When I gave my life to Christ at twenty, I never anticipated falling away. I never expected a life that would fail. After all, doesn’t Christ promise a life of abundance? When the perfect life I had crafted for myself began to erode, I did not have the spiritual depth to see things for what they were. I did not understand the supernatural – the things that exist outside of this visible world. I did not perceive the battle happening in me and around me. It is only in hindsight that I gained this insight. I had been living my life on a tilted plane with lots of peaks and valleys, and now it was sitting flat. The entire landscape of my life had changed. A new clarity has surfaced. All that was confusing and mysterious before now made perfect sense. Looking back, I can see all of the battles I lost. I can see when the Lord protected me and even saved me from my bad choices. I can see the enemy as clear as day now.
A lot of people fall away from God and church, but it occurs to me that it is because, like me, they don’t understand the invisible battle. People fall away for lots of justifiable reasons – like my mother. She grew disenchanted with the church due to blatant hypocrisy. People, including the church’s pastor, professed one thing but lived lives steeped in sin – adultery, gossip, sexual immorality, jealousy, quarreling, drunkenness, divisiveness; all things that are diabolically opposed to Christianity. Attending a church that is full of immoral living is repulsive to most people and rightfully so. People don’t want to be a part of something that isn’t genuine. Returning to church after what I call my grand reawakening, I had a lot of encounters with these feelings. The stench of ungodliness is rampant in the Western Church – materialism, pride, self-righteousness, worldliness. When you compare today’s Christians with the early Christian church in the New Testament, the gap is far and wide. And still, we are called to be a part of the church, to love it, to pray for it and to not consider ourselves better than anyone else in it. That’s called humility, and it is fundamental to Biblical Christianity. Never let someone else’s sin keep you from God or his people which is his church. Hypocrisy in the church is the devil’s smokescreen devised to keep you away, and once you recognize it, you can ask God to help you deal with those feelings and then get on with the business of living out your salvation in His church and this world.
That brings me to the battle. In a battle, there are typically two opposing sides – the good guys and the bad guys. In a spiritual battle, there are three sides. We should not be surprised. Our God is three in one – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We are also three in one – body, soul, spirit. The body is the physical aspect – flesh and blood – it contains the fleshly appetites and physical drives. The soul is the intangible part – the mind, will, emotions and thoughts; basically, it’s what makes you, you – your personality, the ‘self.’ It is the part that makes everyone uniquely individual. The spirit is the part that connects us with God and is lacking at birth. After the original sin (also called the fall of mankind), the spirit died, and all of humanity is born in Adam are born spiritually dead. The spirit comes alive or awakes in us through faith in Jesus, God’s son, after receiving the gift of eternal life. The spirit is eternal – everlasting. That is why it is called being ‘born again’ when we become a Christian – it is a spiritual birth. After the fall our body (carnal flesh) became controlled by our fleshly appetite dominated by the soul and under the dominion of the soul. The battle is between who controls the body. Is it your soul (self), the spirit, or the unseen dark forces of this world (the devil and his cohorts)? This is an unseen war.