“Yet, how can a person live to bring about God’s will on earth as it is in heaven if they are convinced—as many are today—that everything already reflects God’s will on earth as it is in heaven? A great deal hangs on how we understand God’s involvement with evil in the world. Those who pray for the kingdom to come believe that something is wrong. I suspect that one of the reasons many who profess faith in Christ continue in the convenience of normal living and its nice, safe, innocuous and impotent religion is because they aren’t convinced anything is really wrong. Sure, they may theoretically believe in Satan, but he’s ‘on God’s leash,’ as some say. And they take this to mean that everything Satan does ultimately fits into God’s plan.”
Greg Boyd; Prayer Matters | ReKnew
The text of my sermon yesterday was Ephesians 5:15-17. In verse 16 Paul writes; “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” (NLT) The days are evil. The problem is that most of us don’t believe that the days are evil. What we believe is that the days are basically good and that evil invades every once and awhile.
Why are the days evil? The days are evil because God’s will is being opposed. There is an enemy who seeks to corrupt and destroy God’s good creation. This means we are caught in the middle of a cosmic war between good and evil.
We can try to ignore the reality that there is a spiritual war that rages around us, but that will not protect us from its effects. Usually we explain the negative experiences and bad things of life by saying they are the effects of living in a fallen world. While I would agree that those things happen as a consequence of living in a fallen world, that doesn’t negate the reality that there is an enemy who wants to destroy us.
Living in the post-enlightenment west has really turned us off to any talk about the supernatural. This means any talk of a cosmic war or a spiritual battle, for most people, seems to be the stuff of superstition. It is hard for us to understand, and accept, that there is a war being fought that we cannot see.
We ignore this war to our determent. If we live as if there is no war being fought, then we become vulnerable to the attacks of the evil one. Just because we choose to ignore the spiritual reality around us doesn’t make that reality disappear. The enemy is taking shots at us, and we don’t have the sense to take cover.
Later on in Ephesians the apostle Paul wrote this about the spiritual war that is being fought:
The Whole Armor of God Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13; ESV)
Paul goes on to explain the need for us to wear God’s armor as we join Him in this battle against evil. To be effective in this battle we need the proper equipment, which includes things like righteousness, faith, and truth.
I realize that this language of war can seem melodramatic when the United States has soldiers who are actually dying on foreign soil. Let me assure you it is not. Yes, we are experiencing the harsh reality of war, as every generation has, but that doesn’t mean the war of physical combat is any more brutal than the spiritual war that is being fought. Everyday people are wounded and destroyed because of the war Satan is fighting against God’s kingdom. We, who are God’s people, are Satan’s favorite targets, because we are God’s ambassadors, agents, and soldiers in this world.
Every suicide, every drug addict, every abused child, and every murdered person are victims of this war. Divorces, pornography, drug abuse, and terrorism are all the result of a world being torn apart by war. It is crucial to remember that Satan isn’t out to tempt you to do wrong. He is out to destroy your life. To ignore this reality makes us vulnerable to his attacks
Christians, we need to understand that the days are evil. They are evil because there is an enemy who desires to kill, hijack, and destroy our lives. This is why we can no longer afford to ignore the spiritual reality going on around us.
We need to fight this evil, by intentionally doing good. Fight with truth, fight with love, and fight with prayer. Be prepared to take hits, and be willing to handle the suffering that happens in combat. Remember, we can make a difference, but we have to be willing to pick up our swords and stand our ground. The days do not have to remain evil, because God has given us the ability resist it.
The fight is on, are you ready to join God and find your place in the battle?