Spiritual Warfare

maxresdefault“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Few topics are more polarizing than talking about the mysterious unseen world of God, Satan, Angels, Demons, and anything that takes us by surprise disrupting the world as we know it: A.K.A. Spiritual Warfare. How do you fight something you cannot see? When and if we ever figure that part out then we must figure out what to fight such things with. Hence most people walk around in oblivion not realizing anything beyond the end of their small circle of human influence. I say small because compared to those listed in the first sentence, we have very little at best. However, in God we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Fortunately, we are not alone in this quest for both knowledge, understanding, wisdom and war materiel. We sell God short if we chunk our thoughts on spiritual warfare into a category of trying to avoid or ignore it. Both Old, New and Inter-testament (Apocryphal) writings handle this topic with amazing visual effects. Almost all 40 writers of the 66 books of the Bible deal with the topic directly and certainly all deal with it indirectly. Most of us missed the point in Sunday School that Jesus spoke more about Satan and Hell than any other topic. In fact, Jesus gives us all we need to know about how this battle is to be fought.

Before we examine what Jesus has to say, I am sure someone is curious about how an unseen war may stack up against wars in history that we are familiar with. Therefore, I want to preface the rest of this entry with a simple fact about spiritual warfare. All of creation is effected by spiritual warfare to include every human being. What can be gleaned from this statement is that every argument, every skirmish, every battle, every war, and every world war are a bi-product of spiritual warfare. From the fall in the garden, to Cain killing his brother Able, to the first hint of war among men, to the last battle ever fought all involve spiritual warfare.

Rolheiser_1114In Matthew 4:1-11, the temptation of Christ is documented. These passages of scripture have garnered incredible debate as to the mental health of Jesus. Such debates are what led C.S. Lewis to exclaim: “Jesus is either Lord, Liar or Lunatic.” When reading or listening to these verses, we often miss the very first verse: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of (by) the devil.” Once we do recognize it we may think that God led Jesus to be tempted. On the contrary, everything Jesus did was to fulfill prophecy. The Spirit was leading Jesus to one of His many destinies here on earth. This is one of the many fascinating rendezvous or divine appointments in order to demonstrate that He truly was God in flesh. Without waxing too exegetical on the readers, I do want to point out some other interesting points found in this passage that are relevant to us today. In Verse 2 Jesus had fasted and was hungry. However, when taken into consideration with other Biblical examples of spiritual warfare, fasting was a normal action of personal preparation. Literally, “when we are weak He is strong.” Verse 3 identifies the tempter and the first temptation. Jesus was tempted with food since he was hungry. Notice the tempter knew he was hungry. The tempter knows you and me just as well. In verse 4 Jesus rebukes the Devil using scripture. Note to self: memorize more scripture for these reasons. It is still true that if we “resist the devil he will flee.” Verse 5-7 reveal the temptation of suicide but in a very taunting and desecrating way since the devil took him to the top of the temple in Jerusalem and again Jesus rebukes the devil with scripture. Lastly, in verses 8-10 the devil tempts him with the very world Jesus created as if the devil has the authority to give it to him. The portion reminds me of the scripture question: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Jesus responded not with scripture first this time but with Jesus directly rebuking Satan by saying “Get thee hence!” Or, Go away. Now when Jesus says leave you must leave. After this he quotes scripture explaining who is to be worshipped, namely God. In Verse 11, “Then the devil left him, and, angels came and ministered unto him.” Incidentally, this is my most favorite verse in the entire Bible. Here we see both Jesus as God and Man, we see Satan and Angels. We see God!

Three passages that show the reach of spiritual warfare on a basic level:

Matthew 12:43-45 (Personal spiritual battle)

Matthew 17:14-21 (Helping others stuck in spiritual warfare)

Luke 22:31-32 (Jesus Interceding on our behalf)

These are just a few of the basic ones. Spiritual warfare is much larger and broader and carries greater implications than many of us realize and from levels we cannot even imagine. It was in 1879 that William T. Sherman is first quoted as saying, “War is Hell!” As accurate as that may seem to us who have been through war, it does not come close to what Hell is actually like. However, his point is well taken and war is probably the closest feeling to Hell we can experience here on earth.

Some of the more picturesque spiritual battles are given in accounts by people like Elisha, Daniel, Jude and Revelation. Some great modern writers have done this topic relevant justice and us as Christians need to pay more attention to them. What they write is applicable to everyday life. For example, Frank Peretti’s novels, C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, Ted Dekker’s Novels, and any Middle Earth adaptations which began with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and have been remade and expanded for today’s audiences.

In conclusion, I feel that some practical methods of combating Spiritual Warfare issues on an individual level would be useful.

First, try to learn to differentiate voices or characters at play in your own life. For example, Spiritual Warfare is a lot like reading the book of Psalms. It is easy to get confused about who is speaking and to whom. Half the time, most of us do not know if David is speaking to his enemies or to God or if God is speaking through David to his enemies or if David’s enemies are speaking. Confused yet? Me to! The best method is to keep things simple and shy away from “the devil made me do it mentality.” We may find ourselves attributing that which should be directed to toward God at Satan and vice versa. When in reality it is probably just us misunderstanding the situation at the time.

warriorBeloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.- 1 John 4:1-3

Second, memorize scripture. Become a bibliovore of the Bible. Read it, read it again and then one more time. The reason being, when you are being tempted, God will bring to your memory those things you have read. Thus, my theory that when you pick up a book, you are really picking up the mind of the author. Whose mind would you rather pick up? The worlds mind or God’s? Remember, Jesus quoted scripture all three times he was tempted.

Thirdly, pray and practice fasting. The first is beginning to fade from our repertoire as Christians and the second we have almost lost altogether. We need to rediscover the art of prayer and fasting. More importantly, we need to practice intercessory prayer like no body’s business because it is the most powerful form of prayer and our greatest weapon/olive branch we have as Christians next to the Bible. In our practicing, we must understand the power of humility, forgiveness, selflessness, mercy and the fact the God is already at work in and through our situations and life experiences. In these we stand confident that God’s word is true and know that His love casts out all fear!

We are God’s children and He will see us through any temptation, battle, war or spiritual encounter. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood…

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.