In the old part of San Antonio, Texas, stands an aged Spanish mission. That mission later became a fort. We know it as the Alamo. There at the Alamo, inscribed on a bronze plaque hanging on an inside wall, were these words: “Commandancy of The Alamo, Bexar, Feb. 24th, 1836. To the People of Texas and All Americans in the world – Fellow Citizens and Compatriots I am Besieged . . . The Enemy has demanded a surrender . . . I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our Flag still waves proudly from the walls – I shall never surrender or retreat . . . I call on you in the name of liberty, or patriotism and everything dear to the American character to come to our aid…If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country – Victory or death. /s/ Wm. Barrett Travis, Lt. Col. Comdt.” Today, things are not done this way, but instead, they are done by diplomacy and negotiations.
As I think of these things and how I can relate to them spiritually, we too have changed. At one point, Christians have waved their Christianity and made the world notice who they were in the name of their Savior and the freedom that He so richly provided and called to arms all those with the word of God to defend this cause. But now, we have put the Sword of the Spirit back into the sheath, hung it on the wall, and sat down at the conference table with the devil. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I will never surrender or retreat to Satan?” Consider the Scriptures, when Agabus “was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem For the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:11-13). Sadly, these words are rarely heard anymore.
Today, why does the church have the world in them? Today, why do the vainglories of life still reside heavily in Christians (1 Jn. 2:16)? Why are successful men in business more sought after in the world than godly men for elderships in the church? Why are preachers being taught to be so concerned with politics than the saving of souls? Has the church become nothing more than social clubs? I mean, have we sat down and realized that we are building costly buildings and maintaining them while forgetting to build the true temple that resides within us? Have we not read, “our citizenship is in heaven . . .” (Phil. 3:20 ESV) and that knowing all the world “. . . shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” (2 Pet. 3:11)? Have you surrendered to the devil?
Too often we can see the church as a social club with its businessmen, political actions, shaking of hands, traditions and ear tickling speeches. But let’s consider also for a moment, the buildings we worship in. Buildings are expensive and some are quite costly with brick, oak, marble, or stain glass and some think, “My, how wonderful our building looks,” while all the while, the true temple of God, that which is inside of us is being neglected through carelessness. I think far too often that Christians have forgotten that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20) and that “all these things shall be dissolved” (2 Pet. 3:11).
As we consider the enemy demanding our surrender, do we not remember Onesiphorus and how Paul told Timothy, “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain . . .” (2 Tim. 1:16–‐17). Paul was put in chains, but that did not cause Onesiphorus to flee. It’s like the Alamo in 1836, times were rough and it was necessary to send for help. But at first, Paul, said, “. . . no man stood with me, but all men forsook me . . .” (2 Tim. 4:16). Now some, who were not able to come to Paul, was justified in their absence. Tychicus was manning the post in Ephesus. Trophimus was sick at Miletum. But, others were not there to help because, like Demas, they “loved this present world” and surrendered to the enemy.
You know, most Christians today would insist that they belong with Paul, or at least with Tychicus or Trophimus or Onesiphorus and certainly not with Demas! But even though one may not leave like Demas did, many still prefer his ways and are half hearted because the enemy has a foothold on their heart.
For Paul, he prayed that it may not be laid to their charge (vs. 16) and the reason why Paul could be so forgiving is because he never depended on his own strength or the faithfulness of others to get the job done. He realized that those who put their faith in men are often confounded and even those who are faithful will fall. This is why Paul said as he faced the enemy, “the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (vs. 17). When the Lord is a man’s companion he is not only not alone, he is a majority!
You know, while Paul was just a man, we often make the same mistake as the people of Lystra in thinking of him more. But still, he was just a man. Yet, he realized that, “. . . though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Paul, in the middle of the enemy demanding his surrender, was strengthening the inner man and looking for the eternal. For you, the enemy has demanded your surrender. What is your reply? Do you focus on the things which are seen or that which is not seen?