- Thursday, June 05, 2008
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Fight by Kenny Luck (WaterBrook).
Part 1: Facing Evil
"Ignorance is incompetence."
"It is a very human and natural response to fear the unknown. For a believer to keep
himself in the dark about Satan's person and work is a dangerous mistake."
I don't know of any book that actually invites you to begin picking more fights with evil.
And yet you're holding it. Aside from what that says about you, I'm well aware that holding this book may cause some men to feel like the deer from The Far Side comic with the bull's-eye birthmark on his chest. Fact is, you and Hal do have this birthmark issue in common. You've been marked and labeled in the spiritual world, just by virtue of your birth. If you claim the family name of Christian, you are being hunted to be destroyed.
And yet a lot of us are denying this dance to the death even exists. We've heard of the battle and may even be aware of it to some extent, but it's all to little practical effect. We've been duped and made to forget that, unlike Gary Larson's deer, the hunted God's man can actually turn the tables on evil and become the hunter. We have the power and ability to send the hunter packing! It's all a matter of perceiving the spiritual reality and understanding the source of authority.
Most believers are aware of the "right answers" when it comes to the familiar idea of waging spiritual warfare. And yet we're failing at practical application. We look at the cosmic conflict between good and evil more like a Harry Potter movie—it's a tossup which side will prevail until the final frame. And it's this perspective when applied to the real world of spiritual attack that breeds insecurity, hesitation, vacillation, and harm to both believer and the cause of Christ.
I, for one, am loath to take on that reputation. I trust you're with me.
No Interest, or Just No Stomach?
We will have struck a deep blow to our enemy if our concept of the spiritual battle moves forcefully from being an afterthought to a way to believe and behave. Based on the attitudes I encounter in men worldwide regarding evil, I would want us for an opponent if I were Satan.
The painful, sad reality is that the underworld has the upper hand on the ground level of this war with God's men. I'll address this later in the book in detail, but for now let's just say we've been assuming the submissive position of a scared pooch, or been freely giving permission (by our inaction) to evil to trample over our lives and the world with impunity.
A reality check is in order.
It's time to look in the mirror and not be satisfied with what we have become in the midst of the great war for our King. We must make peace with the fact that we are spiritually enabled, empowered, and equipped to make war on the Enemy and do something. We are commissioned to inflict losses, unmask and thwart plots to kill, and deliver those in bondage to darkness into the freedom of the sons of light.
Satan knows who you are. Get that. Then, as every God's man must do on a more urgent basis, you need to accept what that means. What's that, you say? Simple: You cannot ask for a hall pass to get out of this fight. You must also stop living in ignorance and denial.
Instead, you need to understand and get to know Satan's ways. Why? Because you are in a play à la Jason Bourne. You are an asset on assignment to neutralize evil wherever and whenever it rears its insidious head. You are to be feared by the Enemy, not laughed at.
When I signed on to write the God's Man series, there was a deep sense of foreboding every time I pondered the third book (this one). I was, all at once, deeply convicted and committed to stimulating more intelligent and intentional kingdom warfare and intensely aware of what I would be asking for—troubles of another kind. Devilishly bizarre dreams, personal attacks, marital roadside bombs, harassing thoughts, family traumas, conflicts with church members, a double root canal, and a tsunami of satanic diversions are just a sampling of the mortar and artillery rounds that have been lobbed my way.
While some of these are just natural events, the negative emotions that come with them are what the Devil loves to cultivate and exploit in a believer. Every excuse to discourage me, Satan took. He doesn't play fair and is the king of low blows. He waits to kick men in the teeth when they're down. Magnifying emotions to create insecurities, heighten fears, and defeat us without a bullet being shot are the things Satan is best at. He must rely on playing mind games—a sign of insecurity and no real power. Nonetheless, he's allowed to mess with us.
He is doing the same thing with you right now. Repeatedly my message to Satan was, "I know who you are and what you intend to do." A little preemptive retaliation is consistent warfare doctrine among sovereigns who feel that the security of their networks or borders is about to be compromised in some way. These shots across the bow were intended to say, "Do you really want this? You might want to reconsider." Throughout this time God's Spirit has said, "Reconsider this!" like we read in the fourth chapter of Luke's Gospel when Jesus quit listening and started rebuking evil suggestions and ploys.
Well, my friend, I am still here dialoguing with you on these pages, and Satan still knows where I live. Boo-ya! I wanted you to know a little thunder has been rolling my way, but I expected this. I knew all hell would break loose before, during, and after my decision to focus an entire manuscript on outing the Devil and equipping you to effectively confront and defeat him. I knew the Devil loathes being discovered the way any terrorist would be incensed at the man who blew his cover. I knew that the Great Pimp has a big ego matched only by that noxious chip on his shoulder toward believers. I knew that anyone who actively pulls his masks off to expose his presence is asking for a double helping of ire and indignation.
