After the events of September 11th everyone eagerly awaited the President’s state of the union address. Everyone knew the main topic; most knew the points he would bring up. However, early in his speech he made the following statement:
We’ve come to know truths that we will never question: Evil is real, and it must be opposed.
That’s quite a statement as you think about it, simply because many people deny evil exists. If you don’t believe me, take a stroll on almost any college campus and you’ll hear about the basic, inherent goodness of mankind - every day in every way we’re getting better and better. (After all, to think we weren’t getting better would fly in the face of evolution - but that’s a fable for another time). People believing the inherent goodness of mankind fill college campuses; it’s the corrupt environment leading to evil behavior, not some inborn, inherent evil. But of course that’s not true. Man is basically evil, as anyone who has been around a two-year old will testify. Do you teach the two-year old not to share, be selfish or be mean? Nope - it’s inborn. You must train a child to be good.
Still, some people don’t accept this truth. A friend of mine is a police officer in a medium city; talking to him convinces you of one truth: strange things happen on the street. He knows about the battle between God and satan while most people don’t see what really goes on. But if you speak to just about any police officer they can talk to you about many unnatural events that most people never see (and deny exist) but occur nonetheless.
If you’re not convinced of the inherit evil in mankind, just look at some recent headlines.
Lawmakers sanction use of district-approved porn. Instructions on homosexual sodomy and a glorified account of lesbian pedophilia are among the instructional materials approved by the Los Angeles Unified School District for use in “diversity” and “safety” programs being presented to elementary through High School students. (WorldNetDaily, Jan 24, 2002)
Dial 9-1-1 for free abortion Planned Parenthood of New York City offered women free abortions and other related services as a response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. “Everyone wants to do something”, spokesperson Ali Bartolone said in a statement. “This is our response; this is our way of helping women in need”. (WorldNetDaily Jan 18,2002)
Yes, Mr. President, evil is real and it must be opposed. But how do we win the battle? We don’t have to guess, John tells us in his first letter:
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4 KJV)
“Overcome” is from the root where we get our word “Nike” meaning victorious or prevail (Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary page 1010). Don’t we want to prevail? Who wouldn’t? You may not think you’re in a war, but you are in the battle whether you know it or not. You have two choices: either you’re a combatant or a casualty - it’s your choice.
But you’re not fighting worldly enemies - you’re fighting an enemy in multi-dimensional space. Recall 2 Kings Chapter six as an enemy surrounds Elisha but he doesn’t seem too worried about it. His servant panicked, waking up Elisha to warn him of the impending doom. Elisha figured out he wasn’t going to get any sleep, so he asks the Lord to let the servant in on the secret. And as if a window opened, the servant sees chariots of fire all around Elisha.
What did the servant see? For reasons we don’t need to get into here, the servant saw a window into the multi-dimensional space we inhabit. We don’t just live in four dimensions, we live in at least ten. Just because you don’t experience other dimensions doesn’t mean they don’t exist. But to fight in dimensions you can’t see you need special weaponry - and Paul gives us a clue.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; (2 Corinthians 10:4 KJV)
Money, power, and prestige are all useless in this war; don’t make the common mistake you can pick up any weapon and be effective. For this battle you need special equipment. Best of all, it’s equipment the Lord Himself wants you to have. So turn to Ephesians chapter six (the Physics of reality - or how to fight in multi-dimensional space as I’m sure it’s subtitled in your Bible) as Paul explains.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness 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. (Ephesians 6:11-13 NKJV)
Paul tells us to put on the whole armor - one or two pieces won’t cut it. To be effective we need it all. But Paul clearly states we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. So many people believe abortion doctors are the problem - they aren’t (we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood). Rather, abortion is the problem. Some misguided people believe they are doing God’s work by the murder of abortion doctors. But we don’t war against flesh and blood - these ill-advised people haven’t done their homework in Ephesians six. Satan is the real enemy, not people - the doctors themselves are just pawns in satanic deception.
We don’t just fight, we wrestle - the battle is intimate and personal; it doesn’t occur in some far-off place, it’s up close. But more important, these are military terms - to stand. If you think of an old John Wayne movie where the crusty old sergeant (John Wayne) tells his motley crew of misfits “Boys, we’ll make our stand here” (holding off an enemy vastly outnumbering them) you’ll get the idea.
We won’t go through the entire armor as we want to focus on one piece - just remember you need it all.
Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (Ephesians 6:16 NKJV)
The shield of faith has particular importance. Paul uses the illustration of the Roman soldier, but you must know the Romans used two different shields. The one Paul refers to is 2 1/2 by 4 feet - enough to cover the body. In other words, you can hide behind this shield and be completely protected. Sounds important, huh? But it’s also the movable part of the armor - you can orientate it in any direction you need. If you’ve got a problem in an area of your Christian walk, you can take cover behind the shield of faith and be protected (This doesn’t imply you don’t need to shore up those areas that need attention).
Thus, you see the importance of this piece of armor. If we want to have victory, we’d better figure out what this faith thing is. When you think of faith, you might think of the “Hall of faith” in Hebrews 11, which is good because it’s the same Greek word in Hebrews 11:1 as in 1 John 5.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)
Faith “means that persuasion is not the outcome of imagination but is based on fact, such as the reality of the resurrection of Christ, and as such it becomes the basis of realistic hope” (Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary page 1162). This is an important definition. Some people think of Christians and blind faith - something you wish is true, but don’t really know if it is true. That’s not the definition the Bible uses. According to the Bible, you are called to be a skeptic and check things out. The faith we want is not “blind faith” - it’s a response to reason and logic.
I frequently get email with a common theme - Christians have blind faith and anyone who believes in the truth of the Bible has had their brain removed. Recently, to prove a point I was directed to a web site that would “open my eyes” and show what nonsense the Bible is.
This site talked about the miracle of the water turning to wine in John 2, saying the servants fooled the headwaiter into believing the water really was wine, when in reality it was only water. The cup (probably made of wood) retained some of the aroma of the wine; when the servants added some water to the wine left in the cup the headwaiter couldn’t tell it was really water. No miracle really happened, the headwaiter was simply tricked.
Let’s look at the assumptions this person makes:
- The Cup was made of wood or clay.
- He used the same cup as he had been - the servants didn’t bring him a small cup of the new wine.
- The servants brought only a very small amount of wine to him.
- The cup had some old wine left in it.
- The headwaiter couldn’t tell water from wine.
This guy makes wild assumptions without any evidence to support it about events occurring thousands of years ago. Why? Because he’s rejected the possibility of a miracle; he must make up something no matter how absurd. He’s proposing he knew exactly what occurred in that room thousands of years ago, while ignoring the written eyewitness account of what did.
And he says I have blind faith?
Faith is not the outcome of imagination but is based on fact (something you’re going to hear frequently, so get used to it). So what is Biblical faith? Paul explains in Hebrews.
For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:2-3 NKJV)
It’s a little off topic, but notice the “worlds were framed by the word of God” - God created the world, not evolution! We understand this by faith (not the outcome of imagination but based on fact). Anyone who believes in evolution must prove it using scientific, experimental evidence. No guesses allowed, we must have verifiable, experimental evidence. If you can’t do that, you must admit your theory is unscientific. You can believe it all you want, just don’t call it science. (By the way, if you have any experimental evidence for the following I’d love to hear about it - send it to email@example.com. But you’ll forgive me if I don’t hold my breath waiting).
The theory of evolution is based on (at least) the following three ideas:
- Matter comes from nothing.
- Explosions produce order. (The big bang)
- Non-living goo can suddenly come alive.
If any one of these three statements is false, evolution falls apart. Yet all three not only have no experimental evidence for them, they actually contradict many of the laws we know. They are assumed a priori because the theory requires them, not because the experimental evidence says so. And evolutionists say I have blind faith?
Evolution is blind faith and is by definition unscientific - it is not based on fact, not based on experiments, thus not based on science (by definition). Evolution is dead - get over it. It’s just not a valid scientific theory. Even if I was an atheist, I would have to reject evolution - it just doesn’t have any experimental evidence supporting it. I’ve yet to see any experiments done to prove non-life can suddenly become alive, or that matter can spontaneously appear. But we’ll move on.
In contrast we are called not to have blind faith - check things out for yourself.
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11 NKJV)
Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV)
Yes, Mr. President, we are at war with evil and we need faith to overcome - we need combat faith to give us victory - blind faith won’t cut it. But combat faith is an interesting thing; we learn much about it in Hebrews.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)
Wow. It’s impossible to please God without combat faith. It doesn’t say it’s hard to please Him without faith or God would like us to have faith, but faith is required. It’s a prerequisite. And what is combat faith? It’s not the outcome of imagination but based on fact. So let’s look at a few facts.
