I’m sure you all know the movie franchise Transformers, which has been popular in the last 5 years or so. Well, did you know that Transformers, the brand, has been around since I was a little boy over 30 years ago? It actually started out as a Japanese toy called “henshin robo” that America took and turned into a wildly popular brand of toys and animation series in the 80’s and 90’s. The brand was recently resurrected in the movie franchise you know of today.
Now, why am I talking about Transformers? Do you know the iconic catch phrase or tag line associated with it? Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye! And the storyline starts like this, “It is a world transformed, where things are not what they seem…” This idea of “more than meets the eye” and “things are not what they seem” is what we, as Christians, need to be aware of as [that] we engage daily in the spiritual battle between God and Satan, between good and evil. 私たちクリスチャンは、神とサタン、善と悪の霊的戦いのさなかに日々あることを知る必要があります。
This spiritual battle is something we cannot see with our physical eyes. Indeed, there is “more than meets the eye.” We may be able to discern it when we see the work of evil in the world, rearing its ugly head in the form of war (the Ukraine, Gaza) and disease (ebola), or even in mental and emotional hurt and pain. But we don’t actually see the spiritual reality, that there are evil spirits waging a furious war against us, tempting and encouraging us to hate, lust, and envy. There is “more than meets the eye.” この世の悪を識別することができるかもしれませんが、霊的現実、憎しみ、情欲、妬みは実際には見えません。”見た目以上のもの”があるのです。
Moreover, “things are not what they seem.” Unlike in the Ukraine or Gaza, and even with all the current run-ins with China and North Korea, we live in a relatively peaceful society here in Japan. But is it really peaceful? Are we aware that there are evil spirits waging a furious war against us [even] here in Japan, tempting and encouraging us to be selfish, materialistic, and to turn to false gods in the form of fortune telling and idolatry? Things are not really peaceful here in Japan. In fact, we are at war in the spiritual realm. “Things are not what they seem.” ここ日本で(さえ)悪の霊が私たちと激しく戦っており、自己中心、物質主義的になるよう、占いや偶像崇拝の偽りの神にたよるよう誘惑し、けしかけているのに気がついていますか? ”物事は見かけどおりとは限らない”
The Bible speaks extensively of this fact that there is warfare going on in the spiritual realm, namely a battle for allegiance and for souls. Satan is constantly waging war against God, and we are right in the middle of it.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” (John 10:10)
“Be alert and sober-minded. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
“Be alert! Satan has tried to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat.” (Luke 22:31)
But we have nothing to fear, because Jesus has already won the victory! As Christians, we belong to God. And as long as we have faith in that, we are safe! しかし私たちは何も恐れることはありません。イエスがすでに勝利したからです。
￼“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35,37-39)
Besides, look at what the Scriptures say as God’s response to Satan’s attacks:
“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, BUT I HAVE COME THAT YOU MAY HAVE LIFE, AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL.” (John 10:10)
“Be alert and sober-minded. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. SO RESIST HIM AND STAND FIRM IN YOUR FAITH, AND THE GOD OF ALL GRACE WILL HIMSELF RESTORE YOU AND MAKE YOU STRONG, FIRM, AND STEADFAST.” (1 Peter 5:8-10)
“Be alert! Satan has tried to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. BUT I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU, THAT YOUR FAITH MAY NOT FAIL.” (Luke 22:31,32)
So, we need not fear. God is on our side, and he’s fighting for us. But that doesn’t lessen the fact that Satan is very real and that his tactics are shrewd and compelling. In fact, Satan is referred to in the Bible as “the Father of Lies.” (John 8:44) Remember the Genesis account of the incident in the Garden of Eden when the woman was deceived by the serpent (Satan)?
“(The serpent) said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” ‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman.” (Genesis 3:1-4)
Furthermore, Paul writes, “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Cornthians 11:3)
Through lies, Satan will try to make us question God’s love for us, God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness, God’s holiness, God’s power, etc. He will also try to make us question our love for God, our devotion to God, our security in God’s forgiveness, our righteousness by God’s grace through faith, etc.
And that’s the tactic Satan still uses against us today: “Did God really say…?” Did God really say that he loves you, even though you keep sinning? Did God really say that he forgives all of your sins, even the really bad ones? Did God really say that you are his child, even though you’re not worthy? Did God really say that you are redeemed, meaning did Jesus’ sacrifice cover your sins, too?
God’s Words of truth is clear on these issues. God loves us. God forgives of all of our sins. We are his children. We have been redeemed. There is no question about these truths, but the enemy is really good at taking advantage of our weaknesses—our hurts, our pains, our ￼insecurities, our lack of faith—and making us second-guess such truths during our times of weakness through lies and deceivingly suggestive words. 神は私たちを愛しています。神は私たちの罪をすべて赦してくださいます。私たちは神の子どもです。私たちは購われたのです。これらの真実は疑うまでもありません。しかし敵は私たちの弱さをうまく利用するの がとても上手なのです。
Satan’s other tactic: “You will not certainly die.” In other words, “It’s okay.” It won’t kill you to be a little selfish. It won’t kill you to be a little arrogant and prideful. It won’t kill you to lie a little, cheat a little, steal a little. Satan tries to convince us, “It’s okay. You will not certainly die.” The enemy does a great job of lying and deceiving to makes us believe that a little compromise is innocuous and harmless, when in reality they are seeds that have the potential to ultimately destroy our faith.
