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THE SILENT WAR IN THE CHURCH

A Winnable War We Must Not Ignore.

by Larry Cory

 

THE SILENT WAR IN THE CHURCH
PART 19
THE BIBLE'S DESCRIPTION OF VICTORIOUS SOLDIERS IN
THE SILENT WAR

(What do I look like when I am fighting the battle God’s way?)

     Though we may not want to be in a war; the Bible clearly tells us that we are in a war.  Our enemy hates God, His church, and everything that we stand for.  He is cunning, relentless, and totally evil.  Everyone, therefore, has three choices: 1) We can choose to wholeheartedly fight together on God's side; 2) we can choose to fight on Satan's side; or 3) we can choose to be in some level of denial that we are in such a serious war.  The result of the third choice is that we will unwittingly end up helping Satan in his cause.  So, there are really only two choices.  The Bible is clear throughout its pages that there are only two sides; and, Christians who have been bought by the blood of Christ, have every reason to wholeheartedly fight together on God's side.
     How, then, do we fight on God's side?  Paul, at the end of his life, called fighting on God's side, the "good fight."  Paul said these words near the end of his life: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (II Timothy 4:7)  May we all be able to say these words when we come to the end of our lives.
     So, what does it look like when we choose to wholeheartedly and effectively fight on God's side?  The Bible gives us many instructions about our part in this battle.  In fact, I believe that the whole Bible is directed toward revealing God's plan for restoring us to what He originally intended for us to be.  Since the devil is opposed to God's plan, it can safely be said that the whole Bible is directed toward providing guidelines on how we can be victorious in this battle.
     What comes next is a brief summary of what the Bible teaches us about how we can be victorious in this war.  It is divided into two parts: 1) what we must believe and 2) what we must choose to do.

WHAT WE MUST BELIEVE SO THAT WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS

1. We must believe that God has miraculously made us His children by
putting His nature inside of us.

     The Bible makes it totally clear that without God's Son paying the penalty for our sins and God giving us a new birth by His Spirit, we would be unable to do anything but be on Satan's side.  Paul, in Ephesians chapter two, makes that truth very clear.  "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient." (Ephesians 2:1-2)
     All of us who have trusted in what Jesus did for us on the cross now have God's nature within us and are able to be like Him.  Again, in Ephesians, Paul explains who we have now become.  "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24) (see also Rom. 6:5-7; Col. 3:9-10; II Pet. 1:3-11)Paul wrote about this same truth in II Corinthians 5:17:  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (II Corinthians 5:17)  We can be victorious in this war because God has made us His children and put His nature within us.

2. Battling in this war will be very difficult for us, but it will be worth it.

     Jesus and the authors of the New Testament warned us that it will not be an easy war for us.  Here is Paul's warning to some new Christians in the Galatian region: "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22)  Paul said these words shortly after he was nearly stoned to death.
     Jesus said similar words before sending the Twelve out on their own:  "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues." (Matthew 10:16-17)  "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)
     It can be crushing to us if we do not expect to face the severity of opposition that we end up facing.  Ray Stedman said, near the end of his ministry, that he believed that it was a mistake for him to have shared the victories that God had given to him and others in the ministry of Peninsula Bible church where he ministered, but to share so little about the struggles that had led up to those victories.  We need to be prepared for and expect that there are going to be hard times so that when they come they will not catch us by surprise.
     Before raw military recruits are sent out into war, they go through basic training—also known as boot camp.  There, they are prepared for the hardships that lie ahead of them.  They are taught how to work as a team; how to be effective in battle; how to be a good warrior; how to operate under authority; and how to represent their country well.  Some, such as Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and others go through even more rigorous training.  Christians also need to be prepared to fight in a spiritual war that is also going to be very hard on us.  We also need to learn how to be effective in the battle, how to be a good warrior; how to operate under authority, and how to represent our Lord well.  We are to fight in this battle with the weapons provided by God's Spirit: love, truth, God's power, gentleness, perseverance, and other spiritual weapons.
     The Christian battle has never been easy.  It was not easy for Jesus, Paul, Peter, and the other early Christians.  Many of them were murdered while they were doing the selfless work of spreading Jesus' kingdom throughout the world.  Many of the heroes of church history had very difficult ministries.  For example, was it easy for Martin Luther?  He stood up against a religious and political organization that was teaching salvation by works that had the political power to bring kings to their knees.  It is not hard to imagine what he went through.  We know of his victories, but do we know of his great struggles?  May we also be willing to go through the tough times.

3. We must believe that we are never alone in this battle.

     Jesus made it very clear to us that He will always be with us as we join with Him in our mutual war against our mutual enemy.  "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:18-20)  We have not reached the "end of the age," so we can continue to be confident that He will always be with us.
     Jesus makes it clear that He is not just watching on as we fight the war for Him.  Rather, we are yoked up with Him like an inexperienced oxen was linked up with an experienced oxen in His day.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)  As the experienced oxen of those days carried the heavy part of the load and the inexperienced oxen in training carried the lighter part of the load; so, in Jesus' work, we carry the lighter part of the load and He carries the heavier part of the load.  Paul expressed this truth in the following way:  "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)
     To win in this war, we must believe that we can win because Jesus is strongly with us in the battle.  We start losing when we feel that we are alone.  I will admit that there have been times when I felt alone.  You may also have had similar times.  We need to come alongside of each other and remind each other that we are not alone.  We are on the winning side because the Winner is fighting with us, within us, and for us.

WHAT WE MUST CHOOSE TO DO SO THAT WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS

1. We must choose to love and obey our King

     Jesus said the following words that sum up the Christian life.  "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)  The apostle John said something similar in I John.  "This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome" (1 John 5:2-3)
     Obeying Jesus' commands is the opposite of license—it is not doing whatever we want to do ("It's my life and I'll do what I want"), for we are obeying Jesus.  Obeying out of love is the opposite of legalism; for we are not obeying because someone is forcing us in some way to obey their rules (through manipulation, fear, or guilt), but we are obeying Jesus out of love for Him.  We, in love for Him, choose to obey Him because He is completely worthy of our obedience.
     The Christian life is also called the kingdom of God.  It is a life of lovingly obeying the King.  What is found below is a list of some of what the King commands us to do.  None of them is optional for the Christian.  If we choose to not do any of them, we will be used by Satan in his war against God and His church.
     We need to forgive each otherForgiving is not an option in the war we are in.  If we do not forgive, Satan will surely use us. (As was mentioned earlier.)  "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." (Ephesians 4:26-27)  If we are bitter and hateful toward a fellow Christian, that gives Satan an opportunity to hate and destroy that person through us
     Paul gives clear instructions to us about the importance of us forgiving each other.  "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32)
     Jesus also was very clear that an unforgiving spirit is totally inappropriate for God's forgiven children.  Listen to His words in the Lord's Prayer:  "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matthew 6:12)  Listen to Jesus' explanation of these words in the Lord's Prayer:  "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15) (see also Matt. 18:21-35)
     In our selfish world, we will both offend others and others will offend us.  If we want to battle effectively in God's service and not battle on Satan's side, forgiveness must be a regular part of our lives.  If we are on God's side of the battle, we must be like Him and forgive others as He is forgiving us. (see Acts 7:60)
     We must be absolutely sure that we are not holding a grudge against anyone.  We need to completely release those who offend us of the debt they owe to us, just as God has completely released us from the debt He has against us.  As C. S. Lewis said in Surprised by Joy, "Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive."
     In this selfish world and in this silent war, there will be times when Satan will win and Christians will end up attacking and fighting each other.  It even happened between Paul, Barnabas, and Mark.  They eventually forgave each other and reconciled.  We also need to forgive each other and seek to reconcile with each other.  After all, when we forgive, we are seeking to restore an eternal relationship.  The sooner we reconcile the better.
     We need to humble ourselves.  Humility is absolutely essential in the Christian life; and it is absolutely essential if we are to win the silent war.  Satan's primary sin was pride.  "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.  I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'" (Isaiah 14:12-14)
     Humility is the willingness to accept the truth about ourselves, no matter how much we need to lower ourselves to do it.  First of all, we need to acknowledge that we are not God—we are not the infinite God who created us and created the universe.  We are not the Creator, but the created.  The world does not revolve around the created, but the Creator. That requires that we be willing to lower our estimation of ourselves until it agrees with reality.  The reality is, the world does not revolve around us.
     Next, we must also lower our estimation of ourselves and admit that we are not perfect in every way.  We were born fallen and remain fallen in many ways.  Our daughter said that she did not realize how selfish she was until she got married.  Most married people will agree with her.  We need to humbly be willing to see the truth about ourselves and not pretend that we have no faults.  The truth is that we all have many faults.  Humility is the willingness to lower ourselves until our attitude toward ourselves matches what is really true of us.
