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].
As Christians, we must understand the battle and struggles that we face with the devil’s temptations and lies. We are told in James 1 to “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” The devil tempts us, distracts us, lies to us, and fights against us in our walk as a Christian. The devil’s tactics seem overwhelming and more than we can handle. In this article, we are going to examine what spiritual warfare is, the internal battles we face, and how we are to fight against the spiritual wickedness in high places.
What is Spiritual Warfare?
To some, there may seem to be an obvious answer but, in today’s world of emotionally driven Christianity, we must take the time to give a clear Biblical definition of what a spiritual battle is and looks like.
In defining the term ‘spiritual warfare’ we must first note that not once in the KJV Bible is this phrase ever used. When we use this phrase it describes the battle that a Christian experiences when they are fighting against the wiles of the devil. One way to explain spiritual warfare is by comparing it to physical war. Military battles are fought for the purpose of controlling territory or for inalienable rights or to gain power. In World War II, Nazi Germany was fighting against surrounding nations for the purpose of growing the German territory and eradicating unwanted individuals. The Allies fought against Hitler’s political campaigns because of the atrocious acts of the Nazi military. It is often like this with our spiritual battles with Satan. Satan is about committing egregious attacks. The scriptures state that satan is walking about “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). As we battle with satan and his temptations, we will experience the fierceness of the battle because it is satan’s goal to completely entangle and destroy us in his traps and snares. In 2 Timothy 2:26 we see this statement about Satan’s strategy when he fights against us, “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” It is a battle to fight against satan and get ourselves out of his snares and resist his demonic will. In one instance, spiritual warfare is defined as, “Spiritual warfare is the act of fighting against Satan when he tries to keep us from God’s calling. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy so when we are pursuing Christ, he tries to accomplish all of those things” (Shyann Swearingen in Just Disciple). For the clearest scriptural definition of spiritual warfare, let’s return again to 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” I believe this verse gives us the clearest definition of Spiritual Warfare in the phrase “resist stedfast in the faith.” As Christians, we are not fighting if we are not fighting by faith and the primary way to fight against the devil is to “resist stedfast.”
resist stedfast in the faith
The Battle Within
The battle of spiritual warfare is not only fought with the things of this world but also within us. In truth, our most frequent spiritual battles take place within our own selves. Listen carefully to Paul as he poetically articulates the battle he faces within himself.
“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [it is] good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 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. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25).
In this passage, you can hear the internal conflict of two natures within him, the spiritual and the natural/carnal. One desires to follow Christ, the other desires to do what is pleasing to self. And when our carnal mind is being tempted, we enter into spiritual warfare. The battle is to resist the flesh, resist the devil, deny self, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. This is all out warfare, but, we thank God that because of Jesus Christ our Lord and through the Holy Spirit, we can fight the battles and walk victoriously. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
The weapons of our warfare