Home Church Community

Statement of Beliefs

Contact Us

Search Our Site

Bible Study Resource

Printer Friendly Version

Particulars of Christianity:
311 Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare Part 2a
The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer

Spiritual Warfare Part 1a: A Study of Demonic Activity
Spiritual Warfare Part 1b: A Study of Demonic Activity
Spiritual Warfare Part 2a: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare Part 2b: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare Part 2c: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare Part 2d: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare P. 3a: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Spiritual Warfare P. 3b: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Spiritual Warfare P. 3c: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Spiritual Warfare Study Conclusions
Spiritual Warfare Additional Quotes and Definitions

The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer

Now that we have dealt with our first spiritual warfare question, which was concerned with a Biblical understanding of demonic activity, we will now move on to our second question.

2. How does the Bible portray spiritual warfare? What does it entail? How do Christians engage in it, etc.?

In this section of our study we will examine the Biblical presentation of spiritual warfare in regards to the fourth conception that many in the modern church have about this subject. This fourth modern view of spiritual warfare that we listed was that:

4. Spiritual warfare is the prayer life of a believer, which involves our engaging in combat, binding and loosing, and casting out fallen angels and demons in heavenly realms.

Consequently, we will demonstrate from the scripture (as we stated earlier) that:

4. Spiritual warfare is a personal and worldwide struggle between the truth of God and the deceit of the Devil and those under him. This struggle is largely concerned with our minds and understanding, and while it involves prayer, it not exclusively the prayer life of the believer.

Before we proceed into the scripture let's stop and take some time to layout the modern church view that we are examining.

In recent years many fiction books have appeared on the bookshelves of our local Christian Bookstores in which angels and angelic activity are given imaginative and at times stirring treatment. Some of these works present the idea that angelic warfare is interconnected to the prayer life of the believer in a very intimate way. The result upon contemporary Christian thinking is that all around us, just beyond our sensual perception, angels battle in the heavenly realms affecting our daily lives, empowered or frustrated (in the case of wicked angels) largely by the prayers of God's people. Their relative success or failure to see God's will accomplished or halted has come to be viewed by some as mostly or solely dependent upon the fervency of our prayers.

While the Bible does support the belief that there are guardian angels assigned to each of us, to guard us and assist us we have very little information about what that assistance involves. And secondly, it must be understood that the Bible DOES NOT in any way support the notion that the success or failure of these angelic activities is dependent upon anything we do including prayer.

So, while it fine and good for fictional books to speculate about these types of things for the purposes of entertainment, it is NOT acceptable to let them dictate our beliefs and understanding about angelic activity to the level that some have.

Clearly stated, the Bible DOES NOT support the idea suggested in such works of fiction that:

1. Angels fight in heavenly realms in attempt to affect the minor, daily activities our lives.
2. The success or failure of angelic activity to accomplish or hinder God's will is dependent upon anything we, as believers, do including prayer.
3. That the prayer life or praise and worship of a Christian is our spiritual act of warfare.

With regard to No.3, from a Biblical perspective prayer and praise may have something to do with the spiritual warfare of the believer, but their involvement has been much exaggerated. For the most part the New Testament presents our act of spiritual warfare as a mental struggle, to align our thoughts, character, and behavior with God's Will, chiefly made known to us by His Word. It is our continued efforts to avoid being led astray by our own sinful nature and the false doctrine of the enemy to deceive us so into falling away from or failing to attain the salvation God intends for us.

Now that we have laid out our arguments, we will turn to the scripture to see what the Bible has to say. We will cover each aspect point by point, and build our case as we continue, taking note of what the Bible does say and what it does not say on these issues. (Strong's numbers are included in parenthesis behind significant words so that the reader can look them up in the Greek.)

As we continue PLEASE NOTE: 1) how little (if ever) the scripture passages on spiritual warfare mention or speak about prayer or praise on the part of the believer, 2) that the only thing, affected by our participation is our own level of understanding or deception.

Point No. 1
Our battle is indeed with angelic adversaries.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle (3823) not against flesh and blood, but against principalities (746), powers (1849), against the rulers (2888) of the darkness (4655) of this world (165), against spiritual (4152) wickedness in high (2032) [places]

Ephesians 6 is one of the main passages, which discuss spiritual warfare and is one, which anyone who has studied the subject is no doubt familiar. Verse 12 of this chapter clearly informs us that we struggle against spiritual beings in high places. For reasons, which we will cover in the next section of our study, this is a reference to angels. For now we can demonstrate that this is the case by referring to Romans 8:38 and 1 Peter 3:22, both of which confirm that principalities and powers are angels.

Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels (32), nor principalities (746), nor powers (1411), nor things present, nor things to come 39 nor height (5313), nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Peter 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels (32) and authorities (1849) and powers (1411) being made subject unto him.

So, the scripture does confirm that Christians are engaged in a struggle with angelic adversaries. But what is this struggle over, how is it fought, where is it fought? Our next points will address these issues.

Spiritual Warfare - Its all in your mind

Point No. 2
The battlefield of our spiritual warfare is the human mind.

Even a cursory examination of the passages of scripture, which discuss our spiritual struggle against angelic adversaries, shows that our battle is a mental one. It is the struggle to develop a right and mature understanding of God's Word or give way to an immature, ungodly world-view, which comes from the angelic enemy and our sinful nature.

2 Corinthians 4:4 and Ephesians 4:17 establish that the deception of the human mind is the objective of our angelic adversaries and the state of those who do not believe in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded (5186) the minds (3540) of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them

Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity (3153) of their mind (3563),

However, we know from Ephesians 2:2 that before we were saved in Christ Jesus, we were once just as those who do not believe.

