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Four Convictions Of Spiritual Warfare

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div, M.S.A.

Number 240

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV)
 
The Ministry: More Than Meets The Eye
 
Perhaps the most surprising and difficult aspect of the ministry is the warfare with Satan. Though equipped with the "full armor" of God's Word, spiritual warfare is never easy. It always seems to take its toll. It can demoralize, weakness, discourage, dishearten or virtually destroy us and our hearers.
 
If it weren't for spiritual warfare aspect of ministry, it would be easier. It would be easier if we could merely encourage the sick, visit the dying, preach to the eager, witness to the waiting, and carry on as such day after day.
 
But the ministry is more than just the sum of our actions and the results of those. It is a struggle against the spiritual forces of evil. The very instant we become Christian we are targeted by Satan. The greater the Christian influence we exert, the bigger the target we become.
 
Anonymity Has Its Advantages
 
Being a relatively unknown minister in a small, unnoticed congregation has its advantages. One is relatively anonymity. When an unknown pastor fails in the battle against Satan, how many people really hear of it?
 
But who can't remember the overload of information the last time a major Church leader failed! As one church father said, "It's not the greatness of the sin, it's the standing of the sinner" which propels the publicity of ministry failure.
 
There are advantages to being a "little guppy in the vast, incomprehensible ocean of the Kingdom of God." After all, who sails the ocean looking for guppies? Frankly, hardly anyone. If they do anything wrong, who notices? If they fail in their battle against Satan, who in the Kingdom really knows? For Satan, Guppies are an easy catch.
 
Satan's Strategy
 
Satan is out to destroy the Kingdom. He goes for the "guppies." But by no means is he necessarily just out for the guppies. He'll go for the big fish, the whales, the killer sharks, the "prizes" of the ocean. He'll go for the spectacular, the newsworthy, and surprising.
 
Lest the "guppies" get overconfident (which is easy), remember that though small, they are very easy prey and part of the regular diet of larger fish. Satan can use the larger fish to eat up the smaller until he has again won in the battle for their souls and ministry.
 
Our Armor
 
Paul in Ephesians told the Christians to put on the "full armor of God." Referring to the Roman "panoply," Paul urge that every Christian--including ministers of the Gospel--to put on the armor of God so that they could "stand...stand firm, stand firm and hold their ground,...and finally, stand."
 
If our defense against Satan requires the "panoply" of armor for the outside, then what is the armor for the inside? Just because a soldier fully equipped with armor does not mean he or she is ready to fight. The soldier may not have the training, the know-how, the experience, or most importantly, a strong inner conviction necessary for spiritual warfare.
 
Defense: More Than Just Armor
 
The spiritual armor needed for Christian ministry goes far beyond Ephesians 6:10 ff. It is certainly an amazing image to encourage God's people to be strong in the Lord and ready for battle. But it is not the whole armor. It is the final "tag" at the end of the letter. It's almost a postscript.
 
One needs to ask, "If the armor of God needed for spiritual battle is so important, would Paul only refer to it in a five or six verse postscript?" The answer, of course, is a resounding "No!"
 
Ephesians 1 As Battle Manual
 
The amazing, but often overlooked, thing about the entire Ephesian Letter is that the whole letter is a war manual. This letter describes many of the potential difficulties and results of warfare with Satan. Divisiveness in churches and family, lack of submission in marriages and church fellowship, and the displacement of grace by works are but a few flagrant ones.
 
But it also describes the secret for Spiritual Battle. This is perhaps most clear in the opening verses of the first chapter. Before telling Christians what to "put on" in their battle against Satan, Paul reminds them of what is within them. He reminds them of who they are. He reminds them of God's special action in choosing them. It is these internal faith attitudes which are, perhaps, the most essential elements of our spiritual battle.
 
We need to keep in mind that we are "apostles" sent out specifically by God for a specific purpose. It's not a leisurely activity. Being in ministry and spiritual warfare is not just something that happened to occur.We are "apostles" send out as sheep among wolves. But, though among sheep among wolves, we never forget that we are sheep. Our identity and possession of Christ and His promises holds firm as long as we don't throw off our armor and our conviction of Faith.
 
The Core Course Material
 
We, as God's warriors are, as St. Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:1 the "faithful" who carry out His calling for us. By God's grace we have endured. By God's grace we have been effective in our encounters with Satan.
 
Having been chosen by His will, we have "grace and peace" in our battle from "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 2). We are  "blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (vs. 3) so that there is nothing more that we could ask for in our battle.
 
Finally, Paul gave the reminder that in Christ, we have already won the battle. We are His. We, in the mysterious and gracious working of God, were specifically selected and chosen as His elect to His ministry and to His salvation described so eloquently by Paul in the remainder of Ephesians chapter one.
 
Four Points Of Spiritual Warfare 101
 
At times, we will lose our armor. We will fail in our battle. The battle may be difficult, painful and excruciatingly difficult. Though we lose the battle, the war against Satan is already won. Even if we fail, albeit miserably, Christ's forgiveness is there on the battlefield to forgive and renew us in, with and by His grace.
 
How can we stay strong in the heat of spiritual warfare? Turn to Ephesians 6...but only after recalling the "Four Convictions of Spiritual Warfare" from Ephesians 1.

The Four Convictions Of Spiritual Warfare

1) We are God's "faithful."
 
We are full of faith because it was God's free gift. We are faith-full because of God's daily sustenance of that faith via His Word and Spirit. And our response it one of faithfulness. Being "faithful" is not just a battle cry, a goal and a way of life. It is our God-given identity. Especially in spiritual warfare, remember you are one of God's "faithful."
2) We have "grace and peace" in Jesus Christ.
No matter what Satan says or does, take it. The grace and peace is yours...especially in the heat of battle! Don't ever lose sight of it!
3) You have every spiritual blessing in Christ.
God has given you everything needed to overcome Satan in spiritual combat. These gifts are given by none else that God the Father and Jesus Christ. They have used these gifts successfully against Satan for millennia. Indeed, these gifts have earned the final victory over Satan. If these warfare gifts work for them, can anyone doubt that these gifts will also be effective for you? 
4) God chose you. You're His!
There are no "ordinary" Christians. They are all special. They are all His "elect." for this reason He gives His elect preferential treatment especially in spiritual warfare. As His elect one, God will provide everything necessary, no matter how extraordinary, to protect His "elect" ones. If necessary, He'll even alter the course of history! (cf. Mark 13:20).
Onward! Christian soldiers. Have a great battle...and an even greater enjoyment of Christ's already-won victory for you, His elect one!
 
Thomas F. Fischer

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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:04:24 PM