“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough,” (Galatians 5:9) was the example given to describe the spreading effects of even the smallest of sin.
And if we listen to and believe such lies and begin to doubt, then Satan has done his part. It has immobilized us. We may still belong to God, but we can be made ineffective for his service. Satan can’t have us, but it can certainly try to render us useless in spiritual battle. This is the spiritual battle we find ourselves in. This is the real struggle. もし私たちがそのような嘘に耳を傾け、信じ、疑い始めれば、サタンが私たちを動けなくしてしまったことになります。それでも私たちは神に属していますが、奉仕に役に立たない者となってしまいます。
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
So, step one, before anything else, as the Word says, we need to be alert and sober-minded.
We need to recognize that the enemy is constantly on the attack. It may not be able to steal us away from God because we are believers, but it can certainly lie and deceive to try and interfere in our everyday life as a Christian. だからまず第一に、御言葉が言っているように、身を慎み、目を覚ましていないといけません。
Don’t be naïve in thinking that just because there’s nothing bad going on around us, that we’re safe. There’s more than meets the eye. In the spiritual realm, the enemy is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us! Don’t be naïve in thinking that the current state and direction of our society is headed down some natural, harmless path. Things are not what they seem. In reality, the enemy is pushing us and our society toward a path of destruction!
So, we have to engage in this spiritual battle! We’re on God’s side, and we have to fight! There’s no such thing as playing Switzerland in this war. There’s no neutral ground. We’re either for God, or against God. The fighting is fierce and constant. We can’t just conveniently call time out, because we’re tired or uninspired. Our enemy won’t respect it. We can’t say we don’t want to fight, because we’re weak or sick. Our enemy will still attack us anyway. I heard a sermon once that said, “Our enemy doesn’t fight fair, because its objective is to kill and destroy at all cost.” だから私たちはこの霊的戦いに挑まなければなりません。中立な立場などありません。私たちは神の味方か、神に敵対する者かのどちらかです。
￼There are certain rules to fighting that everyone knows, I think. 1) You can’t kick a man when he’s down, because he’s considered defenseless. Well, Satan has no regard for that and will kick you when you’re down. 2) You can’t punch a man with glasses in the face, because it’s dangerous if the glasses shatter. Well, Satan has no regard for that and will punch you in the face and break your glasses. 3) You can’t hit “below the belt,” because you just can’t—it’s wrong. Well, Satan has no regard for that and will kick you where it hurts. サタンはそんなことなどおかまいなしに
One of my favorite actors is Clint Eastwood, and one of my favorite movies is Unforgiven. In it, there’s a scene where the sheriff and his men are in a gun fight with the outlaw. Well, the outlaw vindictively shoots one of the men who is not carrying a gun. And the sheriff is appalled! “You just shot an unarmed man!” he cries out. The outlaw responds, “Well, he should’ve armed himself then.”
We can be shocked and appalled all we want when Satan throws everything and the kitchen sink at us, especially when we’re unsuspecting and defenseless. It’s still not going to change the fact that the enemy [He] is going to mercilessly come after us to kill and destroy. We can’t say, “Stop, I don’t have a weapon. Let me just run and go get my gun, then I’ll fight you.” We can’t say, “Stop, I don’t want to fight.” We can’t lie down and pretend like we’re sleeping or dead. Because regardless, Satan’s going to attack with every intent to kill and destroy. サタンは私たちに何でも投げてきます。私たちを殺し、滅ぼそうと容赦なく後を追ってきます。
Our enemy is a liar, a deceiver, and a killer. Moreover, he is constantly on the attack. So, as the Word of God says, “So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, we are not to be ignorant of the devil’s schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) 私たちの敵は嘘つき、欺く者、殺人者です。その上、絶えず攻撃をしてきます。
We must fight, brothers and sisters. We must acknowledge the spiritual battle that we’re in and fight! As for how to fight, I’ll talk about that in two weeks when I preach again. We’ll look in depth at both the offense and defense to stifling the enemy’s schemes. But for today, let’s be clear that we have to recognize that we are in a spiritual battle. Because if we don’t, we’re as good as dead…ineffective and powerless as a Christian.
As bad and horrible and ruthless and scary as I’ve described our enemy to be, we should be encouraged that God is on our side and that we are fighting on the side of victory. I’ll close with this. There’s the story of Elisha and his servant facing a great enemy. 私たちの敵を悪く、ひどい冷酷で恐ろしいように言い表しましたが、神が私たちの味方であり、私たちは勝利の側で戦っているということに勇気付けられましょう。
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the Elisha answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:15-17)
As we fight this spiritual battle, let us be greatly encouraged by this truth: “Greater is the one who is in us than the one that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) Far more powerful is the God we worship who fights for us than the enemy we’re fighting. 私たちが拝する神は、私たちのために戦ってくださり、私たちが戦っている敵よりはるかに力強いお方です。