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What if I told you that the current war in Syria is not the real war, our real enemy is not human, and that all the injustice and suffering that you see in the world around you is the outcome of an invisible, but very real and lethal war which every one of us is deeply involved in, but most are oblivious to.

Every decision you make in the privacy of your own mind leads to an exponentially increasing set of consequences that unfolds to the end of history. There is no such thing as a small decision. The war is between good and evil, and the battlefield is in the privacy of your heart and mind. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote,

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.[1]

This war has been silently raging for thousands of years and the state of the world today has been determined by the sum of countless, on-going moral decisions made by every human being.

Most moral decisions you make each day may seem to be small, not particularly significant, “no big deal”, “just this once” … but that is a fatal mistake. Every decision changes the way you think in a subtle way; it influences what you say, your attitudes, how you interact with people, and what you become. All these consequences, in turn, influence how other people see you and each other, and affect what they say, what they do, and what they decide. The consequences of what seemed to you at the time to be only a very minor, secret moral decision, continues to multiply exponentially into the future, with implications for the next generation, and every generation after that. There is no such thing as a “small” moral decision.

 

The first step in beginning to win the unseen

war is to realize that you are in it.

 

Every time you decide to look at porn, you have fought the silent battle and lost. Every time you say an unkind word to another person, you have engaged the unseen enemy within and been defeated, and so it goes, battle after battle, every day, within your own heart and mind. This is why “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”[2] It is also why God does not put the priority on “fixing” the external world around us, when the real problem is within your soul. C.S. Lewis wrote,

… every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature; either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.[3]

A fatal mistake is to focus on the external evil and suffering in this world as the “real” problem, while at the same time failing to realize just how absolutely vital it is to start taking, with the utmost urgency, the private, real war within which determines the state of the external world. The first step in beginning to win the unseen war that determines the state of the world is to realize that you are in it.

The consequences in the external war must be addressed, of course, but until you recognize you are in a very real, internal war and commit yourself to consciously engage in each individual skirmish, and start winning those invisible battles, the external-world “floggings” brought about by your own decisions, and the internal decisions of every other human being, will continue.

What, then, should we do? Here are four practical suggestions:

1. The kind of spiritual stamina and strength required to successfully engage in this war on the long term, and actually win in the end, is supernatural and can only come from God. It requires a spiritual rebirth through putting your faith and life into the hands of Jesus Christ in a totally serious way.

2. Every (and I do emphasize “every”) time you are faced with a moral decision, realize you are yet again in a battle that you must win. There are no small decisions.

3. There will be defeats—more than you will want to count. The war is real and ugly. You have an Achilles’ heel (everyone does), and just that weakness alone may well involve countless defeats before victory is finally yours. Get back up, forget what lies behind, and commit yourself to never, ever giving up. Don’t expect victory to be handed to you on a silver plate. To quote C.S. Lewis one more time,

Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again… this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. … The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.[4]

4. How to start winning these battles will be the subject of more posts in the future. In the meantime, the first step is to realize you are actually in the most important war humanity will ever engage in, here and now.

[1] Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Sa 16:7). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[3] C.S. Lewis, ‘Morality and psychoanalysis’, Mere Christianity.

[4] C.S. Lewis, ‘Sexual morality’, Mere Christianity


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