And we’re back.
I hope you were able to read the passages of scripture from last week’s Real Men Engage, Pt. 1 post. If you have not read it go back and catch up really quickly. We left off last week talking about how men need a new story; one that is already written and won for them. Why is this the case? Because a story that is not written leaves us as the author and fabricator of reality. We are terrible authors – honestly. Left to our own devices humans write a story of selfish ambition, self-understanding and self-choice. This is the recipe for disaster as we stand at the helm of our own personal saga.
There were a few scriptures that I encouraged you to read through, I hope you did (1 Samuel 14:47 – 17:58, Luke 22:39 – 24:12, 2 Cor. 5:21). I want to break down each passage in a way that speaks to men and their desires and tendencies. At the end of this series my hope is to thread a strand between each passage in a way that it relates to the current chapter of life you may be experiencing.
Saul and David – Internal Battles and External Battles
The first story we read describes two men and their relationship to God; Saul, the first king of Israel, and David, the boy-shepherd from Bethlehem. Most of you know these stories. I have no great illustrations to draw from about the battles of Saul against his enemies and the battles of David against his. However, these verses are not merely about kings, boys and giants. They are a small glimpse of what happens each day with all men.
We have no greater enemy than the one who whispers lies in our ears each time something in our lives is on the line. Both Saul and David faced battles where they had to decide to whom they pledged their allegiance. And the truth of the matter is, the fight for both of them began before they ever set foot on the battlefield – it was a fight for their hearts and it began in the mind. This is the internal battle.
I do not know what the evil one said to Saul or David before they charged into external battle. All we can see is that Saul may have appeared to “win” the battle he fought against the Amalekites, but his deceit, disobedience and selfish looting of the enemy’s spoil showed that he lost the internal battle with Satan. He acted out of self-choice which led to him attempting to re-order God’s plans for the external battle. Saul even went so far as to set up a victory monument for himself after the battle and then tried to shmooze Samuel the priest into thinking he had actually obeyed God. Because of this he lost his position of influence and we see that he really lost both battles; the internal and the external.
David on the other hand, went into battle with weapons that made him appear certifiably insane. As is often the case with people who follow God, he faced terrible odds and had no experience in fighting the kind of enemy he faced. But that didn’t matter. The astonishing thing is the entire nation of Israel was held captive by the voice of the enemy – not Goliath, but Satan. Each Israelite soldier stood shaking in their armor because Satan had convinced them the battle would be lost if any of them even tried to fight the giant. They conceded the internal battle and never engaged the external version of the enemy in the person of Goliath. Defeat does not always look like slaughter. It is often manifested in the cowardly apathetic posture of a man who listens to the voice of the enemy before engaging in external battle. But David – he chose to listen to the voice of God rather than be swayed by the inner voice of the enemy.
And you know how David’s battle went… Let’s just say it didn’t end well for the giant.
Satan is Real and He Hates You
The devil is our worst enemy by far. Not just because he is evil, that would be too simplistic. He’s our biggest enemy because in many ways he is more in tune with the fact that our battle is already won (meaning he knows he’s lost in the long run). It’s because of this fact that he makes war against God’s people. The 1 Samuel passage reveals who Saul and David truly trust in. Nothing flushes what you believe to the surface faster than battle or conflict. Before any great battle in history ever took place between men, there was a battle that had already taken place between the man and the spiritual enemy. The temper always strikes the first blow before an arrow is flung. It is precisely how men respond to the arrows of the internal enemy that dictate how he will respond to the physical situation he faces. If a man retreats from the internal battle, he will never even approach the external battle with the Lord on his side. This is, unfortunately, part of my story. I have allowed my heart to bleed out on many an internal battle field such that when it came to external warfare I laid the weapons on the ground and walked away more times than I care to recount. It’s true.
While my mind may have wanted to engage in the external circumstance, the voice of the evil one would say things like, “If you engage this battle of confession of sin or admittance of weakness, all will be lost. Do not, under any circumstance be vulnerable, Caleb.” By my choosing to believe Satan’s voice over the voice of the One who guarantees victory for all who follow Him into battle, I concede the internal and lose the external as well (even it appears that I won the external battle by not having to face conflict that day). Satan has a way of making following him look like winning, when in the end it leads to responsibility and influence being stripped from our lives; much like the kingdom was torn from Saul. Have you experienced anything being torn from your influence because you engaged in battle with the wrong “ally” by your side?
What’s Your Story?
You may feel more connected with Saul than with David. Truth be told, most of us feel like mini Sauls. Most men are well versed in losing both internal and external battles because the voice of the tempter is the one we hear the loudest. I feel you. I get it. So let’s pose the question we’ve all asked ourselves as men. What if I am like Saul? What if all my “attempts” to fight sin and fight for my family have ended in defeat? What if I lost track of the number of times I believed the enemy and ran from the battles God has called me to engage in? I mean, “real men engage” right?
Great questions. What if this is your experience? The passage in Luke 24:1-12 has something to say about people whose experience of life leads them to expect death and defeat. You may be standing in the rubble of defeat, family pain, occupational stress, addiction and sin. You may not have “engaged” in any of your battles (internal or external) with dignity or courage. Maybe you feel you’ve been trying to engage but your teeth have been kicked in. If this is you, come back next week to see what Luke 24 says about battles that appear to lead to defeat.
There’s a Man who engaged in the greatest battle in history. One who listened to all the right voices, yet experienced defeat and death – at least momentarily. His battle felt the pain of the enemy’s grasp and He knows what it is to be engulfed by defeat. He wants to share not only His experience of defeat with you, but something greater with you as well.
Re-read Luke 24:1-12 and come back next week to read about the greatest battle ever engaged in and what it means for men who have not engaged well. Men like you and me.