Many Christians have heard the term spiritual warfare but in my experience, few of us know what it really is. Even fewer know how to engage in it. Today, I want to begin to help you join the fight. By the way, you’re in it whether you want to be or not.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12, ESV
What is Spiritual Warfare?
The most basic definition is this: Spiritual warfare is the battle that has been waging between God and the angels that remain loyal to him, and the angels that rebelled and are trying to overthrow him. Angels, like us, have free will and can choose to obey or disobey. The history of how these two factions developed is too long for this post. For now, it’s enough to know that a long time ago, there were some angels who decided they knew better than God and choose to disobey. As a result, sin in the world increased. Those angels were eventually cast out of heaven and now roam the earth seeking to destroy the things of God (John 10:10). Since we bear the image of God (Genesis 1:27) we are despised by these creatures.
Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t feel like I’m under attack” but that’s simply because you haven’t been taught what to look for. We tend to think that the Enemy will come at us with big attacks desired to take us out all at once. We think of things like cancer, bankruptcy, or the death of loved one as the Enemy’s work. Those are certainly the result of living in a broken world and sometimes they are the direct attack of the Enemy. But more often than not, the Enemy will use one of three tactics.
If he can win, the Enemy is guaranteed to fight the small battle with you. He’ll tempt you with the sin you’re most prone to or the one that’s most readily available, porn, drugs, alcohol, shopping, pride, anxiety, the list goes on and on. Then when you fall for it, he’ll hold the guilt and shame of it over your head as long as he can. He’ll try and get you to believe that God’s tired of forgiving you that you’re just one or two sins away from being unforgivable. Or he’ll convince you that while God can still forgive you, you’re too broken to be of any use to him and so he’s saving you but he doesn’t have a plan for you. He’ll stack up sin after sin and remind you of them all, convincing you that you’re worthless. Then, when you do seek forgiveness, he’ll temp you agin and the cycle repeats. It’s all an elaborate scheme to trap you. From the Enemy’s perspective, trapped is almost as good as taken out and it’s much easier.
This is why the Bible talks so much about not sinning. God’s not a prude, he just wants you to stay free from the burden of guilt and shame. If you do sin, seek forgiveness quickly and don’t believe the lie that God can’t or won’t forgive you. Quote the truth, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
If he can’t tempt you into a sinful behavior, he’ll tempt you into a wrong belief. We call these agreements, because they happen anytime you agree with a lie instead of the truth from God. Agreements are tricky. They often come on the heals of falling for a sinful temptation, but most of us make them without even realizing it. To illustrate, let me tell you a quick story.
When I was around eight years old, the enemy and a friend of mine convinced me to engage in a sinful behavior. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyways. I grew up going to church and so I knew about God’s forgiveness and shortly after this incident asked him for it and he forgave me for the behavior.
But what I didn’t realize is that the enemy would remind me of that sin for years to come and every time, it would come with the temptation to believe that while I was forgiven, I was disqualified. I agreed. My sin was too grievous to be completely forgiven. I was forgiven, but still disqualified. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties, that God reveled to me the agreement that had held me captive for more than twenty years and gave me the strength to ask for forgiveness for believing that lie and living as if it were true all those years.
The problem with agreements is that they give the enemy a foothold. When we make agreements with the Enemy, knowingly or unknowingly, we give him permission to keep lying to us and hold us in bondage to the lie we’ve believed.
Often you won’t know you have an agreement until God shows it to you. It’s a good practice to set aside time, weekly or even daily asking God to reveal any agreements you’ve mad to you. Then, stand in the authority of Jesus and bring the freeing work of Christ against those agreements and against the Enemy.
You can pray something like this: “Jesus, I praise you for your victorious work on the cross. I stand in your victory now and I bring the full work of Christ, his blood, sacrifice, death and resurrection against [name the agreement] and I declare it broken in Jesus’ name. I now stand free from it, in the new life won for me and given to me by Jesus.”
3. Other People’s Free Will
Sometimes, if the Enemy can’t get at you, he’ll go after people around you. It could be your spouse, a friend, child, parent or even a stranger. He’ll tempt them to blame you, steal from you, verbally or even physically attack you. Free will is a beautiful gift, but the Enemy will use it against you if he can.
Defeating Other People’s Free Will
With this one, the best offense is a good defense. In your daily prayers, ask God to fight for you. Bring the full work of Christ over your household, your finances, vehicles, spouse, business etc. Ask God to send angels to fight for you and instruct them to destroy the schemes and traps of the enemy set against you, and ask them to rebuild the shields and protection surrounding you in the spiritual realm.
Remember, the Enemy fears you because Christ has given you victory and authority. The Enemy is terrified of you being engaged in the battle and standing against his schemes, free to live fully alive. But the victory has been won for us by our God, we only need to step into it.
And now, may the Father of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, clothe you with power from on high. May he establish you in his truth and plant you in his victory that you will be able to stand against the schemes of the enemy and proclaim the victory of our God to this world and to the powers and authorities in the spiritual realms, in Jesus’ name…