Ladies and Gentlemen, we are at war. This war is not fought far afield; it is not the Battle of Bunker Hill, with families picnicking in safety as they looked on. This is not trained soldiers facing off in lines or in trenches, with their women and children safely back at home. This is barbaric, Vandal and Visigoth-type warfare. This is an enemy who crashes right into our homes and places of work; into our schools and even into our places of worship; and violates men, women and children alike, old or young, educated or ignorant. This is an enemy who attacks whole families, whole communities from the air, without our ever seeing the faces of our attackers. This enemy is vast in number and is almost always completely invisible to the naked eye.
I am referring, of course, to germs.
(Perhaps you thought I was writing about something else.)
We all know how pervasive and how dangerous germs are. We are all made aware from infancy how important it is to fight and to avoid germs. We have all heard of plagues and pestilences which wiped out whole villages, decimated populations, caused untold suffering. So, why are we not living in a state of constant terror? Well, I know that there are germophobes who DO live in constant terror, but they need more help than I can offer in this forum!
We do not live in fear of germs because we know how to fight them. And, 99 percent of the time, we are successful. We do not fall ill day after day. When we do become ill, we generally recover. Knowledge is power, and we acquire this knowledge early on. Who does not remember his mother admonishing: “Wash your hands before you eat. Don’t eat food off the floor! Stop kissing the dog on the lips! Wash that apple before you eat it. Cover your mouth when you sneeze. Get in the tub, you’re filthy!” As we get older, we learn even more about combating the enemy: we cook our food thoroughly; we refrigerate it adequately; we keep our homes clean and disinfected; we teach our kids how to avoid getting sick. Because this knowledge is too important to keep from our children.
Wait. Maybe I AM writing about something else!
I have had parents and teachers tell me that they will not teach their children about Satan and his demons because they don’t want them to get scared. What would happen if we did not teach our children about germs? They would get sick all the time; they might even die of an illness. Ignorant children are not germ-free children; they are actually MORE susceptible to germs than knowledgeable children. There’s no need to terrify our children with stories about germs, but they do need to be made aware of the existence of germs and of what they need to do to protect themselves. It’s the same way with the forces of evil. There’s no need for anyone to be terrorized by demonic activity if they are adequately knowledgeable about the enemy and how to avoid or defeat it. Prayer is our greatest defense, and the name of Jesus will send the enemy running. Keeping our minds and hearts clean helps prevent a great deal of infection by the wiles of our enemy, and knowledge of Scripture helps us combat the lies he whispers in our ears. Knowledge is power: God is the greatest power of all!
There is a kind of magical thinking among some parents and teachers that causes them to believe that keeping children ignorant will protect them. “What they don’t know can’t hurt them,” they say. I contend the opposite: What they don’t know will certainly hurt them! Without knowledge, our children are helpless and defenseless before a ruthless enemy who is out to destroy them. Don’t be deceived: Satan wants our kids! There’s no need to be alarmed by this. There is great need to be aware of it!
I was myself first confronted by a demon at age seven. I didn’t know what it was and didn’t know what to do. Over the past 30 years that I have spent in teaching children, I have discovered that my experience was hardly singular. A great many of our children have been attacked by the enemy, and being unprepared, they had no idea what to do. Most were too afraid or confused to tell anyone about their experiences. Many who dared to alert an adult of their experiences were dismissed as having an over-active imagination. This is a shameful state of affairs. If we are the people of the Book, as all believers should be, we ought to know our Scriptures well enough to realize that we have an active enemy who has no scruples, no conscience, and is not ashamed of attacking the young and helpless rather than the older and better-armed.
There are ways of teaching our children how to combat the enemy without terrorizing them, just as there are ways of teaching them to avoid germs without undue emotional stress. Just be matter-of-fact, and tell them the truth. Tell them that our God is greater than the enemy and is able to protect them, and that His Name is all-powerful! Teach them to pray. Teach them the Scriptures. Teach them that they can tell an adult what happened to them and they will be believed. Encourage them to talk about their concerns and fears, and know your Bible well enough to be able to answer their questions.
I Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your anxieties upon Him, for He cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world.”
James 4: 7 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
It’s hard to keep vigilant when you haven’t been told to be vigilant. It’s hard to resist the devil when you don’t know anything about him. It’s easier to resist the devil when you know that we are all in this fight together and none of us are alone in battling the enemy. It’s easier to confront the powers of evil when you know the power of “the mighty hand of God”.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are at war. Arm yourselves and your children and prepare to fight!