There have been many sermons preached on this topic and many books written on this topic, but I think Christians today still don’t have much of an idea what it means. So, when I got this idea, I knew I would have to translate it into something I understood or something the basic layperson would understand.
Anyway, back to spiritual warfare. Here are Wikipedia’s meanings of both of these words separately.
Spiritual—1) of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. 2) of or relating to religion or religious belief.
Warfare—the set of techniques and actions used to conduct war.
Very simple and straightforward, I would think. Now, here is the definition of both words put together.
Spiritual warfare—the Christian concept of taking a stand against preternatural evil forces. It is based on the belief in evil spirits which are able to intervene in human affairs. Various Christian groups have adopted practices to repel such forces, as based on their doctrine of Christian demonology.
I think the reason Christians have such a problem understanding what spiritual warfare is goes back to where the words are defined separately. Most people understand the concept of spirit or being spiritual. This is something related to religion or the soul, in other words, something that is not material or physical.
On the other hand, warfare or conducting a war is entirely in the physical realm. The decision to wage war, the techniques and weapons, the actual battles in the field are all things that have physical results. The land and resources that the victor is able to obtain are all in the physical realm. The weapons used can cause physical damage—whether a soldier is wounded or killed.
Looking at this, it is obvious where there is confusion. People see these words as something diametrically opposite. Now, does putting the words together and defining them make a difference? It depends on where a person’s thinking is on the existence of evil in this world. Here is part of that definition again. “based on the belief in evil spirits which are able to intervene in human affairs” Evil is present in this world, but I don’t think people relate that to the events of their everyday lives. They go through such things as illness, death, job loss, fighting, arguments, or just discouraging events in their lives thinking that God must not love them very much if He puts them through these things. The presence of evil causing these events is usually not something that enters their minds. I believe most Christians would consider these things random or even caused by God because they don’t feel worthy to be loved by God.
However, I am here to argue this is not the case. Satan is using his demons to cause these events in our lives and draw us away from God. Sometimes, what he does is subtle, and other times, it is blatantly obvious. It does work though because people don’t have an understanding of what spiritual warfare is.
I believe that is why Paul wrote what he did in his letter to the Ephesians. Starting in Ephesians 6:10, he writes these words, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Again, these are more words that the people in his day might not have understood so he follows these up with physical concepts. Verses 13 – 17 say this, “Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
The Ephesians would have understood how these physical tools of war related to what Paul was trying to say, and I believe they give us a tool in how to understand the existence of evil in this world.
Now, the question of why God allows evil in this world could be asked. Why doesn’t God give us a life that would be easy for us? The answer to that question is simple. Easy comes later when we’re with Him in eternity. Eternity will be when there is no evil, no heartbreak, no sadness, no insecurity, no hurt. It will be a time of endless worship of our Lord and Savior. But, that time is not now. Good and evil both exist in this world, and I believe God allows us to experience evil for two reasons. One, because He wants us to hold onto Him as tightly as we can, and two, because He wants as many people to come to Him as possible. If we get to the bottom of our rope or the pit as I have spoken of before, we will be more likely to reach out for His hand, more likely to pray, more likely to depend on Him for everything. And that is what He wants. There is no way we can do it all on our own. He is willing to help us to fight the evil. All we have to do is ask and use the tools He has given us in His Word.
God’s blessings on you all today!