Spiritual Warfare

God said “put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the devil.” Anyone who is a believer in Jesus Christ has already entered spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is the battle between good and evil, light and darkness, God and satan. Although “the darkness has never overcome” the light that “shines in the darkness,” the forces of evil and darkness here on earth are constantly on the offensive against the “children of the light.” We are the children of the light, the followers of Jesus Christ, who is “that life“ which is “the light of men.” As children of the light we will enter into spiritual battle throughout our lives to glorify and serve our commander-in-chief, Jesus Christ. All Christians are soldiers under His command. Our love for Jesus Christ is demonstrated daily by our faithful obedience and willingness to follow through with His orders. Just as a soldier takes orders from his commander, Christians follow the battle plans of Jesus Christ.

If you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, then you are a child of God and you have received His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enters into battle through us, based on the orders given by the Father to His Son Jesus Christ. Being a Christian is a call to arms, but not in the earthly sense that we think of battle. Indeed, if we fight using earthly methods, or battle in the flesh, then we will lose the battle. One tactic of the devil is to get us to fight on our own strength, because we are ineffective on our own. Instead, we must put on the “full armor of God,” which means that we must fight with the spiritual weapons and plans Jesus Christ has given us, not with our own will and strength. Ultimately, spiritual warfare comes from God, “for the battle is not yours, but God’s.“ Jesus Christ alone has the wisdom and the strength to overcome evil and darkness.

Each soldier is given general and specific battle instructions during spiritual warfare. Specific instructions are unique to each individual’s life mission and testimony. But general battle instructions apply to all soldiers, all believers in Jesus Christ. Outlined below are 17 general battle instructions given to all believers, contained in the Word of God:

1) Cherish the sword of the Spirit.

Three times Jesus was tempted by satan and three times He resisted satan by speaking the Word of God. The Word of God, His revelation to man in the Holy Bible, is our greatest weapon against the devil. We are told to stand on His Word. God’s Word is the sword of the Spirit, a very important weapon in battle. The sword that comes out of Jesus’ mouth in the Book of Revelation is also the sword of the Spirit. Jesus will speak the Truth, which is the Word of God. Demons are cast out by the Word of God and evil flees. Read your Bible daily. The Word of God is a mighty weapon against the opposition. We can avoid many bloody battles if we read the Bible each and every day, washing ourselves in the blood of Jesus Christ; doing so protects us from demonic attack. If we’re not attacked, then bloody battle becomes unnecessary, although we must continue to take a stand against evil and darkness. We are most likely to be attacked when God’s Word is not written on our heart each day. A prepared army is less likely to be attacked, but also ready for combat if assailed. Be ready for battle; this is the first rule of combat. Therefore, cover yourself with the Word of God daily. Read the Word out loud. Speak the Truth to everyone you meet. God’s Word is your spiritual sword to conquer evil.

2) Do not be afraid or discouraged.

When we are in spiritual battle against the darkness of the devil, there is no greater liability than fear. God tells His followers again and again throughout the Old and the New Testaments: “do not fear.” Fear leads to distrust of God and a loss of faith. Fear steals the good works He has prepared for us and causes us to fall back into the flesh. Jesus Christ told His believers not to fear, “for God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” Fear brings discouragement, worry, and blame. Satan uses fear to deny God’s goodness, to accuse us, and to fill our minds with lies. A soldier who is fearful is confused in his thinking, and he begins to believe all kinds of lies. But the most poisonous “fruit” of fear is hate. Fearful people blame, while love “does not keep a record of wrongs.” Do not fear! God is mighty to save and defeat evil in battle. We must go into battle without fear, but with love in our hearts.

3) Jesus has already won the war.

Jesus has already conquered this world. He said: “It is finished.” Jesus has already won the war, although we see the carnage of countless battles along the way. Human misery and suffering are the results of these battles. These battles are still important because “faith without works is dead.” We cannot simply sit on the sidelines and forego battle because Jesus Christ has already won the war. But we can use Jesus’ victory over death and sin and the devil as a weapon of faith, to remind ourselves daily that He is already victorious. Then we will remain edified and hopeful, strengthened even during prolonged and difficult battles. This knowledge allowed Paul to overcome death again and again by that strength which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

4) Boast about God’s strength.

