Paul says in Colossians 1:13, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” When we become a Christian, we become a citizen of the Kingdom of God with all the rights, responsibilities, blessings, and privileges that come with that. When one becomes a kingdom citizen, they also renounce their citizenship of the kingdom of darkness. And when that happens, a war begins—a fight for your very soul. Because Satan does not want a single person to escape his domain, Christians are engaged in a spiritual war from that moment forward. We all need to know about this war, and these are things I would like to talk to you about this morning.
The Reality of Warfare
The first thing you need to know about spiritual warfare is that it does exist, and you need to know that it is indeed warfare. One of the dangers we face when addressing this topic is that we detach ourselves from its realities. One of the most damaging lies that Satan has gotten into the minds of Christians is that spiritual warfare happens to other Christians, not to me. That is the furthest thing from the truth. Each Christian lives life in the trenches of a spiritual war, and there is no escaping it.
This warfare is why the Christian life is often compared to fighting the good fight. Paul spoke of his own life as the good fight. He says in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” He also admonished Timothy to “…fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18). It is a battle that we are all in.
Another reality of spiritual warfare is that our enemy will often try and is often quite successful in distracting us with false fronts and false enemies. The Apostle Paul reminds us who we are fighting and where the real battle is. He says that our “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Even the Ephesian Christians who needed no rebuke or correction at the time of writing needed to be reminded that there is a spiritual war waging, and they needed to be alert to it, for they were in it.
Our Enemy is Powerful
The second thing you need to know is that our enemies are powerful. Far from being a little red cartoon with horns, Satan is a real, devious, and brilliant tactician. Hence why Peter warns us to “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Stan is likened to an apex predator who stalks his prey, waiting for the opportune time to strike (cf. Luke 4:13). Paul warns the Ephesians of Satan’s schemes when admonishing them to ready themselves for battle, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
Because the enemy is powerful, I cannot afford to be lax about any battle. I like what one writer said on this point. He adds, “what this means is that any hassle or setback can immediately go from a “flat tire,” “cranky baby,” “missed item on the grocery list,” or “bad traffic” to all-out spiritual warfare. The devil can launch an attack from the most mundane or innocent-looking situations” (Dunagan, The Battle). Don’t let momentary setbacks be the opportunity the devil is looking for (Romans 13:14).
Such an enemy needs to be taken seriously. Even the most battle-hardened Christian cannot afford to underestimate this enemy. It is almost guaranteed that when you begin to think that you have this battle under control, Satan will ramp up his assaults.
God Has Equipped us for victory
The final thing you need to know about spiritual warfare is that God has given us all we need for victory. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says this, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). While Paul is refuting the arguments made by those preachers trying to slander him, he makes an appropriate point about the tools God has given us. The tools God has given us are “divinely powerful,” they can destroy fortresses, speculations, and every argument, idea, worldview, etc., that raises up against God. So, what are these tools? Paul explains in Ephesians 6:11-18:
- Truth v.14.
- Righteousness (i.e., right, or just conduct) v.14.
- The Gospel of peace v.15 (cf. Phil. 4:7).
- Faith (carries the idea of assurance. Assurance of faith that God does not forsake His own cf. Rom. 8:1). It is faith that Paul says explicitly that can “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesian 6:16). Because faith does not believe the lie, it trusts the truth.
- Salvation v.17. Paul says it this way in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, “the hope of salvation.” This is the confident expectation of our final salvation when Jesus returns.
- Sword of the Spirit- Word of God v.17. This is the source from where we get the truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, etc. The Hebrew writer describes it as a powerful two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).
All these tools work in concert with one another. If any of these are missing, you have gone into battle without your pants and left a massive opportunity for the devil.
Spiritual warfare is real, the enemy is dangerous, but God has given us what we need to be victorious. And I want to make this clear; the war is worth fighting because at the end is the promise of an eternity of joy and love with God forever. Some of the last words we have the Apostle Paul are this, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).