I wonder what life would be like if we could see in the spirit realm—to see the spiritual battles going on all around us. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying I want to be able to see all that all the time; however, to get a simple glimpse of the realities of spiritual warfare would be a really eye-opening experience.
What is going on in the spiritual realm around a person—or even inside a person—when they’re being faced with temptation, with doubt, with fear, or with deep sorrow or depression? What type of spiritual battle is going on when a person is sitting in front of a computer, on the verge of making one click that could change his or her life for the worse? What form of spiritual conflict would we see when two people who used to be good friends start arguing and fighting over their own selfish motives? Would we see angels and demons fighting with flaming swords? Would we see a big blob of darkness coming up against a giant globe of light?
The Bible says that “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” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV). We are in a very real battle. In fact, the battle in the spiritual realm is more real than any battle we could ever face in the natural realm. Yet because we cannot see this spiritual battle, we tend to end up fighting the wrong thing—or even worse, we forget we are even in a battle at all. We fight against “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” but we too often direct our aim against things in the natural world—namely, people. But people are not our enemies. Whenever we use our efforts to fight against other people instead of fighting against our true enemies, the devil and the powers of darkness, we are ultimately focusing our efforts on entirely the wrong thing.
The enemy loves nothing more than when he can successfully lead us into temptation and cause us to stumble. The Scripture is clear about this in several places. Did you know that immediately before Cain killed his brother Abel, God spoke to him and said, “If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7b, NIV)? Likewise, Jesus said this to Simon Peter just before Simon Peter denied Him three times: “Simon, Simon, satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31–32a, NIV).
In other words, what God was saying to Cain and what Jesus was saying to Simon Peter were that the opportunity to sin is always right in front of us. As long as we are on this earth, we are always only one decision away from sinning. And when we don’t take the battle that we are in seriously, it becomes that much easier to fall into sin.
Jesus said to His followers, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:40b, NIV). From this we know that we are supposed to fervently and regularly pray that God would keep us from the attacks and snares of the enemy. But beyond that, we know that we are not alone in this prayer of intercession, for, “Christ Jesus…is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34, NIV). This is so encouraging, because it is from this passage that we know we are not in this battle alone. Jesus is fighting on our behalf as well!
So how are we to respond? We must trust that Jesus is fighting on our behalf, but we must also take seriously the battle that we are in. Even though we cannot see the battle, it is more real than anything we can see on this earth. Therefore, we must dress daily for battle, putting on the full armor of God, which includes: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, God’s Word, and prayer. These are the weapons of our warfare. We must learn to use them—not to attack other people, but to defeat the wicked schemes of the devil and the forces of darkness.