Spiritual Warfare

My friend Steve Davis requested that I write about spiritual warfare, so here goes…

What is Spiritual Warfare?

In the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, A. S. Moreau states, “spiritual warfare essentially encompasses Satan’s rebellion against God and the manifestations of that rebellion in the created order.”  He continues, “The threads of Satan’s rebellion and God’s loving response are interwoven through the Scriptures as an ongoing drama played out on the stage of human history.”

Satan was an angel, created sometime between Day 7 of the Creation Week in Genesis 2:3, and Genesis 3:1, before the fall of Adam.  He led a rebellion in heaven, and 1/3 of the angels were cast out of heaven as a result.  They became what we know as the devil and demons, and were given dominion of the earth after Adam’s fall, where they have been wreaking havoc ever since.

For the believer in Jesus Christ, there are two key verses that define spiritual warfare from our perspective:

Ephesians 6:10-13 (NKJV)

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 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.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NKJV)

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 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

The Promise of Victory over Satan

Numerous passages of Scripture promise those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ victory over Satan and the demons:

James 4:7-8a – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

1 John 4:3-4 – Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.  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.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Satan’s Battle Tactics

In order to win a war, one must understand the tactics used by the enemy.  Satan’s main battle tactic is to call into question the Word of God.

Genesis 3:1-5 – Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”  Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Notice that Satan began by questioning God’s Word: “Has God indeed said…?”  Once the woman started questioning God’s trustworthiness, Satan changed tactics, totally denying God’s Word:  “You will not surely die…”

Satan and the demons are liars.  In John 8:44, Jesus told the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

Satan attacks people today through similar means.  He attempts to convince non-believers that they don’t need Jesus Christ; and he tries to get Christians to doubt God’s Word.

The Christian’s Counter-Offensive

How should those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior equip ourselves for spiritual battle?  Using the metaphor of armor, Paul explains how to the Christian:

Ephesians 6:11-18

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 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. 13 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.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

What is Paul telling the Christian through this metaphor?  In Paul’s day, a soldier wore a loose-fitting tunic that would be a hindrance during hand-to-hand combat.  A belt was used to cinch up the tunic before battle.  Paul is saying that for the Christian, the truth is what “cinches up” that which hinders us.  The breastplate was used to protect a soldier’s vital organs; God’s righteousness, applied to the Christian’s life through obedience, is the chief protection against Satan.  Roman soldiers wore boots with nails in them to grip the ground, similar to football or soccer cleats.  The good news of the Gospel is what gives the Christian a firm foundation and peace.  Soldiers used a large shield to ward off blows from their enemies; faith is what the Christian uses to deflect the attacks of Satan.  The helmet protected the head; the assurance of salvation is what protects our minds from doubts and discouragement.  Lastly, the sword was the soldier’s primary offensive weapon.  The Word of God – the Bible – is the Christian’s offensive weapon.  With the Bible, we can destroy Satan’s lies.

Spiritual warfare is very real.  Satan and the demons are constantly seeking to destroy the Christian through lies, doubts, and other kinds of attacks.  The Christian must defend against these attacks by relying on the truth, living a righteous life, founding their life on the Gospel of Christ, having faith in God’s protection, being assured of their salvation, and wielding the Word of God.  God has promised us victory over Satan and the demons; we may lose some battles, but the war has already been won through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Governmental Attacks on Religious Freedom

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

~ The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America

The First Amendment has been under attack for a long time.

The First Amendment contains two clauses pertaining to freedom of religion.  The first, known as the Establishment Clause, reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”  The second, known as the Free Exercise Clause, reads, “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

The Federal Government has been gradually stripping away the rights of most religions, including Christianity, while at the same time granting and establishing special protection for other religions, especially Secular Humanism.

The U.S. Supreme Court cited Secular Humanism as a religion in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins (367 U.S. 488).  This allows Secular Humanists the same rights as any other religious people under that Free Exercise Clause.  Secular Humanist organizations are tax-exempt as religious organizations.  Followers of Secular Humanism cannot be required to take oaths to God, and can file for conscientious objector status based on their religious beliefs, and are otherwise free to exercise their beliefs free from governmental intervention.

Yet, in Peloza v. Capistrano Unified School Dist., 37 F.3d 517 (9th Cir. 1994), the 9th Circuit Court ruled that Secular Humanism is not a religion under the Establishment Clause.  This means that Secular Humanism can be taught in public schools.  Public school teachers can actively attempt to convert students to Secular Humanism during instructional time, but are prohibited from initiating any discussion of other religions.

The courts have absurdly determined that Secular Humanism is a religion for free exercise clause purposes, and it is not a religion for establishment clause purposes.  This, in effect, allows the government to establish Secular Humanism as the de facto state religion, which it has done.

This is why evolution is taught in public schools, but creation and intelligent design cannot be; why relativistic morality is taught, but absolute morality cannot be; why teachers can assign readings from Darwin, Freud, Dawkins, and Asimov, but not the Bible; and why commencement speeches can be on any topic, except belief in God.

The recent Obama administration ruling requiring all employee health care plans, including religious organizations, to cover birth control, including drugs that induce abortion, is another example of the attack on religion by the government.  This ruling is a direct attack on both the Establishment Clause – the government is establishing access to birth control as a right – and the Free Exercise Clause – the government is forbidding religious organizations from freely exercising their belief that providing birth control is immoral.  In effect, the Obama administration is usurping the free exercise of certain religions by establishing the values of the religion of Secular Humanism as law.

Some people would like to frame the attacks on religious freedom as a conflict between Democrats and Republicans, or liberals and conservatives.  I disagree.  It is a battle between God‘s people and the Devil:

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, NKJV

I do agree that, as Christians, we must use the political process to defend our rights under the Constitution of the United States.  The pressure from religious organizations and from constituents in both the Republican and Democratic parties seems to be forcing the Obama administration to back down from its policy of mandating coverage for contraception in the health care plans of religious organizations.  However, when the fickle winds of public opinion blow in a different direction, there is nothing to prevent this administration – or another – from reinstituting this policy in the future.

I believe that it is far more important to remember that, ultimately, the problem is not political, but spiritual.  Satan has declared war on God’s people.  In order to halt the attacks on religion and reverse the decline of Christianity in America, Christians need to be on their knees, in repentance and supplication before God, and must actively and persistently work to change the hearts and minds of those around us, to lead people to a relationship with Jesus Christ, and to help them become His doctrinally sound, mature disciples.  This is the only viable, Biblically-sound solution to the attacks on Christianity.