“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:18-21).
The New Testament teaches regularly on the reality of this world being a war zone. As Christians, we are living in a war zone, with those who are seeking to live as salt and light being on the front lines. You can live in this life with a peacetime mentality, as long as you are willing to be useless for the kingdom and susceptible to attack. But if you have a desire to be used by God in ways that God uses to bring His kingdom to earth, then watch out.
Paul urges believers to realize the battle that is raging in the spiritual realm that we cannot see. He urges the Ephesians to put on the full armor of God, knowing that the armor of God is the only way we will be able to defensively and offensively stand secure. The basis of the armor of God is the salvation we have been given by God through Christ. The very fact that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but “against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” is a truth that should transform us. How radically different would our lives look if we took Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:12 seriously?
John reminds us of similar truths. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” “The evil one does not touch” those who have been born of God, yet the world is also full of idols that are constantly enticing us, longing for our worship. On one hand, being born of God, we are protected. On the other hand, if we do not diligently remind ourselves of the war zone we live in, we will be susceptible to the attacks of the enemy.
In church ministry, it is interesting for me to see the way in which there is a direct correlation between the blessings and work of God and the rise in suffering, conflict, and end opposition. When God is working evidently, it isn’t hard to find examples of how the enemy is working. When you see fruit in your ministry, first praise God for his work, but also brace yourself, because you can expect drama to come. Over the years, there have been numerous examples of this dynamic. The enemy has no desire to see God honored and glorified as people’s lives are transformed, therefore he will work to bring opposition. The enemy has no power against God, but due to sin, at times we leave ourselves susceptible.
If you want a peacetime life filled with comfort and simplicity, then stay far away from the front lines of ministry. Stay home, lock your doors, don’t enter in to relationships with believers or non-believers. Then watch how your purposeless life will be comfortable. But realize that even in that lifestyle, you’ve given in to sin. Don’t confuse the peace with God’s approval. In that example, assume your peace is the enemy’s contentment with you. You’re no longer a threat!