Spiritual Warfare 1 of 10 (Introduction) (podcast)

The Bible is quite clear:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

We are living in a time when the avowed enemies of Biblical Christianity are becoming emboldened more than ever before. This phenomenon is due, in part, to the fact that few Christians today fully appreciate the very real, very evil spiritual forces that are at work behind these individuals and groups.

Many Christians seem surprised and amazed at the degree of hatred and antagonism and bitterness that is demonstrated toward their faith by some politicians, television and movie producers and writers, leaders of other religions, leaders of popular movements, and others in societal leadership positions. These Christians are astounded at the degree of blatancy demonstrated in opposition to Biblical truths and principles that seemed so widely accepted and respected only a generation ago.

The problem is very real. Complicating the problem, however, is the fact that many Christians seem to have a sense of helplessness in the face of these forces. But God has not left us here to merely wring our hands in despair! He has given us weapons and orders to take the battle to the enemy!

“Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19)

And He has given us weapons which we are to use to get the job done!

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Of course, this warfare is not only to be carried out on national and international levels. Many Christians desperately need help at home, at work, at school, etc. in fighting deeply personal spiritual battles.

Many Christians are getting beaten up by the enemy—physically (poor health), financially (business problems, debt, etc.), in relationships (family, coworkers, etc.), in their personal lives (seemingly unconquerable bad habits and character qualities, etc.) and other ways. Many Christians are perplexed. They have, in some cases, prayed and prayed about these situations, but the problems remain.

Problems Are Unrecognized Blessings

We must realize that ultimately, one way or another, the “problem” we so desperately want to get rid of is an opportunity in disguise—an unrecognized blessing. If God quickly answered our prayer the way we wanted Him to, it would often be to our long-range hurt. The classic example of this kind of “problem” is the thorn in the flesh of the apostle Paul. He prayed that God would remove it, but God left it there to keep Paul humble and usable in His Kingdom.

“And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me–to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

When we look back on this life from the perspective of Eternity, we will recognize that many circumstances of this life (which we would have done almost anything to change) were actually important tools in God’s hands to make us more like Jesus.

Problems Provide Opportunities for Spiritual Battle

However, with that precaution in mind, there may many other times when we wonder why the problem persists only to learn later that if we had used all the weapons at our disposal we would have seen a more rapid victory. In other words, the problem may be allowed to persist in order to teach us to engage in effective spiritual warfare.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Notice that we have been given “weapons” (plural). In a physical war we would not dream of simply ignoring or laying aside any weapons that might help us win the victory. It is even more important that we use all our weapons in a far greater war—the spiritual war that rages about us.

Some Victories Demand Struggle and Discipline

Many Christian believers have been lulled into a kind of spiritual laziness in our day. Few exert the discipline or energy that is required to enjoy great spiritual victories. Yet, the Bible makes it plain that such discipline is required.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control: against such there is no law.” (Ga 5:22-23)

“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:34-35)

“And every man that striveth for the mastery is self-controlled in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” (1 Corinthians 9:25)

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians  5:6 )

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” (1 Peter 1:13)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8)

Effective spritual warfare is not one of those “instant” remedies we all seem to hope for. It demands discipline and perservance.

This Material is Not the “Last Word”

I do not claim to have the last word or fully understand all the implications of the various weapons at our disposal. My goal in these pages is to share some possible insights into the use of these weapons. I recommend that you ask God to give you personal wisdom in understanding and using these weapons. He may want you to apply these things somewhat differently that He would want others to apply them. One thing that has caused a lot of grief in the church is the phenomenon of believers who feel led of the Lord to behave in certain ways, who then go to the unbiblical extreme of trying to get everybody else to feel led to do the same thing!

Finding God’s Balance

I can imagine two extremes in the use of the material that follows. (Unbiblical extremes are very common traps when we seek to apply any spiritual truth. There are those believers who seem to go through life bouncing from one extreme to another!) On the one hand, it might be tempting to say, “Good grief, there’s way too much stuff here! Give me something simple!” But in order to become an effective spiritual warrior we must commit to a certain amount of personal discipline. This is one area where we will not likely accomplish much if we insist on finding the “easy way out.”

The other extreme would be a kind of bondage to this material. We can get enslaved to a kind of legalism by fearing that if we leave out a verse or a particular point at any given time, we have blown it all. The result is a slavish adherence to a routine that may be without any power. (Perhaps you remember those who repeat the “Lord’s Prayer” without really thinking about or understanding much of what they are saying.)

I suspect that if you seek to study and apply these things with genuine self discipline, the Holy Spirit will impress you to engage in highly effective warfare by using some of the verses here that He impresses you to use, while omitting others.

Steve Hall
July, 1997