This devotion was inspired by the book 10 Questions to Ask Every Time You Read The Bible by Rev. Andrew Jones. His book provides helpful insights for anyone reading their Bible, whether new or experienced.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
I’m betting that, at some point in your life, you’ve felt like the enemy is winning. Like sin, death, or the devil are ruling unchecked in the lives of so many and in our world, and it’s been going on for so long that you don’t really know how to react or how to respond. I bet you’ve felt compelled to speak out, to say something, but you haven’t known the words to say; or, if you have spoken, your cries have fallen on deaf ears. Maybe you’ve sought solace in your church, but then felt that bittersweet knowing just how many people you would like to see in worship with you. More and more, we see our enemy’s strength, and it seems too powerful for our liking.
I think this is the reason why we like to identify individuals as enemies. It makes the enemy seem less powerful and more manageable. It is far easier to think of how we can combat a politician’s policies or speak against the actions of our fellow community members than it is to imagine how we would fare in a wrestling match with our own sin—or, God forbid, the devil. But that only makes the problem worse. If we identify an individual who we believe is acting as our enemy, and if we happen to succeed in “defeating” them, another will inevitably rise up. And if our goal is to do battle with them and whoever comes after, we will find ourselves losing—because we are incapable of winning.
Two Related Questions
If we ask ourselves, “who is my enemy?” we may identify individuals at first, but eventually Scripture would lead us to the unholy trinity of sin, death, and the devil. Knowing this, our next question is naturally: “How are these enemies defeated?” To answer this question, we must first take ourselves out of the picture. The Rev. Jones reminds us in his book, “We do not ask [these questions] in order to act independently and win glory for ourselves by defeating enemies all on our own” (Jones, Andrew. 10 Questions to Ask Every Time You Read the Bible, 33). Even if that were possible, it would only serve to puff us up and turn us away from the true answer to our question. We must know that we cannot defeat this enemy—not by our own power. The answer to this question in Scripture doesn’t point to us. It points outside of us, to a Savior named Jesus, who was sent for us that we might humbly receive the victory He has won.
Asking “How is the enemy defeated?” is a highly comforting question, for it reveals many truths when we ask it of our Scripture readings. When we look in our Bibles, we see our true enemies—the devil, sin, and death—being defeated by our Lord in heaven. Our Lord Jesus defeats the devil by resisting temptation in the desert on our behalf and by enduring the assaults of the devil on the cross; He vanquishes sin by offering forgiveness, which He can give to us because of His sacrifice for sins on the cross; and He utterly destroys death by rising from the dead and stepping out of the tomb, showing us that one day we and all the saints will rise from our resting places to walk with Him for all eternity. When we ask “How is this enemy defeated,” the answer is we look to the cross of Christ and the empty tomb to show us God for who He is. He is the one who defeats the enemies. He is the one who fights against the devil’s lies with His truth. He is the one who forgives sins. He is the one who overcomes death and the grave. Praise be to God!
When we look to God, we also see who we are in relationship to Him. And this in turn provides a present peace and comfort to all who worry about the “advances” of the enemy in our world. The enemies of this world are strong, and they are frightening at times. Our first instinct is to take up arms that we might defeat them. But that is not who we are. We do not defeat the enemies—God defeats them. And although He may choose to use and empower people to fight against these enemies, it is not by their power or for their glory. It is for God’s own glory. He alone deserves the credit for the victory over sin, death, and Satan. And so, when we feel the weight of these enemies, we should turn our lives and our hearts to Him.
I’m betting some of you feel right now that the enemy is making strong advances in our world. Our Lord says to your anxious heart, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In that confidence, we may sing a familiar hymn in praise to our Lord: “With might of ours can naught be done, Soon were our loss effected; But for us fights the valiant One, Whom God Himself elected. Ask ye, Who is this? Jesus Christ it is, of Sabaoth Lord, and there’s none other God; He holds the field forever” (LSB 656:2).
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