What is spiritual warfare?

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12 that “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.”

In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul says “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Paul is referring to Satan (Hebrew: The Adversary) and the fallen angels with him. Satan is referred to as the devil, “the dragon,” “the old serpent” (Revelation 12:9; 20:2); “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30); “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2); “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians. 4:4); “the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2); and “Beelzebub, the prince of the devils” (Matthew 12:24).

He is the constant enemy of God, of Christ, of the divine kingdom, of the followers of Christ, and of all truth. He is full of falsehood and all malice. His power is very great in the world. He is like a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Men are said to be “taken captive by him” (2 Timothy 2:26). Christians are warned against his “devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11), and called on to “resist” him (James 4:7).

Demons are referred to as spiritual beings (Matthew 8:16; 10:1; 12:43-45) who are against God, and they have a certain power over man (James 2:19; Revelation 16:14). They recognize our Lord as the Son of God (Matthew 8:20; Luke 4:41). They belong to those angels who “kept not their first estate who are called “unclean spirits,” “fallen angels,” the angels of the devil (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:7-9). They are the “principalities and powers” against which we must “wrestle” (Ephesians 6:12).

Now that we know the enemy, how do we prepare for and engage in the spiritual battle? Paul, in Ephesians 6:10-18, compares a believer to a Roman soldier. Through this passage we learn how to prepare for and engage the enemy.

Paul reminds us that we will find our strength in the Lord, not ourselves. Our objective is to resist and stand firm against the devil’s schemes (who uses lies, deception and temptation to corrupt and destroy) and not to retreat. Satan attacks believers, trying to destroy their faith and trust in God, thereby rendering them ineffective for the battle.

We are to put on and truly believe in the “belt of truth” which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The belt of “truth” holds our spiritual weapons. Putting on the “breastplate of righteousness” signifies the daily practice of right-ness or living a holy life free from guilt and shame through the blood of the cross. This protects our heart and soul just like a breastplate.

Our feet should be “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” We need be ready to share wherever we go the Gospel of Peace which is Christ Jesus who establishes peace between us and God (Isaiah 52:7) and who will protect us (Acts 18:9). Sharing the message of Christ advances God’s army against the enemy’s position.

Putting on the shield (which protects the whole body) of faith is completely trusting in God, who is unseen, to protect us from the seen and unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:7; Colossians 2:6,7; Hebrews 11). Putting on the “helmet of salvation” is the protecting of our mind through the study of and mediation on God’s Word (Romans 12:2).

We are to take up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” This sword is the Bible whose contents are revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. God’s Word is powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and more than able to protect us. And we are to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

To be successful in spiritual warfare, we must be in God’s Word and in prayer, especially praying for other believers who are also in the battle. We must keep our eyes on Jesus who is ruler over all things (Ephesians 1:18-23; Hebrews 12:1-3).

Spend time meditating on these passages seeking to learn, trust and rely more on Jesus Christ who will equip you for every good work (Hebrews 13:20,21).

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