Thursday, August 21, 2008

More Questions / Spiritual Warfare

A New-Think reader e-mailed me the following question.

It has been said in many different ways, even by Jerry Garcia that “the first days are hardest days don’t you worry anymore, cause when life looks like easy street there is danger at your door”….
So, does the Bible suggest that when you try to grow closer to God and walk with him, the “transition” days are much harder than even what you experience when you are walking in sin? Basically, does the Bible say anything to support this common idea of spiritual warfare? And if so, does it say anything about being “attacked” by the enemy as you try to walk closer to the Lord? Or is it just life and when you are trying to do right it just “feels” like an attack? I mean, change is hard in general….so is it a spiritual attack by the enemy to keep us far from our Father or is it just life? And how much control do we have as man over this type of situation?

You have asked a lot of questions, some of them very closely related. I will answer them all in a rambling manner, but not necessarily in the order they were asked.

Spiritual warfare is very real. Before I get into this, however, let me address two common errors Christian’s make when considering spiritual warfare. The first is placing too much emphasis on it. The second is basically ignoring it. Like seemingly everything else in the Christian life there is error to the left and to the right, and in order to stay on the narrow path one must stay constantly focused on Christ.

Yes, spiritual warfare is real and should be taken seriously. Ephesians 6:12 says,

“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.”

Also Jesus (among others) drove demons out of people. Other times he simply healed people with no mention of demonic forces. Satan, demons, and the spiritual realm are real. Very real.

That being said, Christians are not to live in fear of evil spiritual forces. You are not possessed by Satan (as ALL unbelievers are), you are possessed by Jesus Christ. He bought you with his blood on the cross. Satan is a created being…like us. He is totally and completely under God’s thumb.

In 1st Peter we are told,

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers around the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

We can resist the devil only when we are spiritually alert and standing firm in the faith. This does not happen by accident, we must discipline ourselves with the daily reading of scripture, pray without ceasing in order to put on the full armor of God (see Ephesians chapter 12).

Do you and/or members of your family (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) have histories of mental illness, depression, suicide, addictions, pornography, physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, witchcraft, etc.? Patterns like this in families are often signs of generational curses (Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9). Upon salvation Jesus Christ sets the believer free from these curses. He is the ONLY hope to break these bondages and chains. You cannot do it yourself or for anyone else. Although someone in a family like this may be free in themselves, they still must suffer as they watch their unregenerate family members suffering under this curse. But it will also serve as a constant reminder to be evangelizing lost family members.

There is much more to be said about spiritual warfare (so go STUDY your bible), but the overarching theme is, Jesus has defeated death and the grave (and thus Satan). Satan has a lot of authority (as much as God has given him) in this world. The only hope of man in this spiritual battle is to be saved by grace through faith.

I mentioned 2 errors earlier. If you are someone who does not take spiritual warfare seriously enough, then some of what I have said may seem shocking and even unwelcome. Oh well…if you believe I am in error please let me know and be prepared to discuss.

Some folks (in fact some entire "Christian" denominations), however, want to blame everything bad that happens in their lives on the devil. That is just not the case. In fact, I would argue that most of the time we cause ourselves more trouble than Satan does. Some mistake the righteous judgment of God for an attack of the enemy. Here are some examples.

Are you a believer who is still beset by iniquity (repeated sins in your life)? If so, you are in disobedience. Christ set you free from these sins and you have left your first love and wandered back in to your previous ways. Are you living in a way that honors the Lord? Have you separated yourself from the world? Many folks (and I do mean many) claim to be Christians, but they act like the world, talk like the world, and live like the world. They go to church and say, “Oh Lord bless me”, but out of their mouths the rest of the week comes cursing, gossip, slander, and strife. They watch things on television that grieve the Holy Spirit. They are drunkards. They live with a spirit of fear and uncertainty. The Lord has called us to repent of these things. If you are a believer who is still living like this, then you should be MUCH more concerned with the judgment of God than the attack of Satan. He will have patience with you for a season, but he will eventually turn you over to your sins. If you do not feel convicted to repent of these things, you have reason to doubt that you are saved at all.

I can not think of anywhere in the bible where it implies that Satan is any more active on new believers than he is more mature believers (if you find something, let me know). In fact, if you search it seems that God places an extra special protection around new believers. All believers are set free from the bondage of sin upon salvation. All believers are told to put on the armor of God and beware of the enemy. All believers must be prepared for battle. A believer is expected to grow in the faith through constant and sober bible study, prayer, repentance, and obedience. The fact is, a lot of people, get baptized, go to church a few times a month, give Jesus lip service, and call it good enough. Such people are luke warm and the Lord will spit them out of his mouth.

I hope this answers your concerns. Be noble like the Berean’s and search the scriptures to make sure I am telling you the truth.

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