As promised, this is another excerpt from Listening to Love (Waterbrook, 2004). These words about spiritual warfare have been on my mind.
One Little Word
The spiritual momentum in the late seventeenth century was strong, when many were forced to see the church they loved lose its power under a structure of greed and secrecy. (sound familiar?) As many started to say no to things that grieve God's heart, they became targets, both in their private lives and through the unseen assault, as the subterfuge of the true things was uncovered. I thing the greatest spiritual warfare song ever penned was written during those days by Martin Luther, who had the guts, or balls, to set off this warfare by pounding his Ninety-five Theses to the doors of the Wittenberg Cathedral. Luther was up against the Catholic Church itself, and he was up against the enemies of his own heart. I love that he wrote "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" in the midst of this personal mission, fueled by love of Jesus' saving grace through faith. Read the song in its prose form (sadly, we rarely sing the whole thing anymore, and it loses its punch without the story it is telling):
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulward never failing. Our helper, He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe - his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate- on earht is not his equal. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing. Were not the right man on our side, the mand of God's own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He - Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same. And He must win the battle! And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear for God hath willed His Truth to triumph through us. The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him - his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him - that word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them abideth. The Spirit and the gifts are ours with Him who with us sideth. Let good and kindred go, this mortal life also. The body they may kill, God's truth abideth still. His kingdom is forever!
God is limitless. Evil not only has limits, but it operates under the strictest, most suffocating hierarchy you can imagine. Because of this, it is limited not just by the authority it is under with Jesus ascended and reigning, but it is limited by its very nature - a fallen, rejected defiler at the helm, who holds memory of untold beauty, charisma, and power ('on earth is not his equal') but who will one dy shrivel like a star-gazer lily in a desert inferno. When we become naive to evil's limits, we are saying that we live in a dualistic universe - God and his enemy battling it out on the same plane, and we hold our breath to see who will win. I fall into this trap so quickly when I'm in the midst of a battle with contempt, because the battle is all I can see. Dark lies feel too real, too big. But it really is true - "one little word shall fell him."