2. The Kingdom and Spiritual Warfare (continued)
The Issue of the Kingdom
The spiritual battle has gone on all through the centuries. When Moses handed over to Joshua, it was for the people to fight for their possessions in the land. No one ever drifts into the possession of the kingdom. Joshua did not, nor shall we. When Christ came to bring in the kingdom He began in the wilderness as a Warrior, fighting a great spiritual battle. satan knew what the issue was, too, for the climax of the temptations was concerned with the manner in which Christ should obtain the kingdoms of this world. We know how our blessed Lord won that great victory, but we must never let the simplicity of the narrative deceive us into imagining that it was easy. At the end, He need was so great that angels were sent to minister to Him, and they were not sent like that again until the further bitter conflict of the garden of Gethsemane. Thank God that Christ triumphed in these great spiritual battles, and triumphed supremely in His Cross. That was the great clash between the two kingdoms. All the hosts of darkness mustered to do battle against God's King, but we are told that "He spoiled principalities and powers" and "made a show of them openly, triumphing over them" in His Cross (Colossians 2:15). When it met the One who hung there upon the tree in uttermost weakness and yet in pure dependence upon the Father, satan's kingdom exhausted itself and suffered overwhelming defeat.
With the Lord risen from the dead, and the issue finally settled, it might be thought that the disciples would be spared the need for conflict; yet we hardly open the book of the Acts before we find the young Church locked in deadly conflict with the satanic kingdom. How quickly they discovered that the Church is to be a Warrior Church, and by means of Psalm 2 were able to interpret the nature of the struggle. Later on, when Paul and Barnabas revisited another infant church which had been born into the battle, they 'confirmed their souls', "exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Heavy fare for young believers! Is it safe to talk to young Christians about the spiritual conflict and their eternal vocation in Christ? Paul evidently thought it was, for to the Corinthians and Thessalonians, as well as to the churches of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, he got straight to the point, instructing these new believers as to the issue of their faith and making no secret of the fact that it could only be realized by fighting, that spiritual hardship is to be endured if the kingdom is to come. When the time came for the Apostles to hand on to the next generation, and so to every subsequent generation right up to our own, they did so with such exhortation as 'war the good warfare", "fight the good fight of faith". There is no question as to whether we are in the spiritual conflict. We are born into it. The question is whether we are triumphing through Christ or being defeated.
What The Warfare Is NOT
Before proceeding any further we ought to consider what this warfare is NOT. It is NOT a carnal battle. If satan can get us down to earth, dealing with things and people as they are down here, he has us defeated. How well he knows this! The earthly level is his realm. He is master here. For that very reason he tries to get us preoccupied with flesh and blood, to get us using carnal weapons, fighting as natural men fight. There is NO victory for Christ in that realm.
It is NOT a civil war. The beginning of the downfall of the kingdom of Israel was when it began to be divided by civil strife. satan does not change his tactics much - he does not need to. Divisiveness of spirit is a betrayal of the kingdom. The kingdom destined to be revealed from Heaven is described as one stone - only one. Those who possess the kingdom are called "the people of the saints of the Most High" - the people. If this is true, then to contradict that oneness by hostility, even of spirit, is to hinder the coming of Christ's kingdom and to allow satan to postpone his own downfall. There is no war so bitter, and so futile, as civil war.
Nor is it a personal war. We are not fighting for our own position. Daniel and his friends were willing to lose their own lives - though incidentally that is how they saved them. But they were not out for advancement, nor even for survival, as such; they lost sight of all personal interests in their overwhelming concern for the interests of the kingdom, and so became living examples of what Christ meant when He taught: "Seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33)
(continued with # 8 - (Four Great Battles in Babylon)