Pastor as Warrior

Clinton Arnold, in his insightful book "Powers of Darkness," writes, "Immersed in a culture that says that evil spirits do not exist, Western Christians struggle even to begin the task of spiritual warfare. . . . Although mental assent is given to the likelihood that evil spirits exists since it is affirmed in the Bible, in reality it makes no practical difference in the way we live our day-to-day lives" (148).

Last week, Dr. Mohler preached a great convocation message on "The Year of Living Dangerously" (read summary here). One thing he said was that the risk is greatest where the gospel is breaking through the most. I am very encouraged by what God is doing in the North American church. Southern seminary alone is pouring out all sorts of pastors who, in the words of Dr. Moore, "fear nothing but God and are anxious about nothing but the judgment seat of Christ." There are thousands of young aspiring pastors who are deeply passionate about the gospel, have a strong vision for complementarianism, have a robust view of God's sovereignty, quickly bow the knee to Scripture, and seek to keep Christ at the center of all they do.

Satan hates this. He wants to destroy these men, and will do all he can to do just that (1 Pet 5.8). This means we must be on guard; this means war. We must repent of our anti-supernatualistic worldviews and view life with biblical lenses. This means that when we counsel a struggling marriage, we see more than two selfish people. We see Satan and the hosts of his kingdom seeking to split the marriage up. A faithful marriage points to Christ and his church, a picture the demonic realm detests because it is a symbol of their downfall drawing near. . .When the young, flirty girl at the gym gives you eyes, its more than a temptation to lust; The principalities and powers are pursuing the discrediting of your ministry and desolation of spousal trust. . . This means that abortion is not just the fruit of liberal politicians or selfish women, but the seed of the serpent seeking to destroy the seed of the woman (Gen 3.15). . . The blue-haired hater in your congregation who lacks fruit of any sort and consistently majors on the minors is a person stuck in unbiblical tradition, no doubt. But behind the person are the powers of darkness seeking to breed disunity in the body. For in the church, the manifold wisdom of God is made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (Eph 3.10). The new covenant community is a tangible reminder to the powers of darkness that their authority has been broken at the cross (John 12.31, 1 Jn 3.8, Heb 2.14, Col 1.16, 2.15) and their ultimate downfall is certain. . . When we pray for years for a friend's conversion and they persist in unbelief, there is more going on than just their stubbornness. They are following the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2.2), and blinded by the god of this age (2 Cor 4.4, 1 Jn 5.19). . . We don't need to just pray that the 35 year old heretic who still lives with his folks would just attend a different church, but that he would escape the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (2 Tim 2.26).

Pastors, and all believers, must view life as war. Our victory is certain because the tomb is empty, but there is still a battle to be fought.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil 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 firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
(Eph 6:12-18)