18 ¶ Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
I haven’t bothered to check out whether or not this is a true quotation from General Patton but in the movie “Patton” he says, “compared to war, all other human endeavors shrink to insignificance.” We usually put more effort into making war; breaking things and killing people, than anything else we do. Randolph Bourne said “war is the health of the state.” This Proverb was given to the ancient Hebrews in the kingdom of Israel literally, a kingdom which was required to make war by circumstances and command from God.
Americans are a warlike people. A careful study will reveal over 200 military actions we have engaged in over our history, many to support our business interests in other parts of the world. We’ve only actually been attacked by an invading army once since our founding as a nation, although on two other occasions we received a “surprise” attack. After fighting to wrest control of the continent we live on from the native inhabitants for over two hundred years we became an international power by seizing much of what was left of the old Spanish Empire and we have military personnel in dozens of countries.
Whether it be the modern nation-state or the kingdom as the property of a monarch war is endemic to mankind. You either are willing and able to make war or you are willing to be absorbed or controlled by a power that is willing and able. Governments all over the earth will spend the lives of their young people and cloak their sacrifice to the pagan ideal of nationhood and patriotism in spiritual and noble terms in order for political leaders to get the opportunity to impose force, enact policy, and their political will on others.
The nations of the world, in fact, are full of beauty, nobility, architecture, education, art, philosophy, lofty ideals, and wisdom, but in the end are only held together by brute force. After all, Satan IS the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).
But this Proverb would have little use to the Christian if it was only applicable for the physical making of war in the flesh because;
2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
With the exception of wars of self defense, no Christian should be engaging in physical war. Our warfare is spiritual. We once walked after Satan’s ways.
Ephesians 2:1 ¶ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
And we are commanded;
Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
So, let’s apply verse 18 to the Christian’s warfare. Every intention, every purpose is established, made sure, and successful by counsel and good advice. That’s how you have victory.
Luke 14:31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Do you have sufficient forces to do battle? Are you trying to stand against your flesh, the world system, and the Devil with only your own conscience and your good intentions? Do you honestly think that your “Christian character” is sufficient to defeat those enemies? What about the strongholds and fortifications the enemy has in your heart and mind’s imaginations that Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 10? Remember also what Jesus said here;
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
You need God’s counsel and good advice in order to make war in the Spiritual manner you’re commanded to do. Since God speaks to you through His words in the Bible it would appear that if you want to be well equipped you should be speaking to God (prayer) and hearing Him speak to you and advising you (daily Bible reading, Bible study, and regularly hearing sound, Biblical sermons that speak to your heart).
We know from the Bible what tactics Satan uses to deceive and confound the believer as he seeks to draw closer to Christ. For instance, he uses an unforgiving spirit in you to destroy you.
2 Corinthians 2:10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
In fact, I heard a preacher once say that the root causes of most mental illness, depression, and (physical illness causing) wrath were refusing to forgive others, refusing to forgive yourself, and refusing to be forgiven. But, you would know and understand that battle tactic of Satan and your flesh if you read God’s word over and over again because the Word of God (Christ) speaks to your heart through the word of God (His Bible), not your conscience which could be seared and made useless (1 Timothy 4:2). I’m not saying that your conscience isn’t important (Romans 9:1) but a healthy conscience is the result of the Holy Spirit’s working, not the cause of it.
You cannot make war against the flesh, the world, or the Devil without the word of God abiding in your heart and mind. You need a full dose of it every day. You say, but I have faith. I don’t need the Bible. I would remind you of a quote from the Puritan, Oliver Cromwell, which, whatever you think of him or his reign over England, rings true.
“I know a man may answer all difficulties with faith, and faith will answer all difficulties really where it is, but we are very apt, all of us, to call that faith, that perhaps may be but carnal imagination, and carnal reasonings.”
Every victorious Christian is a faithful Bible reader and hearer. No one has victory over sin and iniquity in their thoughts or deeds who is not totally given over to God’s words, except that they either have victory for a time based on their own will, or they simply change the definition of sin to exclude things they can’t conquer. If you are naturally a good person who naturally doesn’t do or think wrong I’m happy for you. I don’t believe you. I think you’re lying to me and to yourself and trying to lie to God but it is a free country.
The Bible is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). It knows your heart, what you are, and critically judges the world and the desires of your flesh in a way that you can’t imagine apart from it.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
So, Christian, whether you believe it or not, you are in a war. The war will come to you if you will not go to it. It is a spiritual war. The only offensive weapon you have, of the armor listed in Ephesians, chapter 6, is the Bible. Is it true what they say that it doesn’t matter what version you read or study? Is it true that they are all just versions, all the same in power and value? Are you going out to do battle with the sword of the Spirit or with a plastic butter knife?
If you don’t feel compelled to read or hear your Bible from cover to cover time and time again, if the Bible you use doesn’t speak to you with authority and power, and if you have not felt changes in your heart and in your life itself that you can directly attribute to that power over you then perhaps you are using the wrong Bible.
In any event follow this Proverb if you want success and victory in your spiritual struggles, in your war. Take counsel and advice from God’s word.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
1Timothy 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.