There was documentary in 2008 called “A Man on a Wire,” about a few teeth-grinding minutes in 1974 when Frenchman Philippe Petit hung a cable between the top of the Twin Towers in Manhattan and walked across. The city below all but froze, watching in abject astonishment as he managed to keep from falling to one side or the other.
Have you ever felt like Philippe Petit, walking a tightrope, trying to balance yourself, trying to keep from going off one side or the other, not knowing which choice will hurl you down one abyss or another? Have you ever sensed yourself immersed amid a raging battle between unseen forces, each trying to pull you its own way?
You’re not alone.
The poet T.S. Eliot wrote: “The world turns and the world changes/But one thing does not change./In all of my years, one thing does not change;/The perpetual struggle of Good and Evil.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, the most influential atheist philosophers of the modern age, said: “Let us conclude. The two opposing values ‘good and bad,’ ‘good and evil’ have been engaged in a fearful struggle on earth for thousands of years.”
“To begin with,” wrote 16th century theologian Erasmus, “we must be constantly aware of the fact that life here below is best described as being a type of continual warfare.”
But we don’t need to be a theologian, a poet, or a philosopher in order to sense the reality of this controversy. Who hasn’t felt a conflict, a battle, a struggle between opposing forces going on inside our own very mind, conscience, and heart? Should I steal from my work, especially because my boss is such a jerk? Should I lie to my friends? What about the sexual advances that this married woman at work is making toward me?
No question, many people sense the struggle between opposing forces, between good and evil, right and wrong. We see it, we feel it, we experience it not only in our own lives but on a grander scale in world events themselves.
And it’s not your imagination, either. The Bible is filled with references, some oblique, others not so oblique, to a great controversy, the greatest controversy ever known—a cosmic one. “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9).
The good news, though, was that 2000 years ago, at the cross, this enemy was defeated, and, in fact, knows that his time is short. “For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12). Until then, we live amid the tension, the struggle, which goes on in our own hearts even. The battle is real, but the victory was won, by Jesus, and by faith we can all right, now, claim His victory for ourselves.