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Imagine waking up one morning to find that enemy forces have invaded the land. They have captured and secured all forms of the government and military. Because of this, you are no longer a citizen of the country in which you were born, you are now under the rule of an enemy force. Imagine also, that this enemy has agreed to allow you to continue living in your home and working as you had before. You must simply comply with their standards, pledge your loyalties to this new power, and pay your tributes, accordingly. What was once your homeland, has ceased. Now, you are living in enemy territory!
Really, this isn’t too hard to imagine. In fact, it’s been happening since the dawn of time. We just recently witnessed it again with Russian forces invading the Ukraine. ISIS took over great swaths of territory during their invasive campaign. People in those lands found themselves suddenly living under enemy rule. I also think of stories like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego living under the enemy (Daniel 3), or Palestine during the time of Jesus, along with and most of the known world under the rule of the Roman empire (Matthew 22:21). Man often finds himself living under the rule of foreign powers. It usually brings hardship, confusion, persecution, violence, and even death.
Do you realize that you are living in enemy territory today? That’s right. The land in which you live, is ruled by a foreign, evil force. He is known as the “ruler of this world,” (John 12:31); the “prince of the power of the air,” (Ephesians 2:2); and the “god of this world,” (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is the “roaring lion,” (1 Peter 5:8); “serpent,” (Genesis 3:1); “dragon,” (Revelation 12:9; 20:2); our “adversary,” (Job 1); “tempter,” (Matthew 4:3); and “wicked one,” (Matthew 13:19). He is Satan, the old devil.
Now, consider what Paul wrote, “our citizenship is in heaven …” (Philippians 3:20) which implies that we are not of this land. Jesus also stated in His prayers, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:15-16). This is clear indication that we are living in enemy territory! This means we are at a disadvantage. It also means that we comply with the enemy’s standards if we just try to “fit in” with the rest of the world. We essentially pledge our loyalties to this enemy force if we stand by and do nothing about it. We pay tribute to him when we succumb to the temptations of sin.
However, the Bible also says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light,” (1 Peter 2:9). So, even though we live in enemy territory, we can be just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego and NOT submit to the enemy. That’s what makes us a special people. Not submitting to the enemy promises us hardship, confusion, persecution, violence, and even death. That’s exactly what Jesus said would happen, if you enter into His kingdom (John 15:20). That is why we must persevere until the end and He will reward us richly (Matthew 10:22; Revelation 2:10). In the meantime, try remembering the comforting words of that old song, “This world is not my home, I’m only passing through.”