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Monday, January 21, 2008

Welcome to The Struggle: The Peace That Starts the War (Pt. 2)


“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." - Matthew 5:10-12 ESV

"If you are to have peace with God, there must be war with Satan." - Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Contra Mundum (Against the World)

What we are quick to find in the verses following Matthew 5:9, is that Peace with God is not equivocal to peace with our fellow man. In fact, what Jesus is plainly laying out before his followers is the exact opposite; you should expect hostility from the world once you've been brought out of the darkness and bondage of sin. As we have seen and read in our previous studies, "friendship with the world is enmity with God" (Genesis 3:14-15, James 4:4). Notice that Paul says that we are to try ("as far as it depends on you") to live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18). Not at any time are we guaranteed that this sentiment will be reciprocated. Once believers have been brought from death and sin to life in Christ, they are now set apart (sanctified) up and against the world. It makes them public enemy No.1 in the devil's domain (Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 John 5:19). The reason that we often times struggle with the concept of Blessed are the peacemakers, is largely due to our misinterpretation of what peace it is that we're seeking (Matthew 10:34-39; Luke 12:49-53). Once you enlist in the army of the Lord, it is an inevitable fact that you will see combat and that the stakes are high; eternity hangs in the balance. Knowing what we know, we must be willing to hang all conviction on the line - even lay our lives on the line, for this is no ordinary combat scenario. This is not your father's war; it is fought on a cosmic stage with cosmic, as well as, supernatural consequences (Ephesians 6:12).


Fighting The Good Fight

This sort of language in our age of the peace and prosperity "gospel" may be called disturbing. However, it is only disturbing when we take our eyes off of Christ as our assurance and the promises that are made to those who follow him (Matthew 16:24; John 15:18-20; 16:1-4, 33). The peace that Christians obtain doesn't turn them into pacifists (Luke 22:35-38), but it must be fought with a different type of weaponry (John 18:36; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Ephesians 6:13-18). Even though the battle that rages is a spiritual one, it will manifest itself at times in the physical realm; ungodly people will seek to do us harm, at times, and succeed (Matthew 11:12). As strange as it may sound, this should not concern us. In his letters to Timothy, Paul uses war-like analogies to encourage the young pastor in the hardships he would face in his service for Christ:

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. - 1 Timothy 6:12 ESV



also,

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. - 2 Timothy 2:3-4 ESV


Dying to Live


A strange response indeed, but the concern for our safety should not be an issue. Our priority should be proclaiming the gospel of Christ promiscuously; knowing all the while that our lives are hidden in Christ, and that regardless of the outcome of our physical well-being here in this life, we will be raised again to a better life with him in the consummation of his kingdom. No accusation of guilt by the Devil, or ill-will, or harm threatened to our bodies and/or reputation by enemies (from any side they may come from) will be able to thwart God's plan of bringing his children into his glory. We should live in confidence that whatever troubles spiritually or physically that may come, we will be more than conquerors (Matthew 10:28; John 6:37-40; Romans 8; Philippians 1:21; Hebrews 11:32-38; Revelation 2:11, 20:6).


DMX - Lord Give Me a Sign



No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord. - Isaiah 54:17 ESV

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - Romans 16:20 ESV

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. - Jude 3-4 ESV


“When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.” - Abraham Kuyper



Soli Deo Gloria,

Shon
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