While we may not be disbelievers in evil or overbelievers (where the Devil is behind everything bad that happens), functionally we are sort-of believers, and God's men are getting killed. The casualties among even our best fighting men tell the whole story. Blood is being spilled. Because we do not account for evil in the right way, it has its way in our lives and in the world. Low-priority status on evil creates a dysfunctional and fatal vulnerability. Jesus never taught His men this. He spoke openly of how the Thief, Killer, and Destroyer would actively oppose Him in the present.

In fact, Jesus directly said that God's people would live side by side with evil forces and people until He returned. The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

The owner's servants came to him and said, "Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?"

"An enemy did this," he replied.

The servants asked him, "Do you want us to go and pull them up?"

"No," he answered, "because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters:  First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn." (Matthew 13:24-30)

The owner's servants acted surprised to see those evil weeds among the good wheat. The looks on their faces said, "That is not supposed to be here." Their expectations were off. The wheat plants (us) are going to have to contend for survival among the weeds (evil). For those who deny the side-by-side existence of evil with man in this present age, Jesus's words will not encourage you. However, they might help you embrace the first key principle:  facing and embracing the reality that evil doesn't just appear now and then when bad things happen, it is all around you. The good seed are the sons of the kingdom. The bad seed are the sons of the Evil One. The field is the world. In this "not yet" time between eternities there is no separation of God's people from evil; it's a mixed bag.

There is no escaping it. So how are we supposed to live as God's men during this "not yet time" with a clear and present evil among us? At a minimum, we need to act more consistently with reality. That's God's position. Face it:  Satan has been watching film on you. He's relentless. Get that one firmly planted in your brain. Even after getting taken to the shed by the Son of God, the Bible says that "he left him until the next opportunity came" (Luke 4:13, NLT 2004). Satan is not just relentless but a relentless opportunist. He never rests. This is the big pink elephant parked in the middle of the church today, and there are only two options in dealing with it: live in reality or live in fantasy. One attitude is very comfortable, and the other is uncomfortable. But when it comes to being God's man, discipleship and discomfort are very closely connected.

Being with Jesus in the first century meant regular discussions about Satan and engaging evil forces. Imagine:  for the disciples, being with Jesus was for the specific intention to gain the authority and training to cast out demons! The Gospels, the book of Acts, the pastoral epistles, and John's vision in Revelation all talk about evil making its play in the life of the believers. The norm for a New Testament God's man is to regularly recognize and deal with evil.

Today this kind of fearlessness is completely absent. Spiritual warfare is considered too "out there," misinformation, or someone else's calling. The Bible calls Satan "the ruler of this present world." Thinking wrongly about him, or not at all, gives him his greatest tactical advantage.

Hitler said, "What luck for rulers that men do not think." Where do you think that thought came from? It's time to snap out of it.

From Fight, by Kenny Luck.  Used by permission of WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO.  All rights reserved.