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THE SPIRITUAL CAN BECOME PHYSICAL

Victor M. Eskew

 

            As we begin this article, there are three points that need to be made.  First, Christians are in a war (I Tim. 1:18; 6:12).  We refer to it as a spiritual war and it is (Eph. 6:12; II Cor. 10:3).  Second, the enemy does not always fight using only spiritual weapons.  The enemy’s hatred of us allows him to use physical force when he deems necessary.  This is why the Bible warns Christians about persecution in numerous texts (Matt. 5:10-12).  Third, when the enemy directs his attention against “Christians,” he makes no distinction between New Testament Christians and those who seek to follow Christ in a denominational fashion.  To the enemy, anyone who says he follows Christ is his opposition.

            Dear reader, “Christians” are under attack throughout the world.  On Easter Sunday, almost three hundred worshipers were killed by seven suicide bombers in the country of Sri Lanka.  Five hundred other individuals were wounded in the attack.  This is just one example of hundreds that could be set forth.  This attack was launched by Islamic Fundamentalists, as are most of the attacks against “Christians” at this time.  Muslims view Jews and Christians as their enemies.  The teachings of Islam involving jihad allow them to bring these physical attacks upon their enemies.  The teachings of Islam promise instant salvation to those who will give their lives in defense of Allah and in the spread of the Muslim faith.

            For some reason, “Christians” in the United States do not believe that physical violence will ever come to this country.  There are many New Testament Christians who adamantly believe that we will never see the violence that has come to other nations.  This is hard to believe for several reasons.  First, the Bible teaches that we should expect to be persecuted. Listen to the words of Jesus in John 15:20.  “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord.  If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”  This is an affirmation of Christ Himself.  Was He persecuted?  Absolutely!  He assures us that we will be persecuted also. 

            Second, many of the things that happen in faraway places often make their way onto our shores.  For years and years and years, we hear of the horrible bombings and killings in other countries.  We never read of them here, however.  Because they happen there, and not here, we begin to believe that we are immune from such things.  We convince ourselves that this will never take place in our country.  What we need to realize is that we no longer live in isolation from others.  We are part of a global society.  Evil people now have easy access to our country.  What is happening in others nations, is just a preview of things to come for us.  Evil boldy proclaims:  “I am coming for you.”  One day, the power of evil will be unleashed in our society.  Many will be stunned with unbelief.  They will ask themselves:  “How did this happen?”

            Third, evil has already attacked our nation.  Every person over the age of twenty-five should vividly remember the events of 9-11.  Almost three thousand citizens of the United States died that day in a terrorist attack.  That attack required a lot of planning and effort on the part of the Islamic Fundamentalists.  Suicide bombings do not require sophistication.  Guns and knives can easily be used against others.  Car and trucks are also tools of destruction for those who hate us. 

            Muslims are not the only individuals who oppose Christianity.  There are many in our society today who despise all that Christianity stands for.  Some of them are avowed atheists.  Others say they believe in God, but their loyalty is more to the State than it is to God.  They try to separate the State from religion. They believe that Christianity should only occupy its narrow little slice of the pie in society.  If Christianity seeks to permeate all of socity, they quickly rise to force it back into its “proper” place.  These individuals let all who are part of Christianity know that they are in charge.  They will be the ones who will determine just how far Christianity is allowed to go.  If Christians become bold enough to oppose the State, the State will use whatever means necessary to keep Christian “in line.”  If persecution and death are necessary, they will be used against believers.  Again, some do not believe that this could happen in the United States.  These individuals are naïve.  They have not learned from history.  They have not even been keeping up with the present state of affairs in our nation.

            Yes, the spiritual battle that we are fighting can become something very physical because of the tactics used by our enemies.  Ask Peter and John whether it can get physical.  They were beaten by the authorities in the city of Jerusalem for their faith (Acts 5:40).  Ask Paul whether our warfare can get physical in nature.  He describes perils in which he found himself for the cause of Christ in II Corinthians 11:23-27.  Just listen to the first three verses of this text.  “Are they ministers of Christ?  (I speak as a fool,) I more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in death oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  Thrice I was beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep.”  Those things sound very physical to this writer.  Paul’s body was often tormented because he was a faithful Christian.

            Yes, our spiritual warfare can become physical because of evil in the hearts of our enemies.  One of these days, it could become very physical for all of us.  Are we ready for that time?  Are we ready to suffer a similar fate as those in Sri Lanka?  Some may think it will never happen.  We pray that it does not.  However, we are not foolish enough to believe that it cannot.  It can.  Paul said:  “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12).  As we close, we want to remind us of Jesus’ words about persecution.  “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:  for great is your reward in heaven:  for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).