Why do we still have to battle the enemy when the war is already won?
@Premendra_Parsan That is a great question and we could take it a step further. Why do Christians still get sick? Why is there still so much suffering? If Jesus has established His Kingdom, why is the world still so broken? The answer is in the ‘already, but not yet’ nature of the Kingdom of God. Consider what Jesus said to the disciples when they asked Him when He would restore the earthly Kingdom.
Acts 1:6-9 - Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
John 18:36 - Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
You see, the Kingdom Jesus established at His first coming was a spiritual Kingdom - not of this world. The Kingdom He will establish at His second coming will restore goodness and beauty to creation. Here is a graphic showing how we live in this already but not yet Kingdom.
- we have been set free from the power and penalty of sin, but not yet from its presence
- we have been given victory over death through the promise of resurrection, but not yet from the reality of dying
- we have been given victory over the evil one, but not yet from the spiritual battle
John Piper Sermon
" Is the kingdom of God a future reality to be hoped for or a
present reality to experience now? That’s today’s question. The answer is that it is partly present and partly future. Many of its blessings are here to be enjoyed now; but many of them are not yet here. Some of its power is available now but not all of it. Some of the curse and misery of this old age can be overcome now by the presence of the kingdom. But some of it cannot be. The decisive battle against sin and Satan and sickness and death has been fought and won by the King in his death and resurrection, but the war is not over. Sin must be fought, Satan must be resisted, sickness must be prayed over and groaned under (Romans 8:23), and death must be endured until the second coming of the King and the consummation of the kingdom."
I hope those thoughts are helpful. Feel free to ask any clarifying questions. May the Lord grant you wisdom as you seek to know Him more.
Hi, guys! Thanks for the thoughtful question and response. @SeanO mentioned the ‘already-not-yet’ tension of the world we live in, and I agree with his thoughts. And maybe just wanted to offer up another thought to your question, @Premendra_Parsan, which considers the difference between battles and wars, major victories, small victories, and ultimate victories…
The cosmic (that is, spiritual) war is not over yet. Ultimate victory is assured, but is yet to be realised. Major victories have been won by Christ, and those allow our minor, individual victories to be realised each day. That way, as Christians - God’s children - we can live in victory and use the language of victory without ultimate victory having happened yet.
At any rate, that’s my quick start on the topic. Do you have people asking you that question, @Premendra_Parsan, or is that one of you own?
Hey, @KMac thanks for your thoughtful response. These are questions arising for morning devotions that I am still working through.
Hi @SeanO, again thanks again for the resource and thoughtful response. I am somewhat clear on the reason for and usefulness of suffering (to draw us closer to Him…). However, as we fight these battles there is still some uncertainty on ‘What is the focus of the battles we fight?’
As mentioned in the sermon, the is Kingdom is present and in the future… 'I am still trying to process that
If it is present we are fighting for our Father’s Kingdom, glory, and reign.
If it is still to come and the war is already won then the battles we fight… are they within the kingdom?
However, I am guided by this quote from C.S.Lewis, ‘Good Philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered’. Which leads to the fact that there are still evil in this world and our fight, therefore it is to remove evil in and around our lives.
Should our focus be to remove evil…? If so, why do some of our spiritual battle seem so difficult and have to be prepared for them? Is it because we are not strong enough spiritually?
My initial question remains, however, what should be our focus?
@Premendra_Parsan The battles are not within the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. There are still two kingdoms - the Kingdom of God and the world, which is under the sway of the evil one.
I John 5:19 - We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
Jesus says something very interesting in Luke. We already saw in John that He said His Kingdom is not of this world. Now in Luke Jesus makes it clear that God’s Kingdom is among us.
Luke 17:20-21 - Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
In the Lord’s prayer Jesus says “Thy will be done. Thy Kingdom come, on earth as in Heaven.”
Jesus’ earthly Kingdom has not yet come, but we as the Church are representatives of His Kingdom. We bring His Kingdom to earth. We are salt and light. We show the world, which is under another kingdom that is enslaved to the accuser - we show them the love and goodness of God.
But one day this world that is corrupted by the evil one will end - and there will be a new heavens and earth where God’s Kingdom will indeed reign ‘on earth as in Heaven’. The ‘old order of things’ is the worldly kingdom under the sway of the evil one that is corruptible and destined for destruction.
Revelation 21:1-5 - Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Until the ‘old order of things’ passes away, I think James gives us a very straightforward answer to the question of how to bring God’s Kingdom to earth. We are called to take God’s Kingdom to the world around us through acts of compassion and sacrificial love. We are called to allow God’s Kingdom to live within us by crucifying our flesh and walking in the Spirit (not being polluted by the world).
James 1:27 - Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Our job is to live holy lives - allow God’s Kingdom to dwell within us. And to bring God’s Kingdom to the world around us. But why is that so hard? The battle within us is between the flesh and the Spirit. I will explain that more below. The battle around us is between God’s Kingdom and the world, which is under the sway of the evil one.
The Flesh and the Spirit - The War Within Us
As individuals, we must walk in the Spirit so that we do not gratify our sinful desires. My Grandpa used to say it like this (a famous preacher saying): In Jesus, we have been set free from the power of sin and the penalty of sin, but we have not yet been set free from the presence of sin. Even though Jesus won the victory and we can live a holy life by the power of the Spirit and are guaranteed eternal life, we still have to walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-17 - So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
Romans 8:5-8,12-13 - Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. …Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
Do those thoughts provide any more clarity? Please do let us continue the discussion if that is not entirely clear. The Lord grant us wisdom and understanding.
@SeanO, Thanks. Do appreciate the story of your Grandpa shared with you. ‘We have been set free from the power and penalty of sin but not its presence’…profound.
The underlying battle is between the flesh and the spirit… God’s Kingdom and the kingdom of this world.
We are vessels that are influenced by the spiritual realm where principalities and powers lay. Recently I was watching the movie, King Arther, and was reminded that Not every battle is won. Sometimes we have no choice as to what battle we will face. What I know is we need to fight or push forward and when we can’t, we stand our ground in peace no matter the cost…Our focus then is to always show them the love and goodness of God.
This provides much clarity
@Premendra_Parsan Glad it was helpful! I like your illustration from King Arthur - we must continue to fight the good fight of the faith - tearing down spiritual strongholds and spreading the true knowledge of God - in whatever situations we find ourselves as the Lord leads us on.
Hi there @Premendra_Parsan, nice to meet you.
Good question! To which @SeanO has provided good biblical points and resources, not surprisingly :), and @KMac gives us another thought to consider in this. Thanks to you both!
For me the quick short answer is - This is not heaven, we’re not there yet and we want to take as many with us as we can.
I also find this, though it might be harsh to some, a good reminder to me to not become complacent when I wanna get weary of well-doing. “If we don’t encounter any real opposition from the enemy, we may be going in the same direction”, said by a good bible teacher.