December 2018 Newsletter - "Spiritual Warfare" by Nathan Padilla

The Apostle Paul said, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” [2Co_10:4-5]. As an example, the battles where Israel would go fight were a parable or a shadow of the physical portraying what spiritual warfare really looks like and how we are to conduct it. This letter in which I write to you is to equip the saints for the battles we endure today and the battles that are to come.

If we understand where the battlefield is, we can make the proper preparation for ourselves to win every battle, and to be equipped for every enemy and situation. We have two different types of enemies: external and internal. These are two different battle fields and are to be fought differently. Some have taken the scriptures out of context and “twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures,” [2Pe_3:16] and have actually killed the very people who came against them. John Calvin killed 73 men and women and used this scripture, “I have pursued my enemies and overtaken them; Neither did I turn back again till they were destroyed,” [Psa_18:37] to justify those killings. However, we don’t see any example of any Apostle nor any Ante Nicene father killing any of their enemies, though they had many. In fact, there were instances where they would save their enemies rather than kill them. Jesus clearly instructed us, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” [Mat 5:44]. We also have an example of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Although he was persecuted, he never defended his own life, but with his dying breath he exclaimed, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin,” [Act_7:60]. According to the Word, the weapons for our external enemies is love, not to be confused with compromised. The Apostle Paul also instructs us, “See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody,” [1Th 5:15].

What is astonishing is that if you observe the church today, you really don’t see this type of love, because if they would read the Word there wouldn’t seminars on “church hurt.” As we have briefly discussed the weapons for our external enemies, let us now move toward the next battlefield.

In short, knowing that now we do not have to wage physical wars, but that the struggles of the soul have to be exerted against spiritual adversaries, the Apostle, just as a military leader, gives an order to the soldiers of Christ, saying, “Put on the armor of God, so that you may be able to stand firm against the cunning devices of the Devil.” [Eph_6:11] And in order for us to have examples of these spiritual wars from deeds of old, he wanted those narratives of exploits to be recited to us in church, so that, if we are spiritual—hearing that “the Law is spiritual” [Rom_7:14]—“we may compare spiritual things with spiritual”[1Co_2:13] in the things we hear. And we may consider, by means of those nations that fought visibly against physical Israel, how great are the swarms of opposing powers from among the spiritual races that are called “spiritual wickedness in the heavens,”8 and that stir up wars against the Lord’s Church, which is the true Israel.” [1]

The second battlefield is our soul. This is the internal battle that we are confronted with, where the spiritual battles happen from within. When it comes to the internal battle, there are two different spirits that we fight against. “Nothing is better than that peace which is according to Christ, by which all war, both of aerial and terrestrial spirits, is brought to an end.” [2] The difference between these two are the spirits: “aerial” spirits are the “forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere,” [Eph_6:12 Amp] and the “terrestrial” would be “the spirit of a man [that] will sustain him in sickness,” [Pro_18:14] since man is made of the dust of the earth (terrestrial). We know that there are rulers of darkness over regions and cities; however, what cannot be neglected or overlooked is the fight within us. If we fail to have dominion over the “forces of wickedness” that try to take control over our soul, we could never attain an authority over these forces that rule in heavenly places.

After now establishing the respective battlefields, let us now establish what the “weapons of our warfare” are and how they affect the enemies of our soul. According to the Early Church, the invisible forces that we fight are the Canaanites, the Jebusites, Hivites, and so on. By understanding how Israel fought against each of these “ites,” we would understand the principalities and demon forces we are at war against until we come to rest from all our enemies. Origen illuminates us with the weapons and their effectiveness toward the demonic realm.

Now I think that this vengeance is carried out on the demons when a person who had been deceived by them to worship idols is converted by the Word of the Lord and worships the Lord. And from the work of conversion itself, vengeance is inflicted on him who had deceived. And similarly, if someone who had been deceived by demons to commit fornication is converted to purity, esteems chastity and weeps for his error, the demon is scorched by that man’s tears of repentance and is set on fire, and thus vengeance is meted out to the author of the deception. And likewise, if someone turns away from arrogance to humility, from luxury to thrift, by these acts each one whips and tortures the different demons who had deceived them in these matters. Into what great torments do you think they are driven if they see someone who according to the Lord’s word, “sells everything he possesses and gives to the poor” and “takes up his cross and follows” Christ? But beyond everything and beyond all punishments are the kinds of torments that arise for them when they see someone engaged in the study of the Word of God and seeking the knowledge of the divine law and the mysteries of the Scriptures with attentive exertions. This sets them all ablaze; and in that fire they are completely burned up, since they had darkened human minds with the darkness of ignorance, and by this means they had succeeded in making God unknown, in causing the zealous pursuit of divine worship to be transferred to themselves. What vengeance do you think is meted out to them, what fire of punishments is inflicted on them, when these things opened by the light of truth, and the clouds of their deceit dispersed by knowledge of the divine law? [3]

These weapons are repentance, chastity, and picking up our cross to die to ourselves, but the most effective weapon that sets ablaze our enemies with the greatest torment and our greatest weapon is “seeking the knowledge of the divine law and the mysteries of the Scriptures.” There is much to discuss and reveal concerning spiritual warfare that I would encourage the saints to examine more deeply to have an understanding of each enemy or “ite” that we, spiritual Israel, fight on a day to day basis to achieve an authority over these forces of darkness. It starts from fighting the enemies within, the enemies of our soul. By understanding the fight within our own soul, we start to see how these forces operate in regions and over people. To God be the glory forever, amen!

 

References:

  1. Origen-Homilies of Joshua H15
  2. Ignatius-Epistle to the Ephesians Ch. XIII, Vol. 1
  3. Origen Homilies on Numbers H27
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