I’ll never forget the first time I went to Icthus Ministries in Bryson City, North Carolina, for a youth retreat. We unpacked the bus and then gathered in the main room with the leader of the retreat center. The first thing I noticed was a picture over the mantel of a guy kneeling with his face to the floor. Above the man were the words: Make War on the Floor. Before we left that retreat center, we had learned how to do just that.
I’ve never forgotten that image.
Learn How to Fight
God has great plans for our lives, but that doesn’t mean the enemy won’t oppose those plans. I think so many times, we pray for God’s will in our family, health, finances, job, church, or relationships, but at the first sign of trouble, we get frustrated, upset, or even give up.
“I guess things are never going to change.”
“Well, it is what it is.”
Or my favorite, “I guess all we can do now is pray.”
When God called the Israelites out of Egypt, His will for them was the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. He had great plans for His people, but they had to learn how to walk in faith, and they had to learn how to fight.
The Israelites barely got across the Red Sea before they were attacked by the Amalekites. As soon as God brought them out of bondage, they became a target of the enemy. Moses told Joshua to take some men and go out and fight, and that’s exactly what they did.
When God calls us out of our bondage to sin, He has a plan and purpose for our lives, but Satan puts a target on our backs. God’s will for us is to walk by faith and build His Kingdom, but the enemy will do everything in his power to keep us distracted from God’s call and ineffective in our world.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls round like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8-9a, NIV84).
“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
God has life for us, but many of us just settle for the enemy’s attacks and give up. We whine and complain about what he does, but we don’t take a stand against him. God declares victory over us, but we have to believe it.
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still” (Exodus 14:14).
The good news is that if we will trust the Lord, He will fight for us, in us, and through us. But the Israelites were afraid and blamed God for their trouble.
“You grumbled in your tent and said, ‘The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us'” (Deuteronomy 1:30).
What about us? Are we whining or winning?
Are we complaining about the enemy or walking in the victory Jesus died to give us? We don’t have to focus on the devil. We just need to know whose we are and get a little victory down inside of us.
“Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22).
God will fight for us, but we have to be armed for battle and do our part. I love the story in Nehemiah of the Israelites rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem after they had returned from captivity. Their enemies didn’t want them to rebuild and were planning to attack, but the Israelites heard of their plot.
“Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked” (Nehemiah 4:20).
Now, that’s what I call determination to build for God! They didn’t give up and quit. They didn’t run to the phone to tell their friends what was going on. They didn’t sit down and cry over all the devil was doing. They just kept working with a sword at their side, which represents the Word of God.
God has called us to build His Kingdom, but we must be willing to fight while we do Kingdom work, even though it’s sometimes frustrating, difficult, and tiresome.
Psalm 18 is a song of deliverance in which David describes how the Lord fought for him against his enemies. David says when the enemy was too strong, the Lord fought for him.
“He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me” (Psalm 18:17).
But then God strengthened David for the fight:
“He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me” (Psalm 18:34-35a).
Yes, God will fight our battles, but then He will also begin to teach us how to fight in His strength. So how do we fight spiritual battles?
1.Know your enemy.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
We don’t fight against people; we fight against Satan and his demons. That means we’re fighting an enemy that has already been defeated by our King Jesus.
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15).
In other words, we fight an enemy who has already lost. Satan has power for a time on this earth, but he has no authority in the life of a believer.
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).
We have to battle from a position of victory, knowing that in Christ, we’ve already won.
2.Get your armor on.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
We have to get up every day and make the devil mad because our feet have hit the ground. We are in Christ and we have His power at work within us. Let the following verses really get into your heart:
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:18-21).
Did you get that? God wants us to understand that the power we have in Him to overcome is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead!
3.Wield your weapons.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
One powerful weapon we have is the ability to cast down wrong thoughts. We are the only one who can determine what and how we think. When negative thoughts of defeat come, we have to replace those thoughts with the Word.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:14-18a).
We have to deal truthfully with ourselves and what our struggle is. We can’t defeat what we don’t confront. If it’s sin in our lives, we have to deal with it. If it’s a problem in a relationship, strife among believers, or attacks from others, we have to acknowledge it with truth. We have to be seeking righteousness in our lives, seeking to live by God’s standard in His Word. We must always be ready to share the gospel of peace with others. We need faith in God to resist the arrows of the enemy. We have to make war on the floor and pray with faith, not rehearse our problems to the Lord. And we must always wield the Sword–God’s Word.
I learned long ago that we only have one offensive weapon against the enemy: God’s Word. When Satan begins to distract, torment, condemn, or disrupt things in my life, I have learned to speak out loud what God says over my situation, even as I pray. Complaining is just meditating on what the enemy says. Speaking God’s Word is meditating on what God says. Which do you think is more effective?
4. Don’t retreat.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
The enemy wants us to give up and back down, but God is in us to strengthen us and empower us to stand.
5. Call for backup.
“So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. 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. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword” (Exodus 17:10-13).
Sometimes we just need a sister or two to come along beside us and keep us steady until we overcome. That’s why the body of Christ is so important. Be sure you have one or two good, Spirit-filled friends that you can call on to stand with you in prayer. If you don’t, ask God to send them into your life.
Please don’t let the enemy have his way in your life. Don’t let him delay or distract you from what God has called you to do. There is victory in Jesus!
“…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
Stand in faith, my friends, and learn how to fight.