"The spiritual battle takes place in our minds, but the place we give Christ in our hearts determines our victory" ~ Magdalene
Prepare Your Heart for Spiritual Warfare
Also see* Battlefield of the Mind - Part II: Spiritual Armor of God
The battlefield or realm in which our spiritual warfare takes place is in the mind of every believer in Christ. We wrestle, or strive and struggle in our minds against world systems, the flesh or the carnal nature, and the devil. The mind encompasses our thoughts (imagination, reasoning, and intellect), as well as our emotions and will. In all of these aspects lie the very heart of an individual. By our thoughts and feelings we determine our will and purpose for our lives. As Christians, we seek to live by the truth and power of God because they are our assurance of God's promised victory in each and every situation in life, and we are not ignorant of the reality of evil, and the destruction that surrounds our world on a daily basis. It is in this process that we will encounter a very real spiritual struggle in our thoughts, emotions and will, because the adversary knows that these areas are directly related to the power of our faith, and means to receiving the promises of God. The adversary's goal is to weaken the faith of every Christian. We read,
1Pe 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
If we choose to live a half spiritual and half carnal life, we jeopardize much of our victory in Christ. Although, at the moment of conversion we received Christ and are assured of our salvation, our hearts still need to be right with God in our commitment to follow Him. When we follow Him we build a sure foundation in which Christ said,
Luk 6:47 - 49 "Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."
As Christians, we are deceiving ourselves if we are not walking with God from the heart. This has nothing to do with religion, legalism or ritualism because these have nothing to do with true religion, but sadly foster self-righteousness. True religion is a matter of seeking to understand God's love and committing your heart to follow the way of Christ. God says,
Jam 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
This verse is speaking about compassion and moral goodness versus the many philosophies of the world that are in opposition to the love and justice of God. Our liberty in Christ sets us free from these worldly entanglements.
Jam 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
The devil hates the righteousness of God with a pure hate, as well as God's creation, especially those who follow after the righteousness of God.
We are told in the epistle of Peter to:
1Pe 5:8 Be sober (discreet), be vigilant (awake and watching); because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking (in a bad sense to plot against life) whom he may devour (to gulp entirely).
In stark contrast to the devil, God also searches the earth but for a different reason:
2Ch 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong (to fasten, seize, strengthen, cure, help, repair) in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect (peaceable, especially friendly) toward him[God] . . ..”
Since we have a very powerful and hateful enemy, we need to be watchful of our thought life and hearts and to remain in close fellowship with God, so that His power can effectually operate in our lives. Scripture tells us,
Psa 91:14 Because he hath set his love (to cling, join, delight in, to love, desire) upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
The first step to take in preparation for the spiritual warfare that is before us, is to get our hearts in the right place. To set our love upon God, is to walk with God, and when we walk with God, we remain in His presence and promised protection.
How to Set Our Love Upon God
Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
1Jo 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
1Jo 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
His Promises To Those Who Love Him
Joh 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Joh 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
God loves us unconditionally; however, by responding to His love we know God by experience. When we sow God's Word in our hearts and act upon it, we will reap the supernatural power and love of God. God will bring it to pass, and we will know God in a way we never thought possible. We then begin to understand the meaning of living on the holy mountain of God or in the presence of God.
In Psalm 15, David expresses the righteous love of God in a believer and his or her dwelling place in God's holy hill.
LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
The love of God works the righteousness of God. Our achievements do not genuinely profit us when they are not motivated by the love of God, not even our greatest gifts and sacrifices. God tells us that love alone will not fail.
1Co 13:1-6 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. . . ..”
God desires the heart of an individual, and if we make a decision in favor of what is given to us from His Word, we will reap the wonderful promises of God, and obtain a sure footing for the battles of life. If our intentions and purposes are lined up with those of God’s, we will profit in everything we do, and obtain God's deliverance from all evil.
This however does not mean that we move along in life, and take no precautions for our own safety because we are walking with God. We always do our best to care for ourselves and rely on God to do the rest.
God cautions us to the following:
Mat 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Mat 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
What A Righteous Heart Is Not
Does a righteous heart mean that we must be perfect in order to receive His promises?
If we become distracted by an ideal of perfection, we will find ourselves lost in a revolving door that takes us further away from the pure path that is set before us, and once again we become entangled with the works of the flesh and condemnation. The Christian life is not about a million do's and don'ts, its more about do unto others what you would have them do unto you.
Gal 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
To possess a perfect heart before God, means that our intentions, motives and purposes agree with the heart of God. We acknowledge His love for us, and have made a decision to return that love because He first loved us, but our perfection will not be complete until our full redemption in Christ at His 2nd Coming. Conforming to the image of Christ is a process of growth in the knowledge and power of Christ as we draw nearer to Him. Like a baby, we first receive the pure milk of the Word, and as we mature spiritually, we are able to digest the meat. God is full of mercy and grace towards His children, and seeks to deliver us out of trouble and restore us back to fellowship with Him, if we should fall away. When our heart is right with God, we are motivated by the things of God, but by no means does this guarantee that we will never fail God or others.
