Understanding Spiritual Warfare...
~J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings, film)
Three eternal truths: things are not what they seem, the world is at war, and each of us has a crucial role to play.
The Church in the West today presents too easy a target for Satan. We do not believe we are at war. We do not know where the battleground is located, and, in spite of our weapons, they are neither loaded nor aimed at the right target. We are unaware of how vulnerable we are. We are better fitted for a parade that for an amphibious landing.
I was looking through some old photos of friends, reminiscing and thinking when some odd thoughts started to make themselves known--thoughts like "you're always sitting in the outside of those pictures, you're always on the outside looking in, what a loser," and I paused. I knew I wasn't a loser, so why was I thinking this? What or who was bringing those thoughts up. As I flipped through the pages the words got more assaulting-"you have no true friends," "who'd want to be friends with you." I put the pictures down, beaten, wounded, and annoyed. I felt like I'd just been in battle, and what if I had been...?
Spiritual Warfare. It's uncomfortable for some Christians to talk about this aspect of our walk. We want to ignore the supernatural, it's just too weird. But the truth is that's just another attack by the enemy. Think about it for a second. You believe in a supreme and supernatural being, God. You believe that Christ came, born of a virgin, and that the enemy tried to crush him (King Herod called for all babies to be killed and yet an angel tells Mary and Joseph to flee to Egypt), you believe in a heaven and a hell, you believe in an enemy who was once God's angel and fell. Can you see where I'm going? If we believe all these things, than why are we ignoring what's going on beyond the veil of our physical realm?
What if that nagging voice in your head isn't you? What would you do differently? If you treated every assault for what it was, how different would your walk with Christ and in life be? How would your thinking change?
A friend told me a story about how she was trying to lose weight but every time she went to exercise she'd have nagging thoughts like "everyone will laugh," "you'll never lose weight, you'll always be fat," "don't even try, you'll embarass yourself." She felt battled and bruised and eventually gave up and walked home in defeat.
See, the enemy has a strategy. He's cowardly, he'd rather not really fight, so his first plan is to get you to question the supernatural. He'll tell you it doesn't exist, it's too weird, people will think your odd. If he can get you to put down your shields by believing there is no war, like Theoden, he will. If he can't overcome you that way, the nagging thoughts start. This is why Paul urges us to "take every thought captive." Not every thought is from yourself or God....there's a third party there. He's angry because his time is short, and he delights in making you miserable.
This is why we must recognize the battle. We must believe Ephesians 6 when it talks about "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." This is why freedom is key, and why we must start thinking differently.
Ephesians 6:13Therefore 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. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
For more on thinking differently visit Pastor Bob Hamp's blog at www.bobhamp.com.