Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Spiritual Warfare

I said Sunday from the pulpit that we could really expect to experience spiritual warfare this week as we took the gospel into the community of Round Rock through out Kids Clubs ministry. Someone approached me after church and asked a really good question...

What should I be on guard for in spiritual warfare? How would I know that the Enemy is working against me?

This is a question we all wonder about, and it forced me to articulate what exactly we must be on guard against. The Bible is clear that we have a real Enemy, who is not an equal to God, but is a powerful spiritual being who works against the people of God. The Bible says that Enemy is known as Satan, which means accuser. In other words, his name alone tells us that he works to accuse believers and drown them in guilt. The gospel works to free us from sin and guilt, but the enemy works to lead us into sin and guilt. He tempts us with lies on the way toward sin (which feeds our natural sinful inclinations) and then buries us with guilt after we sin. The Bible reminds us that he is a liar and cannot tell the truth - that Satan works to distort God's Word (as he did to Adam and Eve) and convince us that the temporary pleasure of sin is better than the eternal pleasure of obedience to God.

In the context of our missionary work this week, I think spiritual attack will show up in a few practical ways. One is discouragement - if God has commanded us to take the message of Christ to the world, then we can count on the enemy to work against that goal. I believe he primarily works through seeding discord and disunity in the church body and discouraging the people of God. If you find yourself fighting discouragement and discord, you can be sure that you are in the middle of spiritual warfare. The enemy will use critical comments from others (who don't mean to discourage) to work against our motivation to serve God. Guard your heart against discouragement.

Second, I believe another tool of the enemy is deception. As I said above, the enemy loves to deceive God's people into believing lies about God and about others. Many times the enemy tends to use our circumstances to convince us that God is not good or that God is not who the Bible teaches Him to be. In other words, we have to be on guard against the temptation to ignore the clear teaching of Scripture and follow our gut. The Bible says that our hearts are deceitful above all else (Jer 17.9) and the enemy will work with our deceitful hearts. When you find yourself questioning God's character and His commands, you can be sure that you are in the middle of spiritual warfare.

Third, the enemy uses the time-tested technique of seduction. He simply tempts God's people to sin (disobey) and turn away from God's ways. The seduction of the enemy again works with our own sinful desires so that his ways are hard to discern. However, the Bible is clear that Satan works to make sin more appealing than it is and obedience harder than it is. We must stay on guard for the temptations to sin that the enemy will surely send our way. When you find ourselves taking shortcuts with your integrity and ignoring the standards of God, you can be sure that you are in the middle of spiritual warfare.

While it is helpful to know how our enemy works, it is more important to believe that Christ is in us through His Spirit, leading us to victory over the power and presence of sin in our lives. The Bible reminds us that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 john 4.4). So, remember that our enemy is a defeated enemy, who still submits to the authority of God (job 1) and will one day be cast into the lake of fire (rev 20.7-10). Let's continue to fight the good fight of faith and keep our eyes on Christ. The Bible promises that if we will resist the devil, He will flee from us (james 4.7). Keep hope.

No comments: