STRATEGY FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE

war

 

spiritual warfare

Written By

Aron J. Belcher

December 2010

 

 

INTRODUCTION

The topic of spiritual warfare is one of great debate. Throughout the years, many books have been written on the subject as well as many viewpoints have been established. When I first started this course, I thought my philosophy on the subject of spiritual warfare was pretty well established with no need for growth. However, over the last eight weeks I have developed a greater understanding for the absolute necessity of spiritual warfare in my own life as well as in the lives of those that I minister to. My desire is that this paper will express not only that expectation, but also a clear action plan and strategy by which I, myself plan to take as well as anyone else that would like to combat against the “wiles of the devil”, having done all that he or she can.[1]

In order for growth to take place in ones spiritual life, learning must take place. Learning can be defined in many ways. For most it is really just a form of self-discovery. Of course, no one person can truly learn on his or her own. Like the Ethiopian Eunuch said to Phillip, “How shall I know unless some man guide me?”[2] We too need spiritual guides. In the area of spiritual warfare, there are several books that have aided me in my quest for a closer walk and relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My hope is that whosoever reads this paper may be blessed and encouraged by the journey of discover that the Lord has so graciously led me upon in spiritual warfare. As you read this paper, please be advised that I am not only writing to you the reader but as well as myself. For my purpose is to glorify the Lord in all things and in my life as well.

 

GROWTH IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Prayer is the most powerful activity that a Christian can ever be apart of, but is the activity that has the lowest amount of Christian participants.  What makes this statement even more demoralizing is that this is no secret to the Church. To make matters even worse, the subject is hardly ever spoken on in the pulpits of most churches. Some may state the reason why most Christians today do not pray is because he or she does not believe in the power of prayer. Others would suggest that it is just a matter of remembering or lack of time to participate. But if Christians really believed in the power of prayer, would he or she really forget to pray? Dr. J. Oswald Sanders once said,  “Prayer influences men by influencing God to influence them.”[3] How will Christians really fulfill God’s will in their life without prayer? The answer is they will not.  Furthermore, Christians will never have a strategy for spiritual warfare if he or she does not first have a prayer life.

In order for Christians to develop a spiritual strategy, the spiritual leaders of our churches must develop ones themselves. However, the astonishing truth is that most of the spiritual leadership of churches today spends very little time in prayer alone. This truth was put forth in Dave Earley’s book Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders.  Earley states in the first chapter of his book how one survey described the lack of a real prayer life in most pastors’ lives. One survey reported that the average pastor only prays about seven minutes a day![4] This is an out right tragedy. Though this may be just one survey, it is still an upsetting look into the state of those in spiritual leadership. This truth should stir the soul of any believer to endeavor to develop a strategy for spiritual warfare.

Another truth that should stir the soul of any believer into action is the common misconceptions of the spiritual world presented by Neil Anderson in his book The Bondage Breaker. Anderson points out that many believers think that demonic activity has subsided since Christ’s ascension.[5] However, that is not the case. Today our world is evermore increasing with demonic activity, with the rise of the occult in all forms of entertainment and media. From glamorization of the occult to the obsession of horror, the world today has found a fixation with death and darkness. The Bible states that the “god of this world (known as Satan or the devil) hath blinded the minds of them that believe not lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them.[6] The two-tier worldview that portrays a separation between the spiritual and the natural world has sent most of the western cultures into an almost total secularization of the world.[7] The greatest accomplishment that it has done is convincing the world that the devil does not exist and science is the true god.[8] The world of darkness has taken more and more ground as it stages its war against mankind. That is why it is even more important today that not only our spiritual leaders have a strategic prayer life, but our lay-people have one also.

Before a spiritual war can be waged, one must assess his or herself if they are fit for battle. Jesus said in Luke 14:31-32

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.”

Of course the context of this passage is on discipleship; however, it also shows the necessity of assessing if one is prepared for battle. Personal spiritual assessment is ultimately the first step in waging a good spiritual warfare. When one assesses his or her spiritual state today, they might find their prayer life to be somewhat superficial. Richard Foster once stated, “Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”[9] We previously stated the state of our spiritual leader’s prayer life as being insufficient, should we expect the prayer life of the ordinary churchgoer to be any better? Any believer can attest to this truth in his or her own life and understand all to well the necessity for a strategic prayer life.  If believers do not come to the conclusion that his or her prayer life is insufficient, then he or she will never be able to properly wage a good spiritual war.

