Men, there are two charred craters in the Old Testament that remain as a warning to us: Ai and Gibeah. Both cities fell by the same military tactics, and although the weapons of war have changed and technology has advanced, the same strategy is being employed in Christian homes day after day. Let us take heed lest we suffer the same fate.
Both Ai and Gibeah experienced initial victory. The towns were undersized underdogs, but at first strike they came away victorious. However, the opposing general used their over-inflated egos against them. He commanded his troops to retreat as before in order to draw these men away from their cities and into the open field. Meanwhile, soldiers who lay in ambush crept over the walls of the town, slaughtered every man, woman, and child, and burned the city to the ground. When the men realized they had been fooled it was too late. As they turned to look back, all that was left was a column of smoke rising to the heavens.
Our Enemy is using this same strategy in each of our homes. He allows us minor victories. He gives little resistance. He allows us to become confident in our own strength. He draws us out of our homes and into the open field. And while we are off waging war in our own strength, he burns our homes to the ground.
We are soldiers. We want to go off and fight the battles of the Kingdom. But we must be careful that we are not leaving our homes vulnerable to Satan’s attack. He will let you succeed in a 70-hour a week job while also leading a small group and teaching a Sunday School class. While you are off waging war, fooled into thinking you are strong enough to handle it, he is destroying everything you hold dear. When you take the time to look over your shoulder from the battlefield, there may not be anything but ashes left.
Sometimes Satan himself whistles the tune, “Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war…” When the Christian soldiers are busy fighting battles of lesser consequence, he creeps into the home front left undefended. On the battlefield we are valiantly victorious–so we think. But when we return home, our marriages are in shambles, our children abandoned, and our personal lives destroyed. In pride, we were so excited about going off to win battles for Christ’s Kingdom that we forgot to defend what was most important.
Brothers, may we protect our first priorities. If you are leading hundreds to Christ, but your marriage is a wreck, your kids have no dad, and your computer is full of cookies from porn sites, Satan has drawn you into the open field and your home is burning. I have no doubt that many of the pastors and Christian leaders whose names appeared on the Ashley Madison list were experiencing great victories in their ministries. Satan was content to bide his time–retreat, retreat, retreat–until the city was left unguarded. Then with a quiet flash of light and a smoldering flame, he burned down the home front–and no one was there to put out the fire.
The battle belongs to the Lord. He will have victory. We have to make sure that our personal and private lives at home with our families are guarded, well-defended, and bolstered. This may mean stepping away from ministry duties. This may mean fighting less battles. Men, this is not a sign of defeat. It is a sign that we know our true weakness. We know how easily we are lured away from the city and into the field. Protect your private life from ambush. Love your wife and your children well. Protect your devotional life and your relationship with the Lord. Keep your life pure. Build up your defenses.
Our Lord said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). That’s the story of Ai. That’s the story of Gibeah. Will that be your story? Too busy fighting to win the whole world for Christ, forfeiting your own home and your own soul. Consider yourself warned.