Waging the Right Warfare
“For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things.”—2 Cor. 10:4, NW.
1, 2. What are some causes for war today?
IN THE Word of Jehovah it is written: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . . a time for war, and a time for peace.” For centuries the nations have been waging war among themselves, just as Christ foretold that there would be wars and rumors of war during the period before the complete end comes to this present system of things. Now we are living at the climax of centuries of waiting. It is a time when peace has been taken from the earth.—Eccl. 3:1, 8, RS.
2 Have you been taught to believe that all the miseries and heartaches, the cruelties and barbarisms of war have been brought by God? Is it reasonable to think that a God of love, wisdom and mercy would originate the waste and ruin, the loss of precious life, that come with war? Certainly not. Rather, James 3:14-16; 4:1-4 shows that the greed, conflicts, wars and disorders are all of demonic origin, from Satan, “the god of this world,” who is ruining the earth in his lustful desire for power as a rebel against Jehovah. His control over the nations is clearly reflected in their way of thinking. “For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to coveteousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.” So degenerate have they become that we see the clergy invoking the blessing of God on the carnal wars of the nations as they put national or religious interests above God’s Word, crying: “Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”—Jer. 6:13, 14.
3. Why should we be guided by the Scriptures?
3 What is the best course for honest men to follow in the midst of this world confusion? Should we drift with the crowd, or is there a surer and better way mapped out for us? The Scriptures counsel us that just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so Jehovah’s ways and thoughts are far higher than ours. We do well to consider his way, not rejecting it lightly. Consider seriously what the Bible says about the right kind of warfare and see if it is not far more practical than the course of the nations. The end of those who follow their own course is well described for us. Despite their crimes against mankind they are so calloused and unashamed that they cannot even blush; but “they shall fall among them that fall; at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith Jehovah.” Why? Because they have broken the rainbow covenant, the law of Jehovah respecting the sanctity of life-blood, and have brought his wrath and indignation against the nations and against their armies. (Jer. 6:15, AS; Isa. 34:1-4) The results of all the wars to date have not brought a sureness of peace, only an uneasy, armed makeshift.
4. What is spiritual warfare?
4 The wars of the nations are against blood and flesh. The Bible instruction for Christians is to fight a spiritual warfare. “The weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God” to the accomplishment of his purpose. In order to pursue this spiritual war we must know the reason for the fight and what we are fighting against. This is no hand-to-hand combat or a struggle for supremacy through superior scientific methods of destruction. In chapter six of Ephesians Paul tells us it is a fight “not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” In no sense does this mean we are to fight against or oppose the human governments of our day. In fact, we are told to pray for kings and rulers that we may continue to lead peaceful and quiet lives, accomplishing the work God has assigned. Jesus told his disciples: “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.” (John 18:36) The fight the apostle Paul referred to above in his letter to the Ephesians is against the spiritual organization of Satan, which has dominated and controlled the earth for centuries.—2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:12; 1 Tim. 2:1-3, NW.
5. How have many been blinded to the truth, and what can we do to aid them?
5 The effect of this powerful demonic control over the people has been to blind the minds of the unbelievers to the light of truth. A veil has been cast over the good news so that those perishing cannot discern or comprehend it. Confusion and darkness with regard to God’s will have been spread by the wicked spirit forces in heavenly places, who themselves are held in dense darkness because of their rebellion. How well they have succeeded is seen in the widespread ignorance of the Bible, even in Christendom. Faithful churchgoers show abysmal ignorance of God’s purposes, apart from memorizing a few key scriptures. This is not surprising, since many are instructed not to read publications concerning the Bible unless they are first approved by the church. They forget the invitation from God himself: “Come now, and let us reason together.” As a result ‘darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people.’ (Isa. 1:18; 60:1-3, 19, 20) Combating the effect of this spiritual apostasy is one of the foremost works of a Christian. Just as Gideon’s men broke open the pitchers they held to let their torches shine brightly to the consternation of the enemy, so Jehovah’s servants in the earth are letting the light of truth be seen from the darkest corner of Christendom to the darkest corner of pagandom.
6. Explain Christian warfare and its benefits.
6 One feature of the spiritual warfare that brings the greatest joy is the releasing of the prisoners, the proclaiming of liberty to the captives and the opening of the prisons to those who are bound. This is done by patiently teaching the truth to men of good will, gradually pulling aside the veil of superstition and religious darkness to which they have become accustomed from childhood. When they are finally freed through a knowledge of the truth, their joy is as great as that of a captive who is liberated or as a blind man to whom sight is restored. To accomplish this we must do as Paul says: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, . . . keep your balance in all things, suffer evil, do missionary work, thoroughly accomplish your ministry.” The apostle Paul goes on to say: “I have fought the right fight, I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:2-7, NW) This is the kind of warfare no earthly nation need fear, for it is in the best interests of the people. It promotes a knowledge of God and a love for him and our fellow men. This fight is a constructive one, building up those of good will mentally, morally and spiritually. Its benefits are lasting in value, leading to life, with God’s favor. There are none of the usual aftereffects of war that foster bitter enmity and slavery while ravaging the face of the earth. Instead, godly Christian warfare unites men of all kinds and from all nations in the bonds of enduring peace and mutual understanding through the Word of God.
