What Does Spiritual Warfare Actually Look Like?
Warfare is a term often used in the evangelical church when describing the ongoing clash we see unfolding between the powers of chaos and the powers of light. If you didn’t grow up in church, hearing the term “spiritual warfare” can be a little off-putting, and oftentimes it can sound harsh. But what the Bible teaches about our role in spiritual turmoil may surprise you.
God has also given us a helper in the Holy Spirit. This being is here on Earth to guide, comfort, and encourage us. Prayer, worship, and community connect us to God’s life-giving spirit. As we lean into these practices, we learn how to hear God’s voice; he speaks in many mysterious ways. Sometimes he nudges us with a gentle whisper. Other times he gives a friend a word of encouragement for us. He even shows up in dreams and visions. He is a creative God and is speaking to us in a variety of ways. We have to train our souls to hear his voice.
War, as we know the term on Earth, brings up images of death, hate, conflict, and destruction. War is one of the greatest evils humanity has invented. The Christian ideal of “spiritual warfare” really has nothing to do with the brutal concept we see lived out in human relationships. God is love (1 John 7). His Kingdom is defined by love.
I think Christ followers use terms like “war in the spirit” because we are trying to emphasize that the stakes are high. That there is something more than what meets the eye going on in our circumstances. We are acknowledging that good and evil are at odds with each other and something must be done to stop the people we love from descending further into chaos.
What these terms don’t mean is that we hate those that are not like us. We are not here to coerce our neighbor into following God’s way. That would be an impossible task anyways! Only God can change the hearts of men. Spiritual warfare refers to our passionate desire for our world to know and experience the healing love of God. We see that all creation is groaning, struggling to touch God’s beauty. We want to help it along, partner with God’s plan to redeem us!
Every believer is a part of this earth-side saga that is still being written. We each play a role in aligning ourselves with either our Maker or the snake. The story of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) keeps on being retold throughout human history. Just now we are in the place of Adam and Eve. We have the chance to choose, just as they did, to pursue our own knowledge or to trust in the Lord for provision. As we choose to love our God with all our hearts, we become partners in his great redemption plan for this place that became corrupt so many years ago through sin and death.
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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.