Are you dealing with some spiritual oppression or hardship? Do you feel resistance as you are trying to press forward in faith? You’re in good company! Here are some things God has been teaching me about spiritual battle:
1. It always follows after your step out in faith—Satan hates faith expressed! It’s like saying “sick ’em.” He’s coming after you if you expect to fully engage in a faith life.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8, 9)
2. It attacks your spirit and emotions—He wants your mind and emotions—your heart. Out of it flow all the other issues of your life. Once he gets into your head, it’s all downhill. You gotta stop him at the entry point of the lies—imagination. (“Casting down imaginations” 2 Corinthians 10:5)
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:23)
3. It grows through isolation—While solitude with God is healthy, isolation is not and often makes spiritual oppression worse. Get alone with God, but don’t isolate yourself from His encouragers in your life. (I have a short list of encouragers I intentionally call when I get into the thick of spiritual discouragement. They are like “FRESH WATER” to the soul!)
“The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:” (2 Timothy 1:16)
4. It weakens with transparency and support—Being vulnerable and sharing your burden with a caring friend usually lightens it! Many Christians are not comfortable being transparent or vulnerable, but we all need it because we’re all in the same boat—broken, struggling, and trying to follow Jesus with courage and confidence. Finding out someone else survived will give you hope!
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
5. It weakens with encouragement and prayer—Praying is one of the most active ways to resist Satan. Praying together is even better! Find a godly friend and pray together. (Prov. 15:23)
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
6. It comes and goes, ebbs and flows—You might wake up encouraged and before 10am Satan is shouting into your head! Some times it’s moment by moment. Other times it’s seasonal. The key is patient endurance! Don’t act on emotion. Stick steadfast through the season…
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:” 1 Peter 1:6
7. It indicates that there’s something worth fighting for—if it’s worth resisting, it’s worth accomplishing by God’s grace. Spiritual opposition simply indicates that you are on a path of eventual blessing! For the Apostle Paul it was PEOPLE! He found changed lives worth whatever price God required of him. I think every spiritual leader can probably identify with this passion!
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
8. It is a part of how God is glorified through you—This one is sacred. Your steadfastness and grace through spiritual opposition connects you with Christ’s suffering, reveals to others that God’s Spirit is upon you (if you respond spiritually), and thus magnifies God through your life. Your life speaks loudest for Jesus in and through your storms!
“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” 1 Peter 4:13, 14
9. It could cause you to cower in fear—One of Satan’s oldest tricks is intimidation! His bark is bigger than its bite. While quite literally, he is defeated and powerless against you, he sure plays a good game of making you afraid! Don’t buy it!
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
10. It could bring you to a point of willful disengagement—In battle we are tempted to pull back and return to ease. The Bible word would be “dismayed.” It’s easier to sit on sidelines in rest than it is to fight forward in faith. That’s Satan’s goal—to make you dismayed and disengaged.
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9)
11. It could be the first step into a sinful season—Life’s worst decisions are often made in life’s lowest moments. Fog makes us feel displaced and disoriented spiritually. How many Christians have done things in a spiritual fog that they so deeply regret once clarity returns. This takes us back to points 3, 4, and 5—not isolating ourselves, not pretending we’re ok, and getting with a friend(s) for prayer and support!
“Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38
12. It could be the precursor to a fruitful season—This might be the final storm just before the fruitful harvest! Speaking personally—I’ve travelled through a few storms in recent years. It’s been a good journey. But it’s also been a tough one. And yet the last 11 months of my Christian life, while the hardest, have also been the most fruitful. Strange how storms and harvest connect so intricately. If you want a harvest, you’re asking for storms. But don’t worry—God of the harvest is also God of the storms! He will carry you.
“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:12)
Spiritual battle is intricately woven into the fabric of living the Christian faith. It’s a part of glorifying God. It’s a part of being molded into the image of Christ. It feels overwhelming and over-powering. It shouts loudly into your every effort to do right, follow God, and fulfill His call. It threatens you but that’s really all it can do. Here’s why…
With God—YOU ARE SAFE! Storms might toss you. Trials might afflict you. Discomfort may chasten you. Your Heavenly Father may allow you to endure some long nights. But in the palm of His hand—YOU ARE SAFE!
Say it out loud—MY GOD IS GOOD AND I AM SAFE!