"Today’s reading in Ephesians chapter 6 verses 10 to 20 Paul closes his great letter to the church in Ephesus by likening the church to a soldier. We are in a constant battle against the devil. The devil is real; he opposes God and he is scheming against God’s children. Paul instructs us to be strong, to put on the armour of God, to stand firm and to pray always. Then we will be able to survive and thrive in the spiritual battle for our lives." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)
Do you believe in evil spirits? Do you believe there is a devil? Do you believe there is a battle going on behind the scenes, in the spiritual world? Have you witnessed the results of a specific battle between good and evil? Are you in the battle? How can you defend yourself? What is your defense? How can you go on the offense against the powers of the dark world?
Here is an excerpt from chapter 6.
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 devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10-12)Paul reminds us here that our battle is not with other people but the Evil One. God has given us both a defense and an offense. Defensively he has given us truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation. Offensively God has given us His words in the Bible and prayer.
C.S. Lewis wrote about this battle and the devil's strategy. "Like a good chess player he is always trying to maneuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop".
The Screwtape Letters is a great short fictional book by C.S. Lewis that gives us a glimpse of what it might look like "behind the scenes" in the evil spirit world. What might the strategies of the Evil One look like? Lewis does a great job of creating reality in a subject that for many is hard to imagine is real. He paints a very real picture of the unseen world.
Below is a short excerpt from the book. The book is setup as a series of letters from Screwtape, an experienced evil spirit, to his nephew, Wormword who is another evil spirit learning from his uncle Screwtape. When he writes of the "Enemy" he is of course referring to God and the "patient" is the human they are working on. Their main goal assigned to them by the "Father Below" is to keep separation and distance between God and the humans they are assigned. In other words help the humans maintain their broken relationship with God. Here is part of the first letter in the book.
My Dear Wormwood,These letters are fictional, but the battle is real. It may, at times, be subtle but it is there and we are involved. God has not left us alone in this ongoing conflict. God has given us a powerful defense and offensive weapons that have a great impact in this unseen dark world.
I note what you say about guiding your patient’s reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. ...
The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy’s own ground. He can argue too; whereas in really practical propaganda of the kind I am suggesting he has been shown for centuries to be greatly the inferior of Our Father Below. By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’s reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result? Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favour, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experiences. Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it ‘real life’ and don’t let him ask what he means by ‘real’.
Remember, he is not, like you, a pure spirit. Never having been a human (Oh that abominable advantage of the Enemy’s!) you don’t realize how enslaved they are to the pressure of the ordinary. I once had a patient, a sound atheist, who used to read in the British Museum. One day, as he sat reading, I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way. The Enemy, of course, was at his elbow in a moment. Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years’ work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defense by argument I should have been undone. But I was not such a fool. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch. The Enemy presumably made the counter-suggestion (you know how one can never quite overhear what He says to them?) that this was more important than lunch. At least I think that must have been His line for when I said ‘Quite. In fact much too important to tackle at the end of a morning’, the patient brightened up considerably; and by the time I had added ‘Much better come back after lunch and go into it with a fresh mind’, he was already half way to the door. Once he was in the street the battle was won. I showed him a newsboy shouting the midday paper, and a No. 73 bus going past, and before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man’s head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of ‘real life’ (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all ‘that sort of thing’ just couldn’t be true. ...
You begin to see the point? Thanks to processes which we set at work in them centuries ago, they find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes. Keep pressing home on him the ordinariness of things. ... give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is ‘the results of modern investigation’. Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!
Your affectionate uncle,
I am working through the E100 Bible Reading Challenge again. You can learn more about my journey and read the other posts completed so far at this link. I encourage you to stop back soon to read another passage.
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