Tag Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Are You Making War?

It’s been nearly a year since I asked the following questions on this blog, “What’s it going to take Christian?  What will it take for you to stand and say enough is enough?  What will it take to arm yourself with the sword of the Spirit and prepare yourself for this war?” If you read that post,  The Unseen War, or  Make War from October, or Battle Cry  in November, then you know this battle is not something to be taken lightly.  I would really like to know, why it is that most Christians are not only unwilling to fight, but most don’t even realize there is a war going on? 

Pastor John Piper puts it like this,

“Until you believe that life is war – that the stakes are your soul – you will probably just play at Christianity with no bloodearnestness and no vigilance and no passion and no wartime mindset.  If that is where you are [this morning], your position is very precarious. The enemy has lulled you into sleep or into a peacetime mentality, as if nothing serious is at stake. And God, in His mercy, has you here [this morning], and had this sermon appointed to wake you up, and put you on a wartime footing.”

If you’re reading this message today, then I pray too that God would have mercy and awaken you to the battle that is taking place.  It’s literally all around us and it is taking place on multiple fronts.  It’s an unseen war, but the casualties are very real, very visible. The primary front where the war is taking place lies within you.  Be honest, did you ever think that 24/7 there is a war going on right inside of you?  It is a battle for your soul and if you are a Christian you need to be made fully aware of this fight, which you are equipped to defend yourself against, and that you should not be satisfied with anything less than victory. 

Have you ever wondered why it is that you have so much inconsistency in your Christian walk with God?  Consider the ups and downs, triumphs and failures that seem to happen so frequently in your life, as though you were being tossed around like a ship at sea.  Maybe you make it a week reading the Bible consistently, only for it to make it back to the shelf for a month.  Perhaps you are battling a particular sin: lust, alcoholism, laziness, gluttony, anger, greed, indifference to everything that doesn’t include you, pride, fear, or jealousy.  You want to fight and make some progress, but can never seem to claim victory.  Do you know why that is Christian?  It’s because you haven’t declared war!

Author Alan Redpath offers the following statement, “Every gain I have made in Christian character will be resisted by the devil down to the end of life’s journey, and there will be no personal experience of the power of Jesus Christ in victory until I declare war on sin.”  Do you get that Christian?  This isn’t a game.  Christianity is not a show up once a week and play church.  “Christianity is not a settle-in-and-live-at-peace-with-this-world-the-way-it-is kind of religion, like most Christians live there daily lives.”  It’s a war.  Yet it’s not a war against anyone else, but against every one of those sinful desires that are battling inside of you.  As the Apostle Paul states in Romans 8:13 ESV, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”  Each of us needs to come to the realization that “The only foothold Satan has in your life is your flesh and your sin.”  Now read that second part of Romans 8:13 again, “put to death the deeds of the body”, that’s war!  That is an all out war against sin and you need to learn how to fight. 

How then do we fight?  Romans 12:2 ESV states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  The First assault for you to make in this war is to break free from the world, “Do not be conformed to this world.”  The pattern of the world lies to you and makes you believe that you have rights and freedoms that you can enjoy because after all it’s your life right?  The world tells you that it’s all about you, about you making money, you having a nice job, you having a big house, you having a new car, you saving for retirement.  What about God?  The world also lies to us and wants us to make peace with sin.  For instance, it’s not ok to make peace with pornography, it’s not ok to make a few clicks of the mouse and visit certain sites.  It’s not ok to go out drinking with the “guys/gals” or to subject yourself to offensive language in Rated-R movies or Explicit Lyrics music.  It is not ok to make peace with anger, greed, pride, or laziness because you are resolved that “this is who I am, so I might as well live with it.”  No, all of those are conforming to the world’s pattern and making peace with sin. 

