Some things don’t translate from the physical to the spiritual.
One of our cherished secular truths is the idea that the best win is the one you earned. We value hard work and we applaud maximum effort. We relish the difficult journey our heroes have to endure to make it to the top. And rightly so. The troubles along the way make the trophy that much more meaningful.
And the truth is we actually despise a “win” that wasn’t all that hard-won. We have very little respect for a victory that feels too easy. If there was some some fluke of nature…if the opponent was injured and not at 100%…if there was some terrible officiating that paved the way to the title, we hang an asterisk on it. If you didn’t really work for it…well, you didn’t really win it.
That thinking serves us well in our worldly pursuits, but it it doesn’t cross over when it comes to spiritual warfare.
Paul writes, “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Our triumph in Christ is handed to us. It’s a gift of God’s grace—totally unearned and completely undeserved. We win because He already won…and we’re with Him. That’s it and that’s all!
You’re not strong enough to defeat the enemy on your own. It’s debatable whether or not you can even “put up a good fight.” See, those principalities and powers? Those rulers of the darkness of this world? Those forces of spiritual wickedness in high places? Yeah, you don’t stand a chance.
“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)
That’s the unadulterated truth. But the problem is, it doesn’t jive with our carnal conditioning. We want to feel like we earned it. We want to be able to brag about something. That’s just the way we’re wired, and everything we see and hear in the world just tightens that wiring.
So when that secular thinking seeps into our spiritual walk, we start making up extra rules to follow and patting ourselves on the back for following them. Then we start looking down our noses at the people who aren’t living up to our legalistic regulations. And, of course, our next step is to divide and disfellowship from all the “heretics” who aren’t as holy and hard-working as we are.
Or we get duped into another dangerous detour of legalism—the enemy leads us down a road of shame and despair. When your goodness becomes the greatest good, a lot of guilt sets in when you realize you’re not all that good. Many believers’ faith has been broken when they realized their righteousness wasn’t righteous enough. But the truth is their faith was misplaced all along. Instead of simply trusting in the Savior’s grace, they had been made to believe in their own ability to be what they were never able to be on their own—acceptable to God.
There’s an interesting thing about that passage that talks about spiritual warfare. All that armoring up Paul talks about in Ephesians 6? It’s not to go out and fight the enemy. It’s not to engage in a spiritual seek-and-destroy mission against the devil or to hunt him down and drag him out of a cave somewhere. No, it’s simply to stand.
Look at verses 11, 13, and 14. The key word is “stand.” The armor is just to help you stay upright when all hell breaks loose in your life. That’s the evil day Paul is talking about, one of those “Job days” when it all hits the fan.
Listen, the devil knows that he can’t defeat Christ. He’s already lost that war. He’s too proud to surrender, but he knows he can’t beat God. So before he’s cast down for good, he’s trying to take us down with him.
Satan can’t stop Jesus from sitting on His throne, but he’ll do everything in his power to keep you and me from joining Him there.
Paul tells us to armor up so that when (not if!) the enemy comes to knock you off the hill, he won’t be able to budge you one bit. So that whatever he brings against you in the “evil day”—sickness, poverty, persecution, loss—it won’t be enough to knock you off your spiritual square.
Now here’s how good God is—He gives you the win that you could never earn in combat and He gives you all the weapons you need to fight off the enemy when he comes to steal your victory!
You don’t have to beat Satan. That’s already been done. You just have to resist him. You just have to push back when he tries to push you down. And that’s as good as done too. God freely provides the entire arsenal—you just have to put it on.
Embrace the easy win!
Revel in the victory that you didn’t have to earn!
Shake off the lie that you have to do it the hard way yourself for it to really be done!
Rest in what God’s power has already accomplished and stand proudly in this triumph that you had absolutely nothing to do with. Rejoice in the fact that the only thing that makes you good enough is that you know you aren’t good enough…and that you’ve found the One who is.
Or rather, He’s found you.
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Be blessed and be a blessing!