Monday, January 30, 2012

Paul's Definition of Spiritual Warfare!

Reading: Romans 12  
In Romans 12:9-21, Paul almost sounds like he is recapping the Sermon on the Mount. We are doing a Sunday morning series at Gulf Coast in the Beatitudes, and Paul is calling us here to live much the same as the Beatitudes do. From Romans 12 we can learn something about the importance of our works. And the importance of our works, our good works, is not in meriting God's grace (otherwise grace would no longer be grace—Romans 11:6); the importance of our good works might be likened to the importance of weapons and ammunition to the military.
Every translation seems to get this one right. I read this text this morning in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:
9Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. 19Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay,says the Lord. 20But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. 21Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21 HCSB)
Paul lays out the kind of righteousness to which the believer is called to live in view of the depth of the riches of God's mercy to us in the Gospel (Romans 11:33-12:2). Then toward the end of this description warfare language is incorporated. We are to live with this love and righteousness, and not avenge ourselves. As we do this, we will be “heaping fiery coals on his [our enemies] head,” and, “conquer evil with good.” So, in not avenging ourselves, but loving our enemies and feeding him, we will be “heaping fiery coals on his head,” and “conquering evil”. Not many verses later, Paul describes this kind of living as putting “on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12) Again this is warfare language; these are implements of war.
The above quoted verses are the Biblical description of how we are to engage in spiritual warfare. As we begin to live in the Sermon on the Mount, while we are not earning grace, we are battling the enemy. Just as Christ came doing good, and by His doing good He was engaging in warfare with the powers of darkness, we too are called to live such good lives, that the enemy is experiencing an onslaught of warfare against his dark kingdom. Hence, this is how we put on the armor of light.
Reread the passage above and consider the impact of living this grace-drenched-life for the glory of God and the trampling of the powers of darkness. Take up the weapons of righteousness in your right hand and your left (2 Corinthians 6:7), for though these “are not the weapons of the world...they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) I approached this subject from a different angle previously (Fight! You Have an Inheritance to Take).
May we as a church family do some serious damage to the fortress of darkness that exists where we live. And may we do so in the way the Gospel teaches us to as we are conformed to the image of Christ.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,