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Thursday, March 03, 2016

Flying The Flag In The Face Of The Enemy

Some years ago I read a declaration related to a flag that had been flown in Afghanistan and was being presented to a loved one by a soldier who served there.  There was one phrase that caught my attention, "Let it be known that the accompanying flag was flown in the face of the enemy".  I almost immediately considered the spiritual equivalence of this statement.  It serves as a fitting illustration for our lives as Christians.  The analogy of war, soldiering, enemies and such are a mainstay of biblical metaphors for the Christian life.

BATTLE

2 Corinthians 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Ephesians 6:13-14 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

SOLDIER

 2 Timothy 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

ENEMY

Ephesians 6:11,12  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

As Baptists we should be willing to fly our flag in the face of the enemy.

There is a verse in the Old Testament that merits our attention along these lines.

Psalm 60:4 Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.

A banner is a flag or a standard.

The banner is given to those that fear him.

Those that fear him will be courageous in the heat of battle.  It is the bravest men who carry the colors into battle.  It conjures up images of those great Civil War battles when the regiments and militias marched into battle, their colors at the head of the rank unfurled as a rallying point for the soldiers and a target for the enemy.  When he who bore the colors was shot down, as he often was, another would immediately take up those colors and push them forward into the battle.  They were determined to fly their flags in the face of the enemy.

That it may be displayed.

Flags are for displaying.  Banners are for raising and making one’s presence known.  They are for the purpose of reminding the enemy that ground has been taken and there are no intentions of surrendering it.

I have had the opportunity to stand on the bulwarks of Ft. McHenry in Baltimore and look out across Chesapeake Bay and imagine a British fleet assembled there for the purpose of bombarding the Fort and vanquishing the decades old United States of America in the war of 1812.  I thought about Francis Scott Key, a Washington lawyer who was there on a nearby truce ship to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes, a civilian prisoner of war.  It was from that British vessel he watched the bombardment of Ft. McHenry and penned the now famous words the title of which is The Star-Spangled Banner!

Because of the truth!

Because there is truth a banner must be raised, the banners of truth.  Every regiment of truth that shows itself on the field of battle must unfurl it colors and make its presence known.  Our spiritual flag is literally composed of a hundred streaming colors whipping in the breeze and putting the enemy on notice that we intend to occupy and defend ground because of the truth.  We will see to it that our flag is flown in the face of the enemy.


FLY THE FLAG OF DOCTRINE IN THE FACE OF THEN ENEMY

It is not a consolidated flag.  It is a flag composed of a thousand different teachings of the bible.  There are many who want us to lower our flag of doctrine.  It is too multi-colored and exclusive. They want us to hoist a white flag in its place.  They want us to be united under a single doctrine, or six or seven of their choosing. Well I choose not to lower any of the colors!  They want a white flag in the place of our brilliant blood stained banner.  And we all know what the white flag means.  Surrender, truce!  They want the white flag, I will keep my multi-colored flag of doctrine and beneath it raise the black flag indicating we will give no quarter and take no prisoners.  They want the white flag, let’s give em’ the black.  The flag of doctrine is not to be dipped in deference to any other banner.

Jude 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
2 Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
1 Timothy 6:20-21 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.
2 Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;


FLY THE FLAG OF CONSECRATION IN THE FACE OF THE ENEMY

It is not a flag to be flown at half staff.  Generally when a flag is flown at half-staff it is a sign of mourning or distress.  People want us to “chill out”.  How are we to “chill out” while hell continues to burn hot!  People want us to “not take things so serious”.  How can we not take things serious when we consider that Jesus was crucified to redeem us to himself?  Crucifixion is serious business and we have been called to live a crucified life.  People want us to lower our flag to match their own.  But a flag at half-staff indicates distress and mourning.

The custom of flying the flag at half staff originated as a way to make room for the invisible flag of death.  Early military etiquette required that the flag be hoisted to the top momentarily and then lowered just enough to make room for this invisible flag at the top.  A flag at half-staff has made room for death.  Our spiritual flag of consecration being lowered to half-staff to match those around us simply indicates the death of unreserved and uncompromising service to Jesus Christ.  And this in the face of those who held the banner high all the way to the martyrs flame.  Even when faced with the certain burning of their flag they refused to lower it.

“Thou hast given a banner . . . that is may be displayed because of the truth.”  The flag of consecration is not to be lowered to make room for the flag of death. 

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
 Acts 20:22-24 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
     Paul refused to make room at the top of his staff for the invisible flag of death!
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
     The church at Corinth is being encouraged to fly the flag of consecration in the face of the enemy!


FLY THE FLAG OF PERSONAL SEPARATION IN THE FACE OF THE ENEMY


 It is not a common flag.  It is a flag that stands out.  It is a distinctive flag.  It is a flag that signals our identity!  We don’t want a flag that sends a confusing or misleading message.

The pirates in the old sailing days (as well as others) were notorious for carrying numerous flags.  When the pirates would spot a ship in the distance they would hoist colors that would be consider friendly (sailing under false colors).  Once they got within firing range they would lower the friendly colors and hoist the skull and crossbones or other flag identifying the vessel as pirate.

Why is it that Christians want to hoist colors that indicate they are on friendly terms with the world?  Why do we live under false colors?  Why do we claim to be followers of Christ and yet follow the fashions and customs of the world?  Listen to the world’s music?  Go where the world goes?  Do what the world does?  Talk like the world talks?  Dress like the world dresses?  It is time to unfurl the flag of personal separation and fly it in the face of the enemy!

The flag of personal separation should not be replaced by the flag of neutrality.  Personal separation is not the place to embrace neutrality.  It is one place where we can send a clear and unmistakable message.   And yet it is right here where often false colors are raised and our identity is muddled!

2 Corinthians 6:14-17:1 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.  Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Titus 2:11-15 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Ephesians 5:8-13 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
    The church at Ephesus is being encouraged to fly the flag of personal separation in the face of the enemy!

Have we dipped our colors or are we flying our flag in the face of the enemy? 

Have we exchanged the multi-colored, bloodstained doctrinal flag for the consolidated flag of doctrinal compromise?

Are we flying the flag of consecration at half-staff having made room for the invisible flag of death at the top of your staff?

Are we flying false colors this morning?  Swearing allegiance to Christ but flying the colors of the world instead of proudly displaying the flag of personal separation?

Remember, “Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth.” Selah.

A displayed flag, especially in the face of the enemy, is a flag that comes under attack.  We raise these flags in hostile territory in the presence of the enemy.  We should not be discouraged or ashamed if the flag is torn, tattered and shot full of holes.  This simply means that the flag belongs to a regiment who has smelled the smoke of battle and merited the fire of the enemy!  It tells the story of battles fought and victories won.  It is a testimony to courage and valor under fire.  It bears witness that we have encroached upon enemy territory and he has viciously opposed us and in doing so he acknowledges the threat we pose to his dominion and his frustration with the presence of our flag in his face.

May the enemy ever be outraged!
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