Paul boasted about his weakness. He knew that when he was weak, Jesus Christ was strong in him. Similarly, when John the Baptist decreased, He knew that Christ Jesus was increasing. The world despises weakness, but God values weakness. Through our weakness God wins battle after battle because we don’t resist His Holy Spirit. We trust God to do the fighting. We look to Him in faith to complete the good works He has predestined for us. The Holy Spirit gives us strength; all we must do is stand up and look toward the Lord. The battle belongs to God, not to us. Therefore, we must fight with His strength, in Christ Jesus who has already “overcome this world.” Therefore, boast about Christ Jesus, King of kings, Lord of lords!

5) Give God daily thanksgiving, praise, and worship.

King David knew the power of praise to defeat the enemy. Davidic psalms were so filled with the Holy Spirit that even Saul felt the Spirit return to him when David sang and played his lyre. Praise is amazingly powerful in our battles against the devil. Jehoshaphat appointed people to sing and “praise the splendor of His holiness” as they entered the battlefield. The praise of these soldiers was so powerful that “the moment they began their shouts and praises” their enemies “were defeated.” All Christians are to “continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is the fruit of our lips that confess His name.” When we thank God, praise Him, and worship Him with words, songs, and psalms, the forces of evil retreat! The devil can’t stand to hear believers worshipping God. When we praise Him, our enemies are defeated by God before we have to fight! “Give thanks to the Lord, for His faithful love endures forever.”

6) Fight evil with good.

Hebrews 13:16 states “don’t neglect to do good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.” The more we become like Jesus, the Son of God, the more the Holy Spirit can work through us. Indeed, we are all to become molded into the likeness of the “good Shepherd.” God is only capable of doing good. When we do good, we become like Him. We are to be “infants in evil” and to “conquer evil with good.” Goodness comes from God the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. When we seek what is good and do good deeds, evil runs away, because goodness brings the presence of God.

7) Put on the helmet of salvation.

Our salvation is the greatest gift we’ve been given. We should wear that salvation like a helmet, to demonstrate to the world that we are God’s children, saved from our sin by Jesus Christ. Salvation is the promise of eternal life, beyond the suffering and trials of this world. Therefore, we are to “set our minds on what is above and not what is on the earth.” We must wear that salvation upon our heads, letting all see our testimony that Jesus Christ saved us when we were unworthy. Our salvation means that we are forgiven, children of the most high God waiting for eternal life with Jesus Christ in heaven. The helmet we wear today will be exchanged for a crown in heaven. Wear it with bold confidence, therefore, knowing that we will receive our reward in heaven.

8) Wear the belt of truth and the chest plate of righteousness.

The belt of truth holds up the entire armor of God; without the belt, the rest falls away. Jesus Christ said “I am the way and the truth and the life.” The foundation of the word truth is “fidelity to the original,” which means that Jesus Christ was true to, and equal to, the Father in all respects. Although He was a man, He was also God. This is the belt of truth: the divinity of Jesus Christ. Knowing this truth, Christian soldiers can become trained in “all righteousness.” Jesus came to bring the truth. All righteousness comes from Him therefore. In battle, knowing the truth leads us to righteous action in accordance with God’s Will.The chest plate of righteousness covers our heart, which we have given to Jesus Christ. Our heart is the center of the “inner man” who is being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. It is our heart that was circumcised when we received the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the chest plate protects our heart, our love for Jesus Christ. This tender heart must be protected, especially from the devil. The devil wants to see us down-hearted and discouraged. He tries to accomplish this by accusing us of sins that have been forgiven by Jesus Christ. The chest plate of righteousness reminds us that we are righteous in God the Father’s eyes, not because of our good deeds, but because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Our faith, like Abraham‘s, is “credited for righteousness.” God has made us righteous through His Son Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must act according to His righteousness, doing good deeds, looking after orphans and widows in their distress, caring for the sick and poor, promoting justice, being generous in our giving, fighting evil, and offering Him our life and the praise of our lips.

9) Wear the sandals of readiness to spread the gospel of peace.

Foot soldiers must have strength and endurance in combat. Foot soldiers or infantry are essential in any battle. A foot soldier can go many places to preach the gospel, assist those in need, and promote peace. He is able to go over all types of terrain and travel long distances. Therefore, our feet must be prepared, protected by sandals that will keep us ready to go into battle wherever Jesus leads, even into dangerous enemy territory to retrieve those who are still being held captive by the devil. Wearing our sandals means that we are ready and willing to go wherever He leads, to share the gospel of the Prince of peace, Jesus Christ, according to the specific ministry God has chosen for each of us. A soldier who is barefoot will not be able to go into battle; he will sit in the ranks until he submits his will as preparation to follow Jesus Christ.

10) Use the shield of faith.

