3/24/10

Spiritual Warfare Pt 1: The Reality of the Spiritual Warfare

This is the first post of a two-part series on spiritual warfare.  First, we will look at the evidence of a spiritual war in the heavenly realms.  The second part will cover what our role, as Christians, is in the battle.  

Of all the mysteries of scripture, spiritual warfare may be the hardest to grasp.  Are there really angels and demons flying around fighting each other?  How does Satan fight God?  Why does Satan fight God when he knows he can't win?

The fight between God and Satan is not a direct fight.  Satan knows he has already been defeated.  Instead, he uses demons to thwart the will of God.  Satan and his demons are constantly tempting us to sin.  He learns our weaknesses and plays on them.  Have a sin that you can't shake?  The devil knows this and takes great pleasure in providing you with plenty of opportunities and thoughts to carry it out.  He is the father of lies (John 8:44) and scripture tells us that he "masquerades as an angel of the light."  (2 Cor. 11:14).  In fact, the more subtle and disguised the temptation, the less likely we are to feel Satan's presence in our lives.  C.S. Lewis describes this tactic in The Screwtape Letters: "The safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."  Satan would love for humans, Christian or not, to believe that he and his temptations are not as evil or extreme as they truly are. 

More evidence of demonic activity is found in the gospels.  There were many instances of demon possession during the time Jesus was on earth.  (Matt. 9:32, 12:22; Luke 4:33-36).  Satan himself entered into Judas before the betrayal.  (Luke 22:3).

But perhaps the most direct reference to spiritual warfare is found in Paul's letter to the Ephesians.  Before discussing methods to defend against the devil's schemes, Paul gives us clear evidence that there is an ongoing spiritual war: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph. 6:12).  Behind anything that is apart from God, there are several ranks of the devil.  Satan and his army exercise this government throughout the world.  And his sole purpose is to separate us from God. 

We have evidence of the spiritual war being waged against Christ and his followers.  Now, what do we do with that knowledge?  It is not enough to realize the devil's tactics and that he is using us to fight a war against God.  We have to be ruthless in our strategy to defend our relationship with God.  Fortunately, the bible gives us clear direction as to how this is done.  The next post will address our role in this spiritual war.

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