Spiritual warfare comes to every believer regardless of how we react; it is unavoidable. With believers dedicating so much effort to walking in love and living quiet, peaceable lives, some might wonder why battles find them. It seems to me that as long as we are living in this body, battles will come looking for us because we have an enemy that hates God’s Sovereignty and wars against anyone who belongs to His kingdom. This enemy wants to exalt himself above the authority of God. Because God promised to use everything in the believer’s life for good, the LORD uses warfare for our sanctification and as a testament to the sufficiency of God’s grace. It is written:
- And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2nd Corinthians 12:7 to 10)
The word grace in this passage is ‘cháris’ (Strong’s Definitions G5485). Strong’s describes ‘cháris’ as the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life of a believer including gratitude, favour, gift, and joy.
When God’s grace in the life of a submitted believer overcomes the attacks of the enemy, it demonstrates the power of God’s influence on a person. This is significant because it means that having intimate knowledge of the weightiness of our Saviour’s character based on the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit is in itself more than sufficient strength to win any battle that is permitted in a believer’s life. Have you thought about the magnitude of all that our Creator is?
Believing in the power of God’s illumination is mightier than mental, emotional, and physical strongholds. The light of God’s love is personal and it is an experience (which is the reason it is transformative). His grace illuminates a heart to His love and goodness; and, at the same time reveals the need for forgiveness of sin. If someone is willing, this illumination brings an individual to receive God’s gift of salvation by accepting Jesus Christ as payment for their sin.
It is vital to know that the enemy can not attack a believer without permission. You can refer to the enemy’s complaint to God over the protection of Jobe in Jobe 1:10; and, Christ’s statements at His trial in John 19:11. Any attack, trial, or test has a purpose that is for God’s glory and our good (Romans 8:28).
In addition, it is good to distinguish between warfare and the struggles of innate human nature. Scripture states:
- My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Then a few verses later it states: … Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:2 to 4, and 13 to 17)
What is Warfare in the Life of a Believer?
Please read Ephesians 6, verses 10 to 24. The warfare described here is about an attack from spiritual forces on God’s rule or God’s kingdom targeting His authority and His people.
Scripturally, warfare comes from the term strateía which Strong’s G4754 associates with military service as mentioned in 2nd Corinthians 10:4:
- For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.
Other words used for military service can include an expedition or campaign (either defensive or offensive) and includes hardship and risk.
I would like to emphasize that our defensive and offensive warfare is to dismantle strongholds fighting against God’s authority; and, our weapons are not physical.
Our weapons are spiritually endowed with God’s strength. We will discuss the next blog called One War: The Armour
Since it is unavoidable for us, we need to understand the war is already won; and as such, we do not need to be terrified by it. We simply need to understand our role and tools for the battles (or skirmishes) within the overall war. This is a matter of understanding our authority on earth as an ambassador (2nd Corinthians 5:20) of the only Sovereign King of the universe. For it is written:
- …what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE ALL principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:19 to 23)
Since Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we wrestle against “principalities, … powers, …the rulers of the darkness of this age, and… against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”, we see that these powers must submit to Christ because His authority is higher. Furthermore, as ambassadors in the church, as the bride of Christ, and as His body, these forces have no power over us (provided we understand and use Christ’s authority).
The objective of warfare is to take territory by overcoming another. Since King Jesus has already won the war, our role as ambassadors is to stand our ground representing Him on the earth. Our ‘office’ is to share His messages with His authority; and, to do so in a way that reflects the character and intentions of the King. The office of the ambassador is never to give up territory; on the contrary, this role may involve extending the influence of the King.
We do this through God’s power which has been given to us; He has equipped us with the indwelling Spirit of God.
- And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18 to 20)
Have you noticed that God never gave humanity authority over the second heaven (the realm of spiritual forces of darkness)? The LORD gave Moses a territory for the children of Israel which was physical and earthly (Joshua 1:3). When they followed the LORD’s direction to the areas given, the LORD gave them victory.
While there is warfare in the heavens, this warfare is not for human beings. Those extraterrestrial battles are fought by the hosts of heaven.
As ambassadors, wherever we are, the kingdom of God is at hand and so is His authority. Our influence with others can extend the kingdom.
The ambassador proclaims the gospel as taught by Scripture and becomes a “sojourner” with other heavenly citizens on a pilgrimage to our homeland, the kingdom of God in heaven. While we are to love everyone, if we are moving in one direction, we cannot walk with those who are going to a different location. For it is written: Can two walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3)
Loving others who do not choose Jesus as their personal Saviour is about the encounters we have while on assignment en route to the kingdom. The assignments should be (1) the Word; (2) charitable works; and, (3)developing the character of Christ in each of us. The transaction of salvation is between the LORD and the sinner who willingly submits to the love and reign of Jesus Christ.
