What do you think of when you hear the words “spiritual warfare?”
I guess some of us are quite uncomfortable with the term. We don’t like to entertain the idea that there may be unseen forces ranged against us, and we don’t want to have a faith which contains any idea of a spiritual battle. Yet it doesn’t take too much imagination to see that there really are dark forces in the word; we can just look at the news headlines, for example, or even what sadly sometimes goes on in our own city. The apostle Paul reminds us 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 (Eph 6:12).
Yet, as in most areas of our Christian faith, we need to have a right balance. There are some believers who see dark forces behind every misfortune, every suffering, every wrong decision. The danger here is that in seeing spiritual warfare in each and every turn we focus too much on the opposition rather on the person and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So when it is right to identify spiritual warfare at work? My answer would be when we see a series of events that appear to hinder the purposes of God and the growth of His kingdom.
A specific example: we had tremendous Easter celebrations this year and the church was packed on Easter Sunday. The following week a whole load of people found at the last minute that circumstances prevented them from getting to church. This week two of our small groups have had to cancel due to unforeseen events. Surely the timing is not coincidental. The tactics of the evil one are always the same: to try and disrupt, discourage and disturb.
That’s why I found this verse, from Colossians 2:15, so helpful when we gathered for Evening Prayer yesterday. Talking of the finished work of Jesus Christ, Paul writes:
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Isn’t interesting that Paul talks about spiritual forces as powers and authorities? The forces of evil would like us to believe they have power (or the right to rule) and authority. They would like to us to believe they are in control. But on the cross Jesus defeated them once and for all. His very public death was a very public defeat of their ultimate power.
So at Evening Prayer we claimed this verse and simply prayed that the victory which Jesus won at the cross would become real for us. Can I ask you join in this prayer?
- That nothing would prevent people from joining us for worship each Sunday and hearing the good news of Jesus Christ.
- That as we prepare for Thy Kingdom Come we would be united in prayer and so disarm whatever powers and authorities pretend to hold sway in our area.
- That as we make plans for the growth and mission of the church we would be guided only by the Holy Spirit to make His Kingdom come.
Because engaging in spiritual warfare is not an optional extra when it comes to the Christian faith. Let’s then focus on Christ’s victory so that we can see His kingdom come and His will done in Devonport and Stoke as in heaven.