In the early days of the second world war, The Observer newspaper reported on life in occupied Paris. The article remarked that the Nazi occupiers had complete control of the media. According to the report, they used news media to sell their own particular view of France. France was promoted as a wonderful nation right at the centre of the new world order the Nazis were creating. Its culture and its people were celebrated. It was a great country with a bright future. Life was wonderful! Life was normal.
Of course, we know, and the French people knew, that life was neither wonderful nor normal. Far from it. Behind the semblance of normality, the nation was at war.
Throughout the Bible we are reminded again and again that we are at war. One of Satan’s cleverest tactics is to convince us that everything is normal. That spiritual warfare is only for Christian super soldiers.
A number of things are worth remembering with respect to spiritual conflict.
Firstly, this war between God and Satan and God’s people and Satan has been raging from before the earth was created. Isaiah 14.12-15 and Ezekiel 28.12-17, when read alongside Revelation 12 appear to point to the fall of Satan. It is worth noting that Satan was already a fallen angel when Adam and Eve were still in the Garden of Eden. Revelation 12, in highly symbolic, apocalyptic language depicts the unfolding of this long war between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.
Secondly, that means that we are all caught up in the conflict, whether we want to be or not. It also explains some of the things that happen to us as individuals and as churches. Satan wants to destroy God’s people and thwart God’s purposes. The thief comes, said Jesus, to steal and kill and destroy (John 10.10).
Thirdly, we must remember what might seem like a paradox: Jesus won the war, but we still have to fight battles. A good way to think of this might be to think of an army that knows it has lost the war but is determined to fight to the death and wreak as much destruction as it possibly can.
We win the remaining battles by relying on Jesus and His victory. Peter says “Resist [Satan] standing firm in the faith” (1Peter 5.9).
Life is not normal. When “stuff” happens it is a reminder that life is not normal. A reminder that we are in a fight. But it’s a fight that Jesus has already won (John 19.30). And because He has won the war, we too can win the battles we fight.