We often mention spiritual warfare as a category or an assumption under which we operate or see the world. Some men might say they have never had a category for spiritual warfare in their lives. They might say their assumptions about the spiritual life do not include warfare as a reality.
I have asked the True Pursuit team to offer their thoughts on this question of how we see spiritual warfare and its effect on our lives as we endeavor to walk with God.
My wife and I have had some really interesting conversations about this. She once asked, “So everything that happens is the devil’s doing?” The answer to that is, of course, no. However, if we allow ourselves to understand that we do have an enemy, and that enemy is bent on our destruction – then it helps us to process things better. So, did the evil one cause me to lose my job recently? Probably not (the new CEO had a lot to do with that). But since I know I am the Beloved Son of God, then where did the voice come from that I head that said, “See, you’re just a fraud. You never had what it took.” Now THAT was spiritual warfare. Thankfully, I am grounded enough – and surround myself with the right kind of men – to interpret this through the spiritual warfare lens.
Bottom line: Is everything spiritual warfare? No. And I’m much better off to assume it is – and fight it as such – then to assume it isn’t, and get blindsided by the enemy and his minions.
Photo by Matthew Kosloski on Unsplash
I grew up in a Liturgical Church praying The Lord’s Prayer multiple times per week. That means the words, “Deliver us from evil!” came out of my mouth hundreds of times. I even had to memorize Dr. Martin Luther’s explanation that this phrase pleaded with the Father in heaven to “rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation…” Truth is, I still didn’t know what it meant, how it applied to my life and the depth of why Jesus would include this phrase in the prayer. The term “Spiritual warfare” wasn’t on the radar. While we were taught about the devil, the word and our flesh, it wasn’t in the context of warfare. Needless to say that has changed over the years.
Here is what I had to learn about spiritual warfare: the “unholy trinity” is set against me:
- Evil attacks me at my glory and wants me to believe his lies rather than the truth. Henri Nouwen notes, “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
- The world (including broken people like family and key influencers in my life) have a way of reminding me that I am not enough and need to live from another truth (fable, lie, etc.)
- My flesh fabricates its own story (lies, untruths, etc.) of survival and success which eventually become “agreements.”
The term Spiritual Warfare is a term that seemed to come to me latter in my life.
I never remember talking about it in church or for that matter even hearing about it. It seems that everyone is comfortable talking about Jesus and all the salvation we receive when we have a relationship with him but people seem to be very uncomfortable talking about warfare. We normally don’t want to think about out and when the subject comes up we quickly get diverted to other topics.
I wonder what it would be like for kids in church or just in normal everyday relationship with their parents to talk about it more.
People are afraid of the warfare. And therefore, afraid to talk about it.
And that’s exactly what the evil one wants us all to feel. Fear of the subject, Spiritual Warfare.
The sooner we recognize that it is a reality, the sooner we can begin to understand and fight against it. For me, being able to talk it all out with a group of men that are fighting the same type of warfare, makes all the difference in the world.
Photo by Matthew Kosloski on Unsplash
Reading what the guys have already written, I found myself wondering, what can I add? Then I realized that I better be careful, because that is the kind of thought that can be seized upon by the voices of the “unholy trinity”, encouraging me towards a lie that I have nothing to offer. I struggled with that sort of thing for much of my life. That has changed – as a group of men we have developed an awareness of these battles by working together, and inviting each other to join us in battling against attacks that come our way. That’s an example of how living life in a community of men is a great advantage in fighting against spiritual warfare. So in community, we can (and should) battle together.
CS Lewis wrote a book called The Screwtape Letters, in which he brilliantly develops some fictional characters to illustrate various aspects of spiritual warfare. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of spiritual warfare, or aren’t sure what you believe, that’s a great resource.
You will occasionally hear us calling each warrior poets. To me, that means we want to be men who fight fiercely (in the spiritual realm) and love well (those whose lives cross our paths). This is not a performance standard (we don’t score ourselves on this), but the concept helps point you in the right direction.
That leads me to a simple thought, which is about how to fight spiritual warfare. It doesn’t require magic words or super human strength. It just requires that you claim the power and authority that Jesus offers to you (Eph 6:10-11), and engage. It may feel awkward, you may not notice any obvious results, and it is what Jesus encouraged us to do.