My Marine son has a Latin saying tattooed on his arm: "si vis pacem para bellum." It means, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” I’ve thought long and hard about that statement.
_“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” - Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLV)
If a country desires peace, it must have an army, armed and prepared, to protect its citizens from those who desire to overtake it. In order to keep their country secure and safe, soldiers rigorously train for battles they may never face. But what happens to a country when its army is ill-equipped, poorly trained, and undisciplined? It is left vulnerable to attack. In order for peace to reign in a country, it has to be ready for war in every way.
During my son’s 12-week Marine Basic Training, his drill sergeants wanted their platoon to be the very best at everything they did. That meant that every man had to be excellent. If one member fell behind, they would all pay the price. They would drill eight to nine hours straight in order to be ranked the best platoon in drilling. They were right on track to take first place, but when they got to the rifle range, their shooting was off and they finished second overall. Their drill sergeant lined them up in their barracks and began to scream and yell at them for taking second place. He was so mad that he took their trophy and threw it out the window! And then he said, “There is no second place in war! You are either first or you’re dead!”
As followers of Christ, we are in a war, but how seriously do we prepare and stay vigilant?
We have an enemy, Satan, who hungers for our souls and preys on our weaknesses. He seems to find all the places that we are vulnerable or ill-equipped. One of his best tactics is to get Christians to think they are at peace, when the truth is, they are at war. That way he can catch them unprepared and untrained for battle.
We need to be prepared for battle. We cannot let down our guard. We must be strong and alert! But what does that look like in our life as a follower of Christ? We must train just like a soldier does — we need to learn God’s Word and be ready to use it to combat all lies Jesus used Scripture in defeating Satan when he was tempted. We must do more than just read it; we need to apply God’s truth to every aspect of our lives. God’s Word must become an integral part of our everyday life!
Further reading: 5 Benefits of Memorizing Scripture.
It is imperative that we develop our relationship with God. We need to know who he truly is so that we can place our trust in him even when we don’t understand what’s happening and can’t see the way forward. The Bible calls us to walk by faith. Notice that in the first part of Ephesians 6:10-12, it says that we are to be strong in the Lord and that we are to draw our strength from him. We cannot do it on our own — we need his power, his strength, and his might. That means learning to live in the power of the Holy Spirit daily.
You cannot afford to be passive. Too much is at stake. If you want peace in your life as a Christian, and if you want to do damage to the kingdom of darkness, you must prepare for the battle, and that takes initiative. Why not get started today?
And never forget: You are already victorious in Christ, who sits enthroned at the right hand of the Father, above all authority, or power, or dominion (Ephesians 1.15-23). Stronger is he who is in us, than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)!