Summary: How the life of faith deals with spiritual warfare
Spiritual People involved in Spiritual Warfare
John Milton, in his great works Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained speaks about the great cosmic combat that takes place in the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation. In describing that chilling chapter of Revelation Milton says that heaven and hell are the central focus and earth is the battle ground in which the cosmic combat takes place. That is a good description of the spiritual battle that takes place within our world.
With all the talk about war going on in our own society and around the world, Christians often forget that we are in a war of our own, a spiritual war; a cosmic combat. The battle is between heaven and hell and the place where the battle is often fought is here on earth.
The church often looses sight of this truth, the truth of spiritual struggle, especially the church in America. Christians in America have become so comfortable in their Christianity that the thought of spiritual warfare does not even cross their minds. But it is paramount that we understand as the church and as Christians that we are truly a part of spiritual battle, a cosmic conflict, and the Lord has called his people to fight the battle, to wage war against the forces that appose God’s righteousness and rule.
Understanding the nature of spiritual warfare begins with understanding the nature of the life of faith. You could say that the life of faith is really a “life of war.” Yet, the war that we fight is not fought with conventional weapons. The war we fight is not against flesh and blood. Unlike physical war, spiritual people fight spiritual wars, with spiritual weapons, and against spiritual enemies.
There is not greater description of this type of spiritual warfare in the New Testament than that which is found in the book of Ephesians. In the sixth chapter we see the need for spiritual people to fight the spiritual, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Paul gives Christians a command to be strong in the Lord. To be “in the Lord” is to be a spiritual person. To be “in the Lord” is to be one who has started the life of faith by following Jesus Christ. Thus, it takes spiritual people for spiritual combat.
Furthermore it takes spiritual weapons to fight a spiritual enemy. The weapons that we use are spiritual. Paul describes these weapons as the armor of God. The weapons that spiritual people use for spiritual warfare are truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the Holy Spirit, the word of God, and prayer.
The reason that Christians use spiritual weapons is the fact that the enemy is a spiritual enemy, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We can conclude for the New Testament that God’s people are spiritual people using spiritual weapons to fight a spiritual war.
What is true of those who live the life of faith under the New Covenant was also true of those who lived the life of faith under the New Covenant. Our study of the life of Abraham reveals this truth. But one will notice from Genesis chapter fourteen that the spiritual battles that Abram fought often worked themselves out in physical battles, battles against the enemies of God and his people. This is true of Abram. This is true of Moses. This is true of Joshua. Though these great men of faith fought physical battles, these physical battles were spiritual battles. And because these physical battles were spiritual battles God’s people can glean great truths for their own cosmic conflict.
The life of faith is a “life of war” and there are spiritual bullets and missiles flying over our head. Those who are on the journey of faith cannot just ignore the fight, the must be aware of it, but even more they must get involved in spiritual warfare.
I. The Involvement in Spiritual Warfare (1-16)
In the first sixteen verses of Genesis chapter fourteen we see conflict, casualties and contribution. The conflict is described in the first eleven verses of the chapter.
A. The Conflict (1-11)
The conflict that is recorded in these verses is on the international level, not the international level that we know, but the international level that is known to Abram and his contemporaries. This is the first record of war and conflict in the Bible; some say it is the first record of war in conflict within the annuals of history.
The conflict that takes place is between nine kings, four on one side and five on the other. It would seem that the five kings would be more powerful than the four, but that is not the case. As the record of the conflict unfolds it is quite obvious that the four were much more powerful than the five.