Spiritual Warfare Too Difficult for Children?

Is Spiritual Warfare Really Too Difficult for Children to Understand?

Scripture Sunday

I am of two minds on the topic of spiritual warfare. One is fully aware of the daily struggle to synchronize my life here on the ground with what I believe, to wear the “helmet of salvation” by memorizing “the sword of the Spirit,” and to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” If I’m not in a battle, then why is this so hard?

Competing against that mindset is my bone-deep fatigue with the camp that looks for the devil under their bed every night, blames demonic forces for every shortcoming in their life, and might be found trying to exorcise the “spirit of bi-polar” from a friend or family member who truly needs professional help. My objection to this is that most of us (myself included) don’t require much help or attention at all from Satan, but muddle along just fine with our production of evil in this world.

In his preface to the The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis frames my controversy beautfully:

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They
themselves (the devils) are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

There was not a hint of struggle going on behind the beautiful, clear eyes looking back at me one rainy Saturday morning in October. I was teaching the Ephesians 6 armor of God to the children of the church I call home, and for the kids in the room that day, the struggle to obey parents, to tell the truth, and to get along with siblings was very real.

Spiritual Warfare Is Not Too Difficult for Children

Madeleine L’Engle, a favorite author, once said that if she wanted to write about a difficult concept, she would write it for children: “The problem wasn’t that it was too difficult for children. It was too difficult for adults.”

Apparently, I’m the one who makes spiritual warfare too difficult.

God says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The kids understood that God is well aware of our struggle with sin, and since he provides something to help them, they had better take it and use it. Our trust rests in an all-powerful God.

God says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.” Those two pieces of armor are so connected that scripture memory has become a key part of our Sunday school–for kids and their parents!

God says to use the shield of faith to “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” I saw recognition on the faces of very young children when I told a story about a little boy stealing a knife from a store, motivated by a flaming arrow, aimed right at his heart, with this message: “That knife is the most important thing in the world! You have to have it today!” Faith says, “Obeying God is more important than owning the knife.”

It’s Not Too Difficult for Adults Either

As I learned from a group of children, spiritual warfare is God’s way of helping us live in this broken world. Writing for the InterVarsity blog, Drew Larsen defines the battle this way:

Spiritual warfare is the leveraging of everything that God promises against everything that opposes God’s purposes.

What flaming arrows are striking home in your life?
Do you have the armor of God, and if you do, are you putting it to good use?
God promises to be fully present to help you in the very real fight against evil.

Holding You in the Light,

Michele Morin

I am of two minds over spiritual warfare. One is fully aware of the daily struggle to war against sin. The other is bone-weary with the camp that looks for the devil under their bed every night. Teaching Ephesians 6 to children helped me to understand it, too.

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29 thoughts on “Is Spiritual Warfare Really Too Difficult for Children to Understand?”

  1. Agreed: children CAN understand enough about spiritual warfare to start putting the armor of God to good use. What child doesn’t know the inner struggle between what they know is right and the temptation to do the opposite? Your church leaders are wise in presenting them with such concepts. And what a wonderful idea to memorize scripture together as an entire church body!


  2. I know what you mean. I remember a conversation years ago over a very human misunderstanding in which the other person blamed the devil. Maybe that helps divert responsibility? It seems like there was a period of time when the devil was getting far too much credit and attention and then others where no one thought much of him at all. I don’t know which is worse.

    I love that children can take in spiritual truths more easily than adults sometimes.


    1. Thank you for sharing your own impressions and experience with this. I find it to be quite distressing, and my past experience has been that if you press on this point with someone who’s convinced of it, they either bristle or write you off as “unspiritual.” It’s a lose-lose situation, and very sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a good post, Michele! I love the quote from Drew Larsen. May we not grow weary and keep battling for this is the path to fulfilling God’s purposes. I also think children often grasp spiritual concepts (principles) so easily and readily because of their imaginations. Their imaginations are still pure, helping them to take the words they are hearing and getting a picture in their minds. I have found the greatest lessons I have learned were from my own children, and now from my grandchildren. 🙂


  4. It seems like it is the same as everything else: balance is needed. We should not believe every bad thing is from the devil – after all, he and his minions are not omnipresent or omniscient. But sometimes it IS the enemy. This is where discernment is needed. I pray for it all the time!


  5. Thanks for your Christ-filled and always very thought-provoking posts. A blog I never miss to read each word of your post.
    Thank you so much for sharing your post at our Senior Salon Pit Stop.
    Pinned to Senior Salon Pit Stop InLinkz Linkup Shares board and tweeted @EsmeSalon with #SeniorSalonPitStop


  6. To know that God loves them so very much – and equips them in His protection – oh, yes! I believe children can grasp that! I did as a child – and it was life sustaining!


  7. Agree on two camps of thought when it comes to spiritual warfare. Both are dangerous and renders the believer ineffective in walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. Wonderful post, Michele!


  8. I hear you on this, Michele. Blaming everything on the devil only gives him more of the attention that he seeks, but to ignore the real (and I believe, growing) presence of spiritual warfare in the world doesn’t help anyone either. I love that you are teaching this to your Sunday school students … the sooner they begin adding to their arsenal of scriptural defenses, the better equipped they’ll be for spiritual battle as they grow up.


  9. Like a seesaw – when one side is up the other is down. Too much emphasis in one direction causes imbalance. Jesus told people very simply, “follow Me.” Keep our eyes on Jesus and move forward. Sometimes along that path we encounter obstacles that need to be removed and it may require weapons. Sometimes a rest is needed. Sometimes healing. We are given ‘tools’ for all of it. Our main objective, however, never changes: Keep your eyes on Jesus. Follow Him. Keep moving forward towards the goal of eternal life. It seems to me that children understanding this at a young age is blessing them with an advantage.


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