Are You Fighting a War That Has Already Been Won?
On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito of Japan officially surrendered. World War II had finally come to an end and people around the globe celebrated a return to more peaceful times.
However, on a small island in the Philippines, four Japanese soldiers continued to fight.
They spent their days hiding in the mountains and conducting guerrilla attacks, eventually killing over thirty people. No one could have anticipated how long they would continue fighting a war that had already been won.
One day, they found a leaflet announcing the end of the war but dismissed it as allied propaganda. Five years passed before one of the four surrendered. Four years later, one of the soldiers was shot and killed. The two remaining soldiers continued their mission for the next seventeen years, until one of them was killed in a shootout with local police.
Hiroo Onada, the final remaining solder, refused to give up until his commanding officer was found and brought to the island to fulfill the promise made in 1944, “Whatever happens, we’ll come back for you.”
Onada fought 30 years longer than he needed to fight, in a war that had been over for decades. This is a picture of the reality that Paul describes in Galatians 5:1:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Because of Christ, freedom is now. So often, we live as though freedom is coming later, at some far-off date in the future. Unfortunately, for this reason we often choose to fight a battle that has already been won. Paul continues in Galatians 5:4-5:
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.
The Galatians initially embraced the message of grace. But over time they returned to their former habit of measuring their righteousness based on how well they observed the law. They were fighting a war that was already won. This was a trap. Once Christ sets us free, it is our choice to continue in the freedom of living by faith in the power of the Spirit or return to the slavery of trying to earn righteousness by human effort.
Questions for Reflection:
Are you fighting a war that has already been won by trying to earn favor from God and righteousness through your own effort?
Look up Philippians 3:9. What does this scripture say about the true source of righteousness?
Put It Into Action:
Ask the Spirit to search your heart and reveal to you if you need to fully embrace the righteousness that has been given to you through Christ. Next, write Philippians 3:9 on a notecard and place it where you can see it each day.