The Dual Nature of Christian Warfare
In my recent moments of spare time, I have been reading Paul: An Outline of His Theology, by Herman Ridderbos. This has been a tremendously helpful and outstandingly thorough introduction to the theology of the Pauline epistles. For the purpose of whetting the potential reader's appetite, I am posting a brief, yet particularly useful sample on the nature of Christian warfare.
"...[Paul] describes the life of believers time and again from the double viewpoint of battling on the basis of victory and of gaining the victory on the basis of the battle.
The first viewpoint proceeds from the victory of Christ. Because Christ has died to sin, they are to live out of the consideration of faith that they too are dead to sin (as ruler), but live for God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11). This living for God in Christ Jesus is now repeatedly described, however, in the terminology of a battle, which not only starts from the victory that lies behind (in Christ), but also extends toward the victory that lies before (in the life of believers). It is in this way that the apostle speaks of his own service. Although this consists most profoundly in the proclamation of the victory of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:54, 57), which is still more graphically described as being led by Christ in his triumphal procession (2 Cor. 2:14), it is at the same time itself a military service, a going to war (2 Cor. 10:3, 4; cf. 1 Cor. 9:7), under the leadership of Christ as general (2 Tim. 2:3). And Paul sometimes speaks of this service, in which he knows himself to be armed from head to foot (2 Cor. 6:7), in a highly warlike manner: in this campaign it is a matter of demolishing strongholds and entrenchments and making prisoners of war for Christ (2 Cor. 10:3ff.). The life of those who have been made free by Christ now bears this same character of military service.
...The same thing becomes perceptible in Paul's warnings against the danger of "temptation" and, in close connection with this, against Satan. That Satan is thought of as the author of temptation is evident from such passages as 1 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Timothy 3:7. While on the one hand Satan and his whole power have been subjected to the power of Christ, and the church is comforted with the knowledge that God will shortly crush Satan under its feet (Rom. 16:20), on the other hand his power and influence continue in the temptation of men, also believers (1 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 2:11; 11:14; 1 Thess. 3:5).... The victory of Christ does not remove the necessity for vigilance and soberness."