The righteous will continue to acknowledge their mistakes and change their course or direction in life. A true believer is in a continual state of repentance by putting off the works of the flesh and continuing in the things of God. A Christian may suffer from his or her errors, but to remain in a state of condemnation and retardant growth because of them does not work the grace or righteousness of God. God looks at the intent of the heart and not our weaknesses and failures.
God doesn't judge us according to the standards of men, but He always looks on the heart. The apostle Paul says,
1Co 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Paul explains that a true Jew is circumcised in his heart and not in the letter of the law.
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
The Psalmist said,
Psa 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
The Opposition and the Reason for Our Spiritual Warfare: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil
The World, the flesh, and the devil are in opposition to Christ. We are forewarned to put on the whole armour of God so that we can overcome these obstacles through the power of God. This is also a part of the Christian walk; your heart may be in place but so is your spiritual battle. (Please see Post #1 for more on the world, flesh, and devil, by clicking the link below)
Why the World, Flesh, and the Devil in Spiritual Warfare?
When a believer is gaining ground for Christ in any of the 3 realms, whether we are winning souls for Christ, or overcoming obstacles to our personal walk with God, we will experience resistance in the world, the flesh, and the devil. Be not afraid, this resistance will come and is a sure mark of your progress!
Some Words of Encouragement to the Weary
There will be times when it is necessary and also an act of wisdom to retreat or step back a little from forging ahead spiritually, and to take the time to reflect, renew our strength and to gain perspective for our lives. We may even begin to feel a sense of relief and become complacent. If we are tempted to remain complacent, we should remind ourselves of the lives we will never touch, the spiritual heights we will never reach, and the force of faith that will no longer impact the invisible world to keep the enemy at bay. There are legitimate struggles in life, and we can become discouraged, but even if we feel discouraged, and we keep placing our trust in the Lord, He will not fail us. Some battles may be lost because lesser obstacles were overlooked at the start, and there are times, out of enthusiasm, we move ahead of our present capacity. It is not wise to tackle unfamiliar territory unless we are led by the Lord, to do otherwise is to witness the casualties of spiritual warfare. As a pastor once advised, when we fail, get up, and dust off our clothes and keep moving on.
Christians experience real problems, and doing our best to overcome them through the power of God, will involve struggles and wrestling's that Paul defined as "warfare."
Is your battle personal? Are you fighting fear, doubt, depression, physical problems, condemnation, obsessions, worry, despair or hopelessness? Is there an attitude, a habit, or a part of your flesh that is destroying you and you know it, but you can’t seem to get a handle on it? Has your good intentions to win family and friends to the Lord now turned into a personal attack against you? Are you threatened by the hostility and hate of others, do you fear isolation or how others can hurt you? Are you disturbed by your own hardened heart? Then seek God for His deliverance because He has provided a way for each one of us in Christ, set your love upon Him and He will deliver you.
Psa 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
Psa 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
God will transform our hearts and cause us to prosper in Him.
Psa 37:5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
Psa 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
The Agony and The Ecstasy
When a believer in Christ is committed to live for Christ, and to be God’s light in a dark world, he or she will experience, to a varying degree, the “agony and the ecstasy.”
Jesus sweat drops of blood during His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion.
He endured extreme cruelty, both psychological and physical persecution that culminated in His death on the cross.
The Lord's ecstasy was His inherited prize, the Church, known as the body of Christ.
Are you sensitive to the sufferings of others? Have you ever felt sickened as you witnessed some type of suffering, but were helpless to do anything about it? Just think what we can accomplish for the Lord; every decision we make, and every word and deed we perform, either glorifies Christ, Who is worthy to be glorified, or gives a back seat to the sufferings that He endured for us. Everyday is an opportunity to wipe the brow of Christ.
In all of this, Christ won the victory for us, but we must continue to grow and trust God in our daily fight against evil. In our decision to give our whole heart to the Lord, we take hold of "the ground of Christ" then we take back the ground that the devil has stolen from us.
Where do we begin in our spiritual warfare?
With ourselves! Set your love upon the Lord!
Psa 57:7 My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.
Original post - 2005 Last update
*If you would like to know more about Salvation click below:
What is Salvation and How Do We Know if We Are Saved?
** If you would like to read more on spiritual warfare just click on the titles below for Posts 1, 2, & 4:
Why the World, the Flesh, and the Devil in Spiritual Warfare
Principalities, Powers, World Rulers of Darkness, andSpiritual Wickedness in High Places
Battlefield of the Mind - Part II: Spiritual Armor of God
*Bible Refs. KJV - ASV