May 1, 2007
Fighting a spiritual battle: The war between good and evil that our culture faces
by Kari Mitchell, Editor-in-Chief
Numerous questions arose about the reason why Seung-Hui Cho went on a murder rampage, killing 32 people and himself on the campus of Virginia Tech. Some speculated the cause to be depression and loneliness. Perhaps they were factors, but there is a greater battle – a spiritual battle – going on within the body and mind.
Spiritual warfare, the struggle between good and evil, is real. There are real battles going on between spiritual forces as described in Ephesians 5:12, which says, “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.”
A battle was being fought inside of Cho. In our culture, we give this spiritual war different names, such as depression in Cho’s case. However, the real battle is not against flesh and blood.
Dr. Ergun Caner briefly touched on the subject of spiritual warfare last Wednesday night during his sermon about testing the spirits. His sermon was based on 1 John 4:1, which says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” These spirits, both good and evil, present us with choices, and we must, at some point, choose.
Though these battles, the choices, seem difficult, we are ultimately promised the victory. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Satan is merely the “headless chicken flapping around,” a comparison Caner was able to make after visiting his wife’s family. He flaps around to distract us, to scare us, to confuse us.
God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. Satan is not, but he uses his demons to accomplish the work he himself is unable to complete alone. According to Caner, Satan and his demons cannot possess a believer because a Christian is inhabited by the Holy Spirit. Therefore both evil and good cannot dwell inside of the believer. However, a believer can be oppressed and subjected to various afflictions. The devil uses our feelings of worry, stress, anxiety and confusion to draw us away from Christ.
C.S. Lewis illustrates this battle in “The Screwtape Letters.” The book is a fictional compilation of letters between the devil and his nephew Wormwood, a demon trying to secure a man’s soul. The book gives an account of temptation from a demonic perspective.
The devil had advised Wormwood not to engage in argument but rather fix his attention on “the stream of immediate sense experiences.” C.S. Lewis describes the effectiveness of this strategy as the patient gives in to his own desires of the flesh, making it easier for Satan’s demons to attack. We must be aware of demonic attacks and maintain control of our fleshly thoughts and desires at all times.
Satan and his demons not only attack us during our weakest moments, but also when we are strongest. Job, described as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8), was tempted by Satan himself. Though he did not understand why he was being attacked, he chose to worship God. Instead of cursing God, Job cried, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” in the midst of his confusion.
We need to be fully aware of every battle that goes on in the spiritual realm and be prepared to fight when we are attacked by either demons or the desires of our flesh. To prepare for battle, we are instructed in Ephesians 5 to put on the armor of God: “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 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” (Ephesians 5:13-17).
We are also instructed to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 5:18).
Satan’s attacks are real, but Christ has equipped us for the battle, giving us power over the enemy. We are told in James 4:7 that when we resist the devil, he will flee from us.
We have the power to cast out Satan and his demons, as well as overcome depression, loneliness, heartache, anxiety and all other forms of bondage in our culture.
We have the power because the source of the power lives in us. Christianity is an inhabited faith – Christ lives in us. This is a battle we will never have to fight alone, and we have already been promised victory.
Contact Kari Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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