Responding in the Spiritual Warfare

Dear BPCWAians, We began discussing last week about how to recognise spiritual warfare, because it is a warfare that is not with flesh and blood and cannot be seen. Due to this fact, we often enter into the battleground without even knowing that we are in a battle. And we end up judging the result or how well we “fought” the fight based on what is seen.

Will you even respond in the first place? If we love our sins, want to protect our pride, and value the esteem of man more than how God sees us, we won’t bother to fight the spiritual battle … even if we know and recognise that it is a spiritual battle! Moreover, as we live life on earth, we can seem to have “won” the battle as perceived by our senses (and even by other people), yet we may actually have lost the spiritual battle. Conversely, we can seem to have “lost” the battle in the eyes of man, but have actually won the spiritual battle in God’s eyes. The question is, which do you value more?

The starting place for responding. You must first acknowledge that the battle takes place within yourself. And very often, the self struggles to fight against sin as the new man seeks to follow Christ. Do not underestimate or ignore the realities of the warfare. We often only look out for an external enemy. But perhaps we more often fall because of the foe within, and that thought you’re toying with in your mind could very well be the start of a spiritual war within you. Paul is keenly aware of it as he affirms with insight from God in Roman 7:23, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members”. God knows that that is what we will face every day. God wants us to see that it is a war, a real spiritual battle that occurs not just within us, and they are not just mere physical situations.

Responding rightly is a choice. So when a decision is made or a counsel is given that goes against what you like, what you are used to doing, how will you respond? Will you assess it according to “my rights”, pragmatism, and what works better – ie the ruling philosophies? Or so and so (ie the “authorities” of this physical world) does that and so can I? Or will you assess it in the light of God’s Word honestly with the intention to “submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil,” (Jas 4:7) and do God’s will cheerfully no matter how difficult it becomes for you? When we have made up our minds to sin, we will respond by rationalising and convincing ourselves and others that what we want to do is not sin. We will respond to follow God’s Word instead of resisting it only if we have first decided to obey God’s Word at all costs to our comfort and pride.

The far-reaching impact of the battle. You may think it’s just between you and one person, but the devil may have in mind a domino effect that you never even realised. This means that when we fail to fight sin, others are impacted too. When this happens, Satan has succeeded in deceiving you and will cause you, and eventually others, to fall. Brethren, we must remember that Satan often doesn’t only have you in mind with that temptation that he presents. The lie that was presented to Eve which Eve believed, Eve presented it to Adam. Today’s fallen mankind is testimony to the effects of a spiritual battle that continues today.

Being Satan’s instrument through wrong responses. Let us not be Satan’s agents in this spiritual warfare. Doesn’t a battle often involve the army? Satan will slowly and patiently build his army to fight against God’s will, and then use us to cause others to disobey His Word. Satan does this to weaken God’s kingdom’s work and to wage war against God’s church. Sometimes when we do not wish to receive and respond rightly to the Truth of God, we will also want others to agree with our sinful ways and even follow them. Why? So that our ways do not appear sinful anymore. We do so by planting “suggestions” against what God’s Word really teaches and getting people to be sympathetic to our “cause”, undermining and causing others to doubt God’s Word and godly counsel. How can a church grow and flourish, if the word cannot find good ground in the hearts of the hearers that it might take root? Beware of the lurking enemy! Your sin or desire to sin could spread to others and even endanger the church’s spirituality and unity if it is not firmly stopped. Do we believe God who warns about the tongue’s fire – “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth” (Jas 3:5)? Succumbing to our own lusts and desires will set examples for others in the church to follow. The greatest enemy is that which is within, because we tend to let our guards down when we are on “home ground”. This is a warning to those who try to convince others that their sin is not sin despite the clarity of the Word. And it is a warning also to those who are easily swayed by the arguments and half-truths of people who seek to convince you and cause unhappiness in and with church. Instead, say “Get thee behind me, Satan” (Matt 16:23).

By now, I hope that you see and realise that the spiritual warfare is real, and though unseen, has real consequences for you, and even beyond you. If you have been yielding to the enemy, be honest to admit that you have not been fighting sin as you ought. Don’t fight God’s Word – fight the sin!

Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Yours in our Lord’s service