By Dr. Jon Choi
If you’ve grew up in the church, you probably have heard the term, “Spiritual Warfare.” In the past, you might have reacted and said, “I don’t like conflict. I want peace.” However, here’s the truth! If you are a Christian, you are in a battle whether you like it or not. When it comes to horizontal relationships, you should avoid conflict (1 Thess. 5:13; Heb. 12:14). When it comes to your spiritual walk, however, you cannot avoid conflict because there’s an enemy out there who wants to make your life miserable.
This enemy wants you to fail. This enemy wants you to be powerless and ineffective. This enemy wants you to live a defeated life, as a loser.
Who is this enemy? If you know who you’re dealing with, you can better prepare to fight that enemy. The Bible spells out for us two enemies (1) The Devil and his demons. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8; see also Eph. 6:12); (2) Satan is not the only enemy. The Bible says that “sinful desires” are also our spiritual enemies (Gal. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:11).
Spiritual warfare is a serious business. In today’s text, Paul instructs the Ephesian Christians who were battling with spiritual forces how to stand against the devil’s schemes. He gives them instructions on how to prepare for spiritual battles. Although this is a 2,000 year-old document, the instructions in this letter are timeless because the spiritual battle is as real today as it was in the first Century.
First and foremost, you must be strong in the Lord in His mighty power (v. 10). If you’re not in the Lord, you will not be strengthened. How can you be made strong when the strength giver is not part of your life? That’s the first position to be in. If you trust in your own strength to fight the spiritual enemies, you will lose. Only when you rely on God’s strength, you will be victorious. Second, you need to put on the full armor of God (vv.10-18). God is not going to let you go into a battle without giving you the necessary tools – defensive and offensive gear. So He has provided the full armor of God. The purpose of the full armor is clear: So that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil (v. 11). The verb “to stand” is literally “to offer resistance to.” The word “to stand” has the meaning of firmly holding your ground and not to be pushed around. When the devil comes to you and tempts you with all kinds of thoughts, you have to stand your ground. How? By putting on the full armor of God:
(1) the belt of truth;
(2) the body armor (the breastplate) of righteousness;
(3) the shoes (sandals) of peace that comes from the Good News;
(4) the shield of faith;
(5) the helmet of salvation;
(6) the sword of the spirit (the Word of God;.
(7) And don’t forget the crucial part: praying in the Spirit, and praying for other believers.
The devil has a definite plan to destroy you. He studies you. He studies your weak points. And that’s where the devil will attack. A long time ago, there was a movie entitled “The Karate Kid.” In this movie, Daniel-san, the main character, gets into a championship match with this bad boy. The bad guy keeps on attacking the injured knee. The audience responds, “That’s not fair.” But the bad boy keeps on kicking the injured knee. That’s how the devil fights. He doesn’t fight fair. He fights dirty. Do you ever wonder why you keep on falling into the same sin over and over? The devil knows your weak spot. You know your weak spot. For some, it may be a drinking problem. For others, it may be lust or gambling. Whatever your weakness may be, you can still have victory in these areas if you’re suit up with the full armor of God. Sometimes, he will surprise you and attack from your blind spots. Sometimes the areas that you felt you were strong in are the areas that you find yourselves defeated. So be on guard. Never loosen up when it comes to spiritual battles. You are in a battle. Might as well be victorious!
- How real is the devil to you?
- Are you active in your spiritual warfare or do you choose to stay on the sidelines and play safe?
- What spiritual battle have you lost this week?
- Are you prepared for the next spiritual attack?
- Are you praying and reading the Bible actively to prepare for spiritual attacks?
If you don’t believe in spiritual warfare, spiritual world, demons, etc., then try to read the Bible or pray consistently. You will quickly discover that spiritual world is real because the enemies will try everything to stop you from praying or reading the Bible. Why? The Devil knows that when you get into the presence of God, you will know how to stand your ground. The spiritual world is real.
On a piece of paper, write down all the areas in which you’ve been attacked in the past (ex. lust, hatred, laziness, etc.). Then, ask for God’s strength to stand firm against those attacks (temptations). The enemy will continue to attack you. There’s no question about it. But God gave you the armor to stand firm and the weapons to use against the enemy. Don’t be a powerless soldier. Stand firm!
“Life is war. That’s not all it is. But it is always that…But most people do not believe this in their hearts. Most people show by their priorities and their casual approach to spiritual things that they believe we are in peacetime, not wartime…” – John Piper.
Dr. Jon Choi is the Senior Pastor of Global Harvest Church, Carrollton, Texas.