Danielle and I want to share our lives with people and express the variety of ways God is teaching us. Sometimes I am stubborn and a slow learner. Yes, sometimes stubborn, not all the time hehe . It has been clear to me an issue that keeps arising throughout my time in Portugal is Spiritual warfare. I am not writing about casting demons out of a person, or something that involves that clear a manifestation of a believer’s war with darkness. However, I have never been challenged in such a variety of ways as I have been over the past 9 months.
Paul said in the book of Ephesians, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”
In the states, I did not notice this truth reveal itself strongly. But after living in Portugal, I now realize how subtle spiritual war can be. The effects can be frustrating, prolonged, and if not addressed… devastating to a Christian’s witness. So, here are some different faces of Spiritual battles.
Anger – I am one of those types of people that will simmer on a thought. If I feel cheated in any form, I replay the perceived injustice through my mind (I don’t believe continued thinking on negative things is biblical by the way, I should control my thoughts better). Since I have been in Portugal, I have noticed that I do not avert my thoughts to a different subject after I become angry. I simmer for hours. The anger can influence my schedule and how I interact with people. Does it seem peculiar to anybody that these incidents occur when I am going to talk to people about Jesus? Here is a prime example. This past season in football, when I was about to go to a game or even practice and interact with players, trying to show Christ to them, Danielle and I would argue. The argument would put me in a negative mood. Danielle and I started to notice this pattern after a while. We realized that these arguments could be spiritual warfare. The realization allowed us to focus on the problem.
A side note: Anger affects relationships with teammates and friends. It causes me to isolate myself so I can ignore situations. It creates so many problems. It is a mighty tool for the Devil, and I am just now realizing how difficult the battle presents.
Distractions – I am a worker. Now that is. When I was younger, I would lazily allow my brother to rake the leaves and do the outside yard work, hehe = strategy. So, I enjoy having things to do. I enjoy going to cafes and talking to people about Christ, or studying on particular subjects. However, I notice that things I have never enjoyed before have become more intriguing to me, for some odd reason… T.V., Internet, etc. I am checking my Facebook way too much (oh the irony of this blog being posted on FB). I love football, but when I start to watch a meaningless game of teams I have never even heard of existing, I realize I am allowing distractions take me away from my mission in life.
Past problems – Before I was reborn, I lived like a sinner, shocker! The problem with my former lifestyle, is I don’t think the Devil’s workers have forgotten about my past . My former lifestyle was focused on women in all the wrong ways. Now that Christ has made me a new creation, I have a wonderful wife and can enjoy that blessing. The fact remains, as James says we stumble in many ways, I am in a constant Spiritual battle with lust. I hate it. Absolutely hate it. But, I sowed these seeds early in my life, now I have to struggle with the fruit I produce from that lifestyle. This spiritual battle is not going away. It is a daily battle that has to be won… I realize that everyone does not struggle with the same thing. Whatever your battle is, you probably know that the Devil has not forgotten your difficulties. Keep battling my friend. Keep battling.
Emotions – I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster, all the time! And I don’t like heights. The more I feel compelled to share Christ, the more I notice my mood is tested. Anger has already been discussed, but shame from failure in any area, a feeling of being overwhelmed and helplessness, sadness from certain situations, thoughts of insignificance, and many other negative emotions are constantly having to be battled. Funny, but these emotions can be complete contradictions of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It’s crazy to me how simple our emotions seem, but I would not be shocked if many times it is Spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare trying to inhibit our witness, our joy, or focus.
I asked for prayer to combat this warfare. Jesus has already won the war on sin, but battles remain until He returns. Pray for me to be constantly outfitted in the armor of God: Truth, Righteousness, Readiness of the gospel of peace, Faith, Salvation, God’s Word (Ephesians 6:10-20). As Paul asked, I ask, “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel… Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.”