Spiritual Warfare—All struggles on the battlefields of life come with various degrees of force and intensity. They are fought for different reasons. Our spiritual battles come with unique purposes, although all are under the umbrella of capturing the souls of God’s children rendering us useless for Him. The devil does not show up in a bright red suit with pointy ears waving his pitchfork. He comes as an angel of light. The sooner we realize this deception, the better off we will be.
Testing, Trials, and Temptations
Most intense testing, trials, and temptations come:
- Before a big spiritual assignment
- After a big spiritual victory
- To those already working for the Kingdom of God
- When we are weak, discouraged, and tired
- When ministry opportunities are not pursued or available
- When we are frustrated, and more
The Bible addressed the trials we face in the following verses. As you read through these verses, bear in mind that we grow spiritually through our tests, trials, and temptations.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:2–8).
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will, He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures (James 1:12–18).
Understanding the Spiritual Battle
Deep spiritual warfare is an agonizing time! Our minds continually dwell on the sin Satan is working full-time to pull us into. We feel helpless at the time to avoid that tug in our hearts to stray, but we must. Understand that this struggle we experience is not just a natural battle, but a battle intended to disrupt our ministry, deceive us, and eliminate the promises God has given us throughout the entire Bible.
Just because Satan comes banging on our door, we are not defeated. Even when he messes with our mind—and he does—Jesus Christ is our refuge. At times, the spirit of evil can confuse our thoughts so powerfully creating: an inability to think clearly; a hopelessness when ungodly thoughts become obsessions; and/or a helplessness in overcoming our discontentment, gloominess, or sadness.
David was facing imminent danger when he wrote Psalm 57. He had been taken in by the Philistines when he fled from Saul. This psalm was written during this time of great uncertainty and trial, but he holds fast to God—exactly what we should do when Satan gets hold of our mind, soul, and/or spirit. David’s prayer pleads for relief from these kinds of tormentors BEFORE it leads to sin.
Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me.
My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
All day long they distort my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
They attack, they lurk,
They watch my steps,
As they have waited to take my life.
Because of wickedness, cast them forth,
In anger put down the peoples, O God! (Psalm 56:1–7)
On November 28, 1958, Charles Haddon Spurgeon—an English Particular Baptist preacher—preached a sermon titled “Satan’s Banquet.” In this sermon, he used the analogy of the four courses of a banquet to compare one’s temptation to sin to the miracle of Cana (John 2:1-12).
At the miracle of Cana, there was a wedding and Jesus’ mother was there along with Jesus. When the wine gave out, Jesus’ mother told the servants to do whatever Jesus said. Jesus told them to fill the water pots with water and they filled them to the brim. The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine and he told the bridegroom that, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer.”
Spurgeon’s analogy of wine to sin is:
1st Course of Sin—Good wine – Satan makes sin look good. Spurgeon describes the cup of Satan as, “But O how sweet it is! How it makes his blood tingle within him.” At this point, one may have no intention being enticed to sin, but he finally does.
2nd Course of Sin—Wine is not so sparkling – Satan has lured a person to sin and now the person has had enough of pleasure. A person succumbed to sin, but it isn’t that enticing to him anymore. The fun he once had has gone flat and dull.
3rd Course of Sin—Wine now comes in a black goblet – When he drinks the wine, he shrieks and says, “O God! That ever I must come to this!” The suffering is to come because of iniquity.
4th Course of Sin—Horrors from the last cup – A persons’ hope and dreams have vanished. His sin haunts him.1
It is critical to fight all spiritual attacks as soon as they appear. A spiritual attack unaddressed can oppress ones’ faith and future. Casual everyday prayers are not enough; we need to plead, cry, wail, knee, fast, or even lay prostrate before our Lord and beg Jesus Christ to sever all thoughts and desires from the devil to sin from our mind. As believers, demons cannot enter us, but they can disrupt our thinking, sway our beliefs, and make us doubt our sincerity to God.
We must fight against ungodly thoughts and behaviors with every fiber of our being. We must humble ourselves and pray and keep doing that until the urge or desires have left us. It may take months or years, but it is worth every ounce of fighting we must do to protect ourselves. We may have to desperately call out to the Lord to take our thoughts captive.
