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A Christian Counselor on Spiritual Warfare: What is It and How Do I Win?

By Andrew Engstrom, MS, LMFTA, Seattle Christian Counseling, PLLC

Image-12Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one … and I travel it every day.

In my faith journey, I have endeavored for many years to consistently devote myself to the Lord in the morning, before the rest of the day begins. Going on a walk with the Lord as soon as I get up has proven to be just what I needed to help me finally follow through and abide in the Vine (John 15:4). It’s been quite a battle to get to this point.

But I am not in spiritual boot-camp preparing to defend against a future attack. Rather, this act of spending consistent time with the Lord is a direct act of war in a current, spiritual battle around me. The Word of God is very clear that humanity has an enemy, the devil or the accuser (1 Peter 5:8), that we are fighting for a goal (Philippians 3:14), and that we are to be spiritual warriors who are well equipped with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20 ). We are called to both defend ourselves against the attacks of the enemy and to join Christ in destroying the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

We Are Engaged in a Battle

A lot of people are familiar with the passage in Ephesians about putting on the armor of God. We train our children in Sunday school to do just that, and it certainly isn’t wrong to have them color pieces of armor and memorize the list. Yet only a portion of the body of Christ recognizes that righteousness is truly a breastplate and faith a shield, and that we are engaged in a very real battle for our world, our families, and ourselves. The enemy wants us to doubt our God and our identity in Him, to be unable to resist temptations, and to hurt others in our confusion. However, the enemy urgently seeks to prevent a human being from becoming a Christ-empowered warrior of the Kingdom of God who walks in truth, righteousness, readiness to share the gospel, faith, and surety of salvation—someone who wields the Word of God. We are locked in combat over this issue.

Spiritual Warfare is a Battle for Our Faith

Image-28So, what is spiritual warfare? There may be many answers, but at the basic level spiritual warfare is how and where the spiritual manifests in the ‘real’ concerning faith. We have a God who wants and tests our faith (1 Peter 1:7), and we have an enemy who tries to knock us out of our faith or knock us down in it. What is faith? Faith is our response to God, who came to earth as a man, saying He wanted our whole hearts and not just our religion. Faith is the center of our existence. Faith believes that God does what He says, which means we should obey Him. Faith is putting our hope in Him, instead of money, fame, success, or entertainment—even when we feel anxious and want to take control. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). And so, the Word says that we are tested in our faith (James 1:3, 12; 1 Thessalonians 2:4) to see if we walk the walk (Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24), or if we are just saying good-sounding words.

We Need to Recognize Spiritual Attack

If you hear someone saying they are “under spiritual attack,” they might be getting sick before a big ministry event, or they might have encountered sudden financial obstacles that seem almost laughably synchronized, or they might have stubbed their toe just as they were deciding to step out and dance for joy in worship. My wife and I recognize spiritual attack when we both become short with each other and things begin to go sour easily between us, for no apparent reason. However, we know how to recognize these signs after some years of practice now, and we know how to fight powers and principalities instead of each other (Ephesians 6:12).

Christian Counseling Can Empower You for Spiritual Warfare

You may have noticed spiritual attack in your own life and it may be affecting your relationships and sense of self. Christian counseling can help you to face such attacks. In my next article, I highlight the main reason for writing this article series on spiritual warfare, which is that clients have to overcome very real opposition when they gain the courage to invest in therapy. As Christians, we know that the spiritual war around us is real, and this is true for all human beings. However, we should not be afraid but informed and full of the Spirit of God. Knowing how the spiritual realm functions, and being empowered in Christ to not only resist the enemy but take ground for the Kingdom, are vital to our abundant life as humans. In my further articles, I will describe how we can take the fight to the enemy.

Photos
Armour Detail by Flickr user Dark Dwarf; Forest Stock Photo from freeditigalphotos.net by Dan #1006605

 



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