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Spiritual Warfare
 January 24, 2024 - June 19, 2024

Note:  Much of this study is taken from the writings of Dr. Tony Evans’ book, “Victory in Spiritual Warfare”, as well as my own lecture notes in the course, “Theology of Spiritual Warfare.”

Introduction - Lesson 1 - January 24, 2024

Introduction

Once you are firmly convinced of your salvation and eternal security, one of the biggest challenges for Christians is understanding and overcoming the spiritual realm.  Biblical wisdom and spiritual maturity are two different things.  Biblical knowledge gives us the information and tools to live purposeful lives for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom here on earth.  Spiritual maturity is the lifelong process of becoming like Christ.  At a deeper level, spiritual maturity is acquiring a clearer understanding and appreciation of the enemy and the spiritual forces he uses to hinder the believer’s growth and progress.  These two factors speak to the vital importance of this study on spiritual warfare.  This is indeed a battle.  In addition to being waged in heavenly places, it is being waged in our individual lives, our families and the church.  Spiritual warfare has nothing to do with physical battles or physical weaponry.  Spiritual warfare is the inward and outward battle we face against the enemies of God.  Once we become Christians, a battle begins between the spirit (our internal spirit) and the flesh (the inward sinful nature we are born with).  In this battle, we must learn to utilize the Holy Spirit within us to help us fight.  The Apostle Paul spoke directly to this in his epistle to the Church at Ephesus.  Paul lays out the armor we are to put on and gives us a glimpse into why we need the armor. (Ephesians 6:10-13).

The Spiritual Realm - Lesson 2 - January 31, 2024

Introduction

When it comes to spiritual warfare, we remember that “you are not fighting for victory, you are fighting from (a position of) victory.”  Whatever has happened, is happening, or will happen is rooted in the spiritual realm.  The Bible teaches the existence of a non-physical, spiritual reality, unseen by human eyes. The Bible says that the spiritual realm consists of both good - God and the angels, and evil - the devil and his demons, fallen angels. The Scriptures also teach that humans were created by God in His image, which means we have a spiritual component (Genesis 1:27).  We are more than physical entities; we possess a soul/spirit which is destined for eternity.  Even though the spiritual realm is invisible to the physical eye, we are connected to it, and what goes on in the spiritual realm directly affects our physical world.

 

The Strategy - Lesson 3 - February 7, 2024

Introduction

Concerning spiritual warfare, our enemy, Satan, and his demons, have had thousands of years to observe humanity.  He has become an expert at exploiting human weaknesses, such as past trauma, racial and gender divisions, fleshly desires, emotional and mental instability, and many other areas of our human nature.  We mistakenly assume that Satan has the ability to see into the future when, in reality, he has become an expert in understanding our tendencies and behaviors. He has been observing you from your conception, and he knows what snares and deceptions work best on each of you.  

Satan and his demons know what happened in your childhood that may have influenced your thinking and behavior; he uses it to deceive and, if possible, destroy you. (This should help us be more patient and persistent with people who stubbornly resist our efforts to lead them to Christ.  Their spirit wants to come to Christ, but their flesh is still in control.)  No matter what we come up with to outsmart the devil, he will devise a better strategy to defeat you.  We forget that we cannot defeat Satan and his demons in our own strength. But we know Someone Who can.

Satan is not the only one who knows each of us.  God knows every aspect of us from the moment He created us.  More importantly, God knows our enemy, Satan, his weaknesses, and every trick he uses to deceive and defeat His children.  God has told us about Satan’s weaknesses and strategies in His Word. 

The Four Stages of Satan's Strategy - Lesson 4 - February 21, 2024

Introduction

The enemy’s strategy in spiritual warfare is to come to us as an angel of light, deceiving God’s people – the individual, the family, the church, and society.  Now, we need to break down the different aspects of his line of attack.  There are four stages of the devil’s strategy.  Let’s look at them.

