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What is spiritual warfare? Many Christians have a tendency to look at spiritual warfare in terms of a specific event and may have an incorrect view of the battle that wages in their daily lives. In this spiritual warfare Bible study we are going to examine the question, ‘what is spiritual warfare?’ and what it is not by examining what the Bible says about the tactics of our enemy!
What Is Spiritual Warfare (and What is it Not)?
A lot of times, Christians view spiritual warfare as a singular event; something that happens once in a while.
We say we are “being” attacked. We say the enemy “must be coming against us” at a point in time when we are experiencing difficulty. Often we hear ‘the devil is coming at me today!’.
But warfare is not an event or a snapshot in time. It is a way of life for the Christian.
It is not something the enemy throws at us once in a while or that just affects those who are in ministry! It is an ongoing war all believers wage day in and day out.
Here we will take a look at what the Bible says about spiritual warfare and its role in the life of the Christian.
What is Spiritual Warfare? -A Page From My Own Life
I had always wanted to write, since I was a child.
As an adult, I decided I wanted to begin my writing ministry; and I did!
I would pray every single day for my ministry and the people it reaches. I was asking for God to use me in some great way in ministry, to impact others for the Kingdom.
But God took that time to show me that I had a battle to fight that I had been ignoring. He showed me that I was allowing my anxiety to control me in every aspect of my life. I was allowing myself to ignore not only the battle, but the war!
I was seeing every incident as isolated. Every anxiety attack was being looked at as a singular struggle.
I wasn’t allowing God to direct me, I was allowing my anxiety to keep me oppressed.
Anxiety had the victory over me. It kept me hidden behind a laptop instead of getting out and enjoying life. It was preventing me from living my OWN life victoriously.
When You Are Under Spiritual Attack
I was asking God to bless my ministry and to bless me with spiritual growth and God was essentially telling me that until I get the victory over a messy kitchen I can’t do that.
We tend to think of warfare as these big, glaring attacks on our health, our family, our jobs! But no, not always!
The enemy doesn’t always deal in the obvious. He starts with those little things.
God was saying ‘I can’t give you the victory in ministry if you can’t even get your head around cleaning the house!’
I would look at the kitchen, a kitchen that was too small for all we had in it, and I would immediately get stressed out. It wasn’t that I didn’t clean, or didn’t WANT to clean. I was overwhelmed by the enormity of finding room for it all. My anxiety would kick in and I would just feel this task was too great for me!
It wasn’t even “stuff”, it was just food! There was not enough room in cabinets and our fridge to hold all the food we needed for my family’s meals, my husband’s meals (he is on a special diet) and the food I needed to make for the dogs!
The space we were renting was just too small for everything our family required and, when you have anxiety, even little things can seem overwhelming.
Anxiety as a Weapon Against Me
I would be conquered by this anxiety and stress of looking at this clutter and then the enemy would add to it by taking that and then making me think about all the other things I had to do!
Ok, I have to clean this kitchen, I have to make the dogs their food. I have two thirteen year old dogs with sensitive stomachs so I actually have to home cook their food.
There’s this mess to clean, and where are all these papers going to go? We are buying a house and there are all these papers all over the table that we had to send to our lender. Now I need a home for them! But what’s the point in finding a home for them if we are moving in 3 weeks??
One little thing snowballs into this full blown drama that leaves you feeling like you don’t know how to deal with it all.
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What is Spiritual Warfare? – Recognizing When Spiritual Warfare is Happening!
Questions followed by excuses followed by denial! Just walk away from it, the enemy would whisper!
And I would! I would just fold and go upstairs and feel “busy” by doing something else so I could avoid the mess downstairs. “Do it later” is what he always whispers! I became the Queen of Procrastination!
I would allow ALL this stress and anxiety to overtake me.
God showed me that I was allowing the enemy to come at me with all these stressors that are going to just get my anxiety up and until I can give God my burdens and my stress, until I can win the victory over a counter full of clutter, I can’t experience promotion in my ministry.
I am allowing the enemy to waltz right on into my home on a daily basis and beat me down almost as soon as I get downstairs in the morning without even recognizing spiritual warfare was happening right there in my kitchen!
It was here I recognized I was living a life where I was in a battle but not fighting back, because I didn’t see it for what it was.
What is Spiritual Warfare? – Not a Single Event
I was looking at spiritual warfare as an event and not an every day part of my life. Every minute. Every second. And every day. I was battling an enemy who was trying to keep me from living in victory.
Spiritual warfare is not an event. It is not a time or place where something happens and then we rebuke him and move on with life. Warfare doesn’t just happen when we get sick, lose our job, or experience difficulty in our marriage.
No, warfare and this battle with the enemy is an ongoing, every day (every moment) experience for the Christian. But it is not one we are to take up alone! We need Jesus!
The enemy never lets up on us so we have to never let up on him. He depends on us looking at warfare as a moment in time!
