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What really is spiritual warfare?

Spiritual warfare is one of the most abused and least understood subjects in the body of Christ. Some people have created weird doctrines out of it. One only needs to look at the conference themes and topics that are sometimes advertised in the media such as:

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“Spiritual warfare retreat”.

“Arresting the arrester”.

“Prayer warrior camp meeting”.

“Worship warfare conference”.

“Militant church meeting”.

If our understanding of spiritual warfare does not line up with the Word of God, it will eventually lead us to ridiculous actions which are contrary to the Word of God. It is shocking to see some of the things that believers do in the name of spiritual warfare.

We hear of people going to Israel to pray and asking their church members to take their prayer requests with them so they can bring them before God. They believe once they pray for these issues in Israel, then God will certainly answer them because they will be in the “Holy Land”, the best battlefield for spiritual warfare where the power of God resides.

Surprisingly, some of us fall for such shallow teaching. The power of God is not in Israel, it is resident within you (Romans 8:11). Read the scriptures for yourself and don’t just swallow everything you are told.

If spiritual warfare is not taught properly, it can become devastating and cause much damage to the body of Christ. Religion has taught us to believe that spiritual warfare is about fighting the devil in prayer. It gives the image of you fighting darkness and the devil.

Most believers are so scared of the “power” of this devil such that the best way to win this warfare is to have a prayer chain of say 100 people, 24/7 so that we “bombard heaven” with our prayers asking God to defeat the devil. We want God “to move”. Please note God is not stuck. The bible says “where two or more are gathered in my name there am I in their presence.” It is not the numbers that will please God but our faith.

This also shows unbelief and fear of the devil. We don’t believe that God is able to hear our prayers without mobilising a prayer chain. The devil is very cunning and would like to lead us to silly and weird tactics. At times we spend the whole night begging God for something that He has already given us, for example crying for His power to come down when it is already in us, shouting and binding the devil. While the zeal is definitely admirable, the ignorance can be shocking. We really feel good after the all-night prayer meeting that we “really moved God”. It was not God who needed to move but you and I who need to get rid of our unbelief, religion and traditions of man so we can see what God has already provided for us.

Corporate prayer is very important and I am not against it. In fact, this is where most of us are very weak as Christians. I am against us thinking that it is our prayer that moves God. It is our belief in what God has done that will give us results as we pray and fast.

It should be noted that the words “war” and “warfare” are only mentioned five times in the New Testament and out of the five times, not on one occasion are they mentioned in connection with the devil.

The devil was defeated more than 2 000 years ago — “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15).

The reason for our prayer and fasting is to help us align our minds with our spirit man and the Word of God. Both the mind and body are not saved and so there is need to bring them both into the obedience of what has already occurred in the born again spirit. The mind needs to be renewed while the body has to be a living sacrifice and this is why prayer and fasting is very important (Romans 12:1-2).The devil is forever defeated.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

The weapons are for casting down two things: imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Both of these areas deal with the mind. Our battle with the devil takes place between our two ears. The mind is the battlefield from which thoughts and reasoning contrary to God’s Word are to be captured and submitted to Christ, our Commander. Paul is saying, it is not only possible to take every thought captive, but that our spiritual weapons are designed for the express purpose of taking every thought captive and making them obedient to Christ.

Ephesians 6:10-12 states: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”.

Paul is telling us how to live victorious lives as we face satanic opposition. It is through God’s ability. Our weaknesses are not an issue when we are drawing on the divine power of God in us. We have to put on the whole armour of God. Most of us have just been running around with the helmets of salvation only. There is more to overcoming the devil than just being saved. We have to understand our righteous position in the Lord and what the Word says about our true identity as born again believers. Christ won the battle for us.

It is important that we understand that the fight we are in is not trying to obtain something but maintaining something that we have already obtained through Christ. for example, you are not the sick trying to get healed, but you are the healed fighting against sickness.

As you engage in this warfare, it is important to acknowledge that it is done through Christ and you can’t accomplish this alone. You will be empowered through your union with Him. Your union with Him will determine your success.

Religion is trying to tell us that we are strong in our own ability and if we fast long enough, we will make God “move”. Without Him, we can do nothing.

It is your standing confidently in the finished work of Jesus that guarantees you victory in this warfare. However, the spiritual forces are trying to discourage you from standing confidently in this victory. They want you to focus on your five senses instead of faith in what Christ accomplished for you. They want you to move by sight, not by faith.

They also want to take you back to the covenant of law and performance where you are forced to look at how good you have been so you can earn some points from God. You are then made to feel condemned and guilty because you didn’t live up to the required standards. Once you fall into that trap, then your loss in the spiritual warfare is guaranteed. This is why you can go on 40 days prayer and fasting and yet you don’t achieve any results. It is because you are putting your faith in your fasting instead of what God has already accomplished for you.

The secret is to remain standing confidently in what Christ has already accomplished for you in spite of your situation or circumstances. As long as you are God-dependent, you will win.

Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: or Twitter @dougmamvura

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