Spiritual Warfare is Subtle, I Think

I am not one to emphasize spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare refers to the conflict raging in the spiritual realm between the forces of God, being angels, and the forces of Satan, being demons. I certainly believe in spiritual warfare. The Bible speaks of both angels and demons as real beings. Therefore, I believe in them. However, the Bible does not speak much of angels and demons. We get snapshots, not films; details, not discourses. We learn from Job, from the gospels, from Hebrews, that there is great spiritual conflict unfolding all around us, but out of eyesight, past our senses. It is real, but it is not easily spotted. Therefore, it cannot be strongly emphasized.

That said, I do know that there is a battle for my soul, and your soul. This conflict is intense, far more intense than the conflict we do see, and it plays out every second we live. Contrary to much popular thinking, though, I don’t think that demons try only to have ladders fall on our heads. I think that demons seek to draw us away from God any way that they can. Their activity is always subversive, always polemical, always aimed at the destruction of our souls. For many, this destruction is not accomplished through mass-scale events. Most people lose their souls through the small things. I think that’s where much spiritual warfare is concentrated. The battle may well reach a pitch in the cubicle, not the war-torn landscape. The struggle behind light and dark waxes furious in the late-hours of the night as a man struggles with whether he will view pornography or not. His wife, asleep, knows not that her marriage hangs in the balance. At this moment, spiritual warfare roars.

Spiritual warfare occurs every time we’re tempted to gossip about another Christian. It hits us when we are tempted to spend work time to check our email. It hits us when we ignore the person sitting near us in church instead of talking to them. Little battles are fought all the time around us, and we don’t even realize it. Lose the little battles, enough of them, and soon you’ll lose the greater battle for your soul. How comforting it is to know, then, that all this warfare occurs under the absolute sovereignty of the Lord. Nothing happens outside of God’s will and watch. We can take comfort in remembering that. However, knowing that truth must not leave us numb to the spiritual conflict that surrounds and threatens to engulf us if we let it. Though you don’t see it, you are in it. Fight, and win those small battles. Then, you and I will not lose the ultimate conflict that soon approaches.

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One response to “Spiritual Warfare is Subtle, I Think

  1. Anonymous

    i am bewildered by your reluctance to “emphasize” spiritual warfare. Contrary to your assertion, angels and demons figure quite prominently in Scripture. The bible begins and ends with spiritual warfare, angels and demons. See Genesis 3 and Revelation 20. Moreover, angels and demons are quite prevalent during the ministry of Jesus Christ (Matt. 12, Mark 5, Mark 9, Luke 4, Luke 8). And how could you forget Ephesians 6?! Even the last two paragraphs of your post seem to betray your prefatory comments. Might it be that you are overreacting to spiritual warfare as it is wrongly taught and understood in some Pentecostal & Charismatic circles? It appears that in your effort to separate yourself from those errors you have become under-spiritual. Spiritual warfare must be emphasized because your sin, your flesh, and your Enemy will not rest until Jesus returns. It is a deception of the Evil One and a weakness of Reformed Theology (which possesses a hint of deism) that would have you believe that spiritual warfare is a minor theme in Scripture. Might i suggest C.S. Lewis’ “ScrewTape Letters” and William Gurnall’s “The Christian in Complete Armor.”

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