Summary: We must win the war going on in our souls to be able to win the war going on without.
“The War Within – the War Without”
October 30, 2011
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
During World War II, Henry Lauder’s two sons were drafted into the army. Both of them died in combat. After the war was over Henry Lauder was near a nervous breakdown. He went to his doctor, who recommended complete rest and relaxation. So he went to the seashore and walked along the beach. He spent his time reading and meditating and relaxing.
He made a few new friends, and one of them was a small boy. One night Henry Lauder and this small boy were walking along the beach as the sun was going down. They listened to the waves, and looked at the scenery around them.
The boy noticed that there were little flags with stars on them hanging in the windows of some of the houses along the beach. He asked Mr. Lauder what that meant. Henry Lauder said, "It means that in every home where there is a flag that that family sent a son to war." "But," said the boy, "some of the stars are silver and some are gold. What does that mean?"
Lauder said, "Where there is a silver star it means that the boy came home safely. Where there is a gold star it means that the boy died in combat."
They walked a little further and night came upon them. The boy looked up at the first evening star, and he said, "There is a star in God’s sky - and it is a gold star! Does it mean that God sent His son to war?"
Lauder stood for a moment, and with a catch in his voice said, "Yes, son. It means that God sent His son into war - the greatest war that has ever been fought. And yes, the star is gold because God’s son died in that combat."
There is a war going on around us. Some of you may have been wounded recently. Some of you may be battle weary. Many do not every realize what’s happening. But we are at war – and it is on two fronts. It’s going on within our souls and on the outside – out in our world. Let’s talk about the war without first of all.
I have some good news and bad news about this war. I’ll share the bad news first. In this war – some of us will be taken captive and killed. In this battle God has allowed the enemy to conquer us for a time. Listen:
“The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. Whoever has ears, let them hear. “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.”
Now, I have to tell you. When I reread that Scripture this week, I was a little confused. The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies. He was given power to wage war against God’s holy people. He was even given power to conquer them! Who gives this beast this power? Only God has that kind of authority. Only Jesus has that kind of authority. (Matthew 28:18) And Jesus gives the beast the authority to do these things.
Some will be taken captive. Some will even be killed! Can you understand my confusion? I thought we were more than conquerors. I thought we were victors. I thought we were triumphant already! And in the framework of eternity – we are. But, clearly, a time is coming when we will be conquered – at least on the outside. Jailed and even killed – that’s pretty scary. But the Father gave the enemy the authority and power to crucify His Son – and that worked out pretty well. Maybe there is something in being conquered that we need to learn – that we need to experience. We know it will be good. God always works these things out for good. But to be put in jail and even killed. That’s pretty severe! Can anyone stand that kind of punishment?