September 5, 1995
During the First World War, a young French soldier’s arm was so badly smashed it had to be amputated. His surgeon, regretting the necessity, waited beside his bed to convey his sorrow personally. When the soldier’s eyes opened, the doctor said, “I am sorry — you have lost your arm.”
“Sir,” said the soldier, “I did not lose it; I gave it — for France.”
From every country in the world, thousands of soldiers have given limbs, even their lives, for victory and freedom. For some, the sacrifice was in vain. In either case, those soldiers would be the first to say that war has no winners.
They are right, except one war. This one is not a political battle nor an ideological conflict, but does involve a kingdom and ideals. It is a far greater and a far more important power struggle than any war ever fought. It is the unseen war for spiritual victory over sin.
The battle began eons ago in Eden. The enemy of God, an angel He created to serve Him, determined to usurp God’s authority. His first tactical maneuver was deceit. He lied to persuade the crown of God’s creation, Adam and Eve, to disobey God. With one bite, they said no to God and yes to sin.
People have been shaking their fist in God’s face ever since. Some of that is strong defiance, out-and-out rebellion. Some is subtle — rebellion often puts on religious robes and pretends to honor God. Nevertheless, they do not fool Him, nor was He stymied in His desire that people become all that He created us to be. He fought back.
However, God is not our enemy. The actual opponent is the one who suggested to Eve that God did not want the best for her. When she believed that lie, she disobeyed God. Believing the same lie continues to draw people away from His love and into sin.
To win this battle, one person needed to overcome sin by refusing to disobey, by being sinless. Because no one fits that description, God pulled on humanity like a pair of pants and became a man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The sinless Christ constantly faced many challenges. By being born as a baby and becoming a man, He limited Himself to a body and to human life with all its temptations. He suffered hunger, thirst, fatigue, loneliness, ridicule, betrayal and pain.
Finally, He hung on a Cross, convicted of blasphemy for claiming to be God. The crowds taunted, “Come down from there; you saved others but you cannot save yourself.” Behind them, the Liar cheered and urged Jesus to give in.
Yet this incredible Warrior fought back. If He saved Himself, He would be disobeying His Father. If resisted, He would die — but His death would prove that truth, righteousness and godliness prevail over sin. Not only that, His death would pay the penalty for all our sin. Out of incredible love, He give His life — for His “enemies” — and established a Kingdom which He alone rules. He won the war, and true to the great mystery that is God, He did it by losing.
What does His victory mean for us? If a person does not feel any guilt because of sin and is without concern about their separation from God, then His battle and triumph mean absolutely nothing. However, His victory condemns their apathy and neglect. If we do not have a serious need, why did Christ bother to die?
For those who are concerned about this holy war, His victory is our victory. Because sin and death did not win, our battle against sin is like shadow boxing and death is merely a dark valley. From it we pass through to the next life — where forever we will be winners with Him.