By Harry Bultema

When God said at Eden’s gate, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,” He thereby had given the cause of holy warfare on the part of His people. All through the ages His people have acknowledged this. The Apostle Paul said of all saints, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.” He wrestled  in this holy warfare, stretching as it were every nerve and fiber when he grappled with the foe. Martin Luther came daily to grips with Satan and his hosts, and the story of Wartburg is that he threw the inkpot at Satan, so real was the sense of the enemy’s presence. The ineradicable left on the wall of Luther’s study is to be seen until this day. Calvin wrestled with the Devil and his invisible foes and mentioned him in practically every sermon he preached. John Bunyan wrote a spiritual dream: “Pilgrim’s Progress.”

Our age of unbelief laughs at the Devil but meanwhile he has the laugh on us.  He lulled our age to sleep with the soporific of evolution and progress, and now he has the nations by the throats as a roaring lion.

There are three factors in World War II as there were in World War I of 1914-1918: 1) God,  2) Man,  3) Satan. Satan rules, man is ruled, and God overrules and uses all this slaughter as a holy judgment upon the Heaven-defying sins of the nations. It is one of the enemy’s wiles to make man and especially the saints to forget the holy warfare in the midst of the unholy strife.

Many years ago when France went down under the mighty blows of the enemy Marshall Pertain, the aged hero of Verdun, he said a word that ought to be burned in the heart of every Christian and patriot. Giving the cause of France’s downfall, he said: “After the victory we gave ourselves to pleasure instead of sacrifice.” Let any nation, church, family, or any man do this and their downfall is certain. Pleasure-seeking France brought her down. It will drag us down as well if we are not careful.

There is a familiar portion of Scripture that speaks of the holy  warfare of the saints (Eph. 6:10-18).

First: consider the participants in the fight, the armor provided and the purpose of the warfare. The Apostle comes to the close of his letter to the Ephesians after he has written the flaming credo, the high calling, the conduct of believers, the wealth of the believers, etc. Now he comes to the warfare of the saints. The wealth lay in that they were blessed, chosen, redeemed, forgiven, inheritors, sealed, called and blessed. Their walk was to be in light, love, liberty and with circumspection. The fullness of the Spirit was to rule their family life. He had mentioned duties to husbands, wives, children, parents, servants and masters and now there is still a remainder: a balance of the Apostolic burden. He finally says, “My brethren, be strong in the Lord.” The whole family of Heaven must be participants in this fight. There should be no shirkers or weaklings. For a believer to be weak is to be wicked for God says, “Be Strong!” You realize, of course, that this has no reference to the body or even to the mind, but, rather, to the new man in Christ. The believer cannot be weak. It is of supreme importance to see this for this is the crime of the Church. Every Christian is supposed to be a soldier, and yet, there is a very small Gideon’s band to wage the holy battle for the Lord.

In Israel, young men had to fight, and every Christian with eternal youth in his soul can fight. Those that were newly married stayed home and we deduce from this that even legitimate pleasures incapacitate for the holy warfare. The cripples stayed at home: the maimed, blind, lame, weak, and sick were excused from participating; thus, there are many in the Church today who spiritually belong to this class. Those that have the sleeping sickness cannot fight, and many Christians are afflicted with this malady. Those that are scurvy cannot battle and there are many unclean with scurvy in the Church. The total able to participate in the holy warfare then is a small Gideon’s band.

Ponder the fact, the Lord has said, “Be Strong!” There is a necessity for strength because of the mighty foe. There is possibility for strength because Christ is the great Field Marshal in this fight and God has placed us in Him. The Apostle literally says: be dynamited! Let the heavenly power of Christ dwell in you. Be not strong in your own strength which is all weakness before God. Be not strong in your own riches, or in your wisdom or experience. Be strong in Him! He is strong and has conquered death and the grave, sin and Hell with Satan, and all his hosts. He arose from the grave, the Mighty Conqueror. This resurrection power is ours. That is why we are enjoined, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS might.” It is His resurrection power by which He is exalted far above all principality and power.

You can and should understand how important “IN HIM” is in this warfare. It means three vital things. It includes perfect security. If Satan is ever to get at us, he must first get at Christ and vanquish Him. Who can even say in the day of His humiliation: “The prince of this world cometh, but he had nothing in me.” If we now hide by faith in Him, then Satan has nothing in us either. Being in Him means that the joy of the Lord is our strength in the battle. Away with all defeatism,. Christians must absolutely refuse to be defeated as they live by faith in Him. Being in Him means that the victory is already ours. You will notice that not one word is uttered about striving for victory. That is what the nations do. That is also what many Christians think they ought to do. You hear it in many sermons and songs that we must first fight and then finally victory will be ours. But isn’t it a glorious fact that IN HIM we can celebrate victory even now? Are we not more than conquerors in Him now? Didn’t the Apostle say the he always triumphed in Christ? We do not strive for victory for we already have it and what we already possess we do not strive for.