God's Strategy - Lesson 5 - Part 1 - February 28, 2024

Introduction

Success in fighting and conflict often depends on strategy.  Last week, we looked at “Satan’s Strategy” in Spiritual Warfare. Today, we take a look at “God’s Strategy” in Spiritual Warfare. Spiritual Warfare is about authority.  Who has the authority?  Who has the power and the right? The key to victory in spiritual warfare is understanding who has the power and authority.  When God created man, He gave him authority or dominion.  He said, “…Let them have dominion…” (Genesis 1:26).  Adam was given dominion - authority to rule and cultivate his world.  But in order to do so, he had to maintain fellowship with God and withstand the attacks of the enemy.  We know that Adam failed, and Satan was allowed to rule in his place.  Eve and then Adam got out of their chosen positions of authority and created the transfer of power and dominion in this world.  (The key lesson in Adam’s fall is not his disobedience but rather his broken relationship with his Creator.  God asked Adam, “Where art thou” (Genesis 3:9).  Of course God knew where Adam was physically, He was really asking, “What happened to our relationship? What happened to our intimacy?”  (Neil diamond’s song, “You don’t bring Flowers anymore.” ) God is offended when sin interferes with our relationship with Him.) Several times, Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31,14:30, 16:11).  Consequently, because of Adam’s fall, Satan is the one who rules this world.  While he can only do so within the boundaries and limitations set by the sovereign Ruler, he nevertheless rules this world.  And he does so not by power or might but through deception, temptation, intimidation, and a variety of other schemes. 

 

God's Strategy - Lesson 5 - Part 2 - March 6, 2024

Introduction

God’s strategy in spiritual warfare involves and revolves around Jesus Christ. He has reclaimed dominion over this world from Satan. Because of Calvary, Satan has been stripped of all authority. He still has power, but he no longer possesses authority. Consequently, all the enemy is left with his lies, schemes, and deceptions. He is a defeated foe.  Even if his schemes sometimes work in our lives, the fact is he’s still a defeated foe.  Even when we fall on our walk with Christ, there is a remedy for our failure, confession, and repentance (1st John 1:9), but Satan will remain a defeated foe. He’s like a boxer being badly beaten and dominated by his opponent in a 12-round fight. He is no longer fighting to win; he knows that the fight is lost, but he’s just holding on, trying to get in a few punches and not avoid being knocked out.  The devil may still be able to land a few punches, but he no longer possesses the knock-out punch.  And his ultimate defeat is inevitable.

The Armor of God - The Belt of Truth - Lesson 6 - Part 1 - March 13, 2024

Introduction

The enemy has been exposed as a schemer. The authority he once had has been reclaimed by Christ at Calvary. And the believer has been assured the victory because of our union with Christ.  Now, the Apostle Paul gives us instructions regarding our godly uniform – “the whole armor of God.” But before he describes each of the items of warfare, he tells us to “stand.”  The armor alluded to in Ephesians 6:14-17 was constructed to be worn in an erect or upright position. The equipment did not lend itself well to prone or lying positions.  Similarly, the Christian’s posture, in a spiritual sense, is most effective when we are standing when we are facing our enemies and challenges head-on.  No one does physical battle lying on their back or seated.  Both of these positions are passive or submissive.  So, Paul begins his lesson by telling the believer to “stand firm” (Ephesians 6:14a). From my martial arts background, I understand that a proper stance is critical to being able to defend yourself from the assault of your opponent.  Paul uses this same concept in his instruction to “stand firm.”  “Stand firm” in His authority by the rule of His kingdom if you expect to be victorious in the spiritual battle.  God has already given you everything you need to be victorious every day.  We cannot be partially dressed when we go into battle, so Paul says put on the ”whole armor of God”(Ephesians 6:13a).  Whenever mentioning the armor of God, I’m careful to say the “whole armor of God.”  The soldier of God must always be fully equipped and ready for battle. 

The Armor of God - The Breastplate of Righteousness - Lesson 6 - Part 2 - March 20, 2024

Introduction

What we have learned thus far is that if Satan can shift your focus off of the spiritual realm and onto the physical domain, he can ruin your life.  His goal is to keep you focused on what you can see, touch, or hear rather than on him and the many demons he has working for him. This keeps you from dealing with what Tony Evans calls “the fruit and not the root.” 

