The War

Everyday there is a battle raging around us. Satan, demons, and the powers of darkness are real and they are actively at work in our world. The question is do you know how to recognize them – and, if need be, go to combat against them?

When you talk about spiritual warfare there are two primary errors or trains of thought… they are: over-emphasis and under-emphasis. Some tend to blame every sin, every conflict, and every problem on demons that need to be cast out. Others completely ignore the spiritual realm and the fact that the Bible tells us our battle is against spiritual powers. They might be quoted as saying,

Yes, the Bible talks about Satan and demons, but you know, that was probably at another time, in another world, and I don’t really see that stuff playing out, in our day, in this way.

In fact Christian songwriter Keith Green summed up this mentality well when he wrote this,

I [Satan] used to have to sneak around. But now they just open their doors. No one’s looking for my tricks because no one believes in me any more.

Today I argue that the key to waging successful spiritual warfare is finding the Biblical balance. It is true that Jesus sometimes cast demons out of people. But…it is also true that other times He healed people with no mention of the demonic or casting out spirits, in fact, He healed them and saved them from themselves.

In Scripture we are told to wage war against the sin in ourselves. Romans 6:1-14 says,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Then in Ephesians 6:10-18 we are told to oppose the schemes of the devil,

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.

So, the Spiritual realm is real… and active! There is a war raging.

Eddie and Alice Smith once said,

When Adam and Eve fell, they relinquished rulership of the earth to Satan, a fallen angelic being. Spiritual warfare is the reversal of that procedure. It is the unseen power encounter between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Through prayer, fasting and exercising the authority of Christ and His cross, believers indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit are forcing angelic beings to relinquish rulership of the earth!

Wars by definition are large conflicts made up of smaller conflicts called battles. Like earthly battles, spiritual battles are often fought on multiple fronts. An enemy doesn’t always only attack by day, but sometimes they come at night. A wise enemy doesn’t limit all of their attacks to land… but they also mix it up by adding in water and air assaults. Our enemy is wise and attacks from all angles and sides with different schemes and tactics.

Like we discussed above it is important for us to differentiate and be able to identify on what front the battle is being waged. Is it a spiritual battle, a worldly battle, or a battle raging within us?

Below we will discuss the different battles being waged within this war.


The Spiritual Battle

We live in a physical realm and the natural tendency is to only pay attention to the things we can see and touch. The world tells us that unseen things can’t be proven or aren’t real.

So… how do we know that there is a spiritual realm?

If we cannot see it, should we believe in it? Some of us can’t get a grasp or handle on the things here in the physical so it almost seems overwhelming that there would be more right?

Has it ever made you laugh watching a child playing peek-a- boo or hide-and-go seek? With a kid all you have to do is cover something up and suddenly you have made it disappear! It is truly amazing right! But… unfortunately for us that is not reality. The lack of seeing something or someone does not mean that it or them is not there.

In Scripture we are given evidence of “spiritual” things that we cannot see. Pay attention to the bold and italicized words in the Scriptures below.

Nehemiah 9:6 says,

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

Luke 2:13-15 gives us a glimpse of some spiritual beings. It says,

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Ephesians 6:12 says,

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.

Colossians 1:15-16 says,

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

Half the fight is recognizing the Spiritual realm. God gives us everything else we need to be victorious with the other half. We have all had that experience where we just had a “feeling” that there was more going on that we could see. Sometimes we heed to that “feeling” and others we dismiss it. But, whether we choose to believe in the existence of spiritual beings and places does not change the fact of their existence and their activities.

Take a second and think about what you believe as a Christian. You believe in a God that created all things out of nothing. You believe in an enemy that lured creation into sin. You believe in a trinity that consists of Father, Spirit, Son. You believe in a Son that manifested Himself as a human and died on a cross to take the repercussions of our sin. You believe that the Son then rose 3 days later and ascended into Heaven. You believe in eternal life.

