Over the past few weeks I have been made aware of something that is going on around me. It’s not like I didn’t know that spiritual warfare surrounded me, but I suppose I simply failed to acknowledge it in its most serious manifestations. I had become a bit inoculated to the whole thing, and I’m guessing that it was a combination of my involvement with the church, as well as a growing callousness to the ways in which spiritual warfare was portrayed in pop culture.
My eyes were opened on several occasions when believers and non-believers asked me questions about spiritual matters. Not that the subject of spiritual activity is unfamiliar to my conversations, it’s just that God really opened my eyes to the real meaning behind these questions. The people who asked them were honestly seeking an answer for their problem, but the questions were asked in such a way that they were loaded with debilitating misconceptions of the reality of the spiritual realm. Before we get to the specific questions (later post) we need to discuss three overarching problems with the way we typically look at spiritual warfare.
Christianity is unique in its view of the spiritual battle of good and evil. Please know that I’m referring to Biblical Christianity, not that whose doctrine is based more on the movies of Hollywood than the books of the Bible.
- Satan’s Power. In Biblical Christianity, it is clear that Satan holds the position of adversary to those who believe and follow Jesus. Also, It is clear that he is able to affect those who believe, but is unable to infect us. He, in every possible way, is restrained while on earth. He doesn’t have the ability to take away our salvation, nor is he able to overpower those who follow Jesus. However, he is already lord of those who do not yet believe. That being said, we must realize that spiritual warfare is not ultimately about us it is about the lost. Those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior are already in eternal service to Satan. They don’t have to choose him; their sin has already made that decision for them. Our role in their spiritual battle is to illuminate their minds to the healing, revealing, transforming, loving, and merciful sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This is how we enter into the spiritual fray for those we love. We begin to make intercession on their behalf.
- Dualism. Interestingly enough, there is no sense of dualism in the scriptures. Dualism is the idea that good and evil need to be balanced, or that in some way, there is a great see-saw upon which God and Satan are eternally linked in a futile effort to win the hearts of man. As one goes up, the other comes down and vise versa, until “hopefully” God wins in the end. But the problem with dualism is that scripture has no mentioned of it anywhere. There is no allusion to the concept in any way. The spiritual war in which we are currently engaged is already won. We battle nonetheless, but the war is not in our hands. We are called to participate in the process of freeing others, and we are encouraged to recognize Satan’s schemes for what they are, but there is no way that we are going to lose these battles if we leave the winning of them to the Lord Jesus Christ. The battle belongs to Jesus!
- I fight against Satan for my good. The battle I fight is not usually for me, it is probably for someone else. You see, the truth is, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, your eternity is already determined. You are no longer a prize that Satan can have. You are no longer eternally vulnerable to the lies that Satan tells. But that doesn’t mean you have lost your place in the spiritual battle. This is a misconception that plays itself out in two distinct ways. The first is that Christians tend to focus on their own spiritual battle rather than engaging on behalf of those who cannot battle for themselves. Our flesh continues to battle against our spirit, and we assume this is some great attack by Satan, even though the Bible clearly states that the flesh is corrupt, and the spirit is subduing it. We must grow in our understanding of what the flesh brings upon us, and distinguish it from the fiery arrows loosed from Satan’s quiver. Ultimately though, the neither the flesh nor the lies of Satan will escape the judgment of God, so let’s move past them and enter into a far more serious spiritual battle.
The second element of this misconception is a derivative of the first. It is that we have become so focused on ourselves, that we fail to do battle for our friends, family, and even our enemies for the sake of the Kingdom of God. We become so caught up in our own simple struggles, that we are unable to even recognize how much of an impact we could have on the lives of others. Like the hymn tells us, we were once blind, poor, wretched, and dead, but Christ changed all that. So my reaction to the spiritual realm must be to offer that same salvation to others who are blind, poor, wretched, and dead. They can do nothing for themselves, so it is our station to intercede for them with the gospel of Jesus.
The spiritual world is a real one, and whether we want to admit it or not, we are entangled in a spiritual battle for the souls of those around us. We have but two choices, we can either trust that the Word of God is true and fight with all our might knowing that Jesus has already claimed victory, or we can believe the lies that Satan tells us and believe that the end is still uncertain.
The choice is ours.
(I know this was just an overview on the subject, so more will follow shortly)