We’re in a battle in this world - a spiritual warfare battle. We may not see it, we might forget it’s there. But the enemy would love nothing more than to fill our minds with discouragement and defeat. If you’re a believer who is living like salt and light in a dark world, you won’t go for long without encountering spiritual warfare through obstacles and attacks he will hurl your direction. And though we can’t stop his cruel attacks, we don’t have to let him win. God reminds us in His word to stay aware of Satan’s schemes, to live alert in this world, and to stay close to Him.
God gives specific instructions in his Word, he gives us all we need to stand strong in this life and have victory over the battlefields of our mind, heart, and soul. Yet all too often we race through busy, full days, ill-equipped, unprepared, or simply not aware of what we’re up against, or who the real enemy even is.
The forces of darkness don’t wait for us to be ready for their attack. They’re ruthless, determined, and cunning. The devil could not care less if we “feel” prepared or prayed up for our day. In fact, he prefers we’re not.
But in a broken, dark world, how can we really know if we’re facing the expected difficulties of life as compared to true spiritual warfare attacks of the enemy? Jesus, Himself told us that in this life we would experience troubles (John 16:33), we know this to be true. And though many times, we may not fully know who or what is behind the struggles, we can be assured that God equips us for battle and He instructs us to live alert.
Spiritual warfare is not giving the devil more attention or focusing too much on his evil ways. Biblical warfare is making ourselves more attentive to what God is doing and remembering to stand firm and let Him fight our fiercest battles. There’s power through His Spirit, His Word, and in prayer, and we can be confident that He is always with us, leading our way and covering us from behind.
There are many ways we may be fighting spiritual battles in our lives, here are 5 examples from Scripture of spiritual warfare:
1. Sudden or extreme onslaught of various troubles, losses, and trials
This is a ruthless attack that Satan often brings against believers. It seems to come out of nowhere, and it’s just one thing after another. It’s hard to even see straight, you feel your life is suddenly spinning out of control. Job’s life is an example to us of what this may be like (Job 1-2). The devil went to God to ask him if he could torment Job, thinking he would try to lead him away from the Lord through the many struggles he faced. As we know from the book of Job, this righteous man stood strong. Though it seemed he was losing everything dear to him, he knew that God held him secure through all the loss and hardship around him. God will never allow the enemy to have full control, he doesn’t have the final say over our lives. We may face battles and attacks in this world, but we can trust in our Mighty God to be our shelter through it all.
2. Attacks of physical danger, illness, life-threatening loss
We know from God’s word that the enemy wants nothing more than to “steal, kill, and destroy” our lives and all we love (John 10:10). He is a thief, a roaring lion, and preys on God’s people. He desires to silence our voices and take us out of this world to shut off the light of God’s love and hope through Christ. Many of us may have experienced near death experiences, sudden and terrible illness, or holding loved ones who were at the brink of heaven. And yet God intervened to keep us here longer. There’s many stories in the Bible of God’s people under great physical attack and danger, and so many miracles that God performed to bring them safely through. Even when it didn’t make sense. Even when it seemed to be the end.
Daniel faced lions in the lion’s den (Daniel 6). His attackers thought he’d be gone by morning, but God intervened and shut the mouth of every lion. Be assured, God is still shutting mouths today. If you’re facing attacks, and feel your life has been threatened, our God is a miracle worker. The Bible reminds us that our times are in His hands. We can be confident that He knows every day we are to be here on earth, and He will keep us, and our loved ones, safely in His care until He calls us home to heaven. There’s no reason to fear, stand strong through prayer and His word.
3. Increased temptation and luring towards sin or wrong choices
Though we live with daily struggles and temptations all around us, many times there are spiritual attacks on our lives that put us at greater risk to go astray. It is a battle, a ruthless one, and the enemy will fight hard against us. He desires not only to bring us down, but also all those around us. He loves to see news stories splashed across headlines of believers who have fallen, who have made terrible choices of sin. He loves disunity among Christians and wants nothing more than to break up families and every relationship we hold dear. We must stand strong and stay aware. Don’t give him a foothold into your life, don’t give him even an inch of room. He’ll come in and wreak havoc and try to lead us astray faster than we even know what happened.
Often when we find ourselves weary, already weakened, we’re on his radar. Jesus Himself is our greatest example of this when He faced the devil’s temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). He was fasting, He was hungry, he was physically weakened, and tired, and of course, the enemy jumped on that time to bring on the temptations to a greater degree than ever. One slip-up is all he was looking for. One wrong move. One “yes” to sin. But Jesus stood strong and resisted his attacks, every single one. He spoke God’s word out loud, He held fast to truth and stepped over Satan’s vicious lies and attacks. And He leads us to the same today. Don’t be taken unaware. When you start sensing strong pulls away from God’s truth and ways, you can know who is at the bottom of it all.
4. Feelings of overwhelming despair, darkness, and fear
Many may struggle with anxiety and fear in this life. Many may be facing depression and mood disorders, or mental illness. But often the attacks of spiritual forces against our lives raise the intensity to an even greater degree than normal day-to-day struggles. It’s ruthless, and unrelenting, we feel alone and completely overwhelmed and stuck in deep fear and despair. Recognize this darkness for what it is, and stand strong!
This is where Satan will lead some to even contemplate taking their lives or making choices they never would have thought they’d make. It’s a cruel trap, but there’s hope from the pit because of Christ. He is the One who can lift us straight out of that darkness, He is the One who can calm our fears, and give us strength we didn’t even know was possible.