     James and Peter have the following to say about humility: "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" (James 4:6)  "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:10)  " . . . All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'"
(I Peter 5:5b)
     We grow in effectiveness in this silent war only as we grow in humility.  We cannot win in the silent war when we are proud like our enemy.  Jesus described Himself as humble.  "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29)
     Paul described Jesus as being very humble, and he said that we should seek to be like Him.  "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:3-8)
     We need to humble ourselves to be a victorious soldier in this war.  If we have a higher view of ourselves than that which is really true of us, we need to be willing to lower ourselves and admit the truth about ourselves.  God sees our faults; others see our faults; and we need to admit our faults.  If we do, God will lift us up by His grace.
     We need to give and serve.  God gave to us the gift of life.  Then, after all mankind rebelled against Him, He gave His Son to die to pay the penalty for our sins.  As members, now, of His family; we are to follow His pattern of giving.  But no matter how much we give, we will not be able to out-give God.
     We are to keep on giving and not grow weary.  "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Galatians 6:9-10)
     We are to give even when we are tired and do not feel like giving.  Jesus had just learned that His cousin John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod Antipas.  He Himself had nearly been murdered by the people of His home town Nazareth.  He had been ministering to and teaching large crowds of people.  He was certainly tired emotionally and physically, so "he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place." (Matt. 14:13)  But, the crowds were still able to find Him.  Everyone in Christian service has had times when there is someone who needs to be ministered to, but we are so tired that we would rather just rest.  Here is what Jesus did even though He was very tired:  "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick." (Matthew 14:14)
     We also are to give to others even when we are tired and do not feel like giving.  "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (I Corinthians 15:58)
     We need to put God first in our lives.  Jesus made it very clear that He and His kingdom are to have first place in our lives.  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)
     We can become so busy pursuing our selfish goals and seeking to provide for ourselves, that seeking after Jesus' kingdom can become an afterthought.  Jesus made the point on a number of occasions that human relationships and selfish desires need to take a back seat to pursuing His kingdom.  "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?'" (Matthew 16:24-26)  "Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 'If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.'" (Luke 14:25-27) (see also Lk. 14:28-32)
     If God's rule and concern for others is not placed first in our lives; by default, Satan and selfishness will rule in our lives.  As James said, we will be double-minded.  Jesus made it clear, we cannot serve two masters.  "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 6:24)
     We cannot be a victorious soldier in the silent war, if we are half-hearted about it.  We cannot be victorious if we are not willing to deny self and all that it involves—selfish ambition, defending self, promoting self, etc.  We need to leave self behind, so that we can give ourselves fully to pursuing God's goals.
     We must trust God.  Faith is a major theme of the Bible.  Hebrews eleven gives us a list of the heroes of the faith.  They were those who trusted God even when it was not easy to do.  Hebrews 11:6 gives us this promise.  "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)  The non-Christian has a fatal or nearly fatal case of tunnel vision.  They live as if there is no God, no consequences for their sin, and no eternal plan.  We, as Christians, believe the Bible reveals to us that there is a God; there are rewards for a life of faith and obedience to Him; and there is an eternal plan.  Faith is believing that what is revealed to be true in the Bible is just as real as the world we touch and see. (What the Bible reveals to be true in the invisible world is even more real than what we touch and see, for this world is temporary and will soon be gone.  The invisible reality described in the Bible is permanent.)
     In the midst of trials and disappointments, we are to trust God.  "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (II Corinthians 4:8-9)  "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (II Corinthians 4:16-18)
     We need to love each other.  Paul says in the book of Colossians, the following:  "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:14)  Love is compassionately seeking another's best no matter what the circumstances or the cost—a definition of love that is derived from I Corinthians 13.  Our main motive in the Christian life and ministry must be genuine love and compassion for each other.  It is emphasized throughout the  New Testament.  If we are victorious as a Christian soldier, the church will be most characterized by love and loving relationships— for we will be dedicated to compassionately seeking the very best for others.  We will be growing closer to God and growing in our love for each other.  If, in the end, love for others is not our primary motive, Satan has won and God's cause has lost with regard to us.
     As love has been an emphasis throughout what has been written in this book, I will not repeat what has been already emphasized up to this point.  But, I will conclude with these words: love is the sign that we have been victorious and hate is the sign that we have lost.  "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." (I John 4:19-21)

