The Demonic Divide

Anyone who has a big family can relate to being lectured on the way to an upcoming extended family gathering. The lecture usually involves a parent reminding the children of such things as not to touch the knickknacks on Grandma’s shelf, or not to wrestle on the living room floor. Parents remind children of certain subjects not to be brought up at the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table. We can all relate to issues you simply learn not to mention, lest a sure-fire war commence and the holiday be ruined. The subject matter is usually political or religious in nature, but occasionally it may involve not commenting on uncle Wally’s fake hair, or the mothball odor permeating from Aunt Edna’s purse.
Like your family, the American family also has certain hot button issues that are pushed at times and, when they are pushed, all Hades breaks loose. Issues of race definitely fall under that category. By no means would I excuse the concerns of any side of this issue and claim that they are of little importance, but I want to look at this issue in particular from a spiritual perspective.
When racism comes front and center, it seems that the church falls into a political tailspin and divides between black and white or conservative and progressive. These issues affect the church greatly. Just read the social media spitting contests that take place between Christian leaders in the country every time someone dies in the streets and rioters destroy our cities. These terrible incidents bring sorrow to families, destruction to innocent neighborhoods and, sadly, cripple the church, making her powerless to fulfill the Great Commission. In light of this, what should we do when the church faces this again?
The famous passage in Ephesians 2 written by Paul addresses matters of race and the effect the gospel has on racial divisions. Jesus clearly destroyed the wall of partition that divided people. I find it amazing that there is another verse later in the letter that often goes unrecognized as key in reference to racial tensions. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul writes: “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.” This verse is placed in the heart of the famous armor of God passage Paul gives the church. Paul highlights the true enemy in this world. The enemy is not physical in nature but spiritual. The racial divide in our nation is without question a demonic divide.
Black, white, Hispanic and peoples of all races in the family of God must fully understand that racism is a spiritual scheme to divide people. Satan’s strategy to divide goes all the way back to Genesis 3 when he sought to divide God and man, and continues throughout Genesis with other well-known separations:  Cain from Abel, Isaac from Ishmael, Jacob from Esau, Joseph from his brothers. In Exodus, the enemy alienated Moses from the Israelites in the wilderness. Satan worked to divide and conquer in the house of David. He successfully divided Israel. He sought to divide the church in Acts through conflict. Satan is in the business of division. As Jesus came to unite us with God and each other, Satan seeks to strategically divide and conquer. This is ongoing, and still today Satan knows that if people are racially divided, they will not have a dialogue about the truth of the gospel. The kingdom of God cannot expand as long as the church is racially divided.
How can we as people of the kingdom counter this strategy? As Paul identifies the battle as spiritual, we must fight in that battle with spiritual weapons. When Satan decides to push the hot race buttons in our country, we first identify it as a spiritual attack on our nation. Second, we put on the whole armor of God to stand in the evil day. Notice that every piece of armor Paul lists in Ephesians 6 counters racial hatred. Truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the truth of scripture all counter racism.
The truth found in scripture and the gospel of peace show our value in Christ. His death on the cross makes every life matter. Therefore, white lives, black lives, blue lives, all lives matter in the scope of the gospel. This truth must be communicated and is needed most when darkness is falling on a nation. The church must refuse to be sucked into blind hatred and find wise ways to lift up Jesus in the midst of the trial. The truth and the gospel do not matter if God’s people don’t graciously live righteousness and walk by faith. All the elements found in the armor of God, when intentionally put to good use, will be a balm the wounds for some. Proclaim the gospel through face to face conversations, through social media and any means possible, living as Jesus lived, displaying all these armor elements in a world in need of light. I firmly believe that when Satan seeks to demonically divide our society with racial tensions, the church must fight back with the weapons we are given. Be Christ, proclaim the gospel of Christ, and be found faithful. Fight the demonic divide with spiritual unity.

Dr. Josh Phillips

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