The Great Conflict

Some of us thought when we turned to the Lord Jesus Christ, and received through Him the forgiveness of sins, that all would then be quietness and rest until we reached our home in the glory of God. But we have been undeceived, for when a man turns to Christ the fighting days begin, and he who would follow the Lord wholly must gird himself for the battle.

The Christian’s course is one of constant conflict, and the language which describes it is not that of the drawing-room, but of the battlefield. Scripture speaks of “the good fight” and of “the weapons of our warfare.” It exhorts us to take to ourselves “the whole armour of God” and to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. It reminds us that it is possible to be “more than conquerors through Him that loved us,” and encourages us by telling of rewards that await the overcomers. It is abundantly evident then that though we have peace with God, there must be no peace with the foe; if we have surrendered to Christ, there must be no surrender to those things that would spoil our testimony for Him.

We will divide the conflict into three parts:—
1. We must hold the fort.
2. Help our comrades.
3. Lay hold upon fresh territory on the Lord’s behalf.

1. We must hold the fort. God’s glad tidings have reached us to the intent that we, being delivered from Satan’s power ourselves, might deliver others also. But how deliver others if we ourselves are overcome? So the first thing is to hold the fort; or, in other words, to keep ourselves for Christ.

O ye who rejoice in Jesus as Saviour, ever remember that ye are His—spirit, soul, and body—by right of purchase. Moreover, He has taken possession, for when we believed the gospel of our salvation the Spirit of God took up His abode within us, and the indwelling of the Spirit means that the Lord has claimed His own.

Men often purchase property to let it out to others. Not so the Lord. He has not purchased us to ticket us “This house to let,” and yet how often do we act as though this were so. We let out the front apartments of our life to others, and reserve a back room for the rightful Owner of all. Overcome, indeed, are all those who act thus.

“Yield yourselves to God.” “Present your bodies a living sacrifice.” These are exhortations which call for prompt obedience. Without this there will be no victory. But His commandments are not grievous; He is most gracious, and His ways are ways of love. Not by the might of His hand, but by the love of His heart; not by the iron bands of law, but by the knowledge of His deep and undying affection, He would constrain us to surrender ourselves to Him.

Anything that would rival Christ in our hearts is an enemy to be overcome. Perhaps you are conscious of many rivals, and as a consequence there is but little freshness or spiritual vigour about you, and constant defeat is yours. Possibly there are other things controlling you of which you are not aware, though you know that something is wrong. Under such circumstances what must be done?

The way is plain. Yield yourself into the hand of the Lord. Say to Him, “Lord, take Thy candle and search me. Go through my whole being, and give me grace to cast out all that is contrary to Thee.” Have you ever spent an hour in the Lord’s company like that? It is astonishing how different everything will appear if you do. Oh, it is necessary, the most necessary thing in your life, and if so it is the thing you should attend to first.

Is there a secret chamber in your life which you dare not throw open to the dearest earthly friend? Let it be open to Him, He will deal with you so tenderly, and though He make you utterly loathe yourself, He will give you such a sense of His love and worth that it will be the greatest relief to be rid of those things which you imagine to be indispensable. However humiliating the process, it will yield the deepest blessing, and He will turn the sorrow into songs, and make you happy indeed.
  Take Thou my heart and let it be
  For ever closed to all but Thee;
  Thy willing servant, let me wear
  The seal of love for ever there.

What a blessed thing it is that if we desire to be wholly for Him there are all His grace and the power of the Holy Ghost at our disposal, so that we need not be overcome.

You may tell me that you are weak, without ability, and of no use to the Lord. In this you are mistaken. Hold the fort, keep yourself for the Lord, and in doing this you will be amongst those who prevail.

