Spiritual Warfare: How To Fight And Win

Four Strategies To Overcome Your Spiritual Battles

http://larryshankle.com/spiritual-warfare

Spiritual warfare is tough. It tends to press you and push your spiritual limits, and every spiritual battle requires faith to overcome. Now, I hesitate a little to write on this subject because some Christians take it too far. They see a devil behind every bush.

I don’t think it is right or healthy to focus day in and day out on what the devil is doing. Rather, your time and effort are much more productive if you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and the plan of God for your life. He will direct you into the perfect path your life is meant to follow. Jesus will empower you to overcome in this life, and he will prepare you to live beyond this life.

Let me be clear: God is greater than all your enemies.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Let me be clear: God is greater than all your enemies. #Faith #spiritualwarfare #Jesus” quote=”Let me be clear: God is greater than all your enemies.” theme=”style2″]

There is no cosmic battle between God and the devil; there’s simply no contest. The devil is a created being who has his days numbered. Jesus defeated Satan ultimately and finally on the cross.

Winning at spiritual warfare will require that you have a firm grasp on these basic concepts. Otherwise your enemy will exploit your weaknesses and bring in fear.

With all this being said, every believer will face spiritual warfare in his or her life at some point. These battles are real, and they do have the potential to derail your spiritual progress…or worse. You need to take your battles seriously. If you have never faced something that qualifies as spiritual warfare, hold on, because sooner or later you will.

What qualifies as spiritual warfare?

Anything that brings doubt

Doubt will do its best to keep you from receiving all the good things God has for you. The enemy of your soul has a chief aim, and it is to throw your faith off course. However, I’m not saying that every little doubt is an indication of spiritual warfare. Questioning God about something isn’t the same thing as doubt. Sometimes your questions actually reveal your faith. When you firmly believe that God is going to do something in your life, and then it seems like he doesn’t do it, questions are the natural and normal response.

Doubt is different than questions. Doubt believes God cannot help you. It believes that your prayers won’t be answered. Doubt will make you hopeless in your situation. This sort of doubt is a form of spiritual warfare that openly attacks your faith. Faith is what moves God to action in your life, so doubt is a spiritual attack designed to keep you from the things God clearly intends for you to possess. Things like peace, joy, love, strength, and security are the objects of an attack on your faith. Doubt seeks to keep you from experiencing these qualities.

Anything that makes you want to quit

If you have ever felt the overwhelming urge just to give up, then you have experienced spiritual warfare designed to make you want to quit. The enemy wants you to quit on your relationships, so he will try to convince you that your friends, your spouse, or maybe your boss don’t need you or want you anymore. People quit on their relationships every single day. They quit jobs and marriages and churches but feel no freedom after they do so. The end goal of your enemy is to get you to quit on life. Whether that means you are taking your life, or just fading away into nothingness, the enemy is satisfied as long as you are out of the picture.

God didn’t design you to be a quitter, rather, you were created to be an overcomer. You are meant to press through spiritual warfare and experience victory.

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Anything that tempts you

So the most obvious form of spiritual warfare is temptation. Being tempted to disobey God is as old as humanity. When you are presented with something that tempts you, the answer is not to fight, but to flee. Whenever you begin to fight with temptation, you are keeping yourself near the source for a longer period. Christians are supposed to run away from the things that tempt them and run towards a life that closely follows Jesus.

Temptation can be tricky, however, because not every temptation comes as a result of spiritual warfare. The Bible is clear about this.

James 1:14–17 NLTse
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.
15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

Anything considered an attack on your character

When you experience emotions that come as a result of accusation or slander, you can be sure it is the devil’s work. Scripture calls Satan the accuser. I believe every spirit that works on satan’s team also uses his tactics.

Character attacks are spiritual warfare, whether these attacks come from outside sources like those you love and work with, or whether they just come from thoughts in your own mind.

The enemy wants to undermine the Godly qualities in your life. He will speak in your ear if you allow him to, and he will tell you how terrible you are. Condemnation and shame in a Christian’s life are the results of character attacks that we latch on to and believe.

These things are just a few forms of spiritual warfare. Certainly, there are much more.

What opens the door to attack?

For sure, the enemy doesn’t need any particular reason to attack you. Spiritual warfare happens in your life simply because the enemy wants to diminish your faith and witness, but there are a few things that can open the door and make attacking you easier.

Unforgiveness

Those who harbor evil thoughts about someone else is opening the door to the enemy. They are essentially allowing him freedom to come and go in their life as he wishes.

