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A Year of Conflict

On January 1, 2020 most people were optimistic. People had been making plans for the future. Some of the plans were short-term and involved spring and summer activities. Others were looking to marriage and pursuing a career. COVID-19, however, dashed all those plans. It added fear and dread. Would our country survive the spring?

People lost jobs, lockdowns were mandated and new rules were put in place—many of the rules closed down churches, or at least sharply limited attendance—while liquor stores, abortion mills, and pot houses were virtually unscathed. It was also a time when the “Trump Derangement Syndrome” went into overdrive. Donald Trump was to blame for all of our woes. He was called a “clown,” “racist,” and a variety of additional epithets I won’t dare repeat, nor do I want to repeat. If anything, the new year of 2020 started out to be a year of conflict.

People don’t like conflict. I don’t like conflict. Conflict has split churches, causes couples to divorce, and led to wars. Seminars dealing with “conflict resolution” have always been popular. 

Conflict cuts down on workplace productivity, puts us on edge, and causes a variety of emotions, such as anger, frustration, and personal bitterness. But has anyone ever thought that there may actually be a place for conflict? Conflict is enmity—hostility between people and ideas. Is it possible that this enmity is by design, Divine design?

In Genesis 3:15 the Lord says to Satan, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Notice the source of the enmity, or hostility. The Lord says, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman.”

Is it possible that the enmity serves some useful purpose and that, by Divine design, it will endure?

While we don’t like to think such thoughts, it seems like the struggle and conflict we see in the world can be traced back to God.

In this “first declaration of the Gospel,” we find a declaration of God’s goodness, and the first declaration of his redemptive plan. The words “thou shalt bruise his heel” refers to Satan’s repeated attempts to defeat Christ during His ministry. “It shall bruise thy head” foreshadows Satan’s defeat when Christ rose from the dead. A bruise on the heel is only mildly debilitating, but a strike on the head can be fatal.

These words are picked up by the Apostle Paul in Romans 16:20 and is transferred from Christ to believers, who are indwelt by Christ and empowered by Christ: “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”

This concept of our identification with Christ is very important if we are to think of conflict and how we are to respond to it. His conflict is our conflict. What happened to Jesus happened to us positionally.

Believer’s baptism in water is a picture of our union with Christ. We died with Christ and we have also been made alive with Christ. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:4-6). The next verse is extremely important: “For he that is dead is freed from sin” (vs. 7). Paul is not talking about sinless perfection, but rather that we are no longer under the tyranny of sin.

This is brought out in Romans 6:11-12: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” We have died to sin regarding its penalty and also in regard to its power. Because of our union with Christ, Paul could write: “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20). The conflicts Christ endured in His flesh, and the victory of Christ over sin and death by His bodily resurrection belongs to believers.

Satan did successfully trick Eve, and she was involved in giving the fruit to Adam. Because of this, Satan may have concluded that Adam and Eve and all their descendants in the centuries to come were now on Satan’s side. Satan was getting ready to boast, “I won.” But God is saying, “Not so. I am going to put perpetual enmity between you and the woman, and all her descendants. Reconciliation between you, Satan, and all her seed will be impossible.” 

“Enmity” (aybaw, Strong’s #342), echthra (Strong’s #2189)in the Greek New Testament, provides a concept that is seen in many places. Romans 8:7 describes the conflict: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God.” James 4:4 is similar: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God” (see also Luke 23:12 and Ephesians 2:15-16).

The offspring of the woman and her seed will be in continual conflict with Satan’s offspring, and it is all by Divine design. But remember, the serpent has a tactical disadvantage. Since he now crawls on the ground he can strike the man’s heel, but the man, who towers above, can crush his head.

How extensive is this conflict, and who are the participants? Murphy, in The Handbook For Spiritual Warfare, p. 211, calls it “the two, twofold seeds”:

The twofold seed of Satan: a) demons, evil spirits, fallen angels who continue Satan’s work; b) unredeemed humans, those people who carry on Satan’s work.

The twofold seed of the woman: a) Jesus Christ; b) Redeemed people who carry on Jesus’ work.

This engages each and every believer in Christ in the conflict that we are seeing in this year of conflict. It could not be any other way. It is natural. It has to happen. If there were no conflict in 2020, as the presidential election draws near, it would be an enigma, a puzzle, for which there is no biblical explanation. Such is not, however, the case. On page 212 Murphy brings everything into focus:

There is no redemptive ministry apart from warfare sufferings. The dual wounding of the seed of the woman by evil supernaturalism is part of the mystery of God’s plan. This was true of the wounding of the Son of God (Jn. 19:10-11; Isa. 53:4-6 and 10a; Acts 2:22-23 and 36), and continues to be true of the wounding of the sons of God (Acts 4:27-31; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Jn. 5:18; Luke 10:19 with Luke 22:31-32; Job 1-2).

I know some people—some are even professing Christians—who are of the opinion that Donald Trump must lose the presidential election of 2020. Trump is the problem. If he is out of the picture the conflict would stop. It would appear, however, that from the very beginning of human history, after the fall, humanity can be divided into two huge families embroiled in perpetual conflict that is not related to any ethnic group or region of the globe. This is part of the conflict that is the very fabric of human life. The conflict is not caused by President Trump. For those who believe that the removal of Donald Trump for a second term as president will usher in the end of conflict, I have news for them: It won’t. The conflict is bigger than Donald Trump.

I only have space for one example of the conflict, but it is a good example. Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, has filed a suit in federal district court challenging the city’s COVID-19 restrictions. Until the pandemic and DCs restrictions on worship, the church had met for in-person worship every single Sunday since February 27, 1878. The church does not have an online ministry, and has not conducted online services, because of its convictions that the Bible commands worshippers to meet together for worship. During the pandemic, the church has met in an open field in Virginia.

Under DCs Phase Two Order, outdoor church services are limited to 100 individuals. On June 10­, Capitol Hill Baptist filed a waiver application seeking permission to hold larger outdoor services. The mayor’s office denied the request on September the 15.

While the city has restricted outdoor church attendance to no more than 100 people, Mayor Muriel Bowser has personally endorsed mass protests in the District. On June 6, the mayor delivered a speech to a gathering of tens of thousands of people, describing the large protest as “wonderful to see.” The mayor has actually defended her differential treatment of protests and religious worship by saying “First Amendment protests and large gatherings are not the same. In the United States of America people can protest.”

Scripture reminds us of an ongoing battle in the spiritual realm. In Daniel 10 we are told that Michael the archangel had to come and resolve a 21-day struggle between a territorial spirit from Persia and an angelic messenger seeking to minister to Daniel. “Fear not Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me” (Dan. 10:12-13). 

The conflict still rages. The real question: Whose side are you on?

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Larry Spargimino

Dr. Larry Spargimino is co-host of the SWRC broadcast and joined the ministry in 1998. Larry researches and writes books and articles for the ministry, assists on tours, and helps answer listeners' theological questions when they call the ministry. Larry holds a doctorate from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and pastors a local church.

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