Ever felt like no matter what you say or do—something is out to get you?
Yeah, me too. Well, I don’t know if this is comforting or not, but you’re not crazy. Something actually is out to get you.
Whether or not you believe in God, stick with me because this might explain a lot. There’s a concept in the Bible called spiritual warfare. No, it isn’t the horror section on Netflix. Spiritual warfare is something you bump into every day.
- It’s the feeling of rejection you felt from your wife/girlfriend.
- It’s grabbing the beer that was one too many.
- It’s the pull to visit the porn site you promised yourself you’d never use again.
- It’s the fear of something bad happening that wakes you up night after night.
The good news is that you aren’t helpless against it. With God, you can do something about it.
So, what is spiritual warfare? I know it sounds crazy, but the Bible tells us there is a cosmic war happening, and we are the battlefield.
God wants us to follow Him, but there is an enemy (the devil) who is doing everything he can to make us choose anything else but God. It goes so far as to say the enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10). He’s got more than a few reps in and has a solid playbook.
Now let’s be clear, I’m not saying every bad thing happening in your life is a supernatural attack, but there is an enemy working against us (1 Peter 5:8). So, here’s a simple “Spiritual Warfare 101” to lean into God and the tools he gives us to know how to handle it when the enemy strikes.
Know there is an unseen enemy.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
To quote the ‘90’s film, The Usual Suspects, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
If we think our fight is with people and people alone, then we have war with each other. We become divided. We do and say bad things to one another. We don’t try to understand each other. We don’t try to help each other. We fight each other and miss the root issues we actually should be fighting like unforgiveness, bitterness, cynicism, gossiping, lying, etc.
What’s my point, you ask? Great question. Well, it isn’t just to say, “Hey, be a better person.” That’s impossible. We’re all immensely broken without Jesus. But if we call out to Him, we are covered by his grace, and we can begin to experience his power. From our relationship with Him, then we can learn to recognize evil when we see it and act accordingly.
Learn to recognize evil.
Is gossiping evil? Or just people who abuse kids?
If we think evil is only the scary red devil with pointy horns with a deep voice that commits unspeakable acts, we’ll unintentionally cooperate with it spreading. We need to remember evil also looks as mundane as spreading hurtful secrets about a coworker.
Once we realize that shame, pride, or something similarly common is the primary weapon against us and not the boogie man lurking in the night around every bush, we will begin to see what is truly evil around us, and then we can do something about it.
We all have the potential for evil in us. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Put another way, we’re all prone to hurting others through lying, lusting, or other not so great things. And, unfortunately, Satan knows how to manipulate our potential. The more we recognize what evil is—wherever it exists in ourselves and others, the better we can take action against it.
Know the power you hold.
Jesus makes a lot of powerful promises:
- He promises we can ask for anything in His name, and he will do it (John 14:13-14).
- He promises to never turn away anyone who turns to Him (John 6:37).
- He promises to have compassion for us, even despite our shortcomings (Mark 2:17).
The first step towards these promises is faith (via trust), and true faith demonstrates itself through action. God has given us practices that build our faith and continually align us with him to experience his protection, provision, and power. Here is a quick list of some of the biggest, most accessible tools we can all leverage at any moment to fight back:
- Repentance: This word comes with a lot of baggage, but it simply means to turn back towards God, to change direction. Any time you notice something in you that is not honoring God, you can simply choose to turn back to him. This pushes back evil in major ways.
- Prayer: Whether you pray regularly or not, God always wants to hear from us. The enemy wants us to depend on ourselves or others, but power only comes from God. Talk to Him. Cry out to Him. Ask Him for help. Believe that He wants to show up for you.
- Worship: This is another word that gets lost in translation, but worship is simply ascribing worth to God, and it’s a powerful weapon. When we focus on God and praise Him for who he is, the enemy goes running, for real. Singing to God or even speaking statements like, “God, I believe you are good” when everything seems terrible can begin to turn your situation towards the full life Jesus promises (again John 10:10).
- Fast: Fasting is a powerful practice that helps us remember to rely on God. You can fast from food as Jesus modeled. It’s also cleansing to fast from any influences that distract us from God like social media, Netflix, the news, etc. When we temporarily remove ourselves from the other things in life we tend to rely on, we start to hear God more and become more like Him.
- Read and Hear: One of the best ways to fight the enemy’s lies is to know God’s truth. Start with reading the Bible as often as you can. Memorize verses that are meaningful to you or challenge you. Ask God to help you hear His voice all throughout your day. Then we’ll begin to recognize what is true and what is not (Joshua 1:8-9).
God wants us to experience his power. He gives us tools to not only protect us but draw us back to Him. Whenever you sense something dark happening in or around you, use them! They are more powerful than cliches, I promise.
If you get “good at it,” remember the true source.
Jesus instructed his followers about what spiritual warfare is and what to do about it. In Luke 10, Jesus sends out 72 people to be the church.
I want to highlight a specific part when Jesus’ followers return. According to Luke 10:17-20, “The 72 returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’”
Jesus assures His followers he is protecting them from anything, seen or unseen. But there is an important part to remember from verse 20, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus instructed even though He has given us the authority to deal with demons and win against them that our joy must not be in the fight or in the victory of winning. He is clear we are to move past the fight and delight that He fought for us before we even got here. He wants us to delight that he was fighting and is fighting for us before we even knew it. He wants us to know we will be with him in a world without these battles someday. No lies. Just love.
Slaying Demons in 2020 & beyond.
Caveat: I cannot honestly give you a prescription on how to deal with every spiritual attack that comes your way in life. It is written in Mark 9:29, “It is impossible for this kind to come out except through prayer and fasting.” Another example from Jesus is in Luke 4:35, “But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.”
The only surefire advice I can give is that we must stay reliant on the Holy Spirit through obeying the commands of Jesus, listening and praying, so that we hear from God on how to deal with the circumstances in front of us (Matthew 28:18-20).
The Bible also tells us the surest way to win the fights coming against us in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” And in 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run so that you may obtain it.”
Most importantly, trust God will guide you, and if you can’t hear Him, then talk to someone who has been following God longer, and you’ve seen the proof in their lives.
If you ever feel like someone is out to get you, it’s because someone is, but God is bigger.
He’s for you (I promise), and He’s eager to make you stronger. Don’t let the spiritual war take you out. Learn to lean into God and fight back.
I have, and I’m continuing to fight daily with the support of my friends who follow God because we can’t do this alone. I’ve experienced true freedom in my fight. I have experienced that it is possible to know Jesus on an intimate level today, right now—and that is the very thing that compelled me to share this with you.
I want the same freedom for you.
What strikes you most about this article? Why? Write or share any and all reactions you have. Don’t hold back.
What areas of life come to mind when you think about the possibility of warfare? Where does it feel like you are out of control or that something is working against you? How are you currently handling it, and how’s that working?
The first and foremost step to responding to evil is to turn to God. Take whatever situations come to mind to God. Pray a simple prayer like, “God, I believe you are stronger, and I believe you are good. I ask that you save me from this situation and mature me through it.”
Which of the five tools resonates with you most? If one makes you nervous, excited, or gets your mind or heart racing, maybe it’s one God wants you to try. Pick one to begin practicing this week. Forward this article to a friend and tell them your plan so they can help hold you to it.
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