Ephesians 6:12 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.
2 Corinthians 10:3,4 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
Scripture similar to these two verses have been resonating in my mind over and over for the past week now. The mystery and wonder of spiritual warfare is something that is plainly & naturally spoken of throughout the Bible. I’ve been in Raleigh for two weeks now and currently have a temporary roommate. He’s a real cool guy, just not a believer. We talk about sports, movies, our hometowns, share life stories, etc. A few minutes into meeting him, I called him a hippie and said he should propose to his girlfriend. His face kinda turned red, haha. It was enjoyable.
For the past week I have been wrestling with why I have yet to talk to him about Jesus Christ. I’ve been to 3 different churches and 2 different small groups, but have yet to invite him to either. The fear overcomes me every time. It’s so odd. On the other hand, I can talk to him about anything else and even direct the conversation wherever I want it to go and however deep I want it to go, without any fear…..unless it has to do with the God. How the heck is this possible???? Why do I get nervous anytime I speak to an unbeliever??
Now those of you who know me, know that “fear of people” is NOT a part of my make-up. When I was born, I did not get that gene. I’ve said some random, spontaneous, outlandish & nonsensical things to people (i.e people I just meet, family, other Christians, friends, professors, bosses, random elderly people, etc..). Without regret. As a side-note, it is never anything bad or demeaning.
Here’s my point, the root cause of this fear in me in proclaiming the Gospel truth to my new friend is spiritual warfare. It is not chemicals in my body that have evolved from natural selection, as some atheists would say. Neither is it my insecurity (unless I’m talking to a girl that I believe is terribly cute, but that’s an entirely different type of nervousness). In 2 months I may never see him again, so no need for insecurity, right.
In the moments I spend thinking about talking to a certain unbeliever about Jesus, can mentally/emotionally feel a pull within myself that causes me to sometimes give up on the matter. There ARE “rulers and authorities and cosmic powers” not of this world that give me this fear and the Holy Spirit in me is fighting against them. If my flesh were to try to do what the Spirit is actually doing, my flesh would loose the war, in some form or fashion, every time. My roommate knows I’m a Christian. And I’m sure I’ve set a good example for him. And I can speak theology and say “God saves and does his will despite the failures and insecurities of man.” But that would be a cop-out for me right now. To simply put it, I care deeply for the guy already. There is a duty to be done. At the end of the day God has a call on me that is to Himself & for Himself for the building of the body of Christ…which will be for my good, my spiritual growth, and my friend’s eternal joy. Obedience is tough though. But with more and more practice, it becomes easier. It then creates a lifestyle in us that automatically becomes more missional in all that we do. With more obedience comes more freedom.
I’ll end with a personal story I experienced this year.
By far the scariest, most horrific night of my life was one that occurred late last Spring Semester. It was around 12:45am on a Saturday night, the weekend before the new Avengers movie came out. I was in my bed listening to the snippet of a Matt Chandler sermon. My roommates, Ed and Matt, were out of town and my other roommate Jon had just gotten back. My door was closed shut. I turned my lights & laptop off and laid down for bed with my head sideways on my pillow. With only about 30 seconds of trying to sleep, I feel…..I repeat, I feel a hand press down on my face and slowly drag itself towards my ear. I can still vividly remember how his hand was positioned. I intimately felt the texture & pressure of it. It was not a pleasant, angel-like feeling. It was cold and felt dark. This occurred for about 3 long seconds. The 3 seconds after that, the following thoughts quickly went through my head:
1) What the crap is Matt doing in my room playing around? Wait Matt wouldn’t do this at this time of night. Wait…Matt’s not even here.
2) Ed is out of town….
3) Jon, with his personality, would never do this to me.
4) Wait, my door has been closed and it’s pitch dark still. I heard no one enter my room.
At this point I leaped up and THREW the covers completely off the bed. I pleaded ‘who is it.’ I began yelling ‘what are you doing’ and hoping someone would just answer. I expected a random dude or burglar to attack me so I positioned for a fight. I still couldn’t see anything with it being totally dark. But after 6 long seconds I got no answer and frantically ran out my bedroom door and started banging on Jon’s door. His light was on so I knew he was still awake. But I was frickin’ banging the bolts off of his door and yelling for him to come out. He opened it and he immediately saw something was wrong. I was so out of breath. I told him someone is in my room. Without thinking, he pulls a shotgun out of his room (the dude is from Sumter, SC….nuff said) and we quickly went back to my room.
But deep inside of me I knew I had lied to him. I knew no physical person was in there. It was practically impossible. But I thought if I convinced Jon there was, then hopefully there actually was. Jon and I checked everywhere in my room and called for the guy to come out. I was still bending over out of breath. I can’t remember who admitted it first, but we soon knew it had been a demon. I’d heard many stories about demons but never experienced it, which made me a skeptic. We prayed and prayed and prayed that in Jesus’ name it would leave. I could barely think straight. Everything of our physical world that I’ve always known of became drastically small. It was crumbling down before my eyes within a 3-mintue time frame. I became aware, firsthand, to the realities of the spiritual world. Not just some verses we skip over in the Bible.
Quite frankly, I felt helpless. Sleeping that night was the hardest I’ve ever had it. I felt the weight (mental, physical, emotional) on myself. The only thing that helped was the fact that I kept thinking if the spiritual world were true, then that makes Christ even more true. All things are mine according to scripture because I am on Christ and Christ is of God. And my faith was strengthened and was growing by the second. What the Satan’s buddies intended for bad, God used for good. The demonic-world aspect of spiritual warfare is a very rampant occurrence in places like Africa, China, and many 3rd-world countries where Christianity tires to flourish. It’s not really in America because we have Youtube, iPads, Lindsay Lohan, the prosperity gospel, and football games that can take our focus away from Christ. The devil just loves that; makes his life a breeze.
Even as YOU read this very very true story I just told….of course, there is a part of you that does not want to believe it. If you keen in on that feeling, you’ll realize that that same wrestling feeling you’re having within yourself is just like mine with my roommate. It’s all a wrestle. The powers of darkness do not want you to have faith. Period.
So we’re going to need the Holy Spirit’s power in this or we’ll fall short every time. He does not practice witchcraft. He is God and luckily we’ve got Him (The Spirit) within us. So proclaim the gospel and live it well around nonbelievers. There is no need to be nervous because the war is not between us and people, but with spirits not of this world. The Triune God is contending FOR us. And God wins, as always.
1 Peter 5:8,9 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.