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. (Hebrews 11:17-19 NKJV)
This is covered in Genesis chapter 22; you should read the story for yourself. God orders Abraham to offer his only son as a sacrifice to Him. Abraham begins to follow orders, but at the last moment an angel stops him. Abraham didn’t figure he had a problem, God did - for God promised Abraham his son Isaac would be his heir. Thus, if Isaac is killed God would have to resurrect him. (Note, God is NOT advocating child sacrifice - This story is a model of Jesus Christ and His resurrection. Paul even mentions in Hebrews Abraham received Isaac back in a figurative sense. The whole story in Genesis 22 is a model God provided several thousand years before Jesus’ birth).
Faith - not the outcome of imagination but based on fact. Abraham had previous experiences and based his belief on those previous facts. He didn’t walk off a pier and hope for the best. No, when the Bible speaks of faith it means not the outcome of imagination, but based on facts. Abraham based his faith on facts.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. (Hebrews 11:30 NKJV)
I’d like to see the meeting where Joshua meets with his generals to discuss the battle plan. This is the most bizarre battle plan ever produced - it took faith (not the outcome of imagination but based on fact) to execute it. But again, it was Joshua’s previous experiences that led him to execute this plan with confidence.
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. (Hebrews 11:32-34 NKJV)
So the question is, how do we get this? The apostles asked this specific question to the Lord, and His response was in Luke 17.
So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ’Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you”. (Luke 17:6 NKJV)
Our faith must not be very good - we are soft. I don’t know how much faith a mustard seed has, but apparently it’s more than I. Many people don’t see miracles very often, yet I wonder if it’s due to our lack of faith. As I talk to the people sent out on mission trips I frequently see where prayer (in faith) yields mighty results, so I do know God answers prayer on a regular basis.
This sounds good - who wouldn’t like to have the mountains moved in their lives? All we have to do is have the faith of a mustard seed? But keep reading - Jesus doesn’t end there. We are just soldiers in the army of God; we must understand our role, as Jesus continues.
“And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ’Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ’Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ’We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”(Luke 17:7-10 NKJV)
We can’t think of ourselves more highly than we should - God gives us everything and we are only doing our duty. We do have a self-esteem problem in this country - we have way too much! Everything I have, every talent I have is a gift from God.
For example, one of my talents deals with computers and such. At the company I work for, I designed the entire network linking 150 computers over 4 different sites on opposite sides of the country. As I was walking though the plant one day I started thinking about the fiber optics running overhead, how I designed the whole thing, and how it just plain works (which can be unusual in this field). Suddenly, the thought crossed my mind - “is this not a great empire I have built?” (in my best Nebuchadnezzar voice). (If this isn’t familiar to you, read Daniel chapter four - it didn’t work out to well for Nebuchadnezzar)
Why would I think such things? Because I think of myself more highly than I should - I’ve got a self-esteem problem. I’m only doing what the Lord has blessed me with. In short, I’m an unprofitable servant only doing what my duty is to do. Paul summarizes this perspective to Timothy.
No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:4 NKJV)
Pride easily creeps in when we use the talents the Lord has blessed us with. This is perhaps one of satan’s favorite tricks - to give you a self-esteem problem. It’s a problem you must continually deal with. The world continually bombards us with messages like “you deserve a break today”; if you’re not careful you might buy into that foolishness. We’ve got to maintain perspective of our position, our duty, and our relationship to God.
We are in a war and we need faith to overcome. How do we get it? Sometimes by trials - it’s when we see how God got us through an ugly spot. That’s what Hebrews chapter 11 is all about - notice how God pulled all these people through during a crisis. As you continually see and experience how God provides, your faith continues to build. Soon, you get a complete trust in the Lord like Job:
Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. (Job 13:15 NKJV)
Job had faith no matter what happened. We need that also. Faith is not something you have when things are going well; it’s not the outcome of imagination but based on fact.
When you’re in crisis, when the enemy says, “Has God really said” and tempts you to doubt the Word of God just like he did with Adam and Eve in the garden, when your back’s against the wall, when you’re in the soup, it’s too late to get the shield. You need to get the shield before the battle.
So here’s our action plan.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NKJV)
Step one - don’t become discouraged. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy. Base your faith on the fact of the Word of God. Remember your previous experiences and how God pulled you through.
Step two - get a battle plan - and here’s ours.
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. (Hebrews 2:1 NKJV)
We must stay focused on the Lord, continue to develop our faith and trust and not become complacent, lest we drift away. That’s what combat faith is all about, and that’s what we need to develop.