|Ants on the Battlefield|
(by Chris Long)
I just got back from battle. And boy am I exhausted!
I have hope that maybe this time, I FINALLY have won...but I'm not so sure.
What am I talking about, you say?
A few weeks ago, I noticed a couple of them in the bathroom, killed them and thought nothing more of them.
A few days later, and a few more appeared - this time in the kitchen - which I again killed and thought little of them.
Then they started showing up in the den. This time there were several, so I went out and saw where they were coming in and dutifully sprayed them. Problem solved, I thought. Boy I can sure be naive! Ants, I have discovered, are quite the tenacious little critters!
For a few days, all was calm...and THEN, several were in the kitchen - not a lot mind you, but enough that they were becoming a problem. I killed all the ones I could see and then I went outside and found a whole trail of ants and sprayed them. Again, all seemed fine for a few days.
Then tonight, they were all over the kitchen, high up on the walls, above the pantry, at the sink - you get the picture. Subsequently I discovered that they were also in the living room. I even found one lone ranger in the den.
It took me hours to clean up and do a full house perimeter check - spraying all around the house.
For now, I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, I've showed them who's the boss and they won't be dropping by for a visit again anytime soon. Then again, I may just be living in some fantasy land. I'm not quite sure. The Orkin Man may be my next call... :)
But, you know, these pesky ants got me to thinking.
About sin. And about spiritual warfare.
You know, unlike most of my previous ant experiences, these ants were a tricky bunch. They didn't just all show up one day in one location and make it easy for me to eliminate them. No, they initially showed up a few at a time, making it easy for me to dismiss them as "not really a problem".
How often this has this been my experience with sin!
The devil knows that often times the easiest way to snare someone is not to rush at them all at once - to lay a giant temptation. No, he often starts with small, seemingly little things - things that lull us little by little away from God and His desires for us - all the while maintaining a false sense of security. Then the devil lays out the big one - the big trap. Weakened by so many of the little compromises we've already made, it is then much easier for us to give in.
Had the devil tried to lay the big one from the outset, we probably would instantly recognize it as a problem and resist. But by drawing us little by little away from the things of the Lord, we become desensitized to the voice of the Lord and in our weakened state, we're just like a deer caught in the headlights waiting for the car to come and take us out...
When I first saw those ants, what I SHOULD have thought was: "ANTS!!! They shouldn't be here! I'm going to kill them and then go make sure there are no others!" But, instead, I mostly ignored them, not realizing that a much larger ant problem was soon to be in my future. Because I took a passive posture, rather than an active one, I set myself up for so much more trouble than I might otherwise have had.
And that's how it is with sin. Whether we like it or not, the reality is that there is major spiritual warfare going on all the time behind the scenes. When we accepted Christ as our Savior, we actively chose Jesus and moved from the kingdom of the devil into the kingdom of God. But the devil, he just ain't content with that. No, he will still try to woo us and he loves for us to live weak, sin-filled, ineffective lives - where we aren't a good witness for Jesus Christ.
There is spiritual warfare going on in the spiritual dimension over us. And we are a participant whether we want to be or not. It is a part of the cosmic struggle between the devil and God. We were once on the side of the devil (whether we knew it or not). When we chose Jesus, we transferred onto God's team. But we don't get to just sit on the sidelines. And God doesn't intend for us to sit on the sidelines.
The Bible tells us to be active. We are told to "put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22b-23) Did you catch it? "Put off", "Put on": These are action words. Same thing a bit later in the well known part of Ephesians 6 where we are told: "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." (Ephesians 6:11) We've got to actively put on that armor. We've got to stand our ground. We've got to take up our shield, put on our helmet, wield our sword (the Word of God!). We've got to be prepared for battle and maintain a healthy, vibrant prayer life.
If we're not active, we're passive. And if we're passive, we're just asking for it because the devil and his cohorts are NOT passive: they are QUITE active and they WILL be paying you a visit (and like my ants, they'll keep coming back!). You can count on that.
So as believers in Jesus Christ, we really only get one option if we want to live vibrant, joyful, powerful, abundant lives: We MUST actively fight. We're told in God's Word to "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16).
We're told in Philippians 4:8, to think on (put into our minds) things that are "noble", "right", "pure", "lovely", "admirable", "excellent", and "praiseworthy."
If a believer spends their days and nights listening to worldly music, watching worldly t.v. shows and movies, engaging in worldly entertainment, focussing on the world's gadgets and gizmos, etc. then it probably shouldn't come as a big surprise why they are not living the victorious, abundant life God wants them to live. I mean, if a movie has inappropriate language and/or sexual situations (stirs up lust) and/or messages and themes contrary to Scripture (i.e. "revenge", "living together before marriage is ok", "homosexuality should be celebrated", etc.) then we really need to ask ourselves what part of that is "noble", "right", "pure", "lovely", "admirable", "excellent", and "praiseworthy."
It's the little compromises that set us up for bigger failures. If we're not active in fighting the "good fight of faith" (1 Timothy 6:12a), then we're passively just awaiting the devil to come and tweak us out and rip us off. Jesus, aluding to the devil, said: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
If we will take the time to really read and study God's Word, talk to God in prayer, spend time with other believers, and put good and edifying things into our minds, we will reap a beautiful harvest. We will truly live the type of God-honoring lives where not only are we living the abundant life Jesus talked about (which is only found in Him), but it will be a tremendous witness to those around us as well. (sidenote: our witness with others is one of the key things the enemy is after!)
In the end, God's Word tells us how this great longtime struggle between God and the devil (with the other fallen angels) turns out. They lose. God wins. End of story. They've actually already lost; the outcome isn't even in question. Colossians 2:15 tells us that the devil has already been disarmed by Christ at the cross. So, actually, largely what the devil comes at us with is deception. He makes himself seem a lot scarier than he really is. But we must stand in these realities for them to be realities in our lives. We rest in the finished work of the cross, but out of that reality, we also maintain an active posture of resisting the devil. For our own sake and the sake of those around us, we cannot afford to be inactive.
Back to those ants: You know, I don't know whether they're going to show their pesky little ant faces again. I'd like to think they are but a distant memory. But I know this: the next time I see one or two of them, I have no intention of ignoring them.
Because, you know what?
Those ants mean business!
This article is Copyright by Chris Long 2010-2014. You may use this article for free for any purpose, whether commercial or non-commercial, as long as you use the entire text and that all text, including this notice, is not modified or removed in any fashion. For any other usage, you must obtain written permission from the author. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.