Spiritual warfare is real

This post appeared on The End Time on May 24, 2011.

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I was at some friends’ house, and after dinner we played a Bible trivia game. Here is one of the questions:

“How many angels are named in the Bible?” At first blush the answer seems easy. Can you guess? Pause.

Answer: Three. Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer. Most of the teams gave the answer as two, Michael and Gabriel. Those two are easy to remember, but we forget Lucifer was an angel, who is that old serpent, satan.

Angels have many jobs.

Luke 1:19 we read of the messenger angel Gabriel-

The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.”

In Daniel 10:13 we read of Michael the warrior angel, who is an archangel-

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

Paul reminds us of the hierarchies of angels, both good and fallen:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him (Colossians 1:16)

Ephesians 6 is the famous chapter where Paul reminds us that we are in enemy territory here on earth, that the territory has a hierarchy, and that we are always at war, (whether we know it or not):

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. (Ephesians 6:12)

We often forget about Lucifer as an angel, his name means star of the morning, or shining one. Isaiah laments Lucifer’s fall from the high holy place of guarding God’s throne, to his low position of evil rebel destined for the hell (Matthew 25:41).

Hebrews and Revelation together show us that about a third of the angels fell with Satan. (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 12:3-9). Hebrews also reminds us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2).

If angels visit us and engage with us on a personal and even intimate level (‘hospitality’ translated, “in one’s home”, “receive as a guest”) then who is to say that we are always visited by the good angels? Sometimes we are visited by the bad ones, too. Probably more than sometimes, probably we’re visited by them often.

I was in another friend’s home, and I mentioned that a pastor’s latest series is on spiritual warfare. She replied, “Oh! I don’t even like to think about spiritual warfare!” I was stunned by this, she being a seasoned Christian. I remarked that we are at war whether we like to think about it or not.

Not only are we in war against the principalities and powers and rulers of darkness, but we are war against our own sin nature!

Because of sin, the earth is a battlefield. Satan and his angels battle for souls every day. 1 John 5:19 tells us that the entire earth is under the jurisdiction, so to speak, of the evil one. In Luke 4:5-6 satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, and in one of the temptations, offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus didn’t rebuke satan for making that claim.

In Ephesians, Paul tells us to pray and to wear our spiritual armor. 1 Timothy 1:18 Paul tells Timothy to prepare for the battle. 2 Corinthians 10:2-4 describes the kind of war we Christians are in. There is war-like language all throughout the New Testament, referring to the fact that we ARE in a war. It is a spiritual war, but a war that has eternal consequences for each participant.

I was struck by the two incidents – the Bible trivia question about Lucifer where it was so easy to forget he is really an angel, and the Christian who dismissed spiritual warfare topics as something unsavory she doesn’t like to think about.

Christian, be aware that we are dwelling in enemy territory, and this is not our home. Our own flesh and blood is an enemy.

We are unwanted intruders on earth. We are under attack all the time. Not daily, but frequently and constantly. We are attacked by demons, by our own sin, and by the curse of the world. We are in a war and that war will not be concluded for us individually until we die or are raptured. That war for all of us as a body in Christ will not end until after the 1000 year Kingdom when satan will be let out of the pit, will foment one last war and he will be squashed and sent to the lake of fire forever.

But remember an even greater truth. Unlike every other warrior who ever fought in a war, we know the outcome prior to the war’s end! We may be battling, but “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4).

Jesus won the war for us, on our behalf and in obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus is the victor, and through Him we win the war. So, battle on in confidence, but never forget we are in a war.

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Further reading

Sometimes the subject of spiritual warfare draws out people who teach wacky theories or treat the subject either to lightly or too heavily. Here are some credible resources on the subject I can recommend

Truth or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare, book by Jim Osman

John MacArthur sermon series: Spiritual Warfare: Fighting to Win

Ligonier article: Our Ancient Foe

1 Comment

  1. I read Jim Osman’s book last year when Justin Peters recommended it in a tweet. I’ll add MacArthur’s book to my ridiculously large “to read” list. Thanks for the recommendations!

    Like

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