Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20 (NASB)
Involvement in the work of helping people in the cults and occult is a battle, and we need to be a people who are prepared and ready in the Lord all the time. Over the next issues of the Quarterly, I want to look at this whole issue from the verses of Ephesians 6 quoted above.
Paul begins this section, on the armour, with the word, finally; not in the sense of this is the last thing I have to say, but in the sense of, there is still one more important matter remaining. Paul has shared some great things in the letter but there is still one more vital matter to cover.
When you consider the depth of the issues covered and the fact that he had laid out the eternal purpose of God, it is no wonder that we end up here in a battle. Our strength, however, is in the Lord and not in our own resources. We need to stand against the methodia, the methods and schemes of Satan, but can only do so in the Lord’s power, not our own.
It’s so easy to get short-term memory loss, and forget what the Lord has said to us just a few minutes earlier; as such, we are so involved with the battle and struggling on our own that we forget the encouragement and promises of the Lord. The Children of Israel had the same problem after being delivered from Egypt. As soon as there was a battle they forgot the Lord’s greatness and His provision and wanted to go back rather than be strong in the Lord. Satan will certainly seek to do the same to us today.
Satan has well organised ranks that are too strong for us, by ourselves, but they are not too strong for the Lord in us. Satan also knows how to manipulate our feelings and confuse our human thoughts. The two extremes of these actions are either we believe everything is of the Devil or, on the other hand, nothing is. He will have us chasing shadows created by various urban myths that waste the time of Christians and often produce fear and a long trek into some byway and sidetrack. What will become clear as we consider these verses carefully is that, first, Spiritual Warfare is not:
• about dramatically casting out demons – especially those that are not there!
• about certain methods – especially those that have no proper foundation within Scripture.
• about Satan having the centre of attention.
Second, however, on the positive side, Spiritual Warfare is:
• a state of heart for every day – not just when you are in a special meeting or going against the occult – this is a moment-by-moment attitude that is vital for a normal Christian Life.
• more about Christ than it is about Satan.
• about relationship with Christ.
Take a good look at John 15 and Colossians 3 to understand what our relationship should be. In John 15 Christ is the whole vine and yet we are the branches, part of the vine! Colossians also shows that our lives are hid with Christ in God.
• about the position of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Developing this last statement, I would suggest indeed that Spiritual Warfare is all about what Christ has accomplished, where Christ is now and my relationship with Him. Much of the teaching one hears on Spiritual Warfare seems almost to treat as secondary the fact of Christ’s work and emphasises what we must do; but there is nothing that we can do that He has not already done.
We are told how we must bind the strong man, pray through the atmosphere and release the bondage in an area. We are taught about the strategies that we must employ; pray in a certain style; walk around the area; or make specific declarations in specific ways. However, what was it actually like in Scripture before the day of battle? When Joshua was about to go to war in Jericho, he met a ‘man’ and the interaction recorded in Joshua 5:13-15 is very interesting.
Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Seeing the man with his sword drawn, Joshua wants to know who the man is for, Israel or the enemy. The answer is no!
The ‘man’, who can be none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, is not interested in strategies and the like, but rather the heart of Joshua. Joshua, before the battle, removes His sandals, (something you just don’t do – sleep with your boots on!) bows down, worships and awaits instructions. Not the normal way you would prepare for war but the way the Lord wants us to start – with the heart given to seek Him and worship Him. With ‘our’ shoes off so we do not simply walk in our paths but rather in His footsteps.
Therefore, spiritual warfare is not gimmicks or methods but it is the practical outworking of the ministry of Christ in me. Every part of the armour that we will look at over the next issues is an aspect of the ministry of Christ. This is not literal armour that you put on each morning – in any case, when did you take it off? – but the spiritual reality of the finished and completed work of Christ.
This is the way that we will overcome Satan, knowing that Christ has already overcome him.