Preparing For Spiritual Warfare
One of the most important passages in scripture is II Corinthians 10:3-5: 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.” Cross reference this with James 1:12-14: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”
Add those two together, and the primary battlefield is your mind. Yes, Satan exists, but all Satan does is play upon what you already have in your mind, your natural desire to defy and rebel against God and to elevate and worship yourself in God’s place. All Satan does is present to you the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, and you react according to your own internal desires to pleasure yourself. The battle is not so much against Satan but your own heart: Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” One of the things that our deceitful heart does is tell us that things are not sins when they are, and that we are honoring God when in fact we honor ourselves. While the Holy Spirit is trying to convict us regarding our sin, our heart is trying to tell us that we are inherently good and righteous, and that we can “honor God in our own way.”
So, how do you win this battle? Read your Bible, and compare the Truth of your Bible with the lies in your mind. If you reject the lies in your mind, then Satan will have nothing to grab hold to. And that is key to becoming a spiritual warrior. It is only when you succeed in driving Satan out of your head by first becoming aware of, exposing, and opposing your own delusions and vanities that you are able to take the fight to Satan yourself.
And that is why reading your Bible is the key. Not only must you study all of the scriptures on a regular basis, but to be a spiritual warrior you need the Psalms and Proverbs. The Proverbs of wisdom help you distinguish between the foolishness of your own mind and the righteousness of God’s Spirit when you are discerning thoughts. Once you have done that, the Psalms of praise show you how to make prayers of confession to ask God to 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 for you. Proverbs: identify the imaginations. Psalms: how you should pray and ask God to cast them down.
Keep in mind: spiritual warfare is not salvation, which only happens once, or filling with the Holy Spirit, which should happen from time to time. It is a continual basis: the battle never ends, because though when you were saved your spirit was cleansed and the Holy Spirit indwells you, your flesh still exists and you still live in a sinful world. The very notion that you can be as Christ on the cross and say “It is finished” and move on to bigger and better things is in itself a vain imagination of your own inherent righteousness and a desire to reject God’s rule over your life. So are the notions that because you recently received an anointing or filling of the Holy Spirit, that you have done a lot of Bible reading lately, that you have had a revelation from God or a great blessing or miracle, or “you just feel so good inside and are so excited” that you are ready to turn on your praise music and go break down strongholds and take on prince demons. That is precisely when you are most ripe to the temptation of your own flesh, because that is when you start to become convinced of some notion of righteousness or power within yourself rather than relying on God and giving Him the praise.
You actually see prominent preachers do such a thing on television: they cavort about and carry on talking about “Oh, I feel the anointing on me this evening! The Holy Spirit is moving in this place tonight! Because of HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW, the blind are going to see, prophecies and visions are about to come down from heaven, the lame are going to walk, and the captives are going to be set free!” And when the preacher screams that out, everyone starts thinking about what they want from God and how God has to give it to them because they are so righteous and because they are following a pastor that is so anointed so they get “slain in the spirit” in anticipation of receiving their bounty from heaven, and then they get up again in the same as they were condition as they were in before they People, of all the accounts of healings and miracles that we read about in the Bible, how much of it matches this spiritual activity that we witness.
Truthfully, very little of it does. If you read the scriptures, you will see the people whom God used to do these great healings and miracles often under extreme duress beforehand and often receiving great persecution afterwards. Jesus Christ was sent to the cross after raising Lazarus from the dead, Stephen was martyred after working miracles (Acts 6 – 7), and Paul and Silas were viciously beaten and cast into prison after casting a demon out of the slave girl (Acts 16:16-24). Whenever you do something for God it comes at a cost, so the people that you see acting in such a manner are either A) not showing you the cost or B) not paying a cost because God is not whom they serve. So, the next time that you feel that the time is ripe for you to go cast out some devil because you feel so mighty, powerful, and good inside, read Lamentations! That will remind you whom you are serving, and the cost of serving Him.
God is not an action movie, fantasy novel, or video game. He is your master, and He alone has the right to either destroy you for eternity or to permit you to worship and serve Him forever in Heaven. Spiritual warfare is a serious endeavor for the truly committed and sincere of heart only. Your goal in spiritual warfare should not be to glorify yourself, to help or free people, or to battle Satan: it should be to glorify God. If that is not your only goal, then you will be as Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24) or the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:13-16)! But think not that this applies to spiritual warfare alone: anything that you do it should be for the glory of God alone, and if you have any other motivation you are doing only harm to yourself and others despite your many works.
So, if you are serious about spiritual warfare, you will on a daily basis measure your mind against the Bible’s wisdom, pour your heart out to God in confession (the prophets such as Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Habbakuk also had outstanding confessional prayers), and THEN go about the business of binding, rebuking, and casting out demons. This must be done so that your mind will be made suitable to the work of God in spiritual warfare, both in discerning what God wants done AND how God wants it done. If you do not know what God wants you to do and how God wants you to do it, you will certainly fail. When coming into the Promised Land, the children of Israel had to know both that it was God’s Will for them to take Jericho, AND that it was to be done by marching around the city blowing trumpets. Why? Because this was the manner in which God wanted to be glorified, lest it be said that the children of Israel overcame Jericho because of their many numbers and with Joshua’s military strategy. (As it is, skeptics are now reduced to trying to claim that the walls of Jericho were knocked down by a timely and fortuitous earthquake.) So, before you initiate any warfare activity, cast down your imaginations that these things are being done by your own power or righteousness.