And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. – Matthew 11:12
Boxing has waned in popularity in recent years. There are likely a number of factors including too many governing bodies, questionable decisions in title matches and the lack of a single charismatic heavyweight champion that fans can embrace. Mixed martial arts (MMA) has stepped into the void left by boxing and has surpassed it in popularity. Even if you who don’t the name of the current heavyweight champion (it’s Wladimir Klitschko) you’re likely familiar with the catchphrase of ring announcer Michael Buffer, “let’s get ready to rumble!” This was a call to the combatants and audience that the fight was about to begin.
For many the words “fighting” and “Christian” do not even belong in the same sentence. Some Christians are pacifists opposed to war or violence of any kind. I’m not here to debate the merits of just war theory espoused by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. This theory lays out conditions under which Christians may serve in the military and go to war. The fact remains that regardless if you or I never don a military uniform we cannot escape warfare.
The Bible is laced with references to warfare. Warfare even predates the creation of mankind. Satan was originally created as the angel, Lucifer, but he waged war against God and was banished from heaven (Isa. 14:12-14). Ephesians 6:12 states, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Even in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had to engage in warfare. Into this idyllic and pristine paradise, God permitted Satan to enter in the form of a serpent and tempt mankind. Since that time, man has been at war with his fellowman, himself, Satan and God.
Scripture goes beyond chronicling warfare. More importantly, it equips us for it. Ephesians 6:10-18 describes the believer’s battle attire and how to engage the enemy. The Bible describes in various places our training and drilling regimen. The Apostle Paul instructs his charge, Timothy, in these Christian calisthenics, train yourself to be godly (1 Tim 4:7) and endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:4). The word of God tells us how to counter the enemy’s attack. The Lord’s half-brother James writes in his epistle, submit yourselves, then, to God. resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Just as with war in the natural realm, an active battle is not occurring during every waking moment of our lives in the spiritual realm. But we must be ever vigilant for an attack. 1 Peter 5:8 warns, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
You may prefer to not be at war, but that is not our current lot. Ignoring the war and pretending like it does not exist does not invalidate it. However, we can take comfort in the following:
- We face a vanquished foe. At the dawn of mankind, God foretold of Satan’s defeat (Genesis 3:15).
- We are equipped and empowered to prevail in the current battle. Greater is he [God] that is in me than he [Satan] that is in the world. (I John 4:4).
- There will come a time when all hostilities will cease. Revelation 20:10 describes the devil’s demise, And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Will we be able to enjoy a place that Job only describe as, There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. (Job 3:17).