Spiritual Warfare on Earth: Definition, meaning, the Armor of God, and How to Recognize the Opposition (Ephesians 6)
A Quick Fable
A young orphaned boy sat alone on a city street corner begging for food when, out of painful hunger, he bowed his head and prayed to God for an angel to rescue him. When he opened his eyes, two men were standing in front of him. One was dressed in fine linens and the other in a dirty, well-worn robe. The wealthy man asked the boy why he is starving when so much food is all around. “Surely these vendors would understand a starving boy needing food.” The young boy sorrowfully answered, “I asked that man across the street but he could not afford to give me anything.”
The rich man became upset and called the vendor selfish and greedy. “Look, his store has more than enough bread out front. Go take a loaf since he is too greedy to share! Greed is a sin and he does not deserve to make a profit!” The rich man stormed off in anger but confident he solved the boy’s problem, but the poor man stayed a moment longer.
But the poor man..
“I have been where you are and I know the pain of hunger. But committing this sin is not justified by another man’s greed. I know you are hungry, but food is temporary, and that man’s advice will lead you down a much darker path. You may eat today but you will hunger again tomorrow. Will you steal again? Come with me and I will show you how to earn your meals. The choice is yours and my path is much harder on the body, but it is merciful on your soul.”
The boy looked at the storefront and realized the rich man was right, he could easily take a loaf of bread and the owner would never know. He also knew that God would never lead him down that path, a sin does not justify another sin. So he took the poor man’s hand and felt comfort. He was still hungry, but he left his guilt, fear, and shame on that street corner.
Soon the boy discovered that this dirty man he trusted was not poor at all but a hardworking, successful shepherd. The shepherd taught the boy his trade and soon adopted him as his own son, whom he and his barren wife had prayed for. The boy worked hard, ate plenty, was well loved and cared after, and his soul was at peace knowing God had heard his prayer and sent him an angel after all.
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
We are all aware that God and Lucifer are stark opposites. So, we believe that everything moral and spiritual is laid out as black or white. But unlike God, Satan works in the grey area of good and evil. A very effective tactic because we often cannot differentiate what is good and what is bad. As Christians, we often try to justify the means to an end by using this grey area to calculate if the good outweighs the evil we commit. We forget that it is every step of our journey on earth that sets the example to others around us. Many great deeds will go unnoticed, but our wrongs always seem to grab attention.
Our greatest benefit in this war of deciding good versus evils is God’s consistency. He does not deviate, he does not contradict himself, and he does not change. God is like true north on our compass. We only need to look to the examples and decisions he has made to find our bearings. If Satan is so opposite of God, then perhaps knowing God better will prepare us when we question the times of grey.
Good vs Evil
We all know that God is good and Satan is evil, but do we really grasp that completely? Bad things happen and we want to blame God for causing it, but if he is only good, then that is outside his character. Blaming God is a naïve way of handling something we cannot process so we need someone to condemn. Blaming God is not walking in the faith of His goodness or trusting his plan, it is questioning his intentions; essentially questioning Him and His perfection.
This is that grey area where Satan loves to work. Doubt, blame, anger, humiliation, the Jezebel spirit; these are not characteristics of God’s glory but humanly emotions. You only have to know the character of God or Satan to know the other. If Satan is anger then God is understanding. And if God is never changing then Satan places seeds of doubt. Anytime we are in a situation and unsure of the path to follow, we should pray to God and know that his answer will lead us down a righteous path, not a regretful one.
"Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Matthew 16:23
Truth vs lies
Have you ever told a “little white lie” to spare someone’s feelings? We even call it a “white” lie to make it seem pure and innocent, but if we are looking to our Father as our example, God does not lie. If we are aware that lying is wrong, why do we think white fibs are okay? This is that grey area where the devil does his best work. You lie to someone to spare their feelings and when they find out, they understand your intentions but also have lost confidence in your words. Innocent at first, but it erodes our values and ability to tell between good and evil. We like to think sin and evil are quick and painful but sometimes they are small and patient, slowly eroding us away from God until we find ourselves on the wrong side of the grey scale.
