Are you caught in the crossfire of spiritual warfare?
You know spiritual warfare exists, but do you know if you are among its casualties?
- Does discouragement, depression, or anxiety overwhelm you?
- Is your family wounded by divorce, unresolved conflicts, or physical or emotional abuse?
- Do you struggle to control your passions and desires?
- Are you caught in a financial trap?
Many of us assume that such struggles are simply reflections of our physical world. Yet, as author Tony Evans teaches from Scripture, all physical battles are influenced or provoked by something in the spiritual realm. That’s why if we are to be victorious over the devil and his army, we must learn to fight on a spiritual level.
We’re in a war, but Christ has given us the victory. In The Battle is the Lord’s, Evans reveals Satan’s strategies, teaches how you can fight back against the forces of darkness, and shows you how to find deliverance from the devil’s snares.
About the Author
DR. TONY EVANS is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, former chaplain of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, and present chaplain of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on over 1,200 US radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Dr. Evans launched the Tony Evans Training Center in 2017, an online learning platform providing quality seminary-style courses for a fraction of the cost to any person in any place. The goal is to increase Bible literacy not only in lay people but also in those Christian leaders who cannot afford nor find the time for formal ongoing education. For more information, visit: http://www.TonyEvans.org.
Read an Excerpt
The Battle Is The Lord's
Waging Victorious Spiritual Warfare
By Tony Evans
Moody PublishersCopyright © 1998 Anthony T. Evans
All rights reserved.
THE NATURE OF THE BATTLE
Remember that old newsreel that shows President Franklin Roosevelt addressing Congress the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941?
Calling it "a day that will live in infamy," the president declared that in reality, America was already at war. Roosevelt just needed a declaration of Congress to make it official.
I am not the president, but I have a declaration to make. You and I are at war! In fact, we are engaged right now in the mother of all battles. No war in history can compare with the battle you and I are fighting. It can be either the cause of your greatest joy as a Christian, or of your deepest pain.
The war I am talking about is the spiritual warfare that you became a part of the day you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
This war affects every area of your life. There is no way you can avoid the conflict. There is no bunker or foxhole you can crawl into that will shield you from the effects of this cosmic battle between the forces of God and the forces of Satan.
A lot of Christians don't even know they're at war. But others can see the results of the battle in their lives, because they have become casualties of spiritual warfare. Some Christians are emotional casualties of spiritual warfare. They are discouraged, depressed, downtrodden, and defeated. Others are marital and family casualties. Divorce, conflict, and abuse are some of the battle scars these believers bear.
Still others have been morally wounded in the battle. They cannot control their passions, or else they make poor moral choices. For some Christians, the wounds have been inflicted on their finances. It's not just a matter of how they use their credit cards. They are losing the financial battle because they are losing the spiritual battle.
I could list more casualties, but you get the idea. Since we are all at war, and since there is so much at stake both here on earth and in eternity, we'd better find out what spiritual warfare is about and how to fight the battle successfully. That's what I want to help you do in this book.
THE ESSENCE OF THE BATTLE
Let me begin by stating the obvious. The essence of the war we are talking about is spiritual.
The reason I need to state this is not so obvious. Because this warfare is first and foremost spiritual and not physical, the degree to which you and I will be successful is the degree to which we are prepared to understand and fight this battle on a spiritual level.
Perhaps a definition will help. Spiritual warfare is that conflict being waged in the invisible, spiritual realm that is being manifest in the visible, physical realm.
In other words, spiritual warfare is a battle between invisible, angelic forces that affects you and me. The cause of the war is something you and I can't see. But the effects are very visible in the kinds of problems I mentioned above and in the day-to-day stuff you and I face all the time.
It's hard enough to fight an enemy you can see. It's much harder to fight someone you can't see. In his classic statement on spiritual warfare, Paul wrote: "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
This verse identifies the enemy, Satan and his demons. We'll develop all of this as we go along, but the point I want you to see here is that we make a grand mistake if we think people are the real enemy.
People can be bad, no doubt. But as bad as people can be, they are merely conduits for this greater battle. Satan has been successful in getting us to fight people rather than fighting that which is causing people to be the way they are.
All of us have tried to change people who are not doing right. What we need to understand is that what happens through people, including you and me, has its roots in something much larger. This fact does not excuse the wrong things people do. They are still responsible. But it helps us focus on the real enemy. Let me set down a foundational principle for spiritual warfare: Everything we see in the visible, physical realm is caused, provoked, or at least influenced by something in the invisible, spiritual realm. Your five senses are not the limit of reality.
Daniel 4:26–32 states that heaven rules over all the affairs of earth. So until we address the spiritual causes of a problem, we will never fix the physical effects of that problem.
Not only are your physical senses very limited, but they are often of little help in spiritual warfare. This means that if you are going to wage successful spiritual battle, you need a "sixth sense"—a keen awareness of the spiritual realm. This awareness begins with your worldview.
Your worldview is simply the lens through which you perceive reality. It has to do with the presuppositions that determine what you believe and the way you look at life.
