Spiritual Warfare – 2
I am not one of those people who thinks that everything takes place is something spiritual. In fact, I often like to balance certain people out with numerous Bible verses which speak about natural causes and human actions and ideas. Still, there are times through discernment, prayer, and community that we can come to valid conclusions to be working harder for the truth and praying against ‘forces’ of evil. So, Christians…do not immediately jump to “spiritual” conclusions about everything, but at the same time do not unnecessarily avoid them either (something C.S. Lewis made very clear in his famous work called “The Screwtape Letters”).
It does seem that as people draw nearer to Christ, there is some sort of opposition against them. I remember as our family started going to church with a passion and extra Christian meetings and praying more significantly, that all kinds of ‘crazy’ took place, and that for no apparent reason. Moreover, as we have invited people to church or Christian meetings, it seems like there is always something that comes up. This even takes place after promises, set up rides, or even hanging out together prior to the meeting. Not to mention all the strange things that take place when writing on the topic. Seems to be par for the course.
Paul is one of the generals of the faith, and the people he is writing to are the individual soldiers. N.T. Wright makes the point that the soldiers may not always know what is going on regarding the ‘whole war’ but their battle line is just as important to the cause. Therefore, Paul gives them a clear overview of their individual weapons.
Ephesians 6, which talks about our battle being not against flesh and blood but against powers of darkness. The concept of “powers” and “principalities” in Ephesians 6 does have spiritual forces in mind. We all must pray against darkness, but the darkness is woven through various systems and forces.
The New Testament Scholar N.T. Wright translates vs. 12 as “The warfare we’re engaged in, you see, isn’t against flesh and blood. It’s against the leaders, against the authorities, against the powers that rule the world in this dark time, against the wicked spiritual elements in the heavenly places.”
The rule for us is to take up the various elements of our warfare, which Paul is trying to convey by the analogy of the “armor.” What are our elements of warfare? In vs. 14 onward, it lists the elements.
Truth, justice, good news of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God. Again, Christians often make so much of the armor that they forget the basic tools we have before us to “war” with. The point Paul is making is that as we root ourselves in Jesus and live out faithfully His truth, the realms of darkness are pushed back even further.
So, the next time you have a struggle, ‘pressure,’ or force against you, you need to get in the truth, work for justice, spread the good news, trust deeply in God, and pray. In fact, Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray on every occasion in the spirit, with every type of prayer and intercession. You’ll need to keep awake and alert for this, with all perseverance and intercession for all God’s holy ones – and also for me!”