Spiritual Warfare: What’s the Plan?

Every day I’m reminded that we are in a spiritual battle. I’m reminded when a friend requests prayer for a heavy burden, when I hear of someone giving into a destructive decision, when I feel personally worn down by temptation.

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As I wrote about in previous posts, the battle is real and the stakes are high. Now for the gritty reality – how can we step up to spiritual battle to win, rather than being defeated time after time? We do well to adopt the attitude of Christ-following Civil War General Robert E. Lee:

I tremble for my country when I hear of confidence expressed in me. I know too well my weakness, that our only hope is in God. –Robert E. Lee

Here are three actions we can take to win the battles we face:

1. Choose sides. The war between good and evil is not just waged on epic battlefields, it is just as present in seemingly mundane choices we face every day. You must choose which side you are on in any given encounter:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. – James 4:7-8

You can submit to God, or submit to the devil. If you tap into the resources God has provided, God will always provide a victory. We can only be defeated when we fail to utilize what He has provided.

2. Suit up. Humans are spiritually vulnerable without protection, just as a soldier is without armor. God has given us every piece of spiritual armor we need:

Therefore take up the whole armor of God…having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation… – Ephesians 6:13-17

Each of these pieces of armor was purchased and sealed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – He has gone before us and won the war against the Enemy. Pray through each of these pieces, believing by faith that Jesus bought them for you, and they are adequate to deliver you from the devil’s lies.

3. On guard. After the five defensive pieces of armor, there is one offensive weapon listed:

…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God… – Ephesians 6:17

“Word” here is rhema, the spoken word of God. I believe there is significance in speaking the Word of God out loud when we are under attack. In the earthly face-off between the devil and Jesus, the devil offered Jesus dominion over all the kingdoms of the world if only Jesus would worship him.

Jesus answered him, It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” – Luke 4:8

Three times in a row, Jesus answered the devil, It is written, It is written, It is written, and then He quoted Scripture. This battle plan worked for Jesus, and it will work for us. Don’t try to argue or reason or bargain with the devil. Just tell him the Truth.

 

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the power of our Enemy, but don’t cower in fear either. God has provided everything you need to win.

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Spiritual Warfare: What’s at Stake?

There’s an unseen war going on all around us, every day. At times conflict, temptations, and confusion seem to spring up from nowhere.

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Sometimes I recognize the source quickly, other times I mistakenly blame the problem on another person, but eventually I end up thinking, “I know what’s going on here!”

We can pretend there is no spiritual battle, and end up a casualty, or we can learn how to fight and walk in victory. Before we deal with HOW to win (next post), it’s important to understand WHY we would want to win in the first place.

What’s at stake

Maturity. If we don’t learn to win spiritual battles, we will stay underdeveloped in our faith. The Lord wants us to grow spiritually strong. Paul calls us to

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. – Ephesians 6:10

Strength comes as we resist temptation and evil, one decision at a time. Our faith muscles are strengthened as they meet and overcome resistance, just like working out at the gym. Giving in to temptation and discouragement perpetuates laziness, and leaves us vulnerable to spiritual injury.

Integrity. Saying No to temptation and tapping into the Lord’s resources when we face conflict builds our internal strength. It aligns what we believe internally with our outward actions. Each victory builds our character, like adding one brick on top of another, building a solid foundation.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. – Proverbs 10:9

Private victories preceed public impact. We must lead ourselves before we can lead others.

Leadership. A foundation of private victory empowers us to come alongside others who are struggling and help them learn to fight their spirtual battles. If we don’t know how to win, we have nothing to offer our children or anyone else we lead and influence.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. -Ephesians 6:12

This verse mentions 4 different categories of evil that are warring against us (rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces of evil). I don’t know what makes each of these categories unique, but I do think we should be sobered to know there are four categories of beings fighting against God’s purposes in the world. I want to be one who makes a positive difference, to join God in the fight for good over evil, to make the world a better place.

The mass of humanity is being carried along in a tide of spiritual ignorance and rebellion. God is looking for faith-filled followers who will stand in the gap and fight for His glory and His purposes. In the next post I’ll look at His plan for victory.

Question: What motivates you to win spiritual battles?

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Spiritual Warfare: What’s Going On?

This world is more like a war zone than a vacation resort.

 

Not a pleasant thought, but it’s reality. There are things happening in your life that you may not recognize as a war, but you’ve likely experienced collateral damage, or even a direct hit from a war that is raging every day, all around.soldier-60707_1920 You have likely experienced this war in the disintegration of a close relationship, a thought pattern that drags you into depression, or an irrational addiction that seems impossible to break.

There are places on earth where war is obvious: Syria right now, for example, or Iraq. But spiritual warfare doesn’t always manifest in physical violence, though its aim is to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).

You should know that spiritual battles will come to you, ready or not. And you should know that most people lose their battles because they are unaware and unprepared to face spiritual battle. I want to spend the next few posts looking at some practical Biblical preparation for the battles you will face. We’ll look at this from three angles:

What’s going on? What’s at stake? What’s the plan?


 

What’s going on?

Not every bad thing that happens to us is the result of a demonic attack. The world we live in is broken, so sometimes things just go wrong without an evil intention behind the breakdown. But Scripture clearly teaches that we have a spiritual enemy who is looking to take us out:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

Yes, Virginia, there is a devil. He often operates quietly, in the background. I can go for days with him dragging down an area of my life, when suddenly one day it’s like a light bulb goes off and I realize, “I know what this is.” And then I can get to work:

Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. – 1 Peter 5:9

We’ll talk more about how to resist him in a future post, but for now I’ll suggest a few situations when you might expect spiritual warfare:

When you have made a commitment to grow spiritually.

When you are serving the Lord regularly. 

When you commit to read the Bible or pray regularly.

When you influence others to follow the Lord.

Last fall when a young friend was baptized, I told him to especially be on the lookout afterward, because after a spiritual high the enemy loves to drag us down to a spiritual low.

We must open our spiritual eyes and become more aware of spiritual battle, so that we can be ready when it comes our way. And the good news is that because of Jesus, we can win our battles. While the devil has come to steal, kill, and destroy, it is equally true that

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. – 1 John 3:8

And the seasons of spiritual battle do pass:

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10

 

Next post we’ll look at What’s at Stake – why it’s so important for us to learn how to win our spiritual battles.

Question: How do you recognize when you are under spiritual attack? Answer below.

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