A Time of War

And we need to be ready.

So here we must fight and struggle with our vices, that we may be crowned elsewhere. For this is a time of war; no one should expect rest in warfare, for the reason that in warfare none sleeps, and none joins his rank at rest.

  - Columbanus, Sermon X, Irish, 7th century[1]

And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “
Are you for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped...

  - Joshua 5.13, 14

In this life we are engaged in a great struggle, as Columbanus noted, a spiritual warfare, in which our enemy seeks to rob us of the righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit which are ours in the Kingdom of God.

We are engaged in this warfare continuously.

Well, we should be, at any rate.

I wonder sometimes whether we struggle against our vices as earnestly as we should. It’s just so much easier to stay mad, or to indulge some spiteful thought, to fix our hopes on material possessions, or just go around brooding, moping, and anxious.

But to rest in this struggle is to follow the suggestions of the enemy of our souls, not the directive of the Commander of the LORD’s army. Jesus wants us to be armed, ready, and always engaged in the struggle. The devil says, “You’re doing fine. Just relax.”

We need to remember that the Commander of the army of the LORD, Who has gone before us into glory, is unfolding His rule of righteousness, peace, and joy in us to the extent that we take up arms with Him against our common foe.

So we’re always in the thick of battle – against the world, the flesh, the devil, and the sin that lingers within us – whether or not we’re engaging the fight. Which means that, if we’re not fighting, we’re losing ground, or being taken captive.

We must be ever on our guard and always positioned before our King in an attitude of worship, receptive to His Word and eager to give Him thanks and praise. How do we fight?

By equipping ourselves daily through the Word and prayer.

By recognizing and resisting temptation.

By laying aside the old person and being clothed with the righteousness of Jesus.

By initiating conversation with a friend, so we can point them to the Lord.

By daily confessing our sins, repenting, and being filled with the Spirit anew.

And by nurturing that attitude toward God and our lives which Paul describes as prayer without ceasing.

The war goes on. The fight draws nigh. Are we struggling on the side of our great Commander, or are we simply lying down in the field of battle and allowing the enemy to step over and trample us underfoot?

This is a time for spiritual warfare, and no one should misread it as a time for resting on laurels. To arms, brethren – for righteousness’ sake, and for the glory of King Jesus!

For Reflection
1. How do you experience spiritual warfare each day?

2. How can believers encourage one another to be more constant in this warfare?

Psalm 146.1-4, 10 (Hallelujah! What a Savior!: Man of Sorrows)
Praise the Lord, my soul give praise!
While I live His Name I’ll raise!
and exalt Him all my days –
    God forever reigns in Zion!

Trust we not in prince or man;
no salvation’s in their hand;
death shall take them, breath and plans –
    God forever reigns in Zion!

Help me in the battle today, O Lord, so that I…

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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Walker, p. 105.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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