An army has two essential functions… offense and defense. Militaries are called to defend when an attacking army is trying to take ground. (I don’t know about you, but I am so incredibly thankful that we have our troops to defend us if threatened!) Yet there have been times throughout history when a military’s offense played a key role. When the Israelites entered the Promised land, they were certainly on the offensive side of war. God went before them into battle as they conquered the land He had given them… one city at a time.
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Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. – 2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NASB)
The Bible describes us as soldiers in God’s army. Our armor is described in detail in Ephesians 6, but this chapter also tells us that our battle isn’t a physical fight. We go to war in the spirit realm.
More often than not when we think of spiritual battle, we focus on defense. We know that the enemy is deceptive in playing offense. He schemes, manipulates, lies, distorts… he is always on the prowl with a plan. While it is true that spiritual defense is crucial, Jesus didn’t call us to a battle that solely played defense.
We are called to build… to advance the Kingdom of God. And you can’t advance a Kingdom without spiritually going to war offensively.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NASB)
I love how the above passage from 2 Corinthians describes our spiritual battles. We have spiritual weapons of mass destruction! We are destroying evil and taking names!
So how do we prepare for this type of spiritual warfare?
- Spend time in Scripture. Knowing the Bible well is crucial. It helps us to understand the truth of who God is, who we are in Him, and who we are really up against in battle. It’s our playbook as well as our ammunition.
- Pray at all times. I find it interesting that Paul concluded his list of spiritual armor in Ephesians 6 by telling us to pray. He essentially gave us our armor and then told us how to use it. Prayer is also essential for another reason… communication. Would an army go to war without a way to communicate? Without prayer, we are cutting off communication with our commanding officer. (I, for one, never want to go to war without Him!)
- Stay unified in Christ. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He gave two: love God and love each other. Many of us are sometimes guilty of having a “me and Jesus” mentality. We work diligently to grow in our faith and build our relationship with God, but we put very little effort into building and maintaining relationships with each other. And what about restoration? If we fail God, we take our sin to Him; but do we do the same when we fail our brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we work to keep harmony with all believers as Paul tells us to do throughout the New Testament? (See Romans 12:16, Romans 14:19, Romans 15:5, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 13:11, and Colossians 3:14) None of us would ever consider going to war alone, so why do we try to fight spiritual battles by ourselves?
- Understand that sometimes God wants you to take a stand on your own. While unity in battle is crucial, sometimes God uses individual battles to mature our faith and make us stronger. For example, David took a stand on his own to defeat Goliath. This battle undoubtedly built his trust in God in a unique and powerful way. Our family in Christ will always be there for wisdom, encouragement, and prayers… but certain battles we must face on our own. When the enemy attacks your identity or puts thoughts and lies into your mind, it is up to you to fight back with the truth.
- Walk in the victory that is already won. The Bible tells us that our victory is secure. Jesus went before us. He defeated sin, death, and the enemy, and now we simply need to walk in it.
When it comes to spiritual battle, we are called to fight both offense and defense – to advance the Kingdom of God and to defend ourselves against the lies of the enemy.
Offensively, we are called to be light in dark places. We go into the world, share the truth of Jesus, and advance His Kingdom. Defensively, we remind the enemy of his loss. We refuse to allow him to take any ground that isn’t his to take.
*Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations taken from the NASB.