War with a ghostly enemy

Archie Poulos

Over the last few years our news reports have covered the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq and the war on terror.

I have noticed that the war in Afghanistan and Iraq is very different to the war on terror, because in the war on terror the enemy is invisible.

That began me thinking about our enemy, the devil.

I don't know much about military strategy, but I know in conventional warfare you need to have at least rules of engagement with the enemy and the trust of your fellow soldiers.

Our rules of engagement aren't about tactics, but about theology. That is, we seek to engage with the truth of the gospel given to us in Scripture, through which the Holy Spirit works to bring people to salvation.

In this we don't act alone; we work with those we trust. Trust is created because we share a common understanding of the gospel and know that our fellow soldiers of committed to the cause of the glory of God.

So when we see the enemy we fight shoulder to shoulder with those we trust. When we perceive the encroachment of liberalism, or secularism or false theology or a leader who we know to be a wolf in sheep's clothing we fight as one.

Our danger

Our danger comes when we cannot see the enemy. When there is no entity to point to that rallies us together, we are in danger of thinking there is no enemy. Whenever that happens, in church and in military warfare, there is a real possibility that our ‘soldiers’ will begin fighting amongst themselves. In these times it is so easy to complain about the structure, or the leaders, or the food, or lack of support.

I think this is our danger today: to think we have won and that all is well. But we are in, and always have been in, the days of terrorist warfare. The battle is about hearts and souls. Yet there is no visible enemy to rally the troops. We must acknowledge this and get on with the battle with the resources God has given, fighting alongside those who hold the same gospel.

Three tips

So here are a few of tips in our terrorist battle. (I am sure you will come up with more).

1. Hold fast to the true gospel of grace through the substitutionary, sacrificial death of Jesus. The invisibility of the enemy makes it so easy to adopt a theology shaped by what is visible.

2. Recognise who the battle is against and who will support you in your battle. It is so easy to attack our pastors, our Bible colleges and our structures as not doing what they should. All are involved in the same battle with you.

3. Face the fact that there is no 'silver bullet' that will fix things up. Our ‘terrorist warfare’ involves just keeping on plugging away at proclaiming Christ in order to take every thought captive. It is a grass roots activity in which we must all be involved.