Merry Almost Christmas, readers!
I’ll probably be taking a little break to enjoy the holidays and family, but in the meantime, my fingers are bursting to write about a topic heavy on my heart lately: the reality of spiritual warfare.
A heavy topic, indeed, especially at this holly jolly time of year … but unfortunately, we live in a world now torn by war at every turn. We turn on the news in the evenings, not sure of what horrific bombings, shootings, and conflict await reporting. We see beautiful cities ripped by terrorist attacks, thousands of refugees fleeing for their lives, and schools and workplaces terrorized by gunmen.
We cannot avoid the reality of war, even at the most wonderful time of the year. Opinions abound, fear abounds, confusion abounds; the threat is real and all-too-apparent. We see with our eyes and experience in our bodies the effects of terror and war. We cannot escape its reality.
Likewise, neither can we escape the reality of spiritual warfare.
Before you roll your eyes and click out of this post—for I am well aware of how unpopular such topics are, especially at this time of year—I ask that, for your own sake, you would spend at least a little time meditating on this critically important subject. And while at first blush it might seem odd to pair war and Christmas, let us not forget the whole reason Jesus came to us on earth: so that we might gain the ultimate victory over the war against sin and death!
World at War
We cannot escape the reality of physical war, but all too often, we find ourselves blinded to the reality of the spiritual war occurring all around us. And this war is just as insidious—if not more so—than our physical wars. Our spiritual enemy seeks to destroy not just our bodies but also our very souls.
When Jesus sent out His twelve disciples, He instructed them to not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul (Matthew 10:28 NIV). Rather, the fate of our souls is of far more importance and significance.
It’s incredibly easy to dismiss this truth, given that we cannot see with our eyes the raging battle—yet we experience with all five senses the resultant damage of this unseen struggle. Everyday, we see evidence in the form of broken hearts, broken relationships, broken bodies, and broken lives. The Apostle Peter paints quite a word picture for us in 1 Peter 5:8:
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (NIV).
The unpleasant reality is that our enemy is out for us, just as much as the most radical ISIS fighter is out for us. He wants to destroy us, kill us. This isn’t someone with merely a mean streak. This isn’t the school bully. Satan is a thief, a liar, and a murderer.
As we say in the South, it’s serious, y’all!
In the Trenches
For the past month or so, I’ve personally been feeling the heat and fatigue of battle. As I’ve mentioned before in posts, Aaron and I have been through some incredibly tough times in our 10 years of marriage. When some of those old issues reared their ugly head recently, I felt as though I’d been emotionally and spiritually ambushed.
When my head stopped spinning long enough to step back and gain some perspective, I cried out to my Heavenly Father and begged for His wisdom and clarity. And He was faithful to remind me of the reality of the unseen spiritual battle we face on this earth—a reality I’d lost sight of in my laser focus on the here-and-now. I’d unwittingly allowed myself to be swept along in the daily tasks of life. Such tasks are not inherently wrong, yet they threaten to capture our attention and distort our perspective.
The chilling reality is that Satan wants my marriage destroyed. He would love nothing more than to see my family ripped to shreds. And lest you think I’m somehow special in this, I’m not. He wants the very same thing for your marriage and your family. For our enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10 NIV).
This is a terrifying thought … but we need not be terrified, for our God is bigger than our enemy! This truth should stir us to action. It should drive us to our Bibles and to the feet of God. And if you’re reading this and thinking “oh, whatever,” then I’m especially afraid for you! You’re going into battle everyday defenseless. Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11 NIV).
Without it, we’re all sitting ducks.
I’m not writing these words and sharing my own personal experience to scare or condemn you, but rather to encourage you to take heart and perhaps become a little wiser to the schemes of the enemy. Are you experiencing a certain trial in your marriage, work, friendships, parenting, or some other area? It may very well be the work of spiritual warfare. If so, the great news is that we can fight it and win! Only we must take care that we’re fighting with the proper weapons:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV).
Because the enemy uses lies to take us down, we must fight back with the truth of God’s Word and His promises, placing our hope and focus squarely on who He is and who we are in Him. The Bible doesn’t instruct us on battling spiritual warfare in a rah-rah, cutesy manner—we’re told these things because it’s serious and deserves our attention!
Somewhere along the way, in all our comfort and luxury and complacency, I’m afraid we’ve lost the perspective that the early church had. But you know what? It’s no different today. Satan seeks to destroy believers just as much today as he did when Paul and Peter walked the earth. His approach may change with time and technology, but the core mission remains the same.
Dear believer, let me encourage you to lean into Him in a deeper, more fervent way in this upcoming year. I know discussing the topic of spiritual warfare can be uncomfortable and convicting, going beyond what we think of as normal, polite Christian conversation. But it’s so necessary. We must wake up!
My prayer for you and for me in this new year is that we may be ever vigilant, ever seeking His word, and ever wise to our enemy’s tailor-made schemes against us. May 2016 be a year of deeper spiritual growth and victory for you and your family!