SPIRITUAL WARFARE series: Part 1 of 15 – The Armor of God, Conduct in the Campaign & Implementing the Victory of Christ in our Lives!

In today’s world, churches in error seem to be polarizing, to a large degree, between these two groups of fellowships: the one group hardly recognizes, or not at all, the existence of Satan, the kingdom of darkness, spiritual warfare and are involved in this world merely as social agencies, self-help institutions, and a platform from which to address entirely earthly, non-spiritual, political and social issues. Rick Warren is a prime example of this.

The other group seems fixated on nothing but spiritual warfare, the kingdom of darkness, and Satan; their battle strategies and objectives seem centered around “reclaiming this world/nation/city for God” which is something the LORD Jesus Christ never did, nor did any of His apostles.
The church received no such command to “reclaim” (A review of JOHN 17 where the LORD Jesus Christ prays to the Father is most revealing in this regard). They get into unbiblical practises which in themselves can lead a Christian astray from the Truth just as effectively as the Emerging Church Movement and its proponents (like Rick Warren as mentioned above); included among these would be such teachers as C. Peter Wagner and the late Derek Prince (strangely enough Wagner has been a spiritual mentor of R. Warren’s for a long time).

Those are the extreme positions (of course not all churches can be accounted for in these two groups), and as usual the Truth resides somewhere in-between; precisely that is, in an accurate appraisal of the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures.
An exhaustive treatment of this subject would be worthy of an entire book (and there are some, though not many that have been already published which prove useful; I have a list of such books at the end of this article)!

"Spiritual Warfare - it's not just for Sundays anymore!"

CONGRATULATIONS! You have enlisted in the spiritual bootcamp of the LORD’s Army, serving the King, the LORD Jesus Christ, and His Kingdom in a very special capacity: as true and holy warriors of GOD!

2 TIMOTHY 2:1-4
1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

PART One of Fifteen – A PRELIMINARY WORD

Having completed the study in the book of Ephesians, I thought it would be more profitable if I left out chapter 6, verses 10 through 18 and treated this portion of scripture in a more detailed study on our spiritual warfare, here (originally published on) The TRUTH Under FIRE.
TWO EXTREMES In The CHURCH TODAY: Churches may fall into two groups: one group hardly recognizes, or not at all, the existence of Satan, the kingdom of darkness, spiritual warfare and instead exists in this world as life improvement clubs, self-help institutions, and a platform from which to address entirely earthly, non-spiritual, political and social issues. Rick Warren is a prime example of this.

The other group seems obsessed with spiritual warfare, the kingdom of darkness, and Satan (they talk about him more than they do JESUS!); their battle strategies and objectives seem centered around “reclaiming this world/nation/city for God” which is something the LORD Jesus Christ never did, nor did any of His apostles. This is the mission statement of the New Apostolic Reformation movement (NAR): to reclaim all the world for Christ.
The church received no such command to “reclaim” any land or kingdom (A review of JOHN 17 where the LORD Jesus Christ prays to the Father reveals this). They get into unbiblical practices which can lead a Christian astray from the Truth just as effectively as the Emerging Church Movement and its promoters; also included are such teachers: C. Peter Wagner and the late Derek Prince of NAR.
Those are the extremes (of course not all churches can be accounted for in these two groups). As usual the truth resides somewhere in between; precisely that is, in the truth of the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures.

An exhaustive treatment of this subject would be worthy of an entire book (There is a list of such books at the end of this session)!
Never before has the church found herself in such trouble, as today’s world falls into greater and deeper darkness than at any other time in the church’s two thousand year history; the Light of the church (generally speaking) seems to be growing dim! The only other time the church needed to conduct such a high-level campaign of spiritual warfare was during the Dark Ages. It was then that those who stood strong on the Word of God as the ultimate and singular authority for the church and for the saint were confronted by oppressive religion that sought to persecute and destroy any that would not submit to its own authority (rather than God’s)! The church today is being challenged to disregard the authority of GOD’s Word and obey the unbiblical ideas of man and the lies of Satan. It is therefore with a sense of urgency that we will engage in this study and hope that by God’s empowering grace He will enable us to produce fruit both beneficial to the church as well as glorifying the LORD!

