Preparing for Our Spiritual Battle

lion

We are involved in battle every day. This battle, however, is not one over resources, freedoms, representation, or any of the other numerous reasons people may wage war in this life. It’s not a battle where artillery, drones, body armor, or any other physical means of offense or defense will be of any use. Instead this conflict is a spiritual one, and each and every one of us is a battlefield where the object of conquest is nothing less than our souls. This is a conflict that looks very different from what we think about when we typically think of physical battles.

Ephesians 6:10 calls on us to garb ourselves in God’s armor so we can stand firm when it feels we’ll be overwhelmed in the conflict. He gives us this armor so that we can prepare for the spiritual battle ahead of us, but, in the end, we have to remember that victory does not come from you or me. It does not come from verbal force. It does not come from winning debates, arguments, or secular victories. Rather, this is a quiet struggle that belongs to the Lord. He is our victory.

We Must Prepare

Ephesians 6:13 tells us that we should take up the whole armor of God, so that we can withstand in the day of evil. This is not a casual preparation. Think about what Jesus was talking about in Luke 14:25–33. He’s talking about counting the cost of discipleship, putting all into being His follower. This is giant commitment, and a giant commitment takes great preparation.

Unlike a physical battle, our armor is not meant to protect us from physical harm, and we do not arm ourselves with weapons meant to harm others. Rather, we protect ourselves with truth, with righteousness, and with the gospel of peace. Think about that: we prepare for this struggle with peace! The only weapon we have is God’s word, and with it we share salvation and peace with others. We overcome, not through violence, but through peace.

Our Struggle is Spiritual

This is because we are not engaged in secular battle. I can’t emphasize this enough. Our hope is not to defeat a physical enemy. It is not to protect our interests or our rights. To us, victory does not involve any enemy casualties. Our battle is not militant. Victory is in salvation. It’s in freedom in Christ and in sharing that freedom with others. No man, no interest group, no country, nothing physical is my adversary.

Back in Ephesians 6:12, Paul reminds us that we do not struggle against flesh and blood. Rather, our struggle is with the spiritual forces that would tear us from God’s love. This battle is waged within us every day. You are a battlefield. Like Paul says in Galatians 5:17, the interests of flesh and spirit oppose each other in our selves every day. The devil tries to use the powers of the flesh to bind us in chains of sin, and God would have us freed from those chains.

However, we can allow ourselves to be conquered by choosing the wrong adversaries. When we get caught up in secular struggles and arguments — even when we engage in those things thinking we’re fighting for God — we allow our souls to be conquered. Jesus engaged in a spiritual struggle every day of His life. It was a struggle to remain free of sin and to share His truth with as many as He could. In this, He overcame through the quiet peace we can only have by being close to God. Jesus could overcome because He put everything into the Father’s hands.

The Battle is the Lord’s

To overcome in this spiritual struggle, I have to give everything over to God. There is no way I can win against Satan by myself. I Peter 5:8 calls our adversary a roaring lion. I can’t defeat a lion! I’d be lucky to even scratch a lion on my own. I have to rely on my faith and trust in God when I’m tempted, when I feel beaten down, when I know that I can be defeated by myself. That’s when I need to be like Jesus in the garden and say, in all humility and faith, “Father, Your will be done.”

Your will be done. That’s when you and I can rise above the battle over our souls and find victory — when we take self out of the equation and put our trust completely in Him. Right before Peter writes about Satan being a roaring lion, he says in verse 6 of that same paragraph: “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, so He might exalt you…”

Will you do that today? Will you retreat from the struggles of this world that so easily ensnare us, so you can focus on that battle for your soul and the soul of every person you know? Will you arm yourself with righteousness and let His peace and truth reign in you so you can share it with others and help free their souls from our adversary? You can have peace that passes understanding because you know your faith, your hope, and your salvation is in He who has already overcome.

lesson by Robert Smelser