Faith is a belief in “things unseen.” We don’t believe with our eyes because faith is based on what we can’t see. In that sense, faith might be expressed as ‘believing is seeing.’ Faith involves what is not visible, just as God’s Spirit is not visible. Without faith, our belief in God, salvation, heaven, and victory in spiritual battle is not possible. We must believe in the promises of Jesus Christ, that He will ultimately lead us to victory, especially in a world where it looks like battles are being lost day in and day out. The devil uses these appearances to make it seem like he is winning the war. He wants us to believe what we see, the terror and pain of the world, to cause our faith to falter. Faith is a powerful weapon because we believe God and we trust Him to bring about what He has promised. When he believe in Jesus Christ we confirm that He is truthful and that the devil is a liar. All righteou sness and truth then, comes from our faith. Indeed, our faith pleases God.

11) We fight against powers and principalities, darkness in high places.

The powers we are fighting against have form and power in this world. They are found in high places and positions throughout the earth. Because we do not serve a God of fear, however, we must acknowledge this fact while remaining resolute about God’s goodness and power to overcome evil. God wants us to see evil clearly. If we don’t see evil where it hides, how can we stand against it? We must “expose them” and bring evil out into the light of day. When evil is brought into the light of day it becomes powerless to do any more harm. Moreover, God gives us an opportunity to pray for and love those who are still trapped in the grips of evil and darkness.

The devil preys on secrets. He will use your own secrets, the things you don’t dare tell other people, to accuse and defeat you. Our “dirty little secrets” are far from little; they can ultimately defeat us. Therefore, not only do we expose evil powers where they hide, but we must bring our own secrets out into the light of day, by confessing them to Jesus Christ and by letting other Christians share our burden, by talking about our faults and shortcomings. Remember, we are under no condemnation as believers. God freely forgives our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. The devil cannot shift us if we bring our sins to the light of Christ Jesus.

12) Refind the love you had at first.

Jesus told His followers in the Church of Ephesus that they had “lost the love you had at first.” As Christians we often lose the love we feel for Jesus when we were first reborn. Although our early encounters with Jesus can be joyful and filled with love, when the honeymoon is over and we’ve settled down into our daily lives again, this love can grow faint or even cold. We must be constantly rekindling our love for Him, every morning of every day, every afternoon, every evening. Love is not a feeling that comes and goes. Love is spacious; love chooses; love makes a decision. We must continually make a decision to love Jesus Christ each day, to love Him in everyone we meet.

If we say we love God and then hate our brother, 1 John says that we are “a liar.” We must love Jesus Christ and love everyone we meet, even those who hate and persecute us. If we can continue to love Him with reckless abandon, like our first earthly love, then we will win mighty battles in His name. God is love. The devil does not know love; He does not understand love’s power to soften even the hardest, most evil hearts. Love saves souls and conquers evil. Without love, we are nothing, merely a “sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Refind the love you had for Jesus at first. His love never fails. A soldier who loves, and knows that he is deeply loved, is mighty in battle.

13) Detest evil.

Romans 12:9 tells us to “detest evil.” The Latin root of the word detest means to curse while calling upon God as a witness. Thus, we are to curse evil and to call upon God to witness our stance against evil. We live in a world where people do not even talk about evil, let alone detest it. God tells us that we are to detest evil and also to love the evildoer. God cannot stand sin in any form, so detesting evil is totally consistent with His all loving nature. Evil has no accord with love, just as light has no accord with darkness, because evil deeds are devoid of love. Wherever there is evil, there is no love. Yet love is the fulfillment of the law; we are to love. Because we are to become like Him, disciplined and molded into the likeness of His only Son Jesus Christ, we must also detest evil, hand in hand with God. If we spurn evil, we can actually learn to love those who do evil deeds by praying for them a nd telling them the “good news“ of the gospel. Only the love of Jesus Christ can lead the evil heart to repentance and salvation. We are not to judge others, but to love and evangelize them.

Tolerating evil is unloving. If we are warriors for Jesus Christ, therefore, we cannot remain silent about evil. As medieval law stated: “silence betokeneth concord.” When we do not speak up about evil, we actually give our approval to evil! Satan wants us to remain silent, but God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit tells us to expose, despise, and stand against all evil.

14) Fight the good fight for the faith.

