Where Is The Battlefield in Spiritual Warfare?

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.

Three weeks ago I bought a new laptop. Over the next several days I transferred data, installed the apps, and set it up the way I like it. It was a pain.

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.

Sam

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27 thoughts on “Where Is The Battlefield in Spiritual Warfare?

  1. Love this “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.”

    The real work is to trust enough to rest in that now, even when we don’t see.

    • Hi Christi,

      Yes, the real work is to rest in that….

      But … I really think the way to move our heart to rest in His love is to study and re-study all He did on the cross. I think that the more we know what we would have faced, and the more we know what he face on our behalf, then the more we have a certainty of His love; and the more we have a certainty that he truly is working everything out for our good.

      Thanks,

      Sam

  2. Sam,

    My line of thinking lately has also been spiritual warfare and the ways it manifests itself in my and others lives.

    You mentioned doubting God, spousal disagreements, loss of loved ones and neglect of family, all attacks directed at our hearts.

    All of these have one thing in common. They can affect the bonds we have developed that sustain our hearts. Do you think Satan wants to isolate us from those we are bonded to and suck us in to an ambush?

    I am more convinced every day to, hide God’s word within, and spend dedicated time strengthening bonds of love with those close to me.

    • Hi Jim,

      I believe that Satan’s main battlefield is our hearts.

      But, I believe his purpose is alienation. Satan wants to, 1) Alienate us from God (i.e. God doesn’t really have my best interests in mind), 2) alienate us from each other (through our wounding, insensitivity, harshness, etc), and 3) to alienate us from ourselves (so we want to be someone else, or have their gifts, or have their fame…).

      When Satan alienates us from God, each other, and ourselves … he has us.

      He does this through our hearts: mistrust, bitterness, doubt, anxiety, envy, etc.

      I agree: we need God’s word within. And we need him to make his love to us REAL.

      Thanks,

      Sam

  3. G’day Sam
    Under your post today is an ad for free tarot card reading.
    Now I believe that is a direct spiritual attack.
    Satan is out to steal kill and destroy no matter who or what gets in his way. Satan believes your post needs to be destroyed and he will try to do it.
    Do we see demons under every rock??
    We shouldn’t but we need to be aware of them.
    We live in a fallen world, a sinful world and it becomes the norm for us, we forget we are in a battle for our lives.
    We need to be aware and prayerful, not obsessed and scared.
    Thanks Sam your posts are ALAWYS a timely reminder.

  4. Loved this Sam. Such a de-mystifying of the father of lies is exactly what we constantly need. Just a question though? How do we transform the deepest of our hearts beliefs?

    Guy

    • Hi Guy,

      I love your questions; they are always good.

      I think we need to first, Uncover what we deeply believe in our hearts. I know many believers who say they believe God loves them, but they live lives of anxiety and joylessness.

      Let’s first honestly admit (and discover) our deepest beliefs.

      Next, I think we need to see God’s love in action. There is no greater display of His love than the cross. I think we need to look at it, meditate on it, study it, and dig deeply.

      Personally, that has been the single biggest heart change I’ve ever experienced.

      But, you and I will be talking more next week. Right?

      Sam

  5. Interesting that you used Job to illistrate your point. I just spend a buch of time on the phone with my nephew about the book “Wild at Heart” and the impact it has had on me. I talked to him about this broken world and i used Job in my conversation. As we talked, my nephew seemed to get excited about finding his true heart. “This is what satan is after”, I told him. “We were made uniquely, and in the image of God so guess who hates us?!?!” Keep up the writing Sam. Your friend Lyle

    • Hey Lyle,

      Thanks! I find the book of Job intriguing on so many levels, partly because we see the “external” or “power” spiritual warfare in the first chapter, and the rest of the entire book is simply about Job’s heart.

      Thanks,

      Sam

  6. Wow I like this- the target of “spiritual warfare” is our hearts- trying to make us believe lies about God. Interesting that you mentioned the “guard your heart” verse from Proverbs- I kind of hate that verse because I’ve only heard it in the context of advice for teenage girls- be afraid of dating and liking guys because it could break your heart! Guard your heart!

    But if you like, actually read that verse in context, it’s the advice that the teacher is giving to his son, about wisdom and such. I think your interpretation is good- guard our hearts from lies like “God doesn’t love us.”

    • Hi Perfect Number,

      I love your hate for the way passages are twisted into anchors that drag us down.

      Our hearts are so much more than high school disappointments. Yes, we should protect against those as well, but the deeper issues have to do with who we are, who God is, what he thinks of us, and how we respond.

      Thanks again for your great insight,

      Sam

  7. I think we can sometimes waste energy trying to figure out if a particular event is a trial of life or a test from God or a temptation of the devil. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with pondering it, but we sometimes give more to the issue than it deserves. Instead, we focus on being faithful through the situation because that’s what will matter in the end.

    • Reminds me of James 4:
      But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
      Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
      Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

      That “resist the devil” is cushioned between “submit yourselves to God” and “Come near to God.” So even if the event is a temptation of the devil it’s still mostly a matter of the heart and our response. Submitting ourselves and drawing close to Him.

        • Hi Rachelle,

          Here is the deal. I don’t think it is easy to define what coming near to God looks like. God always reveals himself in the way that we need.

          When Jesus appeared (after his resurrection) to Mary and the disciples on the road to Emmaus, they didn’t recognize him. When Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room, they were terrified. When God revealed himself on Mt. Sinai, it was with thunder and lightening. When God revealed himself to Elijah, it was with a ‘still small voice.’

          God always speaks and reveals in ways that we need, and in ways we often don’t recognize.

          I think the “man on the plane” was speaking God’s word to me. He was awakening and stirring my heart. It wasn’t what I expected but it was exactly what I needed. God even spoke to Balaam through a donkey.

          God speaks to us through the stranger on a bus.

          So, what does it look like? Rachelle, study your life. You’ll see God speaking and revealing himself in all sorts of ways you may not have imagined.

          Thanks,

          Sam

  8. The battle is a lot closer than you think, and if you sit real still, you can hear it going on. You know how scientists say we only use 10% of our consciousness – well that’s all we get, ‘cuz the forces of God and satan are duking it out in the background and they need 90% of our conscience in order to have room enough to take real good swings at each other.
    Now there are real big, solid doors between what we can see and the other side. God wants us to pull on the handles and He’ll push from the other side so the door can open a crack and we can see beyond ourselves.
    Satan wants the doors to stay sealed so he can leak his poison underneath them, that maybe they aren’t doors after all, just a fancy wall, and there really is nothing on the other side.
    If you’re paying attention to what God wants for you – prayer, Word, praise, fellowship. etc. – then once in a while when the forces in battle bump into the wall in your mind, and open a crack, you’ll see a little bit of the war going on. We’ll never get to see the entire battle until we get to heaven, we couldn’t comprehend it.

    • I like the way you say, “The battle is closer than you think.”

      It is.

      We miss it when looking for “big” battles (because they are so small), and then we miss it in the “big” battles when we look at their “bigness” instead of understanding the interpretation.

      Thanks,

      Sam

  9. The Beautiful thing about a timely or timeless message is that when a new viewer see it a year later (for the first time), it maintains its freshness because at its heart is a good use of scripture. Thank you !! God has re-formed my church’s intercessory prayer team after a time apart and this message helps me keep clear that balance we need, not to find satan under every rock, but to be clear and skilled in the knowledge of how and why he attacks. Praise God that “He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world).

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