Get off the Couch, Put down the Remote, and Get in the Fight
By Patrick Houghteling
I was getting too passive, and as the Lord usually does, He let me know that I needed to make a course correction. In the past there would’ve been an a.k.a. “kick me in the pants through 17 different means” added to the end of the previous sentence, but thankfully, with intimacy in a relationship there comes sensitivity in hearing. He doesn’t have to kick me in the pants anymore, although I am sometimes caught distracted by a wayward bird flying by and need an attention-getter.
Investigating my passivity, I believe the cause of it was reading too much of the “old masters.” Men of God such as Bonhoeffer, Luther, Murry, etc., had great revelations, and studying them is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. But we all know what we have weaknesses in, and the spiritual passivity contained in some of their teachings was something I didn’t really need to perpetuate in my life.
We need to also understand that revelation is often progressive, so there’s nothing saying that we aren’t capable of additional, and even better revelation than those of days-gone-by. Something else to keep in mind when you study: Eat the hay and spit out the sticks. In other words, know what’s good and bad. My father-in-law taught me this over the years, and it’s something I’ve always kept in my mind. I can learn something from anyone, but you just have to remember the sticks and hay part. All revelation is from the Lord, of course.
The Passive Approach
Let me explain, in my opinion, what I mean by being “too passive.” Being too passive is accepting things as they are and letting things be. Spiritually. Not standing against attacks by the devil, when Ephesians 6 tells us to do just that, stand against the attacks, not gently coddle them, allowing them to remain.
Being passive is allowing life to happen to you, instead of you happening to life.
It’s bending to the circumstances and situations around you instead of making the situation around you bend to your God-given authority. Those are my thoughts on being too passive. I was going down the wrong path and I needed to get off.
The In-Your-Face, Bare-Knuckled Approach
For this reason, the Lord awakened me one morning with a verse on my mind:
“For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested,
that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
I thought about it. This isn’t exactly a passive approach to an enemy’s actions in your midst. It’s an in-your-face, bare-knuckled mission statement that doesn’t mince words. Jesus knew this, and He knew what He was sent to do – heal the sick, raise the dead, bring sight to the blind and set captives free. Jesus knew who the enemy was and hated his tactics.
John 2:13-16 gives an account of how intentional and focused Jesus can be: “In the temple, he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”
Think about this for a moment. See yourself at His side, walking into the temple. As you enter with Him, see Him pausing for a moment to look around, taking everything in. He doesn’t say anything, but you can see the intensity on His face and the plan of action forming in His mind. The Scripture says it all and He knows it: “Zeal for your house has consumed me” (Psalm 69:9). Nobody else ever did anything about all this wickedness and extortion in the temple, but it was His zeal consuming Him that caused Him to take radical action.
This took some forethought for Him. I’m sure it took some time for him to search out materials to actually make a whip, and He didn’t “cool down” in the meantime. He was focused and knew exactly what He had to do. If you’ll allow me some artistic license here, He then went zealously ballistic in a righteous manner, probably kicking over tables and driving everyone out. I mean, come on, He had a whip! Who exactly was He whipping?
The Word Sets the Tone
As I meditated on Jesus destroying the works of the devil, other Bible verses, exhorting me out of a spiritually passive lifestyle, flooded into my mind. These were warfare-like verses using words such as:
wrestle darkness (Eph. 6:12)
fight the good fight (1 Tim. 6:12)
endure hardship as a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:1-4)
be strong in the Lord (Eph. 6:10 and 2 Tim. 2:1)
and put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20).
Then both James and Peter nailed the coffin shut by telling us to resist the devil. This word “resist,” in and of itself, means to actively stand against, to oppose if you will. It’s not a Doris Day singing Que Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) type of resistance. These are military words. Fighting words. There’s not much passivity in these words, that’s for sure.
Fighting, resisting, and talking of spiritual warfare can be all too okay for a former military guy like me, but all this could be construed in the wrong way for someone not having a revelation of what it means to fight by standing in God’s armor and resting in His Word (Eph. 6 and Heb. 4). Hear what I’m saying: The battle is always the Lord’s, and the moment we try to fight in our own strength and ability, it turns into either pride or something Paul calls “confidence in the flesh.”
Your Basic Rifleman DNA
Here’s an analogy I hope will explain how we’re all called, in spite of our specific gifts and callings, to advance forward and destroy the works of the devil. Remember, the Church is to be offensive rather than defensive, and the “gates of hell,” spoken of in Matthew 16:18, are to not prevail against the Church. Last time I looked, gates are an immovable part of a city or kingdom, indicating that we are to advance against them.
When I enlisted in the U.S. Marines way back when, I was given a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of 1371, Combat Engineer. That was my “job” if you will. Let’s just say I played with a lot of explosives and landmines – a specialty that doesn’t necessarily apply all too well in the civilian job market. All Marines, when they enlist, are given an MOS that will train them in a very specific specialty the Corps needs to fulfill its mission. (Think biblically here, as each one individually in the body of Christ has a different function according to the grace given them. One is a hand, another is a foot, an eye, etc.) There is, however, an underlying designation that all Marines are given. Let’s call it their base identity, and it’s stated as such: Every Marine is a Basic Rifleman.
What does that mean? It means, regardless of what your specialty is, every Marine can pick up a rifle and effectively bring the fight to the enemy, should that capability be needed. It’s a Marine’s base DNA, and one which every Marine is endued with in boot camp. This is analogous to what we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, are called to do, regardless of the specific calling on our lives. (Paul refers to this as our individual “sphere of influence” – 2 Cor. 10:13.)
What is our Basic Rifleman DNA in the body of Christ? Simply this: All are commanded to go, preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and have signs, such as casting out devils and healing the sick, follow us as we preach the good news of Christ. These signs are listed in Mark 16:17-18, and if you’ll notice, casting out devils is the first item listed. Why is that notable? I believe it’s because Jesus wants us to know, first and foremost, that we have power and authority over the works of the enemy. We are all to bring light to darkness and destroy the works of the devil. Jesus did it and He wants us to do the same.
Let me bring this to a close with a warning: When you move in on the enemy’s territory, he’s not going to roll over, belly up, and play dead. He’s not going to appreciate you destroying what he’s worked hard for; therefore, you must be determined. You must set your face like a flint to the task that the Lord has given you. Following Jesus isn’t for the uncommitted. There’s a cost to being a disciple of Jesus. Why else would the Lord tell us to put on His armor if He didn’t expect that we wouldn’t be going into combat?
Jesus said that we may be a sheep in a pack of wolves (Matt. 10:16), but know this, that the One sending you out is the very One who will never leave or forsake you. He’s the very One who rose in victory over the grave. He’s the very One who holds the keys to death and hell, and His is the name unto which EVERY knee will bow, whether in Heaven or on Earth, and we are victorious in Him!