“There is no holiness without warfare” Bishop J.C. Ryle
We will once again be brought face to face this Holy Week with the enormity of our sins, the cost of our redemption, and the worst conflict with Satan and the flesh that our Lord Jesus faced and endured in Gethsemane and on the Cross in order to propitiate the wrath of God against us to secure our freedom from sin’s penalty and Satan’s bondage for ever. For that we are continually grateful to our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ who loves us with an everlasting love.
As we meditate on the Lord’s battle with Satan and the flesh and His sacrifice on the Cross I want to draw your attention to two implications for us:
First, just as the Lord battled with the powers of evil during the first Holy Week, we must remember that the Christian life is a life characterized by battle. We are in a battle with Satan, the flesh, and the anti-God systems of this fallen world because these forces seek to undermine our confidence in His marvelous grace and draw us away from God into disobedience and self-love. So we must engage this warfare with the goal of overcoming these evil forces as our Lord Jesus Christ did in the wilderness, in Gethsemane and at Calvary. The question is how do we engage and win? The Bible says in Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” The apostle Paul tells us that, “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3–4).
What are these weapons? The apostle Paul tells us what those weapons are in Ephesians 6:10-20. The Christian’s weapons are extensive and I encourage you to read the passage. In short, Max Lucado notes that our weapons of warfare are “Prayer, worship, and Scripture. When we pray, we engage the power of God against the devil. When we worship, we do what Satan himself did not do: we place God on the throne. When we pick up the sword of Scripture, we do what Jesus did in the wilderness. He responded to Satan by proclaiming truth. And since Satan has a severe allergy to truth, he left Jesus alone. Satan will not linger long where God is praised and prayers are offered.” Ultimately we overcome by faith in Christ’s victory on the Cross and the power of His resurrection effectuated by the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Secondly, since the Lord suffered for our sins during the first Holy Week the Christian life should be characterized by self-examination leading to repentance from sin and faith in Christ and His Cross for the grace of forgiveness and power for transformation. The Bible says that, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.”1 Peter 2:24. He bore (suffered and died for) our sins so that we might die to sinning and live in righteousness for His glory. Dying to sin begins with repentance. The evidence of repentance is not more frenetic religious activity or societal ministry to save the planet and the disenfranchised from the problems of life, but a life primarily marked by Sabbath (the rest of peace and joy) in Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit at work in us.
Here is how the Bible describes the fruit of the Spirit’s activity in us when we turn to God in repentance: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” -Galatians 5:22-24
I ask you to engage the war with Satan, the world, and your flesh as you turn from sin to a life marked by total dependence on Christ as Savior and faithful obedience to His Word. Do not allow this Holy Week to pass without addressing the bitterness and besetting sins in your life. Do not let the sacrifice Christ made for you be in vain.
Let the Holy Spirit help you live for His glory and your blessing.
I pray that we will all come out of this Holy Week renewed, refreshed and empowered to love Jesus and serve Him more.
Please pray for one another.
I wish you a thoughtful, grateful and worshipful Holy Week as we meditate on our Lord’s death and resurrection for us.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Felix Orji, OSB
Anglican Diocese of the West
Church of Nigeria(Anglican Communion)
St. Francis Cathedral Church
“We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. True faith always yields the fruit of obedience to one degree or another.” Dr. R. C. Sproul