Friday, February 3, 2017

A New Direction: Let's Talk About Spiritual Warfare

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” –C. S. Lewis

 am on a quest to more fully understand spiritual warfare.  I have studied it for awhile, read some books, had a few experiences, and yet…I am still unsettled about the issue. Why?  So much of what I have read about spiritual warfare has some scripture in it, but a lot of the information is driven by the author’s experiences.  Does that invalidate an author’s conclusions about spiritual warfare? No, but I found that sometimes the author’s own experiences began to take precedence over the scriptural references.  The author uses the Word, of course, but the author’s  experience become evidence in and of itself.  These experiences may be compelling, but they may lack a clear-cut parallel in Scripture.  

As writers and readers, we run the risk of a having a “Can You Top This?” kind of exchange.  We may share the author’s reading of the Word and see spiritual warfare’s reality. But what if we didn’t have the same experience the author did?  We may question what we went through.  We may even doubt that it was a legitimate encounter with evil.  We may downplay what happened, because it seems rather insignificant when we compare it to what the author said.
That’s when confusion steps in.  Confusion is not what the Lord wants for us as we study this: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Cor. 14:33)
Scripture should be the only basis for our theology. I have read books where the author has developed quite a theology speaking about areas that while not directly addressed or contradicted in the Word, are hard to disprove or prove scripturally.  It may be satisfying to plug in the gaps in the Bible with well-intentioned and reasonable ideas, but if the Bible does not specifically address it, should we? 
Must the gaps be filled in to be effective in spiritual warfare?  No, I think not. What the Word says about spiritual warfare will keep us informed enough to do battle. 

I am equally seeking a balance in my understanding of spiritual warfare.  For example, I have read books and have friends who say that every disease is caused by Satan.  Mental illness is especially subject to being diagnosed as a purely spiritual condition; though some will not argue as vigorously about say, diabetes being demonically caused.  But sickness, for some, is understood as being dominated solely by demons.  The cure, consequently, is only spiritual.  

On the other hand, I know people who say Satan isn’t really needed to mess human beings up; we are all perfectly capable of doing that ourselves.  Satan is a minor player (if even a player at all) on this planet, and talking about his influence only leads, in many people’s thinking, to diminishing our personal responsibility for the chaos we see. 

I have experienced only a handful of times when I knew Satan was lurking in the situation.  I sensed his malevolent presence.  However, as I mature in Christ and my spiritual discernment increases, I sense Satan’s involvement more and more.  I agree humans need very little help to destroy their lives, but I now know they are not alone in doing so.   

Thus, this book is part of my journey to understand Satan’s influence, what the Word teaches and our response to all of it.  Scripture is my starting point.  If I cannot find a scriptural basis for my statements, I won’t comment. I want this discussion to be moderated by His Word alone.   

I am using the KISS model:  Keep It Simple Saint.  I take spiritual warfare seriously, but I do not need to recoil in fear or put on a big display to drive Satan out.  Jesus spoke and it was enough.  The Word is our authority.  Jesus did not, in His encounter with Satan, engage in debate.  He quoted the truth and the father of lies had to leave.  Why should we try to do any more or any less? 

You will also see "in Christ" in these posts. "In Christ" is the only way to do this life.  We all know He came and died for us.  We equally need to know He wants to live His life in and through us.  This verse is the key to walking in victory in all we do:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  (Gal. 2:20)

Join me as we explore this topic.  Having a clarity of mind and of purpose is essential to being a good soldier.  We need better informed soldiers in these times of trouble, and hopefully this book will assist in achieving this goal.

Excerpted from S.T.A.N.D. Spiritually Trained And Not Defeated: Our Position in Christ, Our Mission in Christ A Handbook on Spiritual Warfare.  Buy it on Amazon.

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