September 11, 2001 changed the course of American history forever. Any of us old enough to remember that terrible day can probably recall exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard that the first tower went down and turned on the television to just in time to see the second tower go down. Then shortly after the dust settled we find out that this abnormally tall and thin Middle-eastern man named Osama Bin Laden who led an obscure group grown call Al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack.
It was then that most in our country realized that we were engaged in a war that we did not even know we were in. And it was precisely because we did not realize we had an enemy intent on destroying us at any cost that we were so vulnerable that day. Finally, we have since learned that our enemy has many tactics, will exploit any weakness it can, is ruthless and when they lose on one front they shift focus to another.
Sadly, there are many parallels from the above story to how many Western Christians approach the cosmic battle that wages for their souls. The New Testament is clear that we are in a war against a defeated yet angry and dangerous enemy. He has many schemes and will exploit any weakness possible. What is worse is that most of us live in a pre-9/11 mindset when it comes to spiritual warfare – we have a dangerous enemy that is waging a full-fledged war against us and we are naive to the whole thing. Only in this war we have lost countless battles and yet we continue to ignore the reality of the fight.
I am writing about this, not out of expertise, but out of conviction – conviction that in many ways I have been guilty of the pre-9/11 mindset when it comes to spiritual warfare. Thus, I began to dive into my Bible to see what God says about how I can win the daily battles against the already defeated army of Satan and his demons.
1. Realize that spiritual warfare is real
“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)
As mentioned above many of us fail to realize the reality of the spiritual battle that is waging all around us and against us and thus we are unprepared wield the weapons God has provided us to live the victorious life that Christ died for us to live.
2. Pray for deliverance/protection (Matt 6:12; Ephesians 6:18)
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (also translated ‘the evil one’)” (Matt 6:12)
Part of Jesus’ model prayer for his disciples included the reality that we need God’s help against the evil one. The prayer itself is very short so it is notable that he included protection from the evil one. Also, notice that Jesus’ prayer uses words like “Our Father” and “deliver us” (emphasis added). We are not to pray simply for our own deliverance/protection from the evil one but for our brothers’ and sisters’ deliverance/protection as well. This is the thrust of Ephesians 6:18 as well.
3. Through repentance, humble yourself before the Lord, draw near to Him, avoid worldliness, and stand firm in the faith (James 4:1-10 and 1 Peter 5:6-9)
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8a)
Often times we continue to lose spiritual battles and live a life of defeat not necessarily because Satan or his army have changed tactics or are even doing much in terms of leveling attacks. Rather, the attacks have been successful, we have given in to temptation, self-exaltation, or whatever the attack was and we continue in that way. As a result, we fail to draw near to God in humble repentance as the passages above instruct us to. Furthermore, the passages above instruct us that another way of winning the spiritual battles waged against us is simply to pursue godliness and avoid worldliness. Finally, it should be noted that we are not to blame all (probably not even most?) of our sins on attacks from Satan and his army of demons (James 1:13-15). In reality, no matter how the temptation to sin came about we need to own up to our actions and humbly repent and draw near to our loving Savior.
4. Remember and live in the victory of Christ (Col 1:13-14; Romans 8:37-39; 2 Cor 2:14; 1 John 2:13; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:18-19)
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14)
Paul David Tripp has been a modern voice that rightly reminds us of our need to preach the gospel to ourselves. The reality is that many of us lose spiritual battles simply because we fail to remind ourselves about the great victory that we already have in Christ. this is where saturating our minds in Scripture is crucial. We have a slogan in our family, “Either your Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from your Bible.” It is in Scripture that we are reminded that we are no longer part of this “domain of darkness” and that we belong to the Kingdom of God. Christ has crushed Satan and his power in our lives through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Satan no longer has any authority of us. Jesus is our King and he has given us His Spirit so that we can live in the victory that he has won for us. Therefore, we must constantly remind ourselves of the power and reality of the gospel in our lives and so live in it!
5. Pursue fellowship with other believers (Hebrews 10:24-25)
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you seethe Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Fellowship with other believers, primarily in the context of the local church, is crucial to living victoriously through Christ. We are all subject to growing weary both physically and spiritually and therefore need to be encouraged and encouragers, edified and edify-ers, prayed for and pray-ers. We need our burdens carried and to be burden carry-ers. God, in His infinite wisdom, has designed us to need community and fellowship. Thus if we are to win the daily battle against the evil one we must pursue fellowship especially when we do not feel like it.
I will close with Paul’s encouragement/exhortation to the Ephesian church regarding the spiritual battle we believers are engaged in…
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 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, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).