The Holy War
The war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war against terror, and the war for the souls of men are all one and the same! The war has been continuous since its beginning. Each generation manages to add the names of the conflicts of their day, but it is merely a continuation of that which came before.
There was a man who once wrote of this war against “man’s soul.” It was written in allegory, because this style was his timeless gift. His name was John Bunyan. In his autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, he shared vividly of the torment of his soul and his ultimate deliverance by Christ’s wondrous and glorious Grace. You are probably most familiar with his more famous book, Pilgrim’s Progress. However, the work to which I now speak is called, The Holy War. In it Bunyan, who spent 12 years in prison for preaching the Gospel, tells of the assault against the town of Mansoul brought by a mighty enemy named Diabolus.
The town of Mansoul was built within walls and ramparts that were designed to withstand any attack. Even its five gates (Ear Gate, Eye Gate, Mouth Gate, Nose Gate and Feel Gate) could not be breached or traversed unless permission to enter was given by the townsfolk within.
Diabolus got together with his generals and strategized how they might conquer Mansoul and make it theirs. They decided not to use an overt frontal attack against the impregnable ramparts. Instead they decided to take Mansoul by stealth and deception. They would approach in a form familiar to the townsfolk ─ a form over which they thought they had dominion.
So the bad guys put on their armor and turned on their cloaking device, approached the town of Mansoul and walked right in.
Through deception, Diabolus put the town of Mansoul into bondage and purposed further to corrupt them as well. He ordered Mr. Filth to proclaim in the streets that the inhabitants were free to do anything their lusts might desire. There would be no one in authority allowed to hinder them for fear of prosecution from Diabolus. Thus Mansoul would grow weak to the point that even if the news of their redemption were broadcast from the rooftops, they would not have the ability to believe, or the hope to choose it (John Bunyan, The Holy War—Paraphrase mine).
The inhabitants of Mansoul should have been impervious to this attack, but alas, they had succumbed to the thinking of the day and were living as if they belonged to this world.
“Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for ‘bad company corrupts good character.’ Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all” (1 Cor 15:33-34 NLT).
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world” (1 John 2:15-16 NLT).
“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14 NLT).
My breastplate is a breastplate of iron….In plain language it is a hard heart, a heart as hard as iron and as unfeeling as a stone. If you wear it you will show no mercy to others. (John Bunyan, The Holy War—Paraphrase mine).
“In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan” Ephesians 6:16 NLT).
My shield is unbelief—the calling into question the truth of the Word and all the sayings that speak of the judgment that Shaddai has appointed for wicked men….But in the record of the wars of Immanuel against my servants, many have testified that he could do no mighty work because of their unbelief. (John Bunyan, The Holy War—Paraphrase mine).
“Put on salvation as your helmet…” (Ephesians 6:17a NLT).
My helmet is the hope of doing well in spite of the circumstances. Those who wear it say that they will be safe even though they insist on doing things their own way. This stubbornness of heart if you wear it, will protect you against many blows. (John Bunyan, The Holy War—Paraphrase mine).
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere" (Ephesians 6:18 NLT).
“Another piece,” said Diabolus, “of my excellent armor is a silent and prayerless spirit, a spirit that despises crying for mercy” (John Bunyan, The Holy War—Paraphrase mine).
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT).
“Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).
“When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. ‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the LORD, have spoken.” (Isaiah 1:15-20 NLT).