How to Combat Spiritual Warfare
Christians are guided ultimately to faith in Christ by God through the testimony of Scripture. Thankfully, we have an objective source of truth to run to when our minds and experiences are crazy. The Bible reveals loads of information to us, who have been born again to a living hope through the death and resurrection of Christ. Since we are made new creatures, we are to walk in a new way—by the Spirit. If we walk by the Spirit faithfully, we must be aware of how to combat spiritual warfare.
This is not an over-dramatic discussion. This is real talk. It’s an honest, clear, and biblical discussion. If you are a Christian that wants to live a long, fruitful, and spiritually healthy life, you must be spiritually equipped for war against an enemy. I can’t really speak from experience. I’m only 25 years old. But I see warnings and commands in Scripture that I feel like sharing with you.
What does the Bible say about spiritual warfare?
The Bible is clear about how to combat spiritual warfare. I’m sure Ephesians 6 comes to mind right away for many of us.
The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle 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. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
(Preach!) There’s more than enough from this text alone to understand that Paul and other Christians took spiritual warfare seriously. The Apostle recognizes there is a real devil that seeks to destroy. Real spiritual forces exists that affect us. We are here given insight for combating these forces. Strapping on The Whole Armor of God is something every Christian needs to learn how to do in order to spiritually endure.
Ephesians 6 is not the only Bible reference to spiritual warfare.
James tells us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” (4:7). The Apostle Peter agreed also, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith,” (1 Pet. 5:8-9). In the Old Testament it says, “‘No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me,’ declares the Lord,” (Isa. 54:17). Furthermore, Jesus, himself, was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11) before he begins his public ministry.
What must we do? How do we succeed?
First, we must understand that spiritual warfare is real and it is serious. I believe the key to succeeding in spiritual warfare is relying on God’s power, not our own. Though we are given practical instructions for what to do, look again to what James said: “Submit yourselves to God.” If we are in Christ—held in his hands—under his wing, we will not be defeated. Not because we are strong, but because he is God.
Some make the mistake thinking they can out-smart Satan. Charles Spurgeon speaks to this in wisdom: “As wise and learned as you are, take heed to yourselves lest he overwit you. The devil is a greater scholar than you, and a nimbler disputant; he can ‘transform himself into an angel of light’ to deceive” (1954, p.16). The devil is smarter than we are. We must rely solely on our gracious God instead of our own wits and abilities.
In order to submit ourselves to God we need to go to him. Are you? Are you going to him in prayer? Are you reading his Word? Are you memorizing it and writing it on your heart? God has promises and truth for us to digest and process through that are found in Scripture. Needless to say, I am no expert at succeeding in spiritual warfare; however, the first realization we must make after accepting that it’s real, is relying on God’s power for protection. He is our refuge and strength.
There is such a thing as real spiritual warfare, and we must all be aware of how to combat it. If we are going to endure in this life, it’s going to take God sustaining us, in his power. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in Matthew 4, he combated the temptations with, “For it is written.” We too must combat spiritual warfare against the enemy with, “For it is written.” God is our protector, our fortress, and salvation. My trust is in him alone.
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Spurgeon, C. H. (1954). Lectures to My Students. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.