I was asked recently to share about the way spiritual warfare works in my own life. What a tough thing to tackle! Dare I be brutally honest, conveying the depths that I can go in my own struggle against the “cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12)?
Generally speaking I shared along two lines. One line referred to ways in which the battle can get engaged. I would not presume it is solely my role as a pastor that makes some of these things come about. My suspicion is they are common to many, perhaps even to you. Should I tell you, for instance, the times when the darkness is so great that I want to end my life? Should I tell you about the times at night when there is a terrifying presence in my room taunting me and mocking me? Should I mention the slander that is thrown like some grenade into my heart, the intense fears that grip my mind, the physical pain that can dominate my body? Should I mention the seasons of particularly intense ministry when temptation to sin is so great I am overwhelmed to a point of despair?
Should I mention the general good health throughout the week and then the weird and often bizaare physical maladies that invade my body on a Sunday morning? Should I mention the confrontations with real demons, the hatred that comes my way from those I once trusted, or the terror embedded deeply within me that I might well fail?
I can talk about these things, and so many more just like them. And, I can “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10). Indeed, any cursory reading of Ephesians 6 offers penetrating insight into the nature of the fight and the tools for the same. Take some time. Read Ephesians 6:10-20 very carefully. In fact, you might pull out your Bible right now and observe each word with great attentiveness. I will let you do that much, but I would like to offer a small handful of observations. This is the second line along which I wish to share.
To begin with, the armor of God about which Paul the Apostle speaks must fit who you are. That makes sense when you think about it. What soldier is going to head into battle with a helmet that is too small or shoes that are too large? His breastplate must fit him well. In order for God’s resources to fit you well you have to know who you are, what you are made of, what your weak spots are, and what it is that positively fills you up. Too many of us, maybe especially us men, are completely out of touch with ourselves. Let me give you an example. I am an intense introvert, which is odd considering my whole world revolves around social engagement with people. But introversion is more about how one processes life than it is social skill. Indeed, I am in the 1% category of introversion, which means I am really odd. I process things deeply, and this can get me into trouble, for then I can latch onto something and let it circle the proverbial drain forever. The enemy of my soul knows this, and can tempt me to become fixated on issues or ideas that I simply will not easily let go because I am built to not easily let go. I have to know this tendency about myself if I am to rise beyond this and rest before the Lord. The armor has to fit, which means I have to know myself.
Secondly, I must remember that there is no armor for the back referenced by the Apostle Paul in his description of spiritual armor. I am reminded here that I must not turn and retreat when facing the Foe of Heaven. I have no need to retreat. I am a son of the Living God, adopted through the shed blood of a victorious Christ! No armor is mentioned because I must, as Paul states clearly, “stand firm . . . stand” (Eph. 6:13-14) and face the threat like a (redeemed) man. As a soldier of the cross, I need not yield. I must not.
Thirdly, I must remember the prayer of Psalm 64:1 in which the psalmist says, “preserve my life from dread of the enemy.” It is not enough to ask to be spared from the enemy. What about the fear of the enemy? Often times it is the fear itself that is the worst culprit of our souls. But as sons and daughters of the King we need not fear. As the David Crowder song says, “When darkness fall on us we will not fear, we will remember. When all seems lost . . . we rest in the shadow of the cross.”
Lastly, at least for now, is Psalm 68:28, reminding me from whence my power comes. “Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.” God has been faithful in the past to protect and to preserve. He shall remain faithful, and therefore we can rest without fear. He is victorious, he is mighty, and we who are in Christ Jesus are his. What more can we ask for?