March 10, 2014
This week I was thinking about spiritual warfare with demons. I read an article about a missionary whose family experienced demonic oppression – and it gave me the willies. I later saw an ad for a movie about paranormal activity – and I shuddered inside. I’m afraid of that kind of conflict with evil. I fear that I will fail. I fear that my faith will be too weak. Then I read Scotty Smith’s devotional thoughts on Romans 7:22-25, and I remembered that intense spiritual warfare is a regular part of the Christian life. Paul writes: “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” The battle with my sin nature is constant, yet I rarely view it as intense spiritual warfare like that described by the missionary or pictured in “devil movies.” Too often, mine is a tame battle because I only half-heartedly want to put away sin. Or, I don’t see my sin as something repugnant to God – my evil is a lesser evil. Though daily struggles with the remnants of my sin nature are more subtle, those battles are still a manifestation of spiritual warfare. Paul’s words apply to me: “O wretched man that I am!” Yet by God’s mercy, I also know Paul’s Deliver: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). Christ has taken my wretchedness and given me his righteousness. My daily battle is to appropriate by faith what Christ has done – the demons are defeated in my life. I also trust that God’s Spirit conforms me to the image of my Deliverer. That practice of trusting in the work of Christ is not easy. Like a demon, my rebellious nature wants to live independently from God. Yet, God’s love subdues me, and his Spirit enables me to put off evil and pursue good. For the believer, battling demons is a part of the Christian life. Yet, in the battle, the believer is never alone, not is he left to his own strength. Thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!