Bible Study Tools / Patience

Lose Some Battles, But Win the War

by George Carter

I was born in Sheffield, England, in 1941 during the time German bombs were being dropped on the industrial cities of England – including Sheffield. Germany had already bombed its way through Western Europe. When Poland was invaded, England declared war against Hitler’s Nazi army. Poland was quickly defeated and then France succumbed to the German onslaught. England was next and the battle of Britain began.

I vaguely remember the sirens being sounded and families rushing to the air-raid shelter, one of which had been dug in our backyard. In London, people flocked to the subway stations where they could find shelter from the cascading bombs that were falling on that city.

As I grew older, I read a lot about the Second World War. At one point, it seemed inevitable that the Germans would be victorious. However, in spite of the British and Allied forces losing many battles, they still won the war. This historical fact became a valuable life lesson for me when I became a Christian.

The Bible records the history of many battles and emphasizes that Christians are in a spiritual war (Ephesians 6:11-13).

All Christians do lose spiritual battles and this can lead to discouragement, depression and despair. So how do we confront these battles? How can we win the war?

There are three important strategies that we can employ to help us in this conflict.

Set our mind

Just like we set an alarm clock, we must set our mind with scriptures each day. Colossians 3:1-3 instructs us to “set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Jesus employed this principle when he quoted scriptures against Satan in the battle in the wilderness (Matthew 4). He did the same when He responded to the accusations of the Pharisees by stating that they “did not know the scriptures” (Matthew 22:15-23). The book of Proverbs also reminds us that “as we think in our hearts so we will act.” The same book also warns us to “guard our heart, for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Bible study is an important spiritual discipline, and Jesus set the example of quoting scriptures when preaching about the issues of life. Scriptures deal with life issues and, by setting our mind on them, they will be a source of great encouragement for us.

Renew our mind

Romans 12:2 states that we should “not be conformed to this world but that we should be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.”

David spent a lot of time meditating (Psalm 77:11-12) and it was through this practice that he regularly renewed his mind. We also should exercise this discipline of renewing our mind by reflecting on how well we have set our mind on things above. By doing this we should be able to make changes in our thinking and then make the necessary adjustments in our actions.

Many people spend a lot of time on physical activity to keep fit. How much more important is it that we meditate and renew our minds to avoid spiritual atrophy?

Gird up the loins of our mind

The apostle Peter uses this phrase in 1 Peter 1:13-16. Peter was probably familiar with the Greco-Roman wrestling culture where he understood that to “gird up” means to bind about.

The apostle Paul also uses this wrestling analogy when he writes, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11).

How do these three strategies affect our Christian life? The human mind is a wonderful component of God’s creation and gives us the capacity of memory, conscience and imagination. Satan wants to distort and cloud our thinking processes. He wants us to have error, worry, fear and anxiety. This is why we must discipline our minds against these negative trends.

We must regularly set, renew, and gird up our minds and do each prayerfully (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

In life we will lose battles and sometimes become discouraged, Losing battles can lead to depression and despair, so we do need a spiritual battle plan. There are many scriptures of encouragement. One of my favorites is when the apostle Paul writes that with the help of Christ “we are more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).

Stay in the battle – and win the war.

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