7. Give examples of the fight to uphold pure worship.
7 In all parts of the world Jehovah’s witnesses are sharing in this fight to advance Bible knowledge. They have taken the fight against darkness to the homes of the people, just as Jesus and the disciples did before them. Paul knew from firsthand experience what a fight the ministry meant, as he recounted for us the incensed fury of the religious mob in Ephesus who for two hours cried out: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” in an attempt to intimidate the early Christians. (Acts 19:28, NW) He told also of the plots against him, of the jailings, beatings, dangers on sea and on land, the hardships and privations that he endured in his fight to spread the knowledge of Christ. (2 Cor. 11:23-27) The fight has not abated down to this day, but Jehovah’s witnesses have continued with their peaceful ministry despite mobs, bans and imprisonment. In Trinidad, for example, four Watch Tower missionaries were recently declared to be “undesirable visitors,” although no reason was given, when they brought their motor vessel to port to refuel and get supplies in order to carry on their ministry among the people scattered on the Caribbean islands. In other places Jehovah’s people have been mobbed, ridiculed, deported, separated from loved ones, have suffered imprisonment and even death, but still have remained faithful as true fighters. They have brought their message in peace, but it has been rejected with violence. This is a time not only of war among the nations, but also of intensive spiritual warfare for the proclamation of the truth.
8. Why must we gird ourselves with truth? How?
8 What can we do to have a share in this battle on behalf of God? As with any soldier, to fight we must know our equipment well. We should understand the reasons for the fight and be convinced that they are right. Drawing on his many experiences and long years of missionary service, Paul itemized the main pieces of Christian battle equipment. He spoke first of having the “loins girded about with truth.” This indicates that the truth must be always close to us; we must be girded with it as with an essential support. This is a far different attitude from that of some who push aside a discussion of the Scriptures, carelessly protesting, “I have my church.” They put on a cloak of godliness once or twice a week but cast it aside the remaining time. Such ones do not even examine the texture or quality of what they assume is truth, being unversed even in the creed of their faith, much less conversant with the Word of God. But an accurate knowledge of truth is essential to a Christian. By our not knowing the difference between true and false worship, we shall be unable to share in the fight to expose error. (Isa. 28:17, 18) True Christians are not divided. They know there is one true faith as recorded in the Bible. They believe Jesus’ statement, “Your word is truth,” and they act in keeping with it. By this knowledge they are able to cast off the fetters of ritual and tradition and bring their minds to oneness with God. “For such freedom Christ set us free. Therefore stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.”—Gal. 5:1; Eph. 6:14; John 17:17, NW.
9. What protection is the breastplate of righteousness?
9 Next we must put on the breastplate of righteousness. If we preach the truth we must live in keeping with it in righteousness; otherwise we are hypocrites, not true servants of Jehovah. Our service must be whole-souled, never halfhearted. Those who give in to the inclinations of the flesh by immoral conduct are warned that they will never inherit God’s kingdom, and even a little corruption will quickly ferment and spoil all our good works in God’s sight. Such fleshly desires war against the interests of our soul and must be warded off by means of the breastplate of righteousness.—Gal. 5:9, 13; 1 Pet. 2:11, NW.
10. What good news are we commanded to spread?
10 “Stand firm, therefore, . . . with your feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace.” (Eph. 6:14, 15, NW) This is the message and comfort Jehovah’s witnesses bring to the people. It is the same announcement Jesus gave prominence to when he declared: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth . . . and then the accomplished end will come.” (Matt. 24:14, NW) Today Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the world are telling the people the good news that Christ is now enthroned in heaven and that we are living in a time of change that will bring lasting peace to all men of faith through God’s kingdom. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isa. 52:7, AS) What is wrong with that message of peace and hope? Even the feet of these couriers of good news appear beautiful in the sight of our God. Yet this message of peace is like an open declaration of war to Satan’s organization.
11. (a) How is faith a protection and how is it gained? (b) Give past examples of great faith.
