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Spiritual Warfare

I found the following definition of spiritual warfare on a webpage:

A definition of Spiritual Warfare

From a Christian perspective, spiritual warfare is the cosmic war of good versus evil: its battles are fought daily between God and Satan; between the Christian Church and the world system ruled by our spiritual enemy; and within every child of God, between the Holy Spirit and the lusts of the carnal flesh. The clear meanings of good and evil, as defined by God rather than man, are revealed within the verses of the Holy Bible and the life of Jesus Christ.

This definition is not accurate. There is not a battle going on between good and evil, between God and Satan. There is a battle going on between human beings, their own fallen nature and demonic forces. The only good is God and God does not have to battle against evil. As for a battle between the church and world forces ruled by our enemy, I am quite sure we can find the church actively working with the world forces today. The institutional church is more part of the problem than an aid in the human struggle.

So how would one define spiritual warfare?

I believe spiritual warfare is an individual and communal struggle against those things which would seek to impede us, distract us, and attempt to destroy our faith, our hope in God’s promises, and if possible, even our lives. It is a war in which there are no neutral parties. In this war human beings are either struggling to be victors or are struggling to limit the damage they experience as victims (knowingly or unknowingly).

Now, back to the church. The church as the catholic or universal body of Christ exists apart from the institutional structures that call themselves the church. The institutional church is a creation of humanity as primarily a social control institution and as a religious guild. In America today, with the loss of cultural pressures for all people to be a practicing church member, the religious guild has turned toward a consumer mentality much like that of competitive capitalism. Doctrinal identity is not as important as financial survivability. Not all local churches have given in to this mentality but most denominations have.

Still, within the institutional church there exist those individual Christians who for true communities that seek to do just, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Most of the individuals who engage in this spiritual dynamic also have developed spiritual disciples that make it harder for their spiritual enemies to defeat and destroy them. These individuals have focused on developing a relationship with God that is alive and active. This relationship is one of paramount importance in these individual’s lives.

The strongest and most effective individuals are people who have a regular prayer practice, are biblically literate with a good theological grasp of what they believe and value, and are actively living lives that are service (other oriented) for the glory of God. The problem is that these people are becoming fewer and fewer. Extended struggles in which much of the fighting is done with limited support and peer hostility tends to drain and discourage those who are active in the fight. Still those whose commitment and fidelity to Jesus are firm and carry on.

Let’s face it, if we believe Scripture, the current condition is only going to get worse unless there is a revival of orthodox faith and practices. The enemy (both within and without) has been empowered by human laxity in spiritual matters. What happens next is up to the remnant of those who are still willing to stand.

I have become convinced that spiritual direction is perhaps the best (if not the best) resource available to help individuals and faith-based communities in winning spiritual battles. Spiritual direction aids in developing contemplative practices, developing tools for reflection and discernment, and developing resistance to culturally conditioned deceptions and destructive behaviors.

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