spiritual warfare

“Wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18b)

Whether we realize it or not, we are all in a battle. Life can seem to go on as usual, and yet there are forces at hand strategically trying to war against God and believers at the ultimate expense of unbelievers. If we are ignorant of this fact, we could be blindsided, like a young zebra that’s never seen a lion before. Our enemy is spiritual and therefore invisible, though we can see it work through others or to the harm of others. For believers, this isn’t a war against other people - they may be used by our enemy but they are NOT our enemy. We battle against the efforts of the devil and his unseen “soldiers”. God is our commanding officer - He instructs us, empowers us and protects us. The victory is in Him and the glory goes to Him.

spiritual military intelligence

What do we know about our enemy?

Back when he was an angel (Lucifer) and tried to overthrow God, a third of the angels had joined him. They were all thrown to the newly created earth were he became the devil and those angels who had joined him became demons.

“And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven” (Luke 10:18)

Unlike our omnipresent God, the devil can only be in one place at a time. When you are tempted or harassed, it‘s not the devil himself doing it but one of the supporting demons. They’re likely organized in military fashion, with multiple levels of ranking “officers” and various specialized frontline workers.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

The devil and demons are spirit and do not have physical bodies. In order to accomplish their plans, they must convince people to do their bidding.

Neither the devil nor demons cannot read our thoughts, but can only make educated guesses based on observation.

He is a liar. “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44b) When he spoke to Eve in the garden, he twisted what God had said to them, and essentially accused God of lying and holding out on them.

He is an accuser. (Revelation 12:10) After working to tempt a person into a sin, the enemy will then turn and accuse us for doing such a terrible thing. He tries to keep people down by shaming them for past mistakes and sins.

The devil is aware of what scripture says will become of him, but that won‘t stop him from doing whatever harm he can until he’s taken out. What are his goals? To keep those who are lost from getting saved. To keep those who are saved from growing in their faith, from effectively reaching the lost or building up other believers. It’s also his goal to elevate himself (in Heaven he wanted to overtake God) and seeks to steal, kill and destroy. Fortunately God limits the devil’s actions and frequently uses him to ultimately accomplish His purposes.

“For we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11b)

God is infinitely greater

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Not to fear - God who dwells in us as the Holy Spirit is far greater than our enemy.

“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8)

When you turn a light on in a dark room, can any of the dark remain? By it’s nature, dark instantly disappears when light appears. This is the power and authority God has over the enemy. There’s no contest.

“You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him.” (Hebrews 2:8a)

God made all things. Satan and all demons were made by Him and therefore are subject to Him. Look how the demons in a possessed man reacted when they saw Jesus.

“And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.” (Mark 5:5-7)

At that time, it wasn’t really clear to people that Jesus was God, but these demons (who are spirit) saw Jesus as spirit and saw His glory and knew from a distance who He was. At that point, they instinctively bowed down and worshiped Him.

and then there‘s the angels...

“For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;” (Luke 4:10)
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and He delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7)
“Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

Another important component to spiritual warfare is God’s angels (spiritual beings and invisible to our eyes).

They are mighty. Though they are spiritual, they have occasionally appeared to people. At the time of Jesus’ resurrection, it was an angel that rolled the giant stone away from the tomb. When the guards (who were about as tough as they come) saw the angel, they “shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.” (Matthew 28:4)

Since those who were thrown to the earth with the devil comprised of a third of the angels, that means there’s twice as many angels that remain loyal to God.

We don‘t not try to speak to them, tell them what to do and certainly don’t pray to them. God commands them, and we benefit from them battling on our behalf.

God has given us authority over the enemy

If we are truly saved, we have authority in Jesus’ name over the enemy, especially in our own lives.

“And these signs will follow those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons” (Mark 16:17a)

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10,11)

It‘s similar to a police officer saying, “stop in the name of the law!” The officer is not the law, but it’s accepted that he represents the law. When we tell the enemy to get away from us in Jesus‘ name, they know we are not Jesus, but know we have His authority.

This is modeled for us in nature. Have you ever seen a large bird of prey being chased by one or more little birds? Under normal circumstances, the little birds might be food for the larger bird. However when the hawk or eagle gets too close to the nest of a smaller bird, it seems God has given the smaller bird the authority to chase the larger bird away - and the larger bird cooperates with the arrangement and continues to fly away even as the little birds dive-bomb it in the process. It's almost as if the little bird is saying, "I don't care how big you are - you are going to leave!" As former angels, demons are powerful creatures - and yet as believers when when we command them to leave us in Jesus’ name, like the larger birds in the above scenario, they have to comply.

not to take lightly

In Acts we read about some men who were NOT saved but tried to cast demons out. It didn’t end well for them.

“Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” (Acts 19:13-16)

Regarding demons, it seems we’re warned not to “poke the bear” and try to pick fights with the enemy. Again with the bird analogy, it would be a like a little bird approaching an eagle that isn’t an immediate threat to his nest, and try to attack the eagle.

“Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:9)

Sometimes regarding trouble in the world, I’ll simply say, “the Lord rebuke you” to the enemy.

the battle is spiritual

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

We are physical beings walking around in a physical world. That said, the warfare God calls us to does not involve any physical weapon. What’s the purpose of a physical weapon but to end someone else’s life. The weapons God equips us with are not physical but spiritual and powerful in Him, meant to undo established trouble by demons, silence the lies meant to twist people’s thinking and to block and expose the enemy who works to defy God’s truth. Ask God to help you understand what this looks like, and how He might use you in this way.

our battle is not with each other

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

You might have thought your enemy was your coworker, your neighbor or maybe your mother-in-law. While the enemy can prompt people to cause us trouble, ultimately he is our enemy and not the people around us.

Because the enemy is spirit and not physical, he has to move people to carry out his will. He moved Herod to kill babies to try to stop Jesus as an infant. Scripture says the enemy entered Judas, leading him to betray Jesus. The enemy didn’t realize that was exactly what needed to happen to fulfill Jesus dying for us in our place. Just recently, a man threw a boy from a 3rd story balcony at the Mall of America. Turns out the boy was from a Christian home and after weeks of medical attention and much prayer, the boy survived. If there was a reason the enemy wanted to take that boy out, he couldn’t have just invisibly picked up the boy and thrown him over. He had to move a person to do his twisted will. In the end, our battle is not with the person who cooperates with the enemy, but it is with the enemy.

A husband and wife go back and forth exchanging hurtful words. In each of their minds it’s almost as if they hear, “Did you hear that? Now you should say this!” It’s very possible that each has a demon whispering the next hurtful words to say. Then amongst the tears and betrayal, the demons, unharmed, likely laugh at the trouble they’ve caused. If you perceive this may be happening, be the one not to say the next thing. Give your spouse a hug and take away the enemy’s power to harm you both in this way.

one of the main battlefronts is our mind

“Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” is such a VITAL habit we each need to practice! This would play out similarly to the security station at the entrance of a government building or airport. Just as each person is individually screened to detect any physical threat, we must scrutinize thoughts as they come to mind.

The Holy Spirit could be speaking to us - we’d want to discern that and take heed to it. It is said that His is a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-13). That being the case, we need to take care to not always be listening to loud music or TV but allow there some time for quiet so we might hear Him should He be speaking to us. Regarding the lost, the Holy Spirit works to “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8b) Yet how can He can He break through to them if they’re always listening to something loudly? God has plans for each of us, and in order to be led in them, we have to be listening for His direction. I’ve also observed that sometimes a thought will come to mind - something to say to my wife or a co-worker and I’ll distinctly hear the Holy Spirit prompt me NOT to say it. I’m learning to obey this, but when I ignore His advice, it seems I always regret the thing that I end up saying.

Most of our thoughts are probably our own, but that doesn’t mean they’re all good. If it’s from our flesh, maybe it’s a reasonable request, like eating at a mealtime or going to bed when it’s late. It could also be to our detriment, such as staying in bed far beyond the sleep we need, buying stuff we can’t afford or developing feelings for someone who is not our spouse. Our flesh is dumb (wanting what it wants without regard to consequences). It should not be allowed to drive our decisions unchecked without thinking though the possible consequences and costs. We also need to know scripture well enough to know when a thought or idea would be offensive to God. “I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Galatians 5:16-17)

Some of our thoughts are negative patterns that the enemy has set into motion years ago. Maybe in your childhood you did something wrong, or someone said something cruel to you. It seems the enemy waits for such a moment (or maybe he choreographs the whole thing) and when you’re hurting from it, suggests a hurtful lie that you believe for the rest of your life. “You’re a bad person!” “You sure are stupid!” “Why are you so ugly?” “No one could ever love you!” As a believer, when you catch a thought like that trying to come through the security station of your mind, refute it with God’s truth and don’t let it in to your mind. “No one is good, but I am forgiven!” “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” “God SO loves me!”

