Ephesians 6:12. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
1 Peter 5:8. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Romans 8:38-39. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Corinthians 11:14. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
In our waiting for Christ’s second advent we are embroiled in a great spiritual war. A war fought among the angels in the spirit realm. A war fought in our own hearts. To bring things down to earth, just think about your day to day and how much you hate to wait for anything.
But waiting is the entire human experience, not to mention the whole Christian experience. Not only are we waiting for God to arrive to rescue us, we are waiting through a gradual process of change. We are waiting in snail paced suffering. We are waiting through temptations that never seem to go away.
But it’s not just waiting THROUGH trials and temptations that’s the problem. The waiting IS the trial and temptation. Think back to Jesus’ trial of temptations in the wilderness. Every one of the Satanic seductions came from offering Jesus immediately what God was asking him to wait for. Eat bread NOW. Receive God’s protection NOW. Have the kingdoms of the earth NOW.
Waiting caused the suffering, and the temptation was to end the waiting.
Think about it, if we never had to wait for anything it would appear that we would never suffer. If every desire of our heart was instantly met by God, there would be no temptation. Lose your job, but have a new one the next day. Girlfriend dumps you, but new sweetheart an hour later. Feeling sick, but instant relief from a pill. No suffering. No sinning. Right?
Angels and Demons (1942), M.C. Escher (1898-1972).
But also no growth. No holiness.
How does the Devil devour us? How do the cosmic powers and spiritual forces battle us?
They use the waiting that God has built into our existence against us. They use it to make us question God. They use it to make us think this version of earth is our final home. They use it to make us seek an earthly identity rather than a heavenly one. They use it to make us pursue instant gratification rather than character and holiness.
Can you see any of this in your own life?
Most likely the demonic warfare in your life does not look like something from The Exorcist. The demonic advent into your thinking is disguised as an angel of light. It comes as all the things you need, and want, and desire, and shouldn’t have to wait for. Like the Israelites, waiting and waiting for Moses to come back down from the mountain. “We need this idol,” they said. “We need a guide and this golden baby cow is it.”
But waiting is designed to make us trust God. Waiting renews our strength. Waiting brings holiness. Waiting forces dependence and rest upon us. Waiting is worship.
Are you watchful in your waiting? Are you wrestling? This is the battleground that God has prepared for us in our salvation. Like paratroopers on D-Day dropped behind enemy lines. Surrounded. Waiting for Christ’s invasion force to hit the beach. But equipped with the greatest weapon ever – the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You see God asking us to wait will do one of two things. Like the Prodigal Son story, it will either drive you away from his love, doubting his love (younger brother), trying to earn his love (older brother). OR it will drive you deeper into his love. Trusting his love. Depending fully on his love above all else. How?
Because nothing can separate us from this love. Nothing. No angel. No demon. No cosmic ruler. Not even the hardest thing ever – waiting.
How will you live out your season of advent this year? Will you let your waiting drive you deeper into a dependence on God’s love above all else? Or will you seek the things of this earth to satisfy you – an earthly identity? A quick fix? An avoidance of all thing hard or difficult? Will you fight the spiritual battle choosing the holiness that comes from waiting over the happiness that comes from instant gratification?