2. We must in every way pursue after finding fellow Christians
who are also wholeheartedly seeking after God's goals for His church.

     We were never meant to fight this battle alone.  We need to seek to find kindred spirits who have a heart after what God desires for His church.  Some of these will be younger Christians in their faith than us; some will be more mature in their spiritual walk than us; and some will be at a similar level of spiritual maturity to us.
     As Paul exhorted Timothy, his disciple, to seek to find faithful Christians to disciple; so we are to seek to find faithful Christians to disciple.  Here is Paul's exhortation to Timothy shortly before he died.  "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." (II Timothy 2:2)  I was told as a young Christian to seek after F.A.T. Christians—Faithful, Available, and Teachable young Christians.
     Jesus' Great Commission to the men He had discipled was to go out and also make disciples.  "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:18-20)  Robert Coleman's classic book, The Masterplan of Evangelism, describes Jesus' strategy and methods of discipling the Twelve disciples.  We also need to seek out those who have chosen to be Jesus' disciples and encourage them to grow in their faith.  We need to share with them what God has taught us.
     Also, we are to seek out those who are more mature in their faith and learn from them.  In my younger years, there were a number of older Christians that mentored me.   I am now an older Christian myself, so there are not many around that are older in the Lord than I am.  But, I do benefit greatly from books by such men as Charles Spurgeon, J. Sidlow Baxter, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Ray Stedman, Dave Roper, Randy Alcorn, and many others.  I also benefit from the biographies of such men as Hudson Taylor and George Whitfield.  Because we know so little about God and His new life in us, we should never stop growing and learning.  And, we should benefit from what we can learn about the Christian walk from each other; particularly those who are older in the faith than we are. 
     Finally, we can also benefit greatly from close fellowship with Christians of a similar spiritual maturity.  For years, I have traveled with a group of men, the 30 or so miles, to a city larger than ours to minister at a gospel mission there.  This gospel mission provides shelter and food for those who need it.  They also have Christian services with music and a message each night.  We lead that service once a month.  The fellowship we share on that trip has strengthened me in the faith.  We are stronger together than we are by ourselves.  It is because we go to the mission as a group that we have continued to make the trip on the first Monday of every month.  If it had just been me alone, it is unlikely that I would have continued to make the trip.  "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) 
     Jesus sent His followers on a missionary tour "two by two."  "After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'" (Luke 10:1-12)  So, we are stronger when we are out in the world with other Christians.  The war we are in will not be won by lone rangers.
     Also, we are to benefit from each other's spiritual gifting.  A Christian with a gift of teaching and another Christian with the gift of leadership and administration will accomplish more if they are working together; both seeking after the same goal.
     Finally, as has been mentioned earlier, it is a Christian pattern for us Christians to be part of both a large group and a small group.  The large group encourages us that we are not in this Christian life by ourselves, but rather there are hundreds and even thousands that are with us.  Then, the small group gives us an attainable opportunity to build authentic Christian relationships and to live out, with others, what is taught in the Bible.  We can share our questions, struggles, and prayer needs with them.  We can be accountable to each other.  We each can benefit from each other's spiritual gifting and our faith is increased as God answers the prayers of group members.

3. We need to remember that coming to Christ and serving Christ is meant to be a voluntary choice done out of love for God.

