There is no doubt that Paul faced severe attack — far more than any of us are likely to encounter. Yet for Paul, the reality of these ferocious attacks did not change his fundamental perspective on spiritual warfare, which is that we are besieging the enemy, not that the enemy is besieging us. How do I know this? The “weapons of our warfare” he refers to in 2 Corinthians 10:4 are in fact siege engines — powerful devices used to launch an offensive attack on a besieged city, in this case the fortress of Satan. Perhaps we can describe the process as “attacking while being attacked.” But this does raise a number of questions about spiritual warfare. Who is in control of the circumstances? How much do we have to suffer? To what extent will God protect us? Will we emerge victorious? These are legitimate questions. And we can give some brief answers, all from Romans 8. Who is in control? God is in control — otherwise He is no longer the sovereign God the Bible says He is, nor could it be truthfully said that He works all things together for good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). Even where the enemy is at work, inflicting damage on us as best he can, God is working over, through and in it all to bring about a bigger and better purpose, which sooner or later will become clear. There are times when we just have to hold on and trust Him.
As to how much we may have to suffer or to what extent He will protect us, the same chapter in Romans says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35). The fact is none of us can define the extent of what may come against us. One thing is for sure: it is hardly likely that this entire list of challenges — all of which (except possibly the sword) Paul personally experienced — will befall us. Yet none of them deterred Paul from following Christ, or made him feel that following Christ was not worth the price he had to pay for it. We cannot sit around worrying about whether we could withstand a trial that might or might not take place: “What would I do if this or that happened?” God does not give grace and strength for a trial until we are in the trial. The truth is God has promised that, no matter what happens, nothing will separate us from His love.
And finally, as to whether we will emerge victorious, the answer is clear: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). So let’s get on with the battle, and trust God with the results!