At the turn of the 20th Century, it was popular to believe that
mankind was approaching a natural utopia. Many thought that the
human race was on its way to evolving into perfection, and were
predicting that soon there would be no more war, poverty, or social
disorder. Science was unlocking the secrets of the universe at
such a dizzying speed that there seemed to be no end to what could
be accomplished through technology. Then came World War I, The
"Great Depression", World War II, and an endless string of
"limited" wars that have kept the world poised on the edge of World
War III. The optimism of yesterday had become the pessimism of
today. Science forges ahead at an even greater pace, but few still
believe that new inventions (no matter how clever) can bring peace
to the troubled world in which we live. What many have failed to
recognize is that our planet has been at war for nearly all of its
recorded history. Even when the military battlefields are silent,
the war of good and evil still rages back and forth across planet
earth. That war, and its ultimate outcome, is described in the
WAR OF THE UNIVERSE:
WHERE IT IS FOUGHT
A TWO-FOLD WAR
The Bible identifies the cause and substance of the war of the
universe as SIN, rebellion against God and the principles of His
government. The effects of sin are visible all around us. From
insults hurled between grade school children to the most hideous
effects of international warfare, every selfish deed is a
testimonial to the fact that the human race is thoroughly immersed
in this thing called sin. Material advantages, education, social
poise and grace; these can only hide the underlying presence of sin
from those who allow themselves to be blinded. Even the natural
disasters that have been multiplying in recent years are the result
of the entrance of sin into the universe. It is all part of the
great controversy between God and Satan that began in heaven even
before the world was created. In this sense the war over sin is a
universal war. It is as big as the universe, for the control of
the universe is the ultimate goal of each of the opposing forces.
Only their methods differ. God is particular. As Creator He is
the rightful sovereign of the universe but by His own choice He is
determined to rule only by force of love. Satan would rule through
any means available, honorable or otherwise.
But while the war between good and evil is as big as the universe,
it is as small as the human heart. every one of God's children is
a battleground in the war of the universe, for this war is a war of
the mind, and the object of one's allegiance will determine the
outcome of the war for every individual. God is intensely
interested in the outcome of the battle in each human heart. His
greatest concern is that each one of His children might choose
loyalty to Him and thereby receive eternal life. As the apostle
Peter noted, "The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count
slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should
perish, but that all should reach repentance."
2 Peter3:9 R.S.V.
Helps and hints: Satan was cast out of heaven and
forced to continue his campaign against God on earth. If mankind
had remained loyal to their Creator, Satan would not have been
allowed to plunge the earth into its present condition. But
mankind was enticed into disobedience, Satan gained control of the
earth, and it is here that the principles of good and evil are
being demonstrated before the rest of the universe.
What did Jesus tell His disciples to expect for the future
in terms of earthly peace?
Helps and hints: Jesus said that human wars would
continue to rage until His second coming. Mankind is powerless to
change its nature, which is the source of human wars.
Helps and hints: Far from being neutral,
Christians are the very objects of Satan's most pointed attacks,
and in various ways he makes constant warfare against them. His
claim to sovereignty over earth is marred by every true worshipper
of God. Those he cannot pervert, Satan seeks to destroy. But
Jesus warned Christians not to fear those who could kill them on
earth, for He promises them eternal life at the day of His coming,
which can never be taken from them.
Why did Jesus say His disciples do not fight on earth?
Helps and hints: Jesus tried to show Pilate that
there was much more at stake than political control over earth.
God's kingdom is based on love, not force. Those who inherit
eternity will have already made their decision on the issues that
affect universal peace.
Helps and hints: The people Paul refers to are
not atheists, drunkards and thieves, or common worldly blasphemers.
They are church members who distort the gospel and teach falsehood.
Helps and hints: Jesus loves every man, woman,
boy, and girl, and wants all to be saved. But the message is
clear. There are no neutrals on earth. Even those who deny any
association with religion at all are either in harmony or out of
harmony with the principles that God has outlined for human
conduct. The man who steals your wallet may philosophically deny
the concept of stealing, but it makes him no less of a thief. Men
and women can trample God's laws for harmonious living, boasting
that God does not exist, but they will be held no less accountable
for their actions.
Why do we need to be on guard at all times in this war of
1 Peter 5:8
Helps and hints: While many like to think that
Satan is only a fictitious being, the Bible tells us otherwise.
He is not able to be everywhere all at the same time, but he
deceived many angels who continue in his service. Between them,
they can give the world good coverage. Their purpose is two-fold.
They do everything they can to bring misery and suffering on
mankind, knowing that many will blame God or deny His existence
because of it. But even more important is the work of fanning the
fires of selfishness and rebellion in the hearts of men and women.
Those on whom Satan does not inflict injury, he attempts to use as
agents of suffering on others. The more he can mask his actions
behind the actions of others, the fewer will detect his true
identity. He is especially anxious to destroy those who are
unwavering in their loyalty to God.
THE WAR WITHIN
What is the condition of the human heart as a result of the
rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden?
Helps and hints: Satan has very little trouble
deceiving and controlling the majority of mankind, whose nature has
been bent toward selfishness since the very first act of
disobedience. Sin hangs on. It would gradually pervert everything
to the utmost. Only the grace of God in the world today restrains
the forces that threaten to plunge our planet into total anarchy.
Paul recognized that grace. He knew that his heart was corrupted
beyond the ability to control it. That is why he could thank God
so completely for overruling sin's control of his life.
What is the only means available to conquer sin within us?
Helps and hints: None can overcome sin on their
own. We can, however, yield ourselves to God, and through the
sacrifice of Christ, appeal to God for forgiveness and renewal.
This is called surrender. It is more than just acknowledging the
existence God. It is realizing that sin has corrupted the heart
and must be controlled by God or continue in selfish behavior.
Surrender means turning one's life over to God completely. With
this comes the promise that God will overcome sin within us and
remake us in the image in which we were created.
What does the apostle James identify as the cause of wars
and striving among men?
Helps and hints: Much of what is blamed on the
devil is the result of the passions that seethe within the human
heart. That is why solutions to world problems are not able to be
worked out peacefully on a permanent basis. James points out that
when these things appear in the church, it is not because of the
inadequacy of God, but because those who call themselves
"Christians" have not yet surrendered their wills to God, but are
following the dictates of their own selfish natures.
Is it possible to live a counterfeit Christian experience?
Helps and hints: Not only is it possible, it is
actually Satan's studied plan to lead people into a religious
experience that passes off disobedience to God as obedience.
Satan so seeks to disguise the real issues in rebellion that his
subjects can commit murder, and feel that they are doing God
service. As Jesus said, "Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever
killeth you will think that he doeth God service."
Helps and hints: The Bible declares that every
person who has ever lived was at one time the enemy of God. This
means that at some time in their life they held an attitude of
rebellion in their hearts. Sometimes they do not even recognize it
themselves. Possibly the most difficulty case for god to work with
is the person who says "I've always been a good Christian. I can't
remember a time that I didn't love and serve Him with all my
heart." Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the indwelling
presence of the Holy Spirit, mankind can be reconciled to God, and
He does not hold our past against us. Paul tells us that it was
even while we were sinners that Christ died for us, and He holds us
in high esteem as He calls us His sons and daughters.
What is the covenant that God makes with us whereby we are
fully restored to right relationship with Him?
Helps and hints: It is one thing to pay lip
service to God. It is something altogether different to allow God
to control our lives in obedience to His standard of righteousness.
No one is able to keep the law of God in their own power. Neither
does the keeping of the law accomplish our salvation or add
anything to it. That was accomplished at Calvary through the blood
of Jesus Christ. But god says that He can keep His law within us,
and therein lies the battle. Will we submit ourselves to the work
of God? Or will we shun being brought into harmony with His law,
making excuses like, "the law is in opposition to the gospel?"
Those who inherit the earth made new will keep God's law in spirit
and in truth, because through God's grace they will have been
restored to a right relationship with Him.
Helps and hints: We are commissioned to fight the
fight of faith. It is through faith that we resist sin. It is
through faith that we retain our hold upon our Savior. Without
faith we cannot be in right relationship with God. We are not to
fight the fight of sin, attempting to establish our own
righteousness by keeping the law. We will only become discouraged
as we see how miserably we fail. Or, we will deceive ourselves into
believing that we are succeeding, and fall into the pit of
self-righteousness. But as we fight the fight of faith, seeking to
maintain our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ,
our motives will be purified and our actions made right by the
power that is given us through the Holy Spirit. These are the
fruits of righteousness, or the "good works" that God accomplishes
in us and for us.
Looking back on his life, how does Paul summarize his
2 Timothy 4:7,8
Helps and hints: If anyone could ever appeal to
his good works and Christian service as a basis for heavenly
rewards, surely it would be the apostle Paul. Yet he does not
plead the fact that he raised up churches all over Greece and Asia
Minor as his hope for the future, but only that he kept the faith
of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He in no way suggests that he
has earned anything in God's kingdom, only that he trusts God to
bestow that crown of eternal life on him through the promise made
in Christ, that those who believe in Him should not perish, but
have everlasting life.
What is Paul's checklist of equipment for the war of the
The war of the universe is fought on two fronts--the geographical
universe, and the individual heart. We cannot change the
outcome of the war for the geographical universe. God will
ultimately win it regardless of what we do. But God has given it
to each one of us to decide whether the battle of good and evil,
life or death, will be won or lost in our own individual hearts.
He has made us creatures of free will, and He will honor our
eternal decision, whether it be for life or death. His choice
would be for all of us to choose an eternal life of joy and peace
in His kingdom!
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count
slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not will that any
should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9
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