I hope you will allow me to begin this new phase of my blog by starting at the beginning. I don't want to offend anyone by suggesting that you need to be reminded of the basics of spiritual warfare. I know that this audience is part of the remnant God is preparing for the End Times. But, I want to share what the Holy Spirit is teaching me in an ordered fashion, so I am going to explain my understanding of spiritual warfare as if to a new Christian. And, to be honest, I am feeling that there may be someone out there who is hearing this for the first time. I want each of us to know what spiritual warfare is, how to recognize it in this world, and how to win the war. May the Holy Spirit reach each of you where you are in your walk, and may He reveal His truth!
As the title of the blog suggests, that is what our spiritual war is ... invisible. But make no mistake, just because we can't necessarily see our enemy, doesn't mean we can let our guard down. As I have told you in many posts on this blog, I have witnessed the personal battles that so many of our fellow Christians are engaged in. Oh, you would never know they are fighting for their souls. (Mind you I said souls ... their mind and thoughts, their emotions, and their will in fighting the flesh. If they are a Christian, their spirits are indwelt by the Holy Spirit). Neverthelss, they have developed very effective masks which they hide behind, and the Church has done a good job of painting a picture of what the "good Christian" looks like... just be in the Church pew every Sunday; keep busy in the Church's activities; teach a class or two (by following some designated format); have a "go-to" Scripture or two that shows you know your Bible; and never -- I mean never -- admit that you are scared, or suffering, or that you just cannot conceive Jesus really rescuing you from your torment.
I mean, if you've never heard a sermon on Satan and his demons in your church, then, my friend, the time is right for you to be attacked. Maybe you are a Christian that tends to skip over those verses in the Bible that teach us that we have the power that Jesus and the Apostles had to cast out demons, in favor of the verses that teach us that if we just stay in the Word, and abide in Jesus, then anything we ask in prayer will be given to us. But here's the deal. They are both true! We must declare the "whole counsel of God"!
I happen to agree with D.A. Carson, who is a theologian and professor of the New Testament, who gives this explanation of what it means to consider "the whole counsel of God": it is the burden of the whole of God’s revelation, the balance of things, leaving nothing out that was of primary importance, never ducking the hard bits, helping believers to grasp the whole counsel of God that they themselves would become better equipped to read their Bibles intelligently, and comprehensively.
Here's the way I see it: If we are going to call ourselves Christians, then the Bible is the only manual we have to go by. And we can argue that it has been corrupted by man (through all the different versions); that there are books taken out of the Bible that should be in there; and even whether parts of it are allegory or to be taken literally. I guess that's something everyone has to decide for themselves. As for me, I believe that the Word, in its entirety, is an active and living representation of my Savior, and He tells me in Matthew 24:35 that "heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." And He means All His words. So, I choose not to duck the hard passages that speak of the unseen world and demonic or territorial spirits. At the same time, I do not look for demons around every corner, and I do not neglect the grace and mercy in which I live as I grow in my salvation process.
So, lest anyone think that by believing in Spiritual Warfare, I neglect the wonder and amazement of Christ's work on the Cross to defeat the Enemy, let's agree to agree on the following, OK? Let's agree with what the Apostle Paul wrote about in the Book of Ephesians. Through the Word in that notable Book, we can agree that if we are a true Christian, then we have undergone this stunning spiritual transformation; we are a new creation. We are accepted as a child of God. We are blessed and redeemed. We can agree that we were a part of the kingdom of darkness and sin, but Jesus ransomed us, and we are now a part of "the Church", which is the mystery that God had planned from the beginning for those who believe in Him (both Jew and Gentile, alike).
We know that through this new relationship with Jesus, we now have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, which helps us to walk in His righteousness; in His Light. And we can agree that we have been given a picture of what that looks like ... how to walk in love and purity as the Church; as a husband and wife, and in various relationships. All that is covered in Ephesians, Chapters 1-5. And then we get to that pesky Chapter 6, and Paul talks about putting on armor; and fighting against rulers, and powers, world forces in [this] present darkness, and even against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. And what do we, people of the 21st Century, and our pastors do? We either skip right over that passage, or we attempt to explain it away as only being relevant to that particular time.