There are really only two categories of worldviews. One is a natural or materialistic worldview, what people today call the scientific worldview. This view says that man by his reason can figure out how the world works. People who hold this view seek life's answers in the natural realm. If you can put it in a test tube, examine it under a microscope, or explain it through natural processes, that's all you need.
The naturalistic view is not sufficient because it is limited to the physical realm. Therefore, it doesn't answer the ultimate questions: who you are, where you came from, why you are here. It doesn't answer the question of the first cause, how this universe got started.
The naturalistic worldview also doesn't explain things like why teenagers are killing each other and why the moral standards of mankind are being eroded. This view does not address the invisible part of human beings, the soul and spirit.
This worldview has quite naturally led to agnosticism and atheism. That is, you don't need God as long as you have test tubes, microscopes, and telescopes.
The tragedy is that many Christians live as though they hold this view, although they would never admit it. But we are talking about the way people think and behave, not what they say.
I can say loudly, "I believe in God!" But if I don't live as if I believe in God, then people can rightly challenge whether I really do. I just know the right theological terms to use to make everybody else think I believe in God. A person's worldview is demonstrated by his feet, not just his tongue. In other words, his walk has to match his talk.
The second category of worldviews is the spiritual worldview, which says there is a realm outside of the physical. We have to recognize that there are competing spiritual worldviews, just as there are many variations of the naturalistic worldview.
A spiritual worldview is very popular right now, but unfortunately it is often not a biblically based, theistic view that believes in the one true God.
Instead, it is a man-centered view that believes in any form of spirituality that seems to pay off. This is the world of horoscopes, palm readers, and all sorts of New Age teaching. When people pick up their newspapers and turn to their horoscope for the day, they're looking for something outside of this world that will guide their lives and their decision making.
Obviously, this is not the worldview of the Bible. It is possible to have a spiritual worldview that is plugged into the wrong spirit. Your worldview affects your approach to spiritual warfare because it colors the way you see the nonmaterial world—and it determines whether you even believe in a spiritual realm.
In order to understand spiritual warfare, we have to address it through the lens of the spirit, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The worldview of this book is, of course, a spiritual one that assumes the power of the Holy Spirit and the rest of the Godhead. Although we will be spending a lot of time on the role of angels (good and evil) in the spiritual battle, ultimately we are dealing with God.
THE IMPACT OF THE BATTLE
Even though the battle we are talking about is spiritual in nature, it has very definite effects in the visible, physical realm. You know you're in a battle when you get shot and start bleeding. We are seeing the "bleeding," the result, of spiritual warfare in at least four areas of life today.
Many believers are seeing the wounds of spiritual warfare in their personal lives. This doesn't mean these people are doing something really bad. It could be that they have a problem such as uncontrolled anger.
Our emotions can give the devil an entry into our lives. To see the relationship between your emotions and spiritual warfare, look at several familiar verses in Ephesians: "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity" (4:25–27).
Please notice that failing to control anger grants the devil an opportunity to get a foothold in your life. Then he can use it as a base of operations to launch more spiritual attacks against you.
Many Christians are suffering today because of anger that was not resolved yesterday—and anger is just one of an assortment of human emotions. If Satan can seize our emotions, he can destroy our ability to function by crippling us emotionally or leading us into all manner of destructive and addictive behavior.
We could multiply these examples, but suffice it to say that the personal effect of spiritual warfare is great.
Many believers are also feeling the effects of spiritual warfare in their families. The devil messed up the first family in the Garden of Eden, and we have been dealing with the effects of Adam's and Eve's sin ever since.
Let me give you a specific example of family relationships and spiritual warfare. Paul wrote to husbands and wives in 1 Corinthians 7:5, "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
Paul is saying that when a husband and wife don't have a fulfilling sexual relationship, the devil sees that lack as an opportunity to come in and bring about moral destruction in the family. So this thing of spiritual warfare gets right down to the nitty-gritty aspects of everyday life.
Spiritual warfare also has an impact on church life. Paul told Timothy to watch out for "doctrines of demons" that will infiltrate the church (1 Timothy 4:1). The church is being undermined in many places today by teachers who purport to teach the Bible, but are teaching doctrines from hell.
Anyone can quote the Bible. But we need to be like the Bereans, who checked out what Paul and Silas were teaching them to see whether their teachings agreed with the Scriptures (see Acts 17:11). Some people will say amen to things that aren't in the Bible, simply because the person saying them is using the Bible. But the devil will use, or misuse, the Scriptures when it is to his advantage to do so.
Finally, spiritual warfare affects the life of a nation, the culture in which we live.
According to passages like Daniel 10, entire nations are influenced by the invisible battle in the angelic realm. Satan is called "the prince of the power of the air" with good reason (Ephesians 2:2).
In other words, you and I are breathing this stuff. It's in every compartment of life. There is no place we can go to escape the effect of spiritual warfare. We need to learn how to fight. Our ability to deal with the spiritual realm will determine whether we win or lose in the physical realm.