Elijah the prophet was a great man of God. He had led the battle against false idols and resisted those who stood against God. In all eyes, he was a hero, respected and honored. And yet, right after such great victory and success, he faced extreme warfare. He ran for his life, in fear. Despair and darkness gripped his life, and he couldn’t even think straight, it seemed that he’d forgotten everything God had just done on behalf of his people (1 Kings 19). But here’s what I love about God – He came to him right where he was. He provided for him. He took care of him. He strengthened him. He gave great mercy and grace to him. And then He did this - He called him to action. He gave him a plan to keep moving forward. He still had great purpose for the prophet in the coming days; there was still work to be done. And He does the same for us today too. If you find yourself running scared or stuck in despair, stop long enough to think through who you’re really running from. Don’t buy into the enemy’s pursuit and attacks. He has no lasting power over you and God will hold you strong for the road still ahead.
5. Deep confusion, feelings of condemnation and guilt, dulled spiritual awareness
This last one can be difficult to see through at times. Because this attack can be so subtle and can happen slowly over time. But when we stop and look closely, we can call it out for what it is. A slow, constant pulling away from God’s truth will leave us feeling confused, irritated, conflicted, and facing generalized feelings of guilt and condemnation that we just can’t seem to shake off. We’ve lost our desire to even press in and pray. Or we’re too busy, we’ve got too much to do, even good things. We’re not in God’s word. We’re out of fellowship with believers somehow believing the lie we can do this life thing all on our own. And yet we feel a dark cloud of confusion and guilt that follows us around and won’t go away. Bitterness can set in. Conflict and broken relationships that we once cared about. We don’t even know what to believe anymore and have started listening more to what the world says is right.
Get out of this trap now, wake up! Stir yourself to action and know that God’s power is greater to break through that trap of condemnation and confusion. God reminds us in His Word that He is “not the author of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He tells us that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
His Spirit will bring conviction over sin to His children, He will draw us to Himself and show us what we need to make right. But within that, there is great hope and grace. It is not a ruthless, condemning voice. It is not the lies and heaping on of guilt that the enemy will attempt to wreak havoc over us. Step away from that dark cloud and into God’s light and truth.
God’s Battle Plan for Us When Facing Spiritual Warfare
God arms us with the sword, the Word of God, to stand against the enemy’s lies. He equips us with strength, wisdom, and discernment through His own Spirit to stay strong in the battle. He invites us to spend time in His Presence, through prayer and worship, pressing in to know Him more.
As we grow to know God’s Truth more and more, understanding what is real, we also grow to know more what is false. We’re able to quickly discern when something’s not right. We are stronger to stand against it in the powerful name of Jesus. He never leaves us to fend for ourselves in a dark world, but reminds us He is constantly with us, fighting for us, even when we cannot see.
Here’s 7 things He offers us to stand firm against attack:
God fills us with strength, wisdom, and discernment through His own Spirit to stay strong in the battle. He never leaves us to fend for ourselves and fight in our own strength. We need His fresh filling every day, we need the empowerment that only He can offer. Every believer has the gift of God’s Spirit dwelling within them. The same power that raised Lazarus from the dead, parted the sea, broke open prison doors, and caused the lame to walk, is the same powerful Spirit still alive and at work within us today.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26).
God reminds us not to go into the day without being prepared and equipped for battle. He tells us to take up his full armor in order to stand against the enemy’s schemes. Each piece has a specific purpose and is designed for our protection and covering. Just as a soldier would not go to battle unprepared, we also should be fully ready for the attacks we will face.
“Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:11-17).
God invites us to have a relationship with Him, He desires for us to spend time in His presence, pressing in to know Him more. He reminds us constantly in His word of the importance of prayer and the power that is found there. He tells us to pray without ceasing. And even when we don’t know what to say, He tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us. He never leaves us to fend for ourselves in a dark world, but reminds us that He is constantly with us, fighting for us, even when we cannot see.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18).
“…The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16).
He arms us with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to stand against the enemy’s lies. Praying God’s words back to Him, is a powerful weapon against the forces of evil. It is Truth going out into enemy territory. It reminds us that God knows our way and understands what we face today. It builds our faith and our trust in God. It guards our hearts and focuses our minds back on Him.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Praise invites God’s Presence. He dwells close to us when we praise Him. And praise is a powerful weapon as well. It makes the enemy flee. It pushes back the darkness the surrounds, and blocks the attacks and hissing lies over us. Evil will not stick around if we’re praising our God, who will fight our battles for us. In the story of Jehoshaphat, we see God miraculously defeat the enemy, because of the people’s obedience to praise Him.
“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” (2 Chronicles 20:22).
“He inhabits the praises of His people.” (Psalm 22:3).
Our willingness to obey the words and commandments of Christ in a world that would say to walk our own way is huge. It sets a powerful example that says we are willing to die to our own desires and live for the glory of God. But it will never happen naturally. Our very flesh, our own desires and sin nature will fight against it every step of the way. It’s a daily choice that says we will be careful of every thought, we will take up our cross daily and follow Christ’s ways, not our own.
Submit to God’s authority. Be ruthless with sin, which is an open door for the enemy to work. Resist him and he has to flee.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
7. The blood of Christ and the word of our testimony
We are overcomers in this life because He has overcome. And our lives are hidden in Christ with God. No enemy or obstacle can touch our souls. When we have been set free by the blood of Christ and the power of His sacrifice by death on the Cross, we have a new identity in Him. We've been bought with a price, we are not our own, but covered by the grace and forgiveness of Jesus. We live victorious, and no demon or darkness can ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ our Lord. There is Power in the Name of Jesus.
"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (Revelation 12:11).
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
When we belong to Christ, the enemy never has the final word over our lives. We are secure in God’s hands.
Press on – courageous and free – never held back by fear or defeat. The battle belongs to the Lord, and He has the final victory!
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's Facebook page, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also on Twitter and at her blog www.debbiemcdaniel.com.