I deeply desire to be a believer who "thinks, meditates, and rolls His Word over and over in my mind." So I was surprised when I first realized that nowhere in the New Testament is the Church referred to as God's Army...never. We are called the Body, family, His building, Church, Bride, etc. But never His army. The angels are called His army but not us. He is the Lord of hosts (angelic armies).
The battle that eternally matters has been won. Jesus declared "It is finish" and embarrassed our adversary by complete defeat through His death and resurrection.
The Eph 6 reference to armor talks about our "struggle" against spiritual powers but it concludes with the purpose of our armor "...so you can stand." Stand, not fight. Each piece of armor refers to what we must believe about Him and what He has done for and in us.
When Paul wrote that the "weapons of our warfare are not carnal" for the "pulling down strongholds", the context shows he is referring to wrong beliefs built in our minds by our adversary.
Paul uses the metaphor of a soldier to show how committed we should be and how others should give so some can "go." Reading Acts, we know he was regularly "run out of town" when riots broke out but he never referred to it as a failure or said, "The devil won." I find it very interesting that when Paul said satan "hindered, blocked our way," he didn't fight but just went on rejoicing!
1 Thessalonians 2:18-20 TNIV
 "For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way."
Now imagine how we might react to that situation. It certainly "sounds" like the devil won. But the next verse shows that it simply didn't matter to Paul because he lived in rest believing that God would make it all work together for his good. Here's the next verse-
 "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy."
And why does this matter?
I suggest that the more we see ourselves as God's army, the more we fall prey to a "works mentality." We feel we must fight and then we view victory and failure through the lens of immediate circumstances. We begin to "lean to our own understanding" about the purpose for suffering and trials.
We start viewing suffering as direct attacks of the enemy and somehow a failure on our part. But James and Peter said we should rejoice in suffering and trials, not fight anything. Then we starting looking at Old Testament verses to explain our view of warfare. War was real for them because they were setting up a literal nation and because Jesus had not yet "disarmed" all spiritual enemies.
Col 2:15 should be our foundational belief. "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
1 Peter 3:21-22 TNIV
 "… It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,  who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand —with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him."
We are called to a life (not a day) of Sabbath rest, not warfare.
I want to grow in my understanding of the Sabbath-Rest referred to in Heb 4:1- "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it."
Hebrews 4:9-10 TNIV
 "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for those who enter God’s rest also rest from their own work, just as God did from his."
The war is in our minds where we must constantly be renewed so we believe the right things.
Jesus gave us a promise about the life He wants to give us.
Matthew 11:28-30 TNIV
 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light .”
Let's pursue joy in trials, peace in suffering and the eternal reward of enjoying His complete victory! How? By fixing our eyes on Him, all He has done and all His Spirit of grace is doing inside of us right now!
"...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Heb 12:2
This is not intended to be criticism of anyone who has used this phrase. It is simply something to think about.
Mark Drake is an internationally known author, teacher and leader. He focuses on equipping leaders around the world in New Covenant Grace.