Spiritual Warfare: Are You Ready?
I usually don’t react to articles. I usually work through whatever God has on my heart or answer a question that one of my readers has sent to me, but today I am reacting to an article that in my mind could become dangerous if not corrected (which is the reason for my interaction with it). The article entitled, “8 Signs You Are Under Spiritual Attack” published on Charismamag.com. I am going to try to lay out for you how I am going to approach this: first I am going to identify what spiritual warfare is not; then I am going to identify what spiritual warfare does look like; and thirdly I am going to give some tips on how to do combat with the enemy.
What Spiritual Warfare Isn’t
Spiritual warfare is a topic written about a lot today. Some have dealt with the topic well and others have approached the topic like a self-help tactic rather than a battle strategy of war. This article appears to enter with the presumption of the human person that is theologically inconsistent with the Bible. Scripture tells us that human beings are oriented to wickedness (Rom. 3:10; Jer. 17:9). This means that at every possible opportunity we are going to sin, it is our nature, so when we revert back to that nature do not go seeing the devil in every corner, the truth is far scarier than that. The reality of the manner is that we ourselves are to blame for much of our own sufferings. Scripture tells us many times that we must resist the flesh…what writers of the New Testament (mostly Paul) are referring to is our natural disposition to sin. It is the constant temptation that our sin nature puts in our faces, egging us on to worship ourselves and abandon God. We are to put aside the flesh because according to Paul we are dead to sin (Rom. 6:2) and are new creations (1 Cor. 5:17).
If this is the case, then why do we still struggle? Well, because not all of creation has yet been redeemed. Salvation brings deliverance, but no one on the Earth has yet experienced salvation in its totality. Let me explain, there are three steps to salvation: Justification (being made clean in front of God); Sanctification (the process by which the Holy Spirit works on the human person making them more like Jesus every day); Glorification (when all are resurrected and are made perfect). At the end of the third step is when our salvation is complete and every promise of the cross has been fulfilled in us. This is why Paul says in Phil. 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Now, I will deal with each point made in the article and interact with them attempting to clarify or correct any false teaching.
- Loss of spiritual desire: Your loss of spiritual desire is because you have been feeding your desires and not been faithful in prayer, study of the scriptures, fellowship with believers, and service to the broken. These are instances where you leave yourself open for attack, but are not instances that indicate that an attack is already taking place.
- Physical fatigue: Being fatigued physically is more likely due to poor nutrition and exercise than spiritual warfare. The best way to get your energy levels up is by being active and eating right. God made our bodies to function in certain ways, when we abuse our bodies we are going to be tired. So, again this is a consequence of our choices.
- “Lack Attack”: The circumstance of abundance and want are natural conditions of the human person. They are not indicators of spiritual warfare. Paul states in Phil. 4:11-13 that he knows how to be content in any situation, and that the ability to be content is in relying on God. Can Satan use this to his advantage? Certainly, but the presence of abundance or the lack thereof is not a sign in and of itself.
- Weak prayer life: Pray without ceasing. This is the command of Paul in 1 Thess. 5:17 that almost no one takes seriously. When the disciples in the garden failed to pray with Christ, he did not rebuke Satan but said, “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
- Feeling overwhelmed and helpless: I cannot think of a more universal human experience than this in my life. Every person knows what it is like to be overwhelmed and feel helpless (to varying degrees). It is not an indicator of spiritual attack but an indication that you are a human being in way over your head. It is in these moments that we press into Jesus or run to sin. This is done of to ourselves…not something done to us. Satan can surely take advantage of the situation, but he usually enters the seen to continue the mayhem, not to initiate it.
- Old habits and lifestyles resurface: Again, you are a sinner and this is an indicator of that. It is not a spiritual attack from the enemy; don’t give him that much credit. You do evil well enough on your own, you don’t need his help. Old habits and lifestyles generally resurface because of things you haven’t done. Examples of this; you haven’t had Christian fellowship, or prayed, or read your Bible, and so on.
