Early last month, after my freshman year classes had ended and my dorm room was packed for the summer, my dad and I made the long trek from Azusa, California to Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of the fourteen hour drive, he and I had plenty of time to think and talk. While driving through the barren Utah desert, I spent some time in silence pondering the pain and chaos so evident in the world around me. Questions I had contemplated countless times before once again flowed through my mind. If God is all powerful and loves His creation, why doesn’t He put an end to suffering? What could cause someone to lose all respect for another life? Why do I get to sit in the comfort of my home with everything I could possibly need or even want while others who are unquestionably as valued by God struggle to merely survive? Why doesn’t Jesus just come back now and put an end it all? In the midst of these seemingly hopeless thoughts there emerged a new question that I ventured to ask my dad. “Why does the devil even bother?” After all, the Bible makes it clear that the victory has already been won. The devil may be fallen, but he is certainly not ignorant. I have no doubt he is fully aware of his inevitable future. But if he does not stand a chance, then why bother to temporarily wreak havoc on the earth? My dad’s immediate answer was full of wisdom. “He probably feels like he’s winning right now.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much truth was packed in that one simple statement. When one person takes the life of another, the devil feels as though he is winning. When a child utters harsh words to another rooted in hatred, the devil feels as though he is winning. When babies’ lives are taken before they are ever given the opportunity to live outside of their mother’s womb, the devil feels as though he is winning. When one human takes advantage of another for their own pleasure, the devil feels as though he is winning. He feels as though he is winning when Bibles are banned from school, when the Lord’s name is used as a curse rather than a blessing, and when we no longer operate as one nation under God. When I feel comfortable in the midst of my complacency, the devil has won a battle in my life. However, it remains true that despite how hopeless a situation may seem, or how many battles the devil appears to win, he stands no chance when it comes to the ultimate war. When Jesus conquered the grave by rising from the dead, the victory was already won. The devil is like a child who has done something wrong and knows it is only a matter of time before he is caught and forced to face the consequences. But until Jesus returns to rule over the new heaven and the new earth and put the devil in his place for good, each day brings countless battles with the potential to sway either way.
As a Christian, I find the truth of “the victory won” to cause varying emotions. On the one hand I am filled with hope in knowing that my God will reign victorious and will put an end forever to tears and suffering. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that the trials of this life are temporary and that death holds no power. In the midst of this security, however, it is important to remember that although the victory is won it cannot be enjoyed by everyone. God is a god of mercy and of love but He is also a god of consequences and justice. Those who fail to acknowledge Him as their Lord and Savior in life will not be able to stand victorious with Him in death. Therefore, the victory won should not elicit a state of passivity, but rather an overwhelming desire to make the victory accessible to everyone. Jesus won the fight for my life and I know that one day I will stand with Him in victory, but there are numerous people living today who have not heard this good news or who have chosen to ignore it, and for them the battle is still waging. That is why Christ calls his followers to fight the good fight and finish the race. The war might be won but the battle for every life is significant, necessary, and entirely worthwhile. This becomes clear when someone puts another’s needs before their own, and the devil knows he has lost. When a person raises their hands in silent worship while hiding from persecution, the devil knows he has lost. When a new brother or sister is added to the family of Christ, the devil knows he has lost. The devil knows he has lost when childlike faith is restored, when a heart is changed, and when fear of judgment is cast aside. When I choose to act on what I know is right the devil knows he has lost the battle over my life. The victory is won, but the war rages on and the devil is witness to every battle. Every decision made, every word uttered and every action taken has the potential to make him feel as though he is winning or to make him know he has lost. I don’t know about you, but I am not going to let my fight give the devil false hope. That just doesn’t seem fair.
What were you created to do?
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4