  • If you resent someone, you need to forgive them and close the door.
  • If you hate someone, you need to forgive them and close the door.
  • If you harbor hurt from someone, you need to forgive them and close the door.

Unforgiveness will rob you of joy and peace. It will leave the door of your heart open for the satan’s attack. Not only will he attack you, but the open door unforgiveness provides will allow the enemy time and space to plant more bitter seeds in your heart. These seeds will grow and eventually overtake your heart.

Forgive people you need to forgive even if they don’t respond, don’t listen, or don’t care. Forgiveness is about you not them.

Fear

Fear will always open you up to experience spiritual warfare in your life. Scripture says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” Fear does not come from God.

Some forms of fear are:

  • Constant worry about anything and everything.
  • Perfectionism that drives you to exhaustion because you are afraid you won’t be good enough.
  • Anger that derives from your fear of losing control.
  • Selfishness which is the fear of not having enough.

Fear doesn’t come from God, so remove it from your life. How do you do that? Again, I’ll defer to Scripture. The Bible says, “perfect love casts out fear.” The way to overcome fear is to lean into the love of God. When you have a deeply settled belief that God loves you, it will make fear vanish along with all its forms.

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What does NOT qualify as spiritual warfare?

Just as important as it is to recognize actual spiritual warfare, we must also understand what it is not.
Like I said at the start, some people see a devil behind every bush. This is a flawed perspective that will actually open the door for an attack in your life. So to understand what does not qualify, let me offer some examples.

Your water heater breaks down. This is not necessarily a spiritual battle. The devil probably didn’t take the time to find some way of breaking your water heater. Routine maintenance is a part of life no matter who you are.

You caught a cold. Now, I may get some pushback on this one, but I don’t believe the fact that you caught a cold is a form of spiritual warfare. Are there sicknesses that do qualify? Yes. Absolutely. Jesus paid the price for our healing with the stripes on his back and through his death on the cross. Anything that comes contrary to that is a spiritual attack. But balance is necessary for our understanding. We are human beings made of dust. It is only reasonable to think that we are bound to break down every once in a while. Plus, you reap what you sow. If you put yourself in a position to catch a cold, you probably will.

You had a bad week. Grow up. We all have bad weeks; even those who follow Jesus. The Christian life isn’t perfect. Things won’t go well for you all the time. This doesn’t mean the devil was hiding out to hijack your week and make a bunch of bad things happen to you. Is it possible? Sure. But not likely.

Now that there is a little clarity surrounding spiritual warfare let’s look at how actually to fight.

How to fight and win in spiritual warfare

Recognize your opposition

People are not your enemy. The devil wants you to believe they are, but it isn’t true. Here’s what Scripture says about it:

Ephesians 6:12 NLTse
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Flesh and blood people are never your enemies. This doesn’t mean that Satan never uses people to press us, slander us, or just plain annoy us. He does. However, this is simply an attempt to throw you off the trail of the real enemy of your soul. Spiritual warfare is spiritual. It deals with spiritual things. This verse is plain in the fact that unseen spiritual authorities and evil spirits are the ones behind attacks in your life.

Prepare yourself for battle

Just before the scripture in Ephesians 6:12, the Bible says this:

Ephesians 6:10–11 NLTse
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

There is a strategy the devil is using against you. To overcome this strategy, there is one essential thing to do: Be strong IN the Lord.
You are not meant to fight your own battles. Spiritual warfare is won as we stand IN the Lord. Standing in the Lord means allowing him the space needed to accomplish his purposes in you. It also means maintaining a defensive position wearing the armor of God, but relying on HIS strength instead of your own.
The greatest battle you and I have to win is the battle to allow God the opportunity to fight for us.

Fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons

Now, I know I just said that we don’t fight, and that is true; but there are moments in which we have to take on an offensive or defensive mindset. Too many people wage war against other people by defending themselves or lashing out, but that’s not the way to fight. Spiritual warfare is won as you strike in the Spirit.

I believe there are two main ways to strike in the Spirit:
– Prayer
– Declaring God’s Word

Prayer can be used as an offensive or defensive weapon. Never underestimate the simple prayer that asks God for help. It is an example of defensive prayer. Offensive prayer is the sort that asks God to move mountains and then believes he will. It is praying for healing, asking for a breakthrough, seeking God for help with emotional hurt and things like this. Praying is simply talking to God, but using prayer as a weapon is talking to God with a mission.

