Hope in the Midst of Spiritual Warfare
In his fictional classic, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis invites readers to feel with Narnia their utter despair as their land is reigned by Evil.
Although I prefer the cold breeze to the summer heat, Lewis’ point is still profound. For those living between the lamppost and Cair Paravel, the great castle, the seasonal effects of winter used to provoke joyful thoughts. Yet now, snowflakes, sledding, and warm coats develop a deep longing for hope—one that would seemingly never be satisfied.
As footprints remind onlookers of what was once there, winter reminds the citizens of Narnia who reigns, the cruel White Witch.
In our world today, reminders of sin’s effects are around every corner. Just as winter reminds the Narnians who rule their land, the results of sin can remind the church of the influence of Satan, Demons, and wickedness.
Despite living in a fractured world marred by sin and evil, we have hope. Hope changes everything. Like Mr. Tumnus, we can grieve the damage caused by Evil. We ought to grieve! But we grieve differently as those with the hope of what is yet to come. (Romans 8:22-23) Our hope is found only in the gospel.
The Message that Saves
1 Peter 1:3-4 reads,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”
Our hope is rooted in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Having no sin of His own, He took the penalty of our sin because of His love for us. We receive His righteousness along with correct standing with God and can commune with Him intimately.
The Motive that Sends
Throughout Jesus’ life, He engaged in Spiritual Warfare. Evil not only attacked Jesus but those that followed Him. (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 5:1-20) Although sobering, this is to be expected. The late David Powlison, a pioneer in counseling, wrote:
“Spiritual warfare is what happens when he enlists us in his cause and equips us to join his battle. It’s about light invading darkness. Often when people envision spiritual warfare, they think, ‘I’m under attack,’ and that is true. Satan does have his wily ways and he is out to get us. But we are also God’s invading army, and we are on the attack. We are bringing light into a dark world. The children of light, the army of light, the servants of light are on the offensive.”
If you have trusted in Jesus alone to save you, then you are sent to push back against the darkness. But make no mistake about it! As you push back the darkness with light, the darkness will push back.
The Means to Stand
In his recent blog, Brock Anderson discusses three common methods Satan uses to attack. In each section of how we ought to respond to evil, He explains how truth can be combat lies. When Satan accuses, tempts, or persecutes, our response must be truth – truths found in the reality of the gospel.
Whenever Evil attacks, it is helpful for me to play tennis.
Well, not an actual game of tennis, but it is a helpful image in my head.
For example, let’s say the Enemy serves a nasty lie to me: “Grace is for those who have their life together, Ryan. God might have saved you, but He doesn’t care about you.” Along with that, Evil could bring up examples to shame and condemn me.
Sometimes, I will forget the message of the gospel entirely. Could I explain it? Sure. But it is seemingly irrelevant to me at that moment. I couldn’t be more wrong. I believe the lie, and my day is effectively ruined.
What if I had considered what Jesus did for me? I could “return Satan’s serve” by reminding myself of truth:
“You’re right, Satan. All of those things happened. But the judgment I deserved was placed on Jesus. He did that willingly because He loves me. He didn’t die to abandon me. He is so close to me! The Holy Spirit now lives inside of me.”
As we continue to grow in our faith, we can begin to take the first “serve” ourselves. Perhaps in the mornings, we can reorient ourselves to the gospel’s good news and prayerfully ask Jesus to protect us against attacks from Satan. Regardless of what may come that day, we can trust our good King to keep us.
Back to Lewis’ fantastical world, the four Pevensie children gathered in the Mr. & Mrs. Beaver’s lodge. “They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps has already landed,” said hopeful Mr. Beaver. The children found themselves in practical reality, surrounded by the effects of Evil’s reign. But they did not know the truest reality that Aslan (the character who represents Jesus) was coming to save them from Evil. It was such good news that Mr. Beaver had to tell them.
The gospel is the good news that changed everything. It is the good news that can’t be changed by anything.
Regardless of what the Enemy does, the truth of the gospel remains a source of hope, endurance, and strength for the believer. And that’s a hope worth holding too!
One day, one glorious day, sin will be no more. Satan will be defeated. We will be ‘with Him and like Him’ (1 John 3:2). Light will overcome the darkness. As believers, our King, the true king, is inviting us to join Him in His mission to push back the darkness through spreading His message.
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