May 25, 2011

What on Earth is Spiritual Attack?

About two months ago I received a question about my reference to being "under attack."  I was referring to spiritual attack but my sweet friend didn't have the faintest idea what I meant and she was truly concerned that someone would be attacking me! When she asked and I answered, I realized that a lot of people - particularly those who identify with Christianity but are not "super spiritual" - don't understand the Christian language that we use (and probably think it's pretentious and haughty).  I also realized that even the strongest of faith and those familiar with the term still don't always understand what spiritual warfare is, why it exists or how to recognize it.

I have been thinking about this email over the last two months from time to time and I wanted to try to explain exactly what spiritual attack is, but I guess none of it makes sense without going back to some basics from the beginning of time.

In Revelation 12: 7-9, human history is being explained and a battle recounted that occurred before the creation of man.
"Then war broke out in heaven. Michael [a leading angel in Heaven] and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him."
Layman's terms? God is boss. Satan was an angel and wanted to be boss. He attempted mutiny and as a result was tossed out of Heaven. Fast forward to the Garden of Eden. God's done being creative and He, Adam and Eve are enjoying living together in perfect harmony. Along comes Satan (who still wants to be boss) and he tries to get Adam and Eve to follow him instead of God. They do and eat the apple and there you have the first sin. Because God is perfect, He can't be around any sin and so perfect harmony between God and man was severed forever. Adam and Eve are cast out of Eden and their kids (who because of a limited gene pool) would've been born with sin too, and God is heartbroken that His finest creation and greatest love is lost to Him.

What does he do about it? He descends to earth as a man (Jesus) to die on the cross so that whoever WANTS to return to God and have perfect harmony with Him again can. He paid for Adam and Eve's (and everyone else's) mess-up so separation wouldn't have to continue. So now we have a choice. We can be in relationship with God or we can not.

God, who adores us like a mommy adores her babies, wants us to follow and obey Him and have the best earthly life possible and the best Heavenly life forever. Satan (who's STILL trying for mutiny) wants us to follow him instead of God. God is fighting to win our hearts. Satan is fighting to steal them away.

That is spiritual warfare in its simplest form. Satan is purposeful in causing everyone to stray from God but he has different strategies for different people. For those who are already determined to live un-Godly lives, I imagine Satan leaves them alone or tries to help them be successful. For those who are waffling one way or another, Satan whispers lies of defeat, guilt, rationalization, justification, self-pity, entitlement and pride to keep them stuck "on the fence." To those who strive to live a life of Godly excellence and influence others to do the same, Satan launches an all-out attack.

What does this "attack" look like in real life?  Sickness. Discouragement.  Depression.  Natural disaster.  It can be anything.  But be careful!  Not every time one of those things happens is it actually spiritual attack.  How do you know?  Well, you don't always, and there's no need to know every time.  The important thing is to ask God to open your eyes to see Him.  Ask Him to protect you from the enemy's schemes and to give you clear thought, wisdom and understanding.  Read His word so He can answer those prayers.  Tell Satan (out loud) that he's not welcome in your life and in the name of Jesus Christ to get out.

The great thing?

With the power of Christ living in you, you'll defeat the enemy.  Every. Single. Time.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:31, 37

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