"When you go out to war against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and an army larger than yours, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you." (Deuteronomy 20:1 HCSB)
It has been well-said that the Christian life is not a playground, but a battleground! Our foe is fierce. His numbers are many and his power is great. God's soldier may be tempted to flee in fear. Despair brings defeat. Faith is the victory! The old general, the Apostle John put it this way, "because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith." (1 John 5:4 HCSB) Faith and fear are mutually exclusive. One cancels out the other. Trust or terror--we choose.
God knew Israel would have to face the foe of fear in the battlefield of their hearts before they would ever be willing to engage the enemy, literally. He reminded them that it wasn't the enormity of their enemy that mattered, but the greatness of their God! John also noted, "You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4 HCSB)
Faith is a matter of focus. This is why the Lord told Israel that if they were distracted by having a new house or a new vineyard or a new bride, that they were to go home (Deuteronomy 20:5-7). If they were focused on what was behind them, they would not be able to concentrate on what was before them.
Furthermore, the Lord underscored again that a focus on the enemy that produced panic had to be purged. It is a contagious thing. "The officers will continue to address the army and say, 'Is there any man who is afraid or cowardly? Let him leave and return home, so that his brothers' hearts won't melt like his own.' " (Deuteronomy 20:8 HCSB)
If we look at the size of our opposition and compare it to our small numbers, we will run and hide--and this seems to be the case in a demoralized church that has withdrawn with a whimper. But, if we look to God and His omnipotence, then we will have the courage of conviction to bring down the strongholds of Satan! God has not called us to simply, "hold the fort" and shiver in fear as we huddle inside the church house, under siege, hoping Christ will rescue us before the enemy overwhelms us. Rather, the New Testament tells us to put on our armor (Ephesians 6:10-20) and to charge the gates of hell! Jesus promised, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it." (Matthew 16:18 HCSB) The kind of faith Peter exercised in confessing Christ would be the key to triumph. History affirms that those first Christian soldiers marched out, armed with truth and love, and a spiritual revolution swept the world.
Why not today? God hasn't changed. His promises haven't been rescinded. Our mandate is unaltered. The church militant will be the church triumphant!
I remind you that our battle is not against sinners, but Satan--it is a real war, but spiritual in nature. Those in sin are very much captives of the enemy. They serve at the devil's direction because they are powerless to resist Him. But, we can free them by the power of the Gospel.
There will be setbacks for sure. The struggle will be long and hard. This is war. But, the outcome is determined.
"Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh:
KING OF KINGS
AND LORD OF LORDS.
Then I saw an angel standing on the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice, saying to all the birds flying high overhead, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of commanders, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of their riders, and the flesh of everyone, both free and slave, small and great."
Then I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and against His army. But the beast was taken prisoner, and along with him the false prophet, who had performed the signs in his presence. He deceived those who accepted the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image with these signs. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword that came from the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh". (Revelation 19:11-21 HCSB)
With the courage born of conviction, let us report for duty!