Archive for April, 2021

Subtle Spiritual Warfare

As you may recall, my heart’s been very grieved this past year with all that’s been happening in the world, our country, and the church, and yet I’ve been prevented in the past couple of months from telling you what’s going on. Not prevented by God, but prevented by the enemy through a bit of spiritual warfare. This particular warfare has focused on making me question my worthiness to speak my heart and the heart of God to all of you. I know it’s wrong, but please forgive me for succumbing to these lies and leaving you without a word these past many weeks. Nevertheless, it gave me an idea of a topic.  

So, today I want to talk about the subtly of spiritual warfare in preparation for a series of posts about false prophets and what’s happening in the church and the supernatural. What I hope, in the end and based on my own recent experience, is that we can learn a bit about how to grow, press in, and sharpen our spiritual discernment about what we’re facing when we seek to do God’s will.

I’ve always believed that when I encounter “overt” spiritual warfare that I should – counterintuitively – be happy about it. That’s because overt spiritual warfare doesn’t happen to me unless I’m doing something really good that the enemy does not want me to do or accomplish. Sometimes this knowledge, by itself, gives me the courage and faith to stay the course or press on. 

You may also recall from my previous posts that I’ve spent much of this past pandemic year studying and immersing myself in education in the biblical principles, the supernatural, and specific books in the bible, including many classes on the Book of Revelation.  Throughout this entire time, I never really experienced any overt warfare – something that other followers of Jesus told me they were experiencing – and so I often wondered if I was doing something wrong or if God had just placed me on a shelf for a while.  What I mean by “overt” warfare is warfare that is SO obvious, like illness, financial despair, relationship difficulties, stress, tragedy and calamity, that you immediately know it to be what it is. Basically, it’s warfare that’s designed to stop you in your tracks and make you retreat inside of yourself or to stop doing what you are doing. You know, like quit! Or worse, question your own faith. I didn’t have any of this, and I’ve been very grateful to be able to rest in the peace of the Lord by not experiencing these types of things. Nonetheless, I occasionally wondered why I felt a bit “spiritually off course.” Turns out it was due to “subtle” warfare, which, in many ways, can be more insidious and deadly to the Spirit of God. 

The whole notion of “subtle” warfare automatically makes it harder to discern. It’s like putting a frog in a pot of water and bringing up the temperature until he’s boiled to death before he even knows it. In my case, it was the enemy planting tiny seeds of doubt into my brain such as, “Who says I know enough about God to speak about Him? Am I really worthy to be used by God to teach others? Is the Lord really giving me a gift to develop, or am I just fooling myself?” Subtle warfare involves the enemy whispering into one’s brain, but also using the business of “world” things and life (cleaning, organizing the house), TV, Internet, news, procrastination, and weariness as distractions from one’s learning, developing, and fellowshipping with the Lord.

The bottom line is that all of these things – doubt, procrastination, distraction – can be held up to the Word of God and assessed for what they are, which is an attempt to keep someone from spending precious earth time with their Father in Heaven. Basically, if it doesn’t point to God’s glory, then it’s likely coming from some other place that you’d rather not be. Moreover, even if the source is benign, the enemy will be right there to twist it in your brain so that it affects you in way most likely to harm you. The key is to see it all in real time, and without some long reflective period that wastes a lot of your spiritual time and energy.

So, I’ve been praying for the strategies of the enemy to be revealed to me immediately, and I’ve realized that when he can’t get you off track with overt warfare, he will resort to trying things to throw you off more subtly. Let me ask you if you’ve ever had these thoughts or feelings.

  1.  Weariness, tiredness or short attention span reading the Bible or in any biblical teaching?  SUBTLE WARFARE!!
  2. Sleeping past your set appointment with God?  SUBTLE WARFARE!!
  3. Distractions due to household things (laundry, cooking, cleaning – ugh) when you’ve set aside time to study or pray!  SUBTLE WARFARE!!
  4. Finding yourself surfing the internet or some social media site before you logon to watch a Godly program or speaker? SUBTLE WARFARE!!
  5. Just not “feeling” like opening the Word or praying!  SUBTLE WARFARE!! Your flesh is in control here – not you! Take charge!
  6. The lie that you’ve been studying so hard, you deserve a break.  SUBTLE and a LIE! I mean, really, a break from what?  Doing something I love to do and spending time with my Lord whom I love? 

These might seem like the kinds of thoughts we have constantly in our lives. And so, we have to keep reminding ourselves that nobody said this whole following God thing would be easy. We are aliens in a strange land –indeed, we’re behind enemy lines – and we shouldn’t be surprised if even the most mundane of thoughts can be used against us to slow our walk with God.

By the way, a good biblical example of this kind of subtlety is found in Luke 10: 41-42, when Jesus was at the house of Martha. One translation writes, “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” Martha may not have seen her distractions as subtle warfare, but all the hallmarks are there. It probably seemed important at the time. Indeed, good stewardship of one’s home is important. But at that very moment, her distractions took her away from Jesus himself, and even he recognized the problem.

Okay, so we’ve seen that warfare doesn’t have to be some horrible disease, some scary nightmare, some incredibly anxious feeling about how to proceed in the world. We’ve seen that it can take the form of the small, but not insignificant mental hurdles that come every day to hinder our attempt to press into God. So, what in the world do we do?

Well, on the assumption that Satan or some demon will likely be involved in messing with me on a daily basis, I start each day by thanking God for my authority to bind the enemy’s plan and then by forcefully binding these feelings and distractions. Basically – and I do this is out loud, mind you – I tell the enemy that I’m spending time seeking God and that I simply won’t allow him to thwart that effort in any way. Like overt warfare, I remind myself that the simple fact of having these distractions placed upon me is a sign that what I am trying to do – sans distractions – must be important to God or the enemy wouldn’t bother with it at all. None of this life is easy, and the battle that goes on inside our heads is the one place that Satan can create the most havoc. Remember that David wrote: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?” Psalm 13:2.

When we read this, we may think of ourselves, but pursuant to the word, the answers are pretty clear.

How long must we wrestle with our thoughts? If we’re doing God’s will, then as long as we’re still living behind enemy lines, we’ll be waging war. We’ll likely wrestle with them for our entire earthly lives. 

But, how long will our enemy triumph over us? No longer. In fact, with Jesus, our enemy is already defeated, and all we need to do is exert our authority to stop all warfare, subtle or not. With Jesus, Satan’s attempts at warfare are desperate, pitiful, and ineffectual, and so he won’t be allowed to triumph not one second longer!  He is revealed and rebuked!

Peter encourages us, writing: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Pet. 5-8. Lions, too, can be overt in their attacks, coming at someone with great fury. But they can also stalk people, messing with their minds by “playing” with them and subtly tormenting them. Either tactic must be recognized for what it is, and fought with equal vigor. 


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