Timothy made one of the most powerful battle statements ever uttered: “fight the good fight for the faith.” Timothy knew that we must stand and fight against the devil and his legions. We must display endurance and, as Paul stated, “keep the faith” so that we can “finish the race.” The words “fight,” “finish,” and “keep” are active verbs. They reflect the effort we must continue to display in our walk with the Lord. We must enter the battle anew each day and work to maintain our faith in the face of obstacles and tribulation. We must go into battle day after day knowing that eternal life is our reward after death.

Timothy’s Spirit-filled words are worth memorizing. The next time you confront a difficult battle in your life, shout out loud, “fight the good fight for the faith” and watch doubt and confusion disappear. We must stand and fight against darkness. Even when we feel we can no longer fight, we must continue to stand and let the Lord do the fighting for us. In our battles against evil and darkness, may we boldly speak Timothy’s battle cry: “fight the good fight for the faith!”

15) Remember and relearn what God has prepared for us.

Forgetfulness is a human weakness the devil uses to confuse and deceive. We sometimes forget the mighty things that God has done throughout the ages. We forget the promises He made to us. We forget that He is with us. We forget the wonderful things He has done in our own lives. Sometimes we even forget that our sins have been forgiven and that we are continually being washed clean by the blood of Jesus. God is wonderful and glorious, yet we sometimes forget. The flesh pulls us down to earth when the Spirit seeks to lift us up. When we are in the Spirit we easily access the gifts of grace, but when we are suddenly bogged down by the flesh we enter into confusion and fear, neither of which come from God.

We even forget who we are, that we are children of God! Remembrance is the center of the Lord’s Supper because Jesus knew that the ruler of this world wants us to forget that we are co-heirs of the throne of God. We must remember and relearn what has been stolen from us by the noise and worries of this world, and the ruler of this world, the devil. When we remember, we become the soldiers God made us to be, ready to serve in His name with inner peace, love, and sound judgment.

16) Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Our actions are for God’s glory. It is easy sometimes to forget why we fight: we fight for God’s glory; Jesus Christ deserves all glory. There is only one Crown and He deserves to wear it. Yes, we will add our little crowns to His, but Jesus Christ alone is worthy of wearing that Crown. As Revelation states, “worthy is the lamb who was slain.” When we fight, we fight for Jesus. When we run, we run for Jesus. When we sing, we sing for Jesus. When we resist evil, we do it for Jesus. As slaves of righteousness, we must serve righteousness, which is found in Jesus Christ alone. So everything we do must be for Jesus, who was crucified on the cross of Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins.

We are human, however, and there are times we unwittingly steal God’s glory for ourselves. We’ll say: “look what I did.” It can be very difficult at times, not living for ourselves anymore. God understands, but we must remember that we live for Him; we serve Him. He is Lord, which means we belong to Him in life and in death. When someone says, “nice job,” give the glory to God. Lift up the glory to Jesus Christ. When we accept glory that isn’t ours, we are filled with pride. Pride is the devil’s weapon. Stay away from pride. Instead, be humble. “God resists the proud,” while the devil seeks the proud. As T.S. Eliot observed, “humility is endless,” and the best way to remain humble is to give Jesus all the credit. Humility is a powerful spiritual weapon in the armament of every Christian believer, therefore.

17) Fast, humble yourself in prayer, & ask for help.

Fasting is a way to weaken the flesh and to allow the Spirit to have His way in us. The body is concerned with the needs of the flesh, but the Spirit is concerned with heavenly things, the things of the Spirit. Jesus even told us that fasting is necessary to call out certain types of evil spirits in the possessed. Fasting with prayer is even more powerful, because prayer is our lifeline to God. It is how He talks to us and how we seek Him. He said, “draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” Prayer brings us closer to God and gives the Holy Spirit the go ahead to work in us and through us. Prayer is powerful. Scientific studies have even found that prayer causes measurable positive changes in the physical world.

Prayer is the most powerful spiritual weapon. If we had only God’s Word and prayer, we would have the lion’s share of the arsenal we need to resist the devil and conquer evil. Prayer is absolutely essential for a Christian life. “Pray constantly.” Pray about anything and everything. Prayer is a way to ask God for help; however, prayer is not asking Santa Claus to bring us everything on our wish list. Prayer is a form of supplication, when we humble ourselves before Him to seek intervention, wisdom, grace, spiritual gifts, justice and mercy, and loving closeness. We ask God to help us, which allows Him to give His gifts of love and grace. If we won’t ask for help, we may be relying on our own strength. But remember, if we must boast, we should boast about our weakness, and boast in the Lord, not about our own power or self-sufficiency.

Copyright 2008 © by Dr. Carl S. Hale
May be used with permission

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