Christian, have you ever wondered what spiritual warfare actually looks like? Is it as intense as it sounds? Did it just take place during the days of the Bible, or does it happen now? Is it more obvious, or more subtle? It doesn’t seem to be talked about too much these days. So, let’s talk about it.
I recently read the book Live No Lies, by John Mark Comer, and he explained spiritual warfare in one of the most clearest ways I’ve ever seen. The main way that spiritual warfare comes at Christians, is through lies. Comer takes this approach from Matthew chapter 4. Through this passage, we see that Satan is a deceiver. He works the most to bring us down through putting lies in our head. And he’s good at it!
According to Comer’s book, there are 3 main avenues that these lies come through:
- The devil: Plants deceptive ideas in people’s minds
- The flesh: These deceptive ideas create disordered desires within each of us
- The world: These deceptive ideas, that become disordered desires, are normalized in a sinful society
In other words, the devil puts lies in our minds, that we often give into, that overflow and contribute to the sin and brokenness of this world.
I couldn’t agree with this more and I want to unpack each of these elements in my own words, to help us better understand spiritual warfare, and also relate them to my own experience.
1- The devil is real.
The devil is real. He’s a fallen angel named Satan. He’s the same one who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden, when he took the form of a serpent. Ever since he rebelled against God, he’s been working to bring Christianity down. Of course, he’s definitely having a terrible impact on our world, but we know he doesn’t win in the end. But in the meantime, he tries!
The Bible refers to him as the prince of the power of the air. In other words, we can’t see Satan. Currently, we cannot see the spiritual realm. Could God, and has God ever given anyone a glimpse of the spiritual realm. Well, sure. We read about rare occurrences of this in the Bible. But it doesn’t seem to be often. But I also don’t think it doesn’t take long for us to see that there is an invisible, evil force behind the visible, evil force. Satan is on the move and he’s real. He’s working to plant lies and deceptive ideas in our minds.
1 Peter 5:8-9—
Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.
2- The flesh is easily deceived.
The word flesh throughout the Bible refers to our sin nature apart from Christ. When you are tempted to give in to lies, be reminded that Satan is coming at you. The lies are a confirmation that you are a child of God, striving to stand for Him. These lies are not just random and they are not just some kind of coincidence.
Now, I’m not trying to over spiritualize things, but I’m also not trying to under spiritualize things. Yes, you also need to take responsibility for what you plant into your mind, but where did that lie come from in the first place? I can tell you for sure that it didn’t come from God. Those that don’t know Jesus live in a state of lies. Satan has them right where he wants them, where the lies become their reality. Those that aren’t in Christ have no other option, because they don’t have the Holy Spirit living in them. Christians on the other hand do have the Holy Spirit in them, therefore, they have a point of reference to be able to discern and combat the lies.
For me, these lies have lately come through the topic of apologetics. I’ve found this area of study very interesting the past few years. I have a strong desire to know more and more why I follow Jesus and stand firm on the evidence. But, apologetics is hard. It gets messy and complex! I can overthink things. Therefore, Satan loves to put doubts and lies in my mind about this. He loves to put questions in my mind about God and the evidence, in the form of a small lie, which could lead to a doubt, which could lead to worse if I don’t squash it with the truth!
These lies are painful and they can hurt. They can really bring me down and they are exhausting. But when I often stop to think about where these lies come from, I’m often encouraged because it means God is trying to move through me and Satan doesn’t like it.
The key is to not freak out when the lies come because they will work to bring you to a panic. Recognize spiritual warfare when it happens. When lies come at you, combat them with the truth. The unseen, spiritual realm of Satan and his demons are working to bring you down, but the power of Christ through His Spirit is stronger, greater and has the ability to overcome.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.
3- This world reflects the lies.
If the flesh refers to a personal scale of each person being deceived by the devil, then the world is obviously how it’s played out on a larger scale. And this doesn’t take long to see. Just look around! Now, I’m not talking about the physical, actual world itself that God created. When I say world, I’m referring to the evil that’s occurred because of the fall and man’s rebellion. The world in this context, is the system that is in opposition to the kingdom of God.
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned against God and were deceived by Satan, sin has carried over to every person. We are born in desperate need of salvation. Thank God, that Jesus came to save us. God knew and saw the sin and brokenness of this world and did something about it. In sending His Son Jesus, God has been working to renew and make all things right.
Perhaps with each year that passes by, we see more and more how broken the world is. The devil is at work in the world, but he also knows that Jesus has risen from the dead, defeated sin, death and hell, and will one day make all things right. He strives endlessly to darken the world more, but the end will one day come and Jesus will make all things right.
1 John 2:15-17—
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.
So, what do we do with this?
- Remember, not everything is spiritual warfare.
One way to check this is to ask yourself if what your experiencing is putting a lie in your head about who God is. You spilling your coffee on yourself is probably not spiritual warfare. You getting a flat tire is probably not spiritual warfare. Please, try not to spiritualize everything. Just take a step back, think and evaluate the situation.
- But, some things are spiritual warfare.
Too many of us ignore the topic of spiritual warfare altogether. When we do this, we get used to living with lies in our head. We don’t fight and wage war through the Spirit. We just think that’s the way things have to be. Satan loves that. But, when we take a step back and recognize spiritual warfare is happening, there is power in that. So, everything isn’t spiritual warfare, but many things are.
- So, when the lies come, recognize them and fight!
Ask for the Spirit to give you the tools, wisdom, insight and clarity and go to battle. Don’t give up. You have the victorious Jesus living in and through you!
1 John 4:4-
You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.