The Body of Christ: Part V
The Body of Christ is under incessant attack by Satan and his minions in this world. It is difficult to apprehend this spiritual warfare, as it usually cannot be observed by our physical senses. God gives a new nature to every believer. This new nature has a new spirit—alive and sensitive to God. The Holy Spirit communes directly with this new spirit. Our new nature can apprehend great spiritual battles in the world around us. Our eyes cannot see the spiritual forces of darkness. They cannot perceive the strikes of demonic daggers as they hit their mark. Our ears cannot hear angelic warfare. The frequencies of these battles are not within human ears’ ability to monitor. But the Holy Spirit enables each believer to sense the enemy’s presence. Our flesh cannot battle the enemy. Satan already owns our flesh, and he pushes it around at will. Satan even uses our physical senses to blind us from more ominous spiritual battles. He causes us to focus on physical events in our environment and in the world at large. We rarely perceive the spiritual movements behind these physical events—especially those that make the news day after day. However, our Lord and General, Jesus Christ, has employed the Body of Christ as a battalion of God’s army to conquer dominions for Him in this world. God provides us weapons of defense and offense to use for His glory. The Apostle Paul instructs to wear our spiritual armor at all times and struggle to preserve the unity of the Body of Christ. Satan’s focus is always to destroy that unity. Divide and conquer is his usual mode of attack. The book of Ephesians, chapter 6 vividly describes this spiritual warfare.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints (Eph 6: 10-18).
Paul paints the picture of spiritual warfare. The Holy Spirit operates in our new nature to identify spiritual battles in our lives. We cannot withstand the devil’s schemes without wearing the full armor of God. We need not struggle with the fleshly battles of this world. These are a waste of precious time in the life of a believer. Satan encourages us to battle worldly issues and mocks us as we take his bait. But God calls each believer to wage war against evil forces in the heavenlies. Paul outlines the hierarchy of these demonic personalities. The above Scriptures imply there is a chain of authority. Rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness describe a demonic command and control structure. Those demons highest in the chain of command wield power over generals, kings and nations. Satan is at the helm, directing this vast power structure. He has had all the time of human history to perfect his army, and he works it to his deadly desires. God is omnipresent. He can be everywhere at once. Satan does not have this ability, so he must place his demonic powers at critical points throughout the world he currently rules (but not for long). Humans rarely identify his military moves and scarcely pay attention to the death and destruction that inevitably follows.
The prophet Daniel describes one intriguing event that occurred after he had fasted and prayed to God for three weeks. Daniel was focused on the Lord and constantly petitioned Him. God heard his prayers and sent a high angelic messenger, Gabriel, with His answer:
Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said to me, ‘O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.’ And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, ‘Do not be afraid Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.’ (Dan. 10:10-14)
Gabriel explained God heard Daniel’s prayers as soon as they left his lips, but a great spiritual battle in the heavenlies prevented Gabriel from bringing the answer. Gabriel described a three week battle he waged with the ‘prince of the kingdom of Persia,’ that finally ended when the archangel, Michael, came to free him. The prince of Persia, obviously referred to a very high general in Satan’s army who spiritually ruled over the world empire of that day—the Medo-Persian empire. This empire controlled God’s people, Israel, whose destiny was at the mercy of the King. The angelic prince would obviously be pushing Satan’s agenda in that empire. Such spiritual battles occur regularly—especially in these last days. News events recorded in print and other media portray movements of world leaders and superpowers. Spiritual forces of wickedness are likely behind these movements. Humans remain unaware of the chess match that is occurring.
There are countless Biblical Scriptures describing Satan’s work in the spiritual war of the ages. The Gospels and Book of Acts chronicle many examples of Satan’s point men (demons) as they carry out His dastardly deeds. These same books also record the successful military campaign the Son of God and His apostles waged upon the spiritual forces of darkness. Jesus delivered many human souls, hanging just above the flames of hell. The Head of the Body of Christ has no problems identifying His enemies and He always wins the battles He chooses to enter, because He is God. Members of the Body of Christ can have similar success if their General is in command.
Paul admonishes believers to stand firm against demonic forces in spiritual places. He uses this term three times in the Ephesians passage cited above. A Scriptural phrase of great importance is often used repeatedly. The more times the phrase is used the more important it is. Sitting would imply resting. Standing connotes being vigilant and in a prepared state for battle. A soldier for Christ must gird himself with truth, and wear the breastplate of righteousness. Any deviation from God’s truth is an opportunity for Satan to attack.
Satan uses the world system to present multiple philosophies that sound good. Evolution, the homosexual agenda, abortion are but a few that appeal to millions. However, these teachings are built on lies and deceit. The enemy uses them to cause unsuspected Christians to veer off the narrow path.
Every member of the Body of Christ must have footwear designed for transporting the gospel of peace. This is an offensive weapon. With it the believer can freely move into Satan’s territory and allow the Holy Spirit to take souls the enemy has designated for hell. The gospel of peace is better known as the gospel of grace to Christians. This gospel is the only good news able to move a soul from enmity with God to peace with Him. The grace gospel, delivered in the power of the Holy Spirit, can soften a stony heart and plant a seed of salvation.
The shield of faith is a gift from God. When the enemy attacks with trials and tribulations, the shield of faith is a wondrous defensive weapon. It dispels fears of the unknown and strengthens one’s relationship with the Head of the Body of Christ.
The helmet of salvation surrounds the most important battleground of the believer—the brain. That is where Satan prefers to wage war, and he often succeeds there. The ever-present reminder of one’s salvation coupled with a living hope of eternal glorification with Christ ward off enemy attacks on the mind of a believer.
The sword of the Spirit—the Word of God—is a true offensive weapon. A good soldier in the Body of Christ is prepared to use this sword at a moments notice. This requires diligent Biblical study, which requires time and effort. But the result can reap great rewards in the kingdom of heaven. It can also unify the Body of Christ in times of crisis. Satan and his surrogates know the Scriptures, and they have been known to skew them to deceive their human audience. Satan notoriously deceived Eve when he ever so subtly altered God’s command to avoid eating fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A believer who studies God’s Word diligently is less likely to be deceived by the enemy. This believer is more likely to be used by the Holy Spirit to conquer enemy territory.
Finally, a believer’s connection to the Head is achieved mainly through prayer and petition. An open connection is critical to hearing commands from on high. It is crucial to carrying out His desires in the Body of Christ. Constant prayer and communion with the Master achieve unity in the Body of Christ.