But that's not what Paul intended! Chapter 6 is just as relevant to us as the first 5 Chapters, and just as relevant as to the First Century Church! Paul is simply continuing his teaching in Chapter 6. He has told us what it means to be a Christian; how to do it, and what it looks like. Now, he is reminding us that although we are a new creation, we live in a hostile environment; a fallen, sinful world. And we must realize that our "newness" and our new "identity" are a threat to the powers that control this hostile environment in which we find ourselves. And who might that be?
As Christians, we all think we know the story of the fall of Lucifer, but I wonder how many truly understand the significance in each of our lives today? I think Pastor Chip Ingram, founder and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international discipleship ministry, says it better than I can, so I want you to read what he has to say: "There is an ongoing battle between the Holy Spirit and the flesh of man, and there is a supernatural, angelic being, who fell from Heaven, and who took a third of the angels with him. His job, and his goal, and his strategy, is to destroy your life, to murder you – spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically. He wants to take you out. He wants to ruin your life. He wants to ruin your marriage. He wants to ruin your children. He wants to split your church. He wants to have you overwhelmed, deceived, believing lies, and be rendered completely ineffective in this new relationship with Christ, so that the Church and the Gospel are discredited, and you become a miserable person, and all the work of God, and the work of the Cross, and the Resurrection is for naught."
So, Paul, in Ephesians, Chapter 6, says it about as plain as one can say it to a fellow Christian ... and it is exactly what I want to say to you: you're in a war with invisible beings that are out to destroy this "new you"; this new creation you've become, and the relationship with the One who saved you. You are in this war whether you want to acknowledge it or not. You can be aware of it, or you can ignore it. But you will not escape it. And that is what is going to be my focus from now on. I want us all to be aware of the battle we are in, and to be unafraid, and to be engaged. So we are now on a journey together -- to see this invisible war, and learn how to defeat our Enemy.
And I want to leave you today with the first step towards winning your war. Let's start at the beginning of how Paul begins to teach us to wage battle in this invisible war. He tells us to "Be strong in the Lord". But unlike so many weak sermons that I've heard from the pulpit, he actually tells us how. He doesn't leave us in the dark, trying to figure out what to "be strong" in the Lord means; and he doesn't give us a man-made quip that isn't Scriptural. And he certainly doesn't suggest that we are to be strong "in" our own power. In fact, Paul tells us we are to be strong "in" the Lord. Paul tells us plainly and explicitly. He tells us to "draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him, and in the power of His [boundless] might." And make no mistake... the power is IN HIS NAME, and when we do battle, it is ALWAYS "In His Name". The Greek rendering tells us that this power is "manifested" power, meaning it is evidence of, a reflection of, and a display of power from God. That is why the demons quake at the mention of His Name!
So, there is real power in Christ, coming from God, and the power He exhibited while on earth is on loan to us! Did you get that? We aren't to fight the battle with the unseen forces ourselves. Yes, we have all the good benefits that Chapters 1-5 tell us come with our new identity as a Christian. But I also believe that we have the power which was given to Christ [by the Father] available to us, as well. And I further contend that if seeking the love and grace and mercy and righteousness of Christ were enough, then there wouldn't be so many hurting and suffering and tormented Christians. We have weapons that are available to us and we don't know how to use them! And they are all encompassed in the awesome and formidable power that raised Christ from the dead! And that power, which -- let me say it again -- is available to us, scares the hell out of the devil. As long as he can conspire to keep us ignorant of it, then the world -- including Christians -- are subject to his power and "the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places".
My friends, we are no longer going to remain ignorant of that power, and we are going to explore the Word and its teachings on this subject, and we are going to apply it to our lives. We are going to begin to live in victory, and we are not going to shy away from proclaiming the power of Jesus to set us free! Thank you for your encouragement and I'm excited to see what God reveals to us!
Luke 10:19 Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, [a reference to demonic powers or spirits] and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.