With a night’s rest and some morning coffee under my belt, I’m feeling ready to tackle the things rolling around in my head. 🙂
So, in regards to spiritual warfare, it has been easy for me to think of it in terms of casting out demons or healing the sick or the blind or the miraculous turn of a Haitian witch-doctor to Christ, and forget that fighting the schemes of the Devil is a must for everyday life, wherever you live and whatever you are doing. Spiritual warfare is not just about demons and healings, it is also about prayer, aligning our thoughts with Christ, letting the Bible shape our lives, fighting to live repentantly in community and fellowship with one another. Of course I knew that it was important, but have I ever truly acted upon that knowledge in my daily livings? Not really. Mainly because it sounded like too much work. But then the LORD started awakening that old desire in me — the one that wanted to experience joy in every station, peace in the midst of trial.
So to back up a little bit, I’ve had seasons of experiencing true life in Christ, but it has always been a rollercoaster, with the joy and peace eventually fading from my life, along with the desire to chase after them. I always wondered, “Is this what all of life will be like? Tastes of those amazing fruits of the Spirit, followed by long seasons of drought and spiritual hardness?” My soul has always longed for something more, something that lasts. I kept thinking, “Oh life has been so busy — graduating, getting married, having a baby, fundraising, moving overseas. Once everything settles down, then I’ll have that feeling back. It’s been stress that has kept it at bay.”
So after the dust settled and still nothing had changed, I was left to think about why. I was in the midst of reading a few books, and the LORD used the testimonies of those authors to open my eyes to a few things. One, feelings of defeat and hopelessness are not from Him. Two, I am not condemned to live with these feelings for the rest of my life. Three, I can and should fight these feelings and thoughts that seek to steal the LIFE Christ has paid for. The only question: am I willing? After some thought, journaling, and talks with Bryan, I decided that I am. I wanted to have life, and have it to the full. I had been buying into the lie that because I’m a sinful being, I will always struggle with sin at the same level at which I experience it now, though Christ paid for me to be free. I was buying into the lie that the freedom had nothing to do with my daily life, but only with my salvation from the eternal payment for my sin.
To put it another way, this is the kicker that has been reshaping my life and thoughts recently: there are things that I struggle with spiritually that God wants to deliver me from, that Jesus has paid for me to be released from, and I am not doomed to live in chains of defeat, even in small ways. (There are, of course, some occasions where God will allow a thorn to remain in my life, but only because it causes me to seek Him and know Him more intimately.)
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
This is where the rubber meets the road. This sounds like hard work, doesn’t it? Taking every thought captive to Christ? It sounds impossible. So much so that we don’t want to give our hearts to it because it seems as if it would be all-consuming. But that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? That our whole lives — our shopping, our eating, our praying, our relationships, our conversations, our thoughts — would be marked by the knowledge of God?
But in this season of thinking about this warfare in my daily life, I must also be mindful to not let ‘demolishing strongholds’ or ‘spiritual warfare’ to become my focus. An abiding life in Christ is always the point, and any time where we are thinking more about the Devil than Jesus is a victory for the enemy, even if we are thinking about fighting him. We engage in spiritual warfare so that we can begin to throw off all that hinders us and run with perseverance the race that Jesus marked out before us. We seek to be freed from spiritual strongholds and nagging sin habits because it is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free.
I am beginning to see spiritual warfare not as something done in drastic situations, but as an everyday part of walking with God — prayer, knowing the Bible, living in fellowship, seeking freedom from that which holds us back — all of it is a part of walking with Jesus. My hope is that God will continue to reveal to us ways in which the enemy schemes against us so that we can take back the ground that Christ paid for.
I feel that this is going in a number of directions. (Perhaps my morning coffee isn’t doing its job.) 🙂 Any thoughts?