Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spiritual Warfare - It's Role in Evangelism

Simply put, “Effective Evangelism is a spiritual battle” (Earley & Wheeler, 2010, p.157), in which we must view our efforts to reach the lost in light of the fact that we will face stiff opposition the moment we step out to share the good news. Satan realizes his efforts to strike a blow against God directly are utterly futile, yet he does recognize his one chance at disrupting the advancement of God’s kingdom. According to Dave Earley, “The only way to get at God is to attack those whom he loves, people. People are His weakness. … Satan knows this, so Satan attacks people. … We are the battleground.” (Earley & Wheeler, p.157)
When a lost person turns their heart over to the dominion and lordship of Jesus Christ many are told to assume that life will be all “fine and dandy.” Yet when we look at lives radically changed by Christ we see the case being quite the opposite. Look at the example of the apostle Paul, once enemy number one to the new Christian Church, when he attempts to send word to one of his church plants in Thessalonica he writes, “Therefore we wanted to come to you – even I, Paul, time and again – but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thess 2:18) Satan was on the offensive because Paul desired to continue his work in edifying the church he planted but Satan opposed him. Spiritual warfare won’t merely cease because you have converted to Christianity, it has always been with you or as Earley puts it, “Spiritual warfare begins at birth” (Earley & Wheeler, p.158) and will only intensify as you mature and intend to do more for the Kingdom of Heaven. Be on guard and fully equipped for every good work (cf. 2 Tim 3:17).

Discussing the wiles of the devil: “How do we fight spiritual warfare?”                                                            
            “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 devils schemes.” (Eph 6:10-11, emphasis added)
            So what tactics or schemes does the enemy employ to knock us off course? According to Dave Early he utilizes four strategies. First the enemy attempts to accuse and condemn you. He will cast doubt and sling accusations our way in attempt to thwart our efforts at reaching the lost. He might whisper, “You can’t do it, no one will listen to you, … you aren’t good enough to share your faith.” (Earley & Wheeler, p.160) If you defeat the fiery darts of the wicked one (cf. Eph 6:16) he will still attempt to bring upon more assaults this time in the way of temptation. Satan wants to use our sin to keep us feeling guilty and ineffective for the gospel’s sake, this can happen if we allow the temptations he hurls our to overtake us and knock us down. Next the devil will use deception, “…with the goal of putting us in bondage.” (Earley & Wheeler, p.160) He will attempt to deceive us into believing any number of the following, “Those people don’t need God. …There is plenty of time to do evangelism later. If you tell them about Jesus, they will never talk to you again. People will think you are some religious nut.” (Earley & Wheeler, p.160) All of this in a vain attempt by Satan to cause us to become inactive in sharing the gospel. Finally, Satan will attempt to distract us, particularly with the cares of this world. Anything that gets our focus off the eternal mission of evangelism is a small victory for Satan and he will use anything to us to stop doing the Lord’s work.
            So how do we fight spiritual warfare? Again its a simple formula, first be girded with truth (cf. Eph 6:14) which comes from a knowledge of God and confidence in His truths and words. The Holy Spirit is key to this confidence and will act as our radar system to the truth-value of a claim made by the enemy. After we have been covered with truth we can utilize our strongest, “secret Christian weapon”. R.A. Torrey, the late 19th and early 20th century author and evangelist, put it this way, “The reason many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came … anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before the temptation comes, and you will always have victory.” Prayer is the greatest weapon we have in our attempt to defeat the wiles of the devil and it is our most assured victory for through prayers we call down the armies of Heaven to do battle on our behalf. Victory over spiritual warfare is ours when we first drop to our knees.

Earley, D, & Wheeler, D. (2010). Evangelism is: How to share jesus with passion and confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic Publishing Group.

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