This is the final article ending the series on Spiritual Warfare. The previous (6) articles focused on the fact that when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior war is declared on the soul through the mind. They defined spiritual warfare and covered the manifestations that result. Now this article explains how we fight and win this war. This article is about Battling Spiritual Warfare.
The Christian’s life is a battlefield. Immediately upon receiving Christ, Christians find themselves in a constant struggle. We are therefore engaged in an unceasing fight; an unending war. We are combatants, a soldier in conflict. Our calling is not to a life of enjoyment and ease, but to a life of hard conflict. There are foes within and foes without. From the cradle to the grave there is constant struggle against the corruptible lusts of the flesh and the imposing temptations offered by the world and Satan—a struggle against an excessive corruption that inevitably leads to death if we surrender.
Let’s look at this conflict in Scripture: Gal 5:17, “ For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
The flesh in the Scripture represents our sinful fleshly, lustful desires of the world and the Spirit represents the righteousness prompted by the Holy Spirit. These are the only two forces in existence and we are influenced by one or the other. [Matt. 6:24] These two powerful forces battle against one another and this battle takes place in the mind. The mind is the battlefield.
We are born with a sinful nature that was passed down from Adam. In David’s psalm of repentance he stated: Ps. 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” NIV. So when we are born, we automatically arrive in the enemy’s camp. This is why Jesus had to be born of a virgin and not from the seed of sinful man in order for Him to be the perfect sacrifice. It is also the reason why we must be “born again” to be acceptable for “the kingdom of God.” [John 3:3]
Take note: because of this, if we’re not struggling, that indicates something is wrong in our spiritual walk and we’re not fighting the battle. If we don’t fight we can’t win. If you’re not fighting the enemy then you’re part of the enemies camp. The enemy will not fight its own soldiers. If you’re not struggling against some worldly temptation, you’re really aren’t fighting.
Therefore, the question becomes: how do we fight and win this battle? Although this may seem to be an impossible feat, it is not.
The very first step is to recognize that we cannot fight this battle on our own. It is impossible for us to fight and win the battle against Satan and his wiles (schemes). Therefore we must humble ourselves before our Lord and Savior and He will give us the strength to fight and win this battle.
Scripture says in 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:”
We must humble ourselves under God and He will lift us up in honor and victoriously.
By humbling ourselves under God, we gain wisdom. Ps 111:10 reads: “The fear of the Lord [reverence, respect and obedience] is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
This wisdom yields us the understanding of how and what we must do to fight and win the battle in Spiritual Warfare. A huge amount of this wisdom comes from the Scriptures. But without the wisdom and Spirit of God in us, it is merely a bunch of words. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to receive from the Scriptures. Therefore this article and all of the others on this website are based on the Scriptures; not feelings or opinions.
The next step in this battle is knowing exactly who the enemy is. Scripture makes this clear in Eph 6:12:
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
So the war isn’t with other humans. Humans are simply tools used by rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. When persecution comes from our families, co-workers, friends, etc. they are unwittingly being used by the enemy and that’s only one part of the war. The enemy uses many other tools which is another article altogether.
Knowing our enemy is important to know for the sake of knowing what kind of weaponry must be used. You can’t defend yourself against a lion with a beebe gun! But Scripture is clear as to the kind of weapons must be used against our enemy. 2 Cor 10:3-4 reads:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Carnal—worldly weaponry is futile against this enemy. Guns, tanks, canons, bow and arrow, sling shots are all insignificant against this enemy. But we do have the proper weapons available to us. We must use God’s mighty weaponry to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning.
Strongholds are fortified places that the enemy sets up in our minds that affect our thinking and behavior. The enemy sets these up in our minds and are manifested in pride, lawlessness, rebellion, wrong thoughts and lies that may have been perpetuated in our minds for weeks, months, or even years. These are entrenched in a variety of wrong beliefs that can cause an individual to live in bondage to: addictions, fear, guilt, anxiety, or chronic depression. For more on these conditions, read the article:Spiritual Warfare: Conditions of the Mind.
Verse 5 tells us what to do with these strongholds:
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
With God’s weaponry, we destroy every proud stumbling block that keeps us from knowing God. We capture these rebellious thoughts and force them to obey Christ. We simply take control with God’s weapons.
So, what is this weaponry that is so effective against our unseen enemy? Once again, we look at the Scriptures for the answer. So we continue with Ephesians 10 and verse 10.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
We’ve already covered verse 12
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Verse 10 confirms the first point made: we can only be strong in the Lord and His power. We cannot fight this enemy on our own.
Verses 11 and 13 tell us that we must put on the full armor of God to stand against our enemy (the devil).
We have next in verse 14, the first pieces of this armor—the belt of truth. In order to effectively fight this enemy, we must have the truth. We must know the truth before we can know what is wrong. Jesus said: “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” [John 8:32] The truth will set us free from the strongholds that Satan has placed in our minds.
