Gospel defeat? Never.
April 24, 2013 § 2 Comments
On April 8 Margaret Thatcher, the first woman Prime Minister of England and one of the most influential and polarizing figures not merely of British history but of the 20th century, died. She was called the Iron Lady by her detractors for what they viewed as her steely style and hard, uncompromising views. Many credit her with saving England, bringing it from the brink of an economic ruin nurtured by years of liberal and socialist-leaning governing.
There were those who hated her so much that, on the day of her funeral, some lined the street with their backs turned as her funeral procession came by; others held wild, public celebrations; a childish rendition of “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead” topped the English pop charts.
Margaret Thatcher was unafraid to tackle huge issues—and as a result she had a matching impact. I have always respected and admired Thatcher, and I always suspected that she was probably very different from the persona that the media, who largely despised her, presented. I don’t know if she was a believer—but, at her funeral last week, I was stunned to hear her granddaughter read this passage of Scripture as the opening Scripture of her service:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…(Ephesians 6:10-18, KJV)
Someone—perhaps Baroness Thatcher, who may have instructed that this passage be read; perhaps her granddaughter, who knew her grandmother—someone understood that, however big the battles and however powerful the opposition, the ultimate battle and foe in every truly righteous cause is not earthly but spiritual: “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Perhaps Margaret Thatcher saw herself as fighting much bigger battles than saving the British economy—or even protecting the world from communist oppression. Perhaps, then, she knew her real enemy was spiritual—and prepared herself for the battle accordingly, knowing the enemy’s tactics and schemes.
Perhaps. On this side of glory we may never know.
But we who have come to know Christ as Lord do indeed know for sure who our enemy is; it is not, ultimately, the government; it is not the media and entertainment world; it is not homosexual activists. The one with whom we ultimately wrestle is not flesh and blood—though he indeed deceives many of the above with his lies and uses them for his cause. And what is his cause? To oppose God and stop the work of the Gospel. He is a liar and a murderer—and has been from the very beginning (John 8:44).
Paul spoke of the devil’s work of deceit, person by person, so that the Gospel of God’s grace in Christ would be veiled from their understanding:
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
But, lest we lose heart in realizing this truth, we must never forget that Satan’s resistance is, truly, futile—because he is no match for the Gospel that he opposes. Though we can expect Gospel opposition we must never expect Gospel defeat—because the very reason Jesus came to earth was “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Every time we proclaim the Gospel, whether to ourselves as a reminder of Christ’s triumph in our own lives or to unbelievers as a salvo in the battle with Satan for their souls, we remind Satan that he is already defeated (John 12:31) and batter the gates of his crumbling fiefdom with the ram of Christ’s advancing eternal kingdom. If we were truly convinced of this truth we would stand with a resolve that dramatically “out-irons” the Iron Lady herself.
Gospel opposition? For a season, yes. But Gospel defeat? Never—“for lo, his doom is sure/one little word shall fell him.”