It is no surprise that the world is at war. It is a war between the forces of evil and the forces of good. We tend to focus on the physical aspects of war such as seen in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. But underlying these conflicts, there is a much greater war taking place; a spiritual conflict between those who recognize and glorify God through His Son (the Living Word), and those who don’t (the Dying World).
Romans 1:18-22 goes to the heart of the problem; it points out that God’s anger is directed to those who suppress the truth about God. To deny that He is the Great Creator, deserving of their praise and worship, is sinful; God’s invisible attributes are revealed to everyone through His incredible visible creation. It does not take a genius to view the physical universe and know that there is a creator. Creation can be seen in the beauty of the awesome mountains, waterfalls, wildlife, innumerable stars in the night sky, people, and much more. To think that the beauty, harmony, and inter-relatedness of it all just happened, is pure foolishness.
People who fail to glorify God and express thankfulness for His many gifts, have become futile in their thoughts, and have allowed their foolish hearts to become darkened. They profess to be wise, but have become fools, giving glory and expressing thanks for their many idols around them. Paul was writing about 57 A.D., and the fall of the Roman Empire was completed in 476 A.D. The collapse of the empire came about primarily as a result of internal failures. He then goes on to describe in more detail how God allowed the people to follow their sinful choices.
In Romans 1:24-32, Paul gives a detailed description of the deteriorating culture of the time. Since the people exchanged truth for lies, God allowed the people to go deeper in their sins. Sexual deviancy and perversion were rampant, as were the resulting negative consequences that accompany such things. With the people’s rejection of God came a multitude of sins; sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, boasters, proud, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, and unmerciful. Those who commit any of these sins (i.e. everyone) are deserving of God’s judgment.
Galatians 5:16-21, describes the war as one between the flesh and the Spirit, and lists the works of the flesh which parallel the list above. Continuing in Galatians 5:22-26, Paul provides another list described as the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Which of these lists most closely reflects our present situation? As Christians, how closely do our lives reflect the fruit of the Spirit? In the war between the world and the Word, which side appears to be winning?
No matter how it may appear, the outcome of the war is already known. Jesus fought it for us on the cross; taking all of our sin, all of our unworthiness, all of our mess upon Himself. He looked upon you from eternity past and saw your shame, hatred, malice, pride, and selfishness … and was full of compassion. He paid the price of God’s judgment for you … but you must accept it … you must believe.
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:4-6
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” – Jesus of Nazareth (Rev. 3:20)
If you believe Jesus, if you believe he bore the full wrath of God for your sins, what will your response be? Are you grateful? Are you awestruck by the audacity of it all? God’s love for you was so great, so ridiculous, he paid an infinite price so that your sin, your failures, your evil, could be fully pardoned forever. How will you live in turn? What does Jesus want us to do? In a word … Love.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 22:36-40)
Love wins the battle. It wins the war. It is our greatest weapon for good. Take it out into the world and watch its power overcome the enemy by making him an ally. If we want to be soldiers in God’s kingdom, we must learn how to expertly wield the might of this thing which makes us most like our Father and maker. Love.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. – Peter the Apostle (1 Peter 4:8)
This is my command: Love each other. – Jesus of Nazareth (John 15:17)
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Paul the Apostle (Romans 12:10)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. – John the Apostle (1 John 4:7)