The weather report was ominous and threatening. “Be weather aware,” was the admonition for the day. A severe weather alert put everyone on notice to keep their eyes on the skies and to be prepared with an action plan because a tornado was a real possibility.
Spiritual warfare sounds ominous, threatening, and a little “out there.” It can be easy to dismiss or discount this reality, but it is real because the Bible tells us so. Others know full well the reality of the devil and his demons. Let us be careful that we don’t fall into two camps or two extremes.
The first is to dismiss it altogether, which is counter to the Bible’s teachings. I think we swing to this extreme because we may consider ourselves too sophisticated or too intellectual to believe in the spiritual realm. However, the Bible is clear about this: “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). It is the real deal, even though we may not experience these spiritual forces with our five physical, earthly senses. However, spiritual attack does manifest itself in the physical realm.
We can also err to the other extreme which is to give Satan and his demons too much power, even using it as an excuse, “well, the devil made me do it.” Satan only has as much authority as God gives to him. Satan’s dominion is limited to this world under the sovereignty and authority of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). As a child of Almighty God, Satan has no authority over us, but we can succumb to his schemes and fall under temptation.
I appreciate the analogy I heard in a sermon from Dr. Tony Evans. He likens Satan and his demons to a coach and his football team. Before a big game, the football team watches film on the other team. They gain knowledge about how to defeat their opponent. So too, Satan and his demons study our film. The devil knows the weaknesses of humanity. He cannot know what we are thinking, or feeling, but he knows by studying us, our actions, where we stumble and fall. That is his ultimate goal with a child of God. As Charles Spurgeon puts it, “Satan knows how to look at us and size us up from heel to head, so that he says of this man, ‘His infirmity is lust,’; of that one, ‘He has a quick temper’; of another, ‘He is proud’; or of that other, “He is slothful.'”
The more faithful you are to God, the more faithful Satan is of his attacks, and he knows the weak spots in our armor. What are we to do? “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might,” (Ephesians 6:10).
The Real Slim Shady
The devil’s got a game plan, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil,” (Ephesians 6:11). He hasn’t changed his ways. He is slick and shady, but he is not all-powerful or all-knowing. From the garden of Eden, he has sought to deceive with tricks, schemes and lies. Have no doubt too, that Satan hates you, seeking to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). He will kick you when you are down. He wants to knock you out of the race, and make you ineffective, defeated by disappointments, your reputation destroyed by sin, and your ego so inflated that you will suffer the opposition of God (James 4:6).
The Danger is Apathy
The danger begins in our not being spiritually aware. The attacks can be subtle and before you know it you are duped. We need to gain a better understanding of our enemy, and a better understanding of the armor we are given by God to stand against the schemes of the evil one.
Let’s briefly look at the pieces of armor we have these available to us, because some we are already wearing, and others all we have to do is reach out for it because we have been given full access to them.
The Armor of God
It is first important to note in order to batter spiritual warfare, we must have spiritual tools. This spiritual equipment is given to us by God as we live in this world that is marked by the fall in the Garden and under the rule of Satan.
- “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,” (Ephesians 6:14a). The objective standard of truth is not found in our feelings or even or own knowledge, but in God alone. It is His standard that we have fastened around us like a belt holding all the other pieces of this armor in place.
“When a believer understands and operates under the objective nature of God’s truth, that truth automatically stabilizes all other areas of life.”Dr. Tony Evans, “Victory in Spiritual Warfare: Field Guide for Battle”
What is the basis for your own standard of truth? Feelings? Opinions of others? Moral instincts?
What is one practice you can begin this week to begin to define all of life according to what God says?
2. “having put on the breastplate of righteousness,” (Ephesians 6:14b). This righteousness does not come from us, it is the righteousness that Christ gave to us when He paid the debt we owed by dying on the cross, “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteous of God in Him,” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Righteousness is how we respond to the truth of God’s word for our lives.
Spend time in prayer thanking God specifically for the righteousness of Christ that has been given to you.
Also spend time confessing the sins in your life, being cleansed from the unrighteousness of thought and deed.
3. “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace,” (Ephesians 6:15) Understanding the gospel brings us peace. The gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and this is good news for us because of Jesus, if we believe and confess He died for our sins and was raised from the dead, then we can be at peace with God. We are no longer enemies. These shoes of peace provide stability, making us ready against the attacks of the enemy. They help us to battle against worry and anxiety, which is the opposite of peace.
If you are experiencing worry and anxiety over a situation or circumstance you are currently facing, reach out to your people for prayer. We are not to be in this battle alone, and so do the same for them. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ.
4. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one,” (Ephesians 6:16). These last three pieces of armor are “taken up” as the need demands. The first one is the shield of faith.
“Faith is acting on the truth.”Dr. Tony Evans
These “flaming darts of the evil one,” are meant to dismantle you, to knock you down and take you out. Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith. We have all the faith we will ever need. It is at our disposal, but we need to activate it and put it into action. In other words, act like we believe it. If you don’t act then that means you are not believing. Faith without works is dead faith.
Is there any area of your life (marriage, parenting, finances, career, or others) in which it is difficult for you to exercise faith? Why?
Don’t trust your feelings, look to the truth, God’s objective standard of truth in His word.
5. “and take the helmet of salvation,” (Ephesians 6:17a). This piece of armor has to do with your mind or thinking. Salvation is by grace through faith, so we have to think like we are saved and then act upon that thinking. Remember, we cannot earn grace, it is freely given to us as a gift. If we have faulty thinking, then we will act accordingly. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders,” (Matthew 15:19).
Instead this is what we are commanded to do:
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Guard your mind this week by keeping track of the television shows or movies you watch. Are these influences building up your mind to be obedient to Christ and to be His representative in this world? Or are they contributing to a weakness in your flesh slowly chipping away your purity? I remember well the children’s song, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see.” There is a lot of talk these days about shows, such as, “The Game of Thrones.” Do you think this is a good idea to engage in shows like these. I know I struggle in the area of shows on Netflix. I have to be careful because I know more often than not, this feeds my flesh, not my spirit.
6. “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (Ephesians 6:17b). This is a powerful offensive tool, but it is only effective if you know it. To know God’s word you have to read it, and not just read it, but meditate on it. Many a Bible sits in our homes day after day, but if you aren’t picking it up then you are just standing there allowing Satan to bombard you. You can strike him down with the Word! You can attack and advance against the enemy with the Word of God. So powerful, yet so underutilized.
You want to see victory in your life, learn to pray God’s word. There are many great resources to help equip you in this area. There is a great little book by Donald Whitney entitled, “Praying the Bible” that will help you develop this skill and add to your arsenal especially when faced with spiritual warfare.
Be Weather Aware
“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:18). You have the powerful backing of the Holy Spirit living inside you. Pray at all time in the Spirit. This means we are not relying on our own strength or ignoring the problem altogether. We should be mindful and dependent in the Spirit. We are to keep alert with all perseverance. Never give up. When all hell breaks loose in your life, fall on your knees in prayer, rely on the truth of God, confess any areas of sin, remember Whose you are, trust God is in control resting in His peace, hold on to your faith, run to God’s word, and ask for help.
Just be aware.
Side note: While writing this blog piece, I had an outbreak of poison ivy. I’ve never had an outbreak from poison ivy all my life. Add to that, I have not spent any amount of time outdoors or in any other areas where I would come into contact with poison ivy. It appeared out of nowhere. Then this morning as I was putting the finishing touches on this post, my washing machine was cranking out water all over my laundry room floor. I had set the washer last night, and awoke to water running out everywhere! Just a coincidence…I think not.