I believe living the Christian life is the greatest life one could ever live. It is a life of grace, peace, mercy and provision, and at the same time, it is a life of challenges, trials and battles. We all love the grace, peace, mercy and provision part, but we don't always enjoy the challenges, trials and battles part. I personally wish we could have the former and never have to deal with the latter, but I have come to realize that it does not work that way! :)
However, in spite of the trying times we all encounter, the Lord is good. He never allows us to be tested beyond what we are able to bear, and His grace, peace, mercy and provision don't go away when the trials and battles begin. It may seem to us at the time that they are nowhere to be found, but they are actually there to help guide us through the challenging times. It is also through such seasons that the door can be open to experiencing more of them in our lives.
Several years ago an idea began to circulate around our local area that, as Christians, we were never supposed to experience any spiritual warfare. The individuals who were teaching this based their theory on the fact that Jesus had accomplished everything on the cross, so for us to be involved in spiritual warfare is actually pride. Now, this sounds good, and it might even sound a little bit like wisdom. However, this teaching is in direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches. It does sound nice to hear, and I was surprised at some of the people that got carried away by this deception, but it is just that: a deception.
Many of the New Testament writers and Jesus, Himself, talked about the battles that we would encounter in our Christian life. We need to be aware of this and be aware that we will be faced with them our entire lives. We will have times in between battles when things are relatively calm, but the battles will continue. We need to expect this and develop the appropriate response to these times of warfare. It is important for us to understand the nature of these battles.
It is true that Jesus accomplished everything on the cross. As a matter of fact, in His final moment, He said "It is finished." (John 19:30). When He said this, He was stating that He had completed the work He came to earth to do. He had lived His life purely and without sin and made it possible for mankind to be reconciled to God. He had dismantled darkness and rendered the enemy helpless. Even death itself began to turn back when Jesus victoriously completed His mission. With all this being the case, how can there still be warfare? It truly is finished. Jesus knows this, even the enemy is aware of this, but there is warfare because we are not always aware of it. Our battle is to walk in the reality of Jesus' victory as the enemy tries to convince us that he is still winning.
Our battles in the Christian life are really two-fold. As we grow in our walk with the Lord, we are constantly taking ground back from the enemy. Again, in reality, he doesn't really have any ground because Jesus has already won the ultimate victory, but we are taking ground on a personal level. We are taking ground in our minds, our emotions and in our families and other relationships. We are taking ground as we begin to see ourselves, our lives and those around us from the Lord's eternal perspective. It is as His perspective begins to replace ours that we begin to become truly victorious, just as He is. This is the first part of our battle.
The second part of our battle is to keep the ground that we have taken. We gain a certain measure of victory when we take ground, but the enemy will never rest in his attempt to take it back. Our victory becomes final when we keep the ground we take. A recovering alcoholic is walking in victory every day he doesn't have a drink, and his victory becomes more sure as he remains sober and keeps that ground. This principle applies in every area of our lives. It could be an addiction like drug use, pornography or an eating disorder. These battles are also waged on the emotional level as many are fighting to overcome anger, depression or even suicidal tendencies. It doesn't matter what the battle is, we have to continue to take ground with each day that passes, and the important thing is that we keep the ground that we take.
As we walk with the Lord, our ultimate goals are to know Him, become like Him and fulfill the purpose He has for us. As we fight these battles, take ground in our personal lives and keep that ground, we are becoming more and more like Jesus. Let's keep fighting and plant that flag in the ground. We are going higher up and further in!