A good example of this concept is the common cold.  We know or suspect we have a cold when the usual signs begin to show up: coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and aches in our head or body.  But these are only the symptoms.   And no matter how much medicine you take for the coughing, sneezing, or runny nose, none of these symptoms will go away until you address the root cause – the virus.  Instead of the runny nose or the coughing, it is the virus that has you sick. And when we take care of the virus, all of the other symptoms will go away.  You need something stronger than “over-the-counter” meds.

The Armor of God - The Shoes of Peace - Lesson 6 - Part 3 - March 27, 2024

Introduction

We continue to study the whole armor of God.  We began with the Belt of Truth around our waist to stabilize us with the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.  Then the soldier of God put on the Breastplate of Righteousness to protect our heart and keep it stayed on Christ and those things that are right and true.  But you also need to put on the right shoes.  In Ephesians 6:15, the Apostle Paul reveals that taking up the whole armor of God includes “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”  The term “shod” in this statement refers to what you have on your feet. 

The Roman soldiers’ shoes were studded with nails, much like the cleats worn by football players.  It improved the soldier’s stability and gave him the traction needed to keep from slipping and improve mobility and sure footing.  Of course, other sports use cleats, but I use the example of the cleats of a football player because it best captures the man-to-man struggles of warfare.  Remember – spiritual warfare always begins as a one-on-one encounter with the devil or one of his demons.  

So when Paul instructs us to have our feet shod, he is talking about placing yourself in a stationary and stable position to stand firm.  Then, when Satan comes, he can’t knock you off your feet.  You are able to stand firm against the wiles of the devil.

Paul tells us that because of the stability that is created by the preparation of the Gospel, circumstances, situations, and people won’t be able to move you or disrupt your life so easily.  Having your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace creates a stability that even Satan cannot undo.

Satan knows that he cannot take away your salvation, so he attempts to keep you defeated and off balance by his attacks and schemes.  He wants to keep you on the defense.

The Armor of God - The Shield of Faith - Lesson 6 - Part  4 - April 3, 2024

Introduction

Regarding spiritual warfare, we know that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  We have learned that the physical world gives us the fruit – which is the distorted appearances of the battles in our everyday lives – but the spiritual world is the root – the sources of the battles creating those manifestations.  The fruit is the symptom of the problems – the root is the real cause of our troubles.  Addressing the fruit without understanding the root will only give you a temporary patch job in the physical realm.  Quite often, we end up making things worse.  We must understand that our five senses, what we see, hear, taste, smell, or touch, though real, are just the starting point in spiritual warfare.  But our senses will never give us the real picture of what it is that we’re up against.  It’s more than what you see or what you hear, and so on.

Thus far, we have looked at the first three pieces of the armor of God that you need to wear at all times.  Remember Paul said, “having girded your waist with the belt of truth” (Ephesians 6:14a), “having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (6:14b), and “having shod your feet with the Gospel of Peace” (6:15).  The verb “to be” translated here as “having” implies “at all times.”   We are to have these pieces of armor on “at all times.”  The American Express slogan says, “Don’t leave home without it,”  suggesting that you won’t ever need it while at home.  But you better wear these three pieces of armor at home, as well as away – on the job, on vacation, and even in church.

The Armor of God - The Helmet of Salvation - Lesson 6 - Part 5 - April 10, 2024

Introduction

The pieces of spiritual armor that we have discussed thus far in Ephesians 6 include the Belt of Truth (Verse 14a), the Breastplate of Righteousness (Verse 14b), the Gospel of Peace (Verse 15), and the Shield of Faith (Verse 16).  We read in Ephesians 6:17: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”   This piece of armor not only covers the head but also protects the mind.  What we think often shows up in our five senses.  The main purpose of using a helmet, whether in military battle, contact sports, or in construction, is to protect the head – specifically the brain from injury.  The brain must be fiercely protected because once the brain is damaged, the rest of the bodily functions become impaired.  The well-being of the control center of the body is critical to the overall well-being of the body.

Once again, the Apostle Paul uses a physical example to illustrate a spiritual truth.  He demonstrates that just as the brain is the control center of the body, the mind is the control center for our will and emotions.  From a spiritual perspective, the mind must be protected with a helmet that is able to absorb the shocks of being hit and even knocked to the ground by the enemy in spiritual warfare.  

