Engaging the Culture With the Weapons of Our Warfare
The devil and his allies are at war with followers of Christ. While we know that ultimately God triumphs over our enemies, we are involved in a conflict that we cannot avoid. There is no middle ground in this conflict. There is no way to be neutral. There is no way to not be involved. If we are uninvolved with the things of God, than we are passively acting against Him (Matthew 12:30). We can only serve one master (Matthew 6:24). So who will we serve?
The conflict that we face is actually a fight against ideas (or principles), but not against people. In other words, we're not normally supposed to attack people, but we are supposed to attack or oppose ungodly ideas. The devil can use people to carry out his evil purposes and intentions, but we are still commanded to love our enemies. Most Christians would likely agree that the weapons we use to fight our battles are different than the worlds' weapons.
That doesn't mean there isn't ever a time for Christians to go to war (in the physical sense) - though something so severe should only be considered as a last resort. There is a Scriptural basis and a time for war (Ecclesiastes 3:8), but it is the exception and not the rule. And there is a rigorous Biblical standard for the justification of going to war. We must not use our own reasoning or excuses to justify going to war. But in regards to the conflict against ungodly ideas, our weapons "have divine power to destroy strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4). Of course, this is only true if we actually use the weapons God has given us.
The weapons we use
In Ephesians 6:11, God's Word declares that we are to "put on the whole armor of God", in order to "stand against the schemes of the devil". The whole armor of God includes the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14). So the weapon of truth requires believing and sharing God's Word with the world. The belt gives the idea of fastening the truth to our bodies. The whole armor of God includes the breastplate of righteousness, which represents a righteous heart or being made right with God through Jesus. It also includes shoes (Ephesians 6:15) so we can stand firm and advance the Kingdom of God. Another weapon we use is the shield to defend our faith. Defending our faith "can extinguish all the flaming darts" of the devil (Ephesians 6:16). The helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17) represents the idea of understanding who our savior is. And the sword of the Spirit represents the idea of using the Word of God as a weapon. The sword of the Spirit is already an offensive weapon, so there is no need for us to add any of our own offensiveness to it.
Unceasing prayer is a vital tool that we must use along with all of the weapons of our warfare. There are three institutions God has established. Those institutions are the Church, the family (marriage), and the government. We must desperately pray for each of these institutions. We must engage within each of these institutions using all of the weapons of our warfare in obedience to God. We must stay alert to attacks from our enemies and we must persevere through the trials we face. We do not fight because we are strong on our own. We fight because we are only strong "in the Lord" (Ephesians 6:10).
The weapons of our warfare are not the same weapons the world uses, but they do require taking action, which begins and ends with prayer. Using these weapons in the way that they were intended can be rewarding in our walk with the Lord. They can be used to His glory and they can lead us to victory over our enemies. Using the wrong weapons or not using the weapons of our warfare at all can lead us to an unfulfilled walk with the Lord and can tarnish our witness to the unbelieving world.
We must be engaged in the fight
It seems that too many Christians falsely believe the only way God advances His Kingdom is when He acts on His own. It's as if we believe that He doesn't or can't accomplish His will through people. Yet, there are countless of examples in the Bible that demonstrate the Lord acts both on His own and through His beloved, as agents for accomplishing His will. And doesn't He still act in both of these ways? He is still the creator. He holds the stars in the sky. He keeps the earth spinning on its axis. And yet, He still uses those who love Him and even those who don't, to help accomplish His will on the earth.
Though it seems there are many followers of Christ who aren't engaged in the fight yet. It's possible there is some sort of disconnect for some believers related to a misunderstanding of Scripture. It's as if we believe that because Jesus didn't use earthly weapons, He wasn't engaged in a fight. Yet we know from Scripture that He absolutely was! Jesus repeatedly fought against the ungodly ideas of the world (Matthew 19:3-9, Matthew 22:15-22). For further Biblical proof, the apostle Paul was engaged in the fight against ungodly ideas (Acts 17:2-3) as well. So we must also "fight the good fight of the faith" (1 Timothy 6:12). In a recent sermon, Pastor Jeff Schwartzentraub (BRAVE Church in Denver, CO) told his congregation that "we can't stand on the sidelines anymore". He's absolutely right. We must act now!
While there are likely many reasons why we may not want to engage in the fight against ungodly ideas, the main reason is that we haven't yet died to self. We are consumed with living for ourselves, so we don't make time for the work God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). We have little desire to speak and live out God's truth because we value the comfort in our own lives more than we do serving God. So in order to begin fighting the good fight, the believer must first die to self, and then must elevate God's will above his or her own. This is exactly what Jesus did. Now we must carry our own cross (Mark 8:34). In fact, Jesus said we cannot be His disciples unless we bear our own cross (Luke 14:27). Therefore, we must advance God's Kingdom (Matthew 28:19-20) by dying to ourselves, and we must engage our culture with the weapons of our warfare.