Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Enemy Is On The Attack

Spiritual warfare comes in many forms: false teaching, divisive spirits, deception, roadblocks to the Gospel, and yes even physical attack. I'm not prone to seeing every physical discomfort as a direct attack from the enemy, but there are times when it seems like the forces of evil are pouring it on. The last couple months have been like this in our family, our church staff, and our church. I can't remember another time when this many physical issues were taking place in the people around me.

We've had two different people from our church told they are "one in a million" for being so young and having serious health issues. Both are married. One was diagnosed with heart disease resulting in triple bypass surgery. One, in his 20's, was diagnosed with MS. Our church staff and their families have experienced thyroid problems, carpal tunnel, eye problems, spine issues needing surgery, viral infections, pregnancy difficulties, and cancer scares. Then others in the church are dealing with congestive heart failure, chemical imbalances, cancer, family deaths, polio, and all sorts of other surgeries and conditions.

I know many of these conditions are common, but in the past couple months most of our people have seen the onset or worsening of these conditions. We can also account for some of the more odd medical conditions from Huntington's disease to trigeminal neuralgia. Add to this a number of marriages on the brink of disaster, financial struggles, and the regular difficulties of life in a fallen world and you have an all out onslaught by the enemy.

Whether or not you are from our church, you've experienced times like this where life is pressing in upon you. Where "when it rains, it pours" seems more like "when it rains, it pours and floods and causes lighting damage and sweeps us away in a tornado."

So how should we process these things? One approach would be to simply see these circumstances from an earthly perspective. You know, these kind of things just happen. And then trudge along until things get better, if they ever do. Another approach is to recognize that there is whole lot more going on in this world than what we see with our eyes. This is why Paul says "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12, ESV).

Of course not every illness is from the Devil, but some are. And when illness and disease comes like a downpour to multiple Christians at the same time in the same place, I suspect that the Enemy is at work. We don't normally think this way, but we must. We must recognize that Satan prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8). Physical trials can weaken us, cause us to doubt God, cause laziness, distract us from prayer, or they can drive us to the only One who can deliver and strengthen us.

So what do we do? We go to the Word of God, which gives us clear direction for dealing with spiritual warfare. Maybe you could take some time to meditate and pray over these texts. Pray for wisdom in discerning where the enemy is attacking you. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ that are under attack. Pray that we would all "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might" (Eph. 6:10, ESV).

Here's what God has to say about Spiritual Warfare:

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (ESV)
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For two messages on Ephesians 6 see here and here. Some other posts on spiritual warfare see here and here.

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