In an article written by David Ferguson, he tells the story of World War II Lt. General Jonathan Wainright. While commander of the Allied Forces in the Phillipines, he was forced to surrender to the enemy. For three years he suffered as a prisoner of war in a Manchurian camp. While there, he endured unspeakable cruelties including physical and verbal abuse, malnutrition, and intense psychological torture. Yet through it all, he maintained his self-discipline and dignity.

Finally, the war ended but the camp’s commander never received the news. One day an Allied plane landed near the prison and a crew member walked up to the fence and informed Wainright of the enemy’s surrender and the American victory. He immediately pulled his emaciated body to attention, turned and marched to the prison’s command house. He burst through the door, walked up to the enemy commander and said, “My commander-in-chief has conquered your commander-in-chief. I am now in charge of this camp.” In response, the officer removed his sword, laid it on the table, and surrendered his command.

As believers living in a fallen world, many times it seems as though we have become prisoners of our own adversaries. If we are astutely aware of the battle that surrounds us, we are either engaged in it or have made ourselves subject to it. If we are not in the fight, we have surrendered and causing ourselves to become prisoners of a spiritual war. Our reluctance to speak out boldly and stand for God is a form of submission to evil.

In Ephesians 4:14-15, Paul writes, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”

Then in vs. 22-24, he goes on to say, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

It seems that in this new year, we are now faced with a choice. We can continue to live as a prisoner of this world in submission to all of its trappings, or we can be renewed. There is a sense of hope in the air now as I have not experienced for quite some time. It is almost as though the gates have been flung open and we are free to reclaim for our own “Commander-in Chief” the authority and privileges He gave us at Calvary. Will we walk through the gate, or will we stand still until it closes once again?

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