The DIVISIONS of ARTICLES for THIS SERIES: The first three parts (1-3) are all foundational and must be understood before we proceed to examine the armor of GOD, and the methods of spiritual warfare. There are seven instruments included in our spiritual arsenal which we are to employ in the warfare in the spiritual realm, and this study will examine each of these.
These seven instruments are (1) the belt of Truth, (2) the breastplate of Righteousness, (3) ‘shoes’ (technically greaves) shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace, (4) the shield of Faith, (5) the helmet of Salvation, (6) the sword of the Spirit, and also – (7) prayer!
Also included, subjects like: Our spiritual strength, the power and might of the LORD, our stand and resistance against the enemy, the supreme struggle against the enemy and his tactics, the hierarchy of the kingdom of darkness, diligent perseverance as watchmen and prayer warriors in and for the church, and others besides.

TO BEGIN WITH: “FINALLY”
At the end of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, in chapter six, we read the word at vs.10, “Finally” which in the Greek refers to “something yet remaining, or unfulfilled which requires addressing”. Of particular note is the relationship between the LORD Jesus Christ and His bride, the church (EPH 5:24-32) and before anything further can be said about spiritual warfare, we must first have a clear understanding of (1) our relationship WITH the LORD and (2) the authority we have IN Christ.
SPIRITUAL REBIRTH: To be “in Christ”, that is, to belong to Him as a disciple, to be a Christian, a follower of the LORD, one must be born again; one must have indwelling them the very Spirit of Christ Jesus and become a new creation spiritually speaking (this spiritual rebirth was predicted in EZEKIEL 36:26-27):

2 CORINTHIANS 6:16b
. . . As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”
JOHN 3:3
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (read through to vs.7) see also 1 PET 1:23.

ROMANS 8:9
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

It is vital to understand that without salvation taking place on a personal level, the soul is eternally lost, remaining severed from the only source of life there is, the God of all creation. No one is able to conduct any form of spiritual warfare until one becomes a member of the Kingdom of God (entrance according to The LORD Jesus Christ requires spiritual rebirth (being born again). Paul refers to this as “regeneration” in TITUS 3:5). Upon entrance into the Kingdom of God however, the saint then becomes a marked target by the enemy who is opposed to all things of Christ and His Kingdom. As children of God and of Light, who once were children of disobedience and darkness, we have been liberated from Satan’s kingdom into God’s!

COLOSSIANS 1:12-13
12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed [transported] us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

Whether we Christians would wish it or not, we are a part of this spiritual army and this warfare! The choice remains with each individual Christian as to what role they will play in this war: as a ‘paladin’ (which is a knightly high official in the King’s court sworn to valor and strong duty in military defense of the kingdom and the cause of the King) or a P.O.W.!

The BODY of CHRIST, the TEMPLE of GOD, Our SOURCE of LIFE:
As one born of and indwelt by God’s Spirit, the individual becomes a temple of God; as well as this, a member of the corporate temple of believers or “the body of Christ” – the church!

1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (The ‘slave market’ is where people indebted or incarcerated from a defeated enemy was where relatively wealthy people would go to purchase a slave. The ‘product’ would be presented in the public square, stripped naked and poked, prodded and inspected in the most humiliating fashion. We were all indebted to GOD because of sin, and in Satan’s slave market. The LORD Jesus came and purchased (redeemed) us and delivered us out of slavery, paying for our spiritual freedom by His own blood!

EPHESIANS 2:19-22
19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
1 CORINTHIANS 12:27
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members individually.
EPHESIANS 5:23
For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body.

Now, read this carefully: Without a head, you’re dead! Profound, I know, but in a spiritual sense it’s important to understand that our life, our inspiration, instruction, direction; our wisdom, truth and knowledge and of course the mercy and grace, peace and love that we receive, we receive from the LORD Jesus Christ (ACTS 2:36), He Who is the Head of the Church and is the True Vine (JOHN 15:1). Jesus Christ is spiritually speaking the bread, water, milk and meat, the very spiritual food for the church (see JOHN 6:35,53-63;7:37; 1 COR 3:2; HEB 5:12-14; 1 PET 2:2).

