In Fayetteville, Arkansas, it’s a beautiful spring day. Sunny, but not too hot. Nice breeze. My son is out of school today and is currently taking a nap in his hammock in the backyard. If it weren’t for the pollen, it would be perfect.
It’s a day like today that gives us a little glimpse of heaven. And when I say “heaven”, I mean the new earth. Revelation 21:1-5 says:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Heaven is not some spiritual dimension in which we’ll float around forever as disembodied spirits. If that’s been your view, then you probably haven’t been very excited about spending an eternity there. Maybe you’ve felt the tension I used to feel. You know you should desire to be in heaven, but if you’re honest–you’re a lot more attracted to a beautiful spring day on earth.
Well, the good news is that heaven will be much like the beautiful spring day…only without sin, pain or death. The first two chapters of Genesis and the last two chapters of Revelation give us a picture of what God intended. We’ll have bodies. We’ll recognize each other. We’ll eat and drink. We’ll work (and enjoy it!). We’ll live in friendship with others. We’ll worship. And God will be there with us. I believe heaven will be far better than we can imagine, but it will not be unfamiliar to us.
But we’re not there yet, are we?
My friend Jeff had another surgery this week to remove a tumor from his liver. He’s been battling liver and colon cancer for over a year. My son-in-law is a United States Marine and is currently deployed to Afghanistan. He would confirm it’s not heaven. He’s in a war.
This is not peace time. Not in Afghanistan. And not where you live either.
We are in a spiritual fight for our lives. The battles may often be unseen, but they are no less real.
Yesterday, a very close friend of mine was attacked. It was a spiritual attack. It was powerful. It was well-coordinated and well-timed. And it was pure evil.
Heaven is real. It will exceed our wildest expectations. And for now, we get glimpses of it. But let’s not forget we’re in a war. A real one. With deadly, eternal consequences. It’s not being fought in the mountains of Afghanistan. It’s being fought in our minds.
Satan and the demons that fight with him are liars. They are deceivers. They are tempters. Their goal is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). One of their most effective strategies is whispering lies to us. Lies about God. Lies about ourselves. Lies about this life.
If we listen to a lie long enough–we begin to believe it’s true. We begin to repeat it to ourselves. Our emotions line up with it. So does our behavior.
Are you battling an addiction? A destructive behavior? A bad habit you can’t break?
Do you often feel anxious? Or angry? Or discouraged? Or worried?
Then you’re believing a lie. And the only defense is to know the truth and act on it. There’s no other way.
1 John 5:19 tells us that “…the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” You and I live in enemy territory. One day, God will banish Satan and his demonic army to hell, but that hasn’t happened yet. Today, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
You and I are called to submit ourselves to God, stop living according to the world’s ways and be transformed as our minds are renewed (Romans 12:1-2). We become more like Christ when we begin to think and act like He does. That makes us useful in God’s hands in advancing His kingdom on earth.
It’s easy to let sunny spring days, material things and physical pleasures numb us to the fact that there’s a war raging all around us. It doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy life. But it does mean we don’t forget we’re not really home yet. This isn’t heaven. There’s still a war to be fought.
I left out the first sentence in 1 Peter 5:8. It says, “Be self-controlled and alert.”