Spiritual opposition is one of those terms often bandied about by Christians, and there is no doubt that as believers we are in the midst of a serious war. Otherwise why else would Paul, for example, tell us to put on the whole armour of God (Eph 6)?
But what does spiritual opposition look like? There can be the danger that every mishap, everything that doesn’t go according to plan can be labelled as spiritual warfare. Actually sometimes mishaps occur because of our own stupidity or bad planning, and as I have blogged before, sometimes God decides it is right to rip up our neat plans and schedules for the day.
So here are my suggestions for what constitutes spiritual opposition:
Temptation – We can see this most obviously in the story of Jesus in the desert. A strong, destructive desire which would have a serious impact on you and those around you, which is hard to shake off. It’s not a particularly subtle weapon, and it’s one you can see coming, but you need serious defences if you are to avoid becoming a casualty,
Disruption – I am not talking here about interruptions. We all have occasions when, say, the natural flow of a service is broken or an important telephone call disturbs a meeting. I am talking about events which are sudden, difficult to deal with and have no apparent purpose other than to distract and frustrate.
Disharmony – Yes, there are times when we all have disagreements. If you care passionately about your faith, you will have your own dearly held views you wish to hold onto. But I am talking here about disagreements concerning subjects which are apparently trivial or irrelevant, and which get in the way of doing some good for the Lord. And the problem is, small disputes if unaddressed can become larger ones, which become more serious and more personal and can threaten the unity of the church. They need to be stamped out at sources, just like the sparks of a fire.
Illness – And yes, again, I recognise that not all illness is spiritual in origin, and sometimes God wants to lay us aside. Even the apostle Paul had his thorn which, even though a messenger of Satan (2 Cor 12:7), God used to teach him a lesson about strength and weakness. But I am talking about those minor, vague illnesses which seem to have no purpose other than to disrupt our routines and operate at less than full capacity.
There is no doubt spiritual opposition is real. But I am also convinced that we must not overestimate its power. As we prepare for Easter, it is worth reminding ourselves that Jesus has disarmed the powers and principalities through the cross (Col 2:15). Even though at times we may be casualties of war, the battle has been won, and nothing can separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ.