Sunday, February 8, 2009

Changing Tactics

So the Super Bowl is behind us but for those who enjoy sports, basketball is in full swing and Nascar and baseball are just beginning. So where in the world am I going with this you ask? Well I was just thinking of an interesting correlation between these sports and what we have been talking about lately; that is, what we can expect from Satan as we approach the end of this age.

You see, if you follow sports at all you are certainly familiar with how the game changes as you approach the end. In football, we see the two minute offense where the team that is behind stops using the huddle to call plays and does whatever it can to speed up the game and try to catch the other team off guard. In basketball, the game actually slows down because the team that is behind begins to foul in order to get more time to try and score more points. In baseball, the team that is ahead brings in their closing pitcher to try and put the game away while the team that is behind uses pinch hitters to try and jump start a rally. In auto racing there is always more action at the end because that is when drivers who have been holding back throughout the race begin to make their moves to try and position themselves for a win. In other words, if you are behind, the closer you get to the end tactics change in order to try and pull out a win.

Now do you see what I'm getting at? If we are approaching the end of this age as many believe, then certainly Satan knows that as well. If we think seriously about it, we should readily admit Satan probably knows the Bible a lot better than we do. This is, of course, the individual who tempted Jesus by using scripture to justify his arguments. There is no question in my mind that Satan is fully aware that his time is running short, so it should be easy to believe that he will change his tactics the closer we get to the end. He will do whatever he can to take as many down with him as he can. So as believers, is it too much to expect that attacks on ourselves will increase in frequency and severity?

Knowing this, I thought it might be appropriate to look closer at what Paul had to say to us in the book of Ephesians about our fight against Satan and his forces of darkness. In chapter six, verses ten through eighteen, Paul outlines all we need to know about defending ourselves from these attacks, so I think we will spend a few weeks reviewing his points. Let's first of all look at verses ten through twelve and see what we are up against.

As always, you know my mantra is "context is everything" when studying the Bible. Here we see that Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus and explaining God's purpose for the church, as well as outlining what God expects from His people.
God knows what we can expect from Satan, so He goes to great length here to teach us how to defend ourselves. In verse ten Paul's first point is that our strength is from the Lord, and it is His strength that will fight our battles for us. How often do we fail because we think we can fight our own battles rather than let God do it for us? So our natural reaction to this point is to ask the question, "what am I to do then"? Easy.

Paul's second point is in verse eleven where he tells us that we need to "put on the full armor of God". Now that might seem like a no brainer, and yet many fail because they only go into battle with part of it on. Paul's point here is that to be successful we need to wear the whole suit. It may sound funny, but I remember something that happened when I was playing football in college back in the dark ages. I was a receiver, technically in that particular offense called a split end, and my job was to catch balls over the middle of the field rather than out by the sidelines. I had missed a few balls that were over my head, and I decided that it was my shoulder pads that were hindering my ability to stretch my arms as high as they could go. So I figured a little modification was in order, and after taking some of the "excess" padding off, I could then catch the passes that had up till then been a little out of my reach. All was well and good until the inevitable collision occurred which convinced me that removing part of my protection was a really bad idea. This is Paul's point. To succeed in defending ourselves from the "schemes" of the devil, (or tactics), we need to put on the complete armor leaving nothing off. Why?

The answer to that is Paul's third point. In verse twelve he tells us we need to do this because of who and what we are facing. He tells us "our struggle is not against flesh and blood". You see, if it was, we would probably only need to be defended from our front where an attack by a person would probably come from. But we are facing a fight from two fronts; rulers, forces, and powers of darkness of this world, and spiritual forces of wickedness from the heavenly places. So there are at least two fronts to defend ourselves from, and these attacks can come from any direction. There is no way we are capable to defend ourselves in this kind of war. We need to put on the complete armor God has provided, and let Him do the fighting for us.

Remember what Paul told us in Romans 8:31; "If God be for us, who can be against us"?