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Fighting a Battle Long Since Finished


Japanese Lt. Hiroo Onoda got his life back on March 19, 1972. That’s the day when he, the last Japanese World War II soldier, learned that the war had been over for 29 years. All those years, faithfully following his last orders, Onoda had been conducting guerrilla warfare on the Philippine island of Lubang, completely unaware that the world had moved on. He heard searchers calling to him and read dropped pamphlets explaining that the war was over, but dismissed them as clever hoaxes by the enemy. Living on rice, wild coconuts and bananas, and stolen food, Onoda spent his adult life fighting a battle long since finished.

His faithfulness and determination were way above reproach! It’s just his belief in a long-lost war that was misguided. Japan had surrendered and was being re-made better than before.

Many Christian believers are still fighting a similar battle. Are they good enough to go to heaven? Have they repented enough? Do they believe enough? They measure themselves against the Law of Moses and, worse yet, the higher standards that Jesus lays down in the New Testament and hope against hope that they’ve earned a passing grade. They hear about God’s forgiveness and grace, but can’t believe those are enough, so they add obedience to the list of citizenship requirements for the kingdom of God.

Their faithfulness and dedication are truly honorable. It’s just their belief in a long-lost struggle that is misguided. They can’t earn God’s favor. But they can surrender and be re-made by God from the inside.

The point of the cross is that our sin no longer separates us from fellowship with God. Yes, our stupid choices bear consequences, but the hell of separation from God is not one of them. Believe on the power of Jesus’ sacrifice and his resurrection and we receive God’s righteousness.

Don’t take my word for it. Read Genesis 15:6. “Abram believed the LORD, and he (God) credited it to him (Abram) as righteousness.” Give God our belief and he trades us that for his righteousness. The apostle Paul got the point and explained it to the believers in Rome (Romans 4) and Galatia (Galatians 3).

The battle to win God’s approval and acceptance is long since decided. Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” and he meant it. (Jn 19:30) We waste our lives struggling to finish it for him. Run to God instead of working to be worthy of him. Believe him and everything else falls into place.

Otherwise, just ask Lt. Onoda what a horrible waste it is to spend a life fighting a battle long since finished.


Mike Pulley

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