All too often, Satan will go after your mind in order to attack the body.  We all know a loved one or friend who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.  As Alzheimer’s sets in, patients gradually lose the ability to control and care for themselves.  Likewise, when spiritual Alzheimer’s sets in, we gradually lose control over our lives.  Spiritual Alzheimer’s is when our mind no longer functions as it was designed to, and it gets in the way of our will and emotions doing what they should.  It is no surprise that one of Satan’s primary strategies is to attack our minds.  In fact, this is such a critical area that each of the different pieces of spiritual armor relates to our minds. 

The Armor of God - The Sword of the Spirit - Lesson 6 - Part 6 - April 17, 2024

Introduction

The final phase of the soldier’s preparation for spiritual warfare has arrived.  Spiritual boot camp is almost over.  He has successfully put on and taken up five of the pieces of the armor of God: the Belt of Truth (Ephesians 6: 14a), the Breastplate of Righteousness (Verse 14b), the Gospel of Peace (Verse 15),  the Shield of Faith (Verse 16) and the Helmet of Salvation (Verse 17a).  Now, he will need the final piece of armor in order to have everything required to experience true and lasting victory in spiritual warfare.

Paul speaks of the final piece in Ephesians 6:17b: “And (take up) the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”  This final piece stands out from all the others because it is the only offensive weapon in the arsenal.  Everything else is designed for you to stand up against “the evil day.”  Bible commentator Albert Barns calls the “evil day” “The day of temptation; the day when you are violently assaulted.”  But after God outfits you for battle in order to stand firm, He gives you an additional weapon with which you can attack and advance – the Sword of the Spirit.

The Power of Prayer - Lesson 7 - April 24, 2024

Introduction

We are reminded of the first principle of spiritual warfare: Whatever troubles you are going through in the physical originate from the spiritual realm. This battle in spiritual warfare is not physical; it is spiritual. Because you are a believer, you are already victorious in that realm, even when everything around you seems to be saying that you are defeated. God has equipped the believer with the necessary spiritual armor and weapon to withstand the attacks of the enemy and even put him on the run.  

In Ephesians 6:18, Paul gives us the key to putting it all together: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”  In this verse, Paul instructs us to pray three different times.  Following his instructions on taking up the whole armor of God, Paul emphasizes prayer as the key to putting on, taking up, and defeating the enemy in spiritual warfare.  In short, prayer puts it all together.

Praying in the Spirit - Lesson 8 - May 8, 2024

Introduction

Prayer is not simply seeing something you want and claiming it.  Too often, we pray for things that God does not intend for us to have. Yet we continue to pray and pray, wondering why our prayers are not being answered. The foundation of prayer is knowing what God has already said.  God has given us thousands of promises in His Word.  And it is when our prayers line up with the promises of God that we can pray with confidence.  This does not guarantee that God will answer our prayers, but the first step is that they are in agreement with His will for His children. The colloquial – often used saying, “What God has for you is for you” suggests that God has a specific plan or purpose for each individual, and that whatever blessings, opportunities, or experiences are destined for you will manifest in your life at the right time and in the right way.  Believing this saying speaks to our trust in God and acceptance of the journey that unfolds, even when it may not align with our own plans or desires.  Whether God answers “yes,” “no,” or “not yet” all depends on His will for you, as well as the people and things in your petition.

Praying in the Spirit means taking what you read in the Word of God and earnestly talking to Him about it. When we read one of His promises that aligns with our condition or situation and then cry out to God about it, we are praying in the Spirit.

The Sufficiency of Christ - Lesson 9 - May 22, 2024

Introduction

In addition to understanding that this battle is waged in the heavenly realm, putting on all the armor of God, and then exercising your power of prayer, every believer must also understand that Jesus Christ has already secured the victory.  Standing firm in that knowledge is our real strength. 

Tony Evans reminds us, “Standing firm in the armor of God doesn’t stop the spiritual warfare from raging.  It stops it from defeating you.”  Like it or not, we have no control over the attacks of the enemy.  Even though we have no say about the weather, nevertheless, we can prepare ourselves for what it brings our way.  Just as rain calls for an umbrella to shield us from the downpour, spiritual attacks that come from the enemy call for the armor of God. 

