What is spiritual warfare? Is it demonic oppression? Is it a set of bad circumstances? Is it a bad curry the night before? Spiritual warfare has been something that is known to the Christian community, but has been either under-estimated or over-stated. Simply put, I believe spiritual warfare is an attack on God’s people. It can come in all forms and shapes as something that will affect us.
It can be as simple as more traffic on the road as you head into work, which causes you to be late. Or it can be something more serious like the death of a loved one. Both can involve spiritual warfare. Remember what 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.” (NIV).
So the battles or struggles we have, big or small, are not against other Christians or even other humans, but against the enemy in the spiritual realm. Recently, I have had quite a few outbursts of frustration and even anger. Which have been somewhat explained by the death of a friend or other circumstances. But these outbursts happened, and in reality, they should not have happened. I believe they have been the result of spiritual warfare against me and my family.
I should not be angry, or frustrated, but that is where I am at, and that is life in a fallen world. We get upset or thrown off because of various things that happen in our lives. We get mad; we get frustrated. The thing that should be different is how we, as believers handle these difficult times, these times of attack.
Do we let our anger grow till we fly off the handle at our wife and kids, or do we reach out for help and talk through things with a fellow believer and ask for prayer? As mentioned I have had a few instances where I have expressed real anger. I am sad to say I let my family feel the brunt of that either through my poor attitude or even with unkind words.
To some extent, I didn’t realise what was happening until my wife pulled me aside and said “hey I think you’re going through something and you need to get some help, it might be a spiritual attack…aka Spiritual warfare”. After some prayer and reflection, I realised how right she was. I had been under attack, and I allowed it to get the best of me.
So why am I telling you all this? This is not confession time. My heart is to share with you some of the things I have been reminded of recently as I have been going through these trying times. The things that I am sharing are not new nor revolutionary. They are simply things I – and indeed we – need to keep in mind as the battle continues on.
Firstly, realise that we cannot be an island. We can’t even be independent. We as believers were not created to be isolated and independent. When God made us, He made us to need Him and even to have a relationship with Him. If you remember back to Genesis 3:8, it says that Adam and Eve “…heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” (NIV).
The impression I get is that this was a regular custom for God. He would come down and walk with His creation every day in the cool of the day, or the evening. So God created us to be with Him and need Him. But God also created us to need each other. When the Church was formed, it was created for believers to have fellowship and community. We might be diverse and unique, but the common thread that brings us together is Christ. All that to say, being independent or isolated as a believer is neither a good nor healthy thing.
According to 1 Corinthians 12-14, we would be depriving others of what we have to offer, and we would be deprived of what others have to offer us, if we were isolated. So we need to make sure we have friends and family around us who can ask the hard questions, who can check in on us. Secondly, pray. This should go without saying. Our own prayer life is a must, and it is how we gain God’s perspective. Now something to think about is what we pray for.
We should not simply pray for our own struggles, although doing that is good, right and helpful. However, that should not be all we pray for. We should pray for our friends, our family and even our co-workers. The other day, I was having a rough day, and I started to spiral downhill fast, and so I stopped and prayed…well I didn’t really stop. I was at work, but I stopped focusing on my struggle and I started asking God to take the struggle away, or even help me through it. Then I remembered a friend of mine was going through something far worse than me. He was dealing with some struggles within the Church body, and so I started to pray for that. Again all of this happened while I was working.
Before I knew it, my day turned around, my focus and perspective changed and the Lord brought a real peace about the rest of my day. Prayer is not about pulling God’s will and heart in line with ours, it is about gaining His perspective and His heart. It takes our plans, desires and problems and lays them at His feet to bring peace and comfort in a time when there is a lack of both.
Thirdly, be real. When people ask, how are you?, what do you say? I typically would say I am doing good, or I am well. But in reality I am often struggling. I am learning that I need to be a bit more honest with people. So when someone asks how am I, when I am under attack, I am learning to say something along the lines of “I’m okay”, or “I could use prayer”, or something that is honest about where I am at for that moment.
This does a couple of things. Firstly this keeps us from lying – that’s right, when we do not tell people how we are, that is a lie. Secondly, that allows us to vocalise our struggles. By vocalising our struggles, we externalise them. And, by externalising them we gain a proper perspective of them. We see how big they really are, and then they are more manageable. If we internalise our problems, they can continue to grow far bigger than they actually are. We only have our mind to see our problems, and sometimes we do not have a good view of our problem, and we need help with perspective. Thirdly, it gives that person an opportunity to pray for or minister to us. We are the body of Christ, when we rejoice let’s rejoice together. When we are hurting, let us hurt together, to be there for one another. Fourthly, it shows that you are human and have struggles too. That’s right. It shows you for who you are, human – struggles and all. We as a body of Christ need to be real with one another to show that we need each other.
So let us be the men God has called us to be by showing we are weak and need His help to get through this Life! Let us never forget that God’s strength is made perfect or complete in weakness, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV). Or, in other words, when we are weak, God is strong. When we realise how much we need Him, we are able to get out of the way and let Him do the work He wants to accomplish.
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About the author
Jake Wilmoth is assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel in Hamilton in the Waikato. He has always had a heart for the Church. He and and his wife Tecla love helping people in the Waikato community – be that through food-based or building-based projects.
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