This week the students are learning about spiritual warfare. Their speaker is a power house of a guy named Wes Tullis. His teaching method is much more circular and story oriented than our Western minds are used to, but it’s also kind of blowing my mind.
In my own DTS (in 2003) the speaker used the book of Ephesians to teach on spiritual warfare. Things like knowing the truth about who God is and who we are in Christ. There was more to it, but her basic message was about living from that place of truth to stand against the enemy because it is God’s power which has already defeated that enemy.
Secular humanists would say there is no spiritual realm and Spiritualists (or animists, Buddhists, Hindus, etc) would say there really is no physical realm but only spiritual. As a follower of Christ, I believe that both physical and spiritual are real. Whatever your beliefs are about angels and demons, the spiritual realm is real and is intrinsically linked to what happens in the physical realm- both directions.
There are two things I want to share on this topic…
The first is what Wes is saying during class… or really the idea that he is circling around with his stories. Spiritual warfare is a matter of getting real with God at the deep levels. This is not a matter of navel gazing introspection, but of gut level honesty and a willingness to let God do healing deeper and deeper and deeper. From Wes’ perspective, it doesn’t seem to be about climbing higher, but about letting God go deeper with us to transform us so that through us he can transform nations.
I love this challenge because it is what I have felt like God has been asking of me for the last several months.
It is not “natural” for us to want to go deeper. For myself, I am realizing that the deeper God wants to go, the stronger my own resistance is to that work. Not because I don’t want God to have all of me (I do!!) but because it’s uncomfortable and I don’t LIKE being uncomfortable. I don’t enjoy being broken on a regular basis but I do desperately want the healing He’s working out.
The second thing I want to share came from my time reading Ephesians this morning. I’ve been thinking about “the armor of God” that Paul talks about in chapter 6. I have long had a hard time understanding exactly what it meant to “Put on the armor of God.” I get this deep thinking thing from my dad, but from my mom I get a pragmatism that says, “How, exactly do I do that?”
I’ve had more than one person ask me, “Do you ‘put on the armor of God’ every morning?” Because I used to struggle with this fear that I was an imposter, I would somehow get out of answering the question because 1. I didn’t realize it was something everyone knew to do and 2. I didn’t know what it meant to do this.
So because I had a conversation with one of my students yesterday about these verses in Ephesians on the subject, I read it this morning and asked the question of the text, “How does Paul expect us to do this?” Is he just saying to use the verses themselves as a kind of incantation? This is what I had pictured people doing because I had only ever heard of people reciting things like, “Now I place on my body the belt of truth…” and the like. Was that what Paul meant? Or did he mean that we should learn the truth actively, daily and this will be your belt? Walk in obedience to God, this is your breastplate of righteousness… Understand the truth of the salvation given you by Jesus, this will be your helmet against the lies of the enemy.
With this in mind, Spiritual Warfare becomes very practical and real… not a secret weapon to only pull out in moments of great need, but a lifestyle of knowing God and letting myself be known by him.
What do you think? What is your experience with spiritual warfare? Is it a topic that you avoid or feel confused by or do you have deep understanding? I would love to hear from you.