 

prayer_hands_gold

STRATEGY FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE

In order to wage a spiritual war, the we must understand who our enemy is and what is at stake.  From the beginning of creation, man has had a foe, the devil. He is the one ultimately that caused the first man to fall into sin. Satan is man’s oldest foe and as result of that fall has become the controller of this world.  Because of the fall, man has become subject to a fallen nature and a sin cursed world. The authority that was once given to man was striped away from him because of the curse of sin and the power was given to the devil to have dominion over the world. As result, Satan is the prince of this world and is therefore the Christian’s greatest enemy.[10]

Even though Satan, (or better known as the devil) is the Christian’s biggest enemy, he is not the Christian’s only enemy. After the fall, man became a fallen creature and therefore took on the nature of sin in the flesh. The flesh is described in the Bible in many different ways, but never in a good way.  Whenever a reference is made in Scripture to the flesh as a personal pronoun, it is always referencing it to its sin nature. The Bible attests to the main attributes of the flesh that snare man to abiding in his or her sinful state; those attributes are temptation and lust.

Anderson said it is best when he said, “Temptation’s hook is the devil’s guarantee that what we think we want and need outside God’s will can satisfy us.”[11] Now temptation is not sin, but it is an attribute of the flesh that causes men to sin. We know it is not sin because the Bible states that Jesus “was but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”[12] He was tempted of the devil in the wilderness three times and rebuked the devil for tempting Him to dishonor the Father. So we understand that temptation is not sin, but it is a vehicle by which the flesh causes man to fall into sin. Today, in the culture that we live in we can understand this even more. Companies all over the world have made a business off the enterprise of temptation by using the sexual desires of the flesh to lure men and women into all types of environments and products. Again, the actual act of temptation is not sin but when the man willfully partakes of the temptation, then that becomes sin.

We can understand the process of temptation and lust by a simple reading of James 1:14-15, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”[13] As we can see in this passage, lust and temptation go hand in hand. Lust is best described as unquenchable desires against God. We work out our lusts in our flesh then we conceive sin. We bring sin to life by acting upon our lusts and temptations. However the Bible teaches us “there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.[14] The way for escape is placed to every believer’s mind.[15] The only thing the believer has to do is act upon it.

In order for Christian’s to properly engage the enemy, there must be a proper strategy in place. That strategy must be well formulated and executed. There must be a plan in practice if Christians are ever going to win the spiritual battle. The following is the blueprint by which any believer will be able to follow in order to have spiritual victory in his or her life.

 

group prayer

THE PLAN IN PRACTICE

The first step of action that the believer must take is to make a time for prayer everyday. Earley once said “Jesus viewed prayer as the secret source of spiritual strength and the reservoir of real refreshment. Even when he was very busy, he was never too busy to pray.”[16] We must first learn about prayer from the ministry of Christ on prayer before we endeavor any further in our plan. Christ is the ultimate example for the Christian. He is the sinless Son of God; He lived thirty-three years upon this earth in constant fellowship with the Father. Even though He was always in fellowship with the Father, He still prayed to the Father. The question that every Christian must ask him or herself is “can I ever imagine having fellowship with the Father and not have a prayer life?” The answer is no. If our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had a prayer life with His Heavenly Father, then we must also.

The second step of action is the battle of the flesh. As we previously discussed, the flesh is an enemy of the Christian. The Bible states that those that are in the flesh are enemies of God.[17]The Christian cannot serve God in the flesh. In order for the Christian to conquer the flesh, he or she must first die.[18] To do this, the Christian must be able to first identify what the works of the flesh are in order that he or she may be able to die to them. The works of the flesh are defined in Galatians 5:19 as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, reveling and such like.[19] This list is indictment upon any one that names the name of Christ.[20] It states in verse 21 that those that commit these acts will not inherit the kingdom of God. Now these acts are not the acts of the child of God, but rather of the natural man that is in the flesh.[21] In order for a believer to have a strategic warfare in his or her life, they must die to the works of the flesh and in the new man.

The third step of action to be taken is one of faith in God’s providential power.[22] Even though the believer may make strides in his or her faith by making a time of prayer in his or her life and by dying to the works of the flesh, the Christian must still trust God to do His work in the believers’ life. Many Christians get paranoid of the forces of darkness in this world and the advancement of sin upon society. However, no matter how far society strays away from God and His word, He is still ultimately in control. Yes, demonic forces can afflict torment upon the lives of believers, but if the believer will simply put on the armor of God, he or she will be able to withstand.[23] The Bible teaches in Ephesians 6:10-18 that the armor that God has given to the believer and it is the only protection the believer needs in order to properly stand against the forces of darkness.