You can’t see any of those things in the physical realm today. But does that make those things any less real or any less true?

But, Christians aren’t the only ones that believe things that can’t be physically seen in the here and now. Our history books are full of things that we can see the lasting effects of, but not necessarily the thing, place, or situation itself. Sound familiar? We see the lasting effects of Jesus each and every day in the same way that the world sees the lasting effects of the Revolutionary war or the dinosaurs.

The belief is necessary for the education. That is what faith is built on… belief.

The Bible is filled with references to the heavenly realm or a place that is invisible to our eyes physically today, yet very real in its existence. The Bible is also filled with references of spiritual fights, forces, demons, and evil that we also have to count as real. We cannot say we recognize the heavenly realm and not recognize the evil that has dominion over the earth here and now. We must have faith and believe with eyes that God has given us to see.

There have, however, been others who were able to see with their physical eyes into the spiritual realm. 2 Kings 6:11-17 tells us of one such man. It says,

This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?” “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

This is just one example that clearly demonstrates the workings of an invisible spiritual realm around us. The rumblings of an invisible war. The good news is that the Lord is with us and provides for us through His angels as He chooses. The Lord loves us and protects us physically as He works it out for us on the spiritual end.


The Worldly Battle

The next area we face battle is somewhere that we can see! As we begin to understand the spiritual realm we will begin to understand how the enemy moves against us in the physical realm.

You might be curious now as to how “demons” can interact in the physical realm but yet still stay hidden from the world. To clarify that let us reference the story of Job. In fact, Job is a perfect example of a spiritual conflict that was manifested in the physical form.

Tonilee Adamson says,

Job was a real human being living here on earth, but the Bible gives us a clear look at what was happening concerning Job’s life in the spiritual realm. God looked upon Job as a righteous man but, because Satan wanted to prove God wrong, Job became the victim of Satan’s attacks. Job’s family, finances and home were destroyed and his health and friends turned against him. Job experienced very real physical and circumstantial conflicts because of the conflict in the spiritual realm. Job also became the victor because of his faithfulness to God in words and actions throughout the trial. His victory was spiritual, physical and material…on earth as it is in heaven.

We live in the here and now, whereas God does not. He has always existed and always will. He doesn’t operate by our time and is not inhibited by it. God exists outside of our time and space. He is both infinite and timeless. One day we will join God in the spiritual realm (Heaven), but… that doesn’t change that we do live in a physical realm now.

Romans 12:12 says,

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

In John 17:14-16 Jesus said,

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

So, we are called to live in the world but not be a part of the world, but the thing is… the world hates those who follow Jesus.

We are going to have conflicts with the world and its ways. Those conflicts are battles within the war that is spiritual warfare. In fact, it isn’t the physical world itself that we have a problem with. We know that when God created Adam and Eve and they dwelled together in the Garden in harmony with God that “it was good.” It wasn’t until the temptations and schemes of the evil one came in that the problems arose. So it isn’t the physical world itself that we have a problem with. After all, we aren’t battling trees, and animals, but rather it is the forces that control the world that are in conflict with. Again, I will repeat the quote by Eddie and Alice Smith,

When Adam and Eve fell, they relinquished rulership of the earth to Satan, a fallen angelic being. Spiritual warfare is the reversal of that procedure. It is the unseen power encounter between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Through prayer, fasting and exercising the authority of Christ and His cross, believers indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit are forcing angelic beings to relinquish rulership of the earth!

We, as Christians, are God’s children. Followers of Jesus. So, if the world is in conflict with God, the world is also in conflict with us.

Like any war, there are 2 opposing sides. In this particular conflict we have the side of Heaven and the side of the world and Hell. It is important to note that we have to pick one. A person cannot remain a neutral faction. By not picking the side of Jesus one is by default selecting the side of the world and will face demise along with the rest on that force.