And yet, many days what kept me going was you. Yes, you—the God's man reading these words. The reason you have this book in your hands is because you have been called by your King for this hour. You are being asked to join the company of other mighty men to be the tip of the spear in the war against evil. Just the word fight resonated with your soul and spirit. You are cognizant of the smell of war in your own life, and you see it in your world. That willingness to fight is being affirmed by God's Spirit. Your training as a disciple is ready to go the next level. Your strong, confident, and fully surrendered presence is going to be needed. Your quickening to the battle is at hand.
I know this feeling well. Writing Fight was unnerving and necessary for me. Reading Fight will be the same for you. The realities and truths you will confront in these pages will both unnerve you and compel a necessary faith response. More bluntly, from this time forward you will need to change the way you address the challenges of life to account for evil and its presence in and around you. In effect, you are being handed a pair of night vision goggles (another topic we'll take on later), and you will see "movement" of evil that was previously hidden. You will feel the apprehension one experiences when he is considering war. Satan wants you to feel the fear.
God will replace that fear with Himself. These are how all rites of passage feel to a surrendered God's man. God's men are filled with spiritual tension because something is actually at stake. There is the tension you feel when your faith and the reality of your responsibility to it collide. Risk dealt with this. Then there is the tension of becoming the man you were created to be versus the man you thought you ought to be. Dream addressed this issue in your life. Then there is the rite of passage most men do not have the stomach to address: facing the reality and tension of dealing directly with evil. Fight will stretch you again and again to see, engage, face, call out, and demolish evil with confidence and skill through Christ. So men wearing spiritual skirts need not apply. Jesus didn't own one, and as His representative possessing His authority, neither should you. "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8). Take heart, you have an excellent Mentor.
But let's stow the macho talk for a second and get down to the sweat and blood of what's to come.
Your Attitude and Your Stand
Your attitude about evil reflects your stand against evil. The great men of faith understood this, and as God's man, so must you. To help you with this, we need to think about evil and our fight with it in uncomplicated terms that are consistent with Scripture and practical to apply. We need to think better before we can fight better. The "We've got Jesus, yes we do. We've got Jesus, how about you?" approach is as effective as it sounds. The Bible does not support it, though it might work at vacation Bible school. In fact, the more emotional you are in warfare, the sooner you die. So in the interest of living to fight another day, let's replace emotional and unsuccessful strategies with intelligent and intentional ways of thinking about and fighting evil. For starters, let's wipe the board clean of what we think we know about evil and resolve to stick to Scripture's direction and plan for how we are going to prepare for the fight.
On the whiteboard in my office you will see this written at the top:
INFORMATION WITHOUT APPLICATION IS HALLUCINATION.
As in the other books in this series (Risk and Dream), the overriding objective is real-time application of spiritual truth. That means it's time to embrace these five Fight principles in order to change your attitude and, consequently, your personal stand against the evil powers of this present age. You will be pushed, in increasing ways, to
Face the Reality of Evil
Integrate Intel of the Enemy
Grow Progressively More Aware of Evil
Handle Your Weapons with Consistency and Confidence
Take the Fight to Evil
These are the core tactics connected to owning the night and not letting evil hide under the cover of deceptive masks.
1. Face the Reality of Evil
There was a time before September 11, 2001, when counterterrorist agencies possessed good intelligence about a group called Al-Qaida. We knew who their leader was and where he was, we knew where their training facilities were, we knew how to "touch" them, and we knew the United States was the object of their Islamofascist brand of hatred. And yet, with so many other higher-priority issues, international and domestic crises, and lack of "actionable intelligence," we didn't assign enough attention to this character Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.
The world knows the rest of the story. Granted, foresight is always 20/40, or worse. You can see some things, but not much of it clearly. You can discern a good portion of the picture, but the small details and facts are a little fuzzy. Hindsight, on the other hand, is always 20/20, or better. The pain or trauma acts like window cleaner. We learn from our mistakes; we evaluate and assess what went wrong. Between foresight and hindsight is a crucial lesson in the battle with evil: when all you have is fuzzy foresight, you must focus more attention and resources on the Enemy who wants your head on a platter. If you do, your future hindsight will be much less painful.
Of all the lessons America learned from the 9/11 terrorist attack, the biggie was that we simply did not connect the threats with the reality of such a large-scale operation on our own soil. We believed the terrorists were out there, but we acted like we "sort of " believed the intel. Sort of believing in a real enemy and real threat produces a sort-of response that sort of gets people killed. We no longer sort of believe in terrorists who want to kill us. We have been baptized by fire into a new reality regarding the lethal intentions, scope, and scale of global terrorism.
Satan unequivocally wants you dead or at least neutralized (living but not a threat). For God's man the most tragic mistake you can make is to sort of believe in evil, its existence, and its specific designs on your life. When God's men approach the reality of evil this way, we send a clear message to our enemy. What we are saying is that intellectually and mentally we believe there is an evil ringleader guiding plots against us, but practically we act as though he has nothing to do with what befalls us. We behave like all our problems have natural causes and solutions; none have supernatural causes and divine solutions. We end up responding to problems that require supernatural responses with human wisdom and natural solutions. We are firing water pistols at an armed destroyer.
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.
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