My church, the Salvation Army, has always known that what is going on in the world is a perpetual war between good and evil, God and Satan, with the latter using every trick at his disposal (and corruptible humans) to gain the upper hand.
As we were reminded at this evening's meeting at the Salvation Army meeting here in Chatham earlier this evening, our 'side' does not need to resort to trickery and uses love, compassion, salvation and sanctification as its substitute for weapons. Our tools are vastly stronger, in the final analysis, and the Bible reading from Acts chapter 2 was a good reinforcement of that truism.
Not that it's easy to live up to the aims of the church, especially mine, as I well know – and having gone through some dark times myself in recent years I can personally vouch for that difficulty and how easy it is to slip. Fortunately, I held myself together quite well, on the whole; and despite temptation was able to overcome the devil's attempts to ensnare and divert me, most of the time anyway. As I said: dark times indeed...
Although technically we have been in the End Times for almost two thousand years now, and this is all post-salvation in the sense of what happened on that wooden cross all those years ago, the war for souls is still being fought, as new souls appear in earthly form all the time. It can be likened in some ways to the mopping-up after the Second World War, which went on for some time after the cessation of hostilities, though this is on a much longer timescale than we experienced back in the late 'forties and early 'fifties.
The key points about living here and now include...
- The spiritual war isn't over
- We must always be vigilant and not caught off-guard
- It doesn't get easier over time, though we learn how better to handle the onslaughts
- The devil will use anyone and anything to attack us, more strongly than ever if our faith is growing
- God and his grace are by far our strongest shield against the enemy
- Sharing our experiences through personal testimony, and group worship, are also helpful
Several others gave more eloquent testimony (I was the second out of half a dozen of us, by the way), and as usual on such occasions they were all illuminating, each coming from a different direction. Put together, they covered quite a range of topics, with God in all his three forms very much at the centre of all of them.
We are all involved in that spiritual war, whether or not we realise it. Some, like those testifying this evening, have shared with those of us who were there how they are battling against dark forces, including two who had former addictions and other such issues in their pasts, along with current difficulties of another nature. It can be tough out there on the battlefield of life; but with God's grace (and occasional interventions) we can all come through it, usually in some way stronger than we were before.
That's how life is, whether we like it or not. Let's rise to the challenge, but we don't have to do so alone. Remember the footprints in the sand...