War in the Spirit
December 30, 2020

There are different forms of the life of the Spirit. The Spirit gives Bezalel and Oholiab artistic skill to make the furnishings of the tabernacle. The Spirit gives Solomon wisdom to rule and equips the Servant with counsel, might, and a zeal to liberate and to do justice.

The Spirit snatches prophets into heavenly places and groans with us in prayer. By the Spirit of Elohim, Joseph and Daniel interpret dreams. By the same Spirit, Joseph carries out the grain-storage program in Egypt.

Artist, king, activist, prophet, contemplative, interpreter, administrator. These are all forms of the life in the Spirit. The Spirit is the glory of God, so all of these forms of life are also incarnate forms of glory.

Warrior is also a form of Spiritual life, perhaps the most common in Scripture. The Spirit arms Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Saul, and David. The Spirit hovers over Jesus just before He goes to the wilderness to battle the devil, and the Spirit drives Jesus into confrontations with the Jews, which ultimately lead to His triumphant death.

Filled with the Pentecostal Spirit, the apostles enter into public combat in synagogues and town squares. Paul expects every believer to be a Spiritual warrior, engaged in the glory of battle.

Except when we’re watching or participating in a sporting event, we evade the glory of combat. War is hell, we say, and it’s true. Typically, though, we evade conflict out of cowardice. We prefer our peace, and are more than willing to settle for a wicked peace.

But the Spirit is a Spirit of war, and we keep in step with Him when we’re on the march. We grieve the Spirit when we shrink back, and God takes no pleasure in us (Hebrews 10:36-39). Cowards are the first to be tossed into the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).

We need this biblical perspective to understand what’s happening in the world as we enter 2021. We Americans pray for peace and harmony in our country, and we should. We aspire to lead quiet and peaceable lives.

But, as a friend recently observed, the combativeness of our politics is a sign of hope. It shows that people understand what is at stake in our cultural and political battles. Conflict isn’t all from the flesh. At least in part, it’s a sign of the Spirit’s stirring, and a revelation of His glory.

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