Woof woof woof! the alarm sounded through the house at 4am. I opened the door as my puppy Emmie howled. I couldn’t see him. Pupils dilating in the darkness of the apartment. The noise swallowing the vacuum of empty space.
My brother found him with his skin caught under the metal undercarriage of the couch. I turned on the light, checking him to make sure he wasn’t harmed. Reassured him everything was okay. He was safe now.
Emerald didn’t know that sleeping by the couch would put him in danger. It was a neutral place of resting. It looked safe.
So often the enemy attacks through what you cannot see.
It’s called spiritual warfare.
The invisible enemy.
When we come to know Jesus Christ as Lord, we gain the Holy Spirit and our eyes are open to the world beyond what we see.
We know from scripture that a spiritual world exists beyond the tangible.
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36 God resides at this very moment on a regal, holy throne where Heaven bows and angels dance before Him. His spirit is here on the earth… and we interact with Him by this Holy Spirit.
We recognize there exists a spiritual world of light and darkness warring for souls in the earth.
And in knowing this, we understand that the battles we face are not with who or what we see but with the unseen forces of darkness that infiltrate our space.
Ephesians 6:12 teaches about spiritual warfare.
“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.”
Just as God’s Holy spirit exists there also exist the unseen forces of darkness that Jesus came to demolish. The devil and his demons. And one day God is coming back to unshackle the world from brokenness forever. The unseen Heavens will be seen. The unseen devils and demons will be eradicated in the lake of fire eternally. And we will dwell in pure goodness forever.
Jesus told us that as we wait we would face trials as we encounter this duality of good and darkness in the world. But we triumph in victory despite it.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Fear, paranoia, worry, anxiety, doubt, unbelief, anger, shame… these are all invisible abstract realities that we experience.
While they can be potent weapons of warfare from the devil, we gain victory over these invisible enemies by the power of Jesus Christ’s Holy Spirit living and breathing in our hearts, souls and minds.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Be encouraged that opposition only indicates anointing from God.
The devil will try to attack you when you’re most powerful in God’s strength. So that He can destroy your calling and purpose God gave you. He did it to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. And He’s been plaguing us ever since.
But you are powerful and needed. Strong and courageous with a calling on your life God empowered you to step into… to achieve His purposes in the earth.
We thrive in courage because our God prevails over the devil. He has given us an abundance of truth from His word to operate by. And He Himself is the deliver working on our behalf.
Sometimes our ignorance suscepts us to the most spiritual warfare. Our resignation to do nothing will make us more vulnerable attack than before because we are not alert. We will talk about that more down below and how to be cognizant of the spiritual warfare we face and gain practical resources from God given by Him in His scripture for this very purpose.
Right now the whole world is having their eyes opened to the reality something exists beyond what we can see.
The Coronavirus has proved to be much more than a physical virus. It is an invisible enemy. It has impacted the world socially, mentally, economically, internally, emotionally. Yet I believe the Lord is using this crisis for good.
Wherever the enemy strategizes, God is present even more creating beauty and healing.
scales are falling from the eyes
rose colored glasses
tried to hide
wake up and see
the glimmers now
of light in dark
God’s love is brighter
Jesus did not instruct us to turn a blind eye to spiritual warfare. That is called unbelief.
Jesus always informs us of the reality of the darkness we enter into, because He wants us to be aware so we can cling to Him in this time.
In ministry, spiritual warfare arises because of the advancing of our purpose and calling.
We learn this from Jesus’ teaching to the disciples in Matthew chapter 10 where he is preparing to send the disciples out to minister for the purpose of salvation.
When Jesus commissioned the disciples, He alerts them to the reality of a spiritually dangerous territory.
Jesus tells them, “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpants as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16
When you start proclaiming truth and spiritual declarations, it provokes dark spirits.
Throughout the gospels, we see instance after instance where demons see Jesus and cry out “Son of David! or “Son of God!” They know who Jesus is.
Jesus encourages the disciples saying He will give them wisdom for how to handle these scenarios.
Wisdom comes from seeking the Lord and His truth, and silencing the voices that speak contrary. Ask him for wisdom and He will give it… just as He gave to Solomon, the wisest man to ever live and the author of the proverbs. Innocence comes from seeking the Lord also, for He cultivates a pure heart in you.
Jesus goes on in His instruction saying, “Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues…” Matthew 10:17
Persecution arises when you preach God’s truth and unveil what’s hidden.
Jesus knew this because he encountered it. It sent him to the cross. This very attack came from the ones who professed to be followers of Yahweh.
But His truth is the very protection He intends for you to use to shield against it. More of that below.
When people harm out of ignorance to who God is, love them anyways. Remain alert as Jesus said. But be kind. Jesus never stopped loving and neither did the disciples. But they also never compromised the truth of the gospel words Jesus taught.
Jesus goes on… “and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles…” Matthew 10:18
What seems like a death sentence is actually the very means Jesus uses to spread His gospel message. The disciples only gain an audience with the King because the truth provokes their unbelief to be challenged, which in turn leads to salvation for all the others who hear as a result. God always brings about good in the midst of persecution, calling many to faith in Christ. Be encouraged!
“When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:19-20
Persecution increases anointing.