The next step of action is for the believer to follow the command of the Scripture to be filled with the Spirit as described in Bubeck’s work.[24] This is done first by engaging in an honest moment of mediation of the heart. The believer must essentially come to grips with which he or she is in Christ and how his or her relationship is with Him. Next, all known sin must be confessed to God. God will not fill a dirty vessel. After that, the believer must express desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Next, the believer must have faith in God’s word that he or she is filled. Then finally, the believer must continue to obey God’s will as revealed in the Scriptures.[25] This will result in the believer growing in his or her walk. Some may feel the pressing of the Spirit to fast over matters of importance or to have long moments of mediation.[26] The end result will be a continual walk in the Spirit by the believer.

The final step that the Christian is to endeavor to learn for the rest of his or her life is the habits of Jesus. S.D. Gordon once said “How better can we learn how to pray than by watching how Jesus prayed, and then trying to imitate Him?”[27] This point cannot be stressed enough. Several lessons can be learned from the ministry of Christ while He was upon the earth. First, He did not start His public ministry without first going to a solitary place to pray.[28] Secondly, a busy day of ministering to the sick, lame, and blind did not stop Him from prayer. Thirdly, even though He was pressed about with so many followers and had found little time to allow, He still found time to pray.[29] Fourth, He would have all night prayer sessions and He would not complain. Finally, last thing He did before He died on the Cross was he prayed to the Father. So many lessons can be learned from just the prayer life of Christ. The Christian is truly at a loss if he or she does not fully take in all that there is to learn from the strategic prayer life of Christ.

spiritual-warfare

CONCLUSION

The Bible states that the joy of the Lord is our strength.[30] God’s desire for the believer is not one of depression or resentment with one’s self. The spiritual life is the only thing that truly brings joy to the believer.[31] So many Christians look for satisfaction in the temporal things of life and never find that true joy of the Lord. Jesus said that our joy could be filled in Him.[32] We just have to abide in Him. That means that we must endeavor to stay in constant fellowship with the Father through a prayer life that is sincere and unrestrained. This is truly the only way a Christian can fully fulfill his or her strategy for spiritual warfare.

Whenever the topic of strategic spiritual warfare comes to mind, the Christian should automatically think the prayer life that God wants me to have. That prayer life is not one of guilt or shame. It is not one of vain repetition that causes no communion with the one True God. It is a prayer life of constant fellowship with Christ. One that is built upon “nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness[33].” The spiritual warfare that the Christian is entangled in is not one in which is fought alone. It is not even really the Christian’s battle to win. It is won in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is performed in the Spirit of God and not in the weakness of sinful flesh. It is secured in the promises of God and is a battle with a victor already named; the only thing that the Christian must continue in Jesus’ name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Holy Bible, King James Version, 1611

Earley, Dave. Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders.Living Inks Books. Chattanooga. 2008

Anderson, Neil T. The Bondage Breaker: Harvest House Publishers. Eugene, Oregon, 1990

Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. Harper Collins Publishers. New York. 1978

S.D Gordon. Quiet Talks on Prayer. (A.C. Armstrong & Son, 1906; reprint Shippensburg, Pa: Destiny Image 2003)

Bubeck I, Mark. The Adversary: The Christian Versus Demon Activity. The Moody Bible Institute. Chicago. 1975

 

 



[1] Holy Bible, KJV Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

[2] Holy Bible, KJV. Acts 8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

[3] Earley, Dave. Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders.Living Inks Books. Chattanooga. 2008.,  x

[4] Ibid., 1

[5] Neil T. Anderson. The Bondage Breaker: Harvest House Publishers. Eugene, Oregon, 1990, 19

[6] Holy Bible, II Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

[7] Anderson, 30

[8] Ibid., 31

[9] Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. Harper Collins Publishers. New York. 1978

[10] Holy Bible, KJV John 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

[11] Anderson, 145

[12] Holy Bible, KJV Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

[13] Holy Bible, KJV James 1:14,15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

[14] Holy Bible, KJV 1st Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

[15] Anderson, 148

[16] Earley, 21

[17] Holy Bible, KJV Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.           

[18] Mark Bubeck. The Adversary: The Christian Versus Demon Activity. The Moody Bible Institute. Chicago. 1975, 29

[19] Holy Bible, KJV, Galatians 5:19-21Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

[20] Bubeck, 32

[21] Ibid., 32

[22] Anderson, 91

[23] Ibid., 93

[24] Bubeck, 42

[25] Ibid., 43

[26] Foster, 55

[27] S.D. Gordon. Quiet Talks on Prayer. (A.C. Armstrong & Son, 1906; reprint Shippensburg, Pa: Destiny Image 2003) 152

[28] Ibid., 155

[29] Ibid., 157

[30] Holy Bible, KJV Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

[31] Foster, 192

[32] Holy Bible, KJV, John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

[33] Edward Mote; Mote’s Hymns of Praise, 1836

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