On September 2, 1945 Japan formally surrendered, bringing World War II to an end.
In August of that year, the United States had dropped two atomic bombs three days apart on Japan. The devastation was horrible, and even 70 years later, people debate whether or not those bombs should have been dropped. The bombs had the intended effect, though, causing Japan to unconditionally surrender five days later. Without this event, the fighting would have continued and likely several million more people—Japanese and Allied troops—would have died.
Which brings us to September 2. The USS Missouri had entered Tokyo Bay a few days earlier, and on September 2, high-ranking officials from all the Allied countries came on board. With the arrival of the Japanese Foreign Minister, the ceremony of surrender was completed in 23 minutes.
The war was over.
But not for everyone. Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese solider fighting in the Philippines, but in spite of what he was told, he refused to believe his country had surrendered. He thought it was enemy propaganda. So he stayed at his post.
For almost 30 years.
The last order Onoda had received earlier in 1945 was to stay and fight. So he did. After all, he believed the Japanese emperor was a god and the war was a divine mission. He hid in the jungle, occasionally killing villagers he suspected were the enemy. It took a Japanese delegation, including his former commander, to find him and formally relieve him of his duties in 1974.
I pity the man who missed so much of life, but then it hits me: Lieutenant Onoda is just like my sin nature. I have been set free from my sin by Christ, and sin has no more power over me. Sin is defeated … but my sin nature continues to fight.
Paul acknowledged this same struggle with sin in Romans 7. I have victory in Christ, but my old sin nature still tries to gain the upper hand. I can listen to the voice of a defeated sin nature and give in to the pull of sin … or I can stand on the truth of who I am in Christ.
“Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11).
I am dead to sin because Christ has won the war.