It’s in the midst of being questioned and attacked that the disciples actually gained more words from God because of the Holy Spirit speaking through them. When people assault you for your faith, don’t worry. God will give you scripture and words from Him that come out of nowhere. From a heart of goodness that seeks to please Him and see many saved.
“and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22
Don’t be surprised when people hate you for your faith and devout commitment to Jesus and His words.
I wish it were not the case… I wish all could receive Jesus or give the freedom for faith regardless of theirs, but some just will not. And sometimes, the attack comes from those closest to us.
Going back in that passage, Jesus tells the disciples, “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” Matthew 10:15
We cannot force anyone to embrace Jesus’ words… not even fellow christians.
Jesus words divide just as He said it would…
“I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Matthew 10:34-36
We must choose if we want Jesus more.
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37
This does not mean we abandon our families. But it sets a precedent for devotion to Jesus. This is what it looks like to lay down our lives for Jesus, and to love Him more even when it brings persecution.
Loving Jesus more empowers us to love others from that place of spirit-filled power not human power.
After all of this by the end of Matthew, Jesus has died and risen… and He commissions them to go! He has been preparing them all this time. He knows they are ready. He empowers them. Reminds them they possess all power and authority over every unseen dark force because He is with them through His Holy Spirit.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
From that point on, the disciples entered into a 1st century landscape where worship of God was void and other gods were present. It was a pagan environment, yet loved by the Lord and a people whom He desired to reach with His salvation. Still, the climate was laden with spiritual warfare as we read in the book of Acts yet this only multiplies the disciples mission.
Again, where the devil is present, God is exponentially more present saving lives and wooing souls to Himself.
Peter led the charge into Jerusalem and the rest of the world to share the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thus, he witnessed first hand the spiritual warfare that takes place accompanying such a mission.
We gain insight from Peter’s experience encountering spiritual warfare from the letter writes to the churches in 1 Peter.
He instructs the church regarding spiritual warfare, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Peter admonishes us to be alert and aware of what exists in the world beyond what we see.
In times of distress, it’s much easier to turn off the lights.
Go back to sleep.
Pretend it’s not there.
But we don’t gain victory from blindness. We gain it from seeing. We need to see Jesus and all He is… hear His words and follow them… for that equips us to stand firm.
If we truly believe in the God we say we do, we don’t’ have the luxury of closing our eyes to spiritual warfare and refusing to react how God instructed us to.
We open ourselves to harm when we close our eyes to spiritual warfare.
How should we respond?
The Bible instructs every believer to be alert and respond accordingly.
“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:9
We respond to spiritual warfare by standing firm in the faith in which we believe… we must ask ourselves what do we believe?
What you believe determines how you will respond.
Ignorance to the truth of God’s words in totality leaves us wide open to the devil’s deception. We cannot defeat lies that we don’t have truth to counterattack. That’s why knowing the Bible inside and out is so important.
Read the Bible and let it seep into your heart’s pores… it’s enriching and strengthening… necessary and vital. We protect ourselves by knowing God’s truth inside and out, while maintaining awareness of this suffering penetrating all believers throughout the earth.
God’s truth is one of pieces of armor Peter instructs us to clothe ourselves with.
Paul expounds upon this armor of God in his letter to the Ephesian chruch, giving practicalities of how to stand firm in the faith during spiritual warfare.
“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.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
We respond to spiritual warfare with… the whole armor of God that empowers us to withstand every threat from the devil.
What is the armor of God?
- A belt of truth around your waist: guards your core beliefs from lies/unbiblical false teachings/deception.
- A breastplate of righteousness: shields our hearts from evil.
- Shoes of readiness: readies our feet to share the gospel of peace for new life in Jesus Christ.
- Shield of faith: extinguishes shots from the devil.
- Helmet of salvation: protects our ears from teaching that contradicts the Bible.
- Sword of the Spirit: the Bible itself. Truth. The most powerful weapon.
- Prayer: continually connects us to the source of all these pieces of armor so they can be infused in us.
Donning God’s truth and armor deflects threats of spiritual warfare.
Persecution is an inevitable reality for the church in some way or form, but God remains enthroned above all of it. With Him on your side… you will never lose a battle. You will prevail, swept up in love with the One who fights for you like a fierce warrior.😊
Like my puppy squealing in the night when he fell into danger, I rushed in to save Him. I’m reminded of how God rushes in to save us… the Bible promises this.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
God is so powerful and protective of us.
I’m reminded of the passage in Psalm 29… it speaks of God’s power just in His voice alone.
“The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire; the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.” Psalm 29:5,7,8
The world is shaking right now but when we know that our God is the prevailing warrior over the earth, we fear not.
Anything He shakes was meant to break.
So that His glory and goodness can find a way in. ❤️
“The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in His temple all cry, “Glory!” The Lord sits as King forever.” Psalm 29:9,10b
God will be gloried as King forever.
O Lord is my delight
where darkness flees
and brokenness hides
am held by royal arms
am twirled by You
“On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Questions for Today:
- What is spiritual warfare according to Ephesians 6:12?
- Why does the enemy attack and how does God fight for me in love?
- What is the armor of God and what do the pieces represent?
- What do we learn about thriving in ministry for the Lord from Jesus’ instruction in Matthew chapter 10?
- How are my beliefs affecting my response to what I see unfurling around me?
- How can I take a step forward with Jesus in my relationship with Him today?