Spiritual warfare. For many, these words evoke strange and often frightening images in the mind’s eye. Dramatic displays of supernatural power, pots flying through the air, strange chants and rituals, holy water and sacramental oil are just a few of the images that come to mind. The truth is, these Hollywood versions of spiritual warfare are over dramatized to a large degree. True spiritual warfare is much simpler and much less frightening than this.
So what does it really look like to do spiritual battle? More importantly, when should you, as a married Christian person worry about it and how to you actually carry it out effectively? This article will answer those questions in a way that is easy to understand.
What is Spiritual Warfare?
If you are a Christian you should be aware that you have an enemy. This is very clearly stated throughout the Bible, which is why I am always surprised whenever this comes up for debate in churches. The enemy of God’s people is always out to destroy anything that reflects God’s qualities such as His righteousness, holiness, and His love. Marriage is something that God created specifically to reflect His love for His people.
Spiritual warfare is simply the act of resisting Satan’s attacks upon yourself, your marriage, your family, and your life in general. As I will show you, this is actually a very simple process. This is not to say that it’s always easy, because it isn’t, it just isn’t all that complicated.
When Should I Worry About Spiritual Attacks and Warfare?
Spiritual warfare is always a concern for the discerning Christian. There is never a time when the enemy will not be working to tear down your marriage or your ministry. This is why it is essential to be alert to his schemes and not fall prey to the idea that your marriage will be strong and healthy without any intentional work on your part.
I don’t say this to frighten you. God is so much more powerful than our enemy. You simply need to be aware of his tactics and how to fight him so that you can be proactive in protecting your marriage and family. This is the role of every believer.
Spiritual attacks can come in many forms. Sometimes it can be temptations to do something harmful to your spouse or your marriage. Sometimes it can come in the form of ill health. Sometimes it can be circumstances beyond our control that harm us. At times you may even want to give up on your marriage completely, either by “checking out” emotionally or by actually considering or pursuing divorce. Whatever the situation you may find yourself in, the rest of this article will cover the basic steps involved in spiritual warfare.
How to Fight the Battle – Spiritual Warfare Basics
As I said earlier, spiritual warfare is actually a very simple process. In fact, it is directly outlined in scripture, which I will use as the basis for the remainder of this article. Specifically, I am talking about James 4:1-10.
First, James outlines the problem in verses 1-6. Here is the quote from verse 1:
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?“
Do you ever fight and quarrel with your spouse? I thought so. James shows that these quarrels come from the desires that battle within us. At first, this may seem to be completely internal, after all, if they are our own desires how does the Devil play into this? More on that later.
In verses 2 through the first part of verse 6 James explains the problem further. Then, in the later part of verse 6 and in verse 7 he gives us the solution:
““God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.“
Now we have the link between the Devil and our own sinful desires. If our desires were not at least partially influenced by him then James would not list resisting him as a part of the solution. I would like to expand on verse 7 in the context of spiritual warfare.
First, James compels us to submit to God’s plan and purpose for us. This is the first step in effective spiritual warfare. God knows what He is doing and His plans for us (and our marriage) is much better than our own plans. Submitting to God is a posture of humility that is directly opposed to Satan’s way of doing things.
Next, James calls us to resist the devil. In verse 8 he also tells us to wash our hands and purify our hearts. He is referring to repentance here. Repentance is more than simply confessing our sins, it is actively turning away from those sins and turning towards what is righteous instead. I believe he is also referring to not a one time action of resisting the Devil, but an ongoing stance of alertness and resistance.
Finally, James tells us that once we have done these things the devil will flee. This doesn’t mean he won’t come back again for another shot at you later. In fact, I am certain that he will never give up trying to defeat us. Why bother fighting if he’ll only continue to come back again and again? Simply because if you don’t fight he will destroy your marriage, your family, your career, and anything else you care about. Giving up might seem easier, but in the end it will only lead to despair and frustration.
As you can see, spiritual warfare is an ongoing process that involves continually submitting yourself to God’s authority, resisting the enemy’s attacks, and driving him of with the power of Christ. It is simple, but certainly not always easy. Be vigilant and you will have the victory over his attacks.