In spiritual warfare, this connection of eternal life between Christ and the disciple is all important and is maintained between LORD and disciple for any mission to have success. Essentially, we must abide in His Word (JOHN 8:31), we must abide in the true Vine (JOHN 15)! We must be partakers of and obedient to His Holy Word! We must also be active and fervent in prayer (JAMES 5:16)! And stay in fellowship with saints! The enemy is fully aware of the necessity of this connection between the disciple and Christ, and does everything possible to interfere, interrupt and ruin it and deny the Christian victory. Concerning the extreme value and necessity of God’s Holy Word, Charles Spurgeon had much to say:

“If the revelation of God wasn’t enough for our faith, what could we add to it? Who can answer this question? What would any man propose to add to the sacred Word? A moment’s thought would lead us to [despise] the most attractive words of men, if it were proposed to add them to the Word of God. The fabric would not be of [the same kind]. Would you add rags to a royal vestment? Would you pile the filth of the streets into a king’s treasury? Anything more than [what] the Word of God [gives] us, for us to believe and to preach [the words] of men seems utterly absurd to us; yet we confront a generation of men who are always wanting to discover a new motiv[ating] power, and a new gospel for their churches. Well; if there [is] any spiritual force or heavenward power to be found beyond that reported of in this Book, I think we can do without it: The Scriptures [on their own] are like God in the universe—All-sufficient. In them is revealed all the light and power the mind of man can [ever] need in spiritual things.”
(Taken from: The SPURGEON ARCHIVE – The Greatest Fight in the World

ADOPTED CHILDREN, OVERCOMERS and OUR INHERITED AUTHORITY/POWER
OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:
Tracing the threads of our spiritual position to the beginning of the epistle to the Ephesians we read in vs. 5 of chapter One:

EPHESIANS 1:5
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Adoption here is from the Greek word: huiothesia, and it refers not so much to our spiritual rebirth and [acceptance] into the family of God, but our placement in the position and authority as children (and heirs) of God, receiving from Him said power and authority. The LORD Jesus during His earthly ministry gave the same kind of spiritual authority to His disciples; see – MATT 28:18-20; MARK 6:7; LUKE 10:1-12, 16-24). The Spirit of God was with them but had not yet indwelt them (read JOHN 7:39). Saved by faith, yes! Indwelt by the Spirit? Not yet. They weren’t born again until JOHN 20:22. We see our LORD’s ascension into heaven and still He was working with His disciples:

MARK 16:19-20
19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

The LORD Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, that He is with us (prior to salvation) and shall be in us (upon the moment of being born again of the Spirit) in JOHN 14:17. Yet there is a third interaction with the Holy Spirit as described in ACTS 1:8 : “power from on high” or “epi”. This “upon” power was present with the disciples (temporarily, as it was with the prophets of the Old Testament) when so authorized by the LORD Who commissioned them with evangelism, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, etc. This third interaction is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and we can receive ‘refresher baptisms’ through our lives as well!

The ‘WITH’, ‘IN’, And ‘UPON’ Of The HOLY SPIRIT
“There are three key Greek prepositions, which help us to better understand this work of the Spirit. The words “with” (para), “in” (en), and “upon” (epi). He is with us (para) even before we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, for it is the Holy Spirit who draws us to Jesus, and convinces us of our need for a Savior (JOHN 14:17; 15:26; 16:7-9). The very moment we say “yes” to Him and invite Him in, He then is in us (en), and gives us new birth or regeneration. We are now His child, part of the family of God.

“According to EPHESIANS 1:13, we are now sealed with the Holy Spirit, meaning we belong to GOD now. Yet, there is a third work of the Spirit given to us, which imparts power upon us (epi) enabling us to be dynamic witnesses. In ACTS 1:8 on the day of Pentecost, the disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” This word indicates that the Holy Spirit desires to be continually overflowing us.

“In LUKE 3:21-22, Jesus came to John at the Jordan River to be baptized in water. As He came up from the water, the Holy Spirit descended upon (epi) Him and a voice from heaven said, “You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” In LUKE 4, we find Jesus being filled, or overflowed with the Spirit [In fulfillment of ISAIAH 61:1-2a]. From the Jordan River, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted by Satan and then having overcome every temptation, He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit to begin the ministry His Father had sent Him to do. In LUKE 4:18, Jesus spoke of His anointing by the Father “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

This upon (epi) experience empowers the believer for service and boldness as GOD’s witnesses (and warriors!). It is an outflowing of the Spirit, a flowing forth from my life of the dunamis. It is the power of the Spirit working through my life and touching the lives of those around me…”
NOTE: The Spirit of God being with us, and in us is vital, and yet to engage the enemy in warfare, we must also have the anointing of the Spirit – epi – if we are to be effective and victorious.