The participants on the side of the foe are fierce and invisible enemies. Four often  are mentioned in our text: 1) Principalities. The word in Greek is “arche” found in many English words as hierarchy, Archbishop, Anarchy. The word carries the meaning of ruler. Hierarchy means priest-rule; archbishop is the ruling bishop; anarchy is lawlessness because of the absence of rule. 2) Powers. This word is sometimes translated “authority” and that is more  than power. It is might and right combined, a right backed by might. You maybe have stood on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and observed the hundreds of automobiles that rush by.  Suddenly, one man in uniform raises his hand, blows a whistle, and all these hundreds of vehicles come to a sudden dead stop. This uniformed man would lack the power to stop one car but with the authority invested to him, he can stop hundreds in a few seconds. Authority is delegated power, and this is what some of these hidden, wicked foes possess. God gave them, for some unknown reason, might and right for battle against Himself and His own. They are the rulers of the darkness of this world. The Greek word is “kosmokratores,” i.e., “world rulers.” It is a wonder that things are as bright as they are when we come to realize this. Satan is the prince of this world, prince of the air, and the god of this age, seducing all nations and he has millions of invisible myrmidons (Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4). As soon as we refuse the Headship and Captaincy of Christ and the ruler-ship of the Holy Spirit, we play into the hands of the evil spirits. 3) Spiritual wickedness in heavenly places is also mentioned. Many believe Satan is in Hell. That is a notion parroted by many theologians. Satan has never been in Hell; he is said here to be in Heavenly places, the same place Christ is and where He has set His people. In Revelation Chapter 12 you see the awful fight where Satan and all his imps will be hurled down. Armed from head to toe with no unprotected spot, we are called upon to wrestle with these dreadful foes. Wrestling is not shooting from one trench into another, but a grappling and a hand-to-hand combat. May God wake us up for this fight.

Second: The putting on of the all-armor. God has wonderfully provided for His soldiers. He has given them the Great Captain and a place in His heart. He has granted in Him victory and strength and provides them with the armor. Remember the story of David, how Saul clothed him first in his armor? When David stood in that clumsy outfit, he was stiff and felt that he would be just a pushover  for Goliath if he went in Saul’s armor into the fray. He instead took  little stones to put in the sling to catapult into the skull of his mighty foe. Many Christian apologists run around clothed in Saul’s armor. Here is the girdle of philosophical lies and deceits, there the breastplate of unrighteousness, the feet shod with “Sauline” shoes as big as little submarines, the shield of unbelief, the helmet of abomination and the sword of the evil spirit. We must have nothing to do with such armor; we must put on the armor of God. God has made it ready but He does not fit it on us; we must do that ourselves. This wonderful armor, as described in Ephesians 6:12-17, must be put on in the spirit of prayer and meekness.

Many believers do not seem to realize their responsibility in wearing this God-provided armor. Every Christian refusing this armor lives in open and flagrant disobedience to God and His Word. I is not a small but a very serious matter to neglect this important order from Heavenly headquarters. To neglect it means to suffer defeat. Dr. A.C. Gabelein, in the last number of OUR HOPE, remarks concerning the large numbers of defeated lives among Christians, and here we find the main cause: “Put on the whole armor of God” and put it on with much prayer. We need it in defense against the foes that beset us day and night.

 Third: The purpose of the warfare. Negatively, we can say that the objective in this fight is not victory which we already have in Christ. We share His victory as if it were our own, riding in His victory or triumphal car as the imagery of 2 Corinthians 2:14 sets forth. Again, negatively, the purpose of the holy war is not the vanquishing of flesh and blood. Wrestling with flesh and blood tends to make us more inveterately  carnal, simply because we are occupied with sinful and contaminated flesh and blood instead of looking unto Jesus. We are to reckon ourselves dead unto sin and reckoning is not an act of feeling but of faith.

 Positively, the purpose of this holy war, first of all, to stand against the wiles of the Devil. The word “wiles” means methods in the Greek and originally it referred to the middle of the road. On dangerous mountain rods, it was best for travelers to keep to the middle of the road. Until this day Satan is a middle-of-the-road roadster and he manipulates and maneuvers the believers also to cling to the middle of the road. He shuns the extremes and the out-and-0ut life for Christ. He whispers that is fanaticism and radicalism to be avoided as highly dangerous. You recall the story of Og and the Gibeonites Og was a giant who ruled over 60 walled cities but he proved no opposition for General Joshua and his hosts. But the Gibeonites used “wiles” – deceitful methods rather than force and won a covenant from Joshua, the latter falling into their trap. God commands us to STAND—there is nothing in His Word about appeasement, compromise, or retreat. There is no armor for the back of the Christian. Remember also that the indolent life is a defeated life. Keep active for Him; keep yourself in training trim.

The evil day is a characterization of this entire, present evil age. But we know that this evil age will wind itself up in the most perilous times. The wicked harvest will ripen and rot at the end of the age. In the latter times, some will depart from the faith and give heed to seducing spirits. The demons are extremely busy in our day and it behooves every Christian to watch and wrestle in much prayer. Soon the evil day will be ended and then will dawn the day of joy and glory, when all the holy wrestlers will rejoice in His presence.

Are you His? If you are, fight on in His might! If not, come to Him in true faith and He will receive you. Do so today.