We are not fighting against people, but rather against authorities, rulers in the darkness of this world, and against highly placed evil spiritual forces. — Ephesians 6:12
1So then, since we are surrounded by such a large crowd of witnesses, let us put aside every impediment and sin that can easily ensnare us and let us run the race which is set before us. 2Let us do these things looking steadily with trust on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who, because of the joy placed before him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and has now sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3And consider how great the hostility he endured for sinners was, so that you might not grow weary or lose strength. 4You have not yet had to resist as far as bloodshed in your fight against sin, 5and you have forgotten the exhortation that speaks to you as children:
“My son, don’t belittle the Lord’s discipline,
And don’t become weary at his rebuke. 6For whoever the Lord loves he disciplines,
And he punishes every son that he accepts.” [Proverbs 3:11-12] — Hebrews 12:1-5
My wife has some questions about spiritual warfare for our Bible study on Friday night, and I thought I’d get a head start on them today in the devotional.
The key element of spiritual warfare for the author of Hebrews was that we might not go all the way, that we might give up before we got to the goal. This comes up throughout his book. The key element of spiritual warfare, for him, was faithfulness. We often call Hebrews 11 the â€œfaithâ€ chapter, but we could also easily call it the â€œfaithfulnessâ€ chapterâ€”it’s the honor roll of people who stayed faithful through terrible difficulties even though the goal was a long ways off.
You can picture this as something of a relay race. They knew that there were generations ahead of them that would have to run, but they had to be faithful running their little piece of the race in their little corner in space and time. And each one was faithful. The final example, presented at the beginning of chapter 12, was Jesus, who remained faithful through the worst torture and death.
So in these passages I think we see spiritual warfare set up simply as the struggle between right and wrong (or good and evil), with â€œrightâ€ involving following Jesus all the way to the goal, and â€œwrongâ€ being falling short of that goal.
Sometimes we see spiritual warfare as something special that a few prayer warriors do, but that’s not the case. Some are called to spend more time in prayer than others. Some are called to spend more time in the field. Some are called just to stand. But when you choose Jesus and choose to go all the way, not stopping, not giving up, but going all the way to the end, then you have entered into spiritual warfare.
Spiritual warfare doesn’t just take place in prayer. Prayer is important. Prayer is central, because it keeps you in touch with your commander-in-chief. But fellowship is also important because it keeps you in touch with your comrades in arms all around. Obeying God is important, simply because that is part of what’s â€œrightâ€ or â€œgood.â€
Remember this: When you signed up with Jesus, you became a spiritual warrior. The only question now is whether you’ll be faithful until you reach the goal.
For more information on spiritual warfare, see the following tracts in the Participatory Study Series: Cosmic Conflict, Spiritual Warfare, Prayer Scriptures for Prayer Warriors, Self-Defense for Prayer Warriors, and So You’re an Intercessor. You can find all of these at http://catalog.participatorystudyseries.com.