Summary: What is spiritual warfare really about and how as a believer do you defend yourself from attack while not giving ground to Satan?
How many of you have read Frank Peretti’s books like "This Present Darkness?" Peretti changed the Christian idea of spiritual warfare forever by his descriptions of sliming slithering demons plotting to tempt and attack Christians and keep pre-Christians from giving their lives to Jesus Christ.
I believe Peretti’s descriptions are more real than fiction - but as we study the subject of spiritual warfare I think we need to broaden our definition. Clinton Arnold (Baker 1997) defines spiritual warfare this way:
"Spiritual warfare is all-encompassing. It touches every area of our lives-our families, our relationships, our church, our neighborhoods, our communities, our places of employment. There is virtually no part of our existence over which the Evil One does not want to maintain or reassert his unhealthy and perverse influence. Conversely, Jesus longs to reign as Lord over every area of our lives."
So the battle is over who will be Lord - and it rages every minute of every day. Sometimes you are closer to the "action" than others - but you are always a soldier and should be ready at any time. It involves temptations to do evil, accusing thoughts planted in your mind by the Devil, facing others who are being used by Satan, or even direct battles against demons (though that probably won’t happen often to the garden variety Christian).
So today we’re going to talk about how to be prepared for that battle - because God has supplied us with armor and weaponry designed to make us victorious.
Romans 8:37 says "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." The war is already won - but we must still stay on our feet during the final skirmishes.
What is the primary objective in battle - I suppose you could say that it is to take the high ground or capture the city or drive back the enemy into its own territory. But I want you to think back to a time when battle was mainly fought in open fields with two opposing armies going at each other wielding swords and spears. What’s the objective? To have more of your side left standing at the end of the day than your enemy.
In the battle that we Christians face - from a world opposed to Christ and an enemy opposed to Christ - that’s what we should strive for to. Yes - as an army we are to rescue those that are captive by the enemy - through the gospel. But when it comes to attacks that come at us - the object is to be the last man standing.
That’s why Paul uses the word "stand" four times. Sometimes we Christians get baited into going on the offensive - but I believe our battle with Satan is of a defensive nature. What we really should be about is our Christ-given search and rescue mission for lost souls. The battle the enemy wages is to distract us from that objective so that we forget our real mission.
But the battles do come to us - we don’t have to go looking for them. And to keep standing, to keep ready, God prepares us, like outfitting a soldier for battle.
Christians make another mistake - they don’t realize they are in a war. They ignore or don’t care about the enemy and are then vulnerable to his schemes. So today let’s learn both sides - the defensive battle against Satan and the reality of the spiritual war raging around us.
There is a new kind of armor for Humvies - makes them almost invulnerable to roadside bombs. The armor God provides the Christian makes us invulnerable to Satan’s attacks.
There are six activities that we as Christians need to do in our battle against the enemy:
Be strong - put on - stand firm - take up - pray - be alert.
Some things are done for us: truth, righteousness, the gospel, salvation. Some things we take up in order to actively do things: the shield of faith to quench, the sword of God’s Word, prayer, being alert.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
We’re to be strong not in our own power. When we fight the enemy we lose (sons of Sceva in Acts 19:14.
The Greek means "build up your strength" or, as Arnold might say "pump you up!" The means for building up our strength is by joining forces with the Lord - not pumping up our own enthusiasm.
The imperative is to become stronger - the source is by drawing on God’s power - the means is detailed in the next 8 verses:
11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And 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.