This anointing happens in addition to the LORD’s indwelling Spirit, entering into the heart (of the repentant sinner turned saint) then grows in effective power and flows more freely through us when we’re intent upon seeking Him, with a heart of humility, surrender and a desire for increased sanctification in our lives.
The spiritual life we have inherited is one of enormous spiritual power, and as children of God in this lofty position, this power is directed by God and our knowledge of His will through the Holy Scriptures (we know we have the petitions we ask for if they are indeed in accordance with the will of God, 1 JOHN 5:14-15).
The birthright of the believer in this authority does not make us ‘little gods’, “proclaiming and declaring” words of authority and setting forth our will by Divine power, as some would have us believe (such as in the Word-Faith Movement). Rather, it’s to conduct authoritative action in compliance with, not in contradiction to God’s own will, which we recognize in the Holy Bible.

We have inherited His Spirit, and been given the spirit of understanding, true enlightenment, riches of the glory of God and this exceeding power that raised Christ Jesus up from the dead and placed our LORD at the right hand of the Father, above all spiritual powers in the entire heavenly and angelic (both good and evil) realms. All things are placed under the feet of the LORD Jesus Christ Who is the Head of the church which is His body (EPH 1:13-22).

NOTE: We are His body, and all things are placed under His feet (His feet also being part ‘of the body’) and so all Satan’s kingdom is, positionally speaking, beneath us. This is important to understand and believe if spiritual warfare is to be successful. As we understand by faith that this is so, we are no longer threatened by any attack of the enemy, nor intimidated by his assaults!! Acknowledging the victory of Christ in winning the entire war with Satan, we may be assured He is with us in the battles we face; we have peace and confidence in the outcome of this spiritual warfare.
We the church, have been brought to life who were once spiritually dead because of sins and trespasses, once under the domination of the Prince of the power of the air (Satan). We were considered along with the rest of humanity as “children of disobedience” but are now raised up by God’s mercy and grace to a place of honor (EPH 2:1-5). We are as the church positionally seated, where now? What does it say?

EPHESIANS 2:6
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

This sounds like a rather strange idea; each of us who are in Christ Jesus, while we live and walk among the people of this world, existing here physically, also exist (positionally) in a very real spiritual sense, “…together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”! We have no right nor place to that seat in heaven but by the grace and empowering authority of God that brought us into the Kingdom in the first place as His children (Read JOHN 1:12)!
I believe that we share in the authority of Christ Jesus and in His Name as His bride (REV 21:9; 22:17), as ambassadors who speak in the Name and authority of the LORD (2 COR 5:20) and as overcomers (1 JOHN 5:4) who will one day sit with Christ on His own Throne, just as Jesus sits on His Father’s Throne. We are overcomers in Christ!

REVELATION 3:21
21 “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 1 JOHN 4:4; 5:4-5; REV 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12, and REV 21:7.

We are born of God by faith, and shall partake of the Tree of Life, receive the hidden manna and a new name engraved in a white stone. We won’t suffer from the second death (REV 20:14), we shall be clothed upon in His righteousness and won’t have our names blotted out of the Book of Life (REV 3:5). We shall witness our LORD confessing us before the Father and His angels (see also LUKE 12:8) and shall inherit all things.

Recommended books on the subject of Spiritual Warfare
WAR of the AGES by Greg Reid * < this book only is required reading for this course!
The COMPLETE WORKS on PRAYER by E.M. Bounds
The CHRISTIAN In COMPLETE ARMOR – William Gurnall
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING – by Alan Redpath
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN SERVICE “ “
The MAKING of a MAN of GOD – “ “
The INVISIBLE WAR – by Donald Barnhouse
SPIRITUAL WARFARE IN A BELIEVERS LIFE – by Charles Spurgeon
CLASSIC SERMONS On SPIRITUAL WARFARE – Warren Wiersbe
The STRATEGY of SATAN – “ “
RESTORING YOUR SPIRITUAL PASSION – by Gordon MacDonald
The TRUTH WAR – by John MacArthur
The PRACTICE of GODLINESS
The PURSUIT Of HOLINESS – these last two titles by Jerry Bridges