Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Last week we looked at the topic “The Triumphant Church- Not the Militant or Defeated Church” we learnt that Body of Christ shouldn’t yield in cowardice to the forces of darkness or submit to satanic domination but arise boldly in the name of Jesus and take our place in our inheritance as sons and daughters of the Most High God as the triumphant Church. In today’s study, we will find out if we are or should be Wrestling or Resting.
Spiritual warfare is a subject some Christians are overemphasizing today in a way that is not in line with the Word of God. Actually, some of what is being taught in the Body of Christ in this area of spiritual warfare and demonology is scripturally in error. That's why it would benefit us to study the Word to see how to deal scripturally with Satan and his strategies. Many believers become fearful if you talk about the devil, demons, and evil spirits and their activities. Many people seem to think it would be better not to ever mention the devil or evil spirits. But if you don't teach believers scripturally from the Word of God how to deal with the devil, the enemy will just run rampant and hold high carnival in their lives because they won't know their scriptural authority.
2 Corinthians 2:11 says: “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
We need to know our enemy. The Bible says we are not to be ignorant of Satan's devices. Satan has not changed the least bit in the world. The devil is the same old devil he has always been, and he uses the same tactics he has always used. He is the same devil Paul had to deal with when he penned these words that we aren't to be ignorant of his devices. And one of Satan's devices is to get people off into the extreme, even in the area of spiritual warfare, so they become unfruitful in the Kingdom of God. There is legitimate spiritual warfare, of course. Spiritual warfare is a Bible subject and one that we should be interested in because every one of us must take our stand in spiritual warfare at one time or another in our Christian life. But we see in the world today a number of challenges that seem to negate this
It seems on any Bible subject; it is most difficult for the Body of Christ to stay in the middle of the road. Many believers either get in the ditch on one side of the road or on the other side of the road. In either ditch, they become ineffective because extremes and excesses never produce any fruit to the glory to God.
2. Wrong thinking
Actually, the greatest enemy that has robbed the Church, even in this area of demonology and spiritual warfare, is wrong thinking and wrong believing. That's what initially opens a door to the devil.
There are those who are thinking wrong and believing wrong about the subject of spiritual warfare, and it is going to get the Body of Christ off track unless we get back on the Word of God. Wrong thinking and wrong believing eventually lead to wrong actions. For example, one error wrong thinking and wrong believing has produced in some believers is that they are trying to fight the devil. We need to look at that practice in the light of God's Word to see if it's scriptural. We need to know what the Word of God says on any subject and think and believe and act in line with God's Word. Then we will get Bible results.
3. Lack of Understanding
The truth remains that there is an adversary arrayed against us and that we are in the army of the Lord. However, people often take those truths and run off with them into extremes and error. Their thinking seems to be, "Well, an army fights the enemy to defeat him, so let's fight the devil so we can defeat him." But Jesus already "fought" the devil and won. That's why Jesus said to us, "Occupy, till I come" (Luke 19:13).
We're to take our stand on the Word against a defeated foe. Therefore, we are in the army of the Lord, all right, but it's the occupying army. The occupying army is not in battle. The occupying army is just enforcing the victory that's already been won by our Commander in Chief, the Lord Jesus Christ. That's why believers shouldn't magnify the battle, they should magnify the triumph!
'WAR' AND 'WARFARE' IN THE EPISTLES
Some people emphasize spiritual warfare to the point that you would think it is the only subject taught in the Bible. But you'll find that real spiritual warfare is entirely different from what many people think it is. For example, as you study the New Testament, particularly the epistles, it is amazing how seldom the words "war" and "warfare" are mentioned. It is also amazing to note that when the words "war" or "warfare" are used in the epistles, never once are the words "devil" or "Satan" used in connection with them. Let's look at the words "war" and "warfare" as they are used in the epistles, which were written to us, the Body of Christ.
In First Corinthians 9:7 for instance, Paul asks the question,
"Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?"
Here, Paul isn't referring to combating the devil. He's simply making the point that ministers should be adequately paid.
2Corinthians 10:3-5 is another place in the epistles where the words "war" and "warfare" are used.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
If you take these verses out of their context you can make them say anything you want them to say. 2Corinthians 10:3-5 has been widely used to apply to battling demons over cities and countries. But it's clear by the context that Paul is talking about something different. Paul isn't referring to battling demonic forces over geographical areas. He is admonishing believers to take control of their own thoughts and imaginations so they can prevent the devil's lies from getting a stronghold in their minds.
What else do the epistles say about "war" and "warfare?"
Read 1 Timothy 1:18,19
How did Paul tell Timothy to war a good warfare? By holding faith and a good conscience. In other words, Paul is simply telling Timothy, "Stay in the fight of faith. Fulfil the call of God on your life. That is how you are going to war a good warfare in this life." The devil isn't even mentioned in these scriptures. The statement is simply a challenge to Timothy as a young minister to fulfil his ministry and not be deterred by any opposition he would face. Paul gives another admonition to Timothy in 2Timothy chapter 2 about warring. Read 2 Timothy 2:3-4
When we read the entire context of this passage, we find it has nothing again to do with the devil. Paul is simply saying, "Stay committed to the call of God on your life, regardless of the cost." Paul is telling believers that there's a price to pay to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ; it takes discipline and dedication. Paul is giving Timothy an illustration to remind and encourage him to keep himself free from the cares of this world and from any hindrances that would distract him from serving God and ministering effectively.
Then in James 4:1,2 we see the terms "war" and "wars" used in reference to fights, controversies, and strife which occurred because of believers' uncontrolled flesh problems. Finally, Peter refers to warfare in 1Peter 2:11 when he says,
"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."
Again there is absolutely no reference whatsoever to the devil. Just as James did, Peter uses the word "war" to vividly describe the battle between the lusts of the flesh and the soul—the mind, will, and emotions.
We have looked at scriptures in the epistles where the words "war" and "warfare" are used. The devil isn't mentioned one single time in any of these scriptures. Yet to hear some people talk, you would think spiritual warfare is the only subject in the Bible! Doctrinally speaking, some people have made a mountain out of a molehill. I suppose that's because some Christians want to blame everything on the devil. But in the epistles, the words "war" and "warfare" primarily have to do with putting the flesh under and controlling one's thought life. He can only do that by the Word of God and with the help of the Spirit of God.
Many believers are trying to get victory in life some other way. But what they need to realize is that genuine spiritual warfare has to do mostly with the mind and the flesh and fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Those who wage a good warfare keep their mind renewed and their flesh in check and know how to stand in faith on the promises in God's Word. We need to keep our bodies under subjection and control our thought life instead of allowing the lusts of the flesh run rampant and uncontrolled. No doubt there is a battle; Ephesians 6:12 says
“we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
But we are fighting from the winning side because of the victory Jesus won on our behalf! We are not a “warring” army but an “Occupying” one! So let us magnify the triumph of Jesus instead of magnifying the battle!
This study was culled from The Triumphant Church by Kenneth E. Hagin