"It's spiritual warfare."
Those words used to send chills through me. I'm not sure what I expected the devil to do, but I imagined him in a long, black cape that swirled around his feet as he walked, rugged face that could be charming in an instant, with dry-ice-style smoke billowing at his feet. I imagined him, arm outstretched, finger pointed my way, making a slashing motion and roaring, "Take her down."
There's not much that's Biblical about my Hollywood-inspired devil fantasy.
What I've come to understand is that there is a spiritual battle being waged constantly. Evil against good. Satan against Jehovah God.
In the end, our God wins because our God has all the power, all the wisdom, all the authority, all the control. Satan has a little power for a brief season. It's nothing compared to God's. (Revelation tells us this in vivid detail.)
I try to remember that.
Here's what I know from Scripture. Our God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He controls life and death. Our enemy is not.
God knows all, hears all, sees all, and is present everywhere, all at once. Our enemy prowls about like a roaring lion, (1 Peter 5:8) but he's not everywhere all the time. He can't hear our thoughts.
If we want to resist with Scripture (as Jesus did in the desert temptation described in Luke 4), we have to speak it aloud.
He has plenty of demon help to harass us far too often, and those demonic forces have a powerful hierarchy. (Ephesians 6) They have areas over which they are responsible, but their authority is not God-given. It's devil-given. They can hurt us and the ones we love, but they cannot take a life. God knows the days of our lives (Psalm 139:16), and that cannot be changed by warfare.
Instead, as believers, WE have the authority over demonic forces, and it has been given by the One who rules the universe and keeps the constellations in their place. (Luke 10:19, Matthew 16:19) We may be defeated in a few skirmishes, but we don't have to be.
We have authority over our enemy.
Satan always opposes the work of God. If we're doing God's work, he will oppose our efforts. If we encounter no opposition, we need to consider how well we're doing the thing to which God has called us. It's that simple.
The enemy works first on our mind, whispering lies into our heads. If we don't take every thought captive, we can be easily defeated by those lies. (2 Corinthians 10:5) I know, because he's defeated me with lies more than once.
If we do take every thought captive, keeping our minds stayed on Christ, opposition will come in many other forms. Our enemy is creative in his efforts, and it's easy to get frustrated. When I remember that those efforts are borne of desperation, it's a little easier to withstand.
I recently encountered a surge of what I considered warfare. Multiple aggravations all designed to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) It has taken years to get to this point, but I actually found the opposition reassuring, knowing that I must be on the right track for the enemy to work so hard against me. (That's a radical change from a few years ago, and I thank God for it.)
My response to spiritual warfare is no longer to cower, because God hasn't given us a spirit of fear. (2 Timothy 1:7) Instead, my response is to work harder for the Lord.
Ephesians 6 explains that we have powerful armor for fighting spiritual battles. Girdle (or belt) of truth, breastplate of righteousness, boots of gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:11 tells us that we are to put on ALL our armor so that we can stand firm. If we put on everything except our sword, we are still in a vulnerable position.
God's Word is our only offensive weapon. If we don't study the Bible and know it well enough to use it when we need it, we'll be powerless in a spiritual battle. We may stand, but we won't be able to fight.
Knowing God's Word is not optional for His warriors.
Either God has all authority or He doesn't. I believe He does.
Either He has given us authority in Christ over the forces or darkness, or He hasn't. I believe (because of Scripture) that He has.
Either our armor can protect us or it can't. Scripture says it can, and I believe that.
Our response to spiritual warfare is based largely on our faith and our knowledge. Do we know what God has said and do we believe it?
There's another important point that's often overlooked. Vulnerability. When I'm tired or hungry, I'm most vulnerable to the enemy's advance. If I am already indulging sin (especially in the form of wrong attitudes), I become a much easier target.
When God says we need to care for our bodies, which are temples of God, He speaks with our protection in mind.
A well-maintained fortress is a more impregnable one.
As we work for the Kingdom of God, opposition will come from our enemy, the evil one, but we don't have to be afraid. Our Lord has both power and authority over everything in heaven and on earth, He has given us authority over the attack, and He has given us all the equipment we need to win our battles.
The question for today is will we stand in the face of evil? Will we fight to serve our Lord? Will we hold firm against temptation?
In case you missed the story of Sam's project, here's the link: Sam's Project: Rubber Boots for Barefoot Rwandan Children
If you'd like to give to help buy boots for the barefoot school children of Rwandan, you can go directly to the project page here: Help Sam's Kids. There's still a LONG way to go. I'll have an update later this morning.
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: What Do You Seek When You Follow Jesus?