When we think of spiritual warfare, we tend to conjure images right out of Dante’s Inferno. We see demons rising up to grab us. If you’ve ever been to one those Christianized Halloween spook houses where the demons in black turtlenecks and tights slither in to take the unrepentant soul to hell you know what I’m talking about. Scary stuff! The hosts of heaven and the hordes of hell vying for your soul as the hounds of heaven chase you.
As I thought about this topic for this week, I thought, hmmm, chasing demons. I know more about that then I ever wanted to know. We’ve lived in houses with all sorts of “issues.” Believe me, it’s real and it’s scary. I’ve walked through houses with the Bible reciting out loud prayers and scripture followed by lots of anointing oil.
While I do believe in this stuff, I think sometimes we get so diverted by the sensational that we forget that when the Bible talks about spiritual warfare, it talks about putting on the armor of God. The emphasis is not just on the battle, but the preparation.
There is something about watching the horrific events in Japan* that makes me think of spiritual warfare. Like the earthquake, the need to “battle” often comes unexpectedly. Life is going at a reasonable pace. Life is good. God is good. The flowers are blooming and the birds are singing. Then seemingly out of nowhere the earthquake comes. It might be a small tremor of doubt, fear, disbelief, discouragement, or depression that grips the heart. Sometimes those smaller tremors do serious damage to the soul.
Or like the dreadfulness in Japan, it may be a major earthquake. Those times when nothing in your life makes sense and you barely exist. You see death and destruction everywhere – it might be physical, it might be emotional. But it is real! You wander around confused, scared, and in shock. You are like the walking dead. We are hard pressed on every side … perplexed … persecuted… struck down (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
Spiritual warfare is like the Japanese earthquake experience in another way, preparedness. The earthquakes of life are going to come. The tremors may seem unrelenting. There may be a major shift in your life that changes everything and leaves you feeling pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down.
I’m reminded of the parable of Jesus. Maybe you sang the parable when you were a kid. It’s the one about the wise man and the foolish man - the one where the wise man builds his house upon the rock and the foolish on sand. You can read it here or enjoy this delightful video about the parable.
The Japanese were wise. They’ve built buildings to withstand the inevitable earthquake. They have a plan for survival. I suspect that they will ultimately fare much better and recover faster because of it. Rather than focusing on the demons, dungeons, and dragons, it is wiser to focus on preparedness. Putting on the whole armor of God is a good place to start. Remembering that the part of the scripture that I quoted from 2 Corinthians is not the full story – here is the full story:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
The key to spiritual warfare is preparedness. The last line of the Sunday School song based on the parable of the wise man and the foolish man is this – SO BUILD YOUR LIFE ON THE LORD. That’s where the emphasis should be, building yourself up in this most holy faith.
Jude 1:20-25 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.* I am in no way implying that the earthquake in Japan is a result of demonic activity. While I never discount the supernatural, earthquakes are natural phenomena. Prayer, aid, and acts of mercy are the appropriate response.
Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.