Our LORD never coerced, threatened, belittled, or intimidated anyone into salvation or forced compliance. He simply told the truth in love; He explained the reality of the need for salvation. When we talk about John 3:16, need to quote the full context of Scripture. This is what Christ said:
- “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16 to 19)
The decision to accept or refuse His LORDSHIP determines which kingdom a person will live in eternally.
The Legitimacy of the Believer’s Authority
How do we know we have the authority to stand our ground? If we are standing in the LORD’s legal authority, when was the war won? Scriptures states:
- For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
- Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15)
- “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Jesus conquered death, sin, and the grave and defeated the enemy of our souls when He died, rose again, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. (1st Corinthians 15:55 to 57). This is the gospel. Praise God!
Let us take a look at the word “victory” Biblically which is the Greek word nikáō and is defined in Strong’s G3528 as to subdue. Literally and figuratively, it means to conquer, overcome, prevail, and get the victory. Here are a few Scriptures where this word is used.
- For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1st John 5:4 to 5)
- “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ‘ (Revelation 2:11)
- “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. (Revelation 21:7)
You see, for a believer, being victorious in battle has nothing to do with winning an argument against human voices, achieving a specific earthly goal, or even keeping your mortal life.
- I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (1st Corinthians 15:50 NIV)
There is only one exception to experiencing physical death which is solely conditional up the LORD’s catching believers away. But even then, this current physical form will be translated into a new body to be with God. As it is written:
- … We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. (1st Corinthians 15:51 to 54 NLT)
If our blessed hope is to be with the LORD, then fear of death is not a defeating opposition for a believer; death has no power over us.
Make no doubt about it. The war is over the authority of God and His ownership over His creation. Sin gave the evil one a legal claim to hold human spirits in his kingdom of darkness, but Christ prevailed! There is a real battle over the affections of our hearts and to win this battle, we need to ensure we love God above all else. If we love this world and our lives here more than we love the LORD and the future He has promised us, we are not worthy of Him and we will live defeated lives.
Being defeated in battle has nothing to do with the number of attacks amounting or the appearance of the enemy’s temporary gains.
- For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity. Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, And He turn away His wrath from him. (Proverbs 24:16 to 18)
Please note the warning in the passage. Since the LORD does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11); and, wants His children to love our neighbours as ourselves, our righteous LORD does not want us to take joy in seeing any human being’s demise. We may rejoice over victories and remain sober-minded about God’s vengeance upon another. You see, but for the grace of God, this vengeance would be upon us.
We should never become what we oppose.
Getting back to being victorious, please consider what this is for the believer.
Victory is a spiritual triumph where no territory has been given up within the believer’s mind and freedom is maintained. It is where you are strengthened and assured of your position.
This is not a matter of human capabilities; it is supernaturally endowed to ensure perseverance.
The shepherd boy David knew that to defeat the giant who was coming against the LORD and the LORD’s people, it would be the authority of God that would win the battle. Do you recall that David did not go to battle in Saul’s armour? King Saul’s armour did not fit him and David did not have any practice with it. David faced his giant based on his experience with his God.
David said to Goliath:
- “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. (1st Samuel 17:45)
The battle belongs to the LORD, and while He uses people to face the giants, He is the One who delivers the victory when we stand fast. It is written:
- “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (1st Samuel 17:47)
David knew he had to engage; he knew that he had no experience with the earthly military tools; and, even more significantly, he knew who his God was and he believed unwaveringly that God would act on his behalf. Scripture tells us to engage when an enemy force attacks “the faith”, or the laws of God. (Jude 1:3 and 2nd Timothy 2:3 to 5, 24 to 26)
Jesus taught that if we are to stand for righteousness, we are not to place our earthly obligations or the affairs of this life above the fight against evil. The response to the call must be first. We are to engage wherever God places us. Jesus said:
- … to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59 to 62)
We know when God allows a fight into our lives and we will feel the call to follow Him to take a stand for righteousness. Not everyone has the same call at the same time.
The only way to lose a battle is to give up spiritual territory; or, to not fight the battle that you are called to fight. You can lose every in this life and remain a conqueror in your spirit and mind.
No one can take your God-given spirit from you, so don’t give it away; don’t compromise your soul for some temporary gain or relief.
It is written:
- “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? (Luke 9:25)
The Description and Contrast of the Enemy
I used to try to avoid warfare like dodging a difficult confrontation. The truth is, being a believer means that adversity will find you even when you are not looking for it. If a person can escape all difficulty in this life, then they probably are not making disciples; and, probably not being truthful with others about their beliefs.
If a believer is walking righteously and engaged in sharing the love of the LORD, there must be opposition.
If believers shrug away from the battle because of the fear of man or the love of the things of this world, Scripture states they will be caught in a trap.
- The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe. Many seek the ruler’s favour, but justice for man comes from the LORD. An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, and he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked. (Proverbs 29:25 to 27)
Since we are wrestling with the forces of spiritual darkness, we need to understand the enemy by recognizing his qualities. Jesus said:
- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:10 to 13 NIV).
- You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 NIV)
Scripture also warns that the enemy will corrupt people who ascribe themselves to be leaders within the church.
- But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (2nd Peter 2:1 to 3 NIV)
While I am saddened for these false teachers and those who follow them, I find it humorous when non-believers enlist the help of so-called “leaders” of the church to influence the true Shephard’s flock in a way that does not match Scripture. Jesus said:
- “Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” … “I am the good shepherd, and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (John 10:5 and 14)
At the same time, I soberly recognize that I must keep His Word in my heart, take it seriously, and obey it so that I will not be deceived.
Now, let us consider the contrast to the enemy; our Saviour:
- And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. … There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1st John 4:16, 18 to 21)
- Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. … And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1st Corinthians 13:1 to 7 and 13)
- For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2nd Timothy 1:7)
Praise God! Look around you. Can you see the difference between the forces of evil and good?
What is the Battle Line?
This should be a separate study but I couldn’t avoid touching on it. The line is drawn between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. Every person who has ever lived will be found on one side of the battle line; it is not possible to be on both sides of the line at the same time. (Colossians 1:13 to 14).
Two Kingdoms, Two Women, Two Judgments, Two Destinations
The kingdom of darkness currently includes those who cling to the ruler of this world and his principles or ideologies.
It includes this earth and its atmosphere and the second heaven which is a boundary between the earth and God’s throne in the third heaven. Luke 4 describes how the ruler of this world had tried to tempt Christ while He physically walked on earth. Christ overcame Him by quoting Scripture from the Law or the Torah.
The fulfillment of Scriptural prophecy throughout history demonstrates that Jehovah God’s Word stands forever.
This is also another reason we are assured that God (in His timing) will bring an end to the enemy’s fight for our souls. (Revelation 11:15) Scripture states:
- “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. (Daniel 2:44)
You see, in this dispensation of time, the church (or those called and chosen by God) is in enemy territory on the earth; waving the victorious banner of Christ to the enemy; the banner identifies where others can find refuge in the kingdom of light.
We are God’s evidence that His grace is sufficient to change a person; evidence that faith in the resurrection of Christ conquers the power of sin; evidence the enemy has no power over God’s love, righteousness, and goodness.
It says in Ephesians 3 verses 10 and 11:
- to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known BY the church TO the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There are two women making war as depicted in Revelation 19:
- There is the great harlot who corrupts the earth with immorality (she is busy being engaged with the things of this world, the world’s doctrines, and false gods). She gets her power and ideas from the forces of darkness and she despises the ways of the LORD.
The other woman is the bride of Christ who makes herself ready for her union with God through devotion to God’s ways and His heart.
- She completes the work that was predestined for her to do. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
The battle may have the appearance of intensity, but in reality, when the bride of Christ remembers that the powers, principalities, and rulers of darkness were created by Christ, the bride of Christ can celebrate when being vigilant. We know that battle is just the sound of a created roaring lion seeking someone to destroy (1st Peter 5:8 to 9). It is written:
- … submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Because we are positionally seated with Christ in the heavens, we have nothing to fear.
Have you ever contemplated that the archangel Michael and his angels are the ones that evict the enemy forces out of heaven? How much more powerful is the Creator? I hope you read Revelation 12:7 to 10.
At the end of this age, there will be two main judgments. Revelation 20:11 to 15 describes the judgment of the harlot. The bride’s judgment is described this way:
- For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1st Corinthians 3:11 to 17)
Thank God that He will purify and refine my heart purging me from the dross leaving only that which is precious to Him. He paid the penalty of my sin by His death on the cross; He defeated the power of sin rising victoriously from the dead, and one day He will deliver me from the presence of sin. I thank the LORD and willingly bow my knees now and forever. Do you?
- Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. (Ephesians 6:24)
For it is only by God’s grace that we are saved and able to engage; it is His grace that will get us home. And it is the song He has given us that produces the joy that is our strength, the grace that is sufficient in weakness.
- The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
If you have not placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Redeemer and you sense a tugging at your heart, it’s probably the Holy Spirit beckoning you to meet Him. You can use your own words to tell the LORD you believe and ask Him to fill your heart with the knowledge of Him and the power to choose freedom over sin.