You must remember—the world we live in is a world at war. Why is that so hard to accept? And even if we do come to accept it—and few people do—why is it so hard to hang on to that reality every day? What is this propensity, this inclination in us, to ignore the facts? No—that’s not strong enough. What is this insistence in us to see life the way we want to see it, as opposed to the way it is?
I’m sorry to say that this awakening (that Satan exists and spiritual warfare is real and intense) is uncommon, even among the followers of Christ—despite the fact that Scripture is filled with warnings of an enemy.
– John Eldredge
Fight the good fight of faith.
1 Timothy 6:12
My friends and fellow warriors—
From November through the Christmas holiday season, we typically see that spiritual warfare jumps another level, especially against marriages. Indeed, already this month we’ve heard plenty of stories of believers and marriages under assault.
The Christmas season is an opportune time for the enemy to attack. Many hope to wind down this time of the year and lower their guard. The pictures and expectations of happy family gatherings are a soft target for the enemy’s assaults of accusation (“Look at how happy everyone looks, why aren’t you joyful like they are? What kind of Christian are you?”), strife (all it takes is for several misspoken words to trigger a bonfire of anger, misunderstanding, and division), depression (the enemy is skilled at attacking old wounds to topple people into despair), driving those who are weary off the cliff of burnout (“You dare not say “no” to their invitation, what will they think!”), and keeping it up until we turn to false comforts such as porn, food, or alcohol, withdraw into isolation, spend money to fill in the gaps, or hit the accelerator hard until we crash and burn. Fall into a hole of sin, and it gets next to impossible to effectively fight the spiritual battle. Holiness is a must for victory.
Our adversary can attack the nervous system and the emotions. One November around 15 years ago, I got hit with waves of ongoing anxiety. It got so bad that I couldn’t sleep more than two or three hours at night; this went on for several weeks until God showed me it was warfare. I walked through every room of the house and prayed, commanding the enemy to leave. The anxiety lifted, I had peace again, and was able to sleep.
We see the same gaps in the body of Christ that John Eldredge does: many Christians are unaware of or unwilling to face the intense battles around them. If attacked with anxiety, some will go to their doctor and ask for tranquilizers or sleeping pills. Churches that avoid the topic of warfare put their people at risk of being a casualty, like sending them to a warzone in their pajamas. In a time when evil has taken so much ground, every believer needs to be aware of the spiritual battles that rage around us.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9
Herod plotted to kill Jesus before and after His birth, then had the infant sons of Bethlehem killed after Joseph and Mary escaped (Matthew 2:13 tells us that an angel told Joseph to “rise and flee” to Egypt… go now!). Imagine being a parent of a one-year-old son and having a soldier walk into your home and end your child’s life. That first Christmas would have been horrifying for those parents. This isn’t the part of the Christmas message we hear often this time of the year, but it’s needed to remind us of the context we live in. Jesus was set down in a fierce war zone at birth and there was a heavy cost involved for some of those who lived nearby.
Our adversary doesn’t take Christmas off; he’s content to wait for the right moment to cause havoc. Some are especially vulnerable this time of the year when old wounds surface. A family gathering is the last thing they want, especially if Abrasive Uncle Ed and Aunt Monica the Master Guilt-Tripper are coming to town for a visit.
Couples, pray together daily. Marriages are under assault and it’s important that you bring God into your relationship consistently.
It’s important for every believer to stay strong in prayer. Don’t allow the swirl of activity in the weeks ahead distract you from keeping grounded in God. Say “no” when you need to and carve out time for resting in silence with Him.
Look for opportunities to help and pray for others who are beaten up, bleeding, or losing hope. When God brings broken people across your path, remember to focus on listening. Many Christians are quick to go into preaching mode when just being a friend and inviting the other person to share their story makes a huge difference.
While being aware of the battles, we live with our eyes locked on Jesus. We don’t live in fear, nor do we give place to hyper vigilance. The Lord is our focus and the source of our life.
Enjoy the festivities. They’re a gift from God.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.
For more information on spiritual warfare, see:
And see Charles Spurgeon’s comments in the “Comments from another Rogue Christian” near the bottom of this email.”
PS – I haven’t slept well the past 2 nights and have had plenty of doubt thrown my way about writing on warfare this time of the year. What the enemy opposes is often needed.