You’re probably thinking, “wait a second, this sounds like legalism, you can’t say what I can and can’t do.  I’ve got rights and freedoms.”  It’s not legalism, dear friend, it’s holiness, it’s living Christ-like and trusting in Him to complete the good work He has started in you.  Legalism means that you are depending on your “good works” or morality to improve your standing with God.  Sanctification, or the process toward holiness, is wholly dependent on Christ, who has not only justified your standing with God if you’ve trusted Him as Savior, but it is Christ continuing to work in your life to make you more like Him.  It’s understanding that your power to fight doesn’t come from within, but instead comes from Jesus Christ.  It’s knowing that, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ESV 

The second advancement in this war is found in the latter part of Romans 12:2 ESV, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Renewing your mind comes from thinking not on the everyday trivialities of this world, like money, a big house, or nice/new car, but on eternal things, like treasuring the Son of God, worshiping and loving the Lord, serving others.  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 ESV Have you ever thought about just taking off a day of work to spend time with the Lord, or to do something for someone other than yourself?  What about focusing on your relationship with Christ, instead of focusing on the fleeting material possessions of this world?  What about filling your mind with Scripture, not just the lyrics of your favorite song or catchy sitcom phrases.  This is the renewal of your mind.

The third wave of your attack in this war on sin is to realize your identity in Christ and that if you have trusted Him as your Savior then He has given you the Holy Spirit to help you wage your war.  Just like we alluded to earlier, this is where your true power towards victory comes from.  Ephesians 1:4-14 describes perfectly this identity we have in Christ.  1) vs. 4, We are chosen in Him 2) vs. 4, We are to be holy and blameless before Him 3) vs. 7 We are redeemed in Him 4) vs. 11 We have obtained an inheritance in Him. 5) vs. 13 We are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  How can we  not win this war, if we have fully realized our position in Christ?  As the Apostle Paul writes in his Roman epistle, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Romans 13:14 ESV Every morning we wake up, our goal should be to “put on Christ” so that we are “clothed with the armor of light” and prepared to face the battle of the day. 

Redpath tells us to declare total war in our souls, “against everything that has not yet been judged, condemned, and confessed before God.”  As Pastor Piper concludes, “So immerse your mind and heart in the fountain of truth and life and power – the promises of God, and when the temptation comes, take this all-satisfying word, this sword of the Spirit, and believe it, and by it sever the root of sin. Kill it.”  Isn’t it time to make war Christian?  If you don’t pick up the sword of the Spirit, the Bible, and engage in war, you will be swept away when the more difficult battles begin.  There is no sideline in warfare, the battle rages on and you can either be a casualty or a victor.

*Given the alliance of Piper and Rick Warren, please see the warning post here: Red Skies In the Morning

Lions at War

lions at war

It’s not difficult to follow the patterns of my life by simply reading the blog posts that I write.  Recently, with a few exceptions, the focus has been on spiritual warfare and the fact that we are embroiled in the middle of a battle that seeks daily to destroy us, to not only impede our walk with Christ, but an attempt, albeit futile, to severe our relationship.  In those posts we’ve discussed how this war isn’t one of the flesh, but of the spirit, that we are equipped with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20), and that non-participators in this battle are quickly seized by the enemy.

The Bible doesn’t underemphasize this war, but instead is full of references and analogies to describe just how powerful this struggle really is.  Perhaps there is no better verse in the Bible that describes our enemy as well as I Peter 5:8 ESV, “Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  This description is so profound; a lion, massive and powerful, just like in the picture above, capable of literally ripping flesh from the bone and devouring it, just like Peter alludes.  The text tells us to “be sober-minded; be watchful”, a call for us to be alert at all times with our defenses ready, that at the slightest movement or sound we are prepared for battle.

I’m sure we’ve all seen movies where the frantic, scared, and helpless person is trapped inside a house or cabin, while the adversary is outside looking for any possible entrance inside.  This is the same principle with a lion, they stalk their prey, looking to exploit any weakness they can find and so it is with the devil, searching for a foothold into our lives in order to attack and destroy us.  But this scene needs to be different; we’re not the scared helpless victim.  Don’t let the devil paralyze you with his stalking, because that’s exactly what he wants to do.

