Jude verse 3 says we “should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Similarly, Graham Cooke states that grace is a gift freely given, but when we receive that gift, God will take our relationship with Him onto a battlefield and that we will have to fight to receive our full inheritance, to fulfill our destiny as sons of God. Striving to abide in Jesus isn’t the walk in the park that so many of us would like it to be. It is why in Ephesians 6, we are told to put on the full armor of God. Full armor, plus the sword of the Spirit, are only necessary in mortal combat.
The spiritual struggle and ongoing conflict that characterizes the normative life of serious Christians is not something that most of us want to think about–and many clergy are complicit in that deception. Spiritual warfare and the devil are often mentioned only in passing by mainstream denominational preachers. They see it as controversial, but the fact is, we are all pretty much under attack 24/7, and if we are not, it’s because Satan is satisfied that we pose no threat to his earthly kingdom.
I have written two books on spiritual warfare: Satan’s Top Ten Tricks and Jesus v. Satan: The Message of the Wilderness Temptations. Both are available on Amazon.com and thru my website. However, I’ve been rather amazed at how few copies have been sold on-line. By contrast, my book on coping with depression has sold fairly briskly. It seems many people shy away from books with Satan in the title–scary stuff–and the enemy does fight back. A friend said as much when I was toying with a title for the first Satan book. I didn’t believe her but I think she was right. On the other hand, thru word of mouth, quite a few of the Top Ten Tricks book have been sold at the Northland Church bookstore. It was the source book for at least one men’s small group study, and generally readers have been very positive about the book. Most feel they have been given useful tools and insights. One counselor friend described the book as “life changing.” Indeed, it can be, when one realizes that there is a constant unseen battle going on around them and that Satan’s disembodied voice is constantly contaminating one’s thoughts.
We have to contend for our faith, and we must do battle to fulfill our destinies as Jesus-followers. However, the blessing in this battle is that successful spiritual warfare inevitably leads to growth toward Christian maturity. This happens because in the process of contending we learn that our only safe spot is abiding in Jesus, and we learn also that indeed His yoke is easy and His burden light (Mt. 11:28-30). When we constantly abide in the Lord we see the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) more and more in our life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.
Every believer should have a daily check-list of the Fruit of the Spirit and hold themselves accountable. On the days that I inventory the Fruit in my life I realize both how far I’ve come and how far I need to go in contending for my faith.