Summary: The 2nd message in a series on living life in abundance and victory in the midst of a messed up world
How to Live A Victorious Life (Part 2)
A couple of weeks ago I went with my roommates to a house out in Millbrook where I joined a group of Air Force Lieutenants in playing paintball. Now I have played paintball before, but this was different. This was more like real war than playing paintball at a paintball organization. We played on a plot of wooded land that was about 15 acres in size. We had two teams of about seven people and we played a game of single elimination where when you get hit once, your out. Now the playing area that we played in offered a jungle-like atmosphere in which you could creep through the woods and sneak up on the enemy camp and bombard them with paintballs and then retreat into the thicket. It was great fun. We played for about 6 hours and I think that my adrenaline was pumping throughout the entire time. The guys that I played with were experienced paintball players. They took the game very seriously. If you were out of ammo on the field, they would shoot you and say, “hey, that’s the reality of war.” I failed in trying to reason with them and convincing them that it wasn’t really a war.
I have plans of buying paintball equipment and begin playing regularly because it is so much fun. You get the sense of engaging in a real battle. You know, life is like paintball because you get the sense that you are engaging in a battle. The difference between paintball and life is that in paintball the battle is fake, but in life, the battle is real. Listen to what Paul writes the the book of Ephesians.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.
Notice how many times Paul says the word “against.” He says it 6 times two verses. When I was on the paintball field, I knew what team I was on and I knew who the enemy was. Paul is saying, this is the team you are on and this is who the enemy is:
1. “not against flesh and blood”
2. “against the schemes of the devil”
3. “against principalities”
4. “against powers”
5. “against the rulers of the darkness of this age”
6. “against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The first thing he tells us is that the enemy is not flesh and blood, it’s not other people. Paul constantly encourages us to live together in love and unity, always encouraging one another and never tearing one another down. Why? Because we are on the same team. And as teammates, we need to come together in unity and constantly lift one another up and encourage one another. That’s what a good teammate does. So people are not the enemy. Then who is?
Paul says that the battle is against:
· The schemes of the devil – The devil is a skilled schemer
· Principalities – The enemy is strategic and organized
· Powers – The enemy has power, not more than God, but power nonetheless
· Rulers of the darkness of this age
· Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places – The enemy is a spiritual enemy; this is a spiritual war.
So now that we have identified who the enemy is and who the enemy is not, now we can plan for battle.
When we played paintball, the team I was on always won. In fact, we won so badly every time that the other team convinced us to change up the teams. We had a guy on our team that was skilled in the art of military tactics. He would say, “You two go slowly up the middle until you draw enemy fire, then hold your ground. You two flank wide left and come in from an angle behind them and wait until you see us attack. Jesse and I will flank wide right and attack them from the side. When all of you see that, hit em’ with everything you got.”
It worked every time! When engaged in battle, you must be able to come up with an effective strategy to be able to be victorious. Once Paul identifies the enemy, he gives us the strategy for victory. He says,