If you are like me, sometimes the term “spiritual warfare” feels a little creepy. The idea of forces of good and forces of evil actually doing battle with one another in a realm that is beyond our human comprehension can seem bizarre and even a little absurd.
Yet, Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 that “we wrestle not 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.” And in Daniel 10:13 there is this phenomenal appearance of an angel to the prophet Daniel. In this narrative, the angel informs Daniel that God had heard his prayer and help was on the way, yet this angel had to do battle for 21 days with the “prince of the kingdom of Persia.” While there is some debate about what this all means, the obvious conclusion we cannot miss is that spiritual warfare is very real and very present in our everyday lives.
Personally, one of the many reasons I am completely convinced that both God and Satan are real is because both are very active in my life! Many times I have witnessed first hand the spiritual struggle of doing battle with the enemy. And I know that I am far from alone in this. For instance, whenever my wife or I take a few days to fast or set that time aside to deeply seek the face of God, it is amazing how unexplainable challenges begin to emerge. Just a couple of months ago our church started a 21 day period of prayer and fasting. That first week alone the furnace broke at the church, consequently the water lines burst a couple days later. Then someone hacked into our American bank account and took several thousand dollars from our account (which we were thankfully able to retrieve), and Janan’s childhood home burnt to the ground. This is all within the span of about 4-5 days and these are just some of the “highlights!”
Some of you are likely shaking your heads up and down at this point because you have witnessed situations like this happening in your life. Just this morning I was listening to Pastor Chip Ingram’s podcast on my drive over to the church and he stated almost the exact same thing. He pointed out that it almost gets to a place where life becomes laughable because you just know that what is happening around you is a direct attack from Satan.
Now, I should be quick to clarify that I am not a person who sees a devil behind every bush. Satan isn’t always the cause of us running out of toothpaste, stubbing our toe on the door jam, or barely missing the TTC bus. Sometimes tough situations that come into our lives are the results of previous poor choices we have made.
That being said, I think Christians can far too easily excuse the spiritual warfare that is happening all around us because it A) Makes us feel uncomfortable and B) Our minds have become spiritually dull (I'm speaking to myself here). As a result, we simply write off our unexplainable situations as tough luck. That relationship with another Christian we have had for years that seems to be on rocky ground today? Unfortunate but life moves on. That unexplainable series of tensions that seem to invade your mind every time you set your face to pray? That’s just reality. That war in the home that seems to emerge Sunday mornings just before you and your family are about ready to head for church? Morning or weekend grogginess.
Maybe so…or maybe not. Could it be that some of the situations you are facing in your life right now are not the result of tough luck but a tough oppressor and tough accuser who seeks to destroy your soul? If so, this should dramatically shift how you and I do combat. It’s pretty hard to combat tough luck! But when we recognize our battles are spiritual, then we are equipped to deal with them effectively. We stop using weapons of the flesh and start using weapons of spirit.
Recently, I overheard one of my wife’s Bible studies with Priscilla Shirer, a great communicator! In this series, she tells the story of a young man who was living in a war zone and made the remark, “But I do not want to go to war.” An older man responded, “Ah, but the war is already upon you. You are in the battle whether you like it or not.” (Paraphrase) So to it is in our lives. We are in a battle whether we like it or not. The question though is will we choose to fight this battle with weapons of the flesh or weapons of the spirit!