I love having a new laptop but I hate getting a new laptop. It takes me a couple days to transfer my old data, reinstall the applications, and setup my preferences. It’s a hassle.
Ten days ago, I began work on this Spiritual Warfare article. A day later my new laptop crashed. Argh!!!! I tried to breathe life into it and failed. So I wiped the computer clean, reinstalled the operating system, and started all over again. It was a major pain.
I shared my story with a friend. He thought that my laptop crash was probably due to spiritual warfare, and that I should pray against spirits that affect technology.
I thought I had been lazy.
Let me explain
I don’t know if evil spirits affected my laptop or not. However, I do know that my several days of frustration were primarily due to my procrastination. Whenever I install a new laptop, I always back it up immediately in case of a future problem. Always.
Except this time. A few exciting projects distracted me, so I delayed my backup, and then delayed again. For two weeks. If I had done the backup, it would have taken a couple hours to restore. Instead it took a couple days. Procrastination was my problem.
Can evil spirits influence the physical world?
Yes, scripture says evil spirits can influence the physical world. The book of Job shows God granting (and limiting) physical powers to Satan (Job 1:6-12).
But let’s remember that the world is broken. Tires go flat, spouses argue, and laptops die. It’s not all due to evil spirits. Most of it is simply due to the world’s brokenness.
The main arena of spiritual warfare is not Satan’s physical power. But he likes us to think so. It’s like Satan is a sleight-of-hand-magician, distracting us with physical power while his real trick lies hidden in his other hand. His real target is something else.
Demonic influence over lightening or laptops is not the primary battleground of spiritual warfare. We confuse distracting skirmishes—enemy feints—with the front lines.
So where is the real combat?
The attack of the enemy is always targeted at our hearts; this is the theater of war. Proverbs 4:23 explains,
Guard your heart with all your strength, for from it flows the springs of life.
Satan may engineer some of the brokenness we experience, but not the majority. Whether he causes it or not, he always interprets it. He tells us what it means for us.
This is his battlefield, his front line: an attack on the deepest beliefs of our hearts.
A friend of mine speaks at retreats. The day before retreats, he and his wife used to get into fights. He attributed it to spiritual warfare, and he feared it. One day he realized that the fear of the warfare (and his obsession with retreats) caused him to ignore his wife. That’s why they fought. His real battle was to trust God and care for his wife.
When my laptop died, I don’t know if it was demonic influence or just the natural brokenness of Windows. (Here’s a smiley face for Mac-lovers 😀 )
But I know what happened to my heart. I asked, “Again? Why can’t God just come through for me?” I grew frustrated. I obsessed about fixing it. I ignored my wife and other responsibilities. My heart was the target.
The battle for our hearts
The most common description of Satan involves his messages not his physical power. He’s called a liar, the father of lies, a deceiver, an accuser, and a blinder of our minds.
Scripture doesn’t call Satan the demon of thunderstorms, or the terrorizer of technology, or the evil spirit of illness. He may cause some of these, but he always lies about them. He offers us a false interpretation.
Satan’s objective is to make us doubt God’s love. Satan’s attack on Job was to get him to “curse God to his face” (Job 1:11), to doubt God’s love. Satan’s expertise is doubt.
But what about tragedies?
My sister lost her ten-year-old son in a car accident. I loved my nephew Robbie. I’m not sure what my sister heard, but I heard, “How could a loving God let this happen?”
These are the attacks of spiritual warfare, an assault on the love of God. And they work for a time, because I think I can imagine a better way for him to show love.
Recently, God has been saying this to me: God always shows more love than I can imagine. On the road to Emmaus, two disciples said, “Our chief priests and rulers delivered [Jesus] up … and crucified him. But we had hoped he would redeem Israel.”
They had hoped for freedom from Rome’s oppression. God gave them eternal joy.
At that time, God allowed Satan to unleash his terror of demons to inflict unspeakable suffering and unimaginable horror on the only innocent man ever. They did their worst.
Out of this inconceivable evil, God raised his Son, and he showed us a love beyond anything we could imagine. He always shows greater love than we imagine.
I have a good imagination. I can think of lots of ways God could show his love. If my God is powerful enough to do all I can imagine, then he must also be wise enough to show his love in a ways far beyond my imagination, in ways I can’t understand.
When we finally get to heaven, I believe we’ll be able to look back at all that happened to us on earth, and we’ll see that God consistently showed his love and mercy in ways far beyond our wildest imagination. We don’t always see it now, but we will.