Series: “The Great War” (post #2)
Satan and God are at war. They have been since at least Genesis chapter 3. Despite the fact that this greatest of all wars is supernatural, the results it produces are the same as those produced by human wars. There are four of these results and with this post we’ll identify the first of them. That result is: Soldiers are enlisted for this war.
First, who are the soldiers who get enlisted to fight for God? They are the saved believers. To be clear, these people aren’t saved because they fight for God; they fight for God because they are saved. We refer to the saved believers from the Old Testament era as “Old Testament believers.” We refer to the saved believers from the New Testament era as “Christians.”
You see, Christian, you really need to get your mind wrapped around the fact that the moment you placed saving belief in Jesus, you got drafted into God’s army. You might as well have gone down to God’s local recruiting office and signed your name on an official document. Of course if your salvation experience was anything like mine, nobody told you that placing your belief in Jesus automatically enlisted you in God’s army. But trust me, it happened.
This metaphor of the Christian as a soldier was one of the apostle Paul’s favorite ways of describing the Christian life. He most prominently featured it in his writings to his protege, Timothy. In 2 Timothy 2:3-4, he tells Timothy:
Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. (N.I.V.)
In 1 Timothy 1:18, he says:
This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare (N.K.J.V.).
Finally, in 2 Timothy 4:7, he says of himself:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (N.I.V.)
Another passage where Paul evokes the imagery of the Christian as a soldier is 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. There he says to the church of Corinth:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (N.I.V.)
And so, Christian, when you stop thinking of your time in this world as a picnic, a vacation, or a trip to the mall, and starting thinking of it as a war, then you’ll start to understand this life a lot more clearly and accurately. No matter where you find yourself, you are on a battlefield. Even if everything around you is tranquil and peaceful, the fighting continues unceasingly in your own mind as you strive to take each of your thoughts captive and make it obedient to Jesus.
Second, who are the soldiers who get enlisted to fight for Satan? They are the lost unbelievers. No matter what the era is — Old Testament or New Testament — these people do Satan’s bidding. In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Paul describes them as being “in opposition” to God’s people and says they need to “escape from the snare of the devil” because they have “been taken captive by him to do his will.”
Likewise, Jesus once told a group of lost Jews:
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do…” (John 8:44, N.K.J.V.)
The apostle John hits this same vein in 1 John 3:10 when he describes two categories of people: “the children of God” and “the children of the devil.” He writes:
So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. (N.L.T.)
At this point, a good question to ask is, “How does a person get enlisted into Satan’s army?” The unfortunate answer is that all a person has to do to get enlisted into Satan’s army is be born into Adam’s sin-fallen race (Ephesians 2:1-3). That, by default, makes the person a child (a soldier) of the devil, and the person remains that way until he or she switches armies by making the decision to believe in Jesus as Savior.
So tell me, have you made that decision? You say, “But I don’t want to be a soldier in any army. I want to be neutral.” Friend, that’s not an option that is available to you. There is no Switzerland in the great war. You have to be in one army or the other. The only question is, which army will it be?