How does the Bible teach us to wage spiritual war?
Let us understand that we can win spiritual battles if we are willing to use the right handbook.
We will look at the Holy Spirit's work, the restoration between God and humanity, the slanderer and how Jesus waged spiritual war.
The Holy Spirit’s work
Jesus was reported as being full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4). What happened? The phrases “full of the Holy Spirit” or “Spirit filled” are often misused today. The Holy Spirit’s work was mentioned in this chapter three times. Each time different circumstances were described and it helps us understand some aspects of the Holy Spirit’s role in Jesus’ ministry. The first time in verse 1 when the phrase “full of the Holy Spirit” was used, it was associated with Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness for a period of temptation and fasting. Then in verse 14 Jesus was again portrayed “in the power of the Spirit” and teaching. The third time verse 18 revealed the Holy Spirit as being upon Jesus for preaching. This chapter described the Holy Spirit’s work in Jesus’ preparation, teaching and preaching.
How restoration begins
When relationships are broken, it takes a very long time and a lot of patience to restore them. If we have made major mistakes how do we begin to repair things? Humanity made a major mistake at the beginning. Our ancestors rejected God and we have followed the same path. That restoration began in Jesus and it began with a fast and resisting temptation (Luke 4:1-13). A time of fasting before assuming a major responsibility has been the habit of many of the faithful down through history. Resisting temptation is an ongoing struggle for Christians. Lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, anger, envy and pride are always around. Idolatry, hatred, theft, sexual unfaithfulness, dishonesty, gossip and more tempt us every day. Jesus resisted the devil by recalling Scripture. The word of God is a powerful weapon in the face of temptation.
Enemies are a part of life. How do we deal with our adversaries? Our enemies sometimes tempt us to do seemingly good things, but with strings attached. When life seems to offer us something good it is always wise to consider the source. The adversary tempts us with power and prestige. When life offers us authority and status it is wise to ask at what cost. The antagonist tempts us to be reckless. When we are tempted to take a leap of faith, it is wise to ask if it is not in reality a leap of foolishness. The personality that Jesus confronted as he was being tested in the wilderness was a slanderer. That’s what the word devil means (Luke 4:1-13). How do we deal with the devil? We have a handbook for that. It’s called the Bible.
Jesus and spiritual war
Some advice given under the title “spiritual warfare” is more like ineffective superstition than biblical instruction and can even be potentially harmful in the reality of spiritual combat. The devil would love for us to go into battle with useless weapons. Paul’s advice on putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and Jesus’ battle royal with Satan (Luke 4:1-13) are two examples of truthful material whereby we can achieve real victory in spiritual battles. The weapons of engagement in Jesus’ case were fasting and the word of God. Jesus described prayer and fasting elsewhere as effective tools against the forces of evil (Mark 9:14-21). To the Ephesians Paul also described the Holy Scriptures as a sword, an offensive weapon in combat. Prayer and fasting and Bible skill are tried and true weapons of spiritual war.
Jesus waged spiritual war using the Bible. How well are we versed in that weapon of battle against our enemy the devil?