How to Fight a Spiritual War
Three steps for combating the enemy.
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. 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. (Ephesians 6:12-13)
For most of us, the question of whether we are fighting a spiritual war is settled. We suffer assaults on all fronts. Lingering sins we thought we put to death manifest themselves in our flesh once again. Those who wish destruction upon the church lose battles in the legal courts only to regroup and attack once more. Loved ones betray our forgiveness after promising us that it will never happen again.
No, everyone who has suffered at the hands of the flesh, the world, or the Devil knows they are in a spiritual war. The question is how do we fight that spiritual war?
The first step in our battle plan must be to properly assess our enemy. We cannot wage war against an enemy we do not know or understand.
Paul says our enemy is not “flesh and blood” but rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces. In other words, our enemy is deceptive, taking many forms. But to fight any one of them is to fight him, the Devil. After all it is Satan who is the ruler of this fallen world. It was he who first introduced into the world the sin we wrestle with in our flesh. To combat evil anywhere is nothing less than a struggle against the Evil One.
The second strategy in a spiritual war is to fight our enemy with the proper tools. Paul rightly acknowledges that a spiritual war must be fought with spiritual weapons. These include the Word, faith, righteousness and everything else listed in verses 14-17. Together they compose the “whole armor of God.”
Finally, we must train ourselves with these tools so that we can wield them well. While the warfare language conjures up images of fighting and slashing, Paul tells us the biblical posture of warfare is prayer (v. 18). We charge head first into spiritual warfare from our knees.
But this all seems a bit anticlimactic. From our earthly point of view, it seems more cowardly than heroic. But such a feeling mistakes who the true hero of the story is. It's not us. It’s Christ!
Christians put on the armor of God and launch their attack of prayer knowing it is God who saves; God who conquers. This is not an excuse for passivity but a call to exercise true faith. As worshippers of the Triune God, we know the war is already won. The Father sent the Son to defeat sin and death on the cross and ransomed us from our captor. The Holy Spirit now dwells within us, building us up in faith.
But there are some skirmishes still to fight in this present age. Just because he’s doomed doesn’t mean the enemy has quite accepted defeat. Still, we know the final day of victory is fast approaching.
Robert Hasler is Director of Communications and co-host of The Will & Rob Show.