We talk about spiritual warfare and, to be sure, we wrestle not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). The rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places align themselves against the people of God as we seek to proclaim the good news of the word of God. Thus, we are to stand fast and arm ourselves fully for the battle as our opposition seeks to derail the advancement of the kingdom of God.
But I wonder if, too often, we are drawn into skirmishes with the enemy in which he has no real ammunition. Into battles where we duck and take cover trying to avoid bullets fired from guns only capable of shooting blanks. Rather than our enemy engaging in hand-to-hand combat (which he always loses because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1Jn. 4:4)), he goes undercover, engaging in guerilla warfare, seeking to immobilize us subliminally. The roaring lion (1Pet. 5:8) takes a less overt approach and, instead, as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), subtlety seeks to get inside our heads.
And so, he preys on our less than perfect walk. He digs up every time we’ve ever tripped up. He gets us to focus on our performance and whispers one of his twisting questions into our ears, “Is God really pleased?” He accentuates our failure and quietly mocks us, “And you call yourself a follower?” He tries to convince us how bad we are so that we’ll retreat to, and stay in, our bunkers. “Who are you?” he hisses.
But, like I said, he’s got nothing. He’s shooting at us with a squirt gun. He’s waving around a rubber sword. His accusations are all talk with no real power.
That’s what Paul reminds me of this morning as I read in Colossians.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him.
(Colossians 2:13-15 ESV)
The rules and authorities marshaled against us? Disarmed and not dangerous.
We believe that as born again believers we were once dead and now are alive in Christ. But that’s only true if God really has forgiven us all our trespasses. It’s only possible if the blood of Christ really is sufficient to cleanse us from all unrighteousness–past, present, and future. If the work of the cross really is finished, and really has atoned for all our sin. And if that’s true, then there really is now no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). And so, the accuser has nothing!
The debt we owed for the wages of sin has been canceled. “Paid in full” written over every sin which so easily besets us and nailed to the cross, openly and publicly declaring to the heavenly realm, Jesus paid it all!
And thus, our enemies, at least when it comes to their accusations, are disarmed. Divested of any prosecutory power. Not because we are without sin, but because Jesus was, and we are in Him. Not because we are perfect, but because the Son of God is, and we have been wrapped in His righteousness. To be sure we fail, though we seek not to. And we falter, though we try to walk in a manner that’s worthy. But He is also faithful, and if we confess our sins He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9).
So accuse away, deceiver. You’re firing a Nerf gun. You’re swinging a rubber sword. For you have been disarmed and are not dangerous. For by grace I have been saved, and by grace I am always fully accepted and well beloved, because I am in Christ.
To be sure, there are battles to be fought. But whether or not I am loved by God, or trying to second guess whether or not He’s pleased with me, that’s not one of them.
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love.”
~ Jesus (John 15:9 ESV)
The Deceiver has been disarmed–by God’s grace. The Accuser is no longer dangerous–for God’s glory.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
(Romans 8:37 ESV)