Spiritual Battlefields: Our Souls

cannon facing old battlefield

We’ve spent the last several lessons talking about the everyday battlefields we face as we go about our lives. These are those simple struggles — faith, temptations, attention, money — that can take our minds off of God and distract us from living spiritually. These skirmishes add up to something bigger. They amount to a battle being waged for our souls, and it’s a battle that happens every day and in every place where we choose how we speak, how we conduct ourselves, where we place our trust, how we spend our time and resources, and how we order our priorities.

The battle may seem overwhelming at times, but the great news is this: it has already been won. We didn’t win it. It was won on our behalf by the only One who could have secured the victory. As we face our daily battles, we aren’t winning victories against the devil. Instead, we are holding onto a victory we already have. It’s the victory of our Savior who died and rose to live again. In His death, burial, and resurrection, we have the greatest of victories.

Losing Our Lives to Gain Our Souls

This victory is unlike any other we can have. Jesus describes it like this in Mark 8:34 – 36:

If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?

He goes on to ask what you would be willing to give up in exchange for your life. Think about it. If you’re life was on the line, what would you be willing to give up in exchange for it? Your car, your bank account, your home? I don’t think anyone here would put their material possessions over their lives. The unspoken question is then this: what are you willing to give up to save your soul?

Jesus says this victory for your soul demands nothing less than complete self-sacrifice. Forget giving up your car. This is about giving up your time, your resources, your priorities, and your attention. This is about giving up yourself totally and completely for the Savior who has won you out of spiritual death.

Victory on the Cross

This victory was won in a way that seems impossible to understand. The victory over death was won through death, but it was a death that led to new life. For your sake and mine, Jesus experienced loss. He experienced betrayal. He was accused of crimes He never committed. He was beaten. He was tortured. He was hung on a cross where He would be separated from God and He would die.

In this difficult victory, He endured quietly. He did not protest against the false accusations. He did not seek to insult or vindicate Himself with those who tortured, abused, and mocked Him. He made no complaint or appeal. He laid down His life, so that we might live. Would we have been as willing to be so peaceful during such events? If we truly want to represent Christ in how we live, we should be trying to find that same sense of peace He had when facing the ultimate trial.

Measuring this by physical standards, the events of the cross look like defeat. But we find victory there instead. With His death, Jesus defeated sin and death once and for all. With His resurrection, He wins us hope for something better than this life. He overcame death through death, and He gives us hope because He lives. This is what Christian victory looks like. This love shows us how we should live to claim that victory.

Greater Love Has No Man…

Think about John 15, when Jesus is describing spiritual love to His disciples. Starting in verse 11, Jesus says:

I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.

Jesus laid down His life for us as His friends. And this was more than the cross. He plotted the entire course of His life around the needs of others. His entire motivator was the victory for our souls over death. Everything He did, He did to benefit others. He laid down His life both in death and in living.

As friends of Jesus, we should be doing the same. We may not be asked to die for Him, but we should be living for Him. That is the natural response of a grateful soul to the victory provided us. We lay down our plans for our own lives, and we give our lives completely over to Him. This is about giving up all of those other things that can cause spiritual skirmishes in our lives and handing them over to God. This opens the door for us to then experience the greatest victory — the victory Christ won for us when He died on the cross and rose again to newness of life.

lesson by Robert Smelser

Spiritual Battlefields: Our Faith

cannon facing old battlefield

When we talk about faith, we probably all have someone we can look to as a great example of faith through the trials and battles of this life. In turn, any of us might be someone else’s roll model. This knowledge should encourage us all to consider the daily examples of faith we demonstrate. For all of us, we should be striving to turn faith into a habit, learning to rely on God more than we rely on self or other people.

II Corinthians 5:7 simply says that we walk by faith rather than sight. That’s tough. Right there is where the battle over our faith lies. We’re used to things being visible and tangible in this world. We’re used to seeing and touching everything we know. That’s the evidence that something is real — that it can be sensed or measured in some way. Faith is all about trusting in things we cannot see, feel, touch, or otherwise sense.

Hebrews 11 defines faith as an assurance and a conviction in things we cannot see. We believe in God and Heaven though we cannot see no touch either. If that belief becomes faith, those things become tangible in our minds. Think of being in a dark room. You know their are things in the room even though you can’t see them. If we stay in the darkness too long, however, our eyes adjust, and the light can be painful to reintroduce.

The Source of Our Help

Faith should be always driving us toward the light. Think of Mark 2:1-12 where a group of people work together to get a mutual friend to Christ. The friend could not walk to Christ himself, so his own friends were willing to take him to Christ in faith that Jesus could heal. They were confident He was their source of help, and He is our help as well. Psalm 121:1 says that the Lord of Heaven and Earth is our source of help. The first battle we have is in knowing the source of our aid.

So often , we come to Christ in prayer with a remedy for our problems already in mind. Instead of trusting in Him, we try to guide our God. We try to tell him how He should help us. Instead, we should be turning to Him in faith and laying out our troubles at His feet, knowing that He can provide help. It might not be the help we expect, but it is the help He offers to us.

Overcoming the Obstacles

Back in Mark 2, the friends find the path to Jesus blocked. Sometimes, we have to put some extra effort into getting to Christ. There will always be reasons to quit, and we justify giving up so easily at times. Our journey toward our Savior will not always be easy. There will be obstacles. There will be troubles. The group of friends in Mark 2 were determined to get to Jesus, and they took a risk to get to Christ in an unconventional way.

How many ways could their solution have gone wrong? Let’s be honest. Digging into somebody else’s roof to interrupt a great teacher delivering his message would seem like a bad idea. Getting to Jesus is not always a conventional journey. We have to be willing to take risks for Christ and for each other. We have to be determined. We have to be okay with failure. If we have that strong knowledge that Jesus is the only true source of help, then it should make us all the more determined to keep on when fear, frustration, and trials try to keep us away.

Our giving up on Christ is very often rooted in basic fear. Mark 4:35 records Jesus calming a storm for his disciples, and He asked them, “Why are you still afraid? Have you no faith?” Jesus treated faith as the cure for fear. When we allow fear to motivate our attitudes and conduct, when fear influences our worldview and how we treat people or groups of people, we are demonstrating a lack of faith. Faith drives out fear so that we can press closer to Christ despite the things of this world that might keep us away.

The Real Victory

In Mark 2, when Jesus saw the faith in the friends who had brought the paralytic man to Him, Jesus decided to act. Our faith can help Jesus have an affect in other peoples’ lives. Our faith can help others grow their own faith and come closer to Christ. Still, Jesus first words were probably not what they expected, but that was the real victory. They brought their friend so his body could be healed, and Jesus began by healing the man’s soul.

We have to look for the real victory, and that includes giving up what we might think the win should be. We can only see so far, and God is capable if fixing problems we can’t even see. The real victory of faith is so much bigger than any solution we can come up with. It’s a change in our lives that only Christ can bring. If we can keep that in mind, it helps drive away fear in the face of obstacles. It helps us look for our one true source of hope.

Picture Scripture: Ephesians 6:13


Today’s scripture is from Ephesians 6:13, “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.”

As we face our daily spiritual struggles, we can know that God is with us and has given us all we need to protect ourselves. We are not defenseless against the temptations and trials of this world. With the armor He provides, we can stand firm, no matter the obstacles before us.