Spiritual Warfare: A Power Struggle or Authority Realized

Ary Scheffer: The Temptation of Christ, 1854
Image via Wikipedia

The bulk of books done on spiritual warfare tend to tread along the lines of power struggle. The people of God praying, bind and rebuke the devil so that the forces of darkness falls out and gets defeated. This world-view seems to tell us that power is laid bare and in equal proportions for the forces of Good and Evil.

But is it?

If we believe that God is the one who rules and he is the sovereign one why should there be a power struggle where we have to ‘fight’ to regain what is rightfully God’s?

A passage that gets wrangled in interpretation is the one found in Ephesians 6 on the armour of God.

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For 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. 13Therefore 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.14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18And 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 saints.

Most people reading this assume that taking up the armor as being ready for battle. But, the part where I marked in bold; the word ‘stand’ speaks about something that is contrary to the belief that we put the armor to get ready for a fight. Standing here, by way of putting on the armor is for holding our ground against the devil and his forces.

Again as emphasized in v. 10 where we are called to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” brings  the idea that he has done something or that he is the one in power. So, if we are called to stand, it is a call to stand in the realization that we hold our ground in what has already been won.

With this in mind, the way we approach spiritual warfare is not by way of being on the assault but in the part where we realize that all authority is God’s and not the devil. Our part is to proclaim this victory and be firm in its implication.

God, in Jesus, has already defeated the enemy by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. We, in response are called to stand by this belief and to always realize that spiritual warfare is not a power struggle but an authority realized.

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