Today we wrap a mini-series about mentoring through the hard things. Our first post talked about the importance of offering comfort and encouragement during difficult times, with the understanding that suffering is a part of living in a fallen world, and suffering well is a mark of our Christian faith. Part II mentally prepared us to take a stand against the schemes of Satan. In that post, we discussed the importance of knowing God, ourselves, and Satan. Today, we will discuss strategies and tactics for our spiritual battles.
When completing military training, one of my required readings was that of military strategist, Sun Tzu, “The Art of War.” I found this book filled with wisdom that was not only applicable to military training and warfare, but also to my spiritual training and conditioning.
Here are a few of his warfare nuggets:
All warfare is based on deception…His [a skilled general] primary target is the mind of the opposing commander.
If the army is confused and suspicious, neighboring rulers will cause trouble. This is what is meant by the saying: “A confused army leads to another’s victory.”
Thus a victorious army wins its victories before seeking battle; an army destined to defeat fights in the hope of winning.
Likewise, “The U.S. Marine Corps Book of Strategy” states the following:
The purpose of all training is to develop forces that can win in combat. Training is the key to combat effectiveness and therefore is the main effort of a peacetime military.
Mentoring must include teaching and training to equip and condition us for success in spiritual battles. Regarding spiritual warfare, we know that Satan is a deceiver—a mass manipulator. One of the ways he attacks is in our minds. He confronts, assaults, and accuses us, causing us to believe lies about ourselves and about God. Remember how he confronted Eve? He infiltrated the garden with doubts of God’s goodness, and then posed a conflicting question, “Did God really say…?” With this confusion and suspicion, the devil wreaked havoc on the whole world. With this landscape, God made a promise concerning that deceiving serpent:
Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers: he [the woman’s offspring] will crush your head, and you will strike his heel (Gen. 3:14-15 NIV).
Bible students understand that this is a prophecy of the coming Christ. He is the one who will crush the head of Satan. This promised offspring had a mission to destroy Satan and his kingdom. That is exactly what Christ did so, as people of God, we are not confused about this victory. As followers, servants, sons and daughters, and warriors in the kingdom of the all victorious one, we must live knowing that we are victorious already because of the fulfillment of this promise, because of who Christ is, and because of what he has done.
Here are a few biblical tactics (not an exhaustive list) to stand victorious when in spiritual battle:
- Recognize the authority you already have. When Jesus sent his apostles out, he gave them authority to drive out demons. (Reference: Mark 3:13-15 and Luke 10:18-20) The Holy Spirit at work within us is all powerful to equip us to stand against the enemy. Greater in He that is in me than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
- Literally call on the name of Jesus. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10-11).” Even demons tremble and are required to submit to Jesus (James 2:19).
In the New Testament, we see apostles exercising their spiritual authority by calling on the power of Jesus’ name. Paul does this when he casts out an evil spirit in Acts 16:16-18. The only caution here (see Acts 19:13-16), and it is a serious one, is that you must be a child of God to exercise this authority and power.
- Praise your way through the battle. When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison for casting out the evil spirit, they began to pray and sing praises to God. As result, God sent an earthquake to loose their shackles, which resulted in the salvation of the jailor and his entire household (Acts 16:19-34). The Old Testament offers numerous examples of praise being an active spiritual weapon of war. David played the harp to soothe Saul when he was tormented by an evil spirit. Joshua and the Israelites marched around the city of Jericho seven times and blasted their trumpets before the walls came tumbling down. Gideon and his one hundred men defeated his enemy in that exact same way. When Jehoshaphat went to war against Moab and Ammon, he “appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’ As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated (2 Chron. 20:21-22, continue reading through verse 26).”
- Stand on the Word of God. When tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus stood firmly and confidently on the Word that he knew (Matthew 4:1-11). When Satan quoted scripture, he wanted Jesus to yield to his deception and empty promises, but Jesus used the Old Testament Word (and quoted from Deuteronomy) to defeat his enemy.
- Form a coalition. When you are spiritually weak or exhausted, get help from your brothers and sisters in Christ. It is important to note that Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs of two, never alone. In the military, we refer to this practice as the “buddy system.” Throughout the Bible, we see people ministering in various structures and teams. These team leadership models provided safe guards, ensured everyone was clear about their role in the plan for success, and provided protections for them to stand together. The visual example that immediately comes to mind is the Israelites fighting against the Amalekites. At Moses’ command, Joshua was on the battlefield fighting with the troops. Moses stood watch. “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset (Exodus 17:8-16).” Who holds up your hands when you get tired?
- The last tactic I will share today is that of prayer. You may observe from several of the scripture references that two actions are implied for success in spiritual battle: that of obedience and prayer. Prayer is an assumed act of warfare. However, I want to note that one of the main things to pray about when preparing for or fighting in a spiritual battle is how to engage the enemy. A key fighting tactic we learn from David in the Old Testament history books is he regularly asked God if he should pursue his enemies. Through his prayer, God revealed the rules of engagement. One of the humblest and most obedient spiritual acts is praying the simple, “Lord, what shall I do?”
How do you prepare for battle?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2015