Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:11–12
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Christian life was simply believing in Jesus and living happily ever after? But anyone who has sought to seriously follow the Lord has found it to be otherwise. Jesus promised His followers that tribulation and opposition would mark life in this world. The primary source of that opposition is the devil and a multitude of wicked spirits who form a united front against the kingdom of God.
The Enemy’s Opposition
The enemy’s opposition is evident in a million different situations, but they’re all connected. We see it in everything from bombed churches; to the murder of missionaries; to the imprisonment of church leaders; to our media’s constant assault upon the church and biblical standards of morality; to the scientific community’s irrational hatred of the idea of divine creation as an explanation for the origins of life; to the persecution that comes on the job or from family members; to the confusion and doubt that sometimes clouds our minds as we attempt to study the Bible; to the distractions that bombard us while we’re trying to pray; to the fear that seizes us when opportunities to share our faith arise; to the battle that often ensues as we attempt to gather for fellowship.
Now, I am certain that every Christian has faced this opposition, some more intensely than others. Yet, I am also certain that many have not realized that these difficulties are part of a fierce spiritual battle.
The Enemy in Disguise
One of Satan’s most effective strategies is to keep us ignorant of the existence of this spiritual warfare. He disguises himself so well that we do not recognize what is actually taking place. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, the devils hail with delight the materialist who disbelieves in their existence (Screwtape Letters. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 2001). Although Lewis’s statement might not apply to any of us directly because we are Christians, not materialists, it does apply in that we often live in oblivion to the spiritual realm that surrounds us.
None of us wants to be defeated by this opposition, so an introduction to the reality of spiritual warfare will help us on our way to the victory our Lord promises in this battle. In the weeks to come, we will be looking in depth at the topic of spiritual warfare.