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Spiritual warfare may show up differently in different people. Since God knitted us together in our mothers’ wombs, we are all different—different personalities, different weakness, different tugs. Some common ways Christians experience spiritual warfare are when we possess a revenge we can’t shake off, a jealousy we can’t quench, all types of sexual temptations, or any desire which fills our minds with a longing and yearning to sin.
Is it Spiritual Warfare or Sin?
It is important to remember that the temptation is not sinning. It is better to be struggling in warfare than to step over the line into sin—disobedience to our heavenly Father and Lord.
It is when we cross the line that consciences are seared, reputations are ruined, souls are damaged, relationship with God is negatively affected, and a walk with Him might be permanently marred. Crossing over from spiritual warfare into sin has consequences. These consequences might not rear their ugly heads right away, but somewhere, somehow sin will interfere or sidetrack us and lead us away from God’s imminent plan.
How to Overcome Spiritual Warfare
When we are in the pangs of spiritual warfare, it means we have not yet succumbed to the treachery of sin. There is still hope for sin to be averted.
Therefore, that is why the first sentence of SPIRITUAL WARFARE: An Introduction, Part 1 states,
We must actively be on the alert for Satan’s attempt to lead us to sin. Some tips for prevention are:
- Ask God to take the object of our warfare away because it is not profitable for our soul;
- Ask God to replace our thoughts with godly thoughts and ministries;
- Keep busy and don’t allow boredom or idleness to abound during this period;
- Ask for prayers from mature Christians. (We do not need to tell them our specific vice if we don’t want to, but just ask for prayers.) God knows what we are dealing with and He wants to help us through it, so when it is over, we can say, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12);
- Watch the areas where you are the weakest and plead with God to keep us within the confines of our place and our calling.
If We Succumb to Sin, Does God Forgive Us?
Of course, He does. God is a forgiving God and when we repent of our sins and turn from our “wicked” ways, He is there for us—with open arms—ready to forgive us and lead us back into a full relationship with Him. But there still may be consequences and scars. As soon as we recognize our sins and turn back to God, He accepts us back into His fold to love, cherish, and forgive us.
In the February 2018 issue of Decision magazine, Billy Graham said, “Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful words in the human vocabulary.”²
God goes on to say,
. . .and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
But, what if you are the tempter—a Christian that Satan is using—to tempt another person? With your allurement, you may lead someone else to follow in your footsteps. After a while, you may move on and repent, but what you have led the other person to do cannot be undone! When you are the perpetrator leading others to sin, you have sent them directly into Satan’s grasp and you don’t know how long they might remain there.
While you might confess your “mistakes” and move on in your relationship with the Lord, you can’t make the other person turn to God or back to God. At this point, their spiritual life is completely out of your hands. They may go the rest of their life being led astray by Satan or become so obsessed with your mutual sin that they are numb to the things of God—all because of your sin and its enticement upon them. Only God can rescue them at this point, but they may not choose Him because of the hurt, deceit, fraud, or distress you inflicted upon them.
Anglican clergyman William Gurnall says, “Even after you’re dead and gone, your sins may be perpetuated in those who are alive, generation after generation.”³ Now, that is serious business!
Do not try to stave off the onslaughts of Satan in your own strength. Tell God you are afraid of what may happen if He does not intercept these wicked imaginations . . . Seal the windows of [your] heart in prayer to control your thoughts, ask Christ to control your heart.” William Gurnall
Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14)
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. (Deuteronomy 20:1)
Dear Lord, I love You, but lately, I have been tempted beyond control. I need You to help me face the severe trials I am going through. Let my faith be so strong that, in my weaknesses and temptations, I can avert any turning away from Your plan for my life. Use me Lord for Your service. I need Your power and love to pour down on me. I seek Your face daily and depend on Your Holy Scriptures to keep me strong and honorable. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Member Inspirational Writers Alive #IWA; Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member #bgbg2
1Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Spurgeon Sermons, vol. 5. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2013.
²Graham, Billy. Decision Magazine. Feb 2018. Print.
³Gurnall, William. The Christian in Complete Armour, Vol. 1. Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1996.
Edited by E. Johnson
Bible verses are taken from the NASB if not noted otherwise.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE: The Armor of God, Part 4, Part 4 of 4
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