No, instead Christians we need to turn the tables on our adversary because surprise, surprise, we’re lions too!  Proverbs 28:1b says, “but the righteous are bold as a lion.”  This certainly changes the game doesn’t it?  Lions aren’t cowardly (despite what the Wizard of Oz might portray) they’re predatory, aggressive, and relentless in their pursuit.  This should be our approach toward sin, don’t sit back defensively while it stalks you, attack it with the boldness of a lion!   “ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

There’s one additional point we need to look at in this fight and it’s critically essential.  In our verse from Proverbs we are told that the righteous are bold as the lion.  This righteousness isn’t something we develop or are taught, but it comes through Jesus Christ when we accept Him as Savior (Romans 6:18, II Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 3:9).  He is the source of our boldness; He is the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5).  As we learned yesterday in the post from Charles Spurgeon, we need to recognize that without Jesus, our weaknesses are exposed and will be exploited by the enemy.  Alone we have no power to battle sin, but with Him leading the way we have sovereign power.  As the enemy begins stepping up his assault on Christians of the world, it’s time that we stand up and fight back against sin with the boldness of the lion that we were made to be in Christ.  Stand up, be bold, be aggressive, be fearless as the lion, for “if God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31b ESV

*Featured image credit – Atif Saeed Fine Art Photography

Facing our Battles

Why is it that we Christians often undergo what seems to be a barrage of spiritual attacks when we’re at seemingly our closest point to God?  This is a question that’s often been discussed in my Bible study, as we each seem to go through periods of a strong, personal connection to God for several weeks, or even months, but then suddenly, out of nowhere, comes the attack.  But why?  After being under the weather for a few days and having experienced these same types of battles myself, I really wanted to examine this.  Paul tells us of this very battle in Ephesians 6:12, “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.”  The simple answer to the why would be that we all sin, we were born into a sinful nature and there’s really no escaping it.  I mean after all, Romans 6:23 tells us that, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We know it’s inherent in our nature, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it, in fact, quite the opposite.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  The significance of this verse is that it should be what we strive for, perfection, to follow the example of Christ.  I Corinthians 11:1

When we strive to live this type of example and are living in accordance with God’s Word, I really believe this is when we can expect the spiritual attacks to begin.  I would equate it to riding your bike down the road of being “Christ-like”, then out of nowhere someone hits you with a football in the side of the head and knocks you off your bike.  You can’t see who threw it or where it came from.  Depending on how fast you were traveling, your injuries might be minimal, being able to get right back on your way, or you might experience significant injuries from your fall.  Think about that; the greater progress we’re making down this road, the greater risk of potential “injury” we face, if that is, we’re not prepared…. 

The answer to the original question of, why we undergo these attacks, is because there is a daily battle of good vs. evil in this world, competing over each of us.  If we think just because we are feeling close to God that we’ll be immune to the attacks, we couldn’t be further from the truth.  After all, if we weren’t even traveling down the road to Christ, would there even be an attack?  Probably not, or at least we might not easily recognize it.  If we were living lukewarm, just standing in the road, would there even be a battle for us?  Revelation 3:16 The truth of the matter is that these attacks are inevitable, eventually they will occur.

Our preparation for this is critical and admittedly, I’ve not been prepared for this in the past (we all have much to learn, especially me!). Normally, we can see the battle lines for these attacks forming.  Generally they start small; much like distant arrows shot by the archers in Braveheart.  Then the next wave follows, and the next and so on.  For our preparation, we should already have on the full armor of God.  Ephesians 6:10-18  When we are girded with the armor of God the “injuries” will be minimized.  But we simply can’t stand there and take the full assault.  No, our best defense is an offense.  We’re given spiritual weapons consisting of 1) immersing in the Word (Sword of the Spirit) 2) prayer without ceasing (include Scriptures in the prayer) and 3) fasting (perhaps no other weapon is as effective when used properly).  Each of these is essential to winning the battle, but start utilizing them when the first wave of attack is forming, don’t wait until it intensifies. 

I think Christians are in a constant state of learning, like the old song says, He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be and this includes learning how to face these types of battles to overcome them and not fall.  The Apostle Paul summarizes this learning process in Romans 5:3-5, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Have a Blessed Day!