Last night neither Alan nor I could sleep. Alan described how he had to go downstairs to pray and he kept praying until he felt Gods peace sweep over him. He said it was like he was fighting with demons. Spiritual warfare - that's what we've been experiencing for the past few months. Just one attack after the other. Maybe sometimes you feel that way but instead of seeing it from the way scripture describes it, you take it personally. You feel like your battle is with that guy at your job or the fellow christian at your church. Well the bible says it's not. The bible in Ephesians chapter 6 says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Woah! Do we ever really sit to think about that?
C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, "Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from your friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snoberry. I know someone will ask me, 'Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil - hoofs and horns and all?' Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is 'Yes, I do.' I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person. 'Don't worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you'll like it when you do is another question.'"
At Audacious last week one of the speakers was talking about how his best friend when he was little nearly drowned, in fact he did drown and was dead for some period of time. He relayed the story of how when he was dying everything went dark. It was so dark in fact that he couldn't see his hand waving directly in front of his face. He also was falling. As he was falling he heard screams. Screams that were horrible but also screams that were so bad they made your blood go cold. He said he got to a gate and there was the most hideous creature he'd ever seen covered with scales. The demon reached through the gate and grabbed hold of his shoulder to pull him into hell and when he did the boy screamed so loud! "STOP!" said a voice behind him. The demon cried, "He's MINE". The voice said, "NO, HE'S MINE - LET HIM GO!" to which the demon let go of the boy and shrunk back in fear. The boy said he remembered waking up in the hospital bed and seeing the doctors working on him. His father knelt beside the bed praying. He told his son he had prayed to God that if he would save him he would give him to God in service for the rest of his life. That boy has now grown up and is the pastor of a thriving, Christ-centered church. He believed because he experienced it first hand.
Hearing him tell the story made the hairs on my arms stand up. You see when I was a teenager I had an encounter with a demon as well. It may have been with more than one but this encounter didn't last only one night, it was multiple nights in a row and also during the day. I heard voices and saw things that to this day I will never forget. It's why I don't watch horror films of any kind. I know from personal experience that there is a spiritual battle going on around us at all times. I know that prayer, the blood of Jesus and the word of God are three pieces of armor God gives us to hold the enemy at bay and to defeat him in the lives of the people we love and in our own lives. This is a war where we are being attacked by things we can't see and if we're being honest, usually it feels like these attacks are from people who really aren't our enemies at all.
We need to recognize, like how Paul writes in Ephesians, that we must put on the full armor of God to protect ourselves from the evil one. We need to fight against our flesh which acts so worldly at times. In our churches, we need to come against the spirit of division and disunity and pray for our brothers and sister in Christ who are undergoing the same kinds of suffering we are. God has made us for eachother and we must love and support eachother while not compromising for Jesus while we're doing it.
Christians can act very unchristianlike. I know because I group myself in that category. I also know because I watch the behavior, the power struggles, the pride and the anger of people that should know better. However, praise be to God who's not finished with us yet. May we sharpen eachother as iron sharpens iron.