Monday, October 20, 2014

The Battles and The War

In 1944 Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese 2nd lieutenant, was given the command to hold ground and fight against the Allies on Lubang Island in the Philippines. He didn't realize that the Japanese surrendered to the Allies just a year later, and he continued to fight for THIRTY YEARS. Finally in 1974 his commanding officer (Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, who after the war had become a bookseller) personally traveled to the island to give him formal orders of surrender.

How many of us, in our fight for sin, are like Hiroo Onoda, thinking that the war is still happening, and we must fight for our lives? How many times do we feel alone in the fight, and our strength is failing? Do you feel like you're on the losing side? Do you feel like you're just a few failures away from total defeat and surrender?

For Hiroo Onoda, he was fighting losing battles, because for the Japanese, the war had already been lost. Although his heroism and courage were remarkable (check out his book, No Surrender) ultimately his small battles did not change the fact that World War 2 was over. Japan had lost. For the Christian though, our reality is the opposite. No matter how our little battles go, we have the confidence that Satan, sin, and death have been forced to surrender to our Captain. The war is won.

What is the war? When Christ died on the Cross, He died a substitutionary death for our sins. This satisfied the wrath of God, as if Christ swallowed all the anger, all the justice, all the punishment.... and all that is left is God's love, mercy, and acceptance into His family. In the Resurrection, Christ ultimately defeated death, so that for all those who die in Christ, they will be resurrected as well on the last day, thus defeating death. And in Christ's dying and rising, He defeated Satan, that old serpent who tried to strike His heel, but Christ crushed his head (Genesis 3:15). Christ has won the war against Satan, sin, death, and has rescued us from our greatest threat: The just wrath of God because of our treason.

What are "battles" against sin? It's the battle at 2am to not look at porn. It's the battle at 12 noon to not have a second portion of french fries because you know it's only for comfort, not for health. It's the battle at 8am against discouragement and apathy, to get out of bed trusting in God's promises. It's the battle of loneliness at 8pm on a Friday night, and seeking comfort from the Lord instead of your favorite sin. These are our battles. We must fight them.

But there are two mindsets for how to fight the battles. Both involve fighting, but one is exhausting and the other is liberating:
1. Thinking that I need to win my battles so that ultimately I can win the war. (This is a Christ-less mindset, it's basically just self-made-religion.)
2. Believing that Christ has already won the war, now I can fight the battles in the confidence of His ultimate victory. 

Here is the truth Christian: Christ has won the larger war. You are merely fighting the small battles. Victory is inevitable.

This mindset gives us enormous courage and hope! This is what sustains us in the battles. We may win some and lose some. That happens. But stay focused on the fact that Christ has already won the war. This will encourage you, and provide you the strength and perseverance to fight the battles.

No Surrender,
The Relentless Fight