August 30th 2009

Spiritual Warfare

“Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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.
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.”
Ephesians 6:11-16 (NIV UK)

The idea of standing against the devil’s schemes sometimes takes some rather extreme forms. Some proponents of what is often called “spiritual warfare” get people thinking there are demons behind every rock. And some set up teams of prayer warriors to cast out demonic powers they believe to be behind virtually every problem a human being can face, from carburettor trouble to persistent headaches to neighbours’ noisy dogs.

It’s important that we understand what spiritual warfare is, and that we stay away from non-biblical excesses and abuses that sometimes go under the name “spiritual warfare.”

The first thing we should notice is that Paul does not tell us to obsess over demons; he simply tells us to put on the armour of God.

The “armour of God” is pretty straightforward: truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the word of God.

The main point is that we need spiritual attributes for a spiritual battle. Truth sets us free. Righteousness is not our own, but the righteousness of Jesus which God attributes to us. The gospel reminds us that since God is for us nothing can defeat us. Faith assures us that we have been forgiven our every sin, so there is no need to be burdened by guilt. Salvation is God’s free gift to us in Christ; so nothing can take it away from us. And the Word of God assures us that we belong to our Father, who included us in the relationship he has with Jesus and who will never let us go.

Paul ends his list of spiritual armour by reminding us to pray-“on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests…. Always keep praying for all the saints” (v 18).

Prayer keeps our attention on God, the source of our faith, hope and love.

Spiritual warfare, then, is not about putting our attention on the devil. We don’t need to obsess over what the devil might be doing, as some people seem to want us to do.

No, spiritual warfare is about keeping our attention on God. When our attention is on God, we don’t have to give the devil a second thought.

Father, help me to keep my attention focused on you, and not to obsess over what the devil may be doing. In Jesus’ name.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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