Wednesday, January 28, 2009

spiritual warfare

In the twentieth century there were a number of Christian theologians who seemed to discount the reality of spiritual warfare in the lives of Christians. They had some valid, good insights into the meaning of principalities and powers in Scripture, but seemed to relegate them to governing authorities and perhaps spiritual powers, or intelligent entities behind them.

While the Bible is not loaded with accounts of people wrestling spiritual powers and entities, it is present. And in Ephesians 6 we in Jesus are warned that we will have to stand firm in God's mighty power and with his full armor on for us in Christ, against the wiles and strategies of the devil and his hosts. While that certainly has application from Scripture to refer to governing authorities resisting those in the faith, it would seem incontrovertible that it refers primarily to the spiritual powers and entities in league with Satan.

C.S. Lewis, in his The Screwtape Letters, has it right when he makes the point that the Christian church errs either in seeing the devil no where, or seeing the devil every where. Of course we must always beware of them, but we're not to be living in fear of them. Our victory over them is in Jesus and in his death, resurrection and ascension, and on that basis by the power of the Spirit. We have to stand our ground against the foe, in resistance, when they attack us. We need to learn the weapons of our warfare and put them into practice. This has made all the difference in the world in the lives of Christian missionaries who have testified of going year after year seeing little or no fruit, to seeing some good fruit come in conversions and Christian growth, over a relatively short period of time.

I was aware of the enemy's likely presence and activity yesterday. Yet I was still thrown for a loop. Hopefully a lesson learned for me. God has been moving in my life in certain ways, and helping me have some breakthroughs over some matters, particularly the same kind (anxiety, though most who know me never knew that) that had plagued me for years. And with Deb's help in prayer and in Christian fellowship, I was beginning to see more opportunities open up, or at least the opportunities I have used more evidently by God.

This is not a popular subject, and in theological circles does carry some controversy. But we need to consider it if we are to live in accordance with the full revealed will of God.

Does anyone have thoughts here, or perhaps a story you would like to tell that would relate to this?

10 comments:

Lanny said...

Amen amen amen. We need to know the weapons we are given and how to use them, why and when. I have sooo much to say on this subject that I oughten to say anything at all lest I blow out the bottom of the comment box. Suffice it to say that when you personally meet God you have a tendendency to get a personal visit from the other side. And it is wildly something when you send him packing with the name of Jesus, the Truth and strong resolve. Hang in there my friend, you learn lessons well,(most folks refuse and stop up their ears) all will be well with God. Aren't spouses just the grooviest thing to be gifted with?!!!

nAncY said...

we even struggle with God...

nAncY said...

which is not a very good idea, i might add.

Every Square Inch said...

No story to share but I will say that the Screwtape Letters is a simple but brilliant book. It's a good read and a good reminder that we're constantly engaged in a spiritual battle.

Crowm said...

The more I "grow", the more I realize this battle that goes on in places unseen. I totally agree that we shouldn't live in fear. I also believe that we should recognize the enemy when its clear that he's present and be equipped for battle (Eph 6).

Something else I'm convinced of Ted is that people are sometimes unaware of being "used" by Satan. Sadly, this applies to believers and unbelievers alike.

Ted M. Gossard said...

haha, Lanny. You're so right on the spouses being groovy gifts from God. Yes, Deb is taking care of me quite well. Left work a couple hours early yesterday, and was able to get the rest of the week off, and my stomach feels okay at the moment.

Well, hopefully you might share some of that over on your blog. We all would like to learn more, so I'll be all ears.

Yes, God gives us what we need in Jesus, but we must take it up ourselves. I like the way you state it here, a good balance needed. We must go for it! And the rest you say here is good.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
Maybe so and maybe not. It's better to wrestle with God than to just forget God and stew over our misery, or plight. I think wrestling God is honored in Scripture. Job did, so did Jacob- in two great stories. The psalmists did over and over again.

If you mean fighting God, then I guess that's different. Although there is still hope. At least God is in the picture, and God has a way of winning that makes the one defeated a winner as well, many times at least.

Ted M. Gossard said...

ESI,
Yes, I was just telling my wife this morning that I need to reread that book soon.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Crowm,
I agree with all you say, and appreciate the way you say it!

And yes- we can all be mouthpieces of the evil one, for sure. And it is sad when believers are such to each other.

Also when we are influenced by the thoughts the evil one sends our way. And allow that to impact our thoughts of others. I'm working on trying to understand this dynamic, and deal with it better.

Sam Marsh said...

I've been thinking this through recently too, particularly in relation to Jesus' temptation in the wilderness:

"...It strikes me that this was for Satan the number 1 opportunity to scupper the plans of God by causing Jesus to stumble. Spiritual warfare doesn’t get any more intense than this… So what does Satan throw at him? Ouiji Boards? Wiccan Witches? Demons? A Harry Potter novel? No. Jesus’ battle was to submit even his most basic needs (like hunger) before his Father as an offering."

[See sammarsh.net]

That's not to say that 'spiritual warfare' is not about doing battles with spiritual strongholds, principalities and powers etc, but that spiritual warfare often begins with submitting our basic human desires to God...