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,
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.Tweet
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