The enemy can also try to suggest something to our mind or even try to pass a thought on to you as if it was your own. This would be temptation. Understand being tempted is not in itself sin. If you feel tempted to do something the Bible says is wrong, that doesn’t mean you are that kind of person. It simply means you’ve been tempted. At that point you tell the enemy where to go (away from you, in Jesus’ name). Jesus was tempted in every way, yet remained sinless. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

the armor of God

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:13-18)

God understands we are in a battle, and as our Commander He has provided protective armor. Since we wrestle not against flesh but against spiritual forces, the armor is spiritual, too.

- Belt of truth
- “Pilots depend on the plane’s gauges (truth) instead of what they are perceiving (feelings).” - Tony Evans
- “If you believe a lie, it opens the door for the enemy” - Tony Evans
- The world wants to pretend truth is negotiable - truth is unchanging and we need to hold to it.

- Breastplate of righteousness
- Over time the Holy Spirit develops righteous character within us, but the moment we are saved we have the protection of His perfect righteousness. We are saved by His righteousness and because of it, God sees us as clean.
- His righteousness protects the very heart of us as we are transformed within.

- Feet covered with preparation of the gospel of peace
- Our feet represent our foundation. We must have a firm foundation in the gospel which saved us.
- Whatever is attached to our feet comes with us. Always be prepared to share the gospel - wherever you may go
- Because of the gospel, we benefit from the peace treaty with God, and the lasting inner peace that He provides.

- Shield of faith
- By faith we can block and extinguish ALL attempts by the enemy to inflict lasting harm upon us.
- “Fiery darts” - not only does the enemy hope to inflict harm, but harm that brings lasting pain and further damage.
- As we walk with Him, our faith grows. You might say our shield keeps getting bigger and provides better protection.

- Helmet of salvation
- Once saved, God works to renew our minds - transform our thinking.
- “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16b) God reveals His thoughts to us by His Holy Spirit. (see 1 Cor. 2:6-16)

- Sword of the Spirit (God’s word)
- When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert, He used scripture to cut down the enemy’s deceptions.
- The better we know His word, the more effectively we’ll be able to wield this weapon.

Pray always, be watchful.
In conjunction with knowing and speaking God’s word, also regularly be in prayer - praising Him, thanking Him, make your requests known, and listen for a possible response from Him. Again, stay alert - don’t get too comfortable and let your guard down.

prayer has tremendous power

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16b)

Do not underestimate the power of prayer! While Jesus was on earth, He regularly stepped away to take time to talk with the Father through prayer. If He needed to, we need to do the same. The adjective “fervent” is used to describe how we are to pray. It’s defined at “passionate intensity”. We can’t easily go there before each meal as we thank God for our food. We need to daily (or throughout the day) step away so we can reach out to Him with passionate intensity. The other qualifier to being effective in prayer is to be righteous. We are saved by grace, but once saved He works to develop righteousness in us. The more we become like Him, the more powerful and effective our prayers will be.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

It is said that the enemy reveals his hand (a card playing reference). When the devil moves people to remove prayer from schools, teams sports and government meetings, you can know that he hates it. It’s effective and powerful. In schools, it could have been used to ask the Lord to keep the enemy’s influence away from the kids. In sports, maybe asking to keep things in perspective and protect from injury. In government, that the decisions made would be pleasing to Him, and truly good for the nation. There’s an account in Joshua 9 where a neighboring people were able to trick Joshua and God’s people into making a peace treaty because Joshua and the leaders “did not ask council of the Lord”. God sees and knows all and if we look to Him can give us the counsel we need to have continued victory against the enemy and succeed in the plans He has for us.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Regarding making your requests known to God and the power of prayer, I’d like to share this story. Shortly before I got saved my freshman year in college, I was on the way to a party when my friends and I were approached by a man who wanted to talk to us about Jesus. At the time I was irritated with this guy and wanted to get away from him. Later that year after I got saved, I became friends with that man. He told me, “someone was praying for you, because that night I was home watching TV and the Holy Spirit prompted me to go outside and talk with whoever might pass by.” He was right! The summer before I left for college, I was getting into trouble with drinking, and my Mom committed to pray for me because of it. This is a great example of the power of prayer, and how it can move God to find a faithful, available person to reach out to those we are concerned about. It’s also a reminder to be responsive to being led by the Holy Spirit to accomplish His will.

