11/13/2015 Mike’s Blog: The Nature of our Weapons

THE NATURE OF OUR WEAPONS

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”       (2 Cor 10:3)

“If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes. If anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.” (Rev 13:9-10)

If, as many believe, we are entering in to earth’s final days we must face the fact there are promises of destruction and chaos. God will be exalted, and all the world’s economies and societies men perceived as great will be abased. There will be catastrophe in the natural realm through earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and destructive weather patterns. There will likewise be destruction from flesh in the form of wars, terrorist attacks, and infrastructure and financial collapse that will pale any in previous history. On local levels this will result in anarchy, looting, and all manners of chaos as those who have lost their comforts and basic provisions seek out man’s ways to survive. Complete lawlessness will reign, as overwhelmed government agencies will not be able to control the fears and actions of the masses.

In the face of such dire foreknowledge, God’s people are trying to figure out how to endure the fallout. I hear many talk of bearing arms in an attempt to protect themselves and their families. “If someone is breaking in to my house to loot my pantry and rape and kill my wife and family, I’ll be damned if I’ll just sit back, pray for them, and tell them Jesus loves them!” they exclaim. At the same time they affirm their trust in God to provide for and protect His own, they’re going to keep the 44 Magnum close by just in case. At the same time they affirm their belief in God in the spirit, they’ll keep the M-16 locked and loaded to protect their flesh just in case.

What are we to think of all of this? If the time is near, how are we to wisely prepare and respond for the coming birth pangs of Christ’s eminent return? Let me begin by stating that if a man is thinking the above thoughts as to what he will need for protection, he has lost the battle of the faith already. If he is considering the possibility that God will allow his family to be tortured and possibly killed by agents of the flesh, he has already surrendered the battle for his spirit. At that point he becomes like most of the spies Moses sent into the Promised Land, who came back crying, “There are giants out there, in great walled cities! Our flesh has beheld their flesh, and their flesh is greater than ours! Let us turn back from this course God has us on. It matters not we recently witnessed Him part the seas and destroy the greatest army on earth to free us. Forget He made bread and meat fall from heaven to sustain us, and gave us the pillar of fire by night and of cloud by day to guide us, there are giants in the land!” This resulted in all but the two who cried out, “Trust in God! Look what He has done for us already, and know He will do it again and again as long as we stay the course” dying off before they ever reached the Promised Land.

Those who say they will take up arms for protection inevitably go to the Old Testament [since the New Testament gives them no footing] to defend their position. Then let’s go there. Please forgive if the following carries with it a tone of sarcasm, but I can’t think of better analogies. Would it have been wise for the people of Israel to bring a few really big sump pumps to the Red Sea just in case God couldn’t manage parting it? Would it have been wise for Joshua to have rented a few D-9 Caterpillars just in case God couldn’t manage knocking the walls of Jericho down? Shouldn’t Gideon have kept all those men God told him to send home, and had the National Guard on speed dial just in case He failed to defeat the Midianite army with just the 300 He was told to keep? How many weapons would Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego needed to protect themselves from the evil king? How many chariots and swords would the children of Israel have needed to keep Pharaoh and his army from driving them in to the sea? How many guns will we need to fend off marauding bands of desperate men who will probably outnumber us 10 to 1?

Sure God can do it. We believe that. But what’s wrong with a little worldly back up? What’s wrong is that sort of thinking says to God we don’t believe—not really. Keeping backup always means you don’t trust in your A-team. If Jesus’ warnings in the Revelation 13 verse above [“those who killed with the sword must be killed by the sword”] were not enough, and if Paul’s admonitions to fight with spiritual weapons instead of fleshly weapons were not enough [and I don’t find “sidearm of protection” amongst the spiritual armaments we are given in Ephesians 6], then think about Jesus’ response to Peter when he arose to cut off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He said, “Put your sword back into its place, for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword [repeating the warning in Revelation 13]. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way” (Matt 26:52-54)? Had Jesus taken the ill-advised path of those today who want to take up arms to protect themselves and their families there would be no cross, no salvation, and no eternal life. Like those who perished in the desert for fear of giants, we would all come up short of the Promised Land.

What Jesus was saying to Peter in the garden is what I believe he would say to all who want to take up weapons of the flesh to fight weapons of the flesh—they have little understanding of the kingdom of heaven He came to establish on earth. When Jesus stood before Pilate and was asked if He realized he had the power to release or crucify Him, Jesus said, “You would have no authority over me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). He was saying the kingdom of flesh and of man has no authority whatsoever over those who are part of Jesus’ kingdom on earth unless He grants it. If He grants it, then it is a part of His divine will and, like the Cross, it will be used both for His glory and the edification of His church.

In that same conversation Jesus told Pilate plainly His kingdom was not of this world, and if it was His people would be fighting for Him. But as it was, it was not His kingdom and so they were not fighting. People who understand the kingdom of heaven on earth, like their Lord, simply do not take up worldly weapons to fight worldly battles. They entrust their protection, fully and completely, into God’s hands and seek to fight and win spiritual battles against the forces of darkness, for those are the only ones worthy of their time and effort. In Psalms 91, a Psalm dedicated to describing the Lord’s protection in dangerous days, we find the basis of this mindset: “You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day—of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you. You will only look on with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.”

Some will receive this sort of protection and, no doubt, some will be called to suffer. That’s not the point. The point is how we come to see it, and the faith by which we face it. Suffering in the kingdom of heaven on earth is not what suffering in the kingdom of man is. It was at the moment of Jesus’ defeat in the flesh He gained the greatest victory that will ever be in the Spirit, and He will certainly call many of His saints in the coming days to suffer similar fates. At that point, as the verse from Revelation 13 says, to captivity they shall willingly go realizing, as Jesus did, it is God’s will for them.

But in doing so they will have displayed the “perseverance and faith of the saints” He desires, rather than warring according to the flesh. His kingdom saints will have spied out the land and gone boldly ahead, believing that what God had promised He was also able to complete (2 Tim. 1:12). They will not have feared anything man could do to them, and thus sought no opportunity to save their flesh through wielding weapons of flesh. Moreover they would not have even opened the door to faithlessness and doubt, the powers of darkness, and certain death by even contemplating the need for fleshly weapons. They would have displayed the faith in God to have gone to captivity if called to captivity, to death if called to death, and then to glory when they heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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