Ephesians 2:2 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh (4561), fulfilling the desires of the flesh (4561) and of the mind (1271); and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 3 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

So, while we are in the world and are apart from God, we are deceived by our enemy, partakers of the sinful nature, and men of carnal minds. Yet after we are saved in Christ the enemy still seeks to lead us astray.

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled (1818) Eve through his subtlety (3834), so your minds (3540) should be corrupted (5351) from the simplicity (572) that is in Christ.

The Greek word for minds is the word noema (3540) which means a mental perception, an evil purpose, that which thinks, the mind, thoughts or purposes. It occurs 6 times in the New Testament and is translated as "mind" 4 times (2 Corinthians 4:4), "device" 1 time, and "thought" 1 time.

2 Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant (50) of his devices (3540)

2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us that we are not ignorant of satan's mind, his plans, his intentions, his strategy. And what is that strategy? As we have seen from earlier passages it is to deceive us, to blind us from God's will, to corrupt us from the saving knowledge of Christ.

To be sure, spiritual warfare is a battle over our minds, as 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 clearly confirms.

2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons (3696) of our warfare (4752) are not carnal (4559), but mighty (1415) through God to the pulling down (2506) of strong holds (3794) 5 Casting down (2507) imaginations (3053), and every high thing (5315) that exalteth itself (1869) against (2596) the knowledge (1108) of God, and bringing into captivity (163) every thought (3540) to the obedience (5218) of Christ

This passage from 2 Corinthians 10 is well known to those who study spiritual warfare, though it is often overlooked what this passage is actually stating regarding this issue. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us unequivocally that our struggle with our adversary is a mental battle. It is over our thoughts and our imaginations. It's about knowledge. It requires us to align our thinking to Christ, to God's will. It informs us that the weapons we utilize to accomplish this task aren't some strange metaphysical instruments, by which we subdue fallen angels, but which we use to subject our own thoughts to Christ.

Now that we know that the battle is fought in our minds and that the objective of the enemy is to deceive us we can take more in depth look at what we are trying to avoid, what we are struggling to prevent - the carnal mind.

Point No. 3
What we are trying to avoid in spiritual warfare is remaining carnal, worldly, and sinful in our thinking and in our minds.

As we noted earlier from 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Ephesians 2:2-3 and 4:17 all of us start out in this corrupt state of mind. It is the default mind and thinking of an unsaved person.

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally (4561) minded (5427) is death; but to be spiritually minded (5427) is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal (4561) mind is enmity (2189) against (1519) God: for it is not subject (5293) to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So, we see that we start out carnally minded, blinded by the Devil. And after we are saved, our minds are still targeted by the enemy. In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 Paul told us that we must make our previously carnal and sinful minds and thoughts subject to God and obedient to Christ.

The carnal mind is the product of the world and the enemy. It is an ungodly world-view or worldly wisdom, which, as Christians we must still fight to avoid.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil (2071) you through philosophy (5385) and vain (2756) deceit (539), after the tradition (3862) of men, after the rudiments (4747) of the world (2889), and not after Christ.

The word translated in this passages as "spoil" is the Greek word sulagogeo, which only occurs here in this passage. It means to carry off booty, to carry one off as a captive, or to lead away from the truth and subject to one's sway. And what is it that we are to avoid being carried away by? The philosophies and wisdom of men, which are devoid of truth, without spiritual value, worldly and deceitful.

So, worldly wisdom is unprofitable, deceptive, and must be made subject to Christ, but does this tie into the struggle we face against our angelic enemy? Well, yes actually, quite clearly. The following passages all point out that the wisdom of the world comes from our angelic adversaries.

Earlier in Ephesians 6 we saw that our struggle is against angelic rulers.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle (3823) not against flesh and blood, but against principalities (746), powers (1849), against the rulers (2888) of the darkness (4655) of this world (165), against spiritual (4152) wickedness in high (2032) [places]

1 Corinthians 2 informs us that these angelic rulers are the source of worldly wisdom, which we must rid ourselves of.

1 Corinthians 2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom (4675) among them that are perfect (5046): yet not the wisdom (4678) of this world (165), nor of the princes (758) of this world (165), that come to nought (2673), but we speak the wisdom of God…which none of the princes (758) of this world (165) knew (1097): for had they known (1097) [it], they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The wisdom of these angelic rulers is contrasted with the wisdom of God in Ephesians 3:10.

Ephesians 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities (746) and powers (1849) in heavenly (2032) [places] might be known (1107) by the church the manifold (4182) wisdom (4678) of God

And of course as we covered earlier, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 confirms this conclusion.

2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons (3696) of our warfare (4752) are not carnal (4559), but mighty (1415) through God to the pulling down (2506) of strong holds (3794) 5 Casting down (2507) imaginations (3053), and every high thing (5315) that exalteth itself (1869) against (2596) the knowledge (1108) of God, and bringing into captivity (163) every thought (3540) to the obedience (5218) of Christ; 6 and having in a readiness (2092) to revenge (1556) all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled (4137).

The word used in this passage for "casting down" is the Greek word kathaireo, which in the context of thoughts and knowledge means to take down, pull down, demolish, the subtle reasoning of opponents, or to refute. The Greek word for high thing is hupsoma, which is used only one other time, in Romans 8:39, which we looked at earlier and which referred to, among other things, angels.

What we see is that wicked angels in heavenly places seek to deceive mankind through worldly wisdom and blind us so that we do not come to the knowledge of Christ. So, now that we know what we are up against how do fight this battle?