Win or Lose
God’s perception of what constitutes a win or a loss sometimes differs from ours because he looks at the spiritual outcome.
"... the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle…” (Isaiah 13:4).
In the book of Joshua, the Israelites engaged in battle for the land God promised them (Exodus 6:8). Their ultimate victory was a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abram (Genesis 15:18). God wanted his chosen people to be at peace with other nations but some situations necessitated war. Joshua, the Israelite’s first military leader, had a misconception of war. He believed the battle was between the Israelites and their enemies. But he soon discovered his idea of war was different from God’s.
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries” (Joshua 5:13)?
The sword-bearing man said, "No, he was the captain of the host of the Lord." He represented God’s side. Joshua realized there were only two sides - God's side and those who rebel against him. When the Israelites were obedient, the army of God was fighting their battles. That is the intent of true spiritual warfare.
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Individuals who reverence and love God possess a different type of armor like truth, righteousness, faith, the word of God and prayer. Even the arrows of racism, which are dipped in hate, require spiritual warfare. The heritage of his servants is, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn” (Isaiah 54:17). What a mighty God we serve! There is no need to ever be afraid. The battle is already won!
Sometimes our battles are not won instantaneously. But God cannot lie, he will fulfill his promises. After much grace, God brought down the Egyptian Pharaoh whose spirit was hardened against him. Solomon affirmed, “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it and God doth it that men should fear before him”(Ecclesiastes 3:14). When Christians are called to engage in spiritual warfare, we must always do it God’s way.
Rules of Engagement
The overarching rule of engagement is obedience to God. We have to do it his way, not our way. In the book of Joshua, the Israelites were given the rules of engagement. Those rules included how, when and what to destroy. The rules also included what was permittable to salvage. So, when Achan violated the rules of engagement by taking for himself forbidden items after their battle with Jericho, he brought down a curse on the Israelites. They lost the next battle to Ai(Joshua 7:1-26). An Achan in the camp can be anyone that is a trouble-maker. Achan represented self-interest and rebellion against God. An Achan in the camp might be a Jezebel spirit that is not rebuked or the harboring of unrepentance. If we fail to follow God’s rules of engagement, we suffer the spiritual and physical consequences.
When we hope in the Lord even in those moments of weariness, he will strengthen us. No matter how bad the situation gets, whatever move we make has to be sanctioned by God. We wait for God to deliver us.
God’s perception of what constitutes a win or a loss sometimes differs from ours because he looks at the spiritual outcome. His ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-13). Sometimes what is perceived to be a loss in the physical is a victory in the spiritual. Consider Christ’s Crucifixion, the martyrdom of some of his disciples, and Job’s abundant losses - the victory was their unyielding love for and devotion to God. God was victorious!
So, despite your adversity, did you experience spiritual growth? Did you move closer to God? Were lessons learned? Did love reign victoriously in your life? We may come out of the battle with wounds but God is faithful and will heal them. “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD….” (Jeremiah 30:17).
Consider the lyrics from a song by the artist Mandisa titled, “What Scars are For”
These scars aren't pretty
But they're a part of me
And will not ever fade away
These marks tell a story
Of me down in the valley
And how You reached in with Your grace
And healed me
Wish I could every time
The hurt, the pain cuts so deep
But when I'm weak
You're strong, and in Your power I can carry on
And my scars say that You won't ever leave
I see it on the cross
The nails You took for me
Scars can change the world
Scars can set me free
They remind me of Your faithfulness
And all You brought me through
They teach me that my brokenness
Is something You can use
They show me where I've been
And that I'm not there anymore
That's what scars, that's what scars are for
What scars are for
In Conclusion, as Christians, we are called to spiritual warfare. We face internal and external battles. So, we must die daily to self (I Corinthians 15:31). Remaining grounded in God’s love and bearing the fruit of the spirit will be a hallmark of victory. We walk in the assurance of God’s promises to us. The Bible declares, “…All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
King James Bible. (2017). King James Bible Online. https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org (original work published 1769).
What Scars Are For Lyrics. (n.d.). Lyrics.com. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/29793120.