Four Spiritual Warfare Strategies for Preserving Peace in the Church
From dessert and coffee at a restaurant, to the the climax of a story, to (this matters especially to pastors like me) how the sermon ends, the way things come to a close can make all the difference in the experience.
Lately in my study I’ve camped out a lot in Eph. 6:10-20. Paul’s treatment there of the challenging subject of spiritual warfare forms the focus of my church’s men’s retreat at the end of this month.
Think about it. He ends this exquisite letter to the the church at Ephesus on this note: we Christians are at war. We find ourselves in a never-ending conflict with formidable forces. Much opposition confronts anyone serious about walking in a manner worthy of the gospel.
Among those things, and the first place he starts in Eph. 4:3, is doing our best to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Safeguarding the treasured gift of unity in your church means you have to go to war over it.
It’s a high-stakes, dangerous, but utterly worthwhile undertaking.
Here are four strategies (a preview of our retreat content) for waging the spiritual battle.
One, trust your God for His strength. Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might (10). This same power raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:19-20). We have everything we need in the way of strength for this ongoing struggle. We draw from the One who effectively disarmed the enemy at Calvary (Col. 2:15).
Additionally our powerful God has equipped us with impressive battle gear designed to protect us so that we may stand and not fall (11). More on that in strategy #3.
Two, know your enemy for his schemes. The objective in this fight is plain–that you may be able to stand (11). Satan and his minions deployed in the invisible realm (12) plot our undoing. We must give him/them no ground.
The enemy attacks on multiple fronts: accusation (Rev. 12:10); deception (Gen. 3:1-6); sins like anger (Eph. 4:26-27) and withholding forgiveness (2 Cor. 2:10-11); just to name a few. Luther said it well in A Mighty Fortress:
For still our ancient foe,
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Don’t underestimate the foe. Arm yourself with a informed knowledge of his shrewd tactics.
Three, wear your armor for its protection. The bulk of the passage focuses on the battle gear God supplies every believer for spiritual warfare (14-17). Paul repeatedly emphasizes our responsibility to put it on–take it up–all of it. We dare not engage this battle every day without every one of the six components.
What they are and some thoughts about them, plus strategy #4, will come with my next post and the second part on this subject.
In the meantime, take heed to this exhortation from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
Do not relax. “Maintain the field!” You are always on duty in the Christian life, you can never relax. There is no such thing as a holiday in the spiritual realm.
Peacemaking warriors! Maintain the field! Ever on duty, battle to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace in your churches.