- Pulling away from Godly relationships: Again, all you. We pull away because of sin and fear that the sin we covet will be found out. We pull away because we don’t want to be told how to live our lives. We do not have a demon whispering in our ears to stop having a relationship with these people. We do it in fear that if found out we will be “forced” to do something we do not want to do.
- Five “Do Nots” to break the enemy’s attack: In honesty, I am kind of dealing with this in the last section so I’ll leave it for that.
What Spiritual Warfare Looks Like
Paul in Ephesians 6:12 wrote that we are in a battle against the forces of darkness in the heavenly realms. In 1 Corinthians 10:3-5 he tells us that we do not battle against flesh and because of this our weapons are ones with divine power to destroy strongholds. In the very next sentence, he lets us know what those strongholds are; they are our thought patterns. He states that we destroy arguments and every opinion raised against the knowledge of God through Christ. These arguments and opinions are ideas…and ideas are where we battle darkness. Not in our emotions, or physical fatigue or some other silly thing, but in the ideas that reside in the hearts of people. Peter tells us to be sober-minded and watchful, depicting Satan as a predator ready to strike at the first sign of weakness (1 Peter 5:8). He is an opportunist, who attacks how you think about yourself, God, and the people around you. He pursues you into a passive and dormant faith because it is in that state that you become ineffective. When he has gotten you to believe that a small self-indulgence isn’t that big of a deal, when your self-control and discipline wavers, evil and darkness lurches close by waiting for its time to strike.
You see…evil is interested in how you think because the way in which you think dictates how you act in the world. If you think one thing, when God says something wholly different but you decide that your thought on the manner is more comprehensive and modern, than you my friend have just been the victim of a spiritual attack from the enemy, and they have just won a battle. This is why vigilance is so important in spiritual warfare…when comfort sets in and you think you can relax; this is when the enemy strikes as well. He will come at you every time you let your guard down, he will take advantage of your exhaustion with life, and your emotional distress. This is not to say that he causes these things, but he certainly takes advantage of them. He suggests thoughts forming thoughts in the mind that deny the promises of God; this is how Satan does battle against us.
What Do We Do?
The first step in any battle is to submit and obey to your commander God in Christ. Our victories in life are dependent on Him, so never think anything you are doing was effective, it was all Jesus, every time. Below are four things that I have found most helpful when doing battle with the enemy. None of these are special or secret teachings but are simple commands that have been in your book shelf for years if not decades,
- Submit to God in prayer. Make known to God your need for Him and your inability to do it on your own. Submit to His will, even if you disagree in that moment; humble yourself in obedience (James 4:7).
- Memorize scripture or keep it on your person at all times. When a thought crosses your mind that you know isn’t right open it up and remind yourself to whom you belong. We are also told in two different places that the scriptures are a sword to use against the enemy (Heb. 4:12 & Eph. 6:17).
- Believe what the scriptures say (I know kind of simple). I cannot tell you how many Christians will read a verse and then say the word “but” as if their objection to the promise makes it any less true. Have faith that God is faithful when we are at our weakest, it just happens to be that in those moments, God works through us the most powerfully (2 Cor. 12:9-11).
- Verbally rebuke evil. Satan is an angel he cannot hear your thoughts, all he can do is whisper in the ear. So when you rebuke him, do it out loud. When we submit to God and resist the devil, he flees from us. This is a promise given to us within Scripture. Jesus himself did this multiple times including when he rebuked Peter in Matthew 16:23. If Jesus verbalized a rebuke to subjugate Satan then there is no problem with you doing the same.
Please do not take this as some kind of recipe for success. These are things you can do to combat evil where it lingers, but keep in mind that evil is ever present. Do not let your guard down or you may be swallowed up. Pray for one another always and continue in humility seeing others as more significant than yourself (Phil. 2:3). I pray that this find all of you well and helps you continue the good fight for the kingdom of light. Peace and blessings and as always thank you for reading.
With Christ’s Love
Justin (AKA The Nerdy Theologian)