What is spiritual warfare?
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(All quotations from the King James Version unless stated otherwise).
Spiritual warfare is to do with the mind – the way that we think.
1 Corinthians 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Left to ourselves we would do what we want to do – we would live by the spirit of man and obey the desires of our flesh. When we come to understand the gospel we see that God wants us to live by the Spirit of God and obey him after the example set by Jesus Christ. Spiritual warfare is the battle to change the way we think naturally to the way God thinks; to subjugate our will to the will of God.
John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
Jesus was obedient to his Father even unto death.
Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
The only source of knowledge of God’s will is the Bible. The focal point of both Old and New Testaments is Jesus Christ. Christ is the supreme example of how we should live and his commandments are what we should live by.
2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
The advice is to read and meditate upon the word of God.
1 Timothy 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine... 15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
There are two aspects to Spiritual warfare.
1. There is the battle to live a Christ-like life which must take place within ourselves.
Luke 9:23... If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Paul describes the struggle experienced within.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
A change in the way we think and live is essential.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Our minds have to assimilate instruction from scripture to discern the will of God.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We have to control how we live.
1Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
2. The second aspect of Spiritual warfare consists in preaching to others to convert them from this world to Christ. This is made more difficult when we are dealing with authorities that promote a way of life which is contrary to the will of God. The warfare is not carnal in that it cannot be carried on by fighting and bloodshed.
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.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. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
We note that the sword of the spirit is the word of God.
In the first century AD disciples preached to a world steeped in Idolatry and Pagan philosophy. Many suffered and died at the hands of the authorities.
In our day we preach to a world steeped in the Idolatry of covetousness, an apostate Christianity and ‘oppositions of science falsely so called’ (1Timothy 6:20).
For both kinds of Spiritual warfare we need a firm belief in and thoroughgoing understanding of the Bible – the sword of the spirit.
We are not (as many teach) in conflict with the evil machinations of a fallen angel. The devil and Satan are a personification in the New Testament of the evil that comes from within mankind.
Sin came into the world through Adam’s disobedience not through a fallen angel.
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans 5:15... For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
Romans 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Jesus makes clear that sin comes from within man and it is there that the Spiritual warfare has to be fought.
Mark 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
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I hope you have found this helpful.
May God bless you,