I have written several posts about spiritual warfare in some sense. About things I have encountered and have learned over time. What do you make of spiritual warfare? Do you find it an odd topic to talk about? Do you even think it’s real? For many, it can be difficult to accept that there is a battle within the spiritual realm and that we are stuck smack dab in the middle of it. I have to admit, that up until about a year and half ago, the idea of spiritual warfare never even crossed my mind. The reality is that warfare is all through Scripture and it is still very real. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be on alert, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” This is a warning to believers from Peter that this is very real. The enemy and his demons are always on the prowl. They don’t want to just hurt our feelings. They want to destroy us…devour us. Verse 9 says, “resist him, firm in your faith.” We are too stand firm and resist the devil. We have to stand firm.
This is spiritual warfare. It is so real and a significant part of our everyday life in this fallen world. If we don’t recognize it, it is that much easier for us to be taken out. I was taken out for years. Lost in my own sin, my agreements with the enemy, my wounds, and my passivity. I knew I was lost, I knew there was something more, but I did not know where to turn to deal with it. The enemy had a foothold in my wounds and my sins and I never recognized it or resisted.
I’m going to dive deeper into this with some things I’ve learned through Scripture, speakers and books , and my own experiences. As with each of the 4 Streams, I am still studying and learning to apply it more to my life so as I go along, I want to share and help you apply it to yours. We talked about Walking with God the other day. That’s the fundamental foundation of it all. Through walking with God, he has helped me to accept and now recognize the spiritual warfare in my life and around us. It’s very real and we either accept it and fight, or we let it take us out by denying it.
John Piper shared that, “There is a war going on. All talk of a Christian’s right to live luxuriously “as a child of the King” in this atmosphere sounds hollow — especially since the King himself is stripped for battle.” The king himself is striped for battle. That tells us something very significant. The King, that’s Jesus, is striped for battle. He is not here to hang around in peaceful harmony. He isn’t, as John Eldredge points out in his book “Desire,” “quite like the pictures we have in Sunday school, Jesus with a lamb and a child or two, looking for all the world like Mr. Rogers with a beard, The world’s nicest guy. He was something far more powerful. He was holy.” He is striped for battle. Exodus 15:3, “The Lord is a warrior; The Lord is His name.” Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” The world was lost to Satan. After the fall of man, this became his world. All-out war has been waged to win us back from Satan and from the fallen world. To restore us to who we were meant to be. To restore our hearts. Jesus was full of passion in his life, not apathy. “Zeal for your house will consume me” (John 2:17). He knew his purpose and mission in this world and was not to walk around carrying lambs. It was an all-out war to win back the human race from the prince of this world and restore our hearts to the glory that God created us for. He was poised for warfare with the enemy.
Let’s start with Christmas. As I have pointed out in previous posts, Christmas was an invasion. Christ’s coming was Heavens invasion of this world. A covert invasion at that. Many of the Jewish faith were looking for a king to rise up to save them. But God had another plan. He was going to sneak in behind enemy lines through the womb of a young teenage girl. You think this was not an invasion and a battle, then ponder what happened next. The “Massacre of the Innocents.” When figuring out this was to be a child born, Herod sent soldiers into Bethlehem to have every boy child under the age of two killed. Satan knew that the Messiah was born and used Herod to try to kill him. An angel appeared to Joseph to tell him to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt until Herod was dead and the angel sent word for them to return.
Jesus encountered warfare directly when he was in the wilderness. Satan came and tempted and tested Jesus throughout those 40 days. This was warfare. Jesus, who was fully man had to endure this battle, but rather than shrink back or succumb to the battle, he stood firm. He resisted by the power of the Word of God and faith in the Father. There is not a single one of us in this world that could have endured the battles Jesus did and come out unscathed.
