Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness 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. (Ephesians 6:11-13)
The Church Is A Combat Outpost In Enemy Terrain
When the war with Iraq began in 2003, few realized the outcome would result in the longest war in American history. The United States Special Operations Forces began fighting the war on terror in 2001 and would continue to be an integral part of the battle in the region. During the years between 2003 and 2006, insurgents used the city of Ramadi, Iraq as a stronghold 68 miles west of Baghdad to carry out their violence against coalition forces. One story that came out of the battle for Ramadi was in 2006 when Seal Team 3 went into the midst of the city to set up combat outposts. They were in the heart of the insurgency surrounded on every side by those who sought to kill them. Later, other combat outposts would be set up throughout the city. This was a bold tactic to draw the enemy out and to fight him on his own ground.
The church of Jesus Christ has been fighting a battle against forces greater than ISIS or any conventional army known to man. Arrayed before the bastions of truth are forces described as principalities and powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual hosts of wickedness. There is a war of unparalleled destruction going on every day for the souls of men. Satan has cast his long shadow of tyranny on the hearts of men destroying their hope and eternal salvation. Jesus declared that most people would fall to the wiles of the devil with only few survivors saved. It is a vicious war. The church is a combat outpost in the midst of enemy terrain seeking to save lives and destroy the enemy. Like Seal Team 3, Christians are at war with an aggressive enemy that must take courage, fidelity and teamwork to overcome the nearly impossible odds. The resolve of Seal Team 3 helped to establish other outposts in the war torn city. Each local congregation of God’s people is an outpost in the lair of the mighty lion who seeks to devour the saints of the Lord. Every child of God needs to accept the reality they are soldiers of Christ fighting an incredible battle. There is a war going on and it has cost millions of lives, destroyed homes, families, relationships and souls. It has the smell of death. Warring against the devil is very ugly and vile. He has no care for those he kills slaughtering with no regard.
John sees in the Revelation the final victory is assured by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Battles are fought every day with the outcome determined by the power of God. The local congregations of the Lord’s body are the special operations forces fighting against the insurgency of Satan’s warriors. Each church of Christ must realize their role in the community is to defend the truth, uphold the righteousness of Jesus Christ and save the lost. It is not the purpose of God’s church to maintain a presence by hanging out a sign. Every local congregation is at war. The members are soldiers who with the armor of God can defeat Satan. They must go out into the community to win the hearts of those oppressed by the rulers of darkness. When Seal Team 3 entered Ramadi, they did not go without their body armor, weapons, tactics or tools to defeat the enemy. Why should Christians think they could fight Satan without first putting on the armor of God? Many soldiers of Christ die without the protection of the Lord because they do not put the armor on.
War is real. It is harsh, tiring, and ugly and with an outcome that determines life or death. The spiritual war is the only war that matters. Saving the soul is the eternal consequence of serving the Lord as a good soldier of Christ. It requires fighting the fight, engaging the enemy, and never giving up until the final victory is given in the death of the saint. Piled high before the gates of heaven is the armor of all those who have given their lives to fight valiantly against Satan. They have put their armor off to enter the gates of redemption. The war is over. Victory is gained. Eternal life is granted. Rest awaits.
There are only war veterans in Heaven, who have fought the good fight for the Kingdom of God. (Fulton Sheen)