“in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him, who loved us.”
I was scared (quite possibly terrified) about what the new year would bring simply because 2017 was a sweet year. Sure there were struggles, but overall, God did some really big things in my life (Ecuador) that I would have never imagined, and I wasn’t ready to be done with that. For me personally, 2017 was peaceful. There weren’t big changes, nothing really blew up; sure I still battled my own personal idols and sinfulness, but overall there was peace–it didn’t feel like a battle. It was a season of rest. A season where I got to see God as gentle, loving, and caring. So when I was finally Brutally Honest with God about my fear for 2018, He spoke Romans 8:37. Right then, it provided peace. And it still does today–just in a different way.
Over the last month, I have read this verse so many times because I find myself creeping back into a place of doubting “Did God really say…”, a place of “I can do it all” mentality, a place of “is this really worth it”, or even a place of caring more about what people think instead of what God says about me.
And I bring these thoughts before the Lord and He reminds me of Romans 8:37.
And He reminds me of the word conqueror.
And then it hit me.
Conqueror is a battle word.
God reminded me of one simple truth:
This. Is. War.
Paul says it like this in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
This war that we are fighting is not against the flesh. This is spiritual war against a very real darkness–Satan and all his little followers.
When 2018 came, those places I was telling you about are the darkness. Doubting God, thinking I can handle everything, questioning whether or not it’s all worth it, or even caring about what others say–those are lies from Satan. Jesus declared that Satan “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). This battle is real. This war is real.
I would talk to God about this during my quiet time. I would pray asking God to take away the darkness. I asked the Lord to fight for me–again, I don’t feel strong enough to do anything. And those four thoughts continued running through my head and they were (and can be still) so loud. Because the darkness was so overwhelmingly loud, I found myself starting to believe these lies.
At church, we are going through Matthew, and of course, just like God, He timed everything just perfectly. The darkness was particularly loud this day, and we just so happened to be reading Matthew 4 where Jesus was tempted.
See Jesus was at the starting place of His ministry. Within three years, He would conquer death, save people, heal the sick, provide the way for sinners, and so much more. Jesus was just beginning. And yet the darkness came. The darkness tried to stop Jesus from what He came to do.
Here I am in the midst of my own ministry, expecting God to do big things this year. I want to see Him do more things in the students I disciple, I want to see 30 people saved, I want to have more gospel conversations, I want to look more like Jesus this year than I did last year. And right in the midst of my ministry, in the midst of my walk with Jesus, the darkness arrived.
Just like Jesus, I had a choice–will I believe the lies of Satan or believe the truth of God?
If Jesus had believed the lies of Satan, then His ministry would have been gone. People would be dying and going to Hell–which is exactly what Satan wants. Satan does not want people to experience freedom; Satan wants people to remain in bondage. But if Satan stopped Jesus, then Jesus’ ministry would have been stopped.
Jesus didn’t succumb to Satan’s lies. Instead Jesus fought back the darkness with the Truth of God’s Word. Jesus’ ministry continued and Jesus did make the way to life for every person.
So what about me? What about you?
In the midst of our ministry, if we choose to believe the lies of Satan, then our personal ministries will be gone. We will stop sharing the gospel, we won’t see people’s lives changed from death to life, and we won’t see the kingdom of God expand.
Isn’t this why Satan tries so hard to destroy us?
Satan knows if he can convince us to doubt God’s character (the very loving, gentle, and caring God that I just met in 2017), then we will doubt our purpose and we will stop fighting back the darkness. Satan has one mission: “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). And chances are, Satan is not going to come after the people who are already being destroyed, but those of us who are actively fighting against the destruction. He’s going to come against those proclaiming the way to freedom.
Just since the start of January, I’ve had some really great conversations with some really great friends who are actively fighting back the darkness in their spaces. Each space looks different–some are youth leaders, pastors, baristas, teachers, college students, and so on–and Satan is doing everything he can to convince these Jesus loving people to stop fighting the darkness. Satan is speaking the very lies he speaks to me, to them as well.
And there are days, where my friends and I sit around the table and we ask each other “What’s the point? Darkness keeps winning. When is it going to change? When will we see Jesus as victorious?” In the midst of these questions, we look each other in the eye and remind each other of the Truth of the Gospel. We remember the hope we have in Christ. We remember Romans 8:37 when we are called conquerors.
In this season, it may feel like I’m being destroyed. It may feel like everything I have is being stolen. It may feel like I’m at times being killed. But the truth is found in God’s Word–not in what I feel.
My prayer for my friends and the prayer I have for even myself is found in Psalm 40:1-3:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”
Right now, some of my friends and I are in this waiting period. We feel as if we have been defeated and we are in this pit of destruction. And we are anxiously awaiting the day for God to set us upon the rock and make our steps secure.
But the truth is, Satan is trying to convince my friends and I that we are never going to be rescued from the pit. And if we actually believe that we won’t be rescued, then many will never see and many will never put their trust in the Lord.
Isn’t that why Satan is trying to get us to believe his lies?
We are in war.
We are fighting a battle of life and death–not of flesh and blood. And the army of God is out fighting against the darkness. And when the darkness presses in, we have to gather and remind each other of the truth of God’s Word.
God’s promise are true! The last half of John 10:10 brings life–it doesn’t bring death. Jesus says, “I came that they [that’s you and me] may have life and have it abundantly.” While Satan is trying to kill us, Jesus brings a message of life.
Let’s stand together. Let’s fight together.
Yes, the darkness is real. Yes, the darkness will come.
The darkness does not have to define us.
We are conquerors through Christ.
Jesus even equips us to stand firm against the darkness. If we look back to Ephesians 6, God gives us our battle clothes:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
So we gather together so we can stand firm together. We remind each other of the gospel. We encourage each other in faith so Satan cannot throw flaming arrows our way. We worship together. We pray together. We do life together.
We are not alone in this war.
Satan is going to do everything he can to convince us otherwise, but let’s be ready to stand firm together. Let’s remember the truth of God’s Word instead of hearing the lies of the darkness.
Let’s stand firm on the truth we know. Let’s disciple each other, sharpening each other in the faith. Let’s fight for those who do not know Jesus yet. Let’s boldly proclaim the good news so many will come to know Jesus. Let’s be conquerors. Let’s hold fast to Jesus because only He can make our steps secure; only He can pick us up from the pit of destruction.
This. Is. War.