The belt is what holds a soldier’s armor in place and is therefore foundational. Just as the belt forms the foundation of the soldier’s armor, the truth is the foundation of the Christian life. This “truth” refers to the truth of God’s Word and his message in the gospel. We must be sure of our faith. If we cannot be absolutely sure of our faith, and if we are not sure that Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6), then there would be no use for the rest of the armor or in attempting to fight any battle. God’s truth, as revealed to us through Jesus, forms the foundation of the victorious Christian life. [Don’t leave home without it!]
The next piece of a soldier’s armor is the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate was a large leather, bronze, or chain-mail piece that protected the body from the neck to the thighs of a Roman soldier. Protecting the vital organs, the breastplate was a vital piece in the soldier’s armor. No soldier in his right mind would go into battle without his breastplate. It frequently had a back piece as well, protecting the body from hits from behind. This provided full protection of the body. Satan is ready for battle at every turn, willing to hit us unfairly from behind if given the chance. Therefore the body must be fully protected.
“Righteousness”— grants a substantial defense; it demonstrates that we have been made right with God and that this righteousness has been given to us by the Holy Spirit. Christians have been made righteous through the blood of Christ. Because of this, the Christian believers want to live in uprightness and integrity, desiring to please the One who saved them. Yet that won’t be easy. Satan is ready for battle and is willing to hit us hard to crack this breastplate. After all, righteousness is the opposite of Satan’s complete wickedness and threatens His kingdom. Therefore he seeks to impede righteous living. This is the heart of the struggle.
Next in verse 15, we have for the soldier’s feet. Ephesians 6:14
A soldier wore special sandals or military shoes that protected his feet without slowing him down deeming them ready for rapid battle.
Christians also need special shoes — the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. The Word of God is the gospel, or Good News, that yields peace and calm. Christians are ready for battle because “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard [their] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7 NKJV). A panicked soldier cannot fight effectively. But we can stand firm, with peace, even in hand-to-hand combat, because we know that we are doing right and that we are on the winning side. Christians are in the battle with both the inner peace Christ has already granted and the yearning to generate that peace in the hearts of others. This happens only as they share this “gospel of peace” with those who have not yet heard and accepted it.
In verse 16 the shield of faith. In addition to all of the pieces of armor mentioned above, the soldier needed to carry extra protection in the form of a shield. For Christians, this shield is faith which is complete reliance on God. Faith is total dependence on God and willingness to do his will. It is believing in His promises even though we don’t see those promises materializing yet. Faith is: “the evidence of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1] God gives faith to strengthen the Christian.
When the enemy, the ruler of this world (John 12:31), sends his flaming arrows of temptation, doubt, wrath, lust, despair, vengeance, problems, and trials into our lives, we can hold up our shields and quench them. We are confident that “whatever is born of God conquers the world.” And this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 John 5:4 NRSV). We must take hold of God’s full resources. Faith gives us the strength to stand against Satan with firm courage, even when he uses his most fearsome weapons, the fiery darts. If you want to read more on faith, read the article on this site: What is Faith About.
In verse 17 we have the helmet of salvation. The helmet protects a soldier’s head. Christians, with the assurance of salvation protecting our minds, can stand against Satan’s attacks. As a blow to the head often means death, so is a person without the hope of salvation will be easily defeated by the enemy.
When the enemy, the devil (1 Peter 5:8), seeks to devour and destroy God’s people with empty or evil thoughts, in an attempt to get us to doubt our salvation, we can trust in the protection of the helmet. Our salvation will be complete, for God has assured it. “Hope does not disappoint us” (Rom 5:5 NIV) because “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Rom 13:11 NIV).
Last but certainly not least, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Lastly, the soldier grasps the sword of the Spirit — the only forceful
weapon. The Word of God is the Spirit’s sword (Isa 11:4-5; 2 Thess 2:8; Heb 4:12). The Spirit makes the Word of God authentic as we speak it and receive it. The Spirit gives the Word its penetrating power and sharp edge. [Heb. 4:12] Jesus’ use of God’s Word in his temptation prompts our use of it against Satan (Matt 4:4,7,10). With the Holy Spirit within, Christians have the constant reminder of God’s Word to use against Satan’s temptations.
Scripture says: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” [James 4:7] Therefore when the enemy, the tempter Satan (Matt 4:3-4; 1 Thess 3:5), tries to tempt us to do evil, with the Word of God, we have the ability to send him running. The Spirit will bring the words to mind, for Jesus promised, “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” [John 14:26]
There are three things that are certain for a Christian: death, taxes, and
spiritual warfare. Therefore we must as the Scripture says: in 1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
We must be vigilant because this is a constant battle and an ongoing struggle. So, if you’re professing Christianity and the devil isn’t after you and you’re not struggling, check your walk! To quote Frederick Douglass, “where there is no struggle there is no progress.”
This concludes the seven (7) part series on Spiritual Warfare.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding spiritual warfare, feel free to leave your comments below.