I personally think that the comparison of a soldier in wartime and the Christian living a missional life is very appropriate. The reason I feel this way is because
A nation that intends to defend itself from their enemy will put together an army to fight on their behalf. The first thing that every new recruit goes through is basic training where they learn how to be an effective warrior. Why? Why put them through this training? Is it not so these new recruits will have the best possible chance of survival before they're thrust into the battlefield? In the same way God knows that the world is hostile to Him and those who belong to Him. He knows that we have a real enemy who truly does hate us! And God allows Satan to attack us but with limitations so that we can gain battle experience and strengthen our faith in God for even bigger challenges that will come our way.
Satan's goal is obvious. He desires to destroy our faith in God and leave us wounded and bleeding in the gutter! However, God has a different goal in mind. James 1:2 says,
- First, when Satan attacks us he first has to get permission from God to do so. Satan can't attack us any time he desires. He is never going to pull a fast one on God where he sneaks in an attack that God didn't know was coming. In the story of Job we first see Satan coming before God seeking permission from Him to attack Job and thereby prove that Job's faith in God was weak. It was only after God gave permission that Satan went out and attacked Job. The same was true of Peter! On the night that Jesus was to be arrested Jesus told Peter that he would deny him three times. After Peter insisted that he would never deny Christ, Jesus looked at Peter and said that Satan had demanded permission to sift him like wheat. Once again we see that before Satan could attack he first had to get permission from God.
- Second, once Satan receives permission he cannot do anything he wants because God also sets the conditions and limitations to what Satan is able to do. On the first attack against Job God placed the condition that Job himself could not be touched. So Satan went out and destroyed all his wealth and had all his children were killed. For the second attack God said that yes he could attack Job physically but could not kill him. Here we learn that when it comes to spiritual warfare Satan has to work within the boundaries that God has established.
- Thirdly, in the story of Peter when Jesus tells him that Satan has asked permission to sift him like wheat we also hear Jesus tell him, "But I have prayed for you..." The Bible tells us in the book of Hebrews that the resurrected Christ is now standing before God our Father as our High Priest always making intercession on our behalf. Now that's a powerful thought. The Son of God himself is constantly praying on our behalf during our greatest times of spiritual testing and warfare. NOW THAT'S THE GREATEST PRAYER WARRIOR EVER FIGHTING FOR US!