But Satan wants you to leave home unprepared and without proper covering.  If he can get you to believe that God’s protection is not enough for what he throws at your way, you will find yourself leaving the very place of safety – under the covering of Jesus Christ. There is no safer place you or I could ever be than fully armed in our identity with Christ. 

As we continue our study of Spiritual Warfare, let us consider The Sufficiency of Christ.

Victory Over Strongholds - Lesson 10 - May 29, 2024

Introduction

In 2nd Corinthians 10:4 we hear Paul saying, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”   What are these “strongholds” to which Paul refers?  Paul speaks metaphorically about "strongholds" in the context of spiritual warfare.  “Strongholds” are spiritual obstacles or barriers that hinder people from fully embracing the truth of the Gospel or living in according to the will of God.

In this context “pulling down strongholds” refers to demolishing walls of resistance in peoples minds, specifically, Paul was referring to the rebellious Corinthians who began to question and challenge the authenticity of his apostleship.  In a broader context, every believer faces battles against forces that seek to hinder, distract, and defeat them.  These forces can manifest as temptations, trials, doubts, and even direct spiritual attacks.  However, the good news is that as followers of Christ, we are not left defenseless.  Through His power and the resources that the Lord provides, we can experience victory over every stronghold. 

In this journey of faith, Christians encounter various challenges that can become strongholds.  Strongholds are places where the enemy seeks to establish a foothold or seat of operation in our lives.  However, as believers, our sufficiency is in Christ.  We are called to victory through Christ Jesus Who has overcome the world. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)

This lesson on Victory Over Strongholds will explore the concept of strongholds in order to discover how to break free from them through the power of Jesus Christ.  In the lives of Christians, strongholds represent areas of entrenched spiritual opposition or bondage that hinder our relationship with God and inhibit our ability to fully live out our faith. These strongholds can manifest in various forms and have major effects on a believer's spiritual, emotional, and even physical well-being.  Strongholds are battlegrounds where spiritual conflict is waged, and as we have learned, believers must be equipped with the armor of God to stand firm against the enemy's schemes.

Walking With Authority -  Our Power in Chirst - Lesson 11 - Part 1 - June 5, 2024

Introduction

We arrive at the concluding lessons in our study on Spiritual Warfare – Walking with Authority.   As we encounter spiritual warfare in our daily lives, believers must be equipped with the knowledge that we have been given authority in Christ to overcome spiritual battles.  In Luke 10:19 Jesus spoke of this authority: "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”   Jesus uses serpents and scorpions as illustrations of our spiritual enemies.  A serpent is a dangerous reptile that has the potential to injure or kill you with its venomous bite.  Scorpions are equally deadly creatures with eight feet, eight eyes, and a long jointed tail, ending with a pointed weapon or stinger.  Its sting is extremely poisonous, and it is sometimes fatal to life.  When rolled up the scorpion can resemble a harmless egg.  Jesus was giving us the scriptural picture of malicious and crafty men, as well spiritual enemies, who would seek to harm the child of God.  But Jesus says that He has given every believer authority over these enemies.  But here is the key - this authority is not based on our own strength but on the Power of Christ working in us. 

 

We need to take a closer look at this concept that our power over spiritual assaults is the Power of Christ working within us.  The Power of Christ working in every believer is a profound and transformative reality that shapes the core of our Christian faith and experience.  At the heart of Christianity lies the belief in the indwelling presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit, empowering believers to live out their faith, overcome obstacles, and fulfill their God-given purposes.

Walking With Authority -  Our Power in Christ - Lesson 11 - Part 2 - June 19, 2024

Introduction

Walking in Authority is one of the results of our victory in Spiritual Warfare.  We recognize and exercise Our Power in Christ.  This brings us to our final lesson in this study on Spiritual Warfare – Living in Freedom.  There are several key principles that we must understand that will lead to living in the freedom that Christ has won for us through Spiritual Warfare.  Listen to the words of Galatians 5:1,13-14: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  Paul tells us to “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.”  The liberty of Christianity is a multifaceted concept that encompasses freedom from sin, legalism, and fear, while empowering believers to live in love, service, and worship of God.  Our Living in Freedom is grounded in the grace of God through Jesus Christ, and 

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