I personally find it encouraging that Jesus Himself came in flesh and understood the temptations of the world. He knew that Satan would use every kind of enticement possible to lure man’s heart away from God. He uses circumstances, events, people, things, and even doubt to steal hearts back to his worldly and evil ways. These types of battles are fought in the world but involve the spiritual forces of darkness that exist in the invisible realm around us. The world promises instant satisfaction and pleasures that fulfill the desires of our flesh. We must stay on guard to ourselves and our own fallen nature, and be quick to pick the ways of the Lord and the transforming and renewing of our minds on a daily basis.

James 4:4 gives us a warning about our war with the world,

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.


The Battle Within

From nearly the onset of this writing I wrote that Jesus did cast demons out of people, but also at times He healed people with no mention of the demonic or casting out spirits, in fact, He healed them and saved them from themselves. I believe that much of the battle we confuse with being in the ”spiritual realm” actually exists inside us as our human fallen nature rages war against the ways of God in us.

Like I previously stated, in Scripture we are told to wage war against the sin in ourselves. Romans 6:1-14 says,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

I believe for myself that most of the hardest fought and intense battles are fought within me. Let’s face it, denying of oneself is not a pleasurable activity. Jesus told us in Luke 9:23 that,

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

What does that cross mean for you? What battle must you fight today?

There is a constant struggle between flesh and spirit, and we are constantly battling between what we want to do versus what we know the Lord wants us to do. In his letter to the Romans, Paul explains that we are saved by grace, not by observing the law, because Christ died for us. But, he goes on to say that this does not give us permission to sin, but rather, we should serve God by being slaves of righteousness.

Romans 7:14-20 says,

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Robert Deffinbaugh had this to say about that particular passage,

Paul describes in the Book of Romans a much deeper frustration—one with which only Christians can identify and one with which all Christians can identify. The Christian’s agony comes from realizing that our sinful flesh refuses to respond to the requirements of God’s Law. Those things which we as Christians despise we find ourselves doing. Those things which we as Christians desire we fail to accomplish. No matter how much we may wish to serve God in our minds, we find ourselves sinning in our bodies. As Paul describes his frustration in Romans 7, with his mind he desires to serve God. He agrees with the Law of God and rejoices in it. He wants to do what is right, but his body will not respond. He watches, almost as a third party, as sin sends a signal to his body, and as his body responds, “What would you like to do?” Paul finds, as we do, that while our fleshly bodies refuse to obey God and do that which we desire and which delights God, they quickly and eagerly respond to the impulses and desires aroused by sin…

Some of our most tender nerves are touched by Paul’s teaching in verses 14-25. For the truths taught here could be taken as the most depressing and hopeless realities of our lives. But Paul does not dwell on the weakness of our flesh in order to discourage us. Rather, Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh as the root problem which prevents Christians from living the kind of lives God requires and which we, as Christians, desire in our innermost being. Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh to prepare us for God’s provision for Godly living…

We as mortal beings have the complete inability to live righteously, in our own strength. We may want to… but we are unable.

Matthew 26:41 says,

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Galatians 5:17-17 says,

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Genesis 4:7 says,

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

We can understand the circumstances and situations that the enemy uses to destroy us. We can accept the truth of how the world lures and tempts us. We can understand to some degree that the battle in the spiritual realm is ongoing and real, even though we cannot see it. But, to get a grasp on what is going on within our own hearts and minds can be the hardest, most exhausting, battle of them all. God’s ways are not natural to us. We constantly need to crucify our natural inclinations and desires to receive all that God has for us. Colossians 3:8-12 says,

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Romans 12:3 says that God has distributed faith to each of us for our good!

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Jesus Christ came to earth in the flesh. He lived a life of much suffering as He denied the desires of His flesh and the temptations of the enemy. Our flesh will suffer just like Jesus but we can be victorious just like Jesus. The victory may not look the same as defined by the world, but nothing compares to a life that is victorious in the ways of God.

Romans 8:38-39 says,

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Next week we will continue this conversation by discussing “The Enemy and his Schemes.” Until then… watch your six!

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