It was 79 years ago today, December 7, 1941, early on Sunday morning that a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings suddenly appeared out of the clouds above the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.
What followed was 360 Japanese warplanes that attacked our naval and air base at Pearl Harbor. When the raid was completed our Pacific fleet was devastated. 2400 Americans were killed. 1200 were wounded. More than 200 of our aircraft were destroyed. 5 battleships, 3 destroyers, and 8 other ships were either sunk or severely damaged.
It was a surprise and unprovoked attack on a peaceful nation that propelled the United States into World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it “a date that will live in infamy.”
I’m reminded that the Bible often uses the imagery of war and the metaphor of warfare depicting Christians as spiritual soldiers.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
(1) We are in a war.
While some are averse to the metaphors of warfare, the Bible abounds with such analogies. “Fight the good fight of faith,” Paul urged Timothy. Put on the Christian armor, he admonished the Ephesians. Be “a good soldier for Jesus Christ” (I Tim. 6:12; Eph. 6:10-18; 2 Tim. 2:3).
We are fighting against the Devil and his minions. Against idolatry. Immorality. Indifference. Ignorance. Atheism. And agnosticism.
(2) The war is spiritual, not carnal.
The war is not against people, but worldly ideas. Secular ideals. Carnal strongholds. Ungodly world views. Religious error. Our weapons, however, are not physical, but spiritual. Politics is not the answer to the ills facing nations or homes. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Bible believers and religious leaders are engaged in a losing battle by trying to change our country through political activism. For all the efforts of “the religious right” over the past 30-40 years, little has changed. In fact, the moral state of America, as a nation, is probably worse.
The answer is not found in the right candidate, but the recognition of the reign of Christ. He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36). The solution for change is found in the gospel of Christ. It is not only “the power of God to salvation,” it provides the basis for becoming a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17), for “putting off the old self with its evil practices’ (Col 3:9) and “being created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
While I’m not critical of political involvement, voting your conscience in an election year, and engaging in good social works, Christians must remember that our real purpose is spiritual. Our focus should be God-ward. Our faith is in the power of the gospel. And our hope lies, not in uniting the United States, but being united in Christ.
(3) The struggle is inward.
The heart of the problems we face and fight are problems of the heart. Outward actions are but manifestations of an inward issue.
Jesus warned, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt 15:29). That’s why the wise man instructed: “Keep your heart with diligence for out it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23).
Satan is seeking to control the heart. To cloud the mind. To corrupt feelings. To compromise values. To curb the appetite for spiritual things. And to contaminate the soul.
The war within is a battle against ignorance. Satan wants us to blind people to the truth. Keep us in spiritual darkness. And to remain unlearned and illiterate regarding God’s will and Word.
The war within is a battle against immorality. Lust that foments in the heart will finally express itself in unrighteous actions.
The war within is a battle against wrong attitudes. Envy, jealousy, pride, and selfishness are sins of the heart that ultimately are acted out in ungodly actions.
The war within is a battle against apathy and indifference. Our hearts can grow cold and our ears become dull of hearing Bible teaching and gospel preaching.
To win the war, we must begin within ourselves. Our hearts must be right with God. And then the battle is really for the hearts of lost souls. Winning outward and secular battles may make us feel good, but they are not the supreme reason why we are here on earth.
(4) God’s cause will win.
While it may seem at times like we’re losing, the Bible teaches that Christ’s cause will ultimately be victorious. The devil is going to lose. His cohorts and comrades will finally fail. Truth will win out. Righteousness will prevail. And God will rule triumphantly.
While it may be distasteful at times, as well as disheartening and discouraging, we must engage in this spiritual warfare. “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called (1 Tim. 6:12).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman