Spiritual Leadership
Another Open Letter

Who Are We Really Fighting?

IStock_000009930085XSmallRecently I watched the show Once Upon a Time. One of the characters, a young boy around the age of ten or so is keenly aware that his world is a battle between good and evil. In this particular episode Henry tells the one person he thinks can save them all, “Evil always wins.” Let me tell you, this struck me deeper than I expected and I will tell you why.

When I was a teenager I was curious about the supernatural. Unfortunately my curiosity wasn’t balanced with an understanding of who God is. I read lots of books, both fiction and nonfiction about evil but hardly read the Bible.

The more I read and allowed influence my young mind, the more I too shared Henry’s viewpoint. Without anyone to tell me God was stronger, that He’d already won when He sent His Son to die for us, I walked in this lie and even became a fearful person. Nightime was the worst.

Then I reached my early to mid twenties and bought into another lie. Satan doesn’t really exist. Evil was just a tool to contrast God’s goodness. There was no hell either.

Are you following me at all here?

A friend recently brought my attention to a survey done by the Barna Group (Most American Christians Do Not Believe Satan and the Holy Spirit Exist, April 2009). In a poll of 1,871 self-described Christians, this is what they discovered:

Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.

The enemy’s done a great job keeping us in the dark not only about God but about himself as well. I know from first hand experience. As I shared, the lies I bought into made me fearful even of the dark. I was a grown adult afraid of the dark.

Until I learned the truth. I learned that as a child of God I was stronger because He who is in me is stronger than the enemy (1 John 4:4). So why do we often live like we’re defeated?

God is bigger and is in control of the enemy, though I’m sure he’s furious about that too. This fury is probably part of what fuels him to make our lives as difficult as possible so that we don’t walk in God’s promises and know peace and freedom. He can’t take away our salvation but he can make us ineffective. If we let him.

My friends, I don’t claim to be prophet, a Bible scholar or anything along those veins, but God is speaking to my heart on this issue because we are fighting only half the battle. We are fighting against the wrong “person,” so to speak.

We so often fall into this place of seeing our unbeliever as our enemy and I know at times it can truly feel that way. Our focus needs to shift from the obvious or what we perceive to be the problem. As long as we keep struggling against our spouse’s unbelief, the fight stays between the two of us. And that’s exactly what the enemy wants because it creates constant friction and prevents unity. It will destroy the marriage.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

IStock_000011544315XSmallThere is a fine line here that I’m still trying to understand because it’s all over the place sometimes. But this is my theory: When we come up against the issues of faith and unbelief, we are not in a battle with our spouse. We are in a battle with the enemy who has blinded our loved one. That is where the true battle lies.

When we fight with our spouse over the very same issues in marriage that any couple struggles with, believing or not, we are in a clash of wills and pride—the flesh. Even equally yoked couples deal with issues to do with money, how to raise kids, infidelity, etc.

Do these areas overlap? You bet they do. And that’s where it gets challenging. How do we fight against an enemy we can’t see, can’t always perceive, and who uses anything and everything to keep our unbeliever in the dark and us, the believers, feeling defeated? Who uses those day-to-day hurdles to keep our relationships in constant turmoil.

That is my search right now, and my prayer. I’m searching for answers in Ephesians 6 and what our armor means. How do we wear it? How do we protect ourselves and our unbeliever? Are what does it mean to stand firm with the armor of God as our protection?

I’m discovering some pretty interesting things in my search, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Plus I’m still putting pieces together and making sense of it. Next week I will share more, but in the meantime, do your own exploration of Ephesians 6 and the armor of God.

And I leave you with a challenge. Ask God to shift your focus, to see the real enemy at work in your life and your unbeliever’s life. Ask God to help you see who the real enemy is.

Praying and believing,

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