Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Paul Hartung: The Lopsided Warfare

Today's guest blogger, Paul Hartung became a disciple of Christ at the age of twenty while reading the gospel accounts privately, and so began a lifelong study of the scriptures.  Now forty, he resides in Oregon City where he is raising five children to trust Jesus.  He posts comments occasionally on this blog under the name 'fools4christ' and welcomes thoughtful interaction.  While never a member of the F.O.C., Paul cares deeply about others discovering the riches of Christ regardless of their past or present circumstances. 

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But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4

Talk of spiritual warfare tends to sound like dark fantasy.  It is often described in ways so far outside the realm of normal existence that many feel they are not susceptible to such troubles (because most feel they are the normal ones while others are weird).  Maybe this extraordinary warfare only happens to occur among those very-spiritually-aware type of folks, they think.  Or perhaps it’s all just in the heads of those given to an overactive imagination? 

The awful truth is that an insanely lopsided warfare has been waged against humanity for millennia – and most are unaware of it and are, therefore, defeated already. 

What force is at work to prevent people from seeing the truth of the gospel? – that is the question I want to probe. 

Briefly stated, the bible teaches that sinners are blind and cannot see/hear/believe the good news unless and until the Lord overcomes every obstacle in them.  Even culturally religious theists need to have their hearts opened in order to obtain a saving faith (see Acts 16:14).

A short answer is not sufficient because there can be multiple factors that result in the same unbelief, and more than one of those factors may be at work simultaneously.  Nevertheless, there is one chief cause of unbelief under which the others fall: Satan, the god of this perishing world.  Read again the above passage from 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. 

There is nothing wrong with the gospel itself.  Everyone ought to be enamored with it.  The problem is a satanically induced blindness that permeates the human race to prevent genuine appreciation of the message of salvation.  While Satan is not able to prevent the Lord’s elect from obtaining saving faith and finishing the race of faith, he does not know who the elect are.  That is why new believers face great difficulty in making even small steps towards a renewed mind and a childlike faith in the Savior.

By his nature, Satan works tirelessly to make the message of Jesus seem unimportant, disgusting, irrelevant, or otherwise unbelievable.  It is a caricature of the devil to think he is about scaring folks, getting them to listen to heavy metal music, perform bloody rituals, or other wild behavior associated with social abnormality.  Satan welcomes such credit if it keeps his primary warfare a secret to those blinded. 

In this world, the gospel is being confused, muddled, and diminished constantly.  Power mongers select pieces of the gospel to carve out their own niche following.  Opponents are made famous by their bold disobedience to it.  Apostates are embraced as courageous for evolving beyond it.  The result is still blindness to the light of the gospel. And this is not only true in the external world of human communication but also in the internal thought process and memory.

When people don’t regard or understand the message of the gospel – that is when Satan does his most common work in the minds of the hearers. Jesus taught His disciples a critically important parable about different kinds of hearers and the warfare entailed when the message is proclaimed.  In Matthew’s gospel, the parable of the sower explains the lopsided warfare in terms of Satan removing what was planted:

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.
Matthew 13:19 NKJV

This describes satanic warfare at the basic level of how a person processes words and esteems them internally.  A lack of understanding is no excuse for a lack of caring about the message of life through Christ.  If the message is not valued enough to think hard upon then faith cannot take root because the enemy of your soul won’t let the word survive.  And if the heart has no vital trust in the word and work of King Jesus, then you are perishing – you prove that you too are on the wrong end of the lopsided warfare.

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Paul can be contacted at

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