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The War to End All Wars
By David B. Smith

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iBelieve: There is a War between Good and Evil | PDF Version | Study Guide: The Great Controversy

If you really want to unlock the theological mysteries of the universe, you can’t find a more reliable source than the writings of the late Charles Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts. In one classic entry, Lucy is explaining the mystery of sin to her little brother. The human heart, she opines, is filled with two things: love and hate. It’s pretty much a fifty-fifty split. “These are the two forces which are constantly at war with each other.” After a pause, Linus turns kind of green, clutching at his tummy. “I think I know just what you mean,” he sighs. “I can feel them fighting!”

I temper that bit of whimsy by telling you that I read the above in a Christian book by Robert Short entitled The Gospel According to Peanuts. My dad bought it at a religious bookstore in Thailand; an imprint gives an address on the edge of Patpong Road, one of the world’s most notorious go-go bar red-light districts. So we live in a war-torn world where two galactic forces are definitely fighting for turf.

A million bookstores in safer neighborhoods are filled with volumes pondering the meaning of evil and destruction and pain on our planet. I spent some time a few years ago reading Peter Jennings’ masterpiece, The Century. It was a compelling tale of the great achievements of the 20th century — the inventions, social progress, educational achievements. But all through the pages and photographs was one relentless reality: the human race lurching from one war to the next. The ink would barely be dry on one conflict’s surrender before strife would break out in some other global hot spot. Even a world-class reporter like Jennings had no viable explanation for our hapless, almost random bloodthirstiness.

The Bible, though, gives a straightforward explanation: we are living in a spiritual war zone. Two forces are indeed in battle mode: God is engaged in a cosmic struggle against an army of fallen angels led by Lucifer. That’s not a Halloween tale; it’s the biblical reality.

Where did Lucifer come from, anyway? Cryptic references in the Bible describe him as having a noble past: heaven’s highest created archangel. The seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty (Ezekiel 28:12). Then came a change of heart: the first infection of pride, wrong ambitions, a desire to be worshiped, a craving for inordinate power. Finally Satan and a third of the heavenly angels were so determined to live in a kingdom separated from God that they were cast away from heaven and granted their wish (Revelation 12:4). This is what the Bible calls the mystery of sin.

Since then, we have the Genesis story where Lucifer deceived Adam and Eve. We read in the book of Job about an unfolding drama watched by the perfect worlds, in which Lucifer accuses God of buying human loyalty. The New Testament writers describe Satan as a liar and a thief, a military general with plans for each person’s destruction. Revelation is filled with colorful details about an Antichrist power, who obviously is “anti” the true Christ and Redeemer.

What does this mean for us? The “great controversy,” as many describe it, goes to the heart of God’s character and His government. Is He fair? Are His rules reasonable? Is the structure of His kingdom really committed to free will and our best interests? Can we be happy as His subjects? The Accuser says no to each of these questions.

Satan also has an agenda to attack the Bible, to make war on the Christian church (Revelation 12:17), to subvert our confidence in biblical law and doctrines, to weaken our belief in miracles and the power of prayer.  

Beyond these issues, there is a more personal struggle between Satan’s raging ambitions and the salvation effort of Jesus. Throughout the Bible, Lucifer has fought against Jesus and His rescue plans. He attacked Christ as a newborn; he tempted Him in the wilderness; he persecuted Jesus in Gethsemane and on the cross. To declare your loyalty for Christ is to become a special target of the fallen lord of this world.

The amazing news is that this “war” really met its conclusion at Calvary (where Jesus died on a cross). Jesus’ sacrificial victory there validates every one of heaven’s claims and means that Lucifer’s forces are doomed. Even as He turned His face toward the cross, Jesus calmly said to His friends: Now the prince of this world will be driven out (John 12:31). It truly can be said: “Satan is mighty, but Jesus is almighty.”

David B. Smith writes from California. (8 or 28)  His web page is davidsmithbooks.com. Biblebay Copyright © 2014. Click here for content usage information.