The Standard March 3, 2022
At times forgetting human nature or underestimating the consequences of sin, we can find ourselves surprised that in such a supposedly enlightened age, a vile aggressor like Vladimir Putin can assert enough influence to invade a sovereign nation and command his military to use brutal force, killing soldiers and civilians alike in wide-ranging attacks. We might have a difficult time imagining a country like Russia where people face severe repercussions for talking about their faith, for attending worship or for reporting accurately about the news of the day. However advanced we believe we are, sin is as real now as it was thousands of years ago. The practices Jesus listed as defiling a person are as present today as ever — “sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” (Mark 7:21-22) All of the human invention and intervention throughout history can’t change the problem of evil. Satan thrives on pride, greed and lies.
“Jesus said to them [the Pharisees], ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’” (John 8:42-44)
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “I beg you that when I come, I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:2-5)
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
As we pray morning, noon and night for Ukraine, as well as for Russia, let’s remember that there are many people in every country who are opposed to this war. Some only have heard propaganda by state-run news outlets. Even certain members of the Russian army did not want this. The Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. reported that one platoon of Russian soldiers surrendered to the Ukrainian military saying they “didn’t know they were brought to Ukraine to kill Ukrainians.” The ripple effect of Putin’s evil will affect the world, but his destruction will have the largest impact on those living closest to it. Let’s remain vigilant in prayer and open to additional ways we can support people whose lives have been or will be upended during this nightmare.