Spiritual Warfare: 70 Things Every Man Needs to Know
59. Spiritual Warfare
Excerpted from Pastoring Men, Moody Publishers.
There is raging in the cosmos and all around us a titanic battle between the forces of good and evil for men’s souls. This battle is raging out of control in neighborhoods across America–your neighborhood. The apostle Peter put it this way:
“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Your men are being hunted.
Equip men to fight a spiritual battle. Spiritual warfare, of course, includes the conspicuous, overt battle between good and evil behavior. But most Christian men have their outward morality under control. The deeper battle is for the mind–or belief. The Devil’s strategy is confusion and disinformation–to make good seem evil and evil seem good.
Help your men grasp the difference between “tempting” and “sinful” thoughts. We have no more control over our thoughts than over the vulgar words of the man at the next table in a restaurant. We do control what we do next.
Temptations are not sins, but every sin begins with a temptation. (James gives the progression in James 1:14-15.) And, of course, a man will tend to “hear” fewer tempting thoughts at a Bible study than a bar.
Galatians 5:16-17 says that if you live your lives according to the Holy Spirit, “then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants” (NLT). You can tell which is winning by the fruit your life bears.
People who are winning the battle exhibit the “fruit of the Spirit,” which Paul describes as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” People who demonstrate these qualities are “in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25). They are winning the spiritual battle, and they enjoy the favor and peace of our great God.
Throughout this passage, Paul challenges us to cooperate with God in this process. Most of us realize our participation is required, but in our efforts to achieve superiority over ourselves, we face two potential errors:
- We publicly pretend we have conquered the flesh. No one can win this war on his own strength. We win only through the Holy Spirit.
- We privately deny the possibility of conquering the flesh. We all face a temptation to look at Scripture with disbelieving eyes. But the Scripture declares as truth that if we “live by the Spirit . . . [we] will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16).
Teach your men that the enemy army is the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Show your men how to keep “short accounts” with God and cleanse themselves daily from sin and temptation. For temptation, have them meditate on 1 Corinthians 10:13; for sin, 1 John 1:9. Challenge your men to work all this out in a small group.
For More: See (1) Chapter 9, “Spiritual Warfare,” in A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines (portion excerpted here); (2) Chapter 22, “Leading a Secret Thought Life,” inThe Man in the Mirror; and (3) Chapter 14, “Your Secret Thought Life,” in The Young Man in the Mirror. Also, go to www.pastoringmen.com and click “59. Spiritual Warfare” to (4) watch or hear “A Man Winning His Spiritual Struggle” in the Biblical Manhood series or “Leading a Secret Thought Life” in The Man in the Mirror Remix series.
#440 © 2011. Patrick Morley. All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced for non-commercial ministry purposes with proper attribution.