In Ephesians 6 Paul provides some wise spiritual warfare instructions.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13 (NKJV)
In essence Paul tells us that we are in a spiritual battle and identifies our opponent. Now while ‘spiritual battle’ sounds nice what does it look like? If we go to a sporting contestant, whether a hockey game or a tennis match we can see opponents ‘battling’ to win. We can see the contest. Seeing spiritual warfare is a different matter. Part of knowing how to fight is learning to discern what is happening in the battle.
I remember almost 30 years ago being very discouraged about something that was happening in the church I was leading. I was sharing my discouragement with my wife on the way home after the service. She spoke some very encouraging words to me. She said, “You always give up.” Her words stung but at the same time they highlighted an unhealthy pattern in my life. I didn’t parse the word and ask what she meant by always or whether that was ‘always’ true. I saw the pattern and in response something inside me rose up with a determination to push through. I made a decision to stand in a spiritual battle.
So, let me play this out a bit further so we can see the spiritual warfare. Jesus had called me to do something and when there was opposition I felt like quitting. The discouragement didn’t come from some genetic flaw in me, it came from a pattern of thinking, which I was responsible to change. Satan may have inspired others to oppose me and may have put ideas in their minds in terms of what to say or do because he is a master strategist. I don’t remember what the exact issue was, just my wife’s comment and my internal response. Satan knew what to inspire others to say or do that would be effective against me because it had worked in the past.
This is a simple example but whether we are battling patterns of discouragement, anger, feelings of rejection, identity issues or financial or health struggles we can see spiritual warfare being played out. Once we begin to see the patterns in our own lives we can begin to develop a strategy to win the battle. Make no mistake we are in a battle with an enemy who seeks our destruction. This is the first awareness we need to develop – seeing the battle.
In future posts I will begin to look at strategy to win.