“It’s not like I go around looking for it, but I realize it’s a part of life that has to be recognized and properly addressed.”
This was the answer a friend gave my sister when she dared to bring the topic of spiritual warfare into a conversation. I have to admit, I cringed when Adessa broached the subject with her. Not that I don’t believe in spiritual warfare, I do. I just know a lot of people don’t want to hear about it. However, when I heard the women’s reply to my sister, I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew listening to her story that the conflicts and dilemmas she was describing had more to them than initially met the eye. Having experience and training in spiritual warfare, I recognized that she was not fighting against flesh and blood, but rather, there was a spiritual battle involved.
Adessa told me she also could feel her heart pounding as she felt the Holy Spirit prompting her to point her friend in this direction. To be honest, she was scared. Like me, she kept thinking, “What if she thinks I’m a nut job? What if she doesn’t believe in spiritual warfare or the suggestion of it freaks her out?”
Still, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, Adessa shared with her that she felt her friend needed to start looking at the situation through spiritual eyes and using the spiritual weapons God had given her to fight what was truly a spiritual battle. They continued talking about what this meant for her specifically, prayed, and went on their way. To be honest, for the rest of the day, Adessa and I both wondered whether her friend heard what she said, thought we were ‘spiritual fanatics’, or even took her advice.
Because we’re both busy people, we didn’t hear the conclusion of that chapter in the story for a few days. That’s when Adessa’s friend told her that even though spiritual warfare wasn’t something she went looking for, she absolutely believed that it existed and that as Christians we need to be prepared to fight the spiritual battles that come our way. Then she told her how much the situation had changed after their first conversation where they prayed and used their spiritual weapons to take control of the situation. When they chose to fight against their spiritual enemies using the weapons of our spiritual warfare, she began to see the victory.
Looking back on the incident, I’m glad that my sister made the choice to follow the Holy Spirit and speak truth into her friend’s life. Of course, I’m also a little ashamed that it was such a struggle for me when she did it. The truth is that the topic of spiritual warfare shouldn’t be such a taboo topic among Christians. It should be common place---as common as getting dressed in the morning.
Ephesians 6: 10-11 says “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.”
Why do I say that spiritual warfare should be as common to us as getting dressed in the morning? Because in this Scripture, Paul tells us that each day we are to “Put on” the full armor of God so that we can stand against the devil’s evil schemes.
What exactly does this mean and how can we practically apply it to our lives?
That’s what we’re going to talk about in this new Bible Study “Dressing for Victory”.
Reality is that there is more to this world than the tangible things that we can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. These things belong to the physical world. However, beyond that world is the spiritual world. In the spirit world, there is a constant and ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil—God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom.
As Ephesians 6:12 says, “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.”
You cannot say that you believe the Bible and not believe in spiritual warfare. It’s impossible.
The fact is that there is a war between God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom is a fundamental truth of the Bible. Every book of the New Testament mentions demons, evil angels, or Satan. If you claim to be a Christian who believes the Bible is the infallible Word of God, you must accept the fact that the war between God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom exists. Furthermore, you must accept that you are a part of that battle.
This is where it gets murky. You see, there are many Christians who don’t want to be in a battle. Spiritually, they are pacifists. They don’t like war and they don’t want to participate. Unfortunately, the enemy, Satan, has deceived them into thinking that they have an option. However, nothing is further from the truth.
The truth is that no human being has an option of whether or not they are involved in the spiritual war. If you are a human being with an eternal soul, there is a battle raging for your soul and your eternal destiny. Just like a baby born in Israel doesn’t get to choose whether they want to be in a war with the surrounding countries, so you don’t get to choose whether or not you are in a war. An Israeli baby is born into a warzone. Even before he’s taken his first steps or spoken his first word, he has enemies that hate him. He doesn’t get a choice. It’s a fact of his life.
In the same way, every human being is born into a spiritual warzone. We don’t get to choose whether or not we are in a spiritual battle. The fact is that we are. The only two choices that you have are:
1. Are you on God’s side or Satan’s side?
2. Are you going to “put on” the weapons God has given you to fight and gain victory or are you going to run around the spiritual battlefield naked and unprotected?