We know that God is always truthful and therefore, Satan lies; opposites. Now the devil may hide his lies within truths, but that is a manipulation tactic and in itself deceitful. There are other ways to not be hurtful without telling a little “white lie.” We just turn to lying because it’s in our nature and it is the easiest path. This is amplified with marriage. Satan would love nothing more than to wedge little lies between a husband and wife. Divide them and you divide their relationship together with God.
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
Self vs selfless
Selfishness verses selflessness is the greatest growing divide for Christians today. We take selfies with selfie sticks while reading self-help blogs, seeking self-healing for self-motivation.
Our God created the entire universe with spoken words. He has parted seas, raised the dead, and was the inventor of the human mind. All that and yet He left the perfection of heaven, came to earth to suffer, died an excruciating death and rose again just for our salvation. Jesus was the embodiment of selflessness, He may ask for our praise but it’s only because He is more than worthy of it. When I became a father, I wanted my children to love and respect me, is that too much to ask? God created us, blesses us, cares for us and all He wants is a loving relationship in return. That doesn’t strike me as selfish.
Satan, on the other hand, is about self-preservation, glory, honor, and self-centered ideologies. He wants us to look into the mirror and hate what God made us and he wants us to climb the corporate ladder on the backs of others. This is a being who sees himself above God, knowing God’s perfection, grace, and mercy. So, if you are in the grey area and your decision will benefit no one but yourself or you aren’t considering those you will hurt, it isn’t God who is leading you down that path.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. James 3:16
Together vs separate
Jesus came and built the foundation for the church, bringing people from all around the world together for a single purpose. We are stronger together and Satan knows that. He knows that together we have support systems, motivation, comfort, help, and love. You can see Satan working in the Christian marriage, tearing love apart by planting seeds that grow over time. God offers redemption even after divorce but Satan hopes to keep those separated, to live in self-doubt and depression and not return to their church family where they will find healing and love.
But with God we are one. In marriage we become one flesh, in church we become one body, and in worship we praise with one united voice. So when we are being divided we have to look closer to see what is dividing us and what are the intentions. Are we distancing ourselves from evil or is evil distancing us from God.
"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them..” Matthew 18:20
Omnipotence vs earthly power
The supreme and unlimited power of God is exclusively His, no dark forces weld omnipotence. Unlike God, Satan cannot be everywhere at one time, cannot grant us eternal life, nor provide us salvation. Satan does not speak to us the same way God does, he simply whispers in our ear and uses those that follow him to commit evil deeds against us. We are surrounded by forces of good and evil, they are doing battle on this earth. The shape the world is going, many may think that the evil forces are winning. But one day, God will simply speak a word and banish all evil from this world, because he has the power to do so.
Satan would love us to think he has the power of God, to be all around us all the time; but he is not God and he is very limited, especially when you accept Christ and put on the armor of God.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:10-18
When in doubt think about the Opposites
Our views of good and evil are slowly merging together. We are seeing social issues that directly contradict the Bible and scripture misused to justify it. Social norms are slowly becoming doctrine and certain sins are being watered down to become “lax recommendations.” But God does not change. He sees these sins the same way he did when adulterers would be put to death for their actions; the difference is that we live under the blanket of salvation. Now society wants to see how “grey” they can be, trying to find the limits of Christ’s sacrifice. There isn’t a limit, but instead of testing our boundaries, lets embrace the peace offered through a loving relationship with God.
There was a time when I saw photography as the cover of a Vogue magazine, but trusting God I now see it as a way to inspire others in God’s greatness. When God opens your eyes to the world you see beauty in everything around you. Photography with God is like seeing the world without all the special lighting and makeup. Its real, natural, and so beautiful. I see the inner beauty in every portrait and I see God’s hand in every landscape. So I have made it my mission to travel the opposite path Lucifer would have me walk and place my lens in God’s direction. I will slip and stumble but I still stay on God’s path and take comfort in his promise of salvation, and I know you can too.