No Man That Warreth

When we hear the term “spiritual warfare” we might think of casting out demons and/or praying for lost loved ones to be converted. That’s certainly part of the story, but in many respects it’s a very small part.

Each of us is in an ongoing spiritual battle every moment of our lives; if we’re unaware of this fact, perhaps we’re asleep in captivity, or worse — on the wrong side.

We’re in this battle 24X7 because Satan never rests or gives up; he never backs off and gives us a break. (1Pe 5:8) Whenever we let our guard down, he’s right there to take advantage (2Co 2:11): to steal, kill and destroy. (Jn 10:10) Whenever we make a little more room for him, he takes more ground and fights to hold on to it. (Ep 4:27)

If we’re ignorant of the struggle, then we simply aren’t in the fight. This can only mean one of two things: either we’ve been taken prisoner and Satan has us right where he wants us (2Ti 2:25-26), or we’re in league with the enemy and serving him. (Ep 2:2)

This battle can be described very simply: Satan lies to us to get us to sin, to violate God’s Law. (1Jn 3:4) Every time we believe him, we give him more power in our lives. (Jn 10:34) To engage him in battle we [1] identify the lies [2] believe the truth (repent) and [3] live in truth with our whole mind, heart and soul. (Jn 8:31-32) Every dimension of spiritual conflict of any concern to us can be related in these terms.

This war is not one of our choosing; Satan chooses when and how to fight us; we can either defend ourselves or give in to him and let him defeat us. There aren’t any other choices here.

Jocko Willink

Seeing we’re in such a battle, we should learn to think and act like soldiers who aim to win. A warrior disciplines himself to endure hardness and difficulty (2Ti 2:2); he doesn’t entangle and distract himself with worldly affairs; he’s focused on the mission, ready at a moment’s notice to engage the enemy. (3)

A good soldier keeps his weapon close and becomes proficient with it, always training and improving. He studies to understand his enemy (2Co 2:11) and learns proper military strategy from those who’ve succeeded in combat. He also learns from his own mistakes and failures, integrating his own practical experience. When he fails in battle, he doesn’t resign himself to failure: he doesn’t quit. He picks himself back up, studies and trains to correct his mistakes, knowing he is destined to overcome. (1Jn 5:4)

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7 thoughts on “No Man That Warreth”

  1. Timely words for me
    The battle of battles may have always been here on Earth. Is it that God has placed us here as a training ground? Here we are able to clearly see what the consequences of life mired in self worship result in. All of creation here has been negatively impacted by our selfish decisions. God promises to wipe the Earth clean at some point and begin again. To live joyfully for the right reasons are sometimes difficult for the weary traveler. Eyes always on God’s promises require patience as we seek the necessary mundane. Being taught how to walk in the paths of righteousness is a blessing and are lessons not learned by many.
    It is wise as you say to become the warrior in the garden ready for the enemy. The gardener who is not a warrior will never be ready.
    Thanks eb

    1. Thanks Eric. Yes, it is difficult to fight well. We need encouragement from those who are “in it to win it”, as we all should be.

      I think it’s good to remember God doesn’t need us to fight Satan; He could take the enemy out with no issues. The battle has a purpose: to refine and strengthen us. In our striving, He fights this fight within us, and He will overcome.

  2. When Satan keeps tempting us with the same things, and if we keep failing, this tells us we either don’t really understand how temptation works and why we are failing, or we don’t care to overcome. It’s most likely the former.

    The key to overcoming sin, in my view, is finding out what the lie is that we’re believing.

    For example, do we really believe short-term gratification is our best move? That it really will satisfy us this time and that we won’t regret the consequences?

    Is that what our own experience tells us? Likely not.

    Sometimes the simplest question will expose the lie and point us to the truth. We just have to be alert enough to recognize the temptation as it is happening, be willing to pause just long enough to ask it and soberly think through the answer.

  3. Thanks for the example of one of the lies. Do you have any other examples?

  4. Thanks for the question! Sorry for the delayed reply.

    I think another big class of lies (I call it “the Big Lie, or “the primal lie”) is some form of: “God’s not good.”

    This includes the idea that God is forbidding some simple pleasure which does no harm, that some of His rules are oppressive or unnecessary, that His laws aren’t intrinsically good for us, that there won’t be any real consequences for violating them, that He is keeping something good from us, etc. I can see all of these types of lies in the context of the Fall, as Satan was tempting Eve.

    Another class of lies are of the type: “I know better.” Basically an attack on God’s Omniscience as well as His goodness, where we just decide we’re going to be the judge of what’s right and wrong, taking God’s place, becoming like Him to “know good and evil.” (Ge 3:22) That is, we take the role of the final judge of what’s good and evil. This includes lies like, “Times have changed and we have more information now.” I think these are actually variations of “the primal lie” that God’s not good, that His laws aren’t intrinsically timeless and good, that violating them isn’t harmful for us.

    Further, there are the lies of the form: “God won’t mind. He will understand, He loves me anyway and will forgive me.” etc. I think these are actually also variations of “the primal lie” that God’s not good, that His laws aren’t good, that violating them isn’t harmful for us, that God Himself compromises like we do, and is Himself aligned with and sympathetic towards our carnal tendencies.

    Finally, I can see a whole class of lies related to fear, that it will be worse for us if we obey, especially in the short term, when it is apparent we will suffer if we obey God. Satan tries to convince us that sinning to protect ourselves and/or loved ones will turn out better for us than suffering for our obedience, that we will regret obeying God and suffering for it, that God won’t help us to be faithful and won’t keep us from evil. This is yet another form of the primal lie that God’s not good, that He isn’t faithful, that He doesn’t have our best interest in mind when expecting us to obey Him in difficult or oppressive circumstances. We fail to take an eternal perspective and give in to fear, choosing short term safety to long-term glory.

    Maybe these thoughts will spur you in some additional thoughts or ideas about how the enemy tempts you/us.

  5. Another class of lies relates to the universality and timelessness / permanence of the Law: “That’s Jewish stuff.”; “All that Old Testament law has been abolished by Christ and replaced with the law of Love.”, “We’re free from the Law now.” “The sacrificial system has been fulfilled now and is obsolete.” etc.

    This is essentially wrong teaching, promoted and accepted by the carnal mind, being at enmity with the Law, and is I think again another form of “the primal lie”, that God gives rules to some people but not others, or for some time periods and not others, implying that at least some of His laws are arbitrary, capricious, outdated, not intrinsically good for us.

    I find this class of lies the hardest to combat and overcome. It is based on taking scripture out of context, has a very long historical precedent in the churches, and once accepted, appears deeply rooted even in some of the most earnest believers.

  6. Not to discount the demonic, here is the testimony of my long-time friend Jack Makukutsi, a missionary with Campus Crusade for Christ in Zimbabwe, where witchcraft, witch doctors and animism are still widely practiced, of his experiences with goblins.

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