WAR OF THE UNIVERSE:
WHERE IT IS FOUGHT

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 Bible.

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.

1.

Where is the war of the universe now being fought? Revelation 12:9

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.

2.

What did Jesus tell His disciples to expect for the future in terms of earthly peace? Matthew 24:4-14

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.

3.

Would Christians be neural in this warfare? Matthew 10:16-22

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.

4.

Why did Jesus say His disciples do not fight on earth? John 18:33-36

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.

5.

Who does Paul count among the enemies of Christ on earth? Philippians 3:17-19

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.

6.

Who does Jesus count as His enemies on earth? Matthew 12:30

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.

7.

Why do we need to be on guard at all times in this war of the universe? 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

8.

What is the condition of the human heart as a result of the rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden? Romans 7:18-25

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.

9.

What is the only means available to conquer sin within us? Romans 6:12-16

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.

10.

What does the apostle James identify as the cause of wars and striving among men? James 4:1-5

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.

11.

Is it possible to live a counterfeit Christian experience? Matthew 15:8,9

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." John 16:2.

12.

To whom are the promises of the gospel given? Colossians 1:21,22

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.

13.

What is the covenant that God makes with us whereby we are fully restored to right relationship with Him? Hebrews 8:10

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.

14.

What is the battle we are to fight in our hearts? 1 Timothy 6:12

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.

15.

Looking back on his life, how does Paul summarize his Christian experience? 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.

16.

What is Paul's checklist of equipment for the war of the universe? Ephesians 6:10-16

SUMMARY

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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