2. Help our comrades. Every one is not placed in the same part of the field nor called to the same kind of warfare. There are those in the forefront of the battle who carry the Standard of Truth right into the enemy’s land. We can help such by prayer. That great and valiant soldier, the apostle Paul, asked for the prayers of God’s people. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:18-20). Here you have the case stated, and mark it well, this is connected with the great conflict, for which the whole armour of God is needed. It is evident that the great Captain’s eye is on the field of conflict. He sees every movement, knows all the strategy of the foe, and connects His succour with the prayers of His people. No more honoured place could any have than that of intercessors. It is the place that our Lord has taken in heaven. It is in intercession that we help our brethren; but to truly intercede we require two things—we must be acquainted with the need, and at the same time be in touch with the supply. Have you not felt the fierceness of Satan’s attacks yourself, and that the Lord was your only resource? Did you not find how strong He was to deliver? Knowing then the need and the sufficiency of the supply, you can intercede for others. Oh that this were always our happy occupation! Alas! we often find Christians treating each other as foes. They turn and wound and bruise each other. How pitiful is this! May the good Lord deliver us from it!

The battle is the Lord’s. I know not why He has placed one soldier here and another there; I have no right to demand that all should fight at my side or follow with me; if these are my notions, I may expect to hear the Captain’s rebuke, “What is that to thee?” It is His business to direct, not mine. Or, if I begin to be jealous of others and take the place of fault-finder, it is evident that I have been overcome, and instead of criticizing others, I should judge myself and seek restoration to the Lord.

3. Laying hold of fresh territory, on the Lord’s behalf. There are many sides to this great conflict, but I desire to press the blessedness of winning souls from Satan’s power. I had occasion a few days ago to visit one long held in darkness and doubt. Before going, I went to the Lord in prayer, and in His presence the whole matter appeared to me in a new light. There was a soul held in bondage; no note of praise had ever been raised to the Lord; the sunshine of His love was a thing unknown; Satan held the fort, and had resisted all attempts to take from him that piece of territory. But that soul was the Lord’s property. It was my business that day to go in His name and claim it, to drive Satan back and plant the standard of the Lord where Satan’s dark banner had floated. But the Lord’s power alone was sufficient for this, and hence the call to prayer and dependence. It was a great joy half an hour afterwards to see the darkness pass from that soul, and to give thanks that another bit of land had been wrested from Satan and added to the Lord’s kingdom.

And it is ever so. When the Lord rose triumphant from the grave and stood in the midst of His own, there at least were eleven men delivered from sin and death and Satan’s power, whom the Lord could use. On the bright day of Pentecost Satan’s dominion was overthrown in no less than three thousand souls. Still the conflict wages, and the day is coming (O hasten it, Lord!) when a multitude that no man can number, white-robed and glory-crowned, with palm branch of victory in hand, shall shout the praises of God—every soul of thorn won from Satan’s power in conflict here below.

Are our hearts united in happy fellowship for this conflict, beloved fellow-soldiers? In the presence of it how mean are all our quibbles and contentions! Well may we sing:—
  Oh, Lord, enlarge our scanty thought
  To know the wonders Thou hast wrought;
  Unloose our stammering tongues to tell
  Thy love, immense, unsearchable.

No matter how or where engaged, we must ever keep in touch with the base of supply. When in South Africa recently I noticed that right up the line from Cape Town to Pretoria were the remains of trenches, forts, and block-houses, and from them I learnt a lesson. The British general took good care not to allow the line of communication to be out. He knew that to be victorious touch must be kept with the base. A madman would that soldier be who was indifferent to this, and so the line was carefully guarded lest the enemy should outflank them and cut off their supplies.

Now an army can carry supplies that may last for a longer or shorter period. We cannot do this. The moment the line of communication is out we are exposed to defeat. Then we must “cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart,” He is our base. Food to sustain, strength and ammunition with which to fight and overcome are all found in Him. We have a living link with Him by the Spirit, and as we go on in dependence from day to day all is well. How wonderful is the Lord’s plan! Long before wireless telegraphy was ever dreamt of messages were sent from earth to heaven and received an instant answer. It is the same today. Our Lord is unchanged, His glory undimmed; no weapon that the malignity of Satan can devise shall prosper against Him. Victory is on His side, and shall be for ever. He is above the din and dust of the conflict to succour and sustain His soldiers, and the weapons of our warfare are “mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5). May God give us skill in the use of these weapons, and grace so that we may be valiant in the fight. Then when the end comes, and the war-worn hosts are welcomed to the home of rest, the Lord shall have His own delight in saying to us, “Sit down on My throne.”


Simple Testimony 1906