The term “Spiritual Warfare” obviously implies that we are in a fight. It is a hard fight, but a good fight. A good fight is one that we win, and yet a battle we are incapable of fighting on our own. We must partner with God, acknowledging Him as King and submit to His leadership if we are to fight a good fight.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
We see many examples in the Old Testament of Israel’s physical battles and how the Lord brought them to victory when they obeyed God and followed His instructions. We also see what happened to Israel when they did not follow God‘s instructions, or stepped out presumptuously to fight in their own strength and understanding. Israel’s battles are types of the spiritual battles we must fight today and are full of instruction that we can learn from.
We will explore aspects of the good fight that are foundational to being effective at spiritual warfare. This lesson will help define what “the good fight” is, helping us focus our attention on the fight that matters most.
Not all fights are good fights and not all fights are faith fights. Our fight is to enforce the victory that has already been won for us by Jesus Christ. It is a fight to establish and expand the kingdom of God, to take back what has been stolen and destroy the works of the enemy.
In the Old Testament Israel fought to defend and expand a physical kingdom. In the New Testament our battles are for a spiritual kingdom. The kingdom of God is in the heart of every born-again believer. Spiritual warfare is all about stewarding the kingdom within us and allowing the kingdom to expand and overtake our entire being until it begins to flow out of us and impact the world around us.
Luke 17:20-21 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
Luke 16:16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.
Spiritual warfare, like any warfare, requires
Fighting people is certainly not the good fight. If we find ourselves fighting against people we are in the wrong fight and actually fighting for the wrong kingdom. One of the enemies strategies is to trick us into fighting against other people so that we neglect, or simply miss the spiritual battle that is raging all around us. Expending our energy, resources, and time on fights we should not be engaged in brings confusion, division, weakness, and discouragement. The enemy knows this and he is relentless in his attempts to deceive us into fighting against anyone or anything but him and his kingdom.
We fight spiritual battles in two arenas. The first arena is the battlefield of self. We fight to tear down strongholds of carnal thinking and wrong believing in our own hearts and minds. We fight this battle by renewing our carnal minds to through exposure to God’s word and fellowship with other believers. By growing in our relationship with the Father, finding and pursuing our calling, and growing in the faith, we mature in Christ and become stronger and more prepared to fight in the other arena of battle.
The second arena is against spiritual beings present in our fallen world. In this arena we fight primarily through prayer, intercession and demonstration of the kingdom of God. As we mature in Christ, fighting in the first arena, our authority increases and we become more effective at destroying the works of the devil.
Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
We don’t fight FOR victory; we fight from a place OF victory. We must believe that our fighting bears fruit. Victory has already been won through the blood of the Lamb. Our faith in Jesus Christ as our savior has won the battle for our eternal salvation. We did not fight to get ourselves saved. Jesus did the fighting for us. All we had to do was acknowledge His victory and His lordship.
1 John 5:4-5 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Why are we still in a fight if the battle has already been won? While we remain alive on the earth, a raging battle continues. Satan resists the growth and expansion of God’s kingdom within us.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
We must fight to keep the faith, exercise our faith, and grow in our faith until we have mastery over our flesh. We fight daily to pick up our cross and follow Him.
Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
We now have the great honor of dying for the King. Once we die to self, Christ shines the brightest in us and we become the light of the world we are called to be.
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Others will see the light of God in us and desire what we have. Some will see the light and be offended. regardless of their response, we should just keep on shining.
1 Peter 1:7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The testing of our faith is the spiritual warfare that we are engaged in. It is the only “good fight” available to us. All other fights are distractions and deceptions of the enemy to keep us from dying to self and growing up into Christ in all things. Hebrews 12 uses the analogy of running a race to describe our spiritual battle.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Running a good race is fighting the good fight. Paul gives us further instruction in 1Corinthians 9.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Notice in verse 26 that Paul calls this race a fight. He tells us that the way we run this race to win, is by disciplining our body and bringing it into subjection. He speaks of temperance and implies that confidence and skill is necessary. Paul is talking about our flesh, our carnal man, the fallen nature that we were all born into under Adam.
When we discipline our bodies by things like fasting, prayer, denying our carnal impulses, and making no provision for the flesh, we limit the voice of our fallen nature and leave little room for Satan to have a voice because our fallen nature is the only access he has to us.
Here is further instruction from the New Testament:
Romans 13:11-14 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Matthew 10:38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Friendship with the world is spiritual adultery! Let that sink in.
Mark 8:38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
From the strong language in the above passages, we see the mandate of God to separate from the world and die to our selfish desires. We should never candy coat this. We must wake up every day and present ourselves before the Lord, laying our lives on the alter. He is worthy of our life, but he is also worthy of our death.
If we buy a house and pay for it in full, but the previous owner refuses to move out, we have a breach of contract. A violation of covenant. We are His dwelling place. We are His temple. He will not move into His temple fully until the carnal man is completely moved out. However, God is gracious. He is patient and kind. He gives us time to move out, time to die to self, time to grow spiritually. Thanks be to God!
He has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and His word to help us remove everything in His temple that is not pleasing to Him. God is very particular about where He abides. We can see this clearly from the Old Testament Temples and the tent of meeting.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We find a valuable truth in Exodus 33 that will help us in our fight to keep the old man crucified.
In Exodus 33:18 Moses said to God, “please show me your glory.” This was God’s response:
Exodus 33:20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”
Intimacy with God and exposure to His word is our carnal man’s face to face encounter with the Lord. Approaching God daily with an unveiled face and beholding His glory crucifies the old man, while at the same time transforming us into His image from one degree of glory to the next.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
God paid the ultimate price to restore the broken relationship caused by Adam’s sin. The sacrifice of Christ has provided the way back to the Father. It is a narrow road, and one that cannot be walked by the carnal man. Let us nail our fallen nature to the cross and no longer live for ourselves. He is worthy of our life, and He is worthy of our death.
May God give us understanding in all these things.
2 Corinthians 5:15 He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
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