An unhuman war rages around us, yet most are oblivious to it. Some say it isn’t real, but we feel the effects of it, often in misery or anxiety. This war causes much of humanity’s suffering. Sometimes we are used as pawns, sometimes prey, and sometimes we are protected. Because we are deeply affected, we need to understand what is going on and how we can fight. But how can we fight when our allies and our oppressors, the ultimate good and the ultimate evil, are invisible?
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:11-12 (ESV)
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.1 Peter 5:8-9
Think about 9/11, the Holocaust, and the suffering from warfare. Spiritual war underpins these evils. God and his followers are fighting against Satan and his demons. People who have not accepted Jesus are subject to the whims of demons, and they don’t even realize it. Read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible; they show how demons have caused human suffering. Our own sin (selfishness) also causes suffering, and evil beings tempt us to sin. For more on how demons influence people, read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
In the Bible’s book of Job, Satan talks to God and then torments Job. Job does not understand why he, a righteous man, is being tormented, but Job survives and has a deep experience with God in the end. Satan intends evil, but God brings good out of the bad. We also catch a glimpse of a spiritual war in Daniel 10:10-21 when an angel speaks to Daniel about how he has come in response to Daniel’s prayer, but he was delayed by the Prince of Persia, a demon, for twenty-one days. Then the angel Michael came to help him. In verse 20, the angel says he is returning to fight the Prince of Persia. In another example from 2 Kings, Elisha sees into the spiritual realm. He sees spiritual beings that his servant can’t, until he asks God to open his servant’s eyes. Read the following passage.
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an (Syrian) army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So that LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha.2 Kings 6:15-18
Reality is what Elisha saw. Just as the servant was blind to the spiritual world around him, so are we. As we grow deeper with God, he teaches us more about the spiritual reality around us. He trains us how to fight with prayer, using the name of Jesus to make evil beings flee.
When we acknowledge the invisible war that rages around us, several things happen. We realize how inadequate we are to fight by ourselves, and we become more grateful to God, creating joy in our hearts when we worship him. People, apart from God, do not have power over demons. We must cling to Jesus to save us from evil beings and from our own unrighteousness. The blood of Jesus, which was shed when Jesus died on the cross, has already defeated them. We claim this protection when we become followers of Jesus. Of course, demons still tempt us, but by remaining close to Jesus and studying the Bible, we can resist those temptations like Jesus did. (Matthew 4)
Recognizing the invisible war also changes our perspective on life. Since people’s eternal souls are being tormented by evil beings, then it really doesn’t matter who was voted off the island in a TV show. Our priority should be to help people, to serve people the way Jesus did. Wealth and fame also become less important; they should not be goals in life. We share humanity. Jesus died for all people, and he wants all to come to him. In his kingdom, money and earthly fame do not matter. The famous ones in heaven will be the ones who served others well on earth. (Mark 9:33-37)
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.2 Timothy 2:24-26
Remembering that our struggle is not against people should give us compassion for all. Jesus loved people enough to die for us, to make a way for us to go to heaven. If you have not yet given your life to him, then you are probably being used as a pawn for evil. Anyone still alive can choose Jesus and switch sides in this battle. You will experience the most incredible peace, and the Holy Spirit will come to live inside you. See the Faith in God page for how to ask Jesus into your life.