When experiencing spiritual warfare, prayer is your number one key to winning. It draws you nearer to Jesus and puts distance between you and your enemy.

Declaring God’s Word is essential. When you declare God’s Word, it will open your find for faith to grow. We tend to believe what we hear spoken most often. Scripture agrees with this when it says, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” The truth of God’s Word has the power and potential to change your situation and surroundings. As you stand on it by declaring it over your life, the attack has to bow and bend to the truth. I created a PDF Guide with twenty-five things you can declare over your life and the scriptures that go with them. It will help you, and I want to give it to you free.
Click here to Get the PDF Guide

Recognize the battlefield

For a believer or anyone for that matter, the spiritual battlefield is in your mind. If you can keep the battlefield of your mind secure, you’ll win the war. How do you do that? You have to take the bad thoughts captive, cast them out, and replace them with thoughts from God’s Word. Doing this is closely tied to your declaration.

Scripture says this:

2 Corinthians 10:4–5 NIV
4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I want to encourage you today. If you’re going through a difficult season right now, you CAN overcome it. God is on your side.
Put some of these ideas into practice, and you’ll begin to see a difference almost immediately.

Here’s a growing list of articles, posts, and resources to help you build strong faith. If you grow your faith, it will be a key to living an effective life. Enjoy!

Faith Building Challenge

Sometimes we know we need a little push, but we can’t seem to do it on our own. My five-day faith building challenge is the little push you need to jump start your faith. In it, you will find easy, actionable, and strategic steps to help you build your faith. I would love the opportunity to help you along the way. To join the challenge, sign up below, and I’ll send you an email to get you started.

http://larryshankle.com/fbc

The Serenity Prayer: Use It To Unlock Faith’s Best Kept Secret

Pray This Classic Prayer To Shine A Light In Your Darkness

http://larryshankle.com/serenity-prayer

We’ve all had those moments when our life seems to be in the dark. You seek direction, clarity, anything to point the way. It’s in these scenarios that you can feel the void of faith like somehow God is a million miles away. But faith has a secret that most people won’t tell you about, and that’s what I want to share with you.

Here is faith’s best-kept secret: Faith is about walking in the dark.

No one wants to hear this fact about faith. I’ll admit that I’d rather not write about it. We had much rather think of faith as something that makes things in our life cheerful, peaceful, and serene.

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For complete transparency’s sake, allow me to say that I do believe faith in your life will produce these feelings at some point. Faith always lifts us into a greater place with God, just not always at first.

Often faith involves working, praying, and sorting things out during the dark times of your life. These situations are where the serenity prayer unlocks the secret of faith. It helps you pray the right prayer in the dark times.

The serenity prayer is well known and often quoted. It begins with these words:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Are there things in life that you cannot change? Yes. Absolutely.
Faith helps us to accept that God has a plan. There are nuances of his plan that we don’t understand, and frankly, there are portions of his plan we probably want to change.

Not everything works out the way you thought it would, but this is when faith is most necessary. The reason faith is so closely linked to trust is that you have to operate it in the dark. You have to hold God’s hand and trust that he is leading you and guiding you.

The serenity prayer reminds us that we have to develop the wisdom to see that some things work out how you desire and other things don’t.

You won’t be able to see all the outcomes you would like to see at the beginning of your journey. But these moments of trust have a powerful impact when it comes to faith building. They are irreplaceable.

As I look back over my life to this point, I see things from a different perspective. On the one hand, faith is absolutely about walking in the dark. Faith is about being comfortable in the dark, walking through the unknown, and relying on God to steer you clear of anything that would harm you. But on the other hand, it is about looking into your heart and focusing your gaze on the light.

If you’re following Jesus Christ, darkness may be all around you; but God’s light is burning inside of you. You need to look at the light.

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Now, allow me to be transparent again: Following Jesus and looking at the light still won’t necessarily reveal everything you want to see about your situation. His light is too bright. It washes out everything except himself.

Whether you are focusing on the light or stumbling in the darkness, following Jesus is always about trust. But if you just trust and follow, God will lead you to a place where you can gain perspective. When you let God’s light inside of you shine, you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

You may not see everything ahead, but the light will clearly show what God has brought you through. It is a perspective of faith that brings peace, joy, and serenity.
So, you probably know the first part of the Serenity prayer, but there is more to it.

http://larryshankle.com/serenity-prayer

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

In the end, if you will continue holding on to your faith, you will have the opportunity to see those things that you have trusted God about, begin actually to take shape.

It isn’t easy to have faith sometimes, but the Serenity Prayer helps us to remember that hardships really can be the path to peace, and that if we do surrender to God’s will he will work out everything for us along the journey.

Faith is about:

  • Walking in the dark.
  • Looking inside our heart to see the light.
  • Stopping to look back and see where we’ve been.
  • Holding on for what lies ahead.
  • Trusting God for the outcome.

Question: What are you trusting God for during the dark times of your life?

Here’s a growing list of articles, posts, and resources to help you build strong faith. If you grow your faith, it will be a key to living an effective life. Enjoy!

Faith Building Challenge

Sometimes we know we need a little push, but we can’t seem to do it on our own. My five-day faith building challenge is the little push you need to jump start your faith. In it, you will find easy, actionable, and strategic steps to help you build your faith. I would love the opportunity to help you along the way. To join the challenge, sign up below, and I’ll send you an email to get you started.

http://larryshankle.com/fbc

Prayer Focus: How To Use Your Prayers To Change Your Circumstances

Give Your Prayers A Laser Focus

http://larryshankle.com/prayer-focus

Do you have a prayer focus? If not, how do you measure the effectiveness of your prayers? Maybe this is an odd question, but thinking about it will help you. Prayer focus is so valuable because prayer is supposed to be one of the most important things in your life.

Prayer draws you closer to God. It helps you. Prayer also builds your relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe that prayer should arguably be the most powerful force in your life. In fact, if being a Christian were boiled down to it’s basic core priorities, prayer and reading the scriptures would be the key activities. You can’t have an strong relationship with God if you don’t talk to him.

So, prayer is important, but how do you measure its effectiveness in your life? Why wouldn’t you want to measure the effectiveness of something so vital as your prayers?

I have two suggestions for doing this:

1.) You measure the effectiveness of your prayer life by the answers you receive to prayer.

Now, this can be tough. There are moments when I’ve had prayers answered spot the on. Sometimes you get exactly what you pray for…verbatim. Other times, though, I’ve had difficulty seeing whether or not this is the answer or that is the answer.

if you couple this with the fact that sometimes God says “no,” you can see this method may not be the best way to gauge your prayer’s effectiveness. But the fact still remains, if God answers your prayer exactly as you prayed it, you have to conclude it was pretty effective.

2.) You measure the effectiveness of your prayers by what they produce in you.

Out of the two suggestions, I think this way of measuring is best.

Even if God says, “no” to your prayer, if your prayer made you trust God more, caused you to live with more peace, helped you to turn from some sin, or raised your faith level, It could be called an effective prayer. It did something powerful and positive in your life.

It is vitally important to have a strong prayer focus. Here’s why: The more specific you are with a few very important prayers, the more effective and powerful your prayers are likely to be.

We should all use prayer in at least three ways:

  1. Pray to know God.
  2. Pray to see change in your life.
  3. Pray to worship God.

But when it comes to requests, you should be specific. Be focused. Prayer focus helps you fight hard in prayer for what’s most important to you.

Two things will happen if you use prayer focus:

  1. You’ll know for sure if God says, “yes,” because it will be undeniable. Specific prayers produce undeniable answers.

  2. Your faith will always rise to the level of your fight.

Here’s what to do to have a prayer focus:

  • Maintain a short list of about five things you will work towards in prayer.
    • Maybe about something like being more generous, or cultivating a humble spirit…even something like showing more grace to others.
  • Create another short list of five things or less that are problems you’ll attack in prayer.
    • It could be the need for revival in your church.
    • Maybe you’ll pray for God to heal a loved one or yourself.
    • Maybe you need God to open a specific door for your job. You can pray about it specifically.
    • Maybe you need protection from the enemy in a certain area of life.

Practicing an ongoing prayer focus like this will help you to see when God has been faithful to say “yes”. It will also help you to focus on the few things that matter most to you. You can spend your time praying hard for the five biggest problems that prayer can solve.

Focusing your prayers is a little like shooting a rifle instead of a shotgun. The shotgun scatters and is effective, but the rifle is laser focused and puts all the power in one place. The rifle is more powerful.

Let your prayers be a rifle instead of a shotgun.

Faith Building Challenge

Sometimes we know we need a little push, but we can’t seem to do it on our own. My five-day faith building challenge is the little push you need to jump start your faith. In it, you will find easy, actionable, and strategic steps to help you build your faith. I would love the opportunity to help you along the way. To join the challenge, sign up below, and I’ll send you an email to get you started.

http://larryshankle.com/active-faith