Spiritual warfare is a very real and very tangible reality in the realm of this world. The enemy of your soul wants to do everything in his power to separate you from the God of the universe. Satan is not some red devil that sits in hell and waits for “bad people” to die and come spend eternity with him. Satan is a fallen angel that God cast out from heaven. He wanted to be like God. The bible refers to him as “the god of this world” or “the god of this age”. The enemy knows his time is short here on earth and he will do everything he can to wreck havoc before Jesus comes back.
If you aren’t a believer: Satan will do everything in his power to keep you right where you are at. He will convince you that you can be self-sufficient; that you don’t need God. That Christianity is a joke; that there isn’t a heaven or hell; that you won’t be held accountable for the way you live. He will convince you that you can be the Lord of your own life. He will blind you to your own sin & distract you with anything and everything that this world has to offer to keep you from thinking about the spiritual. He will tell you that Christianity is just a crutch and you don’t need it. He will tell you that you are too sinful to enter the presence of the living God. He will tell you that there is no hope.
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” -(2 Corinthians 4:4, NLT)
My plea to you is this: You desperately need Jesus. We ALL desperately need Jesus. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Without Jesus there is no way of escaping eternal judgement and God’s wrath. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” You don’t have to do anything to earn this…it’s a free gift from God. He longs and desires for a relationship with you. He loves you…you just may not know it yet. My prayer for you all is that God would enlighten your eyes and awaken your hearts; that the enemy would not have victory in your life.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The devil won’t flee from you until you submit to God… it’s just not how it works. We don’t have enough strength to fight the enemy on our own.
If you are a believer: Satan will do anything and everything to keep you from living a productive, life-producing, joy-filled life here on earth. He wants to discourage you, distort the word of God, entangle you with sin, & deceive you. He will use some of the same tactics I listed above on you. He will convince you that because you are saved that your sin doesn’t matter. He will convince you that you can be self-sufficient. He will try to convince you that you only have to surrender a little bit of your life to Jesus. He will try to cripple you with fears, division, anxiety, war, disease, etc. He will tempt you, encourage you to question God’s goodness & will, & distract you. Perhaps the most destructive thing he will attempt to do is to convince you that you don’t need to be concerned with spiritual matters, that you don’t need to tell others about Jesus, & that it’s okay to live an apathetic, Christian life. God’s word gives us this instruction:
“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 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV)”
How do we “be alert & sober of mind”? How do we resist the enemy & his schemes?
By taking every thought captive & placing them under the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
What exactly does it mean to “take every thought captive”? I used to get really frustrated because I didn’t understand what that meant and I felt like my prayers were very general. I would pray, “God please take my unhealthy thoughts captive. Amen.” There isn’t anything wrong with this prayer because it was straight from my heart. However, I think that there is a better way for you and I to fight spiritual battles and obtain the victory that we already have in Jesus. It’s not enough to just empty our minds because we live in a world that works hard to quickly fill it with things that are not from God. We have to fill up our minds with truth so that we aren’t easily pushed down and discouraged. We do that by studying the word & applying it to our lives.
One of the most influential pieces of scriptures I have memorized is found in 2 Corinthians, right before we are told to take our thoughts captive. It says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war in the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (not wordly), but mighty in God, for the pulling down of strong holds, casting down of arguments, & every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…”
-(2 Corinthians 10:3-5a, NKJV)
For years I tried to fight spiritual battles with physical things. I tried to use relationships with my friends and family to satisfy the lonely places in my heart. I tried to use excersise and food restriction to ease my anxiety. I tried to “be a good girl” to make God love me more. Friends, let me tell you, it doesn’t work. Our weapons are not meant to be from this world, they are much, much stronger than that.
To take your thoughts captive, you have to be able to identify the lies in your head and the voice of the enemy. There is no possible way to do this unless you know what is the truth…You know the truth by studying God’s word. John 8:32 says. “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” We can’t fight spiritual warfare without knowing the absolute truth of God’s word because the enemy is crafting & cunning, and he sets down to steal, kill, and destroy us. Memorizing scripture is the first step to accessing the power within you. I know that seems exhausting & it seems like a lot of work, but it is always, always worth it! It’s okay if you don’t memorize the entire verse or what book it’s in. I have some verses memorized fully and I have some verses that are engraved in my brain just by reading the word.
The next step is to identify a lie and cover it with truth. If I am honest with myself, I really really don’t like doing this because it is so exhausting. I hate having to fight spiritual battles all day…its tiring. However, I know that if I don’t even try to fight that I will be living a defeated Christian life when I know that I have already obtained victory from Christ’s finished work on the cross. Here are some examples of how I take thoughts captive:
- Satan: You have struggled with anxiety and disordered eating for so long…you will never recover. You can try and get better but it won’t work; you are trapped. You’re trying really hard and that’s fine, but you will fail.
Woah. Alright….those thoughts definitely don’t come from my savior, my Jesus, my hope & healer. It’s time to make war on these thoughts & challenge the enemy’s voice. I have identified that these thoughts are not from God, now I will fill my mind with what is true.
- Me: God has healed me so much in just 5 or 6 months & I know he will continue to. God created me to walk in freedom not to be defeated and deceived by you. My past doesn’t define my future. God’s word says, “Behold, I am doing a NEW thing in you; now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV) You can try to intimidate me but I know that the power that lives in me is much greater than any of your attempts to destroy me. Greater is HE who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
You might not see victory right away or even within the same few days, months, or years…this can be frustrating but it is necessary if we want to obtain freedom.
My Pastor, Steve Berger, has taught many sermons on spiritual warfare & winning the mind wars. To view some of his teachings you can click on the link here. I will never forget this piece of God’s wisdom that he preached a couple of years ago. He declared, “I would rather fight the good fight every single day than make a deal with the devil.” Those words pierced my heart and encouraged me to keep fighting.
Keep fighting the good fight.
Until next time,
** A note to those who suffer from eating disorders/disordered eating. One of the first things I learned to do in recovery was to separate my values and thoughts from my eating disorder thoughts. Separating yourself from your eating disorder is one of the first steps towards freedom. It’s hard work, but its totally worth it. Your eating disorder will try to convince you to do irrational things that go against who you are. It will try to convince you that your eating disorder is who you now are. Until you try to separate yourself from that and disobey some of the thoughts true victories in recovery are hard to obtain. I’m here to tell you that it is possible, & you can do it because of Jesus. It takes time. Be patient & gentle with yourself. Even a little step is a step forward.