Pastoral Letter 29 Mar 2020
My dear readers,
Believers -- Always in a Spiritual Warfare!
Many Christians think that going to church for worship, attending prayer meetings in church and reading the Bible are in themselves spiritual exercises, as if these activities are intrinsically spiritual and will make them spiritual. This is not true. If this is true, then an unbeliever who reads the Bible, or attends church service or prayer meeting would also be doing spiritual things. But this is impossible. An unbeliever is a depraved sinner who is an enemy of God because of his innumerable sins committed against Him. There is absolutely no way he can do anything spiritual.
However, everything the child of God does is spiritual. That is why the Bible reveals to all believers that they never fight against “flesh and blood” from the day of their salvation. Everything they struggle against is spiritual in nature. Ephesians 6:12: “ 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.” All these principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness of this world are minions of the god of this world who has blinded the minds of sinners so that they do not even know that they are doing the bidding of the devil. 2 Corinthians 4:4: “ In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” God’s people must be cautious and prayerful all the time, for they can also be used by the evil one, like Peter was.
Anyone can be used by the devil without his knowing it, though it is true that some are aware that they are doing the devil’s work. For example, Peter wanted the Lord Jesus Christ (whom he loved dearly) to remain on earth and be with him as He had been for the past three years or so. This was after Jesus told the disciples that He had to go to the cross to die according to the Father’s will. What Peter did out of his selfish heart was to cause Jesus to choose whether He loved God the Father more or Peter. Jesus’ reply to Peter was “Get thee behind me Satan.”
Matthew 16:23: “ But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
When Peter desired Jesus to stay, he was not wrestling against his own heart desires like a man struggling against his own flesh; it was a spiritual struggle whereby he had to subject his flesh to the spiritual truth that Jesus must go to the cross and do the Father's will to save the world from sin. His own desires must be subdued. Every believer’s desire must conform to Christ’s desire which Peter failed to do, resulting in sin.
All believers need to learn from Peter’s struggle and failure here. Challenges we face in life are all spiritual challenges which require us to exercise faith and trust in the Lord. Truths from the holy Word of God must be the foundation for this trust and faith. Doctrines, such as the absolute sovereignty of God that ensures that nothing can happen to the children of God without God’s permission, must bring peace and comfort to our hearts. As God’s children we must know that our heavenly Father sometimes allows trials like sickness and hurts and pains to come into our lives to strengthen our faith and deepen our trust in Him. Head knowledge needs to be translated into real experiential knowledge. That is why God gave us Bible verses like:
James 1:2-4: “ My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
These Bible verses are given by God to assure His children that the difficult times we experience in this sin-filled world have been sent to help us draw closer to the Lord through prayer and trust.
We will then experience the comfort of hiding in the bosom of our heavenly Father. Intimate experiences like these cannot come through times of health and wealth but only through times of trials. This is the way of serving the Lord in this mortal earthen vessel. That is why when children of God go through trials we are able to say from our hearts that truly “. . . we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28). The light of Christ in us will shine brighter and brighter when we pass every trial and our faith and trust in the Lord is deepened and strengthened.
Covid-19 is not a trial of the body but the spirit. All children of God have nothing to be afraid of, for our heavenly Father will never forsake us. He has not promised, and will not promise, His children that we will not be afflicted with any disease; but He does promise us that nothing can ever separate us from Him because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross of Calvary. Romans 8:37-39: “ Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Fear not, but trust more.
Therefore, every Christian wrestles not against flesh and blood but always wrestles against spiritual forces. Be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. The spiritual armour of God is available to all believers. Pray more now than ever before; and even after the virus trial is over do not stop praying. Ephesians 6:10-13: “ 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.” Put it on and never take it off (read Ephesians 6:11-18).
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew