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The Basics About Spiritual Warfare - What every believer should know





 
The Basics About Spiritual Warfare
What every believer should know

The Bible plainly describes our fight against the devil as warfare. Being so vivid in this imagery, we ought to understand that we are not talking about a game but a serious fight. There is a consistent use of vocabulary descriptive of war when the Bible makes references to the fight against evil hosts.

Most of us would be familiar with the descriptions of the fight against the forces of satan in Revelation where the reference to war is explicit (See Revelation 12:7). We are also told that one of the characters of our Lord is as Warrior (Isaiah 42:13). He is the rider of the white horse leading the armies of Heaven against the beast (Revelation 19:11-13). The Commander of the Army of the Lord appeared to Joshua with sword drawn to lead Israel into war (Joshua 5:13-15) and Bible scholars believe this to be a pre-incarnate personage of Christ Himself. Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of Heaven suffering violence and having to be taken by force (Matthew 11:12).

As for us, we are exhorted to put on "armour" to withstand the wiles of the evil one. We are armed with the sword of the Word (Ephesians 6:17) and we also know that the weapons of our warfare are mighty in God (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Who are we fighting?
We learn from the Apostle Paul that "though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh" (2 Corinthians 10:3). The Apostle also says in Ephesians 6:12 that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood”. Taken together, these verses suggest that we neither war with human capabilities nor are we warring against human beings. As we complete the reading of the latter verse, we learn that we are actually fighting against evil ranks in the spiritual realm: "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

Paul was writing to the Ephesians who were no strangers to persecution. We can be certain that there was strive against that church as we know that a dangerous riot broke out at Ephesus during Paul’s ministry. The account in Acts 19:21-41 tells us that a silversmith named Demetrius was responsible for inciting a riot to jealously defend the worship of Artemis (Diana). It is probable the Ephesians were also struggling with discord and perhaps other negative circumstances as parts of Paul’s letter exhorts them towards unity and mutual love. In encouraging them in their circumstances, Paul explained that their enemy was not a person but rather something else going on behind the scenes. He clearly alluded that there are spiritual influences they should be battling against rather than the people opposing them.

There is a spiritual realm
There is a spiritual realm. God created this spiritual realm (Colossians 1:16). Lucifer rebelled, fell and became "satan", which means "adversary". When he fell, satan took one-third of the heavenly hosts with him (Isaiah 14:12; Revelation 12:3-4, 9) and as we delve into deeper study (in the next entry) we will find out that these same fallen angels are regarded as demonic spirits. Satan and his powers of darkness oppose God and God’s plans. They come against The Church, Christians and pre-Christians. The primary tactic of the enemy is deception – it is the devil’s native nature to deceive (John 8:44). We are not battling against human beings. We are battling against angels that have rebelled from within God’s Kingdom.

It is always tempting to paint a picture of two cosmic kingdoms battling for supremacy but that would be buying into a lie. There is only one Kingdom created by God and God is supreme. The spiritual powers under satan’s leadership do not have a "kingdom" but are more accurately regarded as insurgents within God’s Kingdom. Satan should never be regarded as God’s "equal and opposite". As a created being, Lucifer - whom we now refer to as satan - is neither an alternative god nor an alternative power and we should not recognise any alternative kingdom.

We need to apply Ephesians 6:12 to the present day
There are Christians who would attest to having experienced direct confrontations with a contrary spiritual force they could feel and/or see. Such instances are valid examples of spiritual warfare and they are not as uncommon as we may think. However, spiritual warfare is more commonly manifested against us through circumstances we encounter.

Christians are being killed in places such as Orissa, India and parts of the Middle-East. In many parts of the world, it is unlawful to preach the gospel or gather in the name of Christ (even in San Diego). In modern western societies, there is an onslaught against the precepts of God in various forms under the cloak of liberties (e.g. same sex marriages, voluntary termination of pregnancy). We face opposition against the open expression of Christianity for fear of offending someone else’s religious sentiments. Even the use of Christian imagery is restricted. Religious persecution is experienced everywhere in the world and it has been since the ministry of Jesus. It can also be experienced personally from family and friends. If we look here in Christian Blog, we also occasionally encounter division over doctrinal detail or we may find someone’s denominational beliefs coming under persecution. Like at Ephesus during Paul’s time, might the meaning of Ephesians 6:12 apply to all of such situations today? I think it does in most instances. We need to be aware that we have an enemy behind the scenes.

Knowing this, we also need to remember that we fight in a war with weapons that are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4). I believe prayer ought to be our primary response to warfare. We need to be careful not to sin in anger or stumble in our response to what we believe to be wrong (just recently, a doctor who performed abortions was shot while serving as an usher in church). We need to discern the onslaught of the enemy against us and if we discern it spiritually we need to respond Spiritually and resist carnal impulses.

We should be aware but not afraid
Spiritual warfare is ongoing around us and against us regardless of our awareness or willingness to acknowledge it. When I say this I am not trying to play-up concern. On the contrary, I hope to impress that there isn’t anything going on that hasn’t already been going on. So we should rest assured that we are no worse off for knowing that spiritual warfare happens. A useful analogy would be to liken it to germ warfare. Though we may not always take cognisance of it, our bodies are constantly at war against pathogens. Knowing germs exist should make us practice better hygiene (I hope) but it certainly shouldn’t cause panic as we are no worse off for having the knowledge. Yet, we can take the necessary precautions to better protect ourselves. Similarly in spiritual warfare, we can always be better protected against a prowling enemy (1 Peter 5:8) and we can also be less hindered in our journeys towards Christ-likeness.

We are all fighting personal wars
Some of us may be tempted to think that spiritual warfare is a war only the "qualified" should fight. But that would either give us a convenient excuse to bypass it or it might give us a false sense of being "spiritually advanced" if we do engage it in. This would be a very dangerous notion as it may lead to spiritual pride. Spiritual warfare is not an elitist Christian activity. "Fighting this good fight" (2 Timothy 4:7) is part and parcel of our spiritual growth. When the Apostle Paul told us to put on the whole armour of God to resist the enemy (Ephesians 6:10-11), he neither put any qualifications to it nor exclude any Christian. No one is exempt from it and there is no way anyone can hide from it.

We all have personal battles. We have struggles we have no choice but to plod through. We are right in the middle of a lifelong war. For this fight, qualification has nothing to do with it. The quicker we realise this, the more alert we will be in discerning the enemy’s assaults against us. For the sake of convenience, we will distinguish "personal warfare" as the battles we fight for ourselves in the course of our spiritual growth. It is critical that we understand this as believers and learn how to defend ourselves. We will definitely need a dedicated discussion about personal warfare as a future entry.

We are also fighting for our Church and The Kingdom
There are arenas of battle that are not personal. We are also praying for the body of Christ and the Kingdom. To distinguish this broad arena of spiritual warfare, we are going to use "Kingdom warfare" as an umbrella term to encompass our Commission, intercession, service and every engagement outside of our own personal arenas, including ministering deliverance to other Christians.

While we are defending ourselves and growing spiritually, we are also Commissioned for the Kingdom. There is an ongoing battle for the harvest of souls. The truth is, "we" are the object of the war and even pre-Christians are in the battle unwittingly as the "prince of this world" does everything to blind them to the Gospel (John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Another way to look at it is that even as we fight to work out our own salvations (Philippians 2:12; 1 Timothy 6:12) we are also fighting to populate the Kingdom of God. The enemy does everything possible to thwart us from entering the Kingdom (Colossians 1:12-14) - and where that fails: to hinder our spiritual growth; prevent our service to others (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 2:18); and bring discord within the Body. Jesus is Head of The Church (Ephesians 5:23) and He is constantly praying for our oneness (John 17:20-23) but satan constantly attacks the unity of the church and seeks to soil the Bride. As we delve deeper into this study we will discuss Kingdom Warfare in greater detail and study our role as vessels of God.

Spiritual warfare is fought personally and corporately. Distinguishing between personal and kingdom warfare is not a doctrinal stance but simply a convenient way to help us organise our thoughts around the rather broad aspects of spiritual warfare.

We fight from a position of victory
Whether we fight individually or corporately, we are children of the Living God fighting from a position of victory against a foe that has already been defeated. We must also know that satan’s power is limited by God (Job 1:12; Job 2:6; Luke 22:31-32). As a created being (Colossians 1:16) satan is neither omnipotent, omniscient nor omnipresent and must still come under subjection to Jesus (Ephesians 1:20-22). We, as children of the Living God, can resist the devil and cause him to flee (James 4:7).

In the next entry we need to lay down a biblical foundation about the spiritual realm as it will serve as a baseline for the continuation of our study.

Link to next blog in this series: God's Spiritual Realm, Angels and Demons
Link to previous blog in this series: Spiritual Warfare - An introduction to a tricky subject matter

Bibliography
Frangipane, Francis. The Three Battlegrounds. By the Author, 1989.
Horrobin, Peter. Healing through Deliverance: The Foundation of Deliverance Ministry. Sovereign World, 1991.
Ingram, Chip. The Invisible War: What Every Believer Needs To Know About Satan, Demons and Spiritual Warfare. Baker Books, 2006.
Moreau, A. Scott [et al.] Eds. Deliver Us From Evil: An Uneasy Frontier In Christian Mission. World Vision, 2002.
Murphy, Ed. The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare. Thomas Nelson, 1992.
Wagner, C. Peter, ed. Territorial Spirits: Insight Into Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare & Intercession. Sovereign World, 1991.

Posted: Jun 02 2009 02:36:56am by T Sia+
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Referenced Blogs:  
The following blogs were mentioned within this blog.
Beware of those evil home Bible study and prayer groups by blessings2you
How to give Chrisitanity a black eye--shoot a doctor by blessings2you
God's Spiritual Realm, Angels and Demons by doulos
Spiritual Warfare - An introduction to a tricky subject matter by doulos

Kirk m+ (@blessings2you)
Jun 02 2009 03:14:14am
  I commend you for a very systematic approach to this topic. I believe your Bibliography reads like a "who's who" in this field. Thank you for putting the time and research into presenting this in such a condensed and easy to read manner. I pray it helps those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Like just about every other broad topic discussed among Christians, this one is full of differing opinions and ideas. I would pray that we all set aside our personal doctrines when it comes to the spiritual warfare we are engaged in and look at the bigger picture. The truth is that unless we awake and arise to face our enemy, he will sneak in and steal, kill and destroy. Unless we are ever watchful and vigilant, we will find ourselves in a state of deception and/or distanced from from God's promises.

Of all the books mentioned in brother doulos' bibliography, I would certainly put (and he did also) "The three battlegrounds" by Francis Frangipane at the top of any list dealing with spiritual warfare. This book makes the whole field so simple to understand. I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone wanting to get a good grasp on this subject.

Thanks brother for continuing to present more information on this vital topic.

B2Y


K Reynolds+ (@kreynolds)
Jun 02 2009 05:05:58am
  All I can say is thank you very much for researching and writing this excellent overview of the basics of spiritual warfare. As you so aptly pointed out, we all have our personal battles as well as Kingdom warfare. That being said, we do well to remember what you said about satan NOT being God's "equal and opposite". This is one of the enemy's greatest lies. When I was young, I heard a minister refer to the enemy as being one fallen angel. I have never forgotten that. We must never place the enemy in the same category as God..never!

Blessings, my friend! I am looking forward to your next blog!

K :princess:


Elizabeth Fox (@whobelieve)
Jun 02 2009 06:29:48am
  This is great and very helpful, thank you.


Roger Rodriguez (@the042)
Jun 05 2009 03:56:47am
  This is a very interesting topic, no doubt. We should do well to focus on what has been revealed in the Word of God regarding this subject. Anything beyond that is speculation. If we are not careful, we might end up fighting enemies that are not even there! One point I thought to add that the name of our enemy is SATAN. This word means ADVERSARY. His job is to oppose God, His plan for humanity and us, the Body of Christ. I understand from scripture that he was created by God AS the Adversary. God made him to be a worthy adversary. If he had fallen, he might have been given another name, one that meant The Rebel or The Fallen One; yet, holy writ calls him Adversary. As someone said in a previous post, Jesus has defeated him already. He is a defeated foe! Besides, he needs permission from God when he wants to harm us (Read Job). If we do not forget who we are in Christ and that we have EVERYTHING necessary to defeat him, we will overcome him! And he knows that all too well! That's why he tries to take our eyes off of Jesus, to keep us ignorant of our spiritual heritage and to accuse us when we trip and fall. We, as children of God, have more authority over the devil than even Michael the archangel. Wasn't Michael who told Satan "Let the Lord rebuke you" when he was contending with him for the body of Moses (Judas 1:9)? And what do we say? WE REBUKE YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS! We have the authority of Jesus himself! Not even the good angels have it. We have been given authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions (symbols for evil spirits and demons) and over ALL THE AUTHORITY of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt us. (Luke 10:19). The enemy has authority, BUT we have authority OVER their authority! PRAISE THE LORD ! :)


Angelic Crocker (@estherangel)
Jun 05 2009 08:39:03am
  Great article, great wisdom! Thank you for being so moved to do the research about spiritual warfare. It does exist and everyone has their own experience with it. I can't wait to hear more about this. Sincerely, EstherAngel


T Sia+ (@doulos)
Jun 05 2009 11:36:02am
  I agree with B2Y that "The Three Battlegrounds" is highly recommended. Although it is a rather thin volume, it covers so much in most profound ways. I'm a voracious reader and I tend to be like a kid in a candy store whenever I step into a Christian bookstore. I think I may have more than 50 books on spiritual warfare and I still think this is probably the best book to start with and then come back to again after a while when appreciation of it will deepen.

There is so much on this topic that I would like to present. I don't blog often as I don't have much time to write. I hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew... but having started this, it looks like I'm going be on this subject for at least a few more entries.

I just want to add that I am not presenting my pet doctrines or personal views but the more generally accepted understanding among established ministers in this field (at least among Pentecostal and Charismatic circles). I am merely organising and summarising stuff I've been reading.

I really do appreciate all of your comments and opinions on the subject. My thanks to you all...


Rhonda jones (@blackrose65)
Jun 07 2009 03:20:20pm
  very well written d- very well written... THANK YOU!


Marvin wash (@progfrog)
Jun 27 2009 01:35:24pm
  Hi, I like your posting, doulos. Let me throw another aspect of spiritual warfare into the mix. It is not without controversy, but I believe it is biblically supported. That aspect is found within music. As a former professional musician, with praise and worship experience, I came to see music pretty much divided into 3 camps: Music that honors God, and edifies believers / music of the world (which can be "neutral" in some sense) / music of the flesh. Certainly, praise and worship music honors God; then you might have, let's say some Classical music or Standards, or cultural/ethnic traditions or other somewhat innocuous music that just seems to appeal to our musical senses - that would be music of the world. Then you have everything that breaks down relationships, attacks moral values, advocates injury or cruelty - these are based on lyrical content, and have become increasingly more prevalent in society over the years, and more popular - whatever musical "form" or genre it employs. This general category of music is music of the flesh and, for my part, I see it clearly defined in Ephesians 2, 1 "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts." Music is a HUGE battleground, and it appears that the "ruler of the kingdom of the air" is having his way. Look, I can appreciate music in its many forms. Where I draw the line is in lyrical content. I can appreciate some music of the world, I absolutely embrace music that honors God, but I stand against music of the flesh - even though my own flesh might fall under its spell. Let me add one anecdotal thought: When I was a professional musician, I was the front man (lead singer) in a progressive rock group. We wrote and performed only original material. The greatest pleasure I received as a performer, was when I could look out at the rows of fans and see them singing our/my lyrics back to me. It was an incredible feeling. Years later, when helping to lead worship, as I looked out at the congregation, seeing them singing the lyrics that God had placed on someone's heart to write - I understood how God would be so pleased and blessed to receive that anthem of praise back to His ears. God alone, deserves praise. God alone, deserves honor. And when we honor Him in our music, we not only recognize the Creator of music, we tap into the very source of His majestic power. We also find ourselves lifted up, inspired and humbled by the experience. Every time we yield our hearts to God in music that praises and honors Him, we enter into a spiritual realm that encourages us to proceed in spiritual warfare - it gives us strength. We need to be strengthened regularly, and that is partly why we praise God.


T Sia+ (@doulos)
Jun 29 2009 01:48:52am
  I agree with you progfrog - music is an HUGE battleground and I think it is an area we need to take back for Christ. I believe that praise and worship is one of the things we can and should do to disarm the enemy and they hate it. Perhaps this may be one reason why the worship ministry and worship leaders are always among the first people who are targeted by our enemy. Thank you for taking the time to comment and God bless...



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