As the invisible COVID-19 delta variant proliferates across the globe, President Biden is once again pounding his bully pulpit in an attempt to mandate that federal employees and businesses—with at least 100 employees or more— be vaccinated against the virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called for universal masking in schools and recommended that—vaccinated or not— people in areas with high transmission levels should resume wearing nose and mouth coverings in public indoor settings.
Unfortunately, it seems that “back to school” is becoming synonymous with back to fearing a contagion that has plagued the world for more than 18 months. But if you are looking for the bright side of civilization’s new normal, could it be that a sovereign God is allowing this pandemic to unfold so that Christians and unbelievers alike will recognize that their hope is in Christ alone?
THE ENEMY’S PLAN
While the media and politicians bloviate 24/7 about the ever-changing science and partisan protocols for defeating a viral enemy and restoring universal wellbeing, The Holy Bible is quite clear about the strategy of the “prince of the power of the air” to divide and conquer society and neuter the Body of Christ through deceitful schemes.
“The father of lies” espouses counterfeit truths grounded in faulty premises. The “god of this world” disguises utter foolishness as wisdom and distracts with the lure of entertainment, lust, ambition and greed. The “tempter” promotes vanity as if it were a virtue. The “deceiver” employs false teachers and fake Christians – wolves in sheep’s clothing – to pervert the Gospel and mislead masses of people about the true meaning of love and godliness. The “ruler of this world” uses religion to replace the only thing that can truly heal a person’s heart – a relationship with Jesus. The “fallen star” elevates all forms of spirituality to try to appease the need every person has to know God and be known by Him.
In 1 Peter 5:8 we find a stark warning for the times in which we live: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
Some Bible translations call for “self-control” and being “watchful” – “always on the lookout” for the enemy’s schemes and attacks. If you have ever watched on TV the National Geographic or Animal Planet channels, you’ve probably witnessed a lion stealthily stalking its prey only to pounce when the victim is least aware and most vulnerable. The “king of the jungle” doesn’t make a grand announcement of his intentions to subdue his prey by biting and breaking their neck before ripping them apart limb by limb. Instead, a lion cleverly and quietly conceals himself behind a rock, tree or cluster of vegetation and tall grass before pouncing on its clueless victim. It’s actually not until the damage is done—the prey conquered— that the lion roars in jubilation over his conquest.
ARE YOU ARMED FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE?
We are admonished in Scripture about this lion-like adversary. To heed this warning, we must first acknowledge that there is an enemy who is intent on destroying both our lives and our witness for Christ. For the Christian, this is known as spiritual warfare. Christ-followers are called to actively resist the “wicked one.” Surely, you’ve heard the old adage that, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That couldn’t be truer for our spiritual, physical relational and financial health. Make no mistake: “the ruler of the darkness” is cunningly at work to trick, cheat, deceive, defraud, double cross and bamboozle Believers and non-believers alike. The Bible says he is a thief, a liar and a murderer.
Consequently, God’s Word instructs us to remain steadfast in the faith. Steadfast means dutiful, resolute, firm and unwavering. How do we do that? Vaccinations, social distancing and wearing masks in public could help ward off COVID-19 for a season, but none of these precautions will protect you from the daily attacks of “the serpent of old.” Only “the whole armor of God,” as the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 6:13-18 can fully equip a Christian to not only survive but thrive in today’s world.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
Paul identifies the “belt of truth” as the first essential piece of God’s gear for resisting the “lawless one.” It is only by the truth of God’s inerrant and infallible Word in Scripture that we can discern fact from fiction and know right from wrong. God’s Word reconciles His creation in perfect harmony to Himself (John 1:1-5 & Colossians 1:15-20).
The full counsel of Scripture leaves no stone unturned when it comes to navigating the landmines, quicksand, hanging cliffs, wrong turns and dead ends on this earthly journey. God’s Word, the belt of truth, warns us that wide is the path of destruction but narrow is the way to everlasting life. Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
PATHWAY TO VICTORY
The wide gate of this world tells you that you are your own god. As the master of your domain in this alternate universe, the world applauds when you define your own truth. When the U.S. Supreme Court redefined the Biblical model of marriage between one man and one woman, Fortune 500 companies, media conglomerates and churches alike joined in the celebration of the destruction of God’s design for marriage and the family. Furthermore, the wide-gate worldview says you can undo what God has done. He creates life but the laws of our land dictate a mother’s right to take the life of the child God created in her womb.
Genesis 1:27 teaches that God makes a person as either a male or a female, however, our society’s professional associations of medicine, education and psychology espouse that God can make mistakes, and that those He created are wiser than He and thus can determine their own gender. The wide gate of popular opinion and political correctness preaches its own version of equality, justice and fairness. The narrow gate of God’s Truth, however, declares He’s the arbitrator of all truth claims.
Does God’s “belt of truth” hold everything together in your world, or is it merely an accessory to a facade? Jesus declares: “I am the way, and the truth and the life, no one comes unto the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).