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-- © GodSpeak International 2002 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Rodney Hogue <rodhogue@aol.com> http://www.restorationdepot.org
Editors: Donna King, Harriette Osborn, Petru Prinsloo, DeAnna Torres, Teresa Seputis & Leona Ward Transcribers: Roberta Capps, Virginia Norris, Linda Selby

Prayer-School Course #21

A Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Warfare

Lesson 1

Defining Warfare

By Rodney Hogue

What is the objective of spiritual warfare? What are we actually trying to accomplish when we engage in spiritual warfare? Let's look at the bottom line of what is involved. Some people don't fully understand what takes place in warfare, and I want to set the record straight.

What Is The Objective?

We find some clues in II Cor. 10:3-5, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses; we are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we're taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."

I recently read a book on warfare, and the author emphasized the victory we have in the Lord and the victory that Christ had upon the cross. However, he made this broad statement, "You know we are not at war because Jesus already won the war. We are not at war because Jesus has already defeated the devil on the cross." I thought, "Why doesn't someone tell the devil this? He certainly isn't acting as if we're not at war."

The reality is: we are in a war! II Cor 10:3-5 says so. It says, "Though we walk in the flesh we do not war according to the flesh." Why would God give us weapons for warfare, if we did not have to engage in clean-up work? He has given us divine power "for the destruction of fortresses." In other translations, the word for "fortresses" is "strongholds," and the Bible makes it clear that we are to tear them down. Now, that is not the objective of spiritual warfare, but we are getting closer. Tearing down strongholds is the means of accomplishing the objective, but that is not really our goal.

What Exactly Are We Destroying?

A "stronghold" is a house of thoughts. We are to destroy "speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God," and to take "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." The bottom line is that we must tear down all the misperceptions that keep us from knowing about Christ, understanding Christ, and obeying Christ. We engage in warfare so that we can walk more closely with God and help others to do so, too. It's all about intimacy.

Put another way, the purpose of spiritual warfare is to remove the distractions that keep us from being close and intimate with God. The enemy's goal is to separate us from God. Our goal is to stay connected to Him. We are first connected to Him in our salvation. God wants us to maintain that connection to Him, because when we are intimate with Him, then we have life, and life flows through us. That is the greatest threat to the enemy. Your intimacy with God is the objective of spiritual warfare! Remember the first and foremost commandment, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind" -- in other words, with all you are, you are to love Him.

When you fight a spiritual war, what are you fighting for? You are engaging in spiritual warfare to do the most important thing: to be able to be close to God, so that you can love God, and so that you can walk in your relationship with Him. Not only that, but your intimacy with God becomes the way to engage in spiritual warfare. Whenever you pursue intimacy, you are engaging in spiritual warfare!

Ephesians, Chapter 6, talks about putting on the armor of God, about putting on the Lord Jesus. Look at the armor; it is just the characteristics of Jesus: the helmet of salvation -- you are putting on your salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth -- you are putting that on. Can you see Jesus in this? Sandals of peace that come by way of the gospel, shield of faith, sword of the spirit -- we are putting all of the armor of God on us. And when we're putting it on, we are putting on the Lord Jesus. When you pursue intimacy with Jesus, you are putting on the armor of God. We are going to talk about that, but pursuing intimacy with God will guard and protect your heart. The closer you get to God, the more sensitive you become about hurting Him or grieving His Spirit. You will want to do things that are going to bless Him, not hurt Him.

Why The Battle Exists

Of course, Satan does not want you reaching that place of intimacy with God. He does not want you walking out your full potential, he does not want you becoming all that God intends you to be. He knows that as you draw closer to God, you take on more and more of the characteristics of Christ. He knows that God's Holy Spirit works within you, transforming you and conforming you to the image of Christ.

The enemy of your soul does not want you to become like Jesus because Jesus was very dangerous to Satan's kingdom. Jesus saw what the Father was doing, and He did it with Him. This advanced God's kingdom, it brought the reality of God's kingdom to men and women. It set the captives free and restore people to relationship with God. When He did this, He advanced God's kingdom and He tore down Satan's kingdom.

So, Satan is trying to protect His turf by doing all he can to keep you out of that place of intimacy with God. Jesus said, in John 14:12-14, that we are to do the same works He did. Jesus' works were to take ground away from Satan and give ground to God's kingdom. Can you see why Satan wants to oppose that? Satan wants to hold on to all he has... he does not want you taking it away from him by advancing God's kingdom. He doesn't want you doing things Jesus did. Let's review Jesus' self-proclaimed job description. Jesus said, in Luke 4:18-19, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

Satan is afraid of what you and God might do together as you get close and intimate with God. He does not want you becoming more like Jesus because that makes you a VERY DANGEROUS enemy to his kingdom, to his plans and purposes. So Satan is going to do all he can to oppose you as you try to draw close to God.

Satan will not play fair, he will use dirty tricks. He will try to convince you that God does not love you. He will try to convince you that you are not holy enough or not faithful enough or not likeable enough. He will try to tell you that God does not want to be in a close and intimate relationship with you. He will try to throw things at you from your past to make you feel disqualified. He will try to convince you that God won't want you close because you are struggling with this area or that area. Satan will do all that he can do to keep you from entering into that place of intimacy with God where you can hear His voice clearly and where you can walk in His victory. He does not want you seeing what the Father is doing and doing it with Him.

And thus, your own heart and your own mind, can become one of the greatest battle fields in Spiritual Warfare.

-- © GodSpeak International 2002 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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