Good Friday and Easter. Also spiritual warfare. Adam’s passivity brought about sin and the world for was lost and given to Satan as his domain. He was given authority over a world that was meant to be given to man. Man, ever since, was trapped in a world of sin. Jesus’s death on the cross defeated sin, however, being offered as the perfect sacrifice. By his resurrection, death is defeated. By his ascension to Heaven and the Father’s right hand, all authority in heaven and all earth was given to him. He won it. He warred with Satan and demanded the keys to the world. It is no longer the enemies. Now, by his authority, Jesus has given us authority to fight for our world and fight for our faith.
The war is not over. Look at the world around us. We have believers still being martyred because of their faith in Christ. You want to look at the works of the enemy still trying to wage war on us? Simply look at ISIS. Look at the Islamic Terrorists, who follow their law to the letter with the goal of destroying all who don’t believe in their faith. Look at this post-modern culture we live in now that does whatever it can to remove mention of Jesus or the Bible. Amber and I were driving to my son’s baseball game the other day and we were behind a car with a sticker that said ‘Respect’ in all different religious symbols from around the world. Not one Cross. Basically the message is that Christians need to respect other religions, but the same is not required for respect for our faith. The Christian faith has been under attack, continuously for 2,000 years. If that does not tell you that spiritual warfare is going on, then I don’t know what will. Satan is doing whatever he can to keep us from turning to God and turning to faith in the works of Jesus Christ.
Another example of Spiritual Warfare is religion. We encounter the religious spirit throughout our lives. Jesus was and is anti-religion. The religious establishment became so bloated and were all about their own glory. Jesus called them out directly for the hypocrites they were. In Matthew 23:27-28, Jesus says, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy.” Jesus called them out. He did not shy away from them, he went directly to them and boldly.
Today, the same thing is happening in our churches, world religions, and cults. The religious spirit of the enemy has infiltrated the church and filled it with division, man made-dogmas and traditions that are not based on Scripture, and churches have skewed away from truth and trivialized the Word of God. This is all spiritual warfare and is the enemy’s way to divide the faith. We have to recognize that for what it is to stand more united in our faith and hope in Jesus. As my pastor says, Jesus + Nothing = Salvation!
Spiritual warfare is very real folks. It is on-going everyday. We have to arm ourselves to be able to take it on and not let it take us out. Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the full armor of God, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm in the faith” (vs 13). The armor is the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel, helmet of salvation, shield of faith, and sword of the spirit. This is real and very necessary. As Paul said, it’s so that you will be able to resist. We have to resist the devil. Going back to 1 Peter 5, we as believers are called to resist the devil and stand firm in the faith. This is not Old Testament. This is after the ascension of Jesus. Meaning, the war is still ongoing and still is today.
It takes practice and work each day to be able to recognize spiritual warfare and be able to armor up to resist it. We can stand firm in our faith in Jesus because it is by his death, resurrection, and ascension that we are restored and now can be armored through the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are unsure of what to do to resist, start with prayer. Learn to walk with God every day. Talk with him and ask him to help you recognize the warfare in your life. Invite Jesus into your heart to help you armor up. If you are unsure of how to pray, I want to share a prayer that I have used which has helped me each day to set my mind right, open my heart to God, and enable me to stand firm in the faith. It’s a Daily Prayer that John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart adapted based on God’s Word and is a great tool and weapon. There is also a Daily Prayer (Head of Household), which I actually use as part of my daily walk. Another great tool for also bring the works of Christ over you and your family. If you’re unsure how to pray, look at these prayers. It’s prayer that works.
Again, Spiritual Warfare is very real. We cannot deny it exists. Be ready to stand firm in the faith, because the enemy is going to be there to try taking you out every single day. Look at my post from February 4, “The Realness of the War We Live.” The enemy will try to take us out even in the smallest ways. If we don’t resist, it can be easy to fall again. We have to recognize the warfare, accept that it exists, and bring the works of Jesus over our lives to help us armor up for the war that’s ongoing. Stand firm in the faith and resist.