Summary: The casualties of our Spiritual Warfare cannot determine the final outcome and our ultimate victory. We will overcome!
CASUALTIES OF WAR
On July 1 – 3, 1863, the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War was fought between the Union Forces under Gen. George Meade and the Confederate commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee. This single 3-day battle resulted in 51,112 casualties. On the 3rd day of the battle, Gen. Pickett led his men, 5000 strong, across an open field for about a mile under direct fire of Union artillery. Line, after line of his troops, marched ahead, never breaking formation until there was none left to form a line. Men fell right and left as they were struck, and some just simply vaporized as the shell struck them full force. Yet though the casualties were high, and numbers fell quickly, onward they marched until they reached the high water mark of the battle and a few that remained breeched the wall of defense for a brief time. No matter who feel, or how many dropped out of the battle line, the lines continued on to reach their objectives at all costs. In those 3 days, 23,049 Union defenders and 28,063 Confederate Army attackers lost their lives in a cause that both believed was right and just.
Looking back now on that time, we often wonder how it was possible for men who had experienced such terrible tragedy were able to continue on for two more long years before the war finally came to an end. We can only say to all of them that we admire their courage and tenacity that it took to stay the course until the fighting was done.
Even though I have no doubt that I would have been on the side of State’s Right and Succession from the Union had I lived in that time frame, today I am so grateful for the preservation of the Union that we call the United States of America. Where would our nation be today if the soldiers of that great war, and the many who followed them in every war had not paid the price for freedom?
Some of you, like myself, have spoken of the fact that for some unknown reasons, the attendance in our services has taken a sharp drop in recent weeks. Just a few months ago it seemed that we were on the verge of a major time of growth in our congregation but now that surge has slowed and stopped, and now the tide seems to be flowing out rather than coming in. In the past few weeks we have seen several who just stopped coming. Some have had some very legitimate reasons for their absence while others just seemed to fade away as though they were never here. In larger churches the small numbers that we are speaking of would go practically unnoticed, but in a smaller church even the gain or loss of one or two is so very noticeable.
Times of increase are invigorating and exciting and we thank God for them. But I am reminded of the old saying that says, “What goes up must come down.” Now I don’t necessarily subscribe to that defeatist point of view and mindset, but nevertheless, we must realize that we are fighting a war and there will be setbacks in the struggle.
Ephesians 6:11-12 describes our warfare with the devil this way, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
The key point that I want us to realize is that we are in the middle of that great Spiritual War right now. The church is marching forward under the banner of the cross and we must remain in place, shoulder to shoulder, as we attack the strongholds of darkness and Satanic power. We must not waver in our commitment. We must take courage to continue marching on, no matter what the cost, because the eternal destiny of every soul that we may influence, even in the slightest manner, hangs in the eternal balance. We know that the battle is already won; yet we must continue the fight until it’s over.
Just as it was in those battles of long ago, and even in the battles of our military forces on the foreign fields of today, there will be casualties that will fall by the wayside. But like those soldiers who marched into the face of almost certain death, we cannot focus on the casualties; we must focus on the victory ahead.
In my time as a Christian, and especially in the time that I have served as a pastor, I have seen many casualties fall from the ranks of the army of the Lord. Satan’s darts all to often find their mark as they are fired at holes in the Christian armor. Many have fallen simply because they threw down their armor, turned their backs on God and ran away in fear, only to be destroyed by Satan anyway. Others may have only let their armor slip just a little, or let their guard down, but Satan knows just where he can get to us and that’s where his target is found.