Most of us tend to think that Spiritual warfare is something that goes on when things get difficult or painful. But the truth is spiritual warfare goes on everyday...in the smallest events and the seemingly inconsequential events and moments of our lives. You can change churches, you can go AWOL from your calling and service, but you cannot avoid this battle. Because it is coming to you. There is no escaping it if you want to be a Christian.
Often, the use of the word "warfare" here is in so many ways a misnomer. "Warfare" tends to conjure up images of classic battle, but in fact spiritual warfare is rather a form of guerilla combat with clandestine assassinations, terrorist strikes and kidnappings, spies, espionage, and torture. It is dirty and without rules! We must lose any thoughts that we might have of “fighting fair”, because Satan and his buddies aren't ever going to, and neither should we! Satan will lie, cheat, steal and even sacrifice to eventually win his ultimate objective.
Mistakes in this war are eternal. Causalities are devastating and injuries often permanent. But let us not forget the outcome of this war is already set and finished. COL 2:13-15 reminds us that "...you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it."
This is our safety net...our roots...the ground floor foundation of our fight. We do not fight this war for victory but rather we fight it from victory. This is why it is foolishness to ignore all of this and accept what we see as the inevitable in light of scriptural evidence! It is foolish to surrender to a beaten foe!
There are many ways Satan attacks us, and in this blogpost and several to come I want to deal with them one at a time:
“Peace verse relief.”
Often people who are unprepared and unknowing concerning the attacks of Satan, will get so beat up spiritually that the day finally comes that they set down their sword and quit...they go AWOL. This departure may range from their service, their calling, their church, or even their faith as a whole! Often they will experience what they say is "peace" upon their “retirement”, but truthfully it is in not peace at all but in fact it is merely relief.
Certainly we all can understand that upon leaving the battle, there would naturally be relief! But peace is something different! The fact that it is "mis-identified" tends to lend to the idea that the individual has in fact never known or truly experienced God's peace, thus he or she does not know that it is absent! Because you see, peace is experienced over the long haul. If the US armed forces remained in Afghanistan, and managed to keep the Taliban at bay...and defended the people and the towns to a degree that prevented the loss of life, etc...would that mean the Afghani people have peace? No. They might have calm....they might have relief, but they would not have peace! Short of a mutual agreement, Peace is only achieved by an overwhelming offensive action that cripples the enemies ability to do you damage. This is the only way to have peace in this spiritual war that we fight. C.T. Studd once wrote: If you don't want the Devil to hit you, hit him first, and hit him with all your might, so that he may be too crippled to hit back.
"The Truth According to Me."
Another method Satan uses to beat us down is through hiding or ‘masking’ the truth from us. You see, the problem we have in this area is not what we actually read, or hear, or see, but rather what we believe about what we read, hear, and see! Let me give you an example: How can two people hear the same thing, one being devastated by what he heard and the other not affected whatsoever? Now if I am the first individual, I might readily say that what that guy said to me was an offense and cruel. I'm mad, depressed, vengeful...whatever, because of it. But if that is true, why does the second individual not think so? To him it was benign and perhaps he even accepts it as a fact, or at least as a valid statement or warning, etc. Often the latter camp is not just one guy, but many guys...even a whole church full of them! All ok with the situation...all seeing the truth a certain way, even while you alone see it another. And yet, we will burn our lives to the ground because we refuse to consider that maybe everyone else IS right and I am wrong...
The reality is that the problem lay not in what was actually said, but rather our belief as to what was said! Because the same thing was said to two people, with two very different results. The truth is constant! It is a fact. Thus real truth is truth to all and truth in every instance.
The same thing occurs in non-verbal situations. We deal with people effectively the same across the board in this church, yet one person will get angry and insulted by the non-verbal situation which he took to be a slight upon him and perhaps his service or his participation in one thing or another. Yet the second person is totally fine with the situation. So what's happening here? Whose fault is it that the first individual is upset? The man in charge to whom the first individual blames for how he feels? If it is his fault, why is the second individual a-ok?
It is not the fault of the man in charge, but rather an issue with the first individual that believes something about what was said, or not said, or done or not done. This is the "power of the lie." This is how Satan gets to us.
We are told in 2 Tim 2:25 "...God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will." Thus according to that passage in 2 Timothy, the way to deal with finding the REAL truth is through the act of repentance. But what exactly is this thing "repentance?" It is a "coming to the real understanding of the facts of the truth and turning away from the path you were on."
We must be willing to come to the actual and factual truth and understanding about whatever situation we face! Again, the truth is 'static'...it doesn't change according to our take on it. What must change is our understanding of the situation...our "belief" about the situation. To come to the truth about the situation! This is difficult when so many people only care about how they feel. Their emotions dictate what is fact and what is not!
To avoid this requires some personal acceptance of common spiritual guidelines...proof texts...ways of identifying truth and facts... BEFORE you face that scenario. Then, once there, facing the crisis, one must then adhere to those pre-accepted and arranged guidelines and criteria. And for sure, this requires communication. If you won't discuss the matter, then you're dead. It's over. The devil wins by default. And that is exactly what Satan wants! Because if you open yourself to discussion on the matter, he risks you finding out the truth, and he does not want that to happen. That's why so many people would rather hang onto their bitterness and anger than talk!
And sadly, those same folks do not realize that as long as they do, God will not hear their prayers. They are "cut off." Ps 66:18 "If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear me." How many folks are essentially therefore out there just "talking to the wall?" Remember: Satan operates from the position of the ruse...the lie. So he wants you out, alone and isolated...without discussion. And he generally accomplishes that by getting you bitter and by getting you angry. Satan is a master at making that happen! Because while we seem ignorant of his methods, he understand human nature to a "T". I guess he's had thousands of years to figure us out! (...to be continued!)