Many times we find ourselves in a spiritual battle of some sort. Sometimes, we have a clear warning of what is about to happen and other times we are in the midst of combat looking around thinking, ‘How in the world did I end up here?’ Battles are hard, but they are an integral part of our Christian walk. We have to be careful though that the battle we are concerned with is the battle the Lord would have us to take part in. I Samuel 17:47 says, “…for the battle is the LORD’s and He will give you into our hands.”
I confess often times I forget that the battle is the Lord’s and not my own. I forget that He is a mighty Warrior and willing and able to produce victory in my life. But, I have to make sure that the battle I am in IS the Lord’s and not something that I have plunged into without His guidance. Just as an officer in the Armed Forces waits for his commander’s instructions, so I wait for my Commander’s instructions. A man in uniform would never engage in a conflict without the authority given to him by his superior. I would be wise to do the same. So, how do I determine whether a battle is the Lord’s, or not?
First off, have I asked Him? Oftentimes, I have assumed that a situation calls for a battle when in reality, God wants me to be still before Him and see Him work. Psalm 16:7 tells us “I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.” The Lord is our greatest Counselor. He will tell us when to engage in battle and when to lay low. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” He sees all and will tell us what to do. We just have to ask and listen until we hear Him clearly. Isaiah 30:21 says, “And your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or to the left.” His instructions are clear if I am listening.
Psalm 27:5 gives us a beautiful image of being still in the midst of a battle raging all around us. It says, “For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent he will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.” So, let’s be sure that we have asked Him whether this is a battle to fight, or a time for Him to cover us from the shelling.
Secondly, is the timing right time for this battle? I think of Joshua 7and the Battle of Ai. Joshua and the Israelites had just come through a mighty victory. They had conquered Jericho and supposed that the next battle would be just as easy. God had showed Himself mighty on their behalf and they assumed that it was time for the next conflict. Joshua chose to push forward and they were met with defeat. Why? The timing was off. God had other things to deal with in the camp. Joshua was in the right battle, but at the wrong time. We only know the difference when we are in constant communication with our God. Psalm 27:11 says, “Teach me Thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a level path, because of my foes.” The original language actually says “those who lie in wait for me.” We have got to realize that the enemy wants us to start fighting before we are prepared to do so. In the physical realm, we would never think of sending our soldiers out without basic training and yet in the spiritual realm, we think we don’t have to be prepared. I Peter 5:6 says that we are to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand and He will take care of when we are to be lifted up. If we jump the gun, we will be defeated just like Joshua was in chapter 7. Chapter 9 is a different story. Joshua and the Hebrew people had ultimate victory over Ai because they backed up, sought the Lord and He once again brought them success. The timing of the battle was once again placed in God’s hands, where it belonged.
Third, what is our motive for this battle? As we have stated before, the battle is the Lord’s, not ours. So, if we have our own agenda, it’s not His battle. Romans 12:19, says, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the LORD.” If it’s payback, it’s your battle, not the Lord’s. We have got to release every situation to Him and let Him direct our ways.
Another reason I might rush into a battle that is rash is because I want what someone else has. Deuteronomy 2:9 says, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the sons of Lot as a possession.’
We need to ask ourselves, ‘Am I causing someone strife and heartache because I simply want what they have’? If a battle is to gain ground that someone else already possesses for the Lord, is it really a battle the Lord wants us to fight? So much territory is left to gain for the Lord. Why would we want to wrestle control from a friendly ally?
We are called to battle with the Lord at times. Ephesians 6:12 and 13 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm.”
So, how can we know that we are prepared for the battle? Being prepared for battle requires us to be ready at a moment’s notice, fully armed for whatever battle the Lord calls us to. We are ready, but not pushing. We are standing strong in the power of His might, (Ephesians 6:10) but never insistent to fight the battle we want to fight. Only God sees every aspect of the whole war. We often only see the skirmish in front of us, but He sees the whole battle plan. He knows the terrain. He knows the timing. He knows every aspect to bring us to certain victory if we are in perfect submission to Him. When I am in subjection to Him, I am wearing His armor. I have allowed Him to place His helmet of salvation on my head. The breastplate of righteousness is firmly intact. My “loins” are girded with His truth. He has shod my feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. I have His shield of faith in one hand and the sword of the Spirit in my other. I am alert in prayer for myself and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 6:14-18). I am also clothed with His robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). Even with all this amazing equipment though, I need to be trained and Psalm 18:34 assures me that He trains my hands for battle. So, we are ready but, in complete subjection to His authority. I am prepared for battle but, awaiting His direction.
Unfortunately, our battles are sometimes with people that we dearly love. Judges 20 describes a time like this for the nation of Israel. The Word of God tells us that the tribe of Benjamin was in grave sin, but refused to repent. Judges 20:13 says, “…the sons of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel.” God called the nation to battle their brothers so that sin would depart. The Bible tells us that the civil war was hard fought and bloody. After a fierce confrontation, verse 23 of Judges 20 tells us “And the sons of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall we again draw near for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?’ And the LORD said, ‘Go up against him.’ These dear people did not want to fight their brothers anymore, but they did what the Lord required of them.
A good guide for us when we feel like a battle needs to be waged with a brother or sister in Christ is to ask ourselves the question, ‘Am I excited about this battle or, weeping over it?’ If I am excited, my motives are not right. Sometimes, we are glad that someone’s sins are found out. When sin is found, we feel like we are justified in not liking someone. We are glad that we will not have to deal with them any longer. When we are truly in a battle for the Lord, we are continually asking Him to bring them to repentance so that the battle will not have to be fought. We are not excited; we are weeping. We are in mourning over the loss of a fellow believer. We want them to still be part of the fellowship and are devastated that they refuse. We have got to be in continual communication with God, asking Him what the right plan of action is for the moment.
The really encouraging thing about being in a battle is that when the battle is the Lord’s, ultimate victory is assured. Psalm 18:18-19 says, “They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my stay. He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.” When we fight the Lord’s battle, the outcome is in His hands. He is delighting in us because we are looking to Him for our tactics, timing and results. We are not concerned with what someone else is doing on their battlefield because we are focused on what our Commander would have us to do.
The results? “For by Thee I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall.” We have empowerment that we never dreamed because we are filled with Him. His power is our power because His desires are our desires.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary,” Isaiah 40:28-31.
Be encouraged today that even in the midst of a battle, if it is the Lord’s, ultimate victory will happen. Don’t look around at the devastation, look to your Savior. He is there and He is winning. Rest in Him. He’s got this.