This is War!

You’ve certainly heard the expression, “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” Well, that expression certainly fits personal evangelism. Yes, personal evangelism is a difficult and demanding proposition.

In my Christian life of 35+ years, whether serving as a missionary to my Jewish people or sharing the gospel with family, friends, and others, there are times I ask myself, “Why is this so hard?” How about you?

Why is evangelism difficult?

Because we’re in a spiritual war, and the opposition to our evangelistic efforts is both internal and external. On this earth, we are not living on a playground, we’re living on a battlefield.

In the spiritual realm, especially in the arena of personal evangelism, you and I are in a war. It is  not the kind of war that results in temporary glory or defeat. Rather, you and I are smack dab in the middle of a spiritual war where the eternal state of the souls of men and women hang in the balance. Sound serious? You betcha!

Interestingly, this spiritual war taking place on the battlefield of personal evangelism is not simply a war being waged against us. It’s a war that also takes place within us. Let me explain.

Evangelism is hard because there are forces working against us. Those forces fighting against our personal witness to others include opposition from within and opposition from without.

The opposition from within is our flesh, the natural man. In Galatians 5:16-17, the Apostle Paul wrote, 

“I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

In a Gospel Coalition blog entitled,Why don’t I evangelize?, John Starke wrote, “There are lots of ways to justify not practicing evangelism: I don’t have the gift of evangelism. I’m not very persuasive. I’m too shy. There are lots of unspoken reasons as well. I suppose the most common is fear.”

In fact, we could add many other excuses including, “I don’t know how to start a witnessing conversation, and if I did I wouldn’t know how to answer questions.” “I don’t want to ‘turn off’ my friend.” “I don’t want to get into an argument.” “I don’t think they’d be interested.” Sometimes we give up before we even start because we say it’s too hard.

The war waged against us from the outside emanates from both the devil and his minions, and from the world, that system of belief, attitudes, and actions that opposes the things of God.

1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” By the way, that’s you and me. The Apostle Paul noted in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Yes, the enemy of our souls would do any and everything within his power to keep us from sharing the life-giving message of the gospel. 

Satan even works to keep people from Christ: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Finally, the world is against God and hence against us sharing the good news of Jesus, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

In this age of tolerance and relativism, it’s certainly not politically correct to proclaim absolute truth and declare Jesus the only way to heaven. Yes, the world system opposes the things of God. For example, the world says, “Look out for Number 1.” While Jesus says to love your enemies, serve others and give your life away. When I was a youth, my father used to say to me, echoing a common worldly theme, “Son, the meek shall not inherit the earth!” Well, Jesus Himself said otherwise in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

The world system that opposes our Christian witness says in so many words, “How arrogant, bigoted and narrow-minded of you to say there’s only one way to heaven through Jesus.”  “Absolute truth? Come on!” “Jesus, God in the flesh? Who are you kidding?”

There are real spiritual reasons we don’t engage in personal evangelism. For one, when we declared allegiance to heaven by trusting in Jesus we concurrently declared war on hell, and hell fights back pretty hard. There are weapons formed against us, but God has also equipped us with armor to fight the good fight of faith.

Here’s are examples of more scriptural resources for fighting the war against opposition forces:

  • Our flesh – “For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7).
  • The devil – “He (God) who is in you is greater than he (the devil) who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
  • The world – “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:5).

Yes, we’re in a spiritual war, and our testimony to people about God’s grace found in Jesus Christ is one of those battlefields to be sure. But the next time you feel like giving in to those forces working against you and not engaging or reengaging in the area of personal evangelism, remember God has given us ample resources: namely the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, the gospel, and prayer. In our next submission we’ll address in greater detail those incredibly powerful resources God has given us to do our part to fulfill the great commission. Until then, keep fighting the good fight of faith!

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:8

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