly, He simply asks us to Believe.
The more I process this issue, the more I am convicted that it is a lack of belief that fuels our carnal desire to fight. We don’t believe in the finished work of the Cross and the Resurrection – the finality of it – the most pre-eminent “Battle” ever fought.
So instead of resting in the belief of what is already done, we fight. And because fighting as warriors is more culturally attractive than resting in Love, we perpetuate the culture of “onward Christian Soldiers.”
This lack of belief is shrouded in a mask of virtuous warring, when the truth of it’s root is an unhealthy emphasis on me, us, what we can do in our strength – and on our spoils and receiving glory from our conquests.
Jesus is noticeably absent in that. And we can do nothing in our strength.
I am repenting (changing my mind).
After wrestling with God over this, the limp I now carry tells me that “fighting” in the eternal is testifying.
(We) overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our Testimony.” – Revelation 12:11
We testify to what is already True.
This is what Paul had in mind when he penned the words about donning the “full armor of God” in Ephesians 6. We’ve become enamored with the armor itself – what each element means, and how to practically “put” (pray) it on. But the reality is that Jesus is the fullness and fulfillment of each element (Truth, Righteousness, The Gospel, Peace, Faith, Salvation, The Sword of the Spirit, The Word), and we already have Him.
“Putting on” is believing in and testifying to Him, who lives inside of us.
Paul doesn’t describe this armor to exhort us to “charge out into battle and fight!” He is saying recognize and believe that Christ is your armor, that He is not only on you, but in you, and that He is Victory!
He says to TESTIFY.
We are “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (verse 10) We “stand firm” (verses 11, 13, 14) already “having” (verses 14-15) all that we need in Christ.
Stand. Testify. Plant your feet on the Truth and just stand. Rest. Believe. Proclaim.
I was discussing this with dear friends recently when it was said like this,
“Paul is telling us to drag Satan through the trophy room, where the armor is on display, proclaiming the Victory is already ours. He can come all he wants, but we’ll just keep showing him the blood on that armor, and reminding him that it’s his.”
We don’t have to keep cutting Satan’s head off. It’s already been done. He is powerless against us in our belief and stance on the Truth and finality of our Victory in Christ.
I get what John’s Revelation says – that Satan will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire and that Jesus Himself will do this on His white horse with swords coming out of His eyes. I get that. That is the future.
Again though, the Future is now. I believe Jesus has brought that Future and the prophecy of Isaiah into our reality in the present, and He desires for us to Live it out by Him.
In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house
will be the highest of all—
the most important place on earth.
It will be raised above the other hills,
and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
People from many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways,
and we will walk in his paths.”
For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion;
his word will go out from Jerusalem.
The Lord will mediate between nations
and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
nor train for war anymore.“ – Isaiah 2:2-4
Verse 5 then says:
…let us walk in the light of the Lord!”
If we believe that, we will walk in this Light and the Victory that is already ours. There will be nothing to fight for. No weapons and battles and wars. No warriors or soldiers. Just Sons of Light and Freedom and Victory.
Sons from the Future, living simultaneously in the present, that “fight” not with the weapons of the world, but like this:
Set down your sword, beloved Son. Come in from the battlefield. Lay back in the lap of your Victorious King. Receive the spoils of Victory that are already yours in Him.
Rest. Proclaim. Believe.