The second we do, it’s like lowering our armor and our weapons and allowing him to pierce us with his. We need to always guard our hearts and minds from the enemy and keep our armor up!
So let’s examine what the Bible says in Bible verses on spiritual warfare!
Spiritual Warfare Bible Study -What is Spiritual Warfare According to the Bible?
5 Powerful Bible Verses That Describe What Spiritual Warfare Is!
What the Bible says about spiritual warfare is:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)
‘Submit’ in this case, according to Blue Letter Bible and Strong’s Concordance is a military term that means to “arrange (troop divisions) in a military fashion under the command of a leader.”
We are in a war and God is our Leader. We are to submit to His command!
When an army submits itself to the command of its leader, they can then go forward in battle and resist their enemy, causing them to flee before them.
We need to follow the Lord’s commands and do what He tells us to, instead of listening to the flesh and its desires.
We need to seek Him in His Word. But, it is more than just reading the Word. The enemy knows the Word. Atheists read the Bible. Reading the Word is not enough. It is about reading and seeking and applying His Word! It is studying His Word and then using it and applying it to your life!
What is spiritual warfare? It is being in the ranks of the Army of God and following His commands only!
No army tries to do battle without a commander! We should not do battle without the Lord, our Commander! We cannot defeat the enemy in our own power! Only God can!
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 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.” (NIV)
The word “strongholds” here is the Greek word “ochyrōma” and it means “anything on which one relies (of the arguments and reasonings by which a disputant endeavors to fortify his opinion and defend it against his opponent). (STRONGS)
These strongholds are the lies of the enemy that he seeks to use to fortify us into a life of oppression. That is why in the next verse, arguments and pretense are referred to.
These lies make us believe what the enemy tells us about ourselves and our worth rather than relying on the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. What is spiritual warfare? It is a collection of lies the enemy makes us believe about ourselves and our power in the Name of Jesus! It’s a facade!
Take captive EVERY THOUGHT! Every thought (like my thoughts of abandoning my messy kitchen to do something else) leads to further attack if we do not make them obedient to Christ and His Word!
“No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.” (NIV)
God never said no weapons would be formed against us. He merely says they will not defeat us. He tells us there WILL be weapons! That is why He gives us armor!
The Hebrew word for ‘weapon’ used here is ‘keliy’ which means ‘a tool or implement, an article or object” and it comes from the word ‘kalah’, and it means ‘something prepared’.
So it is a weapon that has been prepared for you, exactly as the verse says:
“No weapon forged against YOU’
The enemy fashions weapons specifically for you!
We as a church do battle, but let’s not forget there is a very personal battle going on as well.
What is spiritual warfare? It is a battle that often originates in the mind and then invades every aspect of our lives! It is like a physical battle where the enemy sneaks in undetected and then pillages and destroys!
He knows where your breaches are and what to attack you with and when. This is why we need to treat this as an ongoing war, not an event.
“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. 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.” (NIV)
Put on the full armor of God so that you can stake your stand against the schemes of the enemy.
The word “stand” in that first sentence is the Greek word “histēmi”. We often think of the word “stand” as being upright and not loosing your footing and you are right. But in this case, it also means to “be set in place, to make firm, keep intact, to establish a thing (to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything).
To stand means to not give up your place to the devil. It says to uphold and sustain our authority, the authority we have in Christ!
What is spiritual warfare? It is taking a stand against the enemy! It is not seeing him like a boogey man behind every corner and blaming every sniffle on him. But it IS being aware and watching and being diligent and then STANDING!
God, through our relationship with Jesus, has given us a position and a place. The devil wants us to abandon ship when things get difficult. We are to ESTABLISH and maintain that firm position God has given us against him. He can only make us THINK he can move us!
1 Peter 5:8
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (ESV)
The Greek word for ‘prowls’ is ‘peripatēo’ and means ‘to make one’s way, progress, to make due use of opportunities.”
Necessary for answering what is spiritual warfare all about is the knowledge that the enemy is just waiting for an opening. He is waiting for you to let your guard down so he can invade your thoughts and your words and make you rely on your feelings rather than what the Word says.
The devil is always there looking to pounce on you at every opportunity. He is looking for them! He is depending upon them!
A Prowling Lion
When asking what is spiritual warfare, it could easily be likened to a lion as the Bible says. A lion, when hunting, prowls and seeks the perfect opportunity, usually when it spots a weakness in the herd. It will wait until it knows there is an opening. It may be a slower animal that is a bit behind. Or it may be one that stopped to get a drink. It may be a youth that wanders. Just like our enemy, it waits for a lowering of defenses.
When we view warfare as an event, we are not being sober-minded. We are allowing him those opportunities, rather than keeping our armor up knowing an attack is imminent!!
We fall prey to him and his lies and attacks when we go through day to day life thinking warfare is something for someone else or when we only pay attention to it when it is a big, devastating event!
So be sober-minded and watch and you will never need to ask what is spiritual warfare again! The battle never ceases!
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
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