Satan's job is to get us to ignore the spiritual realm or give it low value (or look at it inappropriately and worship spiritual beings other than God). If he can divert us from the spiritual realm, he can divert us from finding spiritual solutions.
THE LOCATION OF THE BATTLE
Where in the universe is this great battle called spiritual warfare being fought? Paul tells us it is "in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12), which means the spiritual realm.
The Heavenly Places
In the Bible, the word heaven describes three levels of existence (see 2 Corinthians 12:2). The first heaven is the atmosphere that surrounds the earth, the environment in which we live.
The second heaven is what we commonly refer to as outer space, the stellar heavens where the stars and planets exist. This is also a realm in which angels operate, because in the Bible angels are often called stars (Job 38:7).
When you see the stars at night, they should remind you of spiritual beings called angels and the reality of the warfare we are engaged in. I'll have more to say on this in the next chapter.
The third heaven is the throne room of God, the place we normally think of when we hear the word heaven. It is about this heaven that the Bible has the most to say. In fact, the third heaven is a very busy place because it is the control center of the universe.
In the book of Ephesians alone, we find numerous references to heavenly places in addition to the reference in 6:12. I want to review these with you, because understanding how to tap into the heavenly places is crucial to waging victorious spiritual warfare.
Ephesians 1:3 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." This verse tells us that God resides in the heavenly places, and so do all of our spiritual blessings.
This is important because if you are engaged in a spiritual battle and need help to win, the help you need is with God the Father, who is in the heavenly places. But if you don't know how to get to heavenly places, you won't know how to get to the heavenly help you need to win the battle in earthly places.
You may say, "I'm facing Satan here on earth." Yes, but your blessings are in heaven. So unless you learn how to open your arsenal of spiritual weapons in the heavenly places so you can use them down here, you'll be a casualty of the war.
According to Ephesians 1:20, when God the Father raised Jesus Christ from the dead, He seated His Son "at His right hand in the heavenly places." Not only are the Father and your blessings in heavenly places; Jesus Christ is there too. So if you need Christ's help in earthly places, you'd better know where He is hanging out and how to take a trip there to obtain His help in your warfare.
But it gets even better. God also "raised us up with [Christ], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 2:6). Do you get the picture here? You and I as believers are also in heavenly places.
You may say, "Wait a minute, I'm here on earth. I'm in a physical place." But that's the problem. If you only see where you are physically and never understand where you're supposed to be spiritually, you'll never be able to win in spiritual warfare.
Paul is saying that when you accepted Christ, you were transported to another sphere. Even though your body is limited to earth, your spirit that should be controlling your body is operating in a wholly different realm.
Too many Christians don't understand that. The most real part of our existence is what happens in our spiritual lives, not what happens in our bodies. We are residents of heaven, in our spirits now and someday in our bodies too. Once you understand how the heavenly sphere operates, you can begin changing what happens on earth.
What else is in heavenly places? Spiritual rulers and authorities are there, according to Ephesians 3:10. These are angels. This is important from the standpoint of spiritual warfare, because it takes an angel to beat an angel. Remember, Satan and his demons are also "in the heavenly places" (6:12).
See, if your problem originates in the heavenly places, you need a solution that originates in the heavenly places. Most of us have very little consciousness of angels because they're not part of our physical world. But we need to understand that the angels of God and the demons of hell are the "foot soldiers" in the cosmic battle between God and Satan.
When you hear believers say they are being attacked by the devil, they probably mean they are being harassed by his foot soldiers. Satan is a limited being. He is not everywhere present, all-knowing, or all-powerful.
Satan is not God, but he has a whole host of evil angels called demons he can use for spiritual attacks. Anything that hell can bring against you is the result of satanic activity in the same realm in which God operates, called heavenly places.
You and I are no match for the power and deceptiveness of Satan and his army. We need the power of God to neutralize Satan's attacks against us.
If you need divine help but don't have a "heavenly places" mindset, you won't know how to get the help you need at the time you need it. Since Ephesians says that everything related to our warfare is in the spiritual realm, we need to know how to reach into the heavenly places for help. That's where the action is.
Excerpted from The Battle Is The Lord's by Tony Evans. Copyright © 1998 Anthony T. Evans. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Part I: Your Agenda
1. The Nature of the Battle2. The Origin of the Battle3. The Expansion of the Battle4. The Scope of the Battle
Part II: Your Assistants
5. The Existence of Angels6. The Ministry of Angels7. The Operation of Angels8. The Enlistment of Angels
Part III: Your Adversary
9. The Character of Satan10. The Strategy of Satan11. The Helpers of Satan12. The Defeat of Satan
Part IV: Your Authority
13. The Purchase of Authority14. The Agency of Authority15. The Weapons of Authority16. The Access to Authority
Part V: Your Actions
17. Tearing Down Strongholds in Your Personal Life18. Tearing Down Strongholds in Your Family Life19. Tearing Down Strongholds in Your Church20. Tearing Down Strongholds in Your Community