Let’s assume that anyone who is reading this article has chosen to be on God’s side. You made that decision when you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior and became a Christian. At that point, you transferred your allegiance from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God.
Having made that decision, Satan now sees you as a traitor and he hates you. Anyone who has accepted Jesus as their Savior and joined God’s army is the enemies #1 target. He wants nothing more than to destroy your life, your relationship with God, your family, your testimony, and your reputation. He will use every weapon at his disposal to try to destroy you.
The good news is that “the One Who is in you (Jesus) is greater than the one who is in the world (Satan).” (I John 4:4)
Isaiah 54:17 says, “No weapon forged against you will prevail,”
Ultimately, God is in control of the universe. He is far more powerful than Satan. As we see in the first chapter of Job, Satan can only wage war against people to the point that God allows it. Because of this, we do not have to be afraid.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Still, one truth that Christians need to accept is that God will allow Satan to attack Christians so that Christians will learn to fight. Through these battles, we will mature spiritually, grow deeper in our relationship with God, and win other people to Christ.
As 1 Peter 1:7 says, “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
In his book, “Fight”, Kenny Luck said, “We are the reason God didn’t nuke Satan from the get-go. It’s not that He couldn’t. It’s because there were larger considerations. One of them was us—His future sons and daughters.
In this time between one eternity and the next comes the age of men and the battle against evil on the earth. It seems like a long time, but it’s not, sandwiched as it is between the two halves of forever.
Had God obliterated Satan, He could never have created another being as magnificent as Lucifer, able to be seated with God in heaven, possessing a will to worship but never a will to rebel. That creation is you. God is permitting evil to have limited success now so that out of this age will come sons who are able to share His glory but not attach to it like Satan did.”
In short, God allows the battle for our good, so that we will be conformed to the image of His Son, recognize we are nothing without Him, and be prepared for eternity. Even though God could remove all battles from our lives, He won’t. He wants us to learn to fight.
So that’s the reality of the situation:
There is a spiritual battle. We’re in it.
Satan, our enemy hates us and wants to use all means possible to destroy us.
God will allow these attacks and battles to come our way so that we grow spiritually.
This brings us to our second choice, “Are you going to choose to “put on” the spiritual armor that God has given you or are you going to be a wimpy, defeated victim that falls into every trap the enemy sets for you?
This is where the rubber meets the road.
You see, when we choose not to wear our spiritual armor and use the weapons God has given us to live in victory, when we choose to ignore the fact that there is a spiritual war going on around us, we are choosing to lose the battle.
Worse yet, when we choose to believe that there is no spiritual battle, thus there’s no need for us to “put on” the armor of God, we are disobeying God and the Bible. You see, as Christians we aren’t given the option of whether or not to use our spiritual weapons and fight. No, if we continue reading on in Ephesians 6:13-17 we read:
“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.”
Not one sentence in that verse says, “If you want to” or “If you feel like it”. These are imperative sentences commanding us to use these weapons to win the spiritual battles in our lives.
Okay, it’s clear that we are in a battle. It’s also pretty clear that we need to choose to put on the armor God has given us so that we won’t be defeated. The next question is: Exactly how do we do that?
What exactly does Paul mean by the “belt of truth” or the “helmet of salvation”? How do I apply this teaching to my real life?
For many years there was a teaching in the church that all you had to do was get up every morning and read this Scripture saying, “I choose to put on the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation, etc…” As you got dressed you would be choosing to put on the armor of God as well.
Although I’m not criticizing this practice, and may even think it has some validity, it still seems like there has to be more to it. I’m sure the Apostle Paul meant for us to do more than just recite a few words each morning. Practically applying this principle must involve a change of heart and the choice to make these spiritual virtues a part of our life, wearing them just as we wear a suit of clothes each day.
That’s what we’re going to explore in our new Bible Study, “Dressing for Victory”. One by one, we’re going to study each article of clothing in our spiritual armor and talk about how we can “put it on” spiritually. Together, we’ll challenge each other to be men who live in victory and overcome the attacks of the enemy. Rather than being weak men who run from the battle, we’ll choose to be empowered men who not only acknowledge that the battle exists, but are willing to fight for victory in our own lives and the lives of our family and friends. I hope you’ll join us on this new journey as we become men who “Dress for Victory”.