Spiritual Warfare

By Vince Finnegan

Intrinsic to our adversary’s methodology is secrecy and deception, which is why we are tempted to combat with our own abilities. However, we are constantly reminded throughout the Scriptures that our strength is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 6:10   Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

By using the analogy of military amour, we are presented with seven essential things we must do in order to stand in this evil day. A battle-ready soldier in the time Ephesians was written looked a little different than a soldier today; however, their apparel served the same purposes. Each part has vital importance and the absence of any makes the soldier vulnerable to their enemy’s attack. So it is with our spiritual amor--every part is vital if we are to stand strong in the Lord in this evil day.

Ephesians 6:11-13   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.

GIRD YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH

The first method the devil used to bait man to sin was enticing him to believe a lie about God and a lie about himself. The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

John 8:44   He [the devil] does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

THE PRIMARY WAY THE DEVIL OPERATES IS WITH LIES.

Most people are troubled with dark thoughts about themselves that are never talked about because they are too painful. Thoughts like “I am no good; I am a loser, ugly, stupid, unlovable, undesirable, guilty, inferior,” and such like are prevalent with Christians causing unspeakable pain. Unpleasant feelings like sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, isolation, fear, apathy, aloofness, and others invade our minds and influence our behavior. We try to ignore them or change our thinking, but they keep popping up.

Ephesians 1:4 and 5

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will

Someone who is deliberately chosen by Almighty God should feel very, very special; yet, these other thoughts still linger. How can this be so? In Christ, we have been made to be holy without blame; yet, we still feel unholy and guilty. Why do our beliefs about ourselves contradict the truth of the Scriptures? The answer is WHAT WE HAVE EXPERIENCED IS WHAT WE BELIEVE. Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” The “knowing” Jesus referred to was by experience, not just intellectually.

When we do his word, it becomes our experience, and that which we experience is what we believe. The reason we struggle with the thoughts about self that contradict the written Word is that the way we feel is based on our past experiences and what is written has not yet been our experience. The great principle to understand is what we believe is based upon what we experience, not just what we intellectually know.

By applying the Scriptures, we can develop new experiences that will override the lie-based experiences. Honesty regarding our negative feelings and seeking God’s help in prayer are also necessary in order to change. God can provide supernatural inner healing if we are willing to confront rather than run from our negative thoughts and feelings.

PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

The breastplate of righteousness has everything to do with living rightly according to our new self which we have because of Christ.

Ephesians 4:21-24   if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,

that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,

and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

The lifestyle of a believer is based upon the truth that Jesus has brought and communicated. We are instructed to put off all lies and completely embrace the truth.

Ephesians 4:25   Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.

As Ephesians 4 progresses, we are given some of the ABC’s regarding right living. We are told what not to do and what to do.

DO NOT – lie, let anger lead to sin, give place to the devil, steal, grieve the holy spirit; have bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice.

DO – speak truth, deal with anger immediately, work, give; be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, and Christ-like.

In order to stand in this evil day, we must be obedient to what our Lord Jesus Christ commands as is detailed in the New Testament. Righteous living also determines whether we do or do not enter the Kingdom of God when Christ returns.

Ephesians 5:3-7

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;

and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Therefore do not be partakers with them;

It is virtually impossible to live for a holy God while standing against an unholy adversary without living righteously. However, there is still more to do in order to stand. The next area of concern regarding our armor is peace.

SHOD YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE

In Ephesians, the subject of peace is highlighted. It begins with the salutation of peace and concludes with peace.

Ephesians 1:2   Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 6:23   Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:14-17   For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,

by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,

and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR;

Ephesians 4:3   being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Peace is fundamental to our wellbeing and necessary in order to stand in this evil day. In the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus provided great insight on how to interact with others so as to maintain peace. His instruction about turning the other cheek, praying for our enemies, resolving conflict, etc. all deal with keeping peace within and without. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in strife, contentions, word battles, envy, and such like, we will lose our peace and give place to the devil to defeat us. Rather than taking the low road common to so many, we are to travel the high road and live as peace makers not peace breakers. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

TAKE UP THE SHIELD OF FAITH

The shield of faith is very important since by it we are able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Within the Epistle, we learn that faith is how we appropriate salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is a gift offered to all of humanity but received only by those who accept it by faith. Today, we can have boldness and confident access to God through faith in Jesus Christ according to Ephesians 3:12. Christ can dwell in the heart of our minds by faith. Faith is a very powerful aspect of our armor. According to Hebrews 11, the patriarchs of the Old Testament all accomplished great things according to their faith.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is the confidence and trust that we have toward that which God promises. We know that God will do everything that He says He will do. There we have faith. Faith is the opposite of rationalism.

Faith is not having confidence in yourself, rather having a full realization of your own inability and absolute confidence in God’s. This struggle against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places is entirely too big for us to handle on our own. However, the devil and his cohorts are nothing to Almighty God, so our shield is faith in Him. Reading the Scriptures daily helps to keep our minds focused on the great God of deliverance and encourages faith in Him.

TAKE THE HELMET OF SALVATION

There are three aspects to salvation. When we accepted Christ as our Lord, we were saved from our sinful life. As Christians, we are constantly being saved from this wicked generation. When Christ returns, we will receive the fullness of salvation because it will be the day of salvation. So, we have been saved; we are being saved; and we will be saved. The helmet of salvation interpreted within Ephesians relates primarily to the day of salvation when we will be given a completely new life with the resurrection.

Ephesians 1:13 and 14   In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,

who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

We can never escape the reality that we live in an evil time; consequently, the spiritual battle rages on. At times, the fight gets tiring and even discouraging, so we get tempted to be depressed and give up. However, the day of salvation is our hope which serves as the anchor of our soul.

All those who have stood fast in their lifetime (that is in their evil day) did so because they embraced their hope.

Hebrews 11:13-16   All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.

And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD

Knowing and speaking the Word of God are vital to combat the temptations of the adversary. When Eve was tempted, she failed to hold fast to the words of God; therefore, in the face of the serpent’s temptation, she faulted. On the other hand, when Jesus was tempted, he responded with “IT IS WRITTEN.”  He knew the exact truth that was applicable to the temptation with which he was confronted. He did not just quote random verses, rather the absolute appropriate verse thereby backing the devil down.

PRAYER

Ephesians 6:18   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

In the first teaching, Jesus’ presentation recorded in Matthew 5-7, he taught his disciples to pray. We are instructed to pray, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” Most commentaries agree that evil should have been translated evil one, referring to the devil, the author of all evil.

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  • The primary way the devil operates is with lies.
  • The great principle to understand is what we believe is based upon what we experience, not just on what we intellectually know.
  • Until we experience the truth which overrides the lies, we will not be free.
  • In order to stand in this evil day, we must be obedient to what our Lord Jesus Christ commands as is detailed in the New Testament.
  • The vast majority of conflict we are engaged in is due to lies we believe about ourselves and not what is actually happening. Our interpretation of what is happening based upon our experience is why we allow ourselves to get caught up in conflicts.
  • Faith is not having confidence in yourself; rather, it is a full realization of your own inability and absolute confidence in God’s.
  • All those who have stood fast in their lifetime (that is in their evil day), did so because they embraced their hope.
  • Like Jesus, we should use the sword of the spirit to confront the temptation. The Word of God is quick and powerful and will serve as an offensive weapon in our warfare.
  • We desperately need prayer in order to wrestle in the spiritual warfare.

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