Friday, November 23, 2007

Spiritual Warfare Part 1 of 6

Whenever Baptists talk about spiritual warfare, we get a little nervous, as if there might be a devil lurking somewhere behind a bush like a bad ghost story. We have all heard of someone who got a little overzealous in this area and, aghast, ended up a charismatic or something. Let’s get past such toddler theology and move on to some maturity.

So let’s lay down a few beginning assumptions as caveats in order to keep someone on the back row from calling the state hospital for us. First of all, we believe that we are all sinners saved by the grace of Jesus Christ and are being made holy in Him.
Second, we believe that personal sanctification, or holiness, is both an instant work at salvation and a process of development over time.

Third, we affirm that Satan and demonic forces are actual personal beings, and are nothing more than created and fallen angels (Isa 14:12-15). Satan and his forces have no equality with God. Their power is limited, their operative is lying (John 8:44), and their work has been / is being destroyed (1 Jn 3:8). Demons are defeated foes (Col 2:15). Through Christ we have authority over them (1 Jn 4:4).
Fourth, the Bible is absolutely authoritative in our exploration and discussion. Experiential wisdom is valued only when it is not cross current with Scripture.

So what is spiritual warfare then? A good definition of spiritual warfare is found in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (NASB). Our Lord gives life and enriches life. Our enemy’s mission is to take life and subtract in any way from life (1 Pet 5:8-9).

Because we serve a risen Savior at odds with the devil’s mission to destroy human lives eternally, we should know our enemy. In fact, 2 Corinthians 2:11 assumes that we can (and should) know our enemy and his strategies “in order that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not unaware of his schemes.” Therefore, next we will become more aware of those schemes.

Continued in Part 2 of 6