What Is Spiritual Warfare?

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What is the Biblical definition of spiritual warfare? Some Charismatics use this phrase for actions they believe fight demonic powers. This type of behavior is completely unrelated to resisting the devil spoken by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6.

´╗┐In Ephesians 6:10 Paul admonishes believers to be strong in God. He then tells them to make sure that have on God's spiritual armor so that they can stand up against the deceptions and lies of Satan (verse 11).

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the might of His strength. Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil . . . (Ephesians 6:10 - 11, HBFV).

The apostle Paul, in his many letters, does use references related to human warfare as symbolic of what must be done in the spiritual realm.

For although we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the overthrowing of strongholds . . .

Casting down vain imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:3 - 5, HBFV).

This charge I am personally committing to you, my son Timothy, in accordance with the prophecies that were made long ago concerning you; in order that by them you yourself might wage a good war, holding to the faith and a good conscience . . . (1Timothy 1:18 - 19).

Paul defines spiritual warfare as composed of two parts. First, true believers have an ongoing war within themselves between their self-defeating human nature that leans toward sin and the influence of God's Holy Spirit that guides a Christian toward righteousness (Romans 7:21, 23).

The second part of Paul's definition refers to refuting false teachings and "bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ" (2Corinthians 10:5).

Charismatics, however, have a different version of what it takes to battle in the spiritual realm. For them, combating evil involves over-the-top affirmations by a religious leader, where countless audience members declare they possess the power to constrain Satan or his demons in a city. This type of strategy is sometimes referred to as "spiritual mapping."

The Biblical definition of spiritual warfare has far more to do with resisting temptations to sin and fighting the good fight of faith to reject lies and actively promote the truth than trying to assert authority over demons. Jesus made it abundantly clear to the disciples, who rejoiced over casting out demons, that their joy ought to center around their names being written in the Book of Life.

List of All Terms in
Dictionary of Biblical Words

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