A second example of being responsive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting also happened in college. A staff member for Campus Crusade for Christ and I were looking for someone to share the gospel with, but no one could be found. The staff guy said,” how about your roommate?” I was hesitant, because he was kind of a drunk. To my surprise, he was totally open to hearing the gospel and in fact got saved before we left the room. The weird thing was, and I don’t remember why, shortly after he had gotten saved, both me and the staff guy had to leave abruptly. But before we did, there was a knock on the door. It was a Christian guy I had seen around but didn’t know well. He said he was walking past the building when suddenly the Holy Spirit prompted him to go up and visit Greg (my roommate). We could hardly believe our ears! So after we left, this guy stayed with my roommate and continued the conversation.

stay sharp

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9a)

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to spiritual warfare. Scripture uses the word “sober” when guarding against a demonic attack. The first definition is “not drunk”. If you’ve ever been drunk, you know that cares go out the window. It seems all of life is a party and everything is a joke. What an easy target a drunk soldier would be. For most believers, drunkenness isn’t an issue, but even people that don’t drink can forget to be serious sometimes. The second definition is “serious, sensible, and solemn”. Not to say we can’t have fun and experience joy - joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit! But remember to balance out the joy in life with the awareness that we have a hateful enemy that is waiting for us to let our guard down in order to bring harm into our lives.

The second descriptive is “vigilant” which is defined as, “keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.The dictionary gives the example, “the burglar was spotted by vigilant neighbors”. These vigilant neighbors probably didn’t sit in chairs on their driveway and do nothing but watch for possible burglars. Realistically, they probably did everything they needed to, but as they went about their day kept a watchful eye for anyone acting suspicious. Again, ”take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”. Check things out if you’re getting a red flag about something. Ask God for wisdom as you battle for souls, that He may reveal traps set for you by the enemy.

“...like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” The enemy is not playing around. Fortunately God limits what the enemy can do, but understand the heart of the enemy is to “steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10a) God calls us to be watchful and steadfast in the faith. Don’t get so caught up in life that you put your faith on the shelf. In contrast to the enemy’s intentions, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b)

Sometimes during a football game you’ll see a player on the sidelines pedaling an exercise bike while he waits to get back on the field. While we wait for God’s next thing He would have us do, we need to stay sharp, sensitive to and led by the Spirit, in God’s word daily, taking every thought captive.

a time to resist and a time to flee

The verse above in 1 Peter tells us to resist the devil. We see it again here: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

What does it look like to resist? Stand your ground - keep the enemy from advancing. Why does doing this cause the enemy to flee? For one, that’s how God set it up. He established it, and it is so. But it’s also possible that because patience is not a quality the enemy readily possesses, when you resist, it decides to go and try to find someone else who’s guard is down and therefore an easier target.

“Flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14b)
“Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18a)
“Flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22)

While we are to resist the enemy, when it comes to temptation and sin, we are instructed to flee! There’s an old children’s story called “Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby” about a fox that captures an elusive rabbit by taking tar and fashioning it to look like a little person and setting it on the side of the road. When the rabbit passes by and greets it, he’s upset that the tar baby doesn’t say hello. He stops and threatens to hit the tar baby if it refuses to greet him. With one hit, the rabbits front paw gets stuck. He warns that unless his paw is released he’ll hit him with his other paw. You can see where this is going. The longer he interacts with the tar baby, the more stuck he gets until the fox shows up to collect his rabbit.

We all know too well how things can start seemingly innocently, only to have it snowball into something quite destructive. When you look at the shape of a wedge, it’s very narrow on the front end and then angles back to become wide on the back end. With some force against the back of the wedge, small openings can be widened before long. Again, it’s like the expression “getting a foot in the door”. The term refers to a door-to-door salesperson who blocks the door with one foot so it cannot be closed. Don’t give temptation or sin that first opportunity. Don’t slow down and take a closer look or interact with it. Flee from it!

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)

Note trends in the types of temptations you wrestle with in your mind. It seems the enemy would get you to compromise by bringing it to your mind often so that it all feels too familiar and comfortable. This is probably the area the enemy will try to get you to fall in. Let it be something you are especially on your guard about.

When Jesus was tempted in the desert, it happened after he had gone without food for 40 days. Causing us to be deprived in an area of our life for a period of time, followed by tempting us with the thing we’ve been without is another tactic to be on your guard for. The Bible warns spouses not to deprive each other of intimacy for very long to protect against temptation. (1 Corinthian 5:7) Sometimes things like this are unavoidable, and then God gives more strength. However, if one is depriving the other because, for instance, one stays up late watching movies or playing video games, this should be minimized in order to guard your marriage.

instead think on these

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Don’t just try to keep your mind empty or in neutral, but regularly think on things that would fit within the above list. Then when something from the enemy tries to creep in, it will stand out like a sore thumb and can be immediately dealt with.Again, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Also as you watch movies and TV shows, carefully consider content that has no redeeming value whatsoever. It seems everything will influence us, even if in a small way. If you have to navigate to get from where you are to where you need to be, many small discrepancies lead to largely missing your goal.

“Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9a)

we each have a role to play

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.” (Romans 12:4-6a)

By God’s wise design (and giving us a picture of how the body of Christ operates) our physical bodies are made up of many specialized parts. Our nation’s military is specialized and because of it’s range, diverse. The Air Force covers the sky, the Army mans the ground, the Navy takes to the sea and the Marines are the go-between from the the boats to the land. Within each branch are many specialties and roles. If you’ve ever played capture the flag, you witnessed the many roles players take - from guarding the flag or the jail, to venturing into enemy territory to find and capture the opponent’s flag or rescue prisoners.

As we walk this earth as believers and part of Christ‘s body, maybe we each also play a role in the realm of spiritual warfare. Some arm others by teaching God‘s word. Others might through prayer, call out for God’s protection for those on the frontline. Those on the frontline would be reaching out to the lost, outside the comfort of the home base. Still others are boldly taking a stand and calling out the enemy’s involvement in society. Pray that God may show you how He would like to use you in this battle for souls.

just passing through

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles themselves with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

Imagine being a soldier in a foreign land and instead of focusing on why he’s there, sets down his weapon and protective gear and embraces their culture and essentially become one of them. In theory that sounds like an effective strategy to disarm an invading military force - offer them the best food, riches and pleasures in exchange for them maintaining their role as military. Our enemy uses that strategy on us! The proper response of an effective soldier is to immediately refuse the offer and stay the course. When life proves difficult, they look around at their fellow soldiers and take comfort that they’re not alone in this effort.

“Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:9)

They also remind themselves why they are there and who’s lives and freedom they are working to protect. As we are tempted to walk away from the mission God has given us, think on the eternal good He wants to accomplish through us. He wants us to off them a clear gospel that some might believe and be saved for eternity and get freedom from the enemy’s harmful influence in this life. He wants to use us to encourage and build up other believers.

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11)

Because the devil is the ruler of this world, it isn’t set up to help believers be their best. Instead it’s designed to bring ultimate harm to people, or at the very least keep them so comfortable and entertained that they forget or don’t care that there’s a battle for souls going on around them. Be mindful that this life is like a mist - a vapor that you can see and then suddenly it’s gone. Don’t let what you can see be your main focus. We were saved for a purpose higher than simply enjoying a nice life.

“For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14b)

pray for protection against retaliation

If you and some neighbor kids were each building a snow fort and one of you threw a snowball at the other, what do you think would happen next? The same thing that happens when a neighboring rival nation fires a missile across the border. God is our protector, but I believe it would be wise to specifically ask Him for protection from relation from the enemy as you battle against it. It’s a reminder that you need God and look to Him as your shelter and protection. David did this frequently in the Psalms:

“O Lord, my God, I come to you for protection; rescue me and save me from all who pursue me.” (Psalm 7:1)

“Keep me safe from the trap that has been set for me; shelter me from danger. I place myself in your care. You will save me, Lord; you are a faithful God.” (Psalm 31:4-50)

“Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me.” (Psalm 59:1)

When God calls you to do something, don’t hesitate for fear of the enemy’s retaliation. But as you walk in God’s plans, also ask for His protection. He is able to shield us and keep us safe, even as He gives us victory.

finding the balance

Our purpose on earth as believers in Christ is to bring the saving gospel to the lost, and minister to fellow believers using our spiritual gifts. Yet, because we have an enemy in our midst, we must be alert and deal with it accordingly. In Nehemiah chapter 4 God’s people were sent to rebuilt the wall surrounding Jerusalem. In order to fend their enemies off, while they worked they were prepared to do battle.

“Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon. Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built.” (Nehemiah 4:17-18a)

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Be aware of the enemy, but don’t let it be your focus. Don’t become like the lost around you. Set your eyes upon the Lord.

Jesus states, “nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Matthew 5:44)

In the end, as with anything the Lord does through us, we don’t want to start thinking our successes have anything to do with us and become arrogant. Instead, humbly thank the Lord for using us and give Him the glory for what He does through you. Remain obedient in seeking the guidance of His Holy Spirit. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (I Peter 5:10-11)