Over my 25 plus years in ministry there has been one consistent theme, intense spiritual warfare. And yes I mean, INTENSE. Every person born of the Spirit will experience spiritual warfare, but I think it is safe to say that those serving in ministry will receive the fiercest of the enemy’s might. If Satan can cause a Christian to stumble, there is cause for him to celebrate. If he can cause a pastor or minister to stumble, then he can bring division to an entire body of believers. Make no mistake about it, that is his ultimate victory. When a pastor loses a spiritual battle all the demons of hell rise in triumphant exuberance. It is hell’s aim to keep the church of Jesus Christ distracted and divided and if he can use a church leader to accomplish his will, that is even greater. Brothers and sisters in ministry, we must understand the power against us and daily put on the “whole armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11). There have been times in my ministry where the spiritual oppression was so great I didn’t feel I could stand under it. This article is in response to a dear pastor friend who encouraged me to write about this subject.
A few observations from many years on the “front lines” of spiritual warfare:
- Spiritual warfare precedes spiritual victories. The last week of July 2016 was especially difficult for me. Each day of that week it felt as if a cloud of discouragement hung over my head. Nothing went as planned, I was continually frustrated by work, family, ministry and life in general. I couldn’t point to one particular thing that caused my downward spiral. It just seemed that Satan had intensified his attacks on my spiritual life, work life and family life. One night after working late, I sat in my truck with my head hung low, downtrodden with a load of care. Through much prayer I was able to overcome the attacks, but it wasn’t without intense spiritual battle. Was it a coincidence that the following week I was scheduled to preach a series of revival meetings? Probably not. That revival week was marked by a special anointing of God’s power. The church was packed, decisions were made and the altar was full each night. Satan had tried to discourage the preacher, but the Power of God in the preacher eventually won. Is it also a coincidence that the meanest church member usually spouts venom to the preacher on his way to the pulpit? Is it a coincidence that our greatest ministry victories are sometimes preceded by difficulties? Even Jesus spent 4o days in the wilderness with Satan before beginning his ministry. In the garden, Jesus experienced a night of intense spiritual battle preceding the atonement. Be prepared! Satan will do his best to usurp the plans of God being carried out through you.
- Spiritual warfare is Satan’s greatest compliment. He is not oppressing those who do nothing great for the Kingdom. He would rather them continue in their spiritual malaise than awaken them to the spiritual realities around them. The Devil doesn’t persecute those who aren’t making a Kingdom difference. So if you find yourself under the weight of spiritual persecution it is likely because you are being used of the Lord and making a difference. Only those on the battlefield will experience warfare. If you never find yourself battling the enemy it may be time to take deep introspection at where you are in your spiritual walk. In Jesus’s upper room discourse he spent time preparing his disciples for the upcoming battles. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. By “world” he meant the people of the world and also the power of his world. In Him, the battles would be won because he overcame the world. If you find yourself in the midst of a spiritual battle today, I have good news. You may be on the verge of great ministry victories! Fight through it!
- Victory is yours! You are fighting a defeated opponent! Three words from the mouth of Christ cemented our victory. When he exclaimed “It is Finished“, the enemies fate was eternally sealed. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. However, that doesn’t mean that Satan is giving up. Quite the contrary, he is fighting more and more intensively against us as the day of the Lord draws near. Take up your sword (Bible), get the battle plan (Study), stay in communication with your commander (Prayer) and stand in the victory that has already been provided for you. John wrote of the believer’s victory over Satan, “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the Kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” Revelation 12:10-11. As you battle the enemy, remember that you are covered by the blood of Calvary and living within you is the Spirit of God. You have within your very soul the most powerful force in the universe. Victory is yours my friend!
The next time you feel exhausted by the battles of ministry, remember that you have two unseen forces battling to define your ministry as a success or failure. It is Satan’s goal each day to oppress you, tempt you, trip you and disqualify you. However, There is also an army of angels around you and the Spirit of the Lord fighting for you. If you will see spiritual warfare for what it is, you will be able to stand during the day of trial. Ministers, grab the sword and stand in victory, we have battles to win today.