     When we manipulate or try to somehow force our views on others, we are using Satan's tactics, not God's tactics.  Religion + force has always been and always will be ugly and satanic.  Such names as ISIS, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, and the Pharisees are and were examples of religion + force.
     Christianity is meant to be like a beautiful marriage, where both parties voluntarily choose to love each other, to serve each other, and to be faithful to each other.  Force in a marriage turns a marriage into something ugly.  So, force in Christianity turns it into something ugly.
     God's pattern is found in II Timothy, in Paul's instructions to Timothy.  "And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." (II Timothy 2:24-26)
     In the short book of Philemon, we see Paul pleading with Philemon to make a loving choice with regard to his former slave Onesimus.  In his pleading, he does not resort to such things as force, manipulation, intimidation, or even to using his authority to impose his choices on Philemon.  Rather, Philemon is left to make a voluntary choice.  Paul uses this type of approach throughout his letters.  We are winning in the silent war when we influence people to make wise choices without forcing them to do what we want them to do.  We are losing the war and have stepped over to Satan's side when we, in one way or another, use some type of force to get our will done.
     Not all forced decisions are easily recognized to be forced decisions.  We humans can be clever in how we get people to do what we want them to do.  People can do our bidding because they are afraid to cross us.  Some are known for getting angry whenever something goes against their will.  Some are able to out-argue others; so people learn not to challenge them.  Some are clever manipulators; so they typically get their way.  Others are experts at political maneuvering; so that they tend to get what they want.  God's church, though, is to make decisions in a loving and voluntary way.  Anything different than this will ultimately have ugly results down the road, as Christians realize that they have not really been a part of the decision-making process.  Others' decisions have been imposed on them.  Blessed is the church where decisions are made by Spirit-filled Christians who are united in love for God and love for each other as they make their decisions together.

4. Choose to humbly and gently correct each other.

     When a fellow Christian is sinning and doing something that is hurting him or others and that is detrimental to God's work, that person needs to be corrected.  But, if the correction is done in an ungodly way, it can be used by Satan to accomplish his purposes.  Paul brings that out in II Corinthians (as was mentioned earlier).  Once again, a man had been confronted by the church and repented, but the church did not let up in its correction of him.  So, the church was doing to him what Satan wanted to be done—Satan and the church were both condemning him.  (see II Corinthians 2:5-11)
     The proper pattern for correction is given in Galatians 6 by Paul and Matthew 7 by Jesus.

     If we are correcting another in an arrogant way, thinking that we are somehow superior to that person (thinking that we are "something when" we "are nothing"), we are doing to that person what Satan wants done to him or her.  He is arrogantly accusing him or her, and we are arrogantly joining him in accusing and condemning him or her.
     We should correct a fellow Christian like he or she is a loved family member.  And, we should correct a fellow Christian like we are a fellow sinner.  Our goal should not be to leave them in a state of condemnation, but to gently redirect them back to a spiritually healthy path.

5. We should confess our sins to God and to one another.

     Unconfessed sin plays right into Satan's goals for the church.  Pride prevents us from ever admitting that we have done anything wrong.  If someone has never admitted to any sin, there is obviously something wrong.  It is not that this person has never sinned or has never done anything wrong, it is that they have never admitted to doing anything wrong.
     An essential of a good marriage is that both partners admit it when they are exhibiting the works of the flesh and are sinning.  So, a church where no one ever admits to doing anything wrong is not a good church.  Also, it is not a good church when someone does admit to sinning and they are not forgiven. (see James 5:16;
I Jn. 1:5-10
)

6. We should seek after power from God to enable us do His will.

     We learn that Paul, after having been a Christian for some thirty years, was still seeking to experience more of God's power.  "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death," (Philippians 3:10)  We learn in II Corinthians that God uses trials to help us experience God's power.  "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."
(II Corinthians 1:8-9)  "But he [Jesus] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Corinthians 12:9-10)
     Our problem is that we are prideful and self-confident by nature; so we think that we can paddle our own boat quite well without God's help.  God uses trials to help us to see how truly weak we are and how much we need to depend on Him.  God used trials in the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Peter, Paul, and others in the Bible to enable them to see their weakness and their need for God's power.  So, we cannot win in this war without God's strength empowering us.  Paul experienced God's strength, which enabled him to be victorious in his ministry.  "To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." (Colossians 1:29)  "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