11 Therefore we are warned to “take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles.” We can expect to be under attack in this warfare, and we need faith in Jehovah in order to carry on. By faith we can conquer the world, overcoming any hindrances that may stand in our way to faithful service. Strong faith will prevent us from being discouraged, even though our patient preaching does not have the immediate effect we should like to see. Noah did not get discouraged or give up after years of preaching. He knew God was true. Isaiah says: “Jehovah, who believed our report? . . . All day long I have stretched out my hands toward a people that is disobedient and talks back.” Yet he did not give up, and Paul cites this example to the Romans because he understood that even though many did not believe, the work of God was still being accomplished. But we cannot have faith without a foundation of knowledge on which to establish it; The greater our accurate knowledge of God and the more we use it, the more protective will be our shield of faith.—Eph. 6:16, 17; Rom. 10:16, 20, 21, NW; Isa. 53:1; 65:2, AS.
12. How do we receive the helmet of salvation?
12 Accept also the “helmet of salvation” as part of your equipment, Paul advises. He well knew how God in his undeserved kindness had become the author of everlasting salvation for us through Christ. This provision is a gift that we must accept in order to receive its benefits, as it is not forced on anyone. Paul saw the fulfillment of many prophecies, so he wrote: “Now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed.” (Rom. 13:11, AS) This is doubly true for Christians today because we are living in the generation that will see the salvation of men of faith. (Rev. 12:10) Those in line for salvation are easily identified, not because of some peculiar garb, but by their faith and works. They let their light shine by living and preaching as Christian witnesses for Jehovah.
13. Why are we glad to take up the sword of the spirit, and how is it used?
13 A very important piece of equipment for the spiritual warfare is the “sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” (Eph. 6:17, NW) This is essential for both defensive and offensive actions. (2 Cor. 6:2-10) What good is a soldier without his weapon? or how long will he last in battle if he does not know how to use it? In like manner, for a minister of the gospel to have a Bible without being able to use it effectively and to find scriptures is to render himself helpless in spiritual warfare. Yet many of the clergy find themselves in such position today. Rejecting the Word of Jehovah by denying its authenticity or inspiration, what wisdom is in them? Accept the sword of the spirit, Paul says. He commended the Beroeans for their diligent consideration of the Scriptures and their acceptance of what was proved. We should do as they did. It is by this Word that God reveals his purpose and his will for mankind and his requirements for life. With this sword of the spirit we are armed for the attack and made mighty through God for the pulling down of strongly entrenched things.
14. What prayers will God hear?
14 Paul continues his inspired counsel: “While with every form of prayer and supplication you carry of prayer on every occasion in spirit. And to that end keep awake with all constancy.” Prayer provides our means of access to and communication with Jehovah through Christ, our Leader and Commander in this spiritual war. We must petition God for his spirit to give us strength and guidance in every time of need. We can be assured he will hear our prayer if it is in accord with his will; whereas he refuses to listen to the prayers for selfish interests regularly offered by the blood-drenched fighters of the old-world system. (Isa. 1:15; Eph. 6:18, NW) As to keeping “awake with all constancy,” this is certainly necessary for a soldier, but especially so for Christians today in this time of urgency. As Christ foreknew, his coming has been unobserved by the world in general, even though it is announced publicly by Jehovah’s witnesses. The majority sleep on, not aroused by the rejoicing over the sign of his presence.—Rev. 16:15, NW; Matt. 24:42-44.
15, 16. How do we share in spiritual warfare? What provisions have been made for us?
15 Lastly, every fighter for Jehovah must have the ability to make known the truth to others. As Paul said: “That ability to speak may be given me . . . with all freeness of speech to make known the sacred secret of the good news, . . . that I may speak in connection with it with boldness as I ought to speak.” (Eph. 6:19, 20, NW) Even though writing as an ambassador in chains, Paul did so freely and with boldness, because he fully understood the issue and the reason for the fight. The Christian soldier gets this knowledge by means of God’s Word of truth. From this source also he draws the courage that comes with faith. Being well equipped in all these ways with the weapons of light or of righteousness, do not now timidly draw back. The night is well along, the day has drawn near, and this is the time for action!—Rom. 13:12.
16 “Blessed be Jehovah my rock, who teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.” (Ps. 144:1, AS) Yes, the equipment for battle, a knowledge of the foe, strength and courage to press on, all these are wisely provided by Jehovah. We must do our part, however. Just as drill and training precede any human battle, so with the spiritual warfare. Jehovah knows what we need and is aware of our requirements, but we must use his provisions. What are they? Study, association and service. Each plays an essential part in equipping and preparing us. Study includes both intense and constant personal study and also sharing actively in congregational studies, all a part of the training program to prepare us for the fray. From association we draw encouragement and confidence and are assured of the wholehearted support of our brothers. None has a chance in a fight if he stands alone; so association is vital. Then in the service we have the opportunity to test our equipment, strengthen our knowledge and get accustomed to using the sword of the spirit. Use these provisions of Jehovah to the full and, after you have done everything within your power, God will supply what is needed for victory. For “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not that out of ourselves.”—2 Cor. 4:7-11, NW.
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Entrenched false doctrines