Are you familiar with the term spiritual warfare? Some of us are all too familiar with this war in the spiritual realm, while others may not have heard much about it from the pulpit. Thankfully, God’s Word describes spiritual warfare for us.
“Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.”
Ephesians 6:11-12 AMP
Simply stated, spiritual warfare is any scheme, strategy, or deceit the devil may use to discourage us. Yet, more importantly, it is also everything we have been given by God to both defend and offend the devil’s ways.
Spiritual warfare works both ways. Let me explain another way.
Sports teams decide between who is on offense and who is on defense by a coin toss, a jump ball, or a winning streak. In football, the coin toss not only determines who kicks off and who receives the ball, it also allows the opposing team to decide which side of the field they want to play from. In basketball, a jump ball scenario determines who gains possession of the ball first, while some other sports often give preference to the team with the winning record.
What if this were true about the game of life? What if a coin toss determined your day, your demeanor, or your destiny? What if your physical ability to react quickly, to jump high, and maintain control determined your success? What if only those with “winning records” excelled in life?
Praise God that our state and our standing in this life are not dependent on our ability to control the outcome. Our state (sinners saved by grace) and our standing (forgiven, purified, sanctified, redeemed, restored) are established and determined solely by the atoning work of Christ on the cross.
This is the Good News!
However, because we live in a fallen world where good and evil collide on a daily basis within every institution, family, and human being, we continue to experience spiritual warfare. Not unlike the world of sports, in any atmosphere of war there is often one entity on the offense and one on the defense.
When it comes to spiritual warfare, I do not claim to be an expert. However, I know from experience that spiritual warfare works both ways. Growing up in church and bible study, I remember most of the spiritual warfare talk being more along the lines of the devil as the aggressor. The one who kills, steals, and destroys.
On the contrary, Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that believers can and must become the aggressors against the spiritual attacks on our thinking. Joyce Meyers calls this the battlefield of the mind. My pastor calls this stinking thinking.
The war which Satan wages in our minds to first try to discourage us, then try to disable us as disciples of Christ is real. While only Jesus can and will ultimately bring Satan to his demise, we must take as captives any threat he deploys on our thought life.
“For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 AMP
Paul is the same apostle who reminds us in Ephesians 6 to put on the full armor of God! We are at war with Christ in the spiritual realm to stave off the devil and his schemes until Christ returns. We are more than human beings, we are spiritual beings equipped with warrior spirits and the promise of eternal victory.
Spiritual warfare then becomes a playing field of both offense and defense depending on the state of our mental preparedness when the attacks ensue.
Are you prepared?
Are you fully equipped to receive the “ball” of this fallen world and run the offensive attack against the devil’s dealings? Are you ready to jump higher and reach farther than you ever thought you could through the power of the Holy Spirit in order to maintain possession of your soul for Christ? Are you securing your “winning record” by getting up every time life knocks you down with the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation? Which side of the field are you playing from, the side of fear or the side of faith?
Spiritual warfare is real and it works both ways.
We don’t have to live perpetually on the defense of the devil. We have a God who goes before us, stands beside us, and resides within us. He is the One who will one day appear on a white horse, clad in eternal glory and victory for my soul and yours.
His name is above every name in heaven and on earth. Jesus. The leader of the armies of heaven gives us the heart of a warrior when we fully trust in Him.
Offense or defense? When it comes to spiritual warfare the answer is dependent on your mental preparedness.
We won’t always be ready for what the devil uses to discourage us. Sometimes spiritual warfare must come in the form of prayers by our family and friends. Intercessory prayer is like bringing the whole army, not just a lone warrior, against evil.
Nevertheless, despite our spiritual wins and losses, in the end at the very last battle, Jesus wins our souls for His glory. Spiritual warfare will cease and the grace of His glory will reign eternal. Amen.