7. We need to use God's powerful weapons to enable us to be victorious
in this war.

     Prayer is a powerful weapon in this war.  Listen to what James tells us about the effectiveness of our prayers.  ". . . The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." (James 5:16b-18)  If we desire God's will from the heart and pray that it will happen, our prayers will be "powerful and effective."
     Jesus told His followers "that they should always pray and not give up." (Luke 18:1)  Paul gave these instructions about the place of prayer in the spiritual war that we are in:  "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." (Ephesians 6:18-20)
     Through prayer, we can help in the struggles of Christians who are being harassed by the evil one.  We can also pray for Christian workers.  Paul asked for his fellow Christians to help him in his ministry by praying for him.  "I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me." (Romans 15:30)  And, our prayers do make a difference!
     There are other weapons besides prayer that we have in our heavenly arsenal.  "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." (II Corinthians 10:3-4)  We also have God's truth.  In Ephesians, Paul calls it the "sword of the Spirit." (Eph. 6:17)  Memorized Bible verses and God's accurate and true perspective on reality are God's weapons against Satan's lies.  God's love is God's weapon against hate.  God has given us weapons that can defeat Satan's strongholds.  We are not the losers in this war, for God has equipped us with weapons that are superior to the weapons of the evil one.

8. We need to persevere in this war.

     Discouragements, personal failures, trials, interpersonal struggles, and attacks from every quarter can lead us to become tired of the struggle or tired in the struggle.  But, the Bible is clear, God will stand by us and strengthen us so that we can persevere to the end.  Here are some verses that have encouraged me through over 50 years of ministry:

     I will close with Paul's words that he proclaimed at the end of his life, stating that he did persevere to the very end.  "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (II Timothy 4:7-8)  May he be a model for us; and may we also persevere to the very end.

CONCLUSION

     We have been given adequate instructions in the Bible on how we can win the silent war that every Christian is engaged in.  We also are indwelt by the One who will ultimately be the glorious Victor in this war.  If we will all follow His instructions diligently and depend on His life in us, we will see the church become the masterpiece He intended it to be.  We will see God's love beautifully expressed through God's people.  People outside the church will see, through us, what God is like and they will be drawn to His love, purity, humility, and gentleness as these qualities are being expressed in our mutual lives.  They will marvel at the absence of selfishness and pride in the church—the pride and selfishness that they see everywhere else.  Jesus died for us so that we would become His body, expressing His love to a fallen world.  Is that not worth forsaking all other goals so that we together might glorify our loving and awesome God?

The Silent War In The Church

Table of Contents and Brief Intro Table of Contents
Introduction Introduction
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 1 Part 1a
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 2 Part 1b
The Silent War between Churches Part 2
The Silent War with Satan and his Demons Part 3
The Silent War can be Won by God's Love in us Part 4
The Silent War can be like the Wars in the World Part 5
The Silent War between a False and Coerced Unity and a True Unity Part 6
An Essential Requirement Needed for Ending the Silent War Between Christians Part 7
The Silent War Caused by Turning the Church into the Kingdom of Man and not the Kingdom of God Part 8
The Silent War inside of Each Christian Part 9
The Silent War in the Church with the World Part 10
The Silent War Over Divisive Issues Part 11
The Silent War caused by a Mysterious Invading Army Part 12
The Silent War Caused by Seeking Worldly Success Part 13
The Silent War Always Results in Persecution Part 14
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Divide Part 15
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Cause Divisions Part 16
The Silent War Caused by the Church or a Church Dividing over an Important Issue Part 17
When the Church is Winning - Part 1 Part 18a
When the Church is Winning - Part 2 Part 18a
The Bible's Description of Victorious Soldiers in the Silent War Part 19
How Victory in the Silent War can Lead to Revival in the Church Part 20
Conclusion Conclusion
Addendum: The Silent War caused by "the onlys" "The Onlys"
Addendum: A Pastor's Authority by Ray Stedman A Pastor's Authority
Addendum: Galatians 6:1-3 (my commentary on these verses) Galatians 6